I Realized That I Needed to Change
(Minghui.org) Greetings revered Master, greetings fellow practitioners!
I'm a young practitioner and I began practicing Falun Dafa in 2011. I left China in 2015 to pursue my graduate degree. After completing my undergraduate studies in a small town in the U.S., I moved to a large Australian city, where I faced drastic changes in my cultivation environment and a series of difficult situations while working with other practitioners. These changes allowed me to reflect deeply on how to view my cultivation environment and my interactions with other practitioners. I'd like to share my experiences with you.
Adapting to My New Cultivation Environment
The city I moved to has more practitioners and more projects to work on, presenting me with a complicated cultivation environment. Because I refused to understand others' viewpoints and I even sometimes looked down on them, I became engaged in various conflicts.
This was very different from the environment I had in my small-town setting in the U.S., where there were fewer practitioners and so we were closer. There, we worked together as a unified body and our environment was one of mutual understanding and even cherishing each other. When I first moved to Australia and found it so difficult to adjust to my new environment, I remembered Master’s words:
“Yet as the number of lives increases, a collective form of social relations develops in which some people may develop selfishness and gradually their level will be lowered. If they cannot stay at this level, they must drop down further.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
I felt that a setting with more people made it really challenging to stay composed and handle things well. I knew this was an unreasonable thought and hurtful to the local Australian practitioners, but I truly felt that my previous city’s practitioners were better.
After looking inward, I was able to find the root of my attachment. While I was a college student, the local practitioners took great care of me and the few other young practitioner students at my university. They always cared for us, encouraged us and affirmed us in everything we did. The older practitioners rarely held us to very high standards; it was almost as if it was good enough that we young practitioners could just persist in cultivating. Whenever we did help out with different projects, we were thanked and praised. My mindset was that I had volunteered my time to help out with Dafa projects, rather than thinking that various truth clarification projects had given me the opportunity to help save sentient beings and fulfill my sacred vow.
I realized that the practitioners in my college town had disagreements. I understood this from a cultivation perspective: if there were no conflicts, and if everyone got along perfectly, there would be no opportunities to remove our attachments, improve our characters, and advance in cultivation. Because I was never involved in any of these conflicts, however, I always thought that our group of practitioners was very harmonious.
In my new environment, I didn’t feel the same warmth from my fellow practitioners and they sometimes said things that irritated me and stirred my heart. As I tried to adapt to entering society and my post-college life, I felt that I had not used righteous thoughts and a cultivation mindset to approach the situation. It was exactly like how Master said, “...people regard their suffering in life as being unfair.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
The young practitioners in my new city were often busy full-time with media or other truth clarification projects, and rarely had the time to talk and share with me about anything other than work-related topics. This was a drastic difference from my intimate college setting, where my schoolmates and I got along very well and we constantly had opportunities to interact with each other.
Prior to moving, I was very conflicted about whether to begin working full-time in the media or to continue with my post-graduate studies. Seeing the young practitioners in my new city fully dedicate themselves to media projects pressured me to the point that I didn’t know how to talk with them and I often wanted to avoid them altogether. I began to develop feelings of intense jealousy, often wondering why all the young practitioners around me had gone into the media yet I hadn’t.
I asked myself, “Why was working in the media full-time to save sentient beings not a part of my cultivation path?” Subconsciously, I began to compare myself with other practitioners to see who was better. Without realizing it I was using the sacred task of saving sentient beings to compete with others. I also had a strong attachment to the affection that goes with friendship and a bond with other practitioners, as I believed that the other young practitioners and I should naturally be friends due to our age.
My attachment to emotion and bonding often got the best of me whenever someone didn’t immediately respond to my text messages or I felt they were indifferent towards me, even though I knew they were busy with Dafa projects and that I should try to be supportive, helpful, and not bother them.
Deep down, I knew that the other young practitioners were actually helping me cultivate away my attachments to loneliness and fear of being alone. Unfortunately, my notions of selfishness and self-interest were buried deep in my heart and were difficult to remove. I could only try to slowly chip away at these attachments again and again through my cultivation.
I later realized that wanting to see my fellow practitioners but also wanting to avoid other practitioners was wrong. My strong desire to see other Dafa practitioners came from my loneliness and reliance on affection from other people. My strong attachments of wanting to bond with friends and fellow practitioners were brought on by my looking outward to others to ease my own suffering.
Yet wanting to avoid fellow practitioners altogether was even more inappropriate—this notion was caused by jealousy, resentment, a desire to avoid conflict, and a selfish inability to accept other people. As these attachments lingered, it was easy for the old forces to find gaps in my cultivation, to really begin alienating me from the other practitioners, and to make me lose out on many opportunities to coordinate with others and save sentient beings.
