A Good Cultivation Environment Is Truly Precious
Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!
Eight years have passed since I became a Dafa practitioner and looking back at my cultivation path, I would like to reflect and share with you about it.
I began practicing Falun Dafa in Taiwan, after almost 10 years of knowing about the practice through my mother. She started cultivating Dafa in 1999, just before the persecution started. I never heeded her when she talked about Falun Dafa. I thought it was good, but it was her interest and not mine. Once when I visited her during my university days, she gave me the videos of Master's nine-day lecture series to watch. I did it to please her, but fell asleep immediately on the sofa. I had a dream. Master came up to me and took out something like a bunch of black worms out of my ear. When I woke up, I also had symptoms of a flu which went away the next day. Although it was a very clear dream, I simply ignored it and went back to my life of an ordinary person, finishing graduate school and enjoying life.
Years later, I took my two young daughters to Taiwan, determined that they should learn Chinese. While in Taiwan, I had regular contact with Dafa practitioners through my daughters’ kindergarten, Minghui Dodoyuan, but was too caught up in my ordinary life to stop and look seriously at Falun Dafa. A few months before leaving Taiwan for Germany, the coordinator of the Taiwan Hanfu Presentations, who was also the mother of a Dodoyuan student, asked me to participate as a model as they were lacking tall female practitioners to model traditional Chinese clothing. For this project, I spent a lot of time rehearsing and practicing for the stage performance with Taiwanese practitioners. Before the rehearsals, they always studied the Fa together. On the bus rides to the shows, the practitioners recited Lunyu. I had read Zhuan Falun once many years before but had put it aside, thinking that cultivation was too difficult and time-consuming. This time, I quickly read Zhuan Falun and wanted to read it again and again and knew I had finally found the answers to my life questions and meaning of life. After so many years of having Dafa around me, I finally became a Dafa disciple at the very last moment in Taiwan. It was really a miracle.
Genuinely Looking Within
Due to my father’s work, my family had moved several times between countries during my childhood. Growing up, I attended 7 different schools in 5 different countries. Therefore, from a young age I felt like I had to keep up an appearance in order to protect myself from getting rejected or hurt. Wanting to be accepted and liked also meant having to be calculating at times. I tried to please everyone in order for them to like me. This insecurity prevented me from building a strong character that can remain firm and as a result, I treated many things, including moral issues, very carelessly. In order to maintain a certain appearance and perception of myself, I also had to lie and cover things up. All this has influenced my character and created attachments. After I began practicing Dafa, due to these character flaws, I made serious mistakes with emotions and relationships. Every time this happened, instead of seriously looking within, feeling ashamed and truly repenting, I managed to brush off these incidents lightly, ignoring my responsibilities and the role I played in these matters. So I was given test after test, again and again.
“Whenever there is interference of one kind or another in qigong practice, you should look for reasons within yourself and determine what you still have not let go of.” ( Lecture 6, Zhuan Falun)
For many years, I couldn’t find the reasons because I didn’t dig deeply enough. Instead I ignored my mistakes and took them lightly in order to protect myself. If I can forget about past things, then they can’t hurt me, I thought. But this also means that if I don’t accept my responsibility in the matter and open up about them, I will never be able to truly overcome them the next time I am in a similar situation.
It is like Master says, “If one who fails the test does not care about it, it will be harder to pass later. It is definitely this way.” (Lecture 6, Zhuan Falun)
I always tell everyone that finding Falun Dafa has given me a peaceful and happy heart and that I am truly grateful to Master for this. So why do I still commit errors and fall to qing (sentiment) and emotion? It is because I have not eliminated the attachments that were formed since I was a child. Cultivation is a never-ending process and we will be tested until the very last day. In this final period, the tests may be even harder and more complicated. Only serious Fa study and the serious sending forth of righteous thoughts can keep us on the straight path. Letting in even the smallest thought can derail you from the path and you won’t even notice it until you have fallen. Especially now, when life seems more comfortable and easy, even more so do we have to be alert.
“Cultivation is extremely arduous and very serious. If you are being even a bit careless, you may stumble and become ruined at once. Therefore, one’s mind must be righteous.” ( Lecture 6, Zhuan Falun)
Master, with his unlimited compassion, always gives us another opportunity. I came to understand that not taking our new opportunity seriously is not taking our cultivation seriously, and worst of all, is taking advantage of Master’s mercy and the Fa’s boundless wisdom.
