Harmony and Cooperation Bring Real Results
(Minghui.org) Greetings Master and Greetings fellow practitioners. The title of my paper is “Harmony and Cooperation Bring Real Results.”
From a Useless Drunk to a Fortune 500 Employee
During my teen and early college years I got drunk and used drugs almost every day. I lived in a nice area, had a nice family, and went to a good school. However, developing alcoholism and a drug addiction was something all my friends were doing as well, so it didn’t seem abnormal. When I first went to college my problems really started to multiply. I was failing all my classes because all I cared about was drinking and partying.
I was constantly in trouble with my school or the police due to my drinking habits. The school told me I was on the verge of being booted out if I didn’t get my act together. But I couldn’t get my act together. I couldn’t stop drinking or using drugs; it was like second nature to me and I had no way to change my life. I had become a selfish addicted loser—a person my parents worried about and I wasn’t proud of.
In 2008, I was several months removed from my second arrest for driving drunk when my cousin introduced me to Falun Dafa. I started doing the exercises and reading Zhuan Falun. As I started trying to live by the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, my entire life changed. I never used drugs or alcohol again. I doubled my GPA and graduated with honors near the top of my class from a prestigious American college. I got hired right out of school for a highly sought after position at a Fortune 500 company.
Dafa had given me a new life. It had taken me from a stumbling drunk kid to a productive and useful adult who my parents, society, and I could be proud of.
Unconditionally Looking Inward in All Situations
In 2015, I got the opportunity to move to New York to work for a magazine media project that clarified the truth to high-end society. In many ways, I felt like I didn’t even really know how to deeply look inward before I came to New York.
Right away I encountered many conflicts with management and other coworkers. I could see many of the conflicts that I had in my work were due to my looking down on other practitioners and feeling better or more superior and having a big show off mentality. At that time, I could see the many attachments I had developed—the biggest of which was developing a strong outward-looking mechanism of conditionally looking inward. For instance, it’s what I call the “yeah, but...." I would encounter a xinxing conflict where it appeared that my boss or someone at work was completely irrational or their behavior was really off to the point where on the surface it appeared I was totally right and calm. Of course, as a cultivator, my job is to improve myself and look inward, but I didn’t always do it correctly. I would say something like, "Yes I need to look inward and cultivate of course, BUT if only this practitioner would do x, y, and z, it would clearly solve the issue.” Anytime I would say “BUT,” I knew that wasn’t true cultivation. Instead of unconditionally looking inward, it was conditionally looking inward and that is not Master’s requirement for me.
I could see how this habit had developed causing me to really resent my co-workers and bosses, who were also my fellow practitioners. I could see how I had tied these knots in my heart by being very harsh and having negative thoughts about my boss, co-workers, and fellow practitioners. By truly figuring out how to look inward in all situations no matter how chaotic things seemed on the surface, I found the things around me changed, and more importantly I changed and increased my capacity for saving sentient beings. I saw so many areas where I had fallen short with attachments to pride, being right, being recognized, being smart, saving face, the attachment to reputation, and various desires. By unconditionally looking inward rather than conditionally looking inward, the knots in my heart unraveled and I experienced a broader level of compassion.
“Cultivation is about working on the human mind and heart; it is about cultivating oneself. Only when you are able to examine yourself, looking inward amid problems, conflicts, difficulties, or when being treated unfairly, is it true cultivation.” (“A Congratulatory Letter to the Fa Conference of Taiwan”).
Shedding Human Logic and Broadening My Outlook
During my time working for the magazine, I was also heavily involved in marketing for Shen Yun. About a year into helping Shen Yun, an opportunity came up to work full time on Shen Yun related business. I had a number of interfering factors, which tested my attachments to financial gain and the pursuit of ordinary comforts. I had other ordinary job opportunities, which would have provided me with financial comfort and societal status. After weighing the benefits for financial gain and comfort against the Fa, I was very steadfast in my mind—I wanted to devote all the time I possibly could to saving sentient beings. So I decided to leave the magazine and do Shen Yun work full time.
