Elevating on the Cultivation Path in the Tian Guo Marching Band
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Esteemed Master and fellow practitioners!
First of all, thank you, Master, for giving me the chance to play in the Tian Guo Marching Band and for protecting and strengthening me in my cultivation during this Fa-rectification period.
I’m a practitioner from Germany, and I joined the Tian Guo Marching Band two years ago.
Taking a Detour to Play the French Horn
I joined the Tian Guo Marching Band after a few twists and turns, as I was not really determined to be a part of this project, given my human notions.
Then, I reluctantly participated in a training session for the band in the first half of 2013. The coordinator responsible for the French horn said that this instrument suited me, but I felt that she wasn't quite truthful, that she only said that because they needed more people. She didn’t let me really try other instruments.
The first character of my name is the same as the character on the Tian Guo Marching Band’s uniform, which means "music." However, based on the pronunciation of my name, it means “happiness.”
Every time my German friends and colleagues ask me what my name means, I say that my parents wished me to be happy. I never thought that my parents might have wanted me to know a bit of music as well.
I never knew how to sing, nor was I interested in it. I’m tone-deaf. From primary school to university, whenever we had to sing the brainwashing songs forced on us by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), I could not perceive the difference in the notes of the scale, so I was always off-key. My classmates always had to remind me to sing quietly so that my sour notes wouldn’t affect their singing.
These experiences had convinced me of the ordinary notion that people who can’t sing can’t play musical instruments well. It seemed right to me. So after that first training session, I never really tried to learn the French horn. The instrument they gave me sat idle in my house for four years. At the time, I thought I had no karmic relationship with the Tian Guo Marching Band.
I took the initiative to take part in a training session to learn to play the bass drum in the summer of 2017. In order to play the bass drum in the band, one must pass a rhythm test. However, something happened just before the test.
It had been four years since I was first introduced to the French horn. The practitioner who had thought the French horn suited me was quite angry when she found out that I was learning to play the bass drum. She questioned me in front of other marching band members: “It's easier to learn the bass drum. You can even do it without a teacher. Besides, you will always walk at the front of the band, where you are more noticeable. That’s why you want to learn the bass drum, right?” She wasn’t completely wrong.
When I didn’t pass the rhythm test, my wish to learn the bass drum disappeared. According to the practitioner who conducted the test, my musical sense was not so good and anyway, I was tone-deaf. The practitioner’s professional judgment reinforced my ordinary people’s notion that those who can’t sing can’t play musical instruments. I was seriously thinking whether I should just give up the thought of joining the Tian Guo Marching Band.
Yet, things took an interesting turn. On the night of the test, the band coordinator asked me to share my cultivation experiences during the group training meeting. I said, "I chose to learn the bass drum because I thought it would be easy to learn and wanted to take a short cut. On the surface, I appeared to be eager to help clarify the truth, but, in fact, it was my attachments that led me to remain behind the scenes.
"I had an attachment to comfort, and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to learn another instrument. I also had the attachment of validating myself, as I wanted to prove to myself that I could learn to play the bass drum as quickly as I imagined." At the end, I firmly said, “No matter what instrument I learn, I do hope that I can join the Tian Guo Marching Band.”
I heard encouraging applause at the end of my sharing. At the time, I could feel that I no longer had the fear that I couldn’t learn other instruments well, nor was I limited by ordinary people’s notions. I enlightened that it was due to Master’s compassionate strengthening that I was determined to join the Tian Guo Marching Band.
Taking the Plunge to Learn the French Horn
The French horn was the first instrument I tried, and it impressed me as noble and graceful.
I was later embarrassed to ask the coordinator, who was angry with me when I wanted to learn the bass drum, “Can I still learn and join the French horn team? This time, I promise you I’ll learn it with all my heart.” She replied straightaway, “Of course. Welcome to the team!” She also apologized for her display of anger when we talked before.
At the end of the European Fa Conference parade in Paris in 2017, a member of the bass drum team jokingly asked me, “Now that you’ve switched to learn the French horn, when will you take part in the parade?”
After she told me that the next parade would be most likely in London next year, I responded that I would see her in May in London. I enlightened that Master hinted through that practitioner that I should not forget my promise. I had to do what I said.
Soon after I went back to Germany, I found a professional French horn player. The first time he played “Falun Dafa Is Good,” I thought: “Wow! The French horn sounds so beautiful, graceful, natural and poised. It felt like a great singer was singing in front of me. The tune just lingered in the air.” When he finished playing, there were tears in my eyes. I was shaken by the beautiful melody and the profound meaning.
This music teacher taught me to play the French horn. I did whatever he asked me to do, holding no doubt, nor did I hesitate. I also asked another practitioner who plays the French horn to teach me as well. He played the treble while I played the bass. We practiced together.
Five months later, I passed the test to play in the band. The following month, I was able to participate in the first big parade in 2018, which was in London. After hearing me play, my teacher encouraged me: “People who don’t know you would have thought you’ve been studying it for two or three years.”
