A Western Practitioner's Cultivation Journey: Doing Well the Three Things
(Minghui.org) I live in a remote, country city in Western Australia. I began practicing Falun Dafa in late 2010 when I was 40. There were few practitioners in my city when I started, but within a few years they had either all moved or had stopped practicing.
For the first few years, I helped with activities organized by a veteran practitioner. She was very proactive about organizing activities to clarify the truth. But by 2016 I was cultivating alone.
The first five years of my cultivation felt difficult and extremely confusing. Looking back, I'm amazed that I managed to continue - but the thought of quitting never entered my mind. I learned many lessons, but the main ones were to study the Fa, and look inward.
I observed that doing a lot of truth-clarification activities and being busy doesn't necessarily mean that you are cultivating. From my experiences in those early days I firmly resolved to take the Fa as the teacher and study the Fa every day without fail. I knew that I needed to unequivocally look inward and examine my own thoughts to find my faults and attachments, no matter how uncomfortable that might be. This is what gave me a solid foundation in cultivation.
Blazing My Own Path
From 2013 to now I rethought my truth-clarification efforts and blazed my own path. The only original activity I kept is a stall at a two-day agricultural show once a year. I knew the importance of doing the three things well, so I couldn't neglect clarifying the truth, but how to do it by myself?
I tried to get involved in making calls to China, as this seemed like an ideal project for an isolated practitioner, but the laptop I used wasn't compatible with the software used to make the calls. I felt guilty about not trying harder to overcome this problem, but I didn't feel like this project was right for me. I felt doing something out of guilt wasn't in line with the Fa.
One year I made frequent trips to Perth to join in with the activities there and to sell Shen Yun tickets every second week, but it was a thousand-kilometer drive every time. Besides, it was predestined for me to live in my area so my main focus should be in that region.
I knew I needed to do truth-clarification to save sentient beings and I worried about what to do. I read many articles on Minghui about how the practitioners in China go out everyday and approach strangers on the streets, in markets, at bus stops, and even traveling to small villages to talk to people. My heart yearned to be as proactive as them. While that method of truth-clarification seemed to work well in China, it didn't feel appropriate for the environment I live in.
For a while, I tried to emulate the Chinese practitioners, and whenever I had a day off work, I stood in front of the supermarket in town with a placard and a petition and offered people flyers. I also tried to talk to every person I encountered in my daily life. But something wasn't right so over time I stopped doing it. I felt bad for stopping and I was very confused about what was the right thing to do. My mind just wasn't comfortable as I had the strong sense that the local people were seeing me as being fanatical or extreme. I worried that I was letting attachments stop me. I thought that I should push myself to make a breakthrough. But I also felt that it wasn't right to force myself to keep going because of worry and guilt - that was an attachment itself.
Taking a Rational Approach to Tell People about the Persecution
Master said: “One tendency that people in China develop is to be quite extreme in their writing or approaches to things. That kind of behavior and thinking really isn’t something that others are going to be receptive to.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference”)
In Western society it is socially acceptable for a person to be obsessed with sports. A person can be so fixated with sports that they will pay to have a television channel dedicated to sports, they play a number of sports and are on multiple sports teams, they volunteer to coach or assist in young people’s sports and they passionately support their chosen professional sports teams. This behavior is considered physically and mentally healthy in our society.
But on the other hand, being a dedicated advocate for human rights and raising awareness about one specific issue, seems to alienate people. I knew that the fault was with me and I looked inward. In those early years people would comment that I had a lot of passion, but it wasn’t meant as a compliment. I had too much enthusiasm when talking about the persecution, and not enough calm rationality. I spent hours contemplating how to do truth-clarification without annoying my friends, family and colleagues.
Master said: “If while among everyday people others consider you infatuated, they will not deal with you and will keep a distance from you.” (Lecture Eight, Zhuan Falun)
I decided I needed to stop talking about the persecution in front of my friends and family. They all know I practice Falun Gong; it has to be my behavior that naturally clarifies the truth to them. There are still moments when I seize opportunities to clarify the truth to someone face to face, but now I am very discerning about when it is appropriate to do that.
I now understood that my focus needed to be on reaching out to strangers in my region who might otherwise never learn of the persecution of Falun Gong. Those strangers are my responsibility. But how to reach them without seeming infatuated?
I have always thought of the organ harvesting flyers as a Fa tool that can save sentient beings. I started getting boxes of flyers from Perth and distributing them to letterboxes. This felt unobtrusive and I knew that predestined people would read the information. I didn't find walking very efficient, so I borrowed a friend's motor scooter and I was able to get a lot done. This turned out to be a turning point in my truth-clarification efforts. From that point on more and more truth-clarification projects were offered to me one after another.
The Perth Chinese Epoch Times had decided to have two English language pages in each edition. The editor asked if I would prepare several articles for him to select from each week, and then proofread the two pages when they were done. I was very pleased to be involved, but for quite a while I couldn't work out who would read these pages. Recently two Chinese practitioners came to visit my town for a couple of days, and we chatted while I showed them around. One of the practitioners sold advertising for the paper and he explained to me how valuable these two English language pages are, for showing Western business owners the caliber of the content of the paper. It all made sense after that, and I felt even more honored to play a role.
Saving People in Remote Areas
Then my work required me to travel to a smaller rural town and spend a few days there. While I was there, I thought that it wasn't a coincidence and I needed to reach all these good country folks. So in my free time I drove back to my town and picked up a box of flyers. I tried to drive around to distribute them in the smaller town, but in farming areas, the houses are far apart and most of them don't have roadside mailboxes. I realized I needed to use the postal service, so I went to the local general store and arranged to mail a flyer to every household in the town.
