Cultivating While Participating in the Tian Guo Marching Band
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!
I’ve been part of the Tian Guo Marching Band for more than ten years. The experience has been filled with many tribulations and unforgettable memories. With Master’s help every band member brings the wonderfulness of Dafa to people through our performances. Participating in the band has also offered us many cultivation opportunities. The instrument I play is the euphonium. I’d like to share my experiences.
Eliminating Human Notions
Because the marching band had no euphonium, I switched from the trumpet to the tuba. Because the fingering is the same, it was fine; I just needed to blow harder. It was a little daunting at first, however, as the instrument is larger and heavier than the trumpet. When I first played it I didn’t know how to balance the instrument with my left hand so my right hand could press the keys freely.
When I thought about some of the long parade routes, I was worried. I was also concerned that the instument’s size would block my sight during the parade. If there was a pothole on the road, I might step into it, and so on. Master used another practitioner’s words to enlighten me, “Don’t think of it as a heavy burden. If you don’t have the concept of burden, then it won’t be a burden.”
I remember one year when I participated in the St. Patrick’s Parade. It was the first time another practitioner and I played the tuba in a long parade. I was a bit concerned. We did the second exercise before the parade, hoping that it would help us.
“You will be made to give up all of the worldly attachments that you hold onto. Any and all attachments you have must be ground down, and it will take place through any of a number of scenarios where you will be made to stumble or do poorly, and from these come to new spiritual insights. This is how you will make it through and succeed.” (The Fourth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
During other parades there were repeated fights between my righteous thoughts and human thoughts, such as being afraid of cold, heat, heaviness, overexposure to sun, pain, etc. This internal battle always stayed with me. During the Calgary Stampede Parade two years ago, because it was hotter than previous years, the long and intense parade wore me down. I also had little sleep the night before. As a result, I was moved. The attachment of fear kept surfacing, but my righteous thoughts restrained it. In the middle of the parade, some practitioners were handing out water, which reminded me of heat and thirst. I was afraid to drink anything because it might stop me from continuing.
Thousands of people lined the parade route, but I didn’t perform well, and I struggled to complete the parade. I later realized that I didn’t meet Master’s expectation, mainly due to my not fully removing my human notions. I realized that worry (or fear) was created by human thoughts and made me feel tired.
I thought about what the practitioners in China endured. When the police want to force them to stop practicing Falun Dafa, they first create an atmosphere of fear by putting practitioners into a dark and empty room. Then, about twelve large officers holding fully-charged electric batons with blue sparks crackling threaten the practitioner. Before those who side with the evil do something, they want practitioners to hear and see these scary scenes. Whether a practitioners’ thoughts are driven by human judgment at that time determines the result, not the dark room, not the police, and not the electric batons.
After this, I focused more on my thoughts, and used the thought, “It doesn’t always happen this way,” to negate my human judgment. Two years ago, before the long Thanksgiving parade, my knee was swollen and painful, and I was limping. As the parade drew near, I thought I should go no matter what, even if I was limping. A couple of days later I realized that this thought was wrong; how could I validate the Fa if I was limping? I needed to be active and energetic in the parade. Before the parade, I jumped up and down, and with every jump I squashed an evil thought. Once the music Falun Dafa is Good started, my instrument was as loud and powerful as ever. With Master’s help, I completed the parade, and every step I took was solid and energetic.
Upgrading My Level
As my endurance increased, I turned my eyes to the larger sousaphone that had been kept in the storage room. When we first started with the Tian Guo Marching Band, Master purchased and arranged shipping for all the instruments, including four sousaphones and six tubas. Two practitioners were already playing the sousaphone, and they often said that the other two should also be played to make the band more powerful.
I felt pain in my heart every time I noticed these instruments lying quietly in the storage room. I could also sense the sousaphones’ sadness. They were beings who reincarnated as these musical instruments. They were chosen by Master, but no one used them. What a pity! The idea of playing the sousaphone came to me. This was unimaginable before, as the tuba seemed to have stretched my capacity. The practitioners who played the sousaphones at the back of the band looked like gods who came down to Earth. Playing the sousaphone was usually reserved for the tall, male practitioners. But it’s hard to find such a practitioner, so I wanted to try. Fortunately, the other sousaphone players are not too tall, and my standing next to them does not affect the band’s image. After nearly a month of practicing, I was still afraid of participating in the parade with this instrument. I planned to play the sousaphone during the Easter parade, which was shorter.
One day while I was practicing the sousaphone, a practitioner from the band said, “I think you can make it. Just go to the parade. Don’t you want to play it? Then go ahead. Don’t think about it too much.” I felt that Master was using her words to encourage me to take another step forward.
So, at the next parade, even though I didn’t know how long the route was, I played the sousaphone. It turned out that the length of the parade no longer had any effect on me. At the time, the only thought that I had was that the bigger instruments meant more power. The sousaphone resonates with the drums at the front, so the band was no longer out of balance.
In most parades, we now have four sousaphones. My own endurance also gradually increased. I was no longer frightened by the size of the instrument. I realized that its weight and size in our human world were not its true form. In other dimensions it may be completely different. Master used the word “dare” in a poem in Hong Yin: “Who Dares Renounce Human Attachments?”
