Shen Yun Helped Me Eliminate Attachments
(Minghui.org) Greetings esteemed Master, and fellow practitioners:
I am a Falun Dafa practitioner from Mexico, and have practiced Falun Dafa for nine years. I want to share some of my experiences while involved in promoting Shen Yun. Although there is so much to tell, I will restrict myself to my experience of finding and eliminating attachments.
My first contact with Shen Yun was through a book that I found in the car of the assistant of the practice site I attended. Back then, I had been cultivating for a very short time, and knew nothing about Shen Yun.
Two years after I found Dafa, in 2012, I relocated to a new city where there were no practitioners, so I decided to establish a practice site. I thought it would be very easy to do at first, until I recognized the enormous responsibility of setting up a practice site. Thus, I started to study the Fa more. That was one of the most diligent periods in my cultivation.
First Shen Yun Performance in Mexico
I found out what Shen Yun was about – Master wanted to bring the beauty of Dafa to the world's people through a dance company.
When I heard that Shen Yun would perform in Mexico for the first time, I just couldn't believe it. I was living in such a remote place, and was experiencing work and economic difficulties. Therefore, I thought that there was little chance for me to see Shen Yun. However, a practitioner whom I barely knew called me and wanted to give me a ticket to see the show. I could hardly believe it, but I did accept the generous offer. I was working in sales at the time, and I wasn't doing very well, but Master arranged everything. I did well on a sale that gave me just enough money to buy the plane ticket to Mexico City to see the show.
A couple of days before the Shen Yun performances, I arrived in Mexico City. The practitioner who had given me the ticket took me to the group Fa study, where they also coordinated the Shen Yun activities. Everything was new to me. I had never been among so many practitioners. Also, in my city I could not form a solid Fa study group.
There were practitioners from other countries studying the Fa in three languages. What a marvelous surprise! While sending righteous thoughts, I could really feel Dafa’s power for the first time, I could see myself as a small particle of Dafa, integrating into a huge mass of light to which countless particles already had integrated.
I was asked to support the catering team at the theater, which was a wonderful experience. Yet, I felt awkward in many ways because I didn't know what to do or how to conduct myself. But thanks to the support of the practitioners on the team, I was able to do what I needed to do. It was a very moving and awe-inspiring period, and I was really grateful to Master for giving me that opportunity.
I was able to see Shen Yun perform for the first time on the last day of their tour, and the performance was wonderful.
“The curtain opens, and there is paradiseDeities, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, auspicious clouds Grand instruments begin the divine musicRibbons fluttering, heavenly maidens danceVajras, Arhats, and celestial Kings are presentThe backdrop is rainbow-like, the momentum majestic Merciful light of Fa melts the audience’s heartsA powerful energy field, 5,000 stunned eyesIt feels more like a dream than a showIt’s a realm where divine beings are right besidePeople feel grateful for the trip, as if just savedHaving to wait for next year’s show seems so hard.”(“Watching Shen Yun,” Hong Yin III)
The experience was unforgettable. However, it bothered me deeply to see that many seats in the Theater were empty, and knowing what this loss meant for sentient beings.
The next year, Shen Yun did not return to Mexico due to a variety of complex reasons. The conflicts between practitioners showed us that we needed to improve a lot in our cultivation in order to be worthy for Shen Yun to perform again in Mexico.
Fortunately, in his infinite mercy, Master allowed the company to return to Mexico in 2015, and I got permission from my supervisors to travel twice to Mexico City to help with Shen Yun sales.
Joining the Shen Yun Sales Team
One of my experiences that year was amazing. A young couple approached the sales booth in a shopping center. I didn't need to say much, because when I opened the brochure, the young woman immediately began shedding tears. Her boyfriend was a musician, and decided to buy tickets to attend the show with her.
