Participating in a SOH Project Helped Me Find My Attachments
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I joined Sound of Hope (SOH) in March 2014 and moved to New York in June 2016 to join the “Beijing Locals’ Tea House” project.
During the program, two Beijing natives chat about current events while clarifying the truth in a lighthearted manner. They let the audience know that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is not China and the goal is to undo the brainwashing done by the Party.
Although I'm chatty, I'm not a Beijing native and I can’t speak with a perfect Beijing accent. The other practitioner was born and raised in Beijing but does not like to talk. You can imagine that when the two of us were paired together it created many opportunities for us to improve! Any progress we made was because of Master’s help and the assistance from fellow practitioners. Both of us have benefited from the experience. During the process, we improved and learned how to cooperate with others.
My Attachments Exposed
As soon as the program was launched, my first cultivation test was how I reacted to negative feedback. First, I was told that I did not sound like a Beijing native. This deflated my ego. I like theater and love to imitate different accents. It was because I thought I did a good job mimicking accents that I joined the project. If I was no good, I felt I had no reason to stay in the project. I couldn’t change the fact that I couldn't pass as a Beijing native. It was later suggested that I speak standard Mandarin instead of trying to speak with a Beijing accent. I was torn because then it would not be what the program claimed to be. And besides, I wasn't convinced that I couldn't do a good job.
Was I trying to prove my abilities or was I validating Dafa? I was confused. After all, having a Beijing accent was the program's requirement, so I continued to try. But, I constantly looked to see if I had an attachment to proving myself, while trying to validate Dafa. This is a unique cultivation experience.
The first year, I was afraid whenever our coordinator listened to our program. She would do a running commentary as she listened. You never knew if what she said would be upsetting. For example, “The first few episodes were okay. Why is it getting worse now?” or “If I listened to this program while I was working, I would lose interest in no time. It's not engaging!” or “You sound like a teacher!” and so on.
“You sound like a teacher!” That comment was repeated for two years. I was a university lecturer in the past. Maybe I did sound like I was lecturing. I had become so used to speaking that way that I didn’t know how to change it. I felt lost.
While she made suggestions, a lot of thoughts were going through my mind even though I seemed to be listening calmly. Once, I could not hide my unhappiness any longer and asked bluntly, “Can you demonstrate how I should do it?” She replied, “I don’t know how. You need to figure it out yourself.” She added, “Listen to the hostess. She laughs so heartily. Why don’t you guys laugh?” I retorted, “Two guys laughing out loud sounds strange! We'll get there slowly, but surely.”
I knew deep in my heart that I was upset not only because I didn't do well, but I felt I wasn't as bad as she said. In fact, I thought I had done a pretty good job. I was stubbornly holding onto the idea that I had done well. I was so obsessed with this notion that I was not willing to consider anything anyone else said.
Master said, “But true improvements come from letting go, not from gaining.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. II ) Through studying the Fa and looking inward, I found my problem. On the surface, I only like hearing praise; it didn't matter what anyone said, I believed that I was good. This attachment to self resulted in my not wanting to change.
Eliminating My Hidden CCP Elements
I wrote my script ahead of time, and I had to imagine the conversation. The program's mission is to rectify the values that have been distorted by the CCP. But, being raised in China, I had many of those misconceptions. I didn't quite get it myself when I was trying to explain how the CCP was brainwashing the Chinese people. As a result, many of our listeners commented that our discussions were little more than CCP bashing.
To undo the brainwashing, we need to establish traditional moral values. However, the other practitioner and I grew up in China and we don’t really know what's right or wrong. As a result, we could only talk about traditional moral values. For example, we talked about the ancient Chinese folklore, legends, and stories behind things people say, hoping to pass on traditional culture to our audience. I love traditional culture and enjoy doing this. It was my wishful thinking that the audience would like it as well.
My wife gave me some feedback, “Why do you keep talking about solar terms? All that information is available online. They don’t need to hear about it from you! It's so boring.” I was surprised, but I didn’t take what she said seriously. I thought she said this because she didn't like traditional culture. Later, one of the supervisors listened to our program and made a similar comment, “I thought this program talked about current events. Why do you start the program by talking about solar terms?” He also pointed out that if we started the program at a slow pace, we would lose people's interest, and it didn't matter if we had something wonderful lined up. Although it made sense, I still hoped that people actually enjoyed hearing about solar terms.
In fact, I realized that it was because I could not let go of my own self-interest. In the end, I cut the beginning which I devoted to traditions and storytelling. No one seemed to miss it. I know that it was all because I refused to look inward and change myself.
