Twenty Years of Cultivation: Hard Times, Happy Times (Part 4 of 4)
(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part 3)
As Dafa practitioners, we are truly lucky to have signed an agreement with Master. In it we promised to come down to this world and assist Master during the Fa-rectification, awaken the conscience of sentient beings, and fulfill our vows. Such precious opportunity to cultivate in Dafa, a righteous way, only comes once in the history of the universe.
Autumn 2004 to the Present: Operating a Material Production Site While in Hiding
Going Into Hiding: Escaping from Home
In the fall of 2004, my phone rang while I was on my lunch break. A man said, “Hello. Are you so-and-so?” I said I was and he said, “Get up and leave now. The police are coming for you.” He hung up. I didn’t know who the caller was, but I believed what he said.
I told my supervisor that I was leaving and went straight home. My wife was there. As I told her what had happened, I got my copy of Zhuan Falun and a few other Dafa books and left.
As soon as I got on the highway, I saw a police car heading toward my village. A coworker later told me that the police arrived as soon as I left, and they searched the entire factory before they left. My wife also confirmed that the police showed up as soon as I left.
I kept going for quite a while and eventually pulled over. I tried to clear my mind and thought about what had just happened. The tremendous pressure from another dimension caused me to have all kinds of mental images, including being arrested and tortured. I asked Master to strengthen me and swore to never go along with the evil’s arrangements. I sent forth righteous thoughts to eliminate all evil that was after me and trying to jeopardize material production sites.
I felt that the police could show up at any time. I went to our material site after dark—that was the only place I could think of to spend the night. I left early the next morning and roamed the streets.
It was such a difficult time, and I had never felt so alone. I didn’t have anybody to talk things over with, and nobody could help me. I couldn’t tell anybody about my whereabouts, as I needed to keep the location of the material site a secret, and I didn’t want to cause anyone trouble.
I broke down and cried on the side the road that afternoon, not knowing what to do. I asked Master, “Where should I go? What should I do?” A light bulb moment happened—I had the perfect plan.
Opening a Restaurant
The next morning, I got up early and paid a great uncle a visit in a distant town. I told my uncle I wanted to open a small restaurant there and asked him to help me find a retail space. It didn’t take him long to find a place, but it was still under construction and would be ready in about a week. In a small town halfway between my town and my uncle’s town, I hired a truck driver to help me move the next day.
I then went back to the material site and got everything ready for the move. The bed I slept on was made to hide the printer with plenty of extra space for storage. I stuffed the printer, paper, supplies, and tools inside the frame box and secured it from all sides. The bed was heavy.
The truck driver arrived early the next morning. The bed was too heavy for the two of us to carry, so the owner of the liquid store from across the street gave us a hand. The two of them carried one side, and I carried the other by myself. As if I had supernatural strength, I lifted the bed with ease. I struggled to hold back my tears, as I knew Master was helping and protecting me. We loaded the rest of the furniture, and I thanked the liquid store owner before moving on to my uncle’s town.
It was very nice of the landlord to let me use a spare room in the backyard to keep my furniture before the retail space was ready to move in. After dropping off all the furniture at the landlord’s, I checked into a motel nearby. With my uncle’s introduction, the motel owner checked me in without checking my ID. I settled in and felt slightly relieved that my plan was coming together.
The landlord told me, “It will take a few more days for the space to be ready. Why don’t you go home.” I told her, “I need to stay to make sure you finish on time so I can open my restaurant.” The landlord didn’t know that I had nowhere to go.
I brought less than 100 yuan from home when I left. With practitioners’ donations for supplies, I had less than 1,000 yuan. I had already spent 100 yuan to hire the truck driver and didn’t have much left. I also needed to buy appliances and supplies for my restaurant. Money was tight. I paid five yuan a day for the motel room and ate as little as possible to save money.
Once I bought a bowl of steamed rice for lunch. But it didn’t fill me up, so I asked the owner if I could get a half of a bowl. He said he didn’t sell half orders of rice.
