[New York Fa Conference] Clarifying the Truth through Wikipedia
Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
In June 2018 a fellow practitioner approached me and suggested that I join her in a “Wikipedia editing workshop” meant for retired people. I was perplexed and thought: “What does it have to do with me?” I am retired and I do write, but I’ve never been involved in writing for an encyclopedia and I didn’t know what I could contribute. I was a relatively new practitioner who had begun practicing cultivation for one and a half years and welcomed any and all offers to participate in truth clarification efforts that came my way, regardless of whether they were part of my plans or intentions. I agreed to join the workshop knowing that from the moment I have begun cultivation, Master has made plans for me, and that I should accept these plans.
“That’s because if you want to cultivate, I will re-arrange your path of cultivation and of life.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Houston)
The workshop was mostly technical. We learned how to work with the software, and got exercises to practice what we’ve learned. My fellow practitioner told me about her wish with regard to a specific article in Wikipedia that practitioners have attempted to upload in the past, but was deleted. “Maybe,” she told me, “after the workshop we’ll be able to upload it.” At that point I wasn’t so interested and didn’t ask her about the article or what had happened.
Towards the end of the workshop all the participants were asked to submit a project. With the help of my fellow practitioner and another practitioner who is the coordinator of the Israeli Falun Dafa Information Center, I agreed to translate from English an article on a China watcher, who is also a human rights defender and an author. It is a long article filled with information. Till then I had never heard of him and didn’t know about his research. But I translated from English since that’s what I was asked to do.
While translating, I learned a lot about forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China, and about this researcher. The workshop instructor helped me when I was encountering problems and when I didn’t know how to proceed. We became friends. Two minutes after I uploaded the article to Wikipedia - it was deleted and disappeared. I was surprised, but my heart didn’t move. I have heard of such cases happening before and I was confident that the instructor would help me. And yet, how come it happened? I had to enlist tolerance and forbearance from within, so as to not be offended and angered. I tried to find out what had happened, to get help and suggestions from the instructor as to why it happened and what I needed to do.
“ If you always maintain a heart of benevolence and compassion, when a problem arises suddenly, you will have a buffer and room to think.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
After making the corrections she suggested, I uploaded the article again. I was satisfied and rested. I thought that’s the end of my role. But the coordinator of the Information Center suggested that I translate an article on Falun Dafa’s founder. In English it’s a long article with biographical details. When translating it I learned a lot about our dear Master. I was very proud that I was given the privilege to upload such an important article and felt pride and satisfaction.
“I’ll tell you a truth: The entire cultivation process for a cultivator is one of constantly giving up human attachments.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
I looked inside and discovered more incidents where I assigned importance to reputation, to pride and satisfaction on account of my achievements. Only this time, I decided to get rid of this attachment.
How to Eliminate an Attachment
In my limited understanding, I first have to acknowledge that an attachment exists, identify it when it awakens, and feel it in my body. I discovered that this attachment gives me a pleasant feeling, and an ordinary person likes to feel pleasant. As a cultivator, I decided to get rid of it, I decided to give up the pleasant feeling, to give up my reputation; and so I didn’t tell other practitioners what I had been doing with Wikipedia. I kept it to myself and to the coordinator and was observing what would happen next.
Towards the end of the work on translating and editing the article, the coordinator suddenly told me that it has been decided not to upload the article on Falun Dafa’s founder to the Hebrew Wikipedia at all. He didn’t give me a reason, but said the decision has been made in coordination with the US Falun Dafa Information Center. I wanted to know the reason and wasn’t given one. I didn’t know why there exists such an article in English but there wouldn’t be an identical one in Hebrew.
My questions were actually me insisting on arguing with the coordinator. They came out of my wish to upload the article on which I had worked for long hours, and to not give up. Once I identified the attachment to being right, I stopped asking him why. I accepted his opinion, but was frustrated for all the wasted work. After a few days I realized that translating this article got me closer to Master, helped me get to know His life and how He started to teach the Fa. It was important and consequential enough for me to get over the frustration, the attachment to reputation, to using my time well, to my pride and talent, to self-validation – all of which I’ve identified as attachments – I reminded myself that it is not me who decides what happens.
Later on, I recalled what Master had said:
“In the future you won't know who I ultimately am. No being in the cosmos will know who I ultimately am.” (Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Lantern Festival)
I then accepted the coordinator’s opinion and gave up on the article.
By then it became apparent to me that I have to continue to work and enrich the Hebrew Wikipedia. I realized that uploading articles to Wikipedia is a channel of clarifying the truth on the Internet to people I’ve never met and never will. I know that many people use Wikipedia, that it’s an open channel, which is accessible to many. I consulted again with the coordinator and it was decided I would next work on an important report about live organ harvesting in China.
While translating the article, I discovered it was not up to date. Since it was originally written in English, two more reports came out. One in 2016 and another in 2018. I added these to the article and summarized them.
I kept translating the article and adding current up-to-date content, linking it to that human rights defender’s article, and to similar articles in other languages. I uploaded it to Wikipedia after it was reviewed by a couple of practitioners who suggested some corrections. While translating, writing and reading the sources, I learned more about forced organ harvesting from Falun Dafa practitioners in China. My knowledge kept expanding.
I then edited the article on Falun Gong and also added information on organ harvesting to other articles like: Genocide, Human Rights in China, and more. All this time I was aware that there is one article still waiting its turn, but before dealing with it I wanted to acquire more experience. After the workshop ended, and since I was still working on articles, the workshop instructor suggested mentoring me. She would be available to my questions at any time.
