Cherishing Master's Benevolence While Working at a Construction Site
(Minghui.org) I've been working at the construction site at Fei Tian College in Middletown, New York for two years. I have had many cultivation experiences there – from the first three minutes of enthusiasm, followed by unbearable anxieties for more than half year, to resisting the hardships and making an effort to be more diligent. Now, I am working hard.
Looking back at these experiences, I am thankful for Master's arrangements, especially for giving me the opportunity to improve myself and having my heart and mind tempered. I also appreciate that Master’s arrangement for me is to be a part of this project team. For that, I got rid of the deeply rooted attachments of reputation and personal gain.
In my mind I hear the call, “Be a humble person!” I remind myself that each day at the construction site, I will practice earnestly, and aspire to be a steadfast and solid Falun Dafa practitioner who carries out tasks at the project site well.
Evaluating My Cultivation Environment
When I first arrived at the construction site, I was all prepared for “taking hardship, enduring physically, and disciplining my will.” I also thought that I would be living in seclusion, and prepared myself to live in a monastic setting, just focusing on doing physical work. I wouldn't need to face all kinds of ordinary people, and do any mental work. Other than that, I imagined myself studying the Fa, and doing the exercises after work, and I even looked forward to using my work environment for validating Dafa. I felt that this was like a paradise for cultivators – although one has to work hard, it would be a pleasure. Reflecting on this attitude, I now realize that it was very selfish and self-centered.
I realized that the ego stemmed from my intention of making my own choices when designing and planning my cultivation path. I forgot that I was a cultivator and that everything was arranged by Master. I should have taken a humble approach and carried out all the Fa-validating activities well. Therefore, in the beginning, before I discovered that I was too egocentric, I passively cultivated. Then, while I was burying myself in the hard work, I started thinking, “Why don't things turn out the way I thought?” Cultivation at that time was laborious and strenuous.
With regards to the attachment to fame, as I grew up among artists, I felt that I stood out from the masses. I thought I took reputation and personal gain very lightly, because I kept a distance from people when I saw that they often tried to outdo each other. I was carefree with people and with things around me. I had a satisfactory job after graduating from school, and the income was relatively high. The people who I associated with were mainly educated and cultured. I never experienced the pain of ruining my life, nor had I felt the sorrow and grief brought on by conflicts related to fame and money.
After I came to the U.S., I thought that I had already given up everything in China. I'd let go of fame and self interest, and was all set to have a tough life with my children overseas.
I worked in the media field, and felt proud of my “civilized” status because every day, on the surface, I dressed up, wore high heels, and worked in high-rise buildings. Coupled with fellow practitioners’ affirmation of my work, I had a deep sense of self-validation.
In fact, although all these things looked ordinary, and I didn’t actively go after prominence and personal interests, I was still consciously immersed in the hidden search for fame and personal benefit.
We are required to cultivate ourselves while partaking in many projects used to validate the Fa and saving sentient beings. Yet, I was already drenched in the pursuit of fame and money, and wasn't aware of it.
I Change My Cultivation Environment
When the reality hit me, all my attachments were exposed – I saw myself wearing second-hand clothes, and my face was covered with mud while my body was sweaty all day long. I worked in the field under the scorching sun every day. My daily tasks involved moving iron pipes and cement, pulling stones, and digging large pits. It was alright to do it for one or two days, or one or two months, or for six months or more. But, I didn't think that I could keep going at it.
Many practitioners simply didn't understand why I did what I did. I was faced with people that looked down on me with a kind of look that exposed the “fame” that I wanted. I then realized among the many Dafa projects, there was a “social class.” I immediately understood that my new position was arranged by Master so that I could remove the deeply rooted notion of “fame.”
At the beginning I wanted to fight against it. I didn't need to stay and continue working at this job. I could be a salesperson, or a member of the Tian Guo band. I also wanted to put on my nice dresses and promote Shen Yun. But, if I did that, my desire of keeping my reputation and my tendency to validate myself would undoubtedly be nurtured. I knew what the Fa required me to do, and I must continue doing my current task.
Gradually, I was no longer affected by other people's attitudes. When I saw people wearing decent clothes, while my dusty face was covered with mud, my heart no longer felt pained. From the bottom of my heart, I actually liked doing physical labor. Suddenly, I enlightened that my parents’ request that I “study well so one day I'd find a job” was only an acquired notion which blocked me from advancing in cultivation. I no longer thought of wanting to be “cultured.”
