Developing Maturity, Dignity, and a Sense of Responsibility
(Minghui.org) I am a Falun Dafa practitioner from Germany. As a child, my sister told me about God and Jesus, and that one day the Savior would come back to earth to save people. She told me that I would know in my heart when he came. I loved listening to these stories, and I was convinced that this would happen.
In 1997, when I was 17 years old, my sister brought Falun Dafa to my attention. At her university there was a Chinese woman who had organized an introductory course for those interested. But when she first told me about Falun Dafa, I didn't want to learn it because she had taught me other exercises that I couldn't yet do fluently. I didn't want to learn something new again. Some time later she enthusiastically explained to me that this was the path she had always sought. At that time she was already practicing the exercises regularly with others. Curiously I went to the class and found it very exciting to practice the fifth exercise along with about 30 other people. As a child I had already mastered the lotus position, although I had not been particularly agile in other areas. So it wasn't a coincidence.
Shortly afterward the German edition of Zhuan Falun was published. When I first read it, I knew it was the path I had been looking for and I wanted to start cultivating. I had found the meaning of my life. I understood that things you encounter in life are not by coincidence, but are good opportunities to learn from and improve.
By adapting to the cosmic qualities of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance,” I was very quickly able to recognize small attachments, let them go, and treat others with kindness. I felt my surroundings become harmonious. Even when I woke up in the morning, I was sometimes so happy that I could feel the happiness almost like a substance in my body, which permeated all of my pores.
After reading Zhuan Falun, I realized that drinking alcohol was not right for a cultivator. I didn't want to interfere with my cultivation process, so it wasn't hard for me to stop drinking. But since it was common practice at my young age to go out for a drink with friends, the question was brought up every time, why I no longer drank alcohol. But I didn't know how to answer without being sneered at. And the more I feared the question, the more often it appeared. At my graduation celebration, where it was normal for the students to drink a schnapps at the end, I no longer wanted to be an outsider and drank a small cup.
But afterwards I felt like I had betrayed Master. I swore to myself that I would never drink alcohol again, even if everyone thought I was crazy and laughed at me. This thought was very strong and my decision was firm, with no doubts.
After passing this test, it was very rare that people looked at me funny for not drinking alcohol, and it no longer bothered me. On the contrary, I often met people who also didn't drink. When my colleagues bake something for the office, they are always careful not to use alcohol.
Beginning of the Persecution and the Desire to Explain the True Circumstances
After the persecution of Falun Dafa began in China in 1999, I first thought that it didn't have much to do with me. I continued cultivating as before and thought that it was only a temporary situation. I did the exercises on Sundays with my sister and studied the Fa teachings. This was always the best day of the week for me. I became worried when my sister brought me more and more news about persecuted fellow practitioners in China, who had even been taken to labor camps, but I didn’t know what to do.
This condition persisted for several years. It wasn't until I read the articles from Essentials for Further Advancement II that I realized that my cultivation path is inextricably linked to validating the Fa and the explaining the facts about the practice and the persecution.
I understood for the first time that there were ancient powers that wanted to ruin people and that it was my responsibility here abroad to educate people about what was happening in China in order to save them.
Since it wasn't easy for me to talk to people, and I didn't know specifically what to do to validate Dafa, my sister helped me step by step. We sometimes collected signatures in a nearby town, and I helped translate articles for the Minghui website. I gradually lost my shyness towards people. But with time I felt that all this was still far too little and desperately thought about what else I could do. I also sometimes felt that some factors were trying to interfere, which affected my computer and printer. But if I stayed calm and tackled the problems with righteous thoughts, they were solved quickly every time.
Tian Guo Marching Band—Letting Go of Fear and Anger and Taking on Tasks
When the European Tian Guo Marching Band was founded in 2006, my sister told me that she and her family would join. When she asked me to join, I hesitated. When I was 10 years old I had started to play the clarinet in a music club, but at 19 I stopped playing because the performances in beer tents had put me off, and almost all the people who played in the music club were older.
I had actually formed a deep aversion to playing in a band. After my sister came back from the first workshop, she told me that they were looking for an instrument teacher for the clarinets. I was then immediately struck by another attachment: I didn't want to be a responsible person, and certainly not a teacher. But then I wondered what my real goal in this life was and why I had started playing the clarinet as a child. I remembered that there were no coincidences and realized my responsibility.
I have been a member of the European Tian Guo Marching Band for 12 years now and experienced ups and downs during the years. Everything I gave to participate in the performances and to improve the musical level of clarinet players has helped me immensely in my cultivation, to become more mature and to let go of my ego, piece by piece.
There were many times at first when I was dissatisfied due to the lack of musical knowledge of many of the players, and I was sometimes on the verge of quitting. But I then understood a principle. When I see a shortcoming, I have to do everything I can to remedy it, because when I see it, it is my responsibility. And wasn't this a great opportunity to cultivate away my impatience, my complaining, and my anger? Every time I persevered and tried harder, I became more steadfast, and I could deal with problems more easily. My will was also strengthened when other players were dissatisfied or did not share my understanding.
