Cultivating Myself Well and Spreading Dafa
(Minghui.org) I had trouble concentrating as a child and could not absorb what I was being taught unless my mind was present and I was listening clearly. I was also hyper and wanted to do things in a hurry, with excitement, or to do exciting things.
This followed me into my adolescence. Thus, I started to search for something to help me relax. I had a lot of anxiety due to the stress that came with making poor decisions and mistakes. I gradually trusted myself less and less. So many times I had known better but I did things anyway, without thinking of the consequences or without thinking things through clearly.
But as I got older, at age 21, my Buddha nature was coming forth, and I knew I needed to change. I wanted to help myself and others. I was ready to give up anything to find a path to heaven.
I found Falun Dafa at age 25; it was the year 2000.
A year later, the first Fa conference was held in English in the city where I was living at the time, Orlando, Florida. It was held outside, and it was just amazing to meet so many practitioners. I was truly happy and more present than ever.
I overcame a lot during the first two years. I had acne covering my entire face in layers. It covered my chest and some of my back. So no low-cut blouses. I was really like a nun. We had Falun Dafa exercise classes every day during those two years.
It was hard after a while. I caved in after I was asked to get a simple proclamation for my hometown of Evansville in Indiana during a visit home at Christmas time. I thought to myself, “How could I have gotten into this so fast. Will I just leave it as fast?” I had to look within, and I believe Master Li said to me over and over that this is what I should do. It was an internal voice, but I believe it was Master communicating with me. So I put in an application for a proclamation and it was accepted.
I longed to move to my hometown to spread Dafa, as there were no practitioners there to help me. So after two years, I moved back home. I was and still am the only practitioner, or the only veteran practitioner, in my city. I am thankful for my path of letting go of fear, finding my true path and trusting Master.
My parents saw changes in me. I was more responsible, more thoughtful, and more clearheaded. They were upset I didn't follow the family tradition of practicing Catholicism. But I knew I just couldn't, as I needed to follow only one cultivation way. When I moved back, I lived with them but it wasn't easy.
My dad would strike fear into me by suggesting I was spiritually on the wrong path, one which he believed would lead my soul to hell. My mom would shed tears, saying how disappointed she was. My brother, when he came over, would disgrace me completely and try to make me look ignorant about any decisions I made about Dafa or anything else. I eventually let go of my emotions for them and tried to look inside to change and to eliminate this interference from happening.
Years later, after telling my dad about Shen Yun Performing Arts, he said, “Hey, tell me more about this,” as he pointed to an advertisement in the Epoch Times about Shen Yun. I had paid for his subscription for a full year and it seemed to help. I thought to myself, “He wants to go, how wonderful.” He then drove himself and my mom two hours away to see Shen Yun.
From then on, he has never said another bad word about Falun Dafa. His eyes seek the truth every time I speak with him, even to this day. For my mom, her sentimentality about her religion may have blocked her a bit. But I took it as me needing to eliminate more sentimentality toward everything, especially my family, and to build up noble compassion instead. My brother went to see Shen Yun and later called his congressman and told him he supported the resolution to stop organ harvesting. But they are not my only family. The entire community is my family.
I needed to clarify the truth to others, and initially, I just did this through fliers, then workshops, and a weekly practice site. For 15 years there has been a practice site in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana. It's located on the riverfront in a grassy meadow between the Chinese Bogota, which is the Evansville visitor center building, and the "Four Freedom's Monument."
After about a year of being home, I met a man through work. I was torn. I did want his courtship, but I didn't want to fall into an old force trap. I believe that I had several hints that came without pursuit during my Fa study that told me to get married. But it wasn't easy. He lost his job right before we got married. He worked with me, so not only was it embarrassing for me, but we both didn't make a lot of money, as we were just working at a nursing home. I thought, “What should I do?” I had to let go of fear and try to follow my path and stay with it. Even on the day I got married, I was so nervous and thought, “My goodness,” and almost passed out in front of 250 guests. But I then heard Master's voice say, “I am with you all the way to the end.” I was no longer afraid of being wrong. The night before I got married, my chest acne completely cleared.