I Never Planned or Intended It
The article, which practitioners tried to upload in the past and was deleted, was about Organ Harvesting from Falun Gong Practitioners in China. I thought that the right thing will be to start writing it from scratch. I began planning, collecting materials and preparing. I read the article that practitioners had written and was deleted over and over again. Before I managed to begin, I was informed of another Wikipedia workshop about “deleting articles in Wikipedia”, that my former instructor - and now friend - would be leading. I knew I had to participate in order to study this subject in-depth and to understand what strategy I should adopt. In the workshop examples were given of articles that had been deleted and the reasons for the deletion. I sat quietly and listened. I didn’t participate.
At a certain point it was said that if a certain article had been deleted, it would be hard to impossible to upload it again with the same name. Once I’ve heard that - I was alarmed, since I realized the implications for the article I was working on. I realized it would be pointless to write it from scratch, it would be pointless to upload it, since it would just be deleted again. Two of the workshop participants were veteran editors in Wikipedia. They said that an article that has been deleted could only be re-uploaded – even if it’s been re-written - only with the help of a veteran editor. I couldn’t stop myself from saying: “please help me to upload again an article that was deleted”. I appealed to the veteran editors present there. It was a request for help. I surprise myself by asking help from people I didn’t know. It was clear to me that they would help and that I must ask them.
One of them agreed to check it out. In Hebrew there is another article called “organ harvesting”, and he didn’t know the difference between the two articles. Thus, I had an opportunity to explain the subject to him. He was shocked by what I told him about forced organ harvesting in China. This spurred him on to help me. He looked up and found the deleted article in the Wikipedia archive. When reading it he was impressed with the content, the serious writing, the depth, and the quotes from many sources, and decided to bring the article back online to Wikipedia. He was especially impressed by the fact that the article appeared in 15 languages. He explained to me what corrections I need to make so that the article would be up and stay online for good, and so there would be no excuses to take it down. With the click of a button, the article was back on Hebrew Wikipedia. Though there was still work ahead, I was very happy.
I called the coordinator to let him know and share my joy, and at the same time I knew that I can’t wallow in this satisfaction. I realized that this was another opportunity to clarify the truth to more people, like the veteran editor. The workshop instructor asked my permission to write an email to the workshop participants to tell them what happened and to send them the link to the article that was uploaded again. Since then 600 people viewed it. I keep improving it with the help of other practitioners. I work on it from the comfort of my home, in the peace and quiet of my room, and it can reach many people for an unlimited period of time. This is the advantage of Wikipedia that its articles are long-lasting.
“And this is the reason Dafa disciples are to clarify the truth. The goal is to get rid of the evil’s lies, to enable people to see the CCP’s true face, to clear away the sins committed by people against Gods and Buddhas, and to thereby save the world’s people.” (“The Ultimate Goal of Clarifying the Truth,” The Essentials of Diligent Progress Vol. III)
I had come to that second workshop with no expectations and was in a state of wuwei. It didn’t occur to me that it would be possible to upload that article from the archive; I didn’t even know it was kept there. During the workshop the possibility to get help from the veteran editor came up, it was his initiative to upload it again, I had not done a thing. It sort of happened on its own. Like a miracle, or maybe Master’s intervention.
I realized that it makes no sense to want things. It never occurred to me that such a possibility could happen. I realized that in a state of tranquility, of wuwei, things can happen easily and effortlessly. This is indeed what had transpired.
Clarifying the Truth While Fundraising
The head of the Wikipedia association in Israel called me to tell me that she has applied for a grant from an American foundation that assists the elderly in the US and in Israel. The money is meant to fund workshops in Wikipedia for retired persons, like the one I went through. The foundation asked to interview one of the workshop graduates, before they decide whether to grant the funding. Apparently the head of the association, who didn’t know anything about the persecution, had also read the articles I uploaded and was impressed by them. She was shocked by the persecution and organ harvesting. She thought it’s a worthy subject. So she chose me for the interview.
Initially I was hesitant and didn’t know what I would say to the foundation’s representative. I asked the association head what she would suggest for me to say, and she said to tell of my experience in the workshop and what I had done since. Actually, she was hinting to me to clarify the truth. It was such a clear hint that I couldn’t ignore it!
I realized I had to prepare for the conversation that was to be held in English.
I was reminded of the simulations we conducted preparing for Shen Yun ticket sales. We learned how to talk through the simulations. I asked a fellow practitioner with whom I used to do these simulations to practice with me. She agreed. We talked over the phone in English. She asked me to describe the workshop, to tell what I had written and edited, to use the proper terms, and to tell about the persecution, organ harvesting, and of Falun Gong. At the end of the simulation she gave me feedback. This prepared me for the actual conversation.
The phone call was my privilege to clarify the truth to a manager at a wealthy American foundation, which had never heard of the persecution or of Falun Gong before. At the end of our conversation I suggested sending her links to the English Wikipedia articles I had translated into Hebrew. She was glad of the opportunity to learn more about these topics and thanked me for the conversation and for the links, in an emotional email. I hope the local association gets the funding.
I observed how focused actions in one place, have opened up a multitude of acquaintances and opportunities to clarify the truth on the Internet and from person to person. I intend to continue my work on Wikipedia.
Thank you, honorable Master and fellow Israeli cultivators.
Please point it out if anything is not in accordance with the Fa.
(Presented at the 2019 New York Fa Conference)