The practitioner who was responsible for the test wrote an email to me after I passed: “Your advantage is your timbre, which is very pure.”
I had never dreamed that I, being tone-deaf, could pass the music test and be in a parade after studying it for such a short period of time. Looking back, if I hadn't been determined, I would not have been given the wisdom, nor would I have been able to overcome the difficulties to break through the notions of ordinary people and learn the French horn.
Governed by Human Notions
The journey to London last year wasn’t smooth. The direct flight to London was canceled just a few hours before takeoff. I took another flight the next morning and landed in a city three hours drive from London. Luckily, I made it to the rehearsals.
Reflecting on why I was interfered with, I realized that my heart wasn’t 100 percent on helping people understand Falun Dafa.
This was my first time in London, so when I booked a flight one day early, I wanted to do some sightseeing, instead of being involved in truth clarification efforts. When the flight was canceled, I looked inward. I found that my starting point had deviated from the requirement of Dafa disciples. I was very ashamed of myself, as I had the attachment to seeking pleasure. I should have prepared for my first ever parade with the Tian Guo Marching Band wholeheartedly, because I was going to London for only one purpose – to clarify the truth. But I fell down to the ordinary people’s level. How could I truly help people understand the truth of Dafa?
On the way to London, I kept looking inward and realized that I thought that truth-clarification wasn't urgent. I didn’t appreciate the precious time that Master has given us to clarify the truth. I just thought that, with no group plans, it was fine to relax a bit and arrive one day early. However, the loophole was exploited by the evil. Before the battle between good and evil, not only did I not have a heart that is a 100 percent devoted to clarifying the truth, but I also had the attachment to comfort and seeking pleasure.
When I saw my attachment, I sincerely apologized to Master: “I recognize my mistake. Please forgive me, Master. My only mission is to help Master rectify the Fa and clarify the truth.”
Power of Dafa Music
On my second day in London, we practiced together. Once, we were playing “Falun Dafa Is Good” together, the power of the music, and the strong energy field made me feel as if I couldn’t sit on my chair. It was like I was being lifted up. I was so thankful to Master for really making me feel the huge power of the Dafa music when saving sentient beings.
On the day of the London parade, I warned myself, “Nothing is important except for saving people. I must have a pure heart to save people.” This pure heart made me feel the solemnness and sacredness of saving people.
We were walking on a very wide road. The practitioner in front of me was playing the saxophone and he was quite tall. In order to see the baton, I had to get used to lifting my chin up a bit. Once, the conducting practitioner indicated the next song was “Falun Dafa Is Good,” and the music started. I was shaken again from deep down in my soul. I was thinking, “I came to save sentient beings. I hope all beings remember Falun Dafa is good. Then all sentient beings can be saved.” I was playing with this thought in mind, and I was so shaken that I had tears in my eyes.
Because my eyes were filled with tears, my vision was a bit blurred. All of a sudden, I felt that there were many people watching us. Maybe because I was used to lifting my head a little bit, I felt like we were walking uphill. But, in fact, we were walking downhill, and there weren’t that many people watching us. Afterward, I realized that it was probably sentient beings from other dimensions who were waiting for the arrival of the Tian Guo Marching Band, waiting to be saved.
Attachments Eliminated Improved Technique
The French horn teacher taught me that the starting of the note must be clean not sloppy, gentle yet firm. It cannot start loudly like firecrackers. At the end, it needs to have full breath with the tone lingering in the air. It’s easy to say this in a few sentences, but it’s quite hard in practice, especially if you want to advance.
As I was practicing, I noticed that my breathing hadn’t improved much, yet breathing is so important. There was a period where I found that I couldn’t concentrate, my breathing was uneven, and my lungs were not powerful enough. I could feel that my shoulders weren’t relaxed. It was as if I were carrying heavy bags on my back. The teacher said that I seemed to be quite strong, so he didn’t know why I couldn’t utilize my strength.
"Nothing is a coincidence for cultivators. It must relate to my xinxing," I thought. Through looking inward, I could see that I had very strong attachments to complaining and validating myself.
I’ll talk about my attachment to complaining first. For a long time, I could not get rid of the attachment to complaining about a few other practitioners I used to work with on other projects. On the surface, I really thought I was treated unfairly. When the attachment was strong, I couldn’t concentrate when I was practicing the French horn, as bad thoughts kept entering my mind. Sometimes my state was better, but it stopped at the level of telling myself not to be the same as these practitioners, not realizing that I had to get rid of my attachment based on the Fa.
Master answered one question relating to resentment:
“Disciple: I’ve always felt resentment in the process of my cultivation. It’s an attachment that’s difficult for me to get rid of.