On our honeymoon, we received a call saying that my husband had been given one of the top paying blue collar jobs around. Thank you, Master!
I had two children that are one year and 10 days apart. I was still afraid of making my own choices and being exposed, and especially as I was learning to be a parent as a Dafa disciple. At first, just to balance things well with family and Dafa was enough, but then when school came around, my xinxing in conversations needed to improve.
Both my children were considered to have ADHD. I was constantly battling my own reputation and sanity in regard to my parents, in-laws, schools, and neighbors. I gradually learned that if I was more diligent, calm, and not thinking of my own needs, wants, and desires, and did the three things well, this was indeed reflected in my children's behavior.
I say this in just a few sentences, but the path was absolutely terrifying, heart palpating, and heart wrenching, until I lost the attachment layer after layer. I am still going through it now, but it is getting better and better.
My son's teacher recently told me that my son was disrupting not only himself but the entire class. We went home, read the Fa, did the exercises, and spoke to each other with encouragement and not ridicule. The next day the teacher said, “I don't know what you said to him, but he not only paid attention, he took notes!”
With Master's help, I learned that I should use my skills gained through the Fa to save others.
I decided to give a talk to kids about Falun Dafa through my experience of recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, as Dafa helped me get rid of these bad habits. I wrote a speech and then closed my computer and thought, “I am not going to show anyone any of this.” My husband then suddenly said, “Hey, I finally got in touch with this person. Let's go down there now to meet them.”
He took me directly to the place where I had an incident in the past that was significant in my speech. It was Master's encouragement that helped me to be brave to share with these kids. I then went to middle schools and high schools and told them about Dafa. It was a way to get into the schools and speak with the students directly. It went really well and they were thankful to hear such amazing stories of me finding my true inner self by letting go of negative ideas, thoughts, and behaviors.
Another method at the school was through my daughter. My daughter, out of loneliness, had started a club at school to have on the playground. The teacher loved the idea and started an after-school club. That year it won an award from the Evansville Leadership Association. The mayor visited the classroom to give them a trophy. The teacher later retired, so I decided to take the club on.
Throughout the year we had speakers come to the afternoon program and hold activities, one of which was the Falun Dafa exercises. That day it was extraordinary, as many kids saw me in the hallway and wanted to see what we were doing. It was a lot of work throughout the year just for that day to directly clarify the truth. However, on our Facebook page, we still get reviews and likes.
Helping with Shen Yun
This year we had Shen Yun come to my town again!
Shen Yun came to my city two times thanks to the compassion of Master and my fellow practitioners. I live virtually 2 1/2 to 4 hours away in every direction from other practitioners. It was not easy for them to travel here daily, weekly or biweekly. The first year was so cold. The second year, this year, was so incredibly warm and delightful. We were all so thankful to Master for this great weather to handle everything!
After reading the Fa in the morning, with my eyes closed I asked Master as if he was sitting right next to me, to help send me to the people I needed to meet that day. And almost every day, I would meet the people we needed. It was so wonderful to sit in a car with practitioners, share, and go places. I never took it for granted. I cherished this so much because I am always alone doing Dafa work or my daily routine.
I learned not to validate myself. As I sent righteous thoughts, I would say, “Master, please help us say the right words, to find the right person we need to make decisions with.” I felt an energy around us that seemed to be multicolored everywhere! That's when I knew I had reached the point that my thoughts were on what I was supposed to do. I wouldn't be satisfied until I was in that state, so I would just keep clearing and clearing until then.
Every day, I would look inside and think, “Okay, where do I need to improve my xinxing? Am I diligent with the exercises? Am I balancing things with family well?” And wherever I found a shortcoming I would quickly change it, for I knew it was directly related to the attendance at Shen Yun.
This is my current understanding of what I thoroughly need to eliminate: I need to stop thinking negatively about others. Anytime a negative thought comes up I must eliminate it thoroughly.
This is my understanding. Please point out anything that you find falls short of Master’s Fa.