A Good Cultivation Environment Is Truly Precious
We have a precious cultivation environment in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where I now live. Fellow practitioners have formed a tight group and we have learned to coordinate well. For a country in South America with relatively fewer practitioners, Argentina practitioners are participating in many projects to validate the Fa. From Shen Yun to The Epoch Times newspaper and now also Beauty of Life Spanish, We have practitioners who go daily outside the Chinese Embassy to validate Dafa; every weekend we also are in Chinatown, spreading the truth to Chinese and Argentinians alike; we clarify the truth to government officials and to senators and congressmen; and we are still working on the criminal lawsuit against Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party, and Luo Gan, former head of China's Gestapo, for their roles in the brutal, ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa in China. Except for the coordinator, all the practitioners in Argentina are local Westerners. Most live in the capital, Buenos Aires.
Two years ago, my mother and I opened a Taiwanese restaurant in Buenos Aires. We felt that good food is an easy way to reach out and develop friendship with people. Having an authentic and high-quality restaurant is also a way to attract mainstream society. Suddenly things fell into place. Two practitioners from another city, who studied cooking, moved to Buenos Aires. Soon after, 3 more practitioners with interest in cooking also became chefs. They all learned how to cook Asian food in about a month. This is a miracle in itself, as they previously had no idea whatsoever about Asian food and have never been to Asia. Very quickly we found a place in a downtown location where all the main offices are located. It helped that one practitioner was a real estate agent at that time. Being in the busy city center meant that we could quickly build up a clientele. The restaurant is doing quite well and our food and service is appreciated by our customers. Its success would be impossible without the hard work and generous heart of the employees who are all fellow practitioners. Many of them have quit their ordinary jobs to work at the restaurant and there are now 14 practitioners working full-time. They can all validate the Fa, clarify the truth and also have a steady income. Although they are all Westerners, our standard of cooking is so high that even Chinese people think that the chefs are Chinese. It’s a precious opportunity to be able to do the three things of a Dafa disciple while earning a salary in your workplace. We have a rule that not one customer leaves the restaurant without learning about Dafa and the persecution.
Before we start work each day, the employees study the Fa together. At the beginning, we rushed and often did not finish the lecture in order to start work early. The restaurant staff are now reading an entire lecture together each morning, starting work 1 hour later than usual. This has not affected the workload in the slightest. This is another example of how everything is taken care of when one puts Dafa first. Since opening the restaurant, we have also started a practice site nearby, at a location near the city’s main train station. It is right on the path where thousands of office workers walk by after work. One or two of us always stand in the middle of the sea of people handing out Dafa flyers. Although most rush by quickly, many take the flyer and this means they will have time to read it on their way back home on the train.
Criticizing Others Comes from a Jealous Heart
I am very quick to judge others and used to become upset and angry with my employees when they made mistakes. I told myself that because the restaurant business is service-based and every mistake can damage our business, I was right to criticize them like this. My thinking was: “Yes, I am a Dafa disciple and follow the principles of Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance), but when it comes to this work, I have to be harsh in order for others not to make the same mistake again.” Of course, this thinking was just an excuse for the deeper attachment of jealousy that I am still struggling to overcome.
In fact, everything we do is part of our cultivation process and affects our cultivation. As I looked for the reason for my impatience, I saw that it stemmed from seeing myself as a customer and wanting to be treated well. I would feel offended if someone treated me badly. Looking deeper within, I found that I think I have good attributes and therefore I am entitled to hear good words only and not be criticized. Thinking that one is good and great is a sign of being conceited and that in turn comes from pride, arrogance, and vanity. In the end, these are attributes that stem from jealousy. Jealousy repulses me, I did not want it. But unfortunately, it is one of my deep attachments. I have protected my jealousy all my life. In my quest to appear kind and charming, I had to compete with others to make myself stand out. This meant looking at others and finding their faults and deficiencies. I would then criticize them in order to make myself look better or compare myself with them and then be happy that I am better than them at the same thing.
Recently I read an experience sharing article on Minghui. The author is a man who is opinionated and always imposed his ideas and notions on others. He once hit his daughter out of anger because she disobeyed him, something I have done myself some years ago with one of my daughters. He is a Chinese practitioner living in China and was illegally arrested and detained for 2 years due to belief in Falun Dafa. When I read this, I felt very ashamed. Dafa disciples in China can be arrested and persecuted for attachments that I have taken lightly in my cultivation.
