Cherishing Our Cultivation, Fellow Practitioners, and Sentient Beings
(Minghui.org) When I was a child I followed my mom to practice Falun Dafa. However, at that time I only thought that Dafa teaches people how to become good by following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. When the persecution began in 1999 I had not even read Zhuan Falun once. I did not deeply understand what it means to truly cultivate or how precious Dafa is. I was afraid that I'd be persecuted and so I stopped practicing.
I stumbled along for several years, confused about the meaning of life. However, the seeds to practice had been sown and when I saw my mom, who had never stopped practicing, enjoying health and happiness, I began to wonder why I had stopped.
One night I dreamed that I was standing under the vast sky. Suddenly the gates of Heaven opened and a solemn and holy being approached me. Everything was so vivid and clear that I was filled with a feeling of deep respect and reverence. I feel that Master was giving me a hint to not miss this opportunity. I knew that if I missed it I would be filled with deep regret.
So, in 2014 I began to read Zhuan Falun and I finally became a practitioner. All my confusion and questions were resolved. Master purified my body and let me experience the wonderful feeling of having a body free of any illness. Before I began practicing I always thought that I was a good person who bore hardship without complaint. But I could never figure out why I encountered so much unfairness both at work and in my daily life. Master said,
“Therefore, what one does in life is not arranged based on one’s abilities. Buddhism believes in the principle of karmic retribution. One’s life is arranged according to one’s karma. No matter how capable you are, if you do not have de, perhaps you will have nothing in this life.” (Zhuan Falun)
Before I began to practice I easily became angry whenever I suddenly encountered conflicts. However, Master tells us that we need to look within.
“You should always be benevolent and kind to others, and consider others when doing anything. Whenever you encounter a problem, you should first consider whether others can put up with this matter or if it will hurt anyone. In doing so, there will not be any problems.” (Zhuan Falun)
I realized that if I really wanted to improve, looking within was the key.
Getting Rid of the Desire for Comfort
I came to the U.S. to attend graduate school in 2016. I was surprised to learn that there were few practitioners here and only one other practitioner in my state.
Fortunately, we had the opportunity to promote Shen Yun and through it, we both improved a lot in our cultivation. I was able to eliminate several attachments, such as avoiding hardships, being unwilling to talk to strangers and feeling upset after being turned down. I understood that practitioners need to give up selfishness and, “...attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism.” (“Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
When I reminded myself that I'm here to save people, I was able to suppress my desire for comfort. I usually did not plan how to do the promotion or where I would go. I just believed that Master would arrange the best, and the results always exceeded my expectations. In the winter I rode my bike and left home at 9 a.m. and returned around 8 p.m. My face would become numb and both of my hands suffered from frostbite.
After my xinxing improved, practitioners traveled from other cities to help with the promotion on weekends and holidays. More and more Shen Yun posters appeared in every corner of the city. I also experienced Master’s teaching, “...matter and mind are one thing.” (Zhuan Falun) After finishing the Shen Yun promotion during the day, I had to continue with my studies until 1 a.m. every night. When I woke up, my entire body felt tired and my muscles were sore. But as soon as I reminded myself that people were waiting to be saved, I could jump out of bed. All the tiredness disappeared and I was filled with energy.
Slacking Off Even a Little Causes Big Setbacks
After Shen Yun left our state, I had a thought: “Finally, I can relax a little bit.” At that moment I did not realize that my deeply hidden pursuit of comfort was exposed. Afterward, I could not focus when I studied the Fa or did my schoolwork. I also began to watch the news and videos. Even though I still kept doing the three things, my cultivation state began deteriorating. I began to procrastinate and went to bed later and later. But I did not take this seriously and still thought that I was doing well. The evil took advantage of my desire for comfort and I felt satisfied that I still did the three things every day. It was extremely hard for me to return to the diligent state I had been in when I promoted Shen Yun.
In the meantime, the other practitioner was also in a similar state due to his own attachments. We stopped practicing or reading together. I could feel a gap growing between us and it prevented us from remembering that we should maintain our group practice environment.
This went on for three or four months. One day I realized what was happening and that I needed to get out of this rut! I should start by actively practicing, and overcome my “desire for comfort” and “self-satisfaction.” I took the driving test and bought a car. I contacted the other practitioner and we resumed doing the exercises together every weekend. Although my desire for comfort was not instantly eliminated, Master encouraged me by letting me see the energy belts around us every time we did the exercises. I also joined the Young Practitioners Group, which allowed me to communicate with other young practitioners so we could discuss how to save more people.