When I joined the team, I thought that my sales experience would be beneficial in the sale of Shen Yun tickets. It certainly was, but I also found that things were very different when it came to selling tickets for Shen Yun. Every detail counts. There are tests for one to pass at all times, and every moment is an opportunity for the practitioner to cultivate. My naivety, my awkwardness and my lack of understanding of the Fa led me to make many mistakes, but I understood that it was part of my cultivation process. I understood that everything was also new for the local practitioners. We had the joy and pure heart of assisting Master in saving sentient beings, but each of us handled things differently, according to our different levels of understanding. This caused continuous friction, and was part of the process of integrating and learning to coordinate such a big project as Shen Yun.
There were countless challenges and conflicts, but I felt that I could see things from the perspective of the Fa, and everything went well, given our strong righteous thoughts.
Balancing Different Roles While Supporting Shen Yun
The experience was different in 2016. On that occasion, Master allowed me to spend almost 2 months in Mexico City to support the sales. In addition, I had started working at The Epoch Times as a volunteer, and I strove to do my best to succeed in assisting Master in both projects.
The tests increased that year, and I felt the pressure. Despite everything, I was able to maintain a righteous mind most of the time. However, as I stayed longer in Mexico City, I got more involved in the local activities, and also in the conflicts that can arise between practitioners as part of coordination. As a practitioner coming from a different city, I felt that I could draw a line, which would allow me to maintain a sense of clarity and avoid being moved. Or, I would try to not to get too involved. However, I often judged my fellow practitioners because I felt that they were not diligent. Also, I had developed an arrogant attitude by thinking that I had a better understanding and was more diligent in Fa study.
At the time, my understanding of many things was on a superficial level and I thought that all of the difficulties were due to attachments. However, I witnessed how much pressure and interference came from other dimensions, and this also caused problems between us because of our gaps. Yet, because of my level at the time, I could not understand it clearly. This made me look outside and blame others.
“A benevolent person always has a heart of compassion.With no discontentment or hatred, he takes hardship as joy.”(“Realms,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
My mind was very clear as to why I was in Mexico City, and even if challenges and difficulties presented themselves, I was willing to do whatever Master required of me.
One of the experiences that year was a visit to a very large national union. I met with the official who was in charge of the cultural activities of the union. The response was incredible. It looked as if we would achieve a massive group ticket sale, but it wasn’t achieved in the end.
I felt that this happened because of the gaps in my cultivation, as well as in the coordination of the team. I believed that my attachments of sentimentality, of showing off, and lust had interfered with the group sale.
Then, two of the union staff members called me and asked me to personally sell tickets in their office. One of them told me that she had dreamed that she was attending the show – she was so excited. When she attended the show, she granted our media an interview and, between tears and trembling with emotion, she expressed how wonderful the show had seemed to her.
During the period of the Shen Yun performances, my coordinator at The Epoch Times asked for my support as part of the media staff, to write notes about the performances. Master allowed me to see all the shows that season as part of my job, and I was also able to go to the shows in another city, where the company would be performing for the first time. I just followed Master’s arrangements, and the way I was supposed to carry it out naturally opened before me.
Promoting Shen Yun in Another City
We had a new opportunity to host Shen Yun in Mexico in 2017, and there are no words to describe how wonderful that experience was. Two more cities were added to the Mexican shows, and I was tasked with coordinating the ticket sales in one of the new cities.
Conditions were difficult for many reasons. There were no practitioners in that city, we experienced bad weather, mobility around the city was difficult, and the cost of living was quite high. Besides, I had quit my job so that I could go to that city, which affected my financial resources. I had thought that I would solve the job issue by looking for a part-time job, so I could dedicate myself to Shen Yun the rest of the time. However, there were not enough practitioners to help with the project, so my coordinator asked me to work full-time on ticket sales, and I accepted. I assumed that more practitioners would arrive, as several expressed interest, but my hope did not materialize. During those two-and-a-half months, one practitioner could only join me on weekends and one more joined us almost at the end of the promotion period.