“In the eyes of gods, beings are equal. Social status is just a distinction made in human society.” (“What Is a Dafa Disciple?” Collected Fa Teachings Vol XI)
Now when I look at my chapped hands, I have no special feeling. I accept the fact that I am a laborer, and a happy one. I hold no opinion about laborers, because I am a Dafa practitioner who is assisting Master to rectify the Fa. When I totally let go the heart of wanting some kind of credit, my body felt wonderful. It was as if a shell has been shed. My heart wasn't moved when people misunderstood me or looked down on me. I don’t even want to explain myself because I realize that self-validation, and competitiveness are well hidden attachments behind any explanation.
During the process of cultivating away the urge of having a good reputation, I understood why there were so few people working at the construction site, and why some who were skillful or technologically inclined only stayed for a short while, and then took off. Perhaps they had this hidden attachment to fame and reputation. Everyone knows that those who work at the construction site have no special skills and they mainly do manual labor.
I recalled Master's words,
“Younger people, by contrast, are less apt to develop higher powers—especially young guys. That’s because they still want to work hard towards their goals in life, and they would use any powers they gained to these ends, as if they were tools for achieving things. ” (The Second Talk, Zhuan Falun)
Ultimately, the root issue remains: “Is it for self-validation or validating Dafa?”
Letting Go of Attachment to Money
I want to give another example about giving up personal interest. I gave up high wages in China and came to the U.S. to live through hardships. I felt that I already took personal gain very lightly. My job with the media project brought a small income but it was fine with me. However, I did volunteer work here at the construction site every day. Not only did I not make any money, my budget was getting tighter and tighter. I started getting nervous.
I developed fear of the “financial persecution” that the old forces reinforced, and thought of taking two days to get a part-time job in ordinary society to earn an income. Nevertheless, whenever the thought popped up, I got some hints from Master that I needed to cherish this hard-to-come-by cultivation opportunity. I enlightened that if I got a job, I would be trapped by the old forces, and little by little, my time spent on Fa-validation would be reduced, and in the end, I would probably quit the project and walk the path arranged by the old forces.
Therefore, when the balance in my bank account was approaching zero, I felt that I had reached the limit. At the time, my child demanded that I buy this and that, which made me realize that I was suffering from this kind of stress in life. I saw my face in the mirror and found that I still had notions about being poor and being rich, and still differentiated between having money and having no money.
I thought over Master's teachings concerning this issue. Master said,
“Dafa disciples are walking on a righteous path in validating the Fa and are saving all beings, so all aspects of that path, including financial conditions, should come together. If you don't do well in certain regards the evil will take advantage of the gap. With anything, as long as you do it well, everything will change.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York”)
I told myself that I am a Fa-rectification Dafa disciple. I am doing Fa-validation things, and I denied any financial persecution forced on me by the old forces. I read the Fa and firmly believe in the Fa and Master. I want to follow the path that Master arranged for me. I tried my very best to restrain the fear and worry about “having no money,” and continued to work hard at my construction job. When it was so clear that Master arranged the path for me, all I had to do was the three things that I ought to do. Whenever the human mindset surfaced, I made attempts to suppress it, and cultivate it away.
When I had to deal with the trial of paying the most basic living expenses, the “personal gains” which I called “money” were right in front of me and declared war on me: You can’t do things without me! Yet I wasn’t moved. I conducted myself as required by the Fa. Dafa practitioners assist Master to do Fa-rectification and save sentient beings, and do not get influenced by money. I proceeded with the three things steadfastly. In the process, I found that I regarded money like dirt. I no longer had any notions about being poor or rich, or of having money or not having money. When the balance in my bank account showed a negative four-digit number, my mind wasn't moved and I continued to work calmly at the construction site every day.
The negative four-digit number had no effect on me, and I still acted pleasant, with no anxieties, embarrassment or agitation. Then, a miracle happened – three different sums of money arrived from three different sources, and all at once, my bank account jumped to a positive figure. My financial situation was drastically changed. It was indeed as Master said, “One only needs to focus on practicing and one’s teacher will handle the rest” (The Second Talk, Zhuan Falun)
I enlightened that when our righteous thoughts and human mind are competing, and when the tribulations arranged by the old forces are combined with the things arranged by Master in other dimensions, they were all testing us to see to what degree we believed in Master and the Fa. As long as we dare to do it and walk the path arranged by Him, cultivate ourselves along the way, Master will direct us!
When I realized that my deeply rooted attachments of reputation and personal gain were being dug out, I sincerely thanked Master for his arrangements. Therefore, each time I thought about how egocentric I was when I first arrived at the construction site, I realized that I had come a long way.
