Facing My Fear and Notions and Taking Responsibility for My Cultivation
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!
Throughout this past year, I’ve intensely examined myself and elevated my xinxing. In the process, I’ve uncovered very deep notions that held me back in my cultivation.
The first one was my low sense of worth and self-esteem. It has been a barrier, holding me back in speaking my mind, holding me back in clarifying the truth and standing up for things I feel are correct but may upset others. I noticed this while I went through a series of situations such as arguments with family, my husband, and even other practitioners.
Before, I would have given in because I avoided getting into conflicts. I felt that disagreeing with others might upset them and they might distance themselves from me. As a result, I avoided sensitive topics and always agreed with others’ opinions. But as a cultivator, I enlightened to the fact that I have the right to my opinion, my voice and my truth. So, I began to stand my ground.
My Notions Block Me from Saving People
In the past, I had great difficulty clarifying the truth to people who weren’t very receptive to what I was telling them. They’d ask a lot of provocative questions or start arguing with me. I defended myself and even argued with them. In order to avoid a conflict, I’d eventually give up. I feared that by expressing how I truly felt about something or expressing an idea that was controversial, like how believing in God is controversial to many in society today, I’d drive people away and destroy their chance of being saved.
So, I avoided those subjects and instead I tried to understand things from their perspective. I’d agree with some of their points in order to help them see my point. But recently I realized how futile that approach was. I found that my ability to empathize with others, and to reconcile contradicting views, actually became a disadvantage when I talked to people.
I enlightened to the principle that even good things can become bad, and strong things can become weak when taken to their extreme. The qualities I thought were positive had a negative side.
I realized that extreme tolerance for the views and desires of others is actually a betrayal of truth. This realization helped me gain confidence in my right to speak and defend what I understand as the truth at my current level of cultivation.
Letting go of my self-doubt and low self-esteem has been a painful process because it has been with me since I was a child and was embedded in my personality. It completely shaped all my interactions with others. I felt it was a survival mechanism because I had a very strong fear of being exiled and persecuted. I realized I acquired this fear of persecution because I grew up in a difficult and dangerous time under strong communist culture.
This fear would always tell me that it’s very dangerous to speak your mind or reveal to others who you are. When I moved to Canada, I was surprised by how openly people talked about themselves, their lives, their beliefs or their likes and dislikes. That was very difficult for me and felt strange. When I was a child I read a story about a Jewish woman who hid in the basement but had to come up to look for food. While trying to mix with regular prisoners during the morning count she was pushed out to the edge of the formation where an SS officer saw her. He told her that because she smelled like the basement he knew she wasn’t from there and that she’d been hiding.
That story really stuck with me because the idea of being found out as someone who’s different or whose views can be targeted for persecution was always terrifying to me.
Facing My Fear
Once I realized that fear governed my life, I started eliminating it. I began by sharing my feelings and my true opinions and views, including what I thought of communism.
I had an amazing experience while clarifying the truth to an old friend. I’m surrounded by friends and relatives whose views are strongly influenced by communist ideology and many of them consider themselves to be socialists. My friend is one of those people. He is well-read, smart and good at holding a conversation. He’s an activist who always defended socialist ideas.
In the past, we argued a lot and I never seemed to be able to reach him. When I went to visit him recently I sincerely wished to clarify the truth to him but I knew it would be difficult. However, this time I had a different understanding. I firmly believed that my views should be respected. I just wanted to help Master save him.
My heart was filled with compassion and I knew that change takes time. It was an unusual evening. I almost didn’t recognize my friend because the views he expressed were very different than before. This time he listened to me attentively and agreed with many things I said. I in turn didn’t insist on convincing him of anything. Instead, I genuinely listened. He was very happy and grateful for the time we spent together.
As the culmination of this process of letting go of the fear, I had a dream one night where I had murdered someone. It was very vivid and when I woke up my heart was heavy. However, I knew that dreams are symbolic so I started thinking about what it meant. I realized that I didn’t feel any remorse! I knew that this dream symbolized me letting go of my notions and fear of truly expressing myself.