Master: Resentment. It comes from the habit of your liking to hear nice words and liking good things to happen to you; otherwise you become resentful. Think about it, everyone, this is not acceptable. Cultivation shouldn’t be practiced like that. I’ve always said that a cultivator should look at things in reverse. When running into bad things, you should think it’s a good thing as it’s here for the purpose of improving you. 'I should handle it well. This is about passing another test. It’s cultivation here now.'” (“Teaching the Fa in Washington D.C. In 2018”)
“When something happens between one another, no matter how terrible it is, you have to look at it positively, “Oh, this is beneficial for my improvement.” Facing conflicts, no matter who is to blame, you have to look inside yourself first. As a cultivator, if you cannot establish this habit, if you cannot see things in ways opposite to that of humans, you will forever remain human; at least when it comes to that particular step that you fail to do well, you are human.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference”)
When using the Fa to judge and dig deep for my attachments, I realized that I wasn’t looking inward unconditionally. Instead, I focused on what others did wrong. Secondly, I always wanted others to change what they did wrong based on my standard, rather than the standard of the Fa. I also neglected to look for my attachments. I should focus on cultivating myself, rather than others.
Through intensified Fa study, and sending forth righteous thoughts, as well as asking for strengthening from Master, and following the requirements of the Fa, I tried to see fellow practitioners’ strengths.
Steadily, I could feel the bad substances in my dimension diminishing. The thoughts that I forced on the practitioners that I complained about got fewer and weaker, and I was finally able to practice playing the French horn with a pure heart. My shoulders also felt more relaxed, and the feeling of carrying heavy bags disappeared. My breathing became smoother, and I had more strength.
The other element keeping me from improving was the attachment of validating myself.
In this year’s parade, I played the treble part. Practitioners who can play treble rarely participated in the parade for various reasons. Once I realized my role and responsibility, I started to practice more. I asked myself not to make any mistakes in playing in order to cooperate well with the practitioners playing bass in the French horn section and the marching band as a whole.
Although I intensified my training a few weeks before our parade in Frankfurt, I couldn’t notice visible improvements in myself. Although the coordinator commented that my skills had improved a lot since last year, and my playing was considered to be very melodious, I was not satisfied with my own performance.
Reflecting on my state, I could see the attachment to self-validation was still there. Looking deeper, there was also the impure attachment of showing off. I even felt contempt for certain practitioners in the marching band. When I saw these attachments, I said to myself, “These attachments are so filthy, all of my wisdom and ability was bestowed upon me by Master. Not only did I not appreciate it, I even took pride in it rather than being modest.”
I told myself that I must improve my state before the upcoming Cultural Carnival parade in Bielefeld, Germany. At the beginning of that parade, my self-validation attachment kept surfacing. This made it hard for me to focus, my breathing wasn’t smooth, I couldn’t play a complete phrase, and I was overcautious about making mistakes. In the meantime, I couldn’t balance my body well, the mouthpiece moved up and down all the time, and the notes I played were tentative. For a while I felt quite dispirited.
As we approached the city center, I saw so many sentient beings. I felt like they’d been longing for our arrival. They couldn’t wait to hear the melody that could inspire their kindness and open up their hearts so they could recognize the beauty of Dafa. These scenes made me try to adjust my state again. I was also sending forth righteous thoughts and asked Master to strengthen me. I thought: “Look, so many sentient beings are very excited to see the Tian Guo Marching Band, isn’t this why I joined the band – to save them? I am willing to let go of all my attachments, I just hope that sentient beings can be saved. Master, please help strengthen me.”
Halfway through the parade, my condition changed dramatically. My body was balanced. It felt the same as if I were standing still. My breathing was a lot smoother, and my notes were firm and clear. I felt that I had endless strength.
When I saw those sentient beings clapping for us, I was truly delighted for them. I sincerely wanted all of them to feel the beauty of Dafa and learn the truth of Dafa.
I remained in this state until the end of the parade. I felt that I enjoyed playing more and more. I was less tired the more I played. I genuinely hoped the parade could go on longer. Somehow, I became a small, yet an indispensable particle integrated into the entire marching band. I no longer had the attachment of feeling contempt for fellow practitioners or the attachment to self-validation. All I could feel was how fellow practitioners cooperated with each other and harmonized the whole body.
After the parade, the coordinator said to me, “I heard you playing. It was very good.” I enlightened that it was Master’s strengthening that made me have breakthroughs in my breathing techniques. The character on our marching band costumes was interpreted as “be happy with music.” I think I finally experienced some of its connotations. A few hours of playing the treble did not make me feel tired, instead, I felt very energetic and extremely happy.
Without the strengthening of Master, who opened up my wisdom, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to be in the Tian Guo Marching Band. It was unimaginable for me to join the band in such a short period of time. I've been able to fulfill my sacred mission to save sentient beings together with fellow practitioners.
Thank you, Master, for giving me the opportunity to cooperate in the Tian Guo Marching Band, so that we can fulfill our great prehistoric vows together and return with Master upon consummation.
I could see my shortcomings in cultivation and gaps in my music attainment. Thank you, fellow practitioners, for your support and help over the past two years.
I’d like to share with you Master’s poem as an encouragement:
Thank you, Master, and fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2019 European Fa Conference)