(Minghui.org) I would like to share about my time at NTD. But to give a deeper insight into what my experience has given me, I must also share about my earlier path in life.
When I was born, my mother looked at my father and saw that he looked 16 years older, with gray hair and wrinkles. She felt that before I turned 17, something life changing would happen, and she feared that it meant that my father would pass away. Throughout those years she prayed, asking God not to let that happen.
When I was 16, my great grandmother visited my mother in a dream. She gave my mother the message that everything was going to be fine. Soon afterward, the life-changing event happened. I told my mother that my girlfriend was pregnant.
My son was born when I was 17. My girlfriend and I broke up before he was one year old. I was irresponsible and had lost my way in life. It culminated in a huge argument with my mother where we brought up many childhood wounds, and she kicked me out of her house. In the following days, I contemplated taking my own life, believing that nobody cared about me. I thought that even my son did not, since he was only one, but I understood that when he was older it would affect him a lot. My only other option was to become a better person. So my son saved my life.
For some reason, I had the thought, “In six months time, I’ll be a better person.” Then six months later, I met a friend who told me about this amazing practice called Falun Gong. She said, “It teaches you about healing illnesses, letting go of attachments, supernatural abilities, how to be a good person...” How to be a good person! That’s what I was looking for.
I borrowed her copy of Falun Gong and immediately read the book. When I finished, my very next thought was “this is exactly what I’m looking for.” And so began my journey of cultivation. I downloaded all the texts I could and started reading them comprehensively.
Throughout my cultivation, I was able to let go of numerous layers of attachments. Two of the first major tests were fear and jealousy. However, while I had made visible progress, I periodically encountered tests that would throw me off. They attacked my sense of self-worth and self-respect. In these regards, I was quite unstable, and I didn’t know how to handle these problems well. I didn’t know how to value myself.
A few years into my cultivation, I had a serious tribulation with a practitioner I was working with. The practitioner very directly pointed out many fundamental shortcomings that I had, shortcomings that touched upon the same childhood wounds that were brought up in the argument with my mother. It was too much for me to bear. I took a step back from studying the Fa and I could see my level falling fast.
I saw two old forces sending thoughts my way to test me. A thought would arrive, and I would try to deflect it. But I could not hold my ground, and my foundation at that level would crumble. They would then send another thought.
After falling very far, I felt the two old forces change the tone of what they were doing. This next thought was significant. When it arrived in my mind, the thought was one that condemned Master and Dafa. It told me, “If this practitioner treats you so poorly, how does it reflect on Falun Dafa? Is it really a good practice, and is Li Hongzhi truly good?”
I struggled against this thought, and I knew what awaited me if I held the wrong view. I wanted to save myself. The old forces countered deviously, “Saving yourself, isn’t that a selfish thought? You shouldn’t be selfish.” But I refused to accept their trickery. They continued to test me until they saw that they could not make me fall further.
From there, I recalled our mission in this world. There are many people who I’ve clarified the truth to who may have no other opportunity to make it to the future; their futures rest on me. The practitioner who nearly pushed me to the other side would also have to bear that karma. I didn’t want that practitioner to suffer that, so I had to regain the ground I’d lost and return to Dafa, somehow.
I looked at all the criticisms the practitioner had made about me and listed them on a piece of paper. Starting with the idea that “you’re right, and I’m wrong,” I looked deeply at myself to thoroughly understand the root of each of the shortcomings.
Since every wrong has a right, and every problem a solution, I evaluated what I needed to set right and laid out a path that would make me face these attachments and let them all go. I had to put myself in situations that would test me so that I could improve myself.
“In cultivation, goodness provides people with a standard, while the evil that exists allows cultivators to understand the way to reach the standard.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XII)
I moved in with a practitioner to help me study and do the exercises more. One of my shortcomings was that I was very passive, whereas this practitioner was very assertive. Though I found that he bordered on aggressive, and we faced numerous conflicts, he taught me how to stand up for myself more, and how to negotiate through challenging disagreements.
He pointed out that I was very heavy-minded when I spoke. He said I made him feel as if life was a struggle and that things were always difficult. So I began to cultivate a sense of joy for life, and let go of a lot of resentment and sorrow that had impeded that sense.