I thank Master for helping me go through this important process because my fear has been keeping me from Dafa-validation work and cultivating myself. I realized that I don’t need to hide my true thoughts and feelings. My views and spiritual experience are worthwhile and of interest to others.
In fact, this is the first cultivation article I’ve ever written thanks to my breaking through the attachment of fear and self-doubt. I understand Chinese practitioners well when it comes to their background and the fear they have. I’m still learning to trust people and need to continue reminding myself that as a Dafa disciple I have absolutely nothing to fear.
I realized how in the past my zealotry in truth clarification stemmed from fear. The forceful approach I sometimes used felt like a violent attempt to change others. I was also able to let go of the need to always have truth-clarification materials on me. Before, I used them as a crutch because I found it difficult to talk about my personal experiences and relied heavily on the fliers and magazines.
One day I forgot to bring truth-clarification materials to a meeting with a friend. Later, another practitioner pointed out that I didn’t need the materials and that people were actually more interested when I talked about myself.
So, when I took a colleague out to lunch to thank her for helping me with a project, I told her I practiced Falun Dafa. She was into yoga so it wasn’t difficult to talk about my meditation practice. She was very interested. This was the first time I actually felt confident in my ability to talk about cultivation with someone. Afterwards, I was asked to help host a Falun Dafa exercise workshop where I had to introduce Dafa in my own words. In the past, I couldn’t have done it out of fear of talking to others about myself and my experiences, but now I was ready.
This year I’ve embraced my background, and my cultivation journey, and I can now talk to people openly about Falun Dafa and my understanding of communist culture. Master has granted me my wish to eliminate things that have been blocking my cultivation. Many of my beliefs, feelings and attitudes were instilled in me by the communist culture such as: fear, self-loathing, worst-case scenario thinking, and a victim mentality. Breaking through these attachments has also helped me “grow up.” I started taking my cultivation and my relationships with others more seriously and I assumed responsibility for my own cultivation. I felt like I was growing up as a cultivator and as a person, and I was more respectful of others.
To me, taking personal responsibility for my practice means that I only answer to Teacher. I now do things that I feel need to be done, not because others want them done or to prove anything to anyone. It often feels very lonely but the other practitioners encourage me.
My relationship with my family and my husband has changed as a result of my improvement in cultivation. I’m starting to rebuild my relationship with my parents. I’ve also been able to compassionately handle difficult family relationships. I cherish my husband more now, and I can finally hear what he’s been trying to tell me for so long. I now try to balance my personal life by thinking more of him and his needs and he’s very supportive of my cultivation and Dafa projects.
By embracing responsibility for my cultivation I was able to pass a very difficult test. I failed it several times before. It had to do with caving under pressure from people’s expectations, demands, and my workload. Since I work in a very fast-paced, demanding industry, I’ve been put into a situation twice at different jobs where the pressure was too much for me. The first time I had a nervous breakdown and the second time I had an angry outburst at work that frightened my coworkers.
I couldn’t figure out what was going on but everything was pushing me to move up, to accept the level of pressure and to deal with it. I just felt like I didn’t have the capacity or desire to do that. I was filled with anger, frustration, and resentment.
Master gave me a hint that I’m capable of dealing with this challenge. My boss had a candid conversation with me and told me that he thought I was capable of being a leader and I could deal with the pressure. At the time I didn’t want to accept the responsibility.
At my current job, I’m once again working under high pressure with constantly changing priorities and I need to adapt quickly while delivering results. This time I know exactly what this is about and I’m able to continuously deal with and withstand the pressure. Master planned for me to work at this level and this confidence is what has enabled me to take on a bigger Dafa project and manage it successfully along-side my work and personal life.
These are my experiences of maturing in cultivation this year. Please point out anything inappropriate.
Thank you Master. Thank you fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2019 Canada Fa Conference)