Selling tickets for about 10 hours a day by myself for an entire month was difficult, and I faced some of my worst attachments. As there was no help from other practitioners, I began to worry about my economic situation. and I felt that this was an injustice. Fortunately, the coordinator had arranged for my lodging, food and transportation. Other practitioners also supported me as they could, and living and working with them represented great opportunities for my cultivation. It took me a long time to understand and see the merits of some of my fellow practitioners.
Over these years, I have come to understand that working at a Shen Yun booth for ticket sales is a very sacred thing. At first, when I participated in sales in Mexico City, I felt that everything was getting easier. But now it was at another level and I was not only facing difficulties, I was seeing my attachments more clearly.
Sometimes, when I was selling tickets at the booth, I could clearly perceive thoughts of lust toward another practitioner. To let go of these thoughts, I tried to make an effort to memorize the Fa teachings about lust. This helped a lot to control my heart and eliminate those perverse thoughts, as well as sleepiness, which went beyond physical fatigue and which, as far as I can understand now, was also linked to the attachment of lust.
That year I gained many understandings that helped me see the seriousness of cultivation. I struggled to do everything well and to give my best to every task the coordination assigned me, no matter what it was or the problems I had to face. Coming from the Caribbean coast, I thought that the hardest thing would be to withstand the cold Northern winter. But it turned out that the hardest thing was to act righteously when facing daily xinxing conflicts
“While one is in a conflict, the clashes between each other even surpass the physical pains. I would say that the physical pains are the easiest thing to endure, as they can be overcome by biting the teeth tightly. When a conflict takes place between one another, the mind is the hardest thing to control.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
Again, the best aspect of selling tickets was the people. Finding predestined sentient beings was an amazing experience. It made me forget how difficult everything else was. I really enjoyed the contact with those who purchased tickets. I also did my best to study the Shen Yun website, watching the videos, and reading the artists' cultivation experiences. And of course I studied the Fa, and thus achieved excellent sales.
During that period, I became less naive and I understood that living with practitioners amid all the pressure, and having responsibility for the promotion of Shen Yun, was not easy. Coordinating practitioners with different levels of understanding and different attachments was difficult, but it can help one's cultivation.
Interactions between practitioners were also complex and living together helped me see several attachments I'd been struggling with for a long time. The main attachments were those related to envy, such as: creating rumors, intrigue and contention. I also saw my selfishness manifested on multiple occasions by putting my own feelings and reputation above what was best for the team.
I continued my work as a volunteer for The Epoch Times, and experienced difficulties there as well. I had to work on my notes at night after arriving home from the sales booth. I thought that like in the prior year, I would help the media during the days of the performances, but this was not possible because the ticket booths were open until the last day of the show, and I was the only one available for this task. So, on this occasion, I needed to remove that attachment and follow Master's arrangements. He gave me the opportunity to watch all the shows again, and the Shen Yun's performances were a big success.
After returning home in 2017, I strove to be more diligent in my cultivation. Thanks to my participation in the new city the year before, I realized that the difficulties were caused by my own gaps and I decided to make a serious effort to prepare for the next Shen Yun season. I tried to improve in my Fa study, and above all, I tried to improve in looking inward and eliminating the resentment I felt as a result of the lack of support from practitioners. I struggled to understand the role of each practitioner and the difficulties we all faced in our various situations, and this helped me calm my heart.
Shen Yun 2018: Eliminating My Ego
During the 2018 season, I was working full time for The Epoch Times and just one month before I started the season's promotion I was asked to coordinate a team. Once again, everything was new, and I couldn't get organized. Sometimes I didn't have time for basic things in daily life or to study the Fa, which was a very serious mistake on my part. I thought that I wouldn't be able to participate in Shen Yun that year, but coordination insisted, and we finally agreed that I would go to support a certain city, but with specific time constraints because I couldn't leave my job at The Epoch Times.
