Western Practitioner: Turning a Negative Situation into a Positive Outcome
(Minghui.org) Greetings, compassionate Master! Greetings, fellow cultivators.
Sometimes it takes a fairly significant event to motivate me to take the next step in cultivation. Otherwise, I'm content to continue improving gradually or I even stagnate.
When I first began practicing Falun Dafa in 2000, I knew I’d found something special, but I did not jump into cultivation with both feet. I was living and working in New York. I was very much stuck in my routine and cultivation was a low priority. I only did the exercises and read the Fa sporadically—and not with other practitioners. I also did not take part in any truth-clarification activities.
In 2003, I moved to Los Angeles to take up a different job and this gave me the opportunity to develop a new routine. My first priority was to connect with local practitioners. I joined their group practice in a park and at a university. I also participated in truth-clarification activities. I really felt like a cultivator for the first time.
I began working as a journalist for Epoch Times (ET) and I helped with various other truth-clarification projects. I also helped sell tickets for Shen Yun Performing Arts.
My cultivation has gone up and down—but I felt that because of my self-discipline in cultivation and consistent work for English Epoch Times and Shen Yun, I was doing my part to save sentient beings and gradually progressing towards Consummation. I did think other practitioners were doing better than I, but I wasn’t concerned about my progress.
I knew I had some attachments that were very difficult to get rid of, but I didn’t think about how they could be eliminated or reduced.
Cultivating while Working for the Media
I mentioned my ups and downs in cultivation. They were most obvious in my Epoch Times work, which has been my full-time job for nearly 6 years.
I feel I do good work for Epoch Times and I’ve been told this by my manager. I’ve also had reasonable success selling tickets for Shen Yun. I felt these good outcomes were a result of decent cultivation. I keep track of my daily Fa study, exercises, and sending righteous thoughts, and that sort of discipline is beneficial to my cultivation.
I can do better, however, and based on my past cultivation, it will take a significant event to make me truly see this and improve in my cultivation and work for ET.
Let me provide some background about the issues in my English Epoch Times work and where there are opportunities for improvement in my cultivation. We develop notions as we go through life. Our experiences shape who we are. I think some aspects of my working for ET haven’t gone as smoothly as they should have because we all have different backgrounds and therefore have different understandings of how to work. But it is a question of me taking the good out of the past work experiences at ET and melding them with good cultivation to maximize my contribution and saving sentient beings.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I’m impatient. I like to do things quickly, but that doesn’t mean I cut corners. I consider myself to be a professional and somebody with a great deal of integrity. I guess I just expect everyone around me to operate like I do, which is obviously unrealistic.
Challenges Turn into Cultivation Opportunities
Last September, my manager suspended me for two weeks for poor conduct and attitude. I felt frustrated. My editor and manager pointed out that something had to change on my part. Being suspended from a job is a big deal. I’ve always been a pretty good employee in my ordinary society jobs, but I had problems before in working with my Epoch Times colleagues. I wasn’t doing great work in all aspects of the job and thus my cultivation needed to improve.
Master said, “...your work in society isn't cultivation, but your cultivation will be reflected in your work in society.” (Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005)
I think that, regardless of the job, cultivation is key. I did not agree with being suspended, but I accepted it and was prepared to make whatever changes my manager wanted in order to cooperate better with my team. I found it hard to believe that I was being told that I was not a team player, but I knew that, at times, the way I communicate is not constructive and that was really where I needed to improve. This was at the heart of my suspension. There were also some operational issues that weren’t made clear to me, but those were easily resolvable without much self-analysis needed.
I had to get over some notions and try and harmonize with my ET colleagues. I truly believe that I am a team player and not trying to validate myself. In my mind, frictions between team members happen when people—including me—don’t do their jobs properly for whatever reason.
I almost thought my working for ET was over, since I felt that when a conflict such as this occurs, there are issues for all parties to look at. But, I knew I should just focus on myself and see where I could improve.
