An Artist's Sharing on Cultivation
(Minghui.org) I was born and raised in a family of artists and grew up loving to draw. I studied at China's top art school. After graduating, my work centered around painting, art design, and teaching.
As a perfectionist, my mind was constantly focused on the realities of everyday life, especially after I got married. My life took a positive turn when I started practicing Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) in March 1999. I regained my health and had a cheerful outlook on life.
Picking Up My Paintbrush after Labor Camp
A few months after I started practicing, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its persecution of Falun Gong. I was constantly harassed by the local police and my employer. Eventually, I was arrested and taken to a brainwashing center and a detention center before being sentenced for my faith. I spent the prime years of my life locked up in a labor camp. As a result, I didn't touch a paintbrush or think about art for many years.
My father encouraged me to pick up my brush and guided me back to where I'd left off before being arrested. Soon, I was hired as a substitute teacher. I also got in touch with other practitioners and studied the Fa with them. My heart was calm again, and I was able to focus on art. Within a few months, people were buying my work.
One time, while riding on a minibus, I talked to the driver and passengers about Falun Gong. Their reactions were positive. I also gave out a dozen USB sticks containing information about Falun Gong and the persecution. One passenger called me a fool for not charging for the USB sticks. I didn't see it like that. I felt that giving out free information was worth every penny if the recipient got to see the facts behind the persecution of Falun Gong.
A few days later, a merchant bought one of my paintings for 10,000 yuan. I knew Master Li (the founder of Falun Gong) was encouraging me and that I shouldn't think about personal loss.
The art market has been slow in recent years, and I am not famous or good at advertising my work. However, I kept the Fa close to my heart and did what a Falun Gong practitioner ought to do. I had a steady stream of customers buying my work.
My child finished high school and is now a college student. We live a comfortable life. I want people to witness the goodness of Dafa through us and see that practitioners do not only suffer the persecution but also lead productive, happy lives.
Finding and Letting Go of Attachments
I was offered a job to draw a mural for a nursery school. I hesitated as I had no experience with such a large-scale project. Ms. Wang, also a practitioner, encouraged me to give it a try and said, “Practitioners’ art has positive energy. Your work will benefit people and validate the Fa as well.” She also urged me to eliminate negative thoughts, ask Master Li for strength, and have confidence in myself.
My doubt resurfaced when I saw the wall I was assigned to paint—it was 40 meters [131 ft.] long and five meters [16 ft.] tall. I had no idea what to draw, how to start, or how long it would take to finish it.
I thought: There are no coincidences for a practitioner; this job must have been planned for me by Master Li. Master had said, “For a cultivator, looking within is a magical tool.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2009 Washington DC International Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. IX)
Upon reflection, I found attachments to fame, comfort, and family life because I didn't want to harm my reputation, take such a laborious job, or let this assignment interfere with my family time. Those thoughts were all based on my own needs, not on letting more people know about Dafa. I needed to eliminate these attachments.
After sorting out my thoughts, I started planning the mural. It would incorporate mythologies, legends, and folklore to teach traditional morals to children. I soon had a good understanding of wall paints and used them to their full artistic effect.
When I was working, parents would stop by the wall and make comments. They praised my drawing and me. I felt good hearing the praise but immediately remembered Master Li's words: “For a cultivator, all the frustrations he comes across among everyday people are trials, and all the compliments he receives are tests.” (“A Cultivator is Naturally Part of It,” Essentials for Further Advancement). I warned myself not to be moved by people's approval.
After painting for nine hours a day, Ms. Wang, a practitioner, gave me a ride home on her electric bike. Each evening, we went to different neighborhoods to distribute informational materials about Falun Dafa. Sometimes my feet hurt from standing and working all day, but after distributing all the fliers, the pain disappeared. I knew it was Master Li watching over us.
We would then head over to a Fa-study group. For two hours, we read the Fa and sent righteous thoughts sitting crossed-legged in the lotus position. It was a breakthrough for me as I hadn't been able to sit crossed-legged for such a long time.