Then, I visited a non-practitioner friend who lived in a town 40 miles away and borrowed 300 yuan, just enough to hold me over. Soon the retail space was ready. I pinched every penny and bought the bare minimum for the grand opening. I didn’t spend money unless it was absolutely necessary.
My Wife Holds Down the Fort
It was already harvest season, and all the fieldwork fell onto my wife’s shoulders. I couldn’t help her, the kids were still young, and my elderly father couldn’t help much either. We didn’t have a harvester back then, and everything was done manually.
We owned a small piece of land that was less than 1.5 acres. One-third of it was cotton, and the rest was corn. My wife picked the cotton during the day and returned to the field after dark to cut down the corn stalks. She harvested corn from the stalks the next day and carried them on her back to the side of the road. She then loaded the corn into a wheelbarrow and pushed it home.
She returned to the field to bundle up the corn stalks and took them to a ditch nearby. The cut corn stalks were sharp, which made it dangerous to work in the cornfield after dark. She worked day and night until she was exhausted.
I want to thank my wife for holding down the fort during those years I was away. She not only had to be a good mother to our daughters and a good daughter-in-law to my father but also had to be a son and a father when I was not around. She shouldered double the responsibility and supported me unconditionally.
We are husband and wife, and we’re also Dafa practitioners. Level after level, we descended to this human world so we could obtain the Fa and awaken the conscience of sentient beings. Now that the most difficult time has passed, I hope we will stay diligent.
Running a Restaurant by Day and Material Site by Night
My restaurant finally opened. It was more of a snack bar, and I sold traditional food items such as soy milk, fried dough, tofu soup, and millet porridge in the mornings, and stir-fried flatbread, dumplings, and noodles for lunch and dinner.
Some people commented that I was talented and a jack of all trades. In fact, Master arranged for us to have many different lives and experiences so we would gain the necessary skills for the Fa-rectification. Dafa gives us whatever talent we need for our mission. Everything that I know comes from Dafa.
Before I had the restaurant, I didn’t know how to make soy milk, tofu soup, or millet porridge. However, Master arranged for me to meet someone who had such skills. I learned how to make these popular breakfast items less than a week before the grand opening. I also remembered the procedures after watching him only once—it was amazing.
Although my restaurant was small, the workload was huge, especially at the beginning. I needed help but couldn’t afford it. I didn’t even know if I would make any money at all. What if I don’t make enough to pay back the person I’d borrowed money from? But Master arranged for my nice landlord to get up super early every morning to help me until the restaurant started making money.
To cut down on my living cost, I saved the leftovers from my guests and ate it when nobody was around. The times were tough, but I was happy because I had Master.
The material site resumed operation as soon as I opened the restaurant. Business was slow in the afternoon, so I closed early. I slept for a few hours before getting up at 11 p.m. to make truth-clarification booklets and fliers. The shop is on a busy street, and the traffic outside masked the noise made by the printer. I printed until 4 a.m. and then prepared for the day’s business.
It was already late fall and very cold. I still wore the thin clothes that I had on when I left home. Soon, I got back in contact with local practitioners. When they found out about my situation, they donated winter jackets, sweatshirts, and pants, and other clothes. A few even donated money. I wrote down each donation in detail so I could pay the practitioners back, but I lost the notebook during my move.
Slowly, things improved. Once practitioners found out where I was, a lot of them helped at the material site. I want to thank all of them for their help and support.
Acquiring New Skills
All practitioners running a material site in the early 2000s were bound to run into maintenance issues. At that time, the operation of a material site had to be an absolute secret. If we took a printer to a store, it would reveal the huge number of copies we had made on the machine, which could cause suspicion and lead to security problems.
To solve the maintenance problem, I came up with a bold plan. While buying paper at the store one time, I struck up a conversation with the old technician who helped us when we bought the printer. I followed him out of the store and asked if I could buy paper directly from him. He didn’t say yes or no, but instead, he said, “Let’s talk about it during lunch break.” He was being careful.