When I began doing Shen Yun work full time, I encountered tests that helped me see my very deep aspects of self and limited human thinking that had been blocking me for years. For example, I had worked for a Fortune 500 company and run marketing departments for a variety of large-sized businesses. Therefore, entering project work I was arrogant and confident in the feeling that I had a lot of knowledge about marketing and business.
One of the tests I faced on this issue was working with people who didn’t have much professional experience. I felt like other practitioners’ lack of experience would block or delay the project. While building a particular strategic plan with our team, I remember being incredibly annoyed and feeling like there’s no way we could do what we needed to at such a slow pace and with such a lack of experience. I didn’t have much compassion for others and I was rather harsh pointing the finger and blaming others' lack of professionalism for being the reason we couldn’t move forward faster. However, as I shared with fellow team members, I realized my starting point in this instance was way off. This isn’t a normal “job.” This is cultivation and saving people. Therefore, how could I judge the situation with such limited human notions? Master arranged for all of us to be a team to balance everything. I was putting too much emphasis on human skills and not enough emphasis on truly cultivating myself. Actually, when I was able to really look inward, I could see how my human logic blocked me from using any of the professional skills Master had given me. When I really could see the good in others, I saw my whole perception of professional skills was off. The other practitioners I had criticized had tremendous heart for their work and they did things the best they could. It ended up that our plan was implemented and we ended up with really great results. It taught me a humbling lesson—that results are determined fundamentally by our hearts, not our skills. Of course, improving my skills is definitely something that helps the project, but the idea that it would be the fundamental thing to move a project forward or help us succeed was way off and was caused by my limited human logic.
“The Fa, however, has different manifestations at different levels. A cultivator whose cultivation has reached a particular level can only see manifestations at that level. He is unable to see the truth beyond that level, and neither will he believe it. Therefore, he only regards what he sees at his level as correct. Before his cultivation reaches a higher level, he thinks that those things do not exist and are not believable; this is determined by his level, and his mind is unable to elevate.” (Zhuan Falun)
I was someone who could not believe the truth beyond my level. My mind was unable to elevate because my stubborn human logic blocked me and caused xinxing conflicts where I would think coordinators or others weren’t professional or weren’t doing the right thing or weren’t on the right track, but that outward thinking actually masked my attachments to self that made me hard to work with. The most insidious part is that I couldn’t immediately see these things in myself since I was unable to step back from the maze of my selfish human starting point. The root problem was my starting point.
I was then able to realize that whatever it is I am contributing is limited and I should always allow room for a purer starting point—a higher level of Fa I cannot see or understand immediately from my level. When someone offers another opinion or something happens, I should not double down on my human logic and try to explain the situation or criticize it with my limited thinking. Instead, I should take a step back and evaluate myself and my starting point and try and broaden my mind. Actually through changing my starting point I no longer was confined by the ordinary reality of “logic” and I was able to see a broader reality, which was guided by compassion rather than selfishness.
In cultivation and saving people I know I must be broad-minded, but what is being broad-minded? To me it is the lack of self—the ability to see things from others’ perspectives, the humbleness to see the larger picture, and the openness to better harmonize with other ideas and concepts beyond my own understanding. It is having a starting point from Zhen-Shan-Ren not from human logic. It is a divine way of seeing things. It’s the manifestation of a more compassionate heart.