Perhaps it is because we constantly have some human notions that we need to cultivate away, Master arranges for us to be here so that we can better cultivate ourselves, and help to complete this project. In the end, Master will give us the mighty virtue. Only when we genuinely cultivate ourselves, are not moved by any illusion, persist in what we do, remember the reasons for cultivating and our starting point, and cherish the environment, then can we fulfill our vows and achieve what Master has us do.
Figuring Out the Importance of Labor
It is important that we are in a good cultivation state so that we can better clarify the truth about Dafa when involved in projects. But over time, it is easy to neglect personal cultivation.
When my cultivation state is not good, many human notions will surface. When I didn't study the Fa much or was too lazy to do the exercises, I could not find anything to do at the construction site. The day would slip by without my having accomplished much, being given only small tasks such as sweeping the floor, running errands, and borrowing some tools. Even though all these are labor, we don't feel like we've done much.
If we are too complacent, the old forces will use it to make us lazy, and then we may slack off. Then, practitioners might have communication gaps and have difficulty cooperating with each other. The old forces will create various problems among us when we don't look inward on time.
When I first arrived, I used an electric grinder to remove rust from steel. Because the rust was very thick, and there were many protruding parts on the steel, after I ground one area many times, I found that the rust was still very thick. So I needed to grind it again. My impatience surfaced and as a result I almost had an accident, but Master saved me.
I apologized to Master in my mind. I knew it was I who didn't guard my xinxing well. Impatience, anxiety and irritation were all surfacing. In fact, all these tasks were the process of my cultivation, Not only did I not examine myself, but I also started feeling resentment.
I thought about it afterwards and regretted my attitude. What did I resent anyway? All those who came to work at the construction site were arranged by Master. We are cultivators, so we must be humble and be willing to cultivate ourselves. When we do things in a genuine and earnest manner, as if we were grinding rust, it is as if Master is helping us to get trained and be better. But not only did I not cultivate myself, but on the contrary, I complained about this and that; the fact that the grinder didn’t injure me already indicated that Master had helped me solve a big problem – which was miraculous. Since then, I have worked hard to grind the rugged century-old rust over and over again, and I have been grinding it until the doors to the building could close.
There were many similar cases. When I met with conflicts, I tried to not be affected by what happened on the surface. We are practitioners who do marvelous things in the human world. When arrangements were being made for us to be here to validate the Fa, it was certain that Master took this opportunity to help us pay off some karma, and help us succeed. We should be very thankful, and get rid of more of our human notions. But, we are often fooled by illusion, especially when some people make remarks like, “You’re so extraordinary! The work is very labor intensive and so tiring!” If we follow the human mentality, we will be tired, delay the project completion, and disappoint Master.
Cooperating with others also works the same way. If we don't do well in our task, we will cause trouble for the group that continues the task. I experienced this issue a few times. When some practitioners were installing drywall, it was obvious that the screw was too long and it stuck out on the other side of the wall.
My first reaction was, “Who did this? The job was so poorly done!” Accusations and complaints poured out, and I was looking down on the person, was jealous, and had a competitive mindset.
But then I noticed that a section of drywall was missing. So I measured the area, cut a piece of drywall that matched the frame, and prepared to screw it in. However, I suddenly realized that my measurement was off. I was frustrated. The area was so small. How could I have measured it wrong? What to do with the drywall that had been cut? How could I have done the job so poorly? When I asked myself these questions, suddenly, I realized that the accusations and complaints made earlier were exactly about myself. Cultivation is indeed so serious! When I saw the problem, my first thought should be about myself: why was I so sloppy and stupid? I shouldn’t have laid blame, complained, become jealous or competitive. It was I who was self-centered, and I also saw that unkind heart well hidden!
There were many similar incidents. Through these incidents, I felt that Master was reminding me that I needed to look inside at all times and be a steadfast practitioner! We need to be kind to others. We are all in the same boat, starting from knowing nothing, and we learn through experience. It is the desire of wanting to validate the Fa that binds us together. When there is a mistake we need to look inside first, then we can compassionately remind each other where we need to improve. When we do that, our righteous thoughts will be forged, and the negative mentality will be discarded.
Sometimes I couldn’t stand how things were being handled. I felt that it was a waste of time and manpower. Originally, I thought of approaching a team leader or coordinator to share my understanding, but I didn’t. Instead, I got someone who spoke eloquently to talk to the group and express my views.
When I really thought of it, I realized that I was being very cunning. If I were that responsible, I should have openly discussed the matter. We are guided by the Fa, and there isn’t anything that cannot be solved. I realized that it was still that self-centered mentality of mine that was at work. There were also the attachments of looking down on people and jealousy. Master helped me see those attachments. So whenever I encountered some problems, I didn’t share with people and kept quiet. It looked as if I wasn’t cunning anymore, but I knew I still had the mindset of self-protection and didn’t want to offend others. In fact, these can become a hindrance to the project’s development and show a lack of compassion.