One day at work, a series of completely unrelated and seemingly random conversations left me with the sense that I should explore some new opportunities. A practitioner called me after work. He said that I had popped into his mind. They had recently opened up NTD in the UK and were looking for a new reporter, did I want to work with them?
I realized that Master had arranged the conversations that day for this phone call, and I accepted the practitioner’s offer. That was in December 2020. Family and work arrangements had me tied up until September 2021, so I used the time to work hard on my attachments so that I could start at NTD in the best possible state.
Starting as a reporter was challenging. Every few days I had to learn a new task, do it quickly, then when I felt I just about had a handle on it, a new task was put on top and I had to learn to do all the tasks in the same time frame. I felt I was never doing well enough! But I could also see progress.
In the face of all of my shortcomings, there were opportunities to develop and regulate a sense of self-worth. Could I still respect myself despite my errors? Could I still value my progress even as I saw more mistakes? Could I remain stable and unmoved in the face of well-deserved criticisms?
A British politician resigned following a corruption scandal, and I was tasked with going to his county and reporting on the sudden election that followed. The election was very important, a symbol of the popular support our British prime minister held. I could not fail to cover it.
I got up that morning and studied the Fa, wrote part of the script for the news package, and drove an hour to the location. I had never shot my own video footage before, and had always had a cameraman to help with interviews, so I was on completely new ground. I paid no attention to thoughts of worry or failure, and remained focused on getting interviews with voters and shooting background footage. I even found a political betting analyst who had traveled several hours to get to the election grounds and who gave a good interview.
At 4 p.m., I had to find a café with WiFi to upload all the footage, finish the rest of the script to narrate it, and pass on the package to the video editor. Everyone in the café was using the WiFi, and the estimated upload time was 16 hours. But I could not fail. I got on with the script, finding appropriate quotes to use from the interviews. After righteous thoughts, the café emptied and all the footage finished uploading. For the narration, I had to find a quiet alleyway in the town to record my voice.
I sent the voiceover to my video editor 45 minutes before the final deadline. With five minutes to spare, they delivered it to our manager who accepted it for broadcast. I was so relieved. While very stressed and short on time, I had been able to stay calm and steady in the face of it all.
As I drove home that night, I reflected on my cultivation path up until that moment. Though I wasn’t perfect and had made many mistakes, I could see potential and I recognized a strong will to improve myself. That evening I developed the wish to become one of the best reporters at NTD UK. To achieve that, I understood that I would need to aim very high and meet many requirements. It would not happen overnight, but I committed to fulfilling that wish.
I went to New York the following month to join the Epoch Media Academy. The experience was phenomenal. I felt that the path I laid out a few years prior, to remove many fundamental attachments, reached a conclusion at the end of my time in the United States. It was like a mysterious passage. I separated myself from England to develop a system of things that would aid my future cultivation.
I truly felt the compassion of Dafa disciples. I developed a unique bond and friendship with my fellow practitioners that serves as an example to draw upon as I go on into the future. While learning technical reporting skills, the lessons were also strong cultivation experiences. My time there resolved many deep and subtle issues I had faced. Shortcomings were revealed with great compassion, with laughter and acceptance, and helped point me in the right direction. I also took lessons from every person I spent time with, no matter how long or how short.
The greatest lesson I took was this: Master cherishes us more deeply than we know. If I am to truly believe in him, then I must also cherish myself. I believe my time in New York helped me develop a stable ability to cherish myself.
These changes were reflected in my work upon my return to the UK. Whereas before I felt the burden of failures pressing on my mind and dragging me down for days, I could now calmly evaluate the specific issues that made me fall short without a sense of existential dread.
I’m reminded of a passage in Master’s Fa:
“Some students proclaim that they will just bear it, and bear it some more. Enough with the “bearing” already! However hard the situation may be, you still must do the three things well. Saving sentient beings—that is a Dafa disciple’s responsibility!” (“Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XII)
Do we need to bear the suffering of not cherishing ourselves? I say, enough with bearing it already. We are allowed to let go of that self-imposed burden. And in doing so, we will become more effective at fulfilling our mission in this world.
“Do you not know to value and cherish yourselves? I certainly cherish you! And divine beings do too! (Applause.) So all the more so should you value and cherish yourselves.” (“2018 Fa Teaching Given in Washington, D.C.,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XV)
I thank all my fellow practitioners, and I thank Master for his endless magnanimity.
(Presented at the 2022 European Fa Conference)
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