Maturing As a Person and As a Cultivator
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I’m an 18-year-old practitioner from Australia. Although I was born in a family of practitioners, it wasn't until I was 13 that I truly understood what cultivation was actually about. Prior to that, I had stopped helping with any Dafa-related activities for more than a year.
After I truly began to cultivate, I broke through some of the misconceptions I had. I also began to participate in more Dafa projects and eventually took on more responsibilities to encourage myself to pursue higher standards, all of which made me realize the merits of challenging myself. As a result, I have gained deeper understandings of cultivation, which I would like to share.
Pushing Myself to Do Better
Shen Yun scheduled 20 shows in Sydney this year. We had to sell more tickets than any city in Australia, so additional help was needed. I had just graduated from high school and had four months off. I could have chosen to spend that time relaxing after 12 years of schooling, but I decided to help with the Shen Yun promotion.
My first time helping with Shen Yun ticket sales was for the 2019 season and it started as a leap of faith. Because I was only 17, I was reluctant, but I found that being pushed out of my comfort zone helped me to quickly improve in my cultivation. This year my plan was to stay with my grandmother in Sydney and help out for the month and a half I would be there.
I’m very fortunate that my parents are practitioners, so they paid for my flight to Sydney. Because all of the costs were covered by my parents and my grandmother, I left home with a steady mindset that I was there to endure any hardship thrown at me, no playing around, just complete devotion to helping Master save people. During my time in Sydney, I was faced with many difficult challenges that really tested my faith. They were mental and physical ordeals that pushed me to my limits.
The first challenge came during my last few weeks in Sydney. We were short on practitioners to do different projects for Shen Yun promotion and I was asked if I was willing to go to businesses to introduce Shen Yun. I was comfortable with selling tickets in shopping centers, but the thought of interacting with people from the upper-class society was daunting. I was very reluctant to step out of my comfort zone. Although it was similar to introducing Shen Yun in shopping centers, these people were of a higher social status. All sorts of fears and concerns clouded my thoughts. I was concerned about not doing a good job, and I had an attachment to losing face. After seriously thinking it over, I agreed. It was a situation where I felt that I might face humiliation, yet I chose to help because I knew that, from a cultivator’s perspective, the sacrifices couldn’t compare with the gains.
When we went to the first building I didn’t want to go in. My fear of failure and attachment to saving face surfaced. This was the first time I thought I could not force myself to go on. I wanted to tell the practitioner I was with that I just couldn’t do it. It took every ounce of my righteous thoughts to push down my attachments and continue. I went to several offices, and every time I had the same fears, but each time they lessened. I had to think rationally and will myself to persevere. One of the practitioners I went with said that visiting the business offices was like the “roaming about” Master talked about:
“Wandering around in society is rather torturous. It must beg for food and meet different kinds of people who will scold, insult, or take advantage of it. It might encounter all kinds of things. It will treat itself as a practitioner and balance well relations with others, always maintaining and upgrading xinxing. It will not be moved by the temptations of different benefits among everyday people.” (Lecture Eight, Zhuan Falun)
We went from office to office and introduced Shen Yun. Some people were receptive, but some were cold. My xinxing was tempered as I felt humiliated when we were rejected or ignored. I found it very challenging to knowingly put myself into a position where I could lose face. But once it was over, I realized that I had removed a layer of attachments. When I went back to the shopping center, I felt unfazed by situations that tested my xinxing. Through this experience, I successfully overcame my limits.
The second experience that tested me to the limit was my biggest test of faith in Master. Last year, when Shen Yun arrived and I helped out, I had serious sickness karma and I was bedridden for an entire week. At one point I lost all sense of balance.
This year it happened again. It started with a headache in the morning as I helped out backstage. Both times, I endured until the afternoon and then I felt very weak. Last year when the tribulation began I decided to wait it out, but I didn’t negate the old forces’ interference. As a result, the tribulation went on for several weeks.
This year when the same thing happened, my righteous thoughts were stronger. When it got worse, I started sending forth righteous thoughts to completely reject the old forces’ arrangements. When I began getting weak, I kept firmly repeating in my mind: “I am a Dafa disciple and nothing can move me.” Without faith in Master and righteous thoughts, I would not have been able to move, let alone walk up, several flights of stairs to reach the cafeteria. I wasn’t worried as I had complete faith in Master. It was the ultimate test of willpower. With the encouragement of the practitioners around me, a tribulation that lasted for five weeks last year was over in five hours. This tribulation showed me the power of righteous thoughts and how much I could push myself.
My time in Sydney took me completely out of my comfort zone. It showed me how important it is to actively push ourselves to do better and, more importantly, to exceed our expectations of how much we can handle. When faced with challenges, we can strengthen our faith with righteous thoughts and enlighten to new understandings.
