Improving Quickly in My Cultivation While Promoting Shen Yun
Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I began practicing Falun Dafa in 2001. After I watched a video about Shen Yun Performing Arts, I wanted to see the performance in person and participate in the project. But Shen Yun had not yet performed in my country. I never imagined that one day I would have a chance to be involved with it.
When I moved to Vancouver with my family five years ago, I immediately started to participate in this project with my husband, who is also a practitioner. At first, I wanted to promote Shen Yun among nationalities other than my own, but when I asked the Shen Yun coordinator if I could help, she told me that she hoped we would promote the show in our community since no other practitioners spoke our language.
When I heard that, I looked inward and found my attachment to self-interest. Rather than thinking of saving people, I wanted to improve my English by working on Shen Yun among English-speaking people. After finding my attachment, I tried to get rid of it and started to focus on promoting Shen Yun within my ethnic group.
“He who acts for profitcold is he, knowing not his kin”(“An Upright Person” from Hong Yin, Translation Version A)
I quickly translated the Shen Yun flyer into Farsi (Persian) and published some articles in our community newspaper. When our people were able to read the Shen Yun materials in their own language, they became familiar with it and learned more about Shen Yun. I could see the effect it had on them, as they used to think the show was only for Chinese.
Some people said that they did not like the way most Chinese behaved, but after clarifying the truth to them, they understood Shen Yun’s mission and even empathized with Falun Dafa practitioners who have been persecuted in China for 20 years. Afterward, many Persians who received the Shen Yun flyer understood the truth and even went to see the show.
Confronting My Attachments
When my family and I moved to Toronto about three years ago, we did the same thing here. Toronto has even more Persians. The first year after we moved here, because of the cold weather, I avoided participating in Shen Yun projects that were outside and preferred to work from home. When I looked inward, I found the attachment to my fear of cold and wanting to live a comfortable life. This notion, acquired in my childhood, caused me a lot of problems throughout my adult life. When I saw older practitioners who came out and promoted Shen Yun in the cold, I was ashamed and told myself that it was time to get rid of this attachment.
“Fear is a death trap on a human being’s journey toward divinity.” (“Pass the Deadly Test,” The Essentials of Diligent Progress Vol. III)
“Mentally overcoming tribulations is the key to truly improving one’s level.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun, 2000 translation version)
“Cultivation is hard. It’s hard in that even when a terrible calamity strikes, even when evil madly persecutes, and even when your life is at stake, you still have to be able to steadfastly continue on your path of cultivation without letting anything in human society interfere with the steps you take on your path of cultivation.” ( “Path,” Essentials for Further Advancement II)
I tried to ignore the cold, become strong mentally, and go face to face with what I feared in order to get rid of this attachment. I reminded myself that I'm not here to live a good life, but instead to cultivate and fulfill my mission. I needed to fulfill my vows that I made before descending to this worldly realm.
Besides promoting Shen Yun at the different booths, I started putting up Shen Yun posters in shops in Toronto with my husband. At first, I only did this whenever I had free time. Then the coordinator told us we were slow and not doing well. I looked inward and again found my attachment to laziness and wanting to enjoy a comfortable life. I did not think about the urgent need to save people.
I wanted the coordinator to praise me, not criticize me, but I realized that she was helping me get rid of my attachment and to become more diligent. I knew that when I changed my thoughts and behavior and became more diligent, Master would help me to really do it well and to get rid of this attachment. I also sent righteous thoughts to eliminate all my notions. I studied the Fa more to keep my thoughts righteous while I clarified the truth and put up Shen Yun posters in different stores. I sent righteous thoughts continually while I distributed posters.
As Master said,
“...cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while transforming gong is done by one’s master.” (Lecture Two, Zhuan Falun)
“If you do not change the human logic that you, as an ordinary human, have formed deep in your bones over thousands of years, you will be unable to break away from this superficial human shell and reach Consummation.” (“Cautionary Advice,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
I realized that I needed to eliminate the attachment to enjoying a comfortable life and I needed to take hardship as joy. After changing my mentality, I was able to endure the cold and eventually ignored it.
Changing My Notions
When I started promoting Shen Yun in Toronto’s stores, I felt that I was not good at persuading people to put posters up in their shop windows. I thought that no one would allow us to put Shen Yun posters in their windows, anyway.
I preferred to write articles or talk to people at the booths or events where I felt more comfortable. I also thought that putting up posters in the shops was a low-level activity. When I looked inside, however, I saw that I considered myself high-level and that I chose to participate in high-level positions even while promoting Shen Yun or any other Dafa projects. I searched further and discovered that this attachment was deeply rooted in me.
I have a Ph.D. degree and had been an assistant professor at different universities for many years. I had a high opinion of myself and considered myself better than others. Indeed, I was validating myself, not the Fa. I understood that this was a good opportunity to get rid of this attachment as well as eliminating selfishness.
Therefore, whenever a shopkeeper spoke rudely or refused to let me put up a poster in his shop, I thanked him and accepted it respectfully. However, I felt sad for the person who lost the chance to be saved and thought about my own shortcomings so I could do better the next time. I looked inside to find out what was wrong in me that this person rejected the offer, instead of blaming him. I found out that judging people is a notion that works like a barrier to saving people. On the other hand, I learned from the Fa that all people are here for the Fa, so if I do my work with a righteous mind, more people will have the chance to be saved.