Enduring and Letting Go of Emotions
My mother developed a severe cough in 2011. After several examinations by different doctors, who could not find anything unusual, the family doctor suggested having a thorough examination in the hospital. I told my parents about the many people who had recovered from health issues after practicing Falun Gong, and offered to read Zhuan Falun with them twice a week and practice the exercises with them. They agreed and we practiced and read regularly for about two years. But the cough got worse and it became painfully clear to me that she had only agreed for my sake.
One day she had an accident and broke her sternum, which resulted in breathing problems. Because she couldn't think clearly due to the lack of oxygen, my father took her to the emergency room. She was artificially fed and connected to a respirator in the hospital. It almost broke my heart when I saw her panicky face. I tried to be strong, and read to her from Zhuan Falun and sent righteous thoughts.
Her expression calmed down and she made it clear that I should continue reading. When I got back home, I couldn't calm down and the next day I broke into tears at work. I could hardly eat anything, and the thoughts about my parents filled my head, day and night. I could neither read nor practice. A few days later, when I wanted to visit my mother in the hospital, I heard someone calling for help from afar. I couldn't believe it, but it was my mother. She was sitting alone, half-naked on the hospital bed. No one was in the room with her and she was trembling. When she saw me, her face was half relieved, and half panicky. She shouted, “I'm dying…” I sat down with her and tried to reassure her. But she said that the doctors had given up on her and pulled out all the tubes, so that she would die now, since there was no hope. I was shocked because all the equipment was still connected. When I realized that she was hallucinating, I remembered the place in Zhuan Falun where a man had died because of his thoughts. After a while I finally calmed her down and she said that I had saved her life. This situation has haunted me in daydreams ever since. I panic every time, fearing that my mother will return to this state and it would be too late to help her. I also learned that she sat at the window hours before each visit and waited for me.
After a few weeks we got her out of the hospital early, which was her wish. The time afterward was very difficult, because I felt that I was the only support for my mother and she trusted me. This realization burdened me, but I also noticed how I was able to let go, and slowly endure the pain. I no longer linked my mother's fate to myself.
Every time I went to activities with the Tian Guo marching band, or went to an information day to explain the facts about the persecution of Falun Gong, I let go of my feelings about my mother and put her fate in the hands of Master. I learned in retrospect that she was doing well those days. But this test repeated itself again and again.
When I once wanted to go to a Shen Yun promotion, my mother was so ill the day before that I thought she would collapse at any moment. I was close to calling 911. I told my father that we could read now and if it didn't get any better, we'd call an ambulance. While reading, my mother was breathing normally and her mind became clear again. Nevertheless, it wasn't easy for me to go to another city for a promotion for an entire weekend. But I said to myself, if I don't let go of these feelings now, then I don't even have to go. The next morning, I let go of being attached to her completely and I suddenly became very calm and knew that I was doing the right thing. That day I sold nine Shen Yun tickets of the first category. I realized that Master wanted to encourage me.
At the end of the year my mother went to a lung clinic and then to a rehab clinic, where she died quite unexpectedly. The finality of never seeing her again was my last test and I had strong physical reactions the next day. But the day after that, it felt as if Master was holding me in his hand and took away all the pain. Through this experience I felt that my ability to endure suffering had been considerably increased, and my will strengthened.
Eliminating Bad Thoughts and Developing the Dignity of a Dafa Disciple
Remembering the past years, I have noticed lately that my heart for saving sentient beings has weakened. I even frequently thought that I would rather be alone anyway, so why should I save so many living beings? Although I was frightened by these thoughts and knew that they did not belong to me, they appeared again and again and led me into a certain passivity. I only did things on the surface. When working for Shen Yun, Master repeatedly gave me clues through other practitioners or people I came across.
Sometimes people were remarkably unfriendly and hostile to me, so my self-esteem dropped immensely. While promoting Shen Yun, one practitioner told me repeatedly that I should approach people with more emotion. I was deeply saddened and did not know how to get out of this state. I realized once again that it was my lack of self-esteem that made people react like that. At that moment I realized that I was an important part of Dafa and that I should represent that dignity. I should open my heart to people, and my heart should be so pure that my sincere energy has the power to dissolve all evil in the other dimensions. After these thoughts, I approached another lady and she said to me, “You are so radiant!”
My bad state reappeared occasionally, however. When I was in another town supporting Shen Yun, I told a fellow practitioner about my temporary loneliness and grief, and that I didn't know where it came from. I felt small and insignificant, and some substance was pressing on me. I later did the exercises with the practitioner. After the exercises she said to me that she had seen me wearing a black cape and a hood covering my face. But she had seen it sparkle and glow under the dark cloak. I suddenly woke up from this state and no longer wanted to be controlled by it. When I was at group Fa study, I noticed a heavy substance falling off of me and I felt very light.
In the 20 years of my cultivation journey, I've learned that some attachments are easy and some are very difficult to discard. If we are not immediately able to recognize or discard them, similar situations may appear again and again, which point this out to us. Layer by layer, level by level.
I thank Master for his infinite mercy and patience. I will walk my path to the end.