“You are all fellow practitioners. Do you think you’re enemies? You are here on this earth working toward the same goal of saving people, so you should be the closest of kin and be helping one another. Do you find someone annoying? That person’s outward appearance and behavior are only what’s present here in this human world. Weren’t all of you originally divine? I don’t think your divine side would possibly find someone annoying. You need to view things as a cultivator.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the New York Fa Conference Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Dafa’s Spreading”)
After reading Master’s words, I felt very ashamed. Cultivators need to keep improving and cannot remain stagnant at one level of understanding. This change in my environment was arranged by Master for my benefit. Master is waiting for each of us to keep raising our cultivation levels. A more complicated setting creates more opportunities to test my xinxing, temper my will, and develop selfless compassion. Master very clearly stated:
“The outside pressures that Dafa disciples face are tests as well as opportunities to be more diligent, while the internal conflicts and pressures among Dafa disciples are, likewise, tests and opportunities to be more diligent.” (“A Congratulatory Letter to the Fa Conference of Europe”)
Changing My Environment by Cultivating Myself
After I arrived in Australia, I began to organize a young practitioner Fa study group at the suggestion of another practitioner. With my new coordinator responsibilities, I finally experienced and understood firsthand the hard work that goes into coordinating. In the past, I never thought about how much effort the local coordinators put into organizing large and small group Fa studies as well as our large-scale events. Even something as seemingly simple as an online Fa study session required careful planning. Doing this helped me appreciate and value the contributions other practitioners made in order to successfully organize Fa study and truth-clarification opportunities for all of us.
As I began participating in more projects and interacting with my new local coordinators, I often found myself subconsciously comparing them with those back in the U.S. This was my first time participating in Australian Shen Yun promotion, and I quickly learned how vastly different the two cities did everything, from marketing to general coordination.
I had also heard a lot of rumors about how Australian practitioners were not as diligent as North American practitioners, and how they were less unified when it came to truth clarification projects. “Fa-Teaching Given to the Australian Practitioners” is the only collected Fa teaching that Master left to Dafa disciples in video format. As the Australian practitioners at the time had not done very well, Master’s tone during the Fa teaching was rather stern, and it felt like this was still something that the local Australian practitioners did not want to be widely known or mentioned.
All of the negative things I'd heard about the Australian practitioners joined with my feelings of dissatisfaction. I did not approach the situation with righteous thoughts and began to think that there was a lot of truth to what was said about them. I sometimes even felt that my move from America to Australia was a demotion because a lot of new and seemingly more interesting truth-clarification projects were taking place in North America.
After thinking about the situation from a Fa perspective, I realized that the North American practitioners as a whole did very well in many ways.
But practitioners, regardless of where they live, are all Master’s disciples. We are all cultivating according to Dafa and are all doing the three things that Master requires of us—it’s only that our levels of diligence may vary. Even if the cultivation state of a body of practitioners as a whole is not up to standard, picking and choosing one's cultivation environment is not an option. The only way to improve as a group is to first cultivate and improve oneself.
Although there have been instances of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interference in the past, Australia is still a Western democracy, and there are still opportunities for us to do better in clarifying the truth to mainstream society. Each year we are still able to hold Shen Yun performances, and we can still organize outdoor practice sites, parades, and large-scale events like nationwide experience sharing conferences. This long-standing cultivation environment was established due to the hard work and efforts of many older practitioners who have meticulously preserved it all these years.
What about all of the countries around the world that do not have as many practitioners? What about the practitioners in countries with authoritarian governments? What about the practitioners in countries that have been severely influenced by the CCP and face hardships every step of the way? And what of the practitioners in mainland China who have maintained righteous thoughts for twenty years even while constantly facing tests of life and death? Have any of them ever complained about a “bad cultivation setting”, like I did?
After reflecting on all this, I felt ashamed. In Fa teachings, Master has commended practitioners like the Minghui editors and those who have raised awareness in front of the Chinese Consulate for their extraordinary yet silent contributions over the years. I, on the other hand, never once thought about what I could do to contribute to the group or how to create truth clarification opportunities. Instead, I only wanted to have my way and I demanded a better cultivation environment. When I did choose to help out, I didn't want to commit to anything. I only wanted to do things that sounded interesting.
In “Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference”, when asked a question about Australian practitioners, Master responded,
“Master has never pinned all of his hopes, or all of Australia's hopes, on the shoulders of any one person or the Association. I have pinned them on each and every Dafa disciple and your ability to cultivate well.”
It became so clear to me that the best way for our region to improve was to start by cultivating myself.
I recently read a Minghui experience sharing article in which a practitioner wrote about her understanding of Master’s purpose for having the “Fa-Teaching Given to the Australian Practitioners” available on video. She said that she believed one reason was possibly to guide those who have “enlightened” along an evil path back to a righteous one, and to give them a way to truly believe in all of the Fa teachings Master has given since the persecution started. The author detailed her personal experience with a friend who strayed away from Dafa for many years. After watching the video of Master teaching Fa, she immediately became clear-headed again about cultivation. Reading this article was eye-opening for me. Master’s teaching in this video should be a wake-up call to all of us, but also an encouragement and motivation for us to do better in cultivation.
As Indestructible as Diamond
In Master’s Fa teachings, the term “indestructible as diamond” is used. Master says,
“A Dafa disciple... what's a Dafa disciple? He's a being created by the most magnificent Fa, (enthusiastic applause) and he's rock-solid and as indestructible as diamond.” (Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Washington DC Fa Conference)
If practitioners can use righteous thoughts without fail and truly be indestructible as diamond, together we can create a better cultivation environment and be in perfect harmony with Dafa.
These are some of my limited understandings. Please feel free to point out anything inappropriate. Heshi.
(Presented at the 2020 International Falun Dafa Young Practitioners’ Online Fa Conference)