Things got even harder that year. The pressure was greater and the coordinator could not find enough practitioners to work at the ticket booth. We were only 4 people again, and one of them was a first-timer. Things were even more complicated than in the prior year. When I realized that there would be no additional support, I began to feel that I'd experienced a great injustice.
I was worried because I realized the great need to man the booths. The morale of the practitioners was very unstable, and I sensed pessimism taking hold many times. The task seemed increasingly difficult.
“As you know, our manpower is very limited right now, so in your efforts to validate the Fa, don't neglect things when you turn your attention to something else. In other words, we shouldn't focus all of our efforts on one thing. We should try our best to cover things as a whole and do a good job with all the things we're now working on.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. II)
I divided my time between working part-time at The Epoch Times, and part-time attending the sales booth's changing schedules – depending on the situation, and at night I would keep working. Sometimes I'd go to bed at around 2:00 a.m., and I had to get up early to do the exercises and study the Fa. It was very difficult for me to get up. Most of the time I just couldn't get up. Then I tried to make time at night, but I couldn't get organized. I began to feel exhausted and it became increasingly difficult to do everything. I would get up to study the Fa, but sometimes I couldn't read with a calm mind. There were many times when I had to get up to work early to finish urgent tasks before I left, and I couldn't study with the rest of the group, so I'd study the Fa alone.
Under these circumstances, when difficulties appeared I could not meet the standard of a practitioner, which only worsened the problems.
“Of course, I don't think it's necessarily bad that you have arguments when conflicts arise. That's because in cultivation what you have to do is get rid of attachments, and in cultivation what you have to do is improve yourself; so those ordinary human attachments of yours have to be exposed so that you can get rid of them. But sometimes, because we don't keep up our Fa-study, we handle like an ordinary person some of the things we do to spread the Fa and save sentient beings. This makes a lot of the sacred things we do not so sacred, it prevents us from doing them well, and it also causes people in society not to understand us sometimes. So it not only prevents you from improving, but also causes Dafa some losses.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. II)
I tried to forget all the difficulties when I was at the sales booth, but it was getting more difficult. I had several conflicts with the practitioners who were living in the same house as I. At that point, when the coordinator would ask me to help her with something else, I really felt it a very difficult burden to carry. I was also feeling very resentful because I had learned that some fellow practitioners had complained about my work the year before, so I didn't want to do anything but sell tickets and put up posters. As a result of all the grievances, I was in an inner struggle all the time.
Fortunately, exchanging cultivation experiences with practitioners, including with my team from The Epoch Times, the unconditional support of my coordinator and my fellow practitioners, helped me recover my righteous thoughts. I decided again to give my best and take advantage of the opportunity Master had given me to cultivate myself. But when things would get really difficult again, I would slide backwards in my cultivation.
I began to feel that the coordinator was treating me unfairly, because I felt she demanded a lot and did not understand my situation. I was tired and overwhelmed with all the responsibilities. My cultivation state started to worsen. All of this was reflected in the ticket sales, and there were still many tickets to sell about a month and a half before the Shen Yun company arrived. I tried to look inward, but it became increasingly difficult, and I began to see attachments of competition and jealousy towards practitioners who came to help during the last month.
Part of me wanted to do what I had done in the previous years, and dedicate myself totally to supporting the promotion, but now I couldn't. I wanted to sell a lot of tickets, but given my poor cultivation state I couldn't, and the attachment to competition also started to emerge in me.
“Therefore, he competes and fights all his life with a badly-wounded heart. He might feel very bitter and tired, always finding things unfair. Being unable to eat or sleep well, he feels sad and disappointed. When he gets older, he will end up in poor health and all kinds of illnesses will surface” (Lecture Seven, Zhuan Falun)
I felt more and more that I was facing injustice, with two crushing burdens on my shoulders – Shen Yun and The Epoch Times. In addition, the attachment to lust was trying to control me, and it was something I had to fight constantly. I recited the Fa, and sent righteous thoughts to keep my field clean, but the attachments of sentimentality and wanting to have a partner would open up gaps in my field, and thoughts of lust would come back.