After that, I wanted to reach all the farming communities near me. I believe this was what Master wanted me to do. At first I drove to the nearby towns and arranged it at the general store. I contacted several towns, but then I was given a big hint to just use my local post office. I budget about $100 a month and I will keep it up, reaching towns further and further away. I'm delighted that I always get a timely hint about what town to contact next. I feel Master's divine guidance in these moments.
I also did a project after I realized there was a Confucius Institute at one of the nearby universities. They were promoting themselves to all the primary schools and high schools in Western Australia, so I compiled a database of over 1000 schools and emailed them all a letter clarifying the truth about Confucius Institutes. I was able to track the emails and I could see that this project definitely had some effect. I was even able to write a sharing about it, which was published on Minghui.
Recently I was asked to run a social media effort. Someone in a global Falun Dafa group asked about projects for isolated practitioners, so I wrote a comment describing how I was mailing farming communities. Because of this, two things happened.
First a person who read my comment decided he could do this activity in his country and he asked me for details. Later when I told a practitioner from an outer suburb of Perth about this, he decided he should do this in his area too.
Naturally Presented Opportunities
A person from the New York Epoch Times contacted me. She said that my comment on social media stood out to her. She asked how much time I might have available each week. She put me in touch with someone at the Sydney English Epoch Times, and now I help them out with proofreading every week.
Last year at the agricultural show, a lady approached me with an offer. She enjoys meditation and knew the Falun Gong exercises were taught for free. She works for a local real estate agent. She asked if I would teach the exercises after work in a big room in their offices once a week. I had been wishing I could have a local practice site and now I was offered one! I thanked Master for the arrangement.
This September I bought my own motor scooter, and I'm now able to do a few hours of mailbox deliveries in my town every week as well.
My involvement in all these projects came about very naturally and there is no sense of doing something out of guilt, and no sense of being extreme. It truly was a reflection of “...gain things naturally without pursuing them.” (“Learning the Fa,” Essentials For Further Advancement) I wanted to do all of the three things well and fulfill my vow, and Master could see my wish. Now I work on so many projects that I have to be very organized to balance them, along with my full-time job, family life, daily exercises, Fa-study, and Righteous Thoughts.
The Seriousness of Fa Study
A good Fa-study routine is essential. I remember Master stressed the seriousness of regular Fa-study. From the beginning, I have been strict with myself about studying the Fa every day, but that doesn't mean the quality of my study was good. There has been serious interference that took different forms.
Being a remote practitioner, I don't have opportunity to study face-to-face with anyone, so I started studying an entire lecture every night on the Internet with Chinese practitioners. They all read in Chinese and I had to concentrate hard to keep up with them and be in the correct paragraph. I read with focus and very sincerely.
Then some English speakers joined and we split into an English language group. I became more complacent, because even if I wasn’t concentrating I still knew what paragraph we were on. This group soon switched to reading in the morning after exercises and righteous thoughts. Because of strong human notions I developed bad habits and for a long time I didn’t think to consider it a problem.
My thoughts would run amok. I read with a strong show off mentality and I over-emphasized words. I was irritated by other people's voices and styles. After my work hours changed sometimes I would read quickly because I wanted some leisure time before going to work. Sometimes I had strong sleepiness. Sometimes I would look at something on the Internet when it wasn't my turn to read, or I would be daydreaming even when I was reading out loud. I even developed a habit of watching the time and checking how many pages were left in the lecture.
Another form of interference came when I would think of some ordinary matter that I needed to say to someone, or I would have a good idea about something, or I would think of a chore I needed to do. I worried that I wouldn't remember it later and I felt a sense of urgency, so I would send a text, write myself a note or write an email. The ideas would come as soon as Fa-study started. They seemed like such great ideas and I was convinced I would lose them if I didn't jot them down immediately. Only very recently did I realize how disrespectful I have been to Master and the Fa.
Master said: “...it is not easy to change your thinking right away; you will transform your thinking gradually during the lectures to come.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
In 2016 another Perth practitioner and I started a second daily study group six nights a week. We systematically read all of the pre-1999 conference lectures on FalunDafa.org. We read for 30 minutes, send righteous thoughts, and then read for another 15 minutes. We have read all the materials through at least three times. We are not in any hurry and we read carefully. Sometimes we even read a paragraph over if one of us wasn't concentrating or wanted to better understand. I can't over-emphasize how beneficial this has been.
When I first started cultivation I only read these early materials once, and then focused on the newer conference lectures, but without a very solid understanding of the basics I struggled to understand the Fa-rectification concepts. After three years of reading these early materials my understandings have improved and I feel that I am catching up.
Although I am still interfered with when I read Zhuan Falun, I am aware of it now and I am improving. Just the other day a practitioner I read with commented that my reading has changed and I sound like I understand what I am reading rather than just going through the motions. In fact, I have started having new understandings while reading.
My study habits are routine and disciplined, even though my human mind might not be. I recently noticed that I have had a longing to experience moments of sudden dramatic improvement in cultivation. But in writing this sharing and taking a look back at how I was in the early years of my cultivation, I can see that my improvement has truly been dramatic; it just happened so gradually that I didn’t notice. Fa-study and looking inwards was the key to this.
Human gratitude is inadequate for what Master has given us. Thank you Master. I still have many attachments and things I don't know how to handle well. I will finish this journey with heartfelt diligence. Thank you fellow practitioners. Even though I am so remote from you all in this human dimension, I know we are all together. Please point out if I have said anything that is not in line with the Fa.
Thank you Master! Thank you fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2019 Australia Fa Conference)