(Minghui.org) I attended Master Li’s Falun Dafa class in Sweden in 1995. Since then, Dafa has given me so much. I became involved in the Art of Zhen Shan Ren Exhibition project in Sweden 12 years ago and would like to share some of my and my fellow practitioners’ cultivation experiences during our latest three art exhibitions in Sweden.
During the past 12 months, we held seven exhibitions in different cities. The last three were held this year. Our “art group” meets regularly. Every Wednesday, we study the Fa, share experiences, and try to work together as one body.
We wanted to find a more significant venue for our summer exhibition, especially in Gothenburg in 2021. It required a lot of cooperation to find the right venue. To achieve that, some of us who live in Gothenburg got together more often as we felt that more and better cooperation was needed.
We searched different museums, art galleries, and other venues. We thought we would soon find a good one and waited for a positive answer, but in the end we were turned down. We looked inwards and asked ourselves how much heart we had for his project and how we could cooperate better. How could we elevate our cultivation levels? What initiatives could we take? We started to send righteous thoughts every evening. Autumn and winter passed. It was a process, a test, but we were determined to not give up! Our efforts gave us an opportunity to meet and speak with many people, and we clarified the truth about Falun Dafa to all of them.
We thought again of contacting an exhibition venue in Marstrand, a beautiful island near Gothenburg. Early in 2021, we approached them and were told that the earliest time we could have a venue would be the summer of 2023. Knowing that Master would help us, we asked them to contact us in case of a cancellation.
To our surprise, an exhibition scheduled for the month of July 2020 was canceled and the venue became available. We had one day to decide if we wanted to rent the place for our art exhibition on this beautiful island for two weeks in the summer of 2021. That is when most people visit the island. We felt that it was a hint from Master, and he had helped us. Obviously, it was Master’s arrangement!
Additionally, we even found a nice place to rent for the time we were scheduled to have the exhibition. It was a small house pretty close to the venue. Generally, it is very difficult to find accommodations on such short notice, because the island is a very popular tourist attraction, and even many people from abroad visit the island every summer.
We made the necessary arrangements and transported the paintings in a small truck to the island. We decided to hang all 43 paintings in one day, because we wanted the visitors to have the chance to see the art exhibition as soon as possible. The venue had tall ceilings, so we could hang some of the big paintings—but that wasn’t easy. We were grateful that several other practitioners outside our project came to help.
For the first time in Sweden, because of the size of the venue, we could show all the big paintings together in one exhibition. Before we started, we selected the right spot for each painting. Many of the big paintings were very heavy, and most of us are women between 55 and 75 years old. We started at 8 a.m. and finished by 11 p.m. We cooperated well with each other and succeeded in getting everything in place by the end of the day. We understood that if we are together in the Fa and cooperate well, we can manage every difficulty with joy.
The exhibition was very successful and many prominent people came. The people who live on the island are affluent and among the most influential people in Sweden, including many VIPs. There were many tourists from both Sweden and abroad, but mostly Europeans. We spoke to some people from America, too.
Because we worked together as one body and laid a solid ground for future exhibitions, we got in touch with one person who, after seeing the exhibition, invited us to participate in the 2021 Gothenburg Book Fair in September, free of charge.
Dealing with and Prevailing Over Difficulties
One practitioner told us that she first met with the practitioners involved in the art exhibition project two years ago, when she had just started to practice Falun Gong. She decided to visit the exhibition for the first time on another island in the Gothenburg archipelago. She was very touched by the message the exhibition conveyed, and the story behind each painting. A secret wish started to grow inside her, which was to help with the exhibition as a guide, to be part of this great truth clarification effort, and to work together with others to tell the story of the paintings to all the visitors, to save human beings. This wish came true one year later, when she joined the art exhibition project.
She said that, thanks to the hard work of the promoters, we succeeded in finding three different exhibition venues in Sweden during the spring of 2022. Then, she studied the text of each painting provided by the respective artist and prepared for her first exhibition as a guide in March of this year. She was scared and unsure of herself because she had high expectations for herself and worried if she could manage it. She asked herself, “Do I know enough to explain the paintings to the visitors?” She explained further that she was a beginner and lacked experience. She thought, “If a visitor raises difficult questions, what will I do?”
