Persevering in Cultivation – Validating the Fa
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master and fellow practitioners!
I came across Falun Dafa at the end of 2016. That year started out special, as I was awarded a scholarship to earn a Master’s degree in the United States. Feeling both humbled and ambitious at the same time, I thought I would study science and technology to give back to society the opportunities that were given to me. However, my goals took a 180-degree turn as I came across Falun Dafa in my first semester, and cultivation became the focal point of my life.
Every Tribulation Is Related to Either Progression or Regression in Cultivation
Since the beginning of my cultivation, I’ve been striving not to give in to sleep and not to miss doing the exercises every day. During the first two years, I developed a habit of waking up for Sending Forth Righteous Thoughts, and doing an hour of the exercises. I gradually understood the effects of the exercises and felt energized. However, after a while, even with daily exercises, I felt worn out, and my mind was out of focus. I could hardly fulfill my everyday responsibilities well, let alone keep up with the additional efforts of participating in Dafa-validation projects.
At that time, I knew I had to make a change, and I saw only two choices. The first was to get more sleep, and spend less time on exercises and Dafa projects. The second was to get even less sleep and do more of the exercises. I made up my mind and went for the second choice. I thought if two hours of exercise every day can’t clear away my fatigue, nothing will.
“Let me tell you that if you do as I’ve taught in this practice system, it’s guaranteed that there won’t be any harm, only benefit. You claim that you’re too busy and don’t have the time. Actually, you are afraid that you don’t get enough rest. Have you ever thought of the fact that practicing cultivation is the best form of rest? You can obtain the kind of rest that can’t be obtained through sleeping.” (Lecture at the First Conference in North America)
After I joined an early morning exercise group, the effects were immediate: my mind would be crystal clear after the sitting meditation. But, doing this a few times is one thing, keeping it up over a long period of time is another. The most difficult part was the sitting meditation. I felt a very heavy, tangible pressure trying to knock out my main consciousness, something we absolutely must avoid. When I read Buddha Milarepa’s cultivation story, I clearly remembered that he had not slept for 11 months in his cave and was very much conscious about that. I also remembered that he, too, was waging his mental and physical battles to descend into a serene state.
Motivated by Buddha Milarepa’s strong will, I made up my mind to practice Dafa’s exercises, and to make even more breakthroughs: I should strengthen my resolve to not give in to this pressure, just try to persevere until the end, and see what happens. I took up the best posture I could – with a straight back, I centered all my focus on the single thought that I’m sitting in meditation, and I willed myself not to yield to any notion of breaking this state, no matter how many times I yawned. It worked – I found that when I kept this mental state, there would be a turning point after which the pressure faded away, and I could descend into deep meditation. That could be as short as the last five minutes, but after finishing the two-hour exercises, my mind was always crystal clear. I recognized yet another depth of meaning of how the exercises are the best forms of rest.
Cultivating Compassion While Repaying Sickness Karma
After happily doing two hours of exercises every day for two weeks, I was put through what was the most trying sickness karma test I have encountered so far. Master said, “With every bit of improvement in your state of mind, some bad things will be eliminated from your body.” ( Lecture One, Zhuan Falun) In hindsight, I could understand some inner meaning of Master’s Fa.
One day, my right eye suddenly started to hurt. It became red and irritated whenever I looked at a computer screen. My work involves looking at a screen for long hours, so I decided to wear a winter cap to cover my eye. My coworkers only saw my eye when it had a red shade, so for them, it was natural for me to cover it, and that was all they knew about my hardship.
Gradually, pus came to the surface on the right side of my head, around my eye and my temple. I also noticed what felt like small, firm lumps behind my ear, and along the border of my neck and chin. There were many, and I didn’t know what to make of them. Over the next two days, more and more pus came out, the right side of my head felt like it was throbbing, and the pain grew stronger. At its worst, my right eye shed a continuous stream of tears, soaking the inside of the cap I was wearing to cover it. I could drive only with one eye, and my vision became limited.
I looked within for the cause and I found many shortcomings. I finally understood how difficult it was for my father, who also could use only one eye. When I was visiting him, I remembered I felt a bit annoyed at how he handled certain driving situations. Now, I was in the same situation and was glad this revealed my uncompassionate thinking. I was able to broaden my mind toward all fellow practitioners who had to overcome sickness karma one way or another. I finally realized that the right approach is to help them with the utmost compassion and understanding of their situation. Brushing other practitioners' sickness karma off as a simple inability to close their loopholes was the wrong line of thinking, and was doing more damage than help. We are all in this maze together, unable to directly see the root cause of the true forms of matters and states, grappling with our attachments and trying to shed our human notions. I now understand we should help each other to progress together.
