New Feelings of Freedom and Happiness
(Minghui.org) Benevolent Master and fellow practitioners, greetings!
Today, I would like to share with you a few pieces of my cultivation journey in recent years, with the hope that my experiences could help or benefit some of you. At the same time, it makes me reflect and cherish more this great opportunity to cultivate in Dafa.
Finding the Way, Then Losing It
The early part of my cultivation was, unfortunately, full of failures and “second chances.” My cultivation actually started almost 14 years ago, when I obtained the Fa on the internet from a veteran practitioner. I was 14 or 15 years old at that time. I recognized very quickly that Falun Dafa is the only and greatest cultivation way.
But unfortunately, I was not very diligent, and my understanding was very limited. There were no other practitioners nearby. Also, I was not able to get rid of some wicked thoughts that I acquired prior to obtaining Dafa. I tried to do some small-scale truth-clarification activities, like talking to professors and students at my high school or to my friends online.
I am from Eastern Europe. A lot of people there still have sympathy for communism. As a 15-year-old boy, debating those older people on the topic of human rights in communist China was sometimes not easy. But with strong enough righteous thoughts, people that initially had strong opinions were eventually willing to help and sign a petition against the persecution.
After one and a half years of practice, I was still not able to get rid of some very dark thoughts and habits. I was not able to think of myself as a Falun Dafa practitioner. I thought that such a pure and majestic practice was too good for someone like me, that I was simply not worthy of the title of a Falun Dafa disciple. With many tears, I gave up practicing.
Although I gave up the practice, by no means did I give up the idea of cultivation. I tried to persuade myself that I just needed to find a practice that would fit me better–one that would allow me to keep my desires and attachments in this world.
My life became a roller-coaster after that. I pursued all the extremes of the modern world, trying to fill the emptiness. During those years, I clearly remembered one sentence from Zhuan Falun and often thought about it.
“If you cannot do it or cannot cultivate, from now on you can forget about cultivation. Except for demons that will deceive you, nobody else will teach you, and in the future you will not be able to cultivate. If I cannot save you, nobody else can.”
Indeed, demons did deceive me. It took me a long ten years of hurting myself and hurting others until I finally made a promise to the universe and Master that I will cultivate again, no matter what.
Shortly after I started to practice again, I quickly realized that I had a very strong wish and feeling that I was supposed to join the Epoch Times and work full-time to clarify the truth to people around the world. The only words to describe it would be “I was born for this.”
But I faced a dilemma since I was living in the Czech Republic and running my own company, which was in the early stages of a startup. I struggled for several months to find a way to talk to my business partners and to explain to them that I was going to leave the country and move to New York–basically cutting all ties. But no matter how hard it was to explain my decision, deep down in my heart I was very clear that there is no other way for me but to devote the maximum amount of time and effort to helping Master save sentient beings.
Even after I made the decision, I still questioned myself. “Am I going to extremes? I have signed business commitments with two companies. The company is going well, and the developments are very promising. Should I really leave everything behind? Maybe I should just follow the course of nature and spend some time first on my business, since it is already running and other people are depending on me. That's what a rational, ordinary person would do, right?”
But the truth was that I was afraid my business partners would have negative thoughts toward Dafa. This fear of creating bad impressions really caused some of the folks to indeed harbor odd feelings towards Dafa. But the cause was not because of my decision to leave; rather, it was because of my inappropriate ways of communicating and inability to rationally clarify the truth to them. It was all because of my attachment to fear, which limited my thinking. I thus could not approach this situation in an open and dignified manner.
The decision to come to New York was so monumental for me that I thought the moment I arrived in New York, I would reach the end of my journey and immediately achieve what I was supposed to achieve. For me, it was almost like the end of my cultivation was near.
But the fact is, I could not have been more wrong.
In the Right Place, But Still Lost
I arrived in New York in late 2015. What I didn’t know was that I was actually carrying heavy baggage with me.
Right after I arrived, I began to work hard: I put in 80-90 hours per week and frequently slept in the office. Despite all that hard work, the results were close to zero. This went on for months. On the surface, I made almost zero positive impact on the development of the Epoch Times.
Today I can see that the reason was actually my extremely poor cultivation status. My initial thoughts about moving to New York were, “I am abandoning everything in ordinary society, and now I will focus only on saving as many sentient beings as possible.”
On the surface, this is a very righteous thought, and I should just work as hard as possible to achieve that. What I didn't realize was that I had an extreme attachment to zealotry. I was subconsciously trying to work hard enough to make up for the losses from those ten years when I gave up cultivation. This was a very strong attachment to pursuit.
Of course, I could not have any real impact. Only real Falun Dafa practitioners who truly cultivate can work on saving sentient beings and have a positive impact. If my level is not high enough, there is no way I can truly contribute. No matter what skills I have, no matter what effort I put in, I still have to truly cultivate.
After one year of working for the English Epoch Times, the English and Chinese departments merged, and I was asked to work for NTD.
To be honest, this represented a huge cultivation challenge for me. I harbored negative thoughts, notions, and anger–mostly toward myself for not being able to do better. I was totally unable to understand and connect with the new environment. From my limited point of view, everything seemed irrational and chaotic. I was getting to the end of the bull’s horn and could not see the way out. The negativity in me was building up to an extreme point.
I got to the point where I really saw no way forward. I couldn't participate anymore. At the very end of the bull’s horn, I was only able to ask one last question: “What are these people doing? Why are they here? Who are they? What is their starting point?”
The more I thought about it, the more clear it became to me that the people around me are there because they have the heart to save people. And everything they do is from their heart. With a lack of resources, manpower, and experience, they are still doing everything they can to save more sentient beings no matter the circumstances. After this realization, I told myself, “No matter how things work here, I want to help these fellow practitioners to save more people, and I will only look at their good hearts.”