After I improved in my cultivation, good things began happening. During a meeting with more than 30 people, including all the advisers and their graduate students, I talked about Falun Dafa and told them that Dafa is practiced all over the world. I also invited everyone to join me in doing the exercises on campus. At the end of the meeting, three Western students told me that they wanted to learn the exercises.
Later, when the other practitioner and I were practicing the exercises outside on the weekend, a young Westerner found us. He told us that he had seen us for about a year and he felt our practice was very peaceful. Due to his stressful work situation, he really wanted to join us.
But my desire for comfort came out again, and this time I also realized that I was jealous of the other practitioner. My research work at school became more demanding so I had to stay up late pretty late. Every weekend before I traveled to the other city, I always felt tired and had negative thoughts. I thought that I had to put in a lot of effort in order to attend the group practice, whereas the other practitioner had a very quiet life, why couldn’t he come to my city to practice with me? But I immediately saw my problem. The old forces were trying to use my desire for comfort and my jealousy, expand them and create gaps between us. I always looked at the other practitioner, but I did not look at myself. Later the other practitioner mentioned that during that period of time I was rather arrogant.
When I realized that I had to get rid of the desire for comfort again, Master also gave me hints. I dreamed that I was descending rapidly in an elevator. I suddenly realized that feeling good about myself and staying in my cultivation state without diligently improving was essentially descending. This helped me realize how serious cultivation is and the awful consequence of being attached to oneself. I felt Master’s great compassion. Since then, every time the thought of relaxing surfaced, I instantly denied it. I felt that I had truly passed this big test.
Now I know how serious cultivation is. Any thought can determine whether we are practitioners or ordinary people.
Working Together to Save People
The other practitioner and I thought that, as the only practitioners in our state, we were responsible for saving the sentient beings there. Before I came to the U.S., the other practitioner had been cultivating by himself for a long time. We hadn't been involved in any Dafa projects other than Shen Yun, so we both needed to overcome some difficulties in order to take the first the step.
We planned to start with the basics - passing out truth clarification materials and collecting signatures to stop the organ harvesting. One weekend we set up a small table in front of the largest Asian market and started to pass out materials. Although we did not prepare well, the results were surprisingly great. Many Westerners were sad and sympathetic when they learned about the organ harvesting. Most of them signed the petition to support us. Some Chinese who had listened to the Communist Party’s propaganda didn’t want to take our flyers, but some wanted to learn more. After that first experience, we both realized that we should have done this sooner. Master had already paved the road for us, we just had to step forward.
After we did this a few times, we knew that we should have prepared better in order to show how wonderful Dafa is. So I ordered a beautiful tablecloth with the words "Falun Dafa" on it and printed posters and booklets. The other practitioner also ordered some DVDs of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. We also improved the quality of our Fa study. Gradually, our efforts became more effective.
But we had some small conflicts. For example, when we finished collecting signatures the first time, my attachment of zealotry flared up. When the other practitioner pointed this out to me I defended myself. Because of my arrogant attitude, he became impatient and his words were not compassionate. After we both calmed down, I knew that defending myself was exactly what Master described, “No one can criticize them, and when someone does, it sets them off.” (Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles)
After this argument, we tried to look within and eliminate the gaps between us. However, as we worked together more of our attachments were exposed. We could clearly feel that the old forces were trying to use our attachments to separate us. Every time this happened, I sent forth righteous thoughts to dissolve the interference.
As soon as I got rid of some negative thoughts, I would begin to notice some of his other shortcomings. Sometimes he reflected on himself, but most of the time he would say, “I think you might also have the same issue.” In fact, we both rushed to find the other person's problem. Master said, “...everyone looks within, and everyone cultivates himself well, ...” (Teaching the Fa in the City of Los Angeles)
I realized the importance of “looking within” when collaborating with others. We need to focus on each others’ merits. When we see others’ problems, instead of criticizing them, we should first check to see if we have the same issue.
If I can't be compassionate towards a fellow practitioner how can I save people? When I identified my problem and began to improve myself, I found he was trying to improve as well. I could feel my compassion growing, and my ability to clarify the truth also improved. My heart was filled with infinite gratitude to Master’s arrangement, and I cherished this opportunity to work with a fellow practitioner.
I will try my best to avoid gaps between us, which might negatively impact our saving sentient beings. When we fail to look within and cultivate every single thought, it's very easy for the old forces to take advantage of our gaps. The other practitioner and I are striving to improve in our cultivation. We remind and help each other and keep thinking of how we can do better!
Thank you, Master!Thank you, fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2018 Mid-US Fa Conference)