How Sending Righteous Thoughts Helped
That day I went to work normally, but when I came home, I did not have the strength to do project work. Shen Yun promotion was about to enter its critical phase, and I really could not afford to not complete my tasks. In a daze, I said, “I’m going to send forth righteous thoughts every hour, or more if needed.” I sat down to do righteous thoughts, and the effect was palpable just after 20 minutes: my mind started to clear up, and the pain started to fade. I repeated this again and again until I realized, ‘I can work now’ and I resumed what I was responsible for.
That evening I went to sleep almost without pain and slept well until the next morning. When I woke up I knew, ‘I’m okay now, it’s only going to get better’. Looking back at the previous day’s resolve, I understood that at the end of the day, Master cleared the majority of the tribulation away. There is really no way for me to thank Master’s boundless compassion and mercy. After that, I slowly recovered, the pus dried up, the lumps disappeared, and there was only a hint of red shade left in my eye for me to deal with. I overcame this tribulation with an even stronger faith in Master and Dafa, and a more compassionate heart for everyday people and fellow practitioners.
Always Choosing to Follow the Course of Nature
Facing severe tribulations helps me focus on the truly important things in life. But, when such external pressure relaxes, ordinary wishes, temptations, and desires swell up in my mind. As a young man who may still be tempted, like Master said, “In particular, a young man still wants to strive to accomplish some objectives in ordinary human society!” ( Lecture Two, Zhuan Falun) I found that fending off these repetitive thoughts takes a considerable amount of discipline and faith. Time and time again I have to tell myself to do what Master tells us, ““Pursue nothing and gain naturally.”” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe)
When I was about to graduate from a respected university in a high-demand field, I faced the dilemma of searching for a job. Through reference, I was offered a position in my field, but the compensation it offered was significantly less than what the people around me were telling me I should make. But at this time, I was forming my basic understanding of what Fa-rectification was, and I had the wish to be able to do lots of Dafa work. Because I could save precious time by skipping job hunting, and it seemed like at this workplace, I would be able to participate in Dafa projects, I accepted this position. I felt like I was making decent steps in taking personal interests lightly.
I worked hard at the company, and my contributions were soon recognized. At a time when I felt I reached a milestone in delivering something important for the company, I asked my boss to change my work schedule to four days a week. To my joy, my request was approved, and I had three full days to dedicate to Dafa projects. I was very grateful for these arrangements, and I completely dedicated that time to more Fa-study and more projects.
After a few months, my boss seemed happy with my work and suggested that if I returned to a normal five-day schedule, I could receive an increase in salary. I always held dear in my heart the principle of what Master teaches, “Ordinary people have their pursuits, and we don’t seek them. As for what ordinary people have, we also aren’t interested. Yet what we have is something that ordinary people cannot obtain, even if they want to.” ( Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)
I respectfully declined and felt happy about my decision. To this day, I feel that time is our most precious resource.
My heart was stirred again when my company hired people in the same role as mine. Ordinary questions circled around and around in my mind, comparing skills, comparing salary, and whether I’m receiving what I deserve. I had to repeatedly tell myself, Master has told us, “...as a practitioner should follow the course of nature. If something is yours, you will not lose it. If something is not yours, you will not have it even if you fight for it.” (Lecture Seven, Zhuan Falun)
I felt pity for myself, since Master has already told us, “My truly cultivating disciples, what I have taught you is the Fa for the cultivation of Buddha and Dao. Nonetheless, you pour out your grievances to me over the loss of your worldly interests, rather than feeling upset for being unable to let go of ordinary human attachments. Is this cultivation?” (“True Cultivation,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
But in this process, by always holding to the Fa principles, I was able to gradually let go of my concern for self-interest. The more I cultivated, the lighter I felt. My external circumstances remained the same, but inside, eventually, a wondrous lightness settled.
In this process, I came to understand that I still have not fully cultivated to a point where I am no longer vulnerable to falling victim to certain attachments and being tied up in ordinary temptations. Like how Master said, “It was more difficult for a young person to conduct himself or herself well. Maybe you would have found this person usually very good, caring little for fame and self-interest, when he did not have many abilities in ordinary human society.” (Lecture Three, Zhuan Falun), I have yet to raise my realm high enough to be able to be unmoved by larger gains. Master also said, “Your house may be built with gold, but you do not hold it to your heart and take it very lightly.” (Lecture In Sydney) Today if I lived in a golden house, I think I still would be quite annoyingly pompous.