I get along with our customers and have a very friendly relationship with most of them. But there was one customer who used to come regularly with her colleagues. She was always very rude, especially to me. It was unclear why, as everyone at the restaurant always acted in a friendly manner towards her. Regardless, she always treated me with contempt. I kept my calm and reacted professionally when I was around her. But her behavior moved my heart, I felt it was an injustice. Once, when I was out of the country, she told one of the managers that she stopped coming to the restaurant because she always saw me treating my employees badly. When I heard this, I thought: “But she is always treating us badly, although we serve her kindly and professionally, how can she say that about me?” Looking back, she was right. We are cultivators, therefore any criticism from an ordinary person means we have a cultivation problem. Even when there seems to be no apparent reason. In the past year, I have become less strict and less quick to lose my temper. Although I still become annoyed when an employee doesn’t do something the way I want it done, I try not to criticize them based on my own attachments, but talk constructively about how to improve the situation the next time.
Promoting Shen Yun
Since 2013, we have presented Shen Yun regularly in Argentina. Because Argentina is so far from the rest of the world and no nearby countries have hosted Shen Yun, we have to have at least 10 shows or else it would be too much time and effort for Shen Yun to fly to and perform in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is a city of over 10 million with a big population that enjoys culture. At the same time, Argentina has ongoing political turmoil, which constantly affects the country's economy. Although ticket sales have improved every year, it has always been a stressful marketing experience until the very last day.
The whole process of Shen Yun ticket sales is a cultivation process too, for practitioners to work together and eliminate attachments. Maybe it is the heart of wanting a comfortable situation that has to be eliminated and therefore, we have to work hard until the last day. Anxiety and stress – these are states that are related to qing and attachment to fear of failure. Instead, a true cultivator’s path is to steadfastly walk his path with a firm and righteous heart. Master always reminds us:
“Furthermore, how will you cultivate if you do not have any worries or troubles? How can you do the exercises comfortably and restfully? How can there be such a thing? That is what you think from the perspective of everyday people.
Cultivation must take place through tribulations so as to test whether you can part with and care less about different kinds of human qing and desires. If you are attached to these things, you will not succeed in cultivation.” (Lecture 4, Zhuan Falun)
We make a lot of effort to encourage our regular customers to see Shen Yun. Many have bought tickets over the years.
One of our regular customers told us he watched Shen Yun years ago but only vaguely remembered what he saw. He also didn’t seem to have understood the message of Shen Yun. After coming to our restaurant we talked so much about Shen Yun, that one day he suddenly stopped by with money for one ticket and asked us to buy it for him. We bought him a ticket for the first show. We saw him in the theatre on another day and were very surprised. He told us that he was so moved by Shen Yun that he not only bought a second ticket for himself, but also invited his father and sister to see Shen Yun.
We have many visitors from the US, Australia, Europe and Mexico who come to the restaurant. Many times these visitors have told us that they have heard about Shen Yun or seen the ads but have not gone to see it for multiple reasons. But after talking to us and hearing from us about Shen Yun, they say they will try to see it in their home countries.
In my years of cultivation, I have experienced the generosity and wonders of Dafa many times. Although I have made many mistakes in my cultivation, Master and his immense Fa have always given me hope and another opportunity to improve myself through solid cultivation. I thank Master for all the opportunities that he has given us in Argentina, where we can work, earn an income and at the same time, validate the Fa, clarify the truth and show people the wonders of Falun Dafa. And in all these opportunities, if we do well, we are also cultivating, eliminating attachments and elevating ourselves. This is the fruit of our Master’s endless and merciful compassion in saving not just his disciples, but all sentient beings. I do not want to forget this and I want to be worthy of his compassion and the title of being called Dafa disciple.
Master has extended our time on earth to give us Dafa practitioners more time to cultivate better and fulfill our vows, as well as to give humanity the opportunity to avoid destruction and have a deserving future. Just like Shen Yun’s message of hope, we Dafa disciple have the responsibility to assist our Master in this grand quest.
I would like to end by sharing Master’s Fa:
“…Yet, so immense a Fa being spread in the human world must have its purpose. It is because society’s morals are deteriorating, and the decline in human morality has brought danger to humankind; thus Dafa is being spread in the world to save all beings, so disciples who are genuinely cultivating have the responsibility to save all beings.” (“A Congratulatory Message to the Argentina Fa Conference”)
Thank you most benevolent Master, thank you fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2018 Washington DC Fa Conference)