“When there's a heated disagreement, think about whether or not you have an attachment. If everyone kept righteous thoughts the coordination would definitely be harmonious, and any problem would be resolved quickly. When you're having a heated disagreement and nobody is willing to give ground, you need to remember to look at yourself.” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. IV)
I need to remind myself how a divine being would look at things. A God would be able to see the situation from numerous points of view and thus see the situation from another person’s perspective, as Master mentioned.
The two-week suspension was extended to over a month. I had some back-and-forth with my manager about trying to get him to see my point of view and trying to get a better understanding of what he expected of me. Our discussions were frank but not unprofessional or nasty. I had definitely come a long way from my early days at ET when I had conflicts with my manager.
I respected his position and have no problem with him being my manager. I also consider him a friend and a good fellow cultivator. That was never in question despite the disagreements we had, and still have, from time to time. That’s what allowed us to eventually work through our issues.
Improving My Cultivation
During this suspension, what really bothered me was that I was not saving people. My Epoch Times work is the primary way I save sentient beings. I really felt that my cultivation path was working at Epoch Times. But, now I really began thinking about what I would do next. Our primary focus is saving sentient beings whether it be via English Epoch Times or another project.
Having “free time” on my hands allowed me to take a step back and do some intense soul searching. I was determined to put the time to good use until my situation with ET was resolved.
I began thinking about what other projects I could get involved with. I immediately signed up to take shifts selling tickets.
I even asked my brother-in-law, who is the CEO of a startup in Toronto, if he could use my help. I began preparing myself for no longer working with ET. At one point I couldn’t see how the management and I could arrive at an agreement.
Most importantly, I started studying the Fa at night online with other practitioners. I normally studied for 90 minutes a day, but now I increased it to 2 hours a day. This is significant, because now studying Fa is the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night before going to bed.
“If you don’t study the Fa, the number of ordinary human attachments that you have will grow, and become increasingly pronounced, just as you will come to resemble an ordinary person more and more. And the impression that you give others will not be that of a cultivator.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XI)
Reflecting on my behavior, I’m sure I must not have come across as a cultivator during my frictions with my ET colleagues.
I’m somebody who believes that discipline means having a good daily routine, but that can be a double-edged sword. If others are like me, they might be wed to a daily routine and taking on additional work, and increasing Fa Study becomes difficult.
I don’t think I need to say anything about how important Fa Study is, but having established a routine that included studying for 120 minutes a day, when I got back to working for ET, I didn’t study the Fa any less.
With the extra time I had during the suspension, I also participated in the Sunday night online training and sharing for Shen Yun ticket sales. I’d never participated in the Sunday night training and discussion before, but I wanted to fully join the effort.
I went to Toronto to visit family a few weeks into my suspension from ET and somehow my manager’s manager reached out to me to see if I was in town. This appeared to be a coincidence. How could she have known I’d be in town?
We met over lunch and she told me how the old forces are trying to drive wedges between our working relationships and that sometimes the situations can get very serious. Sometimes the interference manifests as health issues. She told me that something similar happened in another city. Our casual meeting very helpful. I felt I was fighting years of built-up negative perceptions about myself at ET.
Since being reinstated with ET, my work has been going very well. I think I’ve recently produced some of my best articles.
November and December were very busy—since I did not reduce my Fa study or my participation in selling Shen Yun tickets; but really, that’s the way it should be. I should be able to meaningfully contribute to both projects when it is crucial.
I needed to be a bit more rigorous, which makes it easier for my Epoch Times editor. I’m now better aware of the situation from their end and how I can make their work easier, which, then, in turn, makes my work easier.
I think we all have to deal with conflicts and xinxing tests. Master said, “You should always maintain a heart of compassion and kindness. Then, when you run into a problem, you will be able to do well because it gives you room to buffer the confrontation.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
I want to sincerely thank those I work with at English Epoch Times for giving me this opportunity, for putting up with me, and for helping me improve as a cultivator.