At this year’s Fa conference, Master also said,
“As Dafa disciples, you just cultivate according to this Fa. Master once said, ‘Set your cultivation goal as high as you want, as long as you dare to!’” (“Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference”)
My understanding is that you first dare to do it, then the Fa can manifest its extraordinary power. If we are not capable enough, Master will strengthen us. Just like when we came down to earth, we dared to risk being destroyed in the human world. We had the wish to follow Master in Fa-rectification, and Master endowed Dafa practitioners with glory and power.
Master also said,
“...because cultivation principles are the opposite of those of human beings. While people feel that living a life of comfort is a good thing, cultivators believe that, for the sake of improving themselves, the opposite is a good thing. Isn't that an example of a righteous principle existing alongside a reversed one?” (Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005)
In daily cultivation, I also try to think with the logic of cultivation. Did I really take suffering as joy? Every time I saw the sousaphone players in the Hong Kong parade, I knew that I was lagging behind.
Willing to Play a Supporting Role and Highlighting Others
I used to play the trumpet. Although it is an accompanying instrument, some tones and some melodies are very nice. Since I played the euphonium, my role was almost all accompaniment, and I was really uncomfortable at the beginning. Because the tuba is large and long, it requires a lot of strength to make the sound. If I did not blow hard enough the sound would be empty.
A beautiful piece of music does not sound the same when our euphonium is added. We once joked that we would award a person if they could guess which instrument we were playing. I gradually realized that the plain and simple notes were actually very beautiful and harmonious once they were mixed into the ensemble, and sometimes I was touched. In particular, the blessings given by Master during each parade gave me the true feeling of Master’s words,
“Cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one’s master.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
Although we now have four sousaphone players, we no longer have any tuba players. So, I joked that our bass section is the richest, as each person has two large instruments, one for the parade and one for practice. Master knows the limits of our bass section, especially my lack of strength, so when the parade begins, the volume of my instrument is much louder than during the rehearsal.
My Attachments Are Exposed
The road of cultivation is indeed narrow, and some deeply hidden attachments can only be revealed under certain circumstances. Left unchecked, they could make you deviate from the right track. After I started playing this big instrument, fellow practitioners often gave me a lot of encouragement and praise, which made me very happy. Their recognition and praise encouraged me to continue, especially when I was very tired at the end of a parade. Unconsciously, the attachments of joy, showing off, and contempt of others also surfaced. I realized it and paid attention to these feelings. These thoughts were sometimes hidden and were not easy to detect. If they were not immediately caught and eliminated, they would escape and cause separation among practitioners.
If I had an issue with someone, I directly told them. Although pointing out the issue is not a problem, mixed in with my words were my human attachments. Someone once pointed out that my approach was inappropriate. I defended myself with the attachment of fighting. This practitioner, who was usually kind, said in a harsh tone, “Don’t just examine others, look at yourself.” From his attitude, I suddenly realized that I had hurt him. I seriously and thoroughly examined myself and thanked him from the bottom of my heart.
I later realized one difference between Dafa cultivation and any other past cultivation. Looking inside unconditionally is the magical tool given by Master. If you can’t see your own issues, Master will help you with words from other practitioners. When the attachment is too strong, you will feel uncomfortable.
We should pay particular attention to what others say when they’re upset. That’s when their feelings are no longer hidden, but straightforward. Nothing is by accident. There must be something for you to cultivate.
It’s also important to pay attention to those who always find fault with you. One practitioner compared this relationship to that of a knife and a sharpening stone. The knife depends on the sharpening stone to get sharp. This person may have had some relationship with you in a past lifetime. If you can get along with everyone but this person, then it can become an omission in your cultivation. If there is one, this must be my omission. When some of my attachments surface, I may find many faults in certain practitioners and I’m unwilling to talk to them. At this moment, I force myself to think about their strengths, and suppress the thoughts of their shortcomings.
Grateful to Be a Supporting Instrument
I once heard someone say that I was playing a low-pitch instrument. At that time, the words “low-pitch” were particularly emphasized (in Chinese low-pitch also means low key or low profile). Low pitch! I’m high-profile and I like to freely express my opinion. Sometimes I don’t watch my speech. Wasn’t what the person said a hint for me to keep a low profile?
As I looked at the euphonium in front of me, its appearance was not so noticeable. It never plays solo, instead it quietly complements the other instruments. It’s position in the band is always at the end. It highlights the others and perfects the team. Isn’t this the state that Master wants us to have? I came to understand why Master gave me this opportunity to play the euphonium, not because I’m capable, but because I needed to improve myself during this process. I realized that all practitioners working together to help Master in Fa-rectification and saving sentient beings are just like the cooperation of all the instruments in a band. The musicians must not only be skillful, but also open minded and open to others. Only when we are honest, free of misunderstanding, and tolerant, can we play beautiful music and demonstrate the power of Dafa.
In conclusion, I’d like to quote Master’s teaching,
“Never since the dawn of time have massive and magnificent changes in the cosmos taken place as they are now with the Fa rectification, and nor were there ever Dafa disciples. Master created this glorious opportunity and has led you to this historical epoch. Strive to spiritually perfect yourselves, do your utmost to show what you are made of as you strive to save all lives, and try to do even better!” (“Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference” Team Yellow Translation)
Thank you Master, thank you fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2019 Canada Fa Conference)