“If you start to think a little, what you see will be false. This is called demonic interference from one’s own mind, or "transformation follows mind-intent.” This occurs because some practitioners cannot treat themselves as practitioners and are unable to handle themselves properly.” (Zhuan Falun)
Actually, much of my cultivation and work in projects has suffered because of this limited human logic starting point. I have also seen many of my fellow cultivators in other projects stuck on this point as well to the extreme where many even leave projects with complaints about management or co-workers being unprofessional or off track from their point of view based on the ordinary business logic they understand. However, I can see the problem is actually in them. They are doing what I did. They only see things from their own limited standpoint and they are not able to see the broader picture. I think that it is easy to be interfered with when this thinking is present and goes uncultivated. Many negative things will manifest, which only makes me see myself as right and others as wrong, but that’s a false reality. I end up missing the bigger picture while swearing that what I see is real and explain things from a limited human starting point. While we conform our projects to ordinary business on a human level, we can also not fall into the trap of being confined by it, because the real progress happens with our cultivation together beyond the confines of human logic.
Harmony and Cooperation Bring Real Results
“If you are aligned with the Fa, Gods will help you to cooperate.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference”)
I have a big sign on my desk that says, “Harmony and Cooperation.” I have it there because I think that harmony and cooperation are the most import things in project work. I also have it there because I need it. When I find myself in the middle of sending an emotional email response to another practitioner, I can pause and look up at my sign. Often it grounds me and makes me ponder my real role in the project. My role is to harmonize and cooperate. Anything I do that is not in line with those principles doesn’t help the project move forward, no matter what excuses I have at the time for the emotional email.
Harmony and cooperation have not always been principles I could adopt easily. For example, during my ten years of cultivation I have often found it quite hard to work with my fellow Chinese practitioners. There were many reasons that I used to justify my apprehension and complaining mentality to work with some Chinese. Mostly they had strong communist things that made them tough to deal with.
There was a specific instance where I felt a coordinator really didn’t understand something well and was thinking in a way I characterized as “Chinese.” It is a notion I have when a Chinese practitioner doesn’t seem to conform to my understanding of Western society. I felt as their plan was completely opposite of everything I thought would work on the project. Afterward, I felt really anxious. While talking with a few fellow project members, I felt the situation was a bit hopeless. I initially felt like there was no way I could work with them because their ideas would ruin our chances to do well. The next day as I reflected on my thoughts, I felt there was much that wasn’t right about them. First of all, the coordinator hadn’t said much and I had interpreted their words in my own way. I hadn’t really listened to their meaning and had gotten negative about it quite quickly. A short time later upon sitting with this coordinator and hearing them explain their thoughts in a much more detailed way, I realized I agreed with everything they said. Not only that, but the approach they were taking was broader and would actually work better than the limited plan I had thought about. My problem was I hadn’t really listened deeply to what they meant. I hadn't tried to really understand them. I didn’t look at things from their perspective, and I was caught up in my own thoughts and notions. I didn’t seek to understand; I only wanted them to accept what I wanted. I used the notions I had about Chinese practitioners and incorrectly characterized their thoughts with my notions. How could that work? Was that truly harmonizing? Is cooperation simply going with an idea when it agrees with my own? In this instance, I learned a valuable lesson—cooperation is about truly understanding one another and opening my heart to a broader perspective.
As the years have moved on, I have enlightened to deeper reasons of why I am a Western practitioner during this time period. My understanding is that as a Westerner I have the ability to supplement and harmonize uniquely in an environment. Actually Chinese and Westerners have the opportunity to balance each other out quite well in a project. By increasing my compassion and learning to better listen and cooperate rather than look down on others, I find that truly working together Western and Chinese practitioners are actually the most powerful force to unlock this society and save more people.
The key for me is that we actually supplement one another—so indeed if I view something in my fellow practitioner that seems to be glaring, what’s my role in seeing that? Before I would get annoyed, complain, and look down on them. But who does that save? How does that help the project move forward? Is that harmony? Is that cooperation? Much of the judgment was due to my own ego or because I didn’t trust my fellow practitioner enough or try to listen deeply enough to the meaning behind their words to really understand their perspective.
When I am able to do that I feel it’s very similar to the Shen Yun Orchestra—the melody of both the West and East can harmonize and we can make the best things together, better than we can separately. When I am really able to do this, I can sense a deeper understanding of what it means to be one body.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2018 Washington DC Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)