As the show’s arrival approached, I felt depressed and sunk into a tribulation that I seemed unable to overcome. One day, walking through the shopping center, I asked Master for help so I could get out of that situation. I immediately felt that the sky opened, a light shone on me, and I realized that the main problem was a heavy heart of envy toward my fellow practitioners – mainly the coordinator. This was quite irrational, because we'd had a very good relationship before. Despite her great efforts, I could only see what was wrong in her actions. I had many thoughts of criticism and I was constantly complaining in my mind. I realized that this was very selfish; I was just thinking about how difficult things were for me, not thinking about the great responsibility and pressure that the coordinator shouldered.
From that moment on, I focused on eliminating jealousy, and ticket sales started flowing again. Days before the arrival of Shen Yun, we were practically sold out and new theater sections were opened.
That year, Master arranged for me to support the team as part of the media coverage. I was eager to gain more journalism experience, as part of my work for The Epoch Times, and went to the city that was on Shen Yun's first stop in the company's Mexican tour. After months of hard work, and much suffering from the attachments I couldn't let go of, I felt like I was in an oasis in the middle of the desert, admiring the show. I was fascinated by the beauty, and felt more clearly how the stories presented in the performances helped me rectify the negative states within me.
Yet back in the city where I'd been working on ticket sales, when the Shen Yun company arrived, a series of mixed feelings overwhelmed me. The joy of Shen Yun was there, but it was marred by all the injustice I felt and the resentment I held towards my fellow practitioners. I wondered how these practitioners could sit there so serene, regardless of what we had to go through with our ticket sales efforts. I was constantly looking outside and judging their behavior with feeling of deep anger. I couldn’t calm my heart, even though the ticket sales were a big success and the audience was clearly delighted with the show.
“A wicked person is born of jealousy.Out of selfishness and anger he complains about unfairness towards himself.”(“Realms,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
After returning home, I tried again to look inward and study the Fa, but it wasn't that easy this time.
2019 Shen Yun Promotion: Finding and Eliminating Anger
In mid-2018, Master´s arrangements took me to the city where The Epoch Times' Mexico office was opened. I was also asked to coordinate the ticket sales team. From the beginning, I faced many challenges to form the team, but after a few months it was basically done. Then, the Shen Yun promotion campaign began.
This time there were some things that I managed to do better, mainly balancing my work for The Epoch Times with my promotional activities for Shen Yun. However, the feelings of resentment and injustice that still filled my mind due to the experiences of 2018, were preventing me from fully joining the body of local practitioners.
I constantly looked outside and disagreed with many aspects of the overall coordination. After sharing with fellow practitioners, some of them pointed out some of my mistakes, and I finally realized that I had to improve. Gradually, I could calm down and focus only on the work I had to do.
One of the most decisive experiences was a conflict with three practitioners who had accused me in front of the Shen Yun coordinator of trying to interfere with sales coordination.
“Perhaps in the future you may be slapped in the face twice, and you will lose face in front of someone whom you least want to see it. It is to see how you will deal with this issue and whether you can endure it.” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)
It was very painful, but also a great opportunity for me to recognize my strong attachments to reputation and anger.
I had a lot of accumulated anger because of the experiences of prior years, including feeling that my reputation was damaged. I resented having to live in a strange place where I initially did not choose to be, and for all the difficulties I had to go through with every step that was needed for the advancement of The Epoch Times office. I was also angry because of the conflicts and misunderstandings with my fellow practitioners, for being alone and away from my family, for feeling that despite all my efforts sometimes things were not going well, for being slandered by various practitioners, and worst of all, now three practitioners were accusing me of something I hadn't done. Having to lose face in front of the Shen Yun coordinator was the last straw and fury took hold of me. I reacted very badly. I forgot to act first and foremost as a cultivator and treated the situation with the selfishness of an ordinary person.