I would like to remind fellow young practitioners to be wary of the temptations of personal gain, as only if we put cultivation first can we truly validate Dafa with the combination of a respectable career and the character of a genuine cultivator. My experience is that when I have a sense of responsibility to society as well as to Dafa, all things fall in place and I gain without pursuit. I received my VISA and sponsorship for permanent residence by simply asking a single question. I have no financial worries, have time to recite Zhuan Falun, and participate in Dafa-validation projects. I feel truly blessed.
Cooperation: Wisdom Comes from Working Together
Last summer was a major turning point when participating in Dafa projects. Previously, I had many pompous notions about my ability to learn fast, the ability to communicate, and proficiency in certain technical skills. It was not until I returned to Europe for a summer that I awakened to the fact that genuine wisdom blossoms in our cooperation with one another.
At that time, my local cultivation environment had lingering disagreements and showed signs of misunderstandings between western and eastern practitioners; there was no consistent large group study, and truth-clarification had stagnated. There was also an apartment that had been left unattended for years that I also needed to renovate. In addition, I had seen none of my friends in Europe for years, and I had the wish to tell them about my newfound cultivation.
In this environment, I formed a very good team with my mother. Seeing the cultivation situation, we decided to set up our own material production site and addressed the problem of outdated materials by designing new fliers and posters. When our printer broke, it was our fumbling together for a solution that uncovered the root cause. We gradually got to know every local practitioner in the area and created opportunities for connections by going to every truth-clarification site and increasing group Fa-study time. Of course, none of this was without conflicts.
For example, when I sat down to design a flier, I found my mind was blank and I didn’t know how to start. My mother would then say, “I know what I would like to see on the flier!” and point out what part should explain which topic. I had thoughts like, “Well, if you know it, then do it yourself,” and thoughts like “Okay, but what exact words should we put there?” I realized how lowly those negative thoughts were, and focused on truly letting them go. Once those were cleared away, a stream of good ideas started flowing into my mind. By cultivating positive thoughts and not letting human notions and being indigent get in the way, in just about a day, we created the fliers in two languages.
The conflicts we faced seemed to come on every front. When we were renovating our apartment, three out of four neighbors seemed to have tensions with us. Those on our side replaced our water pipe without our consent. Those below us were knocking on our door complaining that water was dripping from their ceiling while at the same time, we were knocking on the door of those above us telling them that water was coming down our ceiling! It was really problems heaped on top of another. However, by studying the Fa, we were gradually able to let go of self-interest and find harmonious solutions for each situation. By working closely with my mother, I realized my mind and thinking is far from mature, and I am not yet fit to coordinate large projects, not even a renovation. Though my mother’s technical skills to saw, paint, and drill were limited, I was there to handle the majority of those.
On the truth-clarification front, over time, our production capacity, and experience grew. All local practitioners felt a new sense of encouragement, the number of supporting signatures rose significantly, and every weekend, new people came to learn the exercises. The large group study was reestablished, and with the new practitioners, we found ourselves reading Zhuan Falun in four languages. Everyone felt transformed and as if cultivating anew! In the whole process, I only had to fend off negative human notions, refrain from validating myself, and look for common ground with fellow practitioners. Everything unfolded naturally, and I gained yet a deeper understanding of what Master Li says, “Cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one’s master.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
Working with my mother was a truly great experience, but many times we experienced fierce tensions. Since my parents are divorced, and my father remarried, my mother had a difficult time treating his new wife with compassion. I had a difficult time balancing between the two families, and some of my decisions even resulted in certain arguments where my mother would state that cultivation was too difficult for her, and she may not be able to continue. Whenever she raised her voice, I paid special attention to lower mine, and when she was very fervent, I refrained from reacting and kept really cool. Once I noticed that she regained control of her emotions, we sat down and studied the Fa. Both of us, with perseverance and looking within, not holding onto the idea that our understanding is better than the other person’s, was able to rise above the conflicts and resolve problems well.
The time in Europe had truly been a turning point for me. I learned that having a large impact on truth-clarification really depends on cultivating our hearts and increasing the depths of our thinking. As Master said, “It seems that young people all tend to aim too high and have a hard time steadying their minds. You’re Dafa disciples, so in whatever you do, you should do it solidly and responsibly, as you are cultivators.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference”)
By cooperating with each other and persevering in Fa-study we can truly validate the Fa. And finally, only by making and keeping the resolves of a cultivator can we be what Master says in “Stay Rational”, the “emissaries of salvation in these latter days.”
Thank you Master, and fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2020 International Falun Dafa Young Practitioners’ Online Fa Conference)