I racked my brain to come up with a creative, literary title for each episode. One of the editors suggested that I change my titles, and gave me tips on how to do it, but I didn’t accept her suggestions. I thought that would be the same as ordinary news; this program needed to be unique. Later, when I read the training materials for social media, I realized that flowery titles that don't have keywords that correspond to current events won't be found by the search engines. This was one reason why the number of visits to our programs remained low. The goal of the programs is to save people. It defeats this purpose if no one listens to them. Instead we are only amusing ourselves.
In fact, my self-righteousness was also reflected in the title page design. I studied design and I have a huge attachment to it. Even if I was tired I enjoyed doing it and I could not put it down. I constantly made changes and wasted a lot of time. The coordinator later found another practitioner to help me with design so I had time to study the Fa and do the exercises. At first, I still could not leave it alone and I kept making suggestions. I even took over the file and made changes. This irritated the other practitioner and I was exhausted. I let go only after my team member intervened.
Through studying the Fa I realized that my attachment to self and my refusal to change is an old forces' mentality: “Mine is the best, only I am right, I want to change others, not myself.” Slowly, painfully, and reluctantly I uncovered these issues. I realized that the process of improving my character was the process of getting rid of the old forces' hold on me. Due to my lack of diligence my breakthrough was slow.
Master said, “In order to eliminate this negative thing, you must first change your mind.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)When I was in a good state of mind, I would make bigger changes. To do this, I need to first of all accept that I am not perfect, not even close, and that I had a lot to learn.
After I adjusted my state of mind, the project slowly made progress. For example, when the coordinator asked us to help solve issues with the ads, I understood the importance of unconditional cooperation. I immediately discussed how we should work on it with the other practitioner. We didn't worry about losing subscribers. With these barriers removed, we had new ads and more and more positive comments, and fans were becoming friends. During the Christmas and New Year holidays, we received fans’ requests to help them quit the CCP.
This past New Year we planned to produce a social media video. Shortly before that, a professional cameraman joined our team. Not only was he very experienced in shooting and post production, he was also very responsible. We have been on social media for 4 months now. Despite some hiccups, we have persevered. Master already made the arrangements - we just need to do it.
The spread of the CCP virus (coronavirus) affected our routines. After the stay-at-home order was implemented by the State of New York, to ensure our programs continued running smoothly, I moved in with the cameraman. During this time I had a breakthrough: I started to see the CCP culture traits in myself and I started to remove them.
The coordinator recently began revising my script. He is a trained journalist, and solid in his cultivation. He's also very experienced in selecting news topics, structure, and storytelling. He was sharp at picking out CCP culture traits and never let it slip through.
More than once he pointed out certain things I'd written that were loaded with CCP culture. He explained what the issues were and asked me to develop my own feel for it. It was strange that when I wrote them I didn't find them inappropriate; they came naturally to me.
He asked, “Don’t you think these expressions are exaggerating, mean and combative? There were too many negative descriptions. Why did you quote China’s Foreign Ministry or their official mouthpiece? Why did you jump to conclusions before you had sufficient evidence? Why use words like: 'warrior wolf', 'giving shots of chicken blood' and 'spitting'? This sounds like a shouting match between you and the CCP. Do you harbor hatred towards the CCP? It sounds like both of you are mean-spirited and wicked. We don’t feel the compassion of Dafa practitioners in your writing.”
I was confused and surprised by his comments. I never realized that this might be how they were received. I wondered why I did that. I seemed to think that being negative was humorous. I finally understood that my writings don't have to be sharp and biting. One can be gentle and kind. I came to understand that we should be cultured and restrained, not sarcastic.
He reminded me, “When you write your script, you need to think about those who still don't understand the truth and still think the CCP is good. Will they be receptive or turned off by what you say. If they are turned off or leave the program shortly afterwards, who are you speaking to? Think about how you want to save people.”
I gradually enlightened to how I should do this program. Once I adjusted my mentality, I got rid of the selfish and negative side, and my positive light-hearted humor naturally emerged.
I found that after I let go of the things that I hung onto, they were not only meaningless in cultivation, but also of a low level from a professional point of view and in morality. My professional skills have now improved. Had I not let go of my old self, I could not have reached a higher level.
Master taught us, “Take religions, for example. Those who truly understand things are utilizing the formats taken by those religions to cultivate themselves, while those who don't are upholding the formats of those religions.” (Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles”). I think about this teaching often. Yes, I am busy, but I cannot forget that being busy is meaningful only if I cultivate myself throughout the process.
Thank you Master, for the opportunity to be part of this project. My thanks also go to the my team members and all the practitioners who supported us throughout. Kindly point out anything I've said or done that's inconsistent with the Fa.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2020 Sound of Hope Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)