(Minghui.org) Greetings Master! Greetings everyone! I moved from Colombia to the U.S. 15 years ago. I began practicing Falun Dafa two years ago, and I’m now 21. 

I went to the mall to try out a Yoga class, but the instructor didn’t show up. Not wanting to go home yet, I walked past the library. Something told me to check what activities they had going on. As soon as I stepped inside I saw a sign, “Ancient Chinese meditation, 1:30 p.m.” Curious, I attended the workshop, where I was introduced to the three universal principles of Falun Dafa: Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. A kind practitioner taught me the exercises and suggested I read Zhuan Falun.

I later understood that my stepping inside the library that day was no coincidence. I would describe the overall state of my cultivation as a roller coaster ride, but currently – hopefully – I'm meeting the standard of what Master asks us to do. 

I’d like to first express gratitude to Master and how He has always been so merciful with me whenever I've fallen off the cultivation path. I haven't been the most diligent practitioner. Fortunately, I have never abandoned the idea of cultivating myself and did not allow my human notions to fully take control. I think this might have been due to always remembering to live by Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance in my moments of weakness. 

Tired of Making Excuses 

Before I began practicing, I was an angst-filled teenager. I would listen to rock and rap music, indulge in breaking the law, and I disrespected everyone. I didn't realize it, but my mind was filled with ideas that stem from communism and I was influenced by socialist movements. Since I didn't value myself, I had little regard for human life. I did not believe in God, but I wasn’t atheist either because I was interested in religions like Buddhism and Daoism. 

I smoked cigarettes, did drugs, and got drunk. I frequently partied with complete strangers and dated for fun. My actions were always reckless, emotional, and not very well thought out. 

When I first learned Falun Dafa in February 2017 and began to practice the exercises, I understood what it meant to be a well-behaved son, a responsible student, and a good person. I began to let go of my self-destructive mentality. I can only suggest that other young practitioners learn from my mistakes. Don’t commit the mistake of wanting to live as an ordinary person after obtaining the Fa, hoping Falun Dafa will improve your understanding of life like I thought it would. It’s just an excuse to avoid seriously cultivating.

“I’m Always Right” 

I recently noticed my attachment to being passive-aggressive and starting arguments instead of staying calm and listening. My sentimentality surfaces when I feel I'm being treated unfairly during interactions at work, or with family. My attachments to my mother, reputation, and time were exposed. On the surface I remained calm. But I was easily frustrated, changing the tone of my voice, and nonverbal communication still count as being moved by the situation. If something needs to be cleared up, then it should be done with a very compassionate heart. Master said, 

“If you can tolerate it and yet it preys on your mind, it is still not good enough. As you know, when a person reaches the Arhat level, in his heart he is not concerned about anything. He does not care at all in his heart for any ordinary human matter, and he will always be smiling and in good spirits. No matter how much loss he suffers, he will still be smiling and in good spirits without any concern. If you can really do this, you have already reached the entry-level Fruit Status of Arhatship.” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)

During the last week of April, I went with other practitioners to introduce Falun Dafa, talk about the persecution, tell others about the lack of transparency from the CCP, and how it allowed the CCP virus (coronavirus) to spread. We went to about 90 retirement homes. It astonished me how easily the practitioners were able to talk to ordinary people and tell them about Falun Dafa. One practitioner in particular talked about it so naturally and fluently. In my understanding, she was behaving and speaking on behalf of the truth and doing so with a heart of great mercy. While she went inside the nursing homes or talked to people on the street, I would sit in my car sending forth righteous thoughts. 

I kept firm in my belief that my righteous thoughts were effective. Sure enough, whenever I stayed focused, the practitioner would tell me how they welcomed her and happily accepted the lotus flowers and leaflets. When I could not stay focused on eliminating interference, the practitioner would tell me how it was harder to get them to accept the gifts because of the precautions being taken. She then firmly told me to do a better job next time when sending forth righteous thoughts and reminded me that it’s our mission to save beings. 