I waited for the technician outside the store. He came out at lunchtime and walked directly toward me. After we exchanged phone numbers, he said, “Give me a call before you need to buy, and I’ll make sure I have it for you.” I nodded, “Perfect. Thank you.” Since then, I have been buying paper from him for half the price I paid at the store. I was really happy about that.
After buying from him a few times, we became friendly with each other. The next time I saw him, I was straightforward with him. “I am a Falun Gong practitioner and it’s not convenient to transport the printer back and forth,” I said. “Could you come to my place and help fix a problem?” He looked at me, and I smiled at him.
After a while, he said, “I know you [Falun Gong practitioners] are all good people. But, you can’t tell anybody that I am helping you.” I told him, “Sir, you don’t have to worry. I won’t tell anyone.” I found my maintenance guy.
The technician was a great help. He charged fairly for each job he did and provided me with paper and reliable maintenance. When he worked on the printer, I watched carefully, tried to remember what he did, and analyzed why he did it. Soon, I had a much better understanding of the machine and was able to fix simple things.
I had gone through several printers over the years and had helped set up a few other material sites in the region. I discovered another store that sold the same printer cheaper and connected with the technicians working there. They even got me a copy of their service manual.
I visited home twice a week during that time. It was to get the layouts for printing and to share experiences with local practitioners. Our Fa-study group has been meeting since 2002 and formed a powerful one-body. Each member played a unique role and had a different skill set.
The second time I visited was to deliver truth-clarification materials. The commute was more than 60 miles. To be on the safe side, I told each practitioner to always wait for me at the same location and on the same day and time of the week. I told them to be punctual and that I would be there no matter what. I never broke my promise, and neither did the practitioners. Though it’s a small detail, it shows our trust in each other and how serious we are about Dafa cultivation.
Distinctions in weather and temperature faded as I put miles on the van and did my two runs each week. I no longer had a concept of time. It was all gone. My heart only focused on awakening the conscience of sentient beings. As the Fa-rectification progressed, more and more practitioners joined in to clarify the truth.
With new projects popping up and demand surging for truth-clarification materials, my motorcycle became inadequate. Local practitioners chipped in and bought a three-wheeled delivery motorbike that also ran on gas. It was a great upgrade as I no longer had to ride the motorcycle in strong wind, rain, and snow or on icy roads in the dark. Only those who have experienced it can understand how unpleasant it is.
Things continued to improve over the next few years, and our cultivation environment got better. Because the local practitioners cultivated solidly and paid great attention to security, our material site has not had any major problems or interruptions. It has been operating steadily for the last 18 years, and this in itself is denying the old forces’ arrangement.
Wake-Up Call: Suffering and Hard Work are Good Things
When I wrote this sharing, I realized something that was a wake-up call for me. As Fa-rectification moved forward, our cultivation environment improved. But the Fa’s standards for practitioners have also become higher and more strict. It is more difficult to cultivate in a more comfortable environment.
When the persecution was at its most severe, we were on guard at all times and ready to deal with any danger. As the environment improved and the pressure lessened, however, we became more and more relaxed. Our human notions on the outermost surface are like seeds that will grow when the temperature, moisture, and soil are right.
Only 20 years ago, there were few cell phones, and they were meant only for making phone calls. Some families only had a landline. Cellphones nowadays are all smartphones. There are plenty of social media apps such as WeChat and QQ to choose from. Television programs are streamed online and you can watch whatever you want at any time you want.
In all aspects of our lives, from technology, food, clothes, and housing to transportation, our human notions start to bud, grow roots, and become bigger. With Fa-rectification approaching the end, the human notions that we haven’t eliminated don’t want to die, so they try to interfere and prevent us from being diligent. They make us comply and eventually control us.
An attachment to comfort makes us lazy, not want to work hard, and want to enjoy life. This proves that the principles of this human world are the opposite of the universe. When the environment seemed harsh, it was not hard to cultivate, but when the environment becomes friendly, it is truly trying and more dangerous for a cultivator.
Why is it that in the harsh environment during the last decade, most practitioners could remain steadfast, but in today’s relaxed environment, some have dropped in levels? I think our notions need to be changed completely for us to realize that suffering and hard work are good things.