She said that she disliked letting anyone see that she was uncertain about what she was doing. Because of that, she didn’t guide the visitors at first—she tried to avoid it. She stayed in the background. But thanks to one practitioner who understood her situation, she found herself talking to the next visitor. This was exactly what she needed. Every evening practitioners shared experiences and reflected on what they experienced during that day. She shared, “It was a big step for me to begin to let go of that fear and uncertainty and being too concerned.” Eventually, she felt that she could do it and was more confident and comfortable guiding and talking to the visitors.
Then, another practitioner approached me with a request. After the exhibition at Salsta Castle ended, that night I was asked if I could drive her car to Gothenburg, a distance of 450 km (280 miles).
The practitioner who was supposed to drive wanted to return home directly, to avoid a detour by first driving to Gothenburg and then taking the train to her hometown. It would be too long and tiring a trip for her.
The first thing that came to my mind was, “I can’t do it. I haven’t driven for 10 years.” But then I looked inside and realized that, just because I didn’t dare and wasn’t comfortable driving, we were going to have to leave the car at the castle. I reminded myself that we must cooperate unconditionally and now was the chance for me to overcome my own fears. After I overcame this issue, I really felt that I grew and surprised myself, because I did something I thought that I was incapable of doing.
During the pandemic, plenty of galleries and stores in Gothenburg were empty. We wanted to have an exhibition in Gothenburg, which led us to Mölndals Gallery. It was owned by a listed international company, and eventually, we got in touch with a lady who worked for the company. After some time, she managed to present the issue to the members of the board who decided they wanted to promote great artwork. They showed us three different spaces, and the last one was the best for our purposes.
The space was big enough and the walls were neutral, which would enhance the paintings. Because the cooperation among practitioners created a strong energy field, many people found their way to see the exhibition.
A majority of the visitors that came into the gallery started at the end of the exhibition and saw the last painting, Tears of Joy and Sorrow. Maybe they understood deep down that time is short.
I remember late one afternoon, a man rushed in and said in a loud voice,” Finally, finally, I found you” and threw down his backpack on the floor. He told us that he had asked 10 different stores where our exhibition was. Earlier, he saw an advertisement on Facebook about the exhibition. He said that he had visited China, Tibet, and Bhutan years ago, and he wanted to know more about this art exhibition. After he saw it, he said that he would bring his wife to see it, too.
Some quotes from the guest book indicated the importance of the exhibition:
“Thank you for a rewarding tour. It is an important message to the world.”
“Thank you for the beautiful artworks, but it is also sad that your freedom can be taken because of your faith. Let freedom and light win forever.”
“Thank you so much for telling us about the touching topics in the paintings and their stories behind them. I got inspired to try Falun Gong and to spread it further.”
“Thank you for a wonderful exhibition. I was so taken by some of the paintings that could hardly find the words. I was touched and inspired.”
“Thank you for your dedication and beautifully illustrative facts.”
One family who saw the exhibition in Saltsjöbaden, which is close to Stockholm, wrote in the guestbook: “Thank you for your interesting presentation of the exhibition. Very thoughtful and we were very touched.”
Some visitors stayed a long time. They looked closely and read everything about the paintings. You can also see how their expressions change as they walk around. Nobody leaves the exhibition untouched; it is important that they learn about the universal principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
One little boy came in with his father. After they saw the artworks, he wanted to write in the guestbook. The boy thought for a while and then wrote: “THANK YOU. Thank you. It was interesting to look at the paintings made by very good artists. Miro, age 8.”
People Interested in Culture and Art Saw the Exhibition
One practitioner thought of looking at Grunewald Villa outside Stockholm and Salsta Castle outside Uppsala to hold the exhibition. Two practitioners from Gothenburg visited both places and talked with the people responsible for exhibitions. Both practitioners experienced intense health tribulations on the long journey, but that didn’t stop them. They took this opportunity to improve themselves and raise their cultivation levels. With Master’s help, the exhibition was held in both places.