After these experiences, I felt that learning to improve my concentration and studying the Fa are key to being able to keep a calm mind and compassionate heart in any situation. I also realized the importance of memorizing Lunyu. I suggest all practitioners learn to recite Lunyu. After I began memorizing Lunyu, I went back to work that week and was able to do my job more effectively.

From this experience, I also understood Master's words: “In fact, let me tell everyone that matter and mind are one thing.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)

How We Conduct Ourselves

In the course of my cultivation, I have been able to learn to conduct myself better in ways such as my diction, manner of speaking, or improving my appearance. I find this to be very important to carry out our mission to save people. Enlightening to this very early on allowed me to improve how I tell people about Falun Dafa and the persecution, as well as how I carry myself as a practitioner in order to represent Dafa. If I were to use profanities or inappropriate body movements in my daily life, wouldn’t I undermine Dafa? 

Learning to be firm with myself and letting go of material wealth, food, and laziness were hard to do. Finding a balance was even harder. Sometimes at work, instead of working 80 hours every two weeks, I would work between 120 and 160 hours every two weeks. I had to improve my perseverance, decision-making skills, and let go of living comfortably. Most importantly, I had to learn how to say no. The days I have let slip by are days that I will never get back. 

Master said, 

“Indeed, practitioners will say: "Ordinary people have their pursuits, and we don’t seek them. As for what ordinary people have, we also aren’t interested. Yet what we have is something that ordinary people cannot obtain, even if they want to."” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)

Moving Forward

After many years, I've finally realized that I am the only one responsible for my actions. Defending myself in ANY way was a coping mechanism and a way to make excuses and I was tired of it. I had excused my wrongdoings in the past with reasons like, “The teacher didn’t do his job well,” “It’s normal in society,” “It’s part of growing up,” or “My friends do it.” These were all merely excuses and clearly showed my lack of accountability. 

Master states, “You will be made to stumble, whereby you will become enlightened to the Tao. This is how one goes through cultivation practice.” (Lecture 4, Zhuan Falun

Acknowledging the mistakes I have committed is crucial. My past does not define the future but shows me where I can do better.

I have lived in comfort for way too long. Whether sleeping during the daytime or playing video games, to my understanding both are just as serious attachments as those of drugs and lust. It’s important that as practitioners, we should not overlook our attachments no matter how small they are.

I often felt like I needed to stay connected to social media while doing even small tasks. I did not have the willpower to say “No!” Realizing I had developed an attachment to my phone, I began putting it down. 

Reading the Fa and meditating have strengthened my concentration. I used to spend my days in a trance-like state multitasking but getting absolutely nothing done. The way I see it, the brain is a muscle and its only use is to control the body. If we can have complete control of it, we will be able to have more control of how we manage our daily life and our use of time. 

I try to send forth righteous thoughts at every designated hour from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., no matter how busy or tired I THINK I may be. When I work Friday to Sunday, I study one lecture of the Fa. When I don’t have to work, I study two lectures.

It took me a while to get organized and implement routines to accomplish daily goals. Despite interference that tried to stop my transition to becoming more disciplined, I’ve been able to maintain a set schedule regardless of the major changes that occurred this year. 

In “Explaining the Fa for Falun Dafa Assistants in Changchun,” Master explains, “How could there possibly be no interference? If no one interfered, wouldn’t you be cultivating too easily?!” (Explaining the Content of Falun Dafa)

Nevertheless, I keep going, instead of waiting around for motivation.

I would like to conclude my sharing with a poem I wrote, titled,

My Journey of Cultivation

Surrounded by filthI cling onto this matterOne day discovering the truth On Dafa reveals what mattersPerceiving the world so close minded And conforming to qing around meBlinding myself from my mission Therefore paralyzing the depth of my faithIf I’m able to Sacrifice everything until nothingnessEndure anything until emptinessI will keep following Master’s light wherever He travels 

Thank you, fellow practitioners, for listening to my sharing and my understanding, and encouraging me to do better. Please feel free to make suggestions or point out anything inappropriate. I would like to thank the organizers for arranging the 2020 Young Practitioners' Experience Sharing Conference. Thank you, merciful Master.

(Presented at the 2020 International Falun Dafa Young Practitioners’ Online Fa Conference)