“You're cultivators, so how could you be like that? But I know, and I'll tell you the same thing again: although certain problems with certain people may seem glaring, they have in fact cultivated very well with some things that don't show. You can't compare them to ordinary people, and even less should you think that the conflicts they have are simply conflicts. Those are opportunities for them to improve themselves. (“Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York”)
If you were all one big harmonious group, everything was really calm and just fine with all of you, no one upset anyone else, and everyone was making others happy, then that would be bad, (audience laughs) it really would be, for you couldn't cultivate then. If nobody's antagonism came to the surface and you couldn't help each other improve, then it wouldn't be a cultivation group. What differentiates us most from ordinary people is, when conflicts and tensions arise, we are able to examine ourselves. (Applause) It's absolutely not that we don't have conflicts come up. When certain aspects of ourselves that we have not cultivated well come out, there will be friction, and there will be discord and differences in opinion. Then look to see where the problems lie. Each person should examine himself for the reasons: 'Did I do something poorly, and that's what made people disagree with me?' And the other party should do some thinking too: 'Was there a problem with the way I brought up the issue, and that's what made people not accept it?' If each person can examine himself, then that is cultivation. If you didn't examine yourself then you have not cultivated, or at least in terms of that one issue.”(“Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York”)
I felt very bad after this experience. I was so sad, discouraged and pessimistic that I even thought about giving up coordinating for The Epoch Times. I wanted to go back to my hometown and return to my previous life. After exchanging understandings with my fellow practitioners and studying the Fa more, I realized how wrong I was. I began to eliminate the accumulated anger and, on one occasion, as I sent righteous thoughts, I saw the demon of anger coming out of my chest and taking the form of a lynx of fire. I felt that I had removed a great layer of that attachment, after which I felt lighter and more cheerful again. I was able to offer apologies to two of the practitioners I had had the conflict with, and everything started to get better.
On the other hand, Master allowed me to promote Shen Yun in the three Mexican cities where Shen Yun performed this season, both in sales and helping with the media coverage. This represented great opportunities for me to find and eliminate even more attachments.
Through the show, Master helped me understand that I must value my cultivation environment, as well as every Dafa disciple, and every sentient being whom I've met and will meet. Master has established our predestined relationships, and they are there to help me in my cultivation.
I know that I still have to make a more diligent effort to eliminate the feeling of injustice, resentment, lust, envy, anger, laziness and pride, among other attachments, which my participation in Shen Yun has brought to light. I understand that the standard keeps rising, and that I cannot take things lightly while facing such responsibility, and I cannot be pleased with small advances.
“You may say: 'Teacher has said that cultivation practice takes time—let’s do it slowly'. That will not do! You must be strict with yourself. In cultivation of the Buddha Fa, you should strive forward vigorously.” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)
I thank Master for the path he has arranged for me and for the opportunities he gives me over and over again despite my faults. I thank Master for allowing me the privilege of dedicating myself these last four years to Shen Yun.
Despite everything, I have always maintained the faith that everything is possible for Master, and that Shen Yun will be a success wherever it goes. It is up to every one of us to seize the opportunity to be part of the journey. I hope I can play a better role next season, and regain the genuine joy of assisting my Master in the salvation of sentient beings, which I lost by not letting go of my attachments, and by my lack of diligence.
“All of this will be passed down in history, and it might be passed down forever and ever. (Applause) Once this affair is over, however Dafa disciples did during this period of time [will be as it is], and there won’t be a second chance, for the evil will no longer exist. The evil beings have gradually been eliminated to the point that they are powerless, so there won’t be another opportunity for them to test you again or for you to go through that process all over again. However you did will probably be set. Fortunately, this affair hasn’t yet ended. As a Dafa disciple, no matter what setting you are in, you should do well, do even better, and quickly eliminate your shortcomings and the things you shouldn’t have.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2014 San Francisco Fa Conference”)
(Presented at the 2019 Mexico Fa Conference)