Faith and Motivation
I returned home to the environment I was most familiar with. But this presented another challenge. Back in that relaxed setting, my attachments were harder to detect. It was challenging to maintain the diligence and urgency I had when I was in a cultivation-focused environment. I also had to catch up on the weeks of university work I’d missed out on. I slowly started to feel less motivated to do anything productive and my self-discipline started to erode. Master said:
“That is why I say that despite the fact that it seems like, with this relaxed approach to cultivation, there are no regulations, no commandments, no systems of rules, and nobody keeping you in line, the requirements are actually extremely high, for you must keep yourself in check and you must arrive at the standard by your own doing. But, precisely because the responsibility is great and the place you cultivate to is high, there couldn’t possibly be a devil monstrous enough in human society to directly create trouble for you.” (“Fa Teaching Given in Manhattan,” Collected Fa Teachings,Vol. X)
This problem became even more pronounced with the outbreak of the CCP virus (coronavirus). Since many cities were on “lockdown” and everyone was forced to stay home, the temptation to relax and laziness surfaced. In the beginning, I couldn’t even do one hour of exercises a day. I usually woke up at 8 a.m. and read information on the phone for 40 minutes. Instead of doing the exercises, I took a nap or spent more time on my phone. I wanted to do better and I knew I had to do better. With the lack of a cultivation-focused environment, I wasn’t able to discipline myself. I was only barely doing the basics of what a Dafa disciple should do. As I struggled to improve, Master arranged for an incident to enlighten me.
In early March a Malaysian practitioner contacted me while I was studying the Fa with other young practitioners online. He said he was looking for young practitioners to study the Fa with in Chinese. Unfortunately, our discussions were all in English. We kept in contact. One day he asked if he could add me into a group chat for young Chinese practitioners in the Asia Pacific region, and I agreed. This seemed predestined as we were about to organize the experience sharing conference for young practitioners.
About a week later, one of the Taiwanese members asked if I knew a certain practitioner. I was shocked. I knew her because a few years before we’d studied the Fa together online. She had moved from Malaysia to Tasmania. When she was moving, she asked me if there were any practitioners in Tasmania. Unfortunately, there weren’t, so she was going to be in a remote place with no family and no practitioners. To be able to reach out to her again after so many years was an amazing predestined relationship.
This incident showed that even when the pandemic separates us practitioners physically, we are still interconnected through the predestined relationships arranged by Master. As Dafa disciples, we walk together on the path of cultivation and Master is also constantly looking after us. The lack of a physical cultivation environment does not mean we can slack off in cultivation. Our faith should not waver even when everything around us seems stagnant and mundane.
“In the past people talked about certain cultivators meditating facing a wall for nine years or their entire lives and enduring suffering all alone. Practicing in monasteries, mountains or forests, cut off from the ordinary world, and going through years of toil and suffering—how lonely would that be? But that is not the approach you are to take. And yet some people still loathe how long it’s taking. Yet in all of history no one has ever cultivated for only such a short time. But these people have allowed themselves to grow lax, and when even just a little interference comes, they forget that they are Dafa disciples. What are you cultivating for? For your reputation? Out of resentment? For the attachments you harbor? For your loved ones? For the things you’re attached to? For the things you can’t let go of? Aren’t all of these exactly the things that you should be getting rid of?” (“Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference”)
This happened when I was thinking of ways to help young practitioners. Even though I felt I wasn’t doing well, I sincerely felt that Master arranged this to benefit me. I wanted to help others by sharing it. It reminded me of what Master said, “Cultivation depends on one’s own efforts, while the transformation of gong is done by one’s master.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)
Reflecting on my unproductive state, I now look at this motivation in a different light. Instead of seeing it as the positive driving force that gets things done, I now see it as only applicable to everyday people. To cultivators, it is caused by sentimentality and it is an obstacle in our cultivation. Everyday people can be motivated to do something if it goes along with their mood or their liking.
As practitioners, we should not use how we feel about something to determine whether we’ll do it or not. It’s our responsibility to complete our tasks to the best of our ability.
Instead of doing things because we are motivated, it should come from our rational understanding of the Fa. We should not be unmotivated when we think our environment is mundane or stagnant. Getting rid of this attachment requires righteous faith in times of uncertainty. It’s difficult to move forward when we become lax and things become challenging. The level of difficulty corresponds to the mighty virtue we’ll accumulate.
I hope everyone benefits from this conference so we can all be inspired and more diligent!
Thank you, Master. Thank you, fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2020 International Falun Dafa Young Practitioners’ Online Fa Conference)