Many people interested in culture and art came to the exhibition at Salsta Castle, including people from Ukraine and other countries around the world. A young woman who lives abroad and studies in Sweden said, “I came to see this exhibition with a higher purpose.” She wanted to do the exercises and said that she would look for the practice site in the city.
Dealing Effectively with Complications
One of our practitioners who lives in Gothenburg rented a truck to transport the paintings to Grunnewald Villa. This truck gave us a lot of trouble, which tested our patience.
We rented an apartment near the venue and decided to hang the paintings in the morning. On the day of the private viewing, the truck didn’t start, and it was cold outside. We did not give up and tried many things. When the truck eventually started, we couldn’t back up, because there were two poles at the entrance and there wasn’t enough room to move. We changed drivers, sent forth righteous thoughts, and finally succeeded. We can’t explain what happened, but we managed to maneuver between through those two poles, and an hour and 15 minutes later, we were on our way to hang the paintings.
There were many tests and tribulations as we were hanging the work. We had to carry heavy painting up the stairs, and I had not brought along the proper shoes.
When it was time to pack up the exhibition at Grunewald Villa and transport it to Salsta Castle outside Uppsala, there were only two of us, both women over 75. We asked some practitioners in Stockholm for help to pack and later unpack the paintings at Salsta Castle.
In my cultivation, I have found it difficult when we don’t cooperate well and complain. But cooperating closely during these exhibitions, I had an insight: It is my own notions and concepts about things that hinder me from seeing clearly--that was very clear to me during this time. We cooperated well with all three exhibitions. I could see each practitioner’s True Self better, and it was different from what we see on the surface. I also came closer to my own True Self, which made me more compassionate and humbler when dealing with people I was involved with.
I made a decision: “I will take full responsibility for my own cultivation.” What I have understood clearly during my cultivation is that I expand from within, outwards, from my True Self that is inside, and not like I used to think before, from outside to the inside.
Being part of this project gave me such warmth and trust. I was able to deal with the whole process and I was confident in Master’s arrangement from then on.
Young People Show Great Interest
Many children and young people visited the exhibition in Mölndal near Gothenburg. Many brave girls and boys around 10 to 12 years old came alone, without any adults, and they came many days in a row with other children. One 10-year-old girl came many times during the first week and said the second day that she would bring her mother in the afternoon. When she came with her mother later, the mother told us that her daughter was very touched by the pictures.
One young woman, about 20, said with tears in her eyes that at first she didn’t want to look at the paintings about the persecution, because it was too painful. After we talked for a while, she changed and understood what the artists wanted to express. It was a message that hope and light for humanity is stronger than evil and darkness. We also talked about the importance of non-violence and not fighting back and of the right to speak up when you are unfairly treated. You could see the positive change in her face afterward.
One evening after the exhibition closed, we stopped to buy pizza near one practitioner’s home. A practitioner talked to the owner’s son about the exhibition. The Gallery was a bit far away from where he worked, so we didn’t know if he would come or if he had the time. The practitioner didn’t have a flier with her but gave the owner one the next day and explained more about the exhibition. The last day of the exhibition, he came with his family to see the paintings. They had not heard about Falun Gong or about the persecution. Their little girl, who was a year and a half, looked intently at the big paintings—the Buddha statue and the painting where Master is teaching the Fa—and her little face lit up and then she waved at Buddha and Master.
One of the participating practitioners remarked that, during the last 12 months we have shown the art exhibition at seven different places in Sweden. That meant a lot of work and intensive cultivation for all of us involved in this project. As the coordinator for this project, I also had many difficult xinxing tribulations with my family during this period.
When human emotions tried to take over, I thought of different quotes from Master’s Fa. This helped me understand the situation from the Fa, and then I realized that this was a chance for me to enlighten. It gave me a deeper understanding of the importance of studying the Fa when I experienced what a powerful effect it has to recite one of Master’s quotes that is related to the tribulation I am going through at that moment. Everything becomes clearer and I can remain calm. Then I manage to take the situation and things in general lightly. It is time to let go of all the attachments, not let even one keep me here. Nothing can stop my return to my real home.
Thank you, Master and fellow practitioners!
(Submitted to the 2022 European Fa Conference)
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