“As long as Fa-rectification requires it, you should do it well, and there's no room for negotiation. And don't get conceited because of your roles, and don't think you're different from others. You're each a particle. And in my eyes nobody is better than anyone else, since I scooped all of you up at the same time.” (Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Lantern Festival)
“One should not want anything, and neither should one pursue anything. A practitioner believes he should only focus on practicing, without paying attention to obtaining gong. In cultivation and practice one should be in a state free of intention.” ( Lecture Two, Zhuan Falun)
I told myself that I was a Dafa disciple and that whatever I achieved or did in ordinary society made it possible for me to live among ordinary people and pave my personal path. All the positions we hold in ordinary society allow us to cultivate in the different social classes of people so that we can save them. It's not for us to enjoy fame or wealth. After changing my mindset and eliminating this wrong notion by sending righteous thoughts, I felt better. I began to look at everyone as a being to be saved. I saw that it was very precious for each one of them to have the chance to be saved.
After I changed my mindset, many shopkeepers took our flyers or allowed us to put the Shen Yun posters on their windows. While I talked to people, my husband sent forth righteous thoughts, and when he talked, I sent forth righteous thoughts. After putting up a poster in a shop, we shared our shortcomings and talked about how we could do better at the next shop.
It was very difficult for me to accept my husband’s suggestions about my shortcomings. I found that I believed in my own ideas rather than his. I forgot to cherish the good opportunities we were offered to cultivate ourselves. I discovered that I was lacking in forbearance and sometimes, before my husband could finish what he was saying about my issues, I started to defend myself.
Master said, “In most cases, one transforms karma through xinxing conflicts among one another, and this is where it manifests itself.” ( Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
I looked inward and found that most conflicts between people are about transforming karma and finding attachments in order to increase our xinxing. One of the most important xinxing issues that I had to improve on was improving my forbearance.
Master said, “A benevolent person always has a heart of compassion. With no discontentment or hatred, he takes hardship as joy”. (“Realms,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
I recognized that I didn’t have very much compassion when it came to my husband and I did not consider his abilities. I was afraid that if I listened to him, I would have to always be obedient to him and would have to listen to him about other things as well. At that time, I wanted to protect my identity and myself instead of getting rid of attachments and growing in cultivation. I thought, incorrectly, that I had to be careful and not let other people make decisions for me.
From Validating Myself to Saving People
I changed my mentality and understood that every issue or problem I encounter is an opportunity to grow in cultivation. It was time to improve and let go of all my attachments and human notions. Being strong does not mean not listening to other people. On the contrary, it means enduring the hardest of hardships with no resentment.
I realized that it was better to only focus on saving people. We needed to maintain righteous thoughts, study the Fa, and think about our shortcomings.
After we did better, more people allowed us to place Shen Yun posters in their shops. I recognized the importance of the process and that I should not only think about putting the posters up but also talk to people and help them to know what Shen Yun is all about. Some people said that they’d seen the posters before but did not understand what Shen Yun was.
When I first started working on this project, I avoided going to Chinese stores because I feared being rejected. When I looked inside, I found that I had an attachment to being praised and not being rejected. As a child, I always wanted to be first in my class, do well in my exams, and be praised by my teachers. This mentality made it difficult for me to accept failure and face uncomfortable situations. When I focused more on righteous thoughts and the process, not the result, I did better and was no longer moved when someone did not accept a poster or flyer.
At first, I concentrated on putting up as many posters as possible and was happy if we were able to do this, whatever the shopkeepers or people thought about it. But after a while, I changed my mentality and realized that quality is more important than quantity, and saving people is the most important of all. Then, instead of counting the number of posters and being proud of finishing so many in one day, I focused more on people’s understanding of Shen Yun and how we could leave them with a positive impression of the show. The results were positive and we distributed more posters and flyers.
At first, if a shopkeeper told us that he was not the owner and we could just leave a poster and, after getting permission from the owner, he would put it on the window, we agreed and left. But after a while, I felt that the Shen Yun poster is precious and we needed to make sure they put it up. We asked them to call the owner while we were in the shop, or we asked them if we could put it up ourselves.
A Japanese shop owner told us, “It's beautiful! Go ahead and put it in the best place on the window!” Some shopkeepers said no, but they asked for flyers. Most Chinese shopkeepers refused both flyers and posters. I tried to clarify the truth to one Chinese man, but he had been too poisoned by the CCP's media. Instead of being angry, I was sorry that he was so lost and had lost his opportunity to be saved.
Before we enter a shop, we check to see if the shopkeepers are busy. When they are free, we go inside and talk to them. I got excited when one shopkeeper told us before we’d finished talking, “I would like to see it. Go ahead and put it on the window.” Sometimes, we were allowed to put the Shen Yun poster in shops where we never thought they’d let us.
I actually saw how the magic of Shen Yun worked. For example, we were told that chain stores usually do not allow posters. I told my husband that it was better that we ask and let them decide. When we went to a large chain store, the owner immediately said, “Go ahead. Put it on the window.” We were happy and this strengthened our righteous thoughts. We knew it was the magic of Shen Yun.
“When it is difficult to endure, try to endure it. When it looks impossible and is said to be impossible, give it a try and see if it is possible. If you can actually do it, you will indeed find: “After passing the shady willow trees, there will be bright flowers and another village ahead!”” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)
With my limited understanding at my level, please point out any misunderstandings I might have.
(Presented at the 2019 Canada Fa Conference)