I also noticed that in the process, subconsciously, I often had complaints about my coordinator. For example, I questioned why things weren't arranged this way, or why wouldn't he take care of that thing? These thoughts indicated that I wasn't cultivating genuinely, and that I was trapped by the old forces. Master has addressed these issues many times.
“If you are focused on the superficial, ordinary human things, then you are attached and are using human thinking. Don’t give weight to such things. If you can manage to quietly complete what you notice is lacking, quietly do well what you should do, and quietly do something well when you find it to have been done less than ideally, then the multitude of gods will have tremendous admiration for you and exclaim that this person is simply extraordinary. Only doing things this way counts as what a Dafa disciple should do.” (“Be More Diligent,”Collected Fa Teachings, Vol X)
If we can let go of our ego and do what the Fa requires us to do, and actively fill in and do what the coordinator might have missed, we will be able to resolve conflicts, meet expectations, and that's exactly what Master hopes for us.
“Actually, though, as a Dafa disciple, if in such cases your thoughts are righteous, and what you are thinking about is cultivation, about being responsible, and about how it’s something that should be done well, then you should quietly take whatever it is that you feel is lacking and do it well. That is in fact how a Dafa disciple should handle it. If all Dafa disciples could manage to handle things in this manner, everything out there would go extremely well, for sure.” (“Be More Diligent,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol X)
I noticed that there were barriers between many practitioners, and some even left the project team. I felt sorry for them because we all started from scratch, and eventually became good at certain things, while some could even provide technical support. Yet, their human mindset blocked them from playing their roles, and they left the project, still complaining.
“Everyone has had a part in it, so you shouldn’t try to pin the blame on anyone. ” (The Seventh Talk, Zhuan Falun)
When that happened, I looked inside and saw that I was not innocent. Although I had a sense of responsibility for the project, I didn't sincerely share my understanding with everyone when I witnessed certain things happening. I was guilty for my selfish act.
For Practitioners from Elsewhere Including Those Who Came to Lend Support
This project takes place in Middletown, which is in upstate New York. Many practitioners have chosen to buy or rent property in the area. But there aren't many practitioners working at the construction site. Personally, I admire those who have come for a number of years and worked diligently. They persist with their efforts regardless of the challenges at work or personal issues. Many of them are quite old. Let's think differently. If we were them and encountered this or that problem, would we persist? Would we have the mentality, “I'll work just a couple of days,” or, “I'll work here until next month.” Could we be as persistent as they? We need to look at the advantages of the project, and not be interfered with by conflicts, disagreement, notions or even casual talk and gossip.
Otherwise, we would be doing exactly what the old forces want – that nobody comes, and they want to partition all humans! This includes those who come to support the project. We appreciate your coming from far away. But, please don't regard yourself as an outsider. Please don't just think about your personal cultivation, and forget that this is Fa-rectification cultivation – we need to help the whole body.
It's just as Master said,
“You need to remember one thing I’ve said: when two people have a conflict and a third person sees it, even that third person should think about whether there are any problems on his part—“Why did I happen to see it?” This is all the more so for the two people involved in the conflict. They should examine themselves even more, since they need to cultivate themselves internally.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Eastern U.S. Fa Conference”)
Let's remember the Fa, and together, maintain this cultivation field, and not give the old forces the opportunity to take advantage of our gaps. Because there are a lot of people coming and going at the construction site, the turnover itself has already brought much inconvenience and difficulties to those at the management level. Therefore, in order to move forward, we need to have strong righteous thoughts to dispel any issues brought by cultivators' human mindset and the old forces' interference. I hope that the project will get practitioners' support in both technology and physical work, and the most important aspect of all is your righteous thoughts!
If the ordinary society is a big temple where practitioners cultivate, I would say that the construction site is one of the small temples in this big environment. We should cherish this special cultivation environment, and work together to make the best use of it. Master will help us remove karma during our cultivation process, and we will establish mighty virtue. Our diligence and genuine practice are things we can do to express our appreciation for Master's immense compassion.
I'd like to conclude this sharing by quoting Master:
“[The way it’s supposed to be is that] I save you, and you save them. Now I am even helping you do it, so if you don’t do it, are you a Dafa disciple? How are you going to fare at the end, when accounts are finally settled? At that point it will be too late for crying.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference”)
Please point out anything inappropriate in my understanding.