Soon after I accepted this, I realized that it was actually I who was totally wrong and that the negativity was only in my head. It was like after waking up in the morning, I put up a cage made of negative thoughts on my head and then ran around screaming that we were trapped in a jail. I still wondered why others didn't freak out. The company was actually doing better and better. Though there were a lot of issues, we were moving forward very quickly and reaching more and more people online. I was slowly able to get involved and participate more.
After 18 months of almost nonstop work, I decided to take three weeks off and go back to my home country. Only after calming myself down, while riding horses in the mountains, did I realize my huge gap. I realized that I left everything behind and moved to New York in a very extreme state of mind. With the huge attachment to pursuing results in my work, I didn't cultivate myself or let go of ordinary thoughts.
I also thought that riding horses in mountains was pretty nice. I began to imagine having a family in a small village, with a small house near the river. It was really nice up in the mountains compared to living in the South Bronx and working 90 hours a week.
For a few days, I indeed questioned myself: “What do I actually do in New York? Do I really want to return? Isn’t this life nice here? Maybe I can distribute flyers to nearby villages instead of working in New York. Do I want to go back?”
After thinking about “living a comfortable, carefree, and ordinary life” for a few days, I finally realized that this was not for me. I wanted to cultivate. I wanted to be a Falun Dafa disciple and break away from qing. I wanted to look inside and follow the path of spiritual perfection. I didn’t want to be an ordinary person anymore. I did not pursue a comfortable or carefree life.
Surprisingly, after I returned to New York, everything changed. The negativity was almost gone. I was ready to look inside and simply follow Master’s arrangements. I decided to trust in Master's arrangements and trust the people I worked with. It was their fate to be in their positions, and I fully respected it.
Notions about Others
One of the biggest sources of negative thoughts for me while working at the media company was the constant changes. On many occasions, it appeared to me that things were decided ad hoc, without planning, and unprofessionally.
For a while, I tolerated these negative thoughts about company management for several months. I remember flipping out one day after dealing with long-standing issues with another team. I did not say a word in the office and didn’t complain to anyone. I even took a walk outside just to have enough time to complain and curse in my mind.
I did this for around an hour. I told myself that I wanted to relieve my anger, at least inside my mind. After this one-hour session, I felt exhausted, as if my mind had shattered into pieces. I was not able to do anything except sleep.
That night, I had a very vivid dream. I had a girlfriend in that dream. When I met her, I noticed that she had been beaten very badly. When I asked her what had happened, she told me very directly that it was I who had beat her so hard. I was shocked. I thought, “How could I beat you? I would never do that!” I tried to deflect the blame.
She started to explain to me how I had beat her. I told her that it was not true, because at that time and place I was somewhere else, doing something else. She answered me very calmly but resolutely, “Of course you did not beat me in this world, but you had anger and negative thoughts toward me, and those have the same effect as beating me in real life.”
I will remember this dream for the rest of my life.
I also realized that most of the time when I thought things were being done without planning or irrationally, I saw only a very small piece of the whole situation, maybe five percent of it. It was my narrow-minded thinking that decided what was best and thought of others who thought differently as being wrong. The truth was that I simply did not put enough effort into trying to think from other people’s perspectives.
Maybe I would be able to understand better why people make the decisions they make. Instead of arguing with them in my mind, I would actually help them to have bigger impact on saving sentient beings.
A Formless Form
For almost two years, I secretly judged people based on their skills, experience, and superficial behavior. This created subtle notions that impacted my cooperation with others.
This does not mean I did not put in effort and righteous thoughts into cooperation with others. I did. I really tried to put my heart into helping others in achieving our common goal. But I can not say that I trusted them one hundred percent, which I see now is a loophole.
I carried with me a lot of notions from ordinary society, where one chooses one’s job based on one’s skills, preferences, and experience. Because of my limited understanding, I expected the same thing in our media companies. But of course, it is not like that here. People come and work for media companies because they have a wish in their hearts to help save more sentient beings.
“My disciples! I suggest that you first become common students for a period of time, and then resume your work after becoming clearheaded. No matter how much work a person in charge has done among everyday people, he is working for Dafa out of his own will. The success of his work is only a manifestation among ordinary humans. It is the mighty power of Dafa itself and the specific arrangements made by my Law Bodies that enable people to obtain the Fa and spread the Fa widely. Without my Law Bodies doing these things, even protecting the people in charge could hardly be ensured, let alone spreading the Fa widely. So don’t always think of yourselves too highly. There is no fame, self-interest, or official titles in Dafa, but only cultivation practice.” (“A Heavy Blow,” Essentials for Further Advancement)
Recently, I have been trying to get rid of the notion of having skills or talents. I have witnessed many times that practitioners are able to achieve amazing results even in fields where they have zero experience. In fact, they did much better than ordinary people.
It is all because of the mighty power of Dafa. If we firmly believe in and act according to the Fa, “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance,” we can do anything. It far surpasses the limitations of skills learned in ordinary society. We do not need to restrain ourselves by these rigid concepts in our minds. On the contrary, we can expand our possibilities by putting our hearts into what we promised Master to do.
I have recently experienced a new freedom and happiness that comes from the realization that “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance” can create anything, that I can do anything if it is aligned with the Fa. I no longer worry about the company changing its business model or my changing departments. If my heart is in the right place, Master and the Fa will guide me on my journey. Instead of worrying, I now feel very grateful for being part of this precious moment in the universe. I also feel very humble, because I am just a very, very tiny gear in a majestic mechanism of the universe, which works according to the rules of “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance.”
Thank you, Master. Thank you, fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2018 New York English Experience Sharing Conference)