I stayed at Ms. Wang's home when working on the mural. She woke me up at 3:40 a.m. each morning to do the exercises. Initially, I found it difficult to open my eyes so early in the day. We would do the exercises and send righteous thoughts at 6 a.m. She also reminded me to study the Fa during my lunch break. I tried very hard not to nap after lunch. I soon had another breakthrough and let go of the notion that not getting enough rest would hurt my health.
The speed and quality of the work on my mural improved quickly, so I finished it ahead of the deadline. The work provided me opportunities to talk to many people about Falun Gong.
Thought and Words Reflected in the Artwork
Prior to cultivation, I often let my thoughts wander or chat with others while I was drawing. After becoming a practitioner, I realized my thoughts and words would be reflected in my work.
“So, those so-called modern art things are usually not too good, because they are not only harmful to the painters but they also bring psychological harm to those who view the work, and they seriously damage people's moral values as well.” (“Teaching the Fa at the Discussion on Creating Fine Art,” Teaching the Fa at the Discussion on Writing Music and Creating Fine Art)
My understanding is that as a practitioner, if my work is not aligned with the Fa or my mind isn't pure when I draw, my artwork would harm its viewers.
Nowadays, I search for and eliminate anything negative in me before I begin drawing. I listen to Dafa music when I work so my mind stays focused. As a Dafa practitioner, I would only produce good artwork when I cultivate myself well. Only then can my work purify viewers' hearts and awaken their compassion.
Every Drawing Contains Life
I painted a large-scale image of celestial beauties playing musical instruments and hung it in my living room. One night, I saw the figures in the painting smiling at me and heard them say, “Welcome home. Thank you for creating us. We will harmonize Dafa and treasure this opportunity.” Then the painting went still again.
When I was in the detention center, I copied Master Li's drawing of a Bodhisattva onto the cell wall. One night, I saw the Bodhisattva shining with golden light. My cellmates, who were usually in a foul mood, liked looking at the Bodhisattva, saying looking at it made them feel good. Before leaving, I drew many gods and celestial figures on the cell walls.
Conversely, we should not draw objects that have negative energy. When my child was young, I used to scribble drawings while I told her stories. He would be cheerful if I drew objects that had positive energy and got upset if I drew something that was ugly in nature.
I didn't understand the reason at that time. As a cultivator, we have energy, so what we draw is alive in another dimension; thus, it affects us and sometimes harms ordinary people.
If I am not happy when making art, the figures in my drawings would appear sad. For example, I drew two paintings of Chang'e (Chinese goddess of the moon) from a Chinese folk tale. I hung one near the entrance of my home and the other in the living room. A practitioner commented, “The two Chang'e look different. The one in the living room looks holy and pure, while the one near the entrance has a trace of sentimentality in her eyes.”
The practitioner was correct. When I was drawing the Chang'e that I hung near the entrance, my heart was very heavy because a practitioner I knew well had just been arrested. My feelings were reflected in the painting. I let go of sentimentality to other practitioners, and soon the second Chang'e looked cheerful and holy as well.
I also noticed that the expressions of people in my previous paintings also changed for the better as I improved my cultivation.
Cultivation is the Foundation of Producing Quality Art
“Some people have wondered about what’s involved when a person thinks something over with a lot of thought and deliberation. But in many cases when people do things the idea behind it comes to them quickly, and then they act on it; the thinking occurs very quickly, and the idea doesn’t result from any prolonged thought process or careful deliberation. They don’t think it over carefully, and yet they manage to do whatever it is very well.” (“Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public,” Team Yellow Translation)
I once begged Master Li for strengthening when I was searching for ideas to start a painting about Falun Gong. Soon, I had a vision of the finished work in my mind and completed the painting very quickly. Studying the Fa and cultivating ourselves are the foundation of everything we do during the Fa-rectification.