(Minghui.org) I live in the Middle East, which is a relatively complex environment. It is influenced by a tumultuous history and a culture that is influenced by different ethnic groups.
I have always been known as smart, calm, and moral. I come from a well-regarded family in an above-average socioeconomic class. My life is calm and unstressful. At the same time, I had a tendency to be introverted, mildly depressed, and lazy, and had some health problems.
Since I was a child, I thought I could talk to God and he must surely hear my voice. I always compared what I saw or heard with my own understanding of God, and I rejected what many people said. When I was a little older, the only way I knew to find God and to gain a true understanding of him was through religious books. So at night, when everyone was asleep, I looked for higher principles within the lines and translations of those books, which I was sure could summarize the whole truth and law of the world in a few words. Although I could not find those words, I realized that translations, interpretations, and people’s understandings are far from the truth. As a result, I would cry before going to bed some nights and prayed to God to save me from this delusional world as soon as possible.
One night, at the age of 14, I dreamed of an angel in the form of a man holding a record of my deeds in his hand. I wanted to look at it so I could understand how good or bad I really was. But I could not see it. I tried to deduce my situation from the angel’s expression, but I saw neither joy nor sorrow. It was just very calm and a little cold. Eventually, I saw a number at the top of that paper: 24. I realized it was my age. So from that night on, for the next ten years, I thought that I would die at the age of 24, and the closer I got to that age, I felt that I had less reason to do a lot of things. I tried to do less meaningless things and I didn’t involve myself with books, movies, or popular music. I was filtering everything for myself. I behaved like an old lady.
Encountering Falun Dafa
In 2014, just a few months before I turned 24, I went to work for a software company. The person who interviewed me (who was a practitioner of Falun Dafa) seemed quite familiar. From the positive energy that seemed to surround him, I was sure that I was in the right place. At the same time, he noticed I was stressed. I had taken my friend with me to the interview, and he hired both of us. (Now, six years later, my friend has also started to practice Falun Dafa.) The company manager later told us that he was surprised we were hired, because they had decided against hiring several others who were older and had more education than my friend and me.
The practitioner who hired us became my direct manager. He always demonstrated exemplary behavior that was clearly based on truth, benevolence, and purity. One day at lunchtime, he talked to me and a number of colleagues about his teacher’s teachings:
“Viewed from a higher plane, it’s as if man is submerged in mud while in this world; and yet he wallows away in it, oblivious to its filth.” (“How Practicing Provokes Evil,” Zhuan Falun)
“But as beings form relationships with one another and as their numbers increase, certain ones among the group turn selfish or bad. At that point they can no longer remain in the higher, heavenly realm where they began, and must drop to a lower one. If they become bad yet again in the lower realm, they must drop again, with the process repeating until finally they drop to this mortal world.” (“Reverse Practice and the Borrowing of Gong,” Zhuan Falun)
“It is extremely painful here, while lost and confused, and the human body is fashioned to suffer. Yet if a person in this setting wants to find his way back to his true, heavenly home, or return to his original state of purity, as Daoists put it, if he wants to dedicate himself to spiritual practice, it means that his innate divinity has shone through, and higher beings will help him, for they value that intention above all others.” (“The Power of Knowing Fate,” Zhuan Falun)
That night, I cried and asked God for help. I had never cried so much. I had tears all over my face and cried so hard that I was short of breath.
A few days later, my father began to oppose my going to work. This tension lasted several days until I had to tell the managers of the company, who in fact needed me to be there, that I would deliver my work over the next two months but that I could only stay until the end of the year. I told them that the reason for this decision was the difficulty of balancing my intense university studies with my job. The practitioner was a little upset but said nothing. A few weeks before I left, he gave me a gift as a goodbye present.
Even before opening the gift, I was so happy—as if I had never received such a precious gift. When I opened it, I saw that it was a book, and then I was even happier. It was Zhuan Falun, yet I still did not quite understand what it was. I went home and started reading it. Until that moment, I had certain standards for reading books, and I did not read any book that I thought would take me away from the truth. Also, the book was relatively thick and I had a tendency to skip around when I read big books. I did not understand much when I started reading and studying Lunyu, but a few pages later, a strong feeling came over me, that anything, including any prejudice, that prevented me from studying the whole book all the way through, was definitely interference from demons.
A Trip to China
I hadn’t yet finished the book when my family and I traveled to China for the first time. It was a ten-day business trip to visit the Canton Fair in Guangzhou at the beginning of May. I later found out that Master Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, had taught a lecture in that city. I was very happy and prepared for the trip. At that time, I had no knowledge of the persecution of Falun Gong and no knowledge of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I thought I was going to see a lot of traditional Chinese culture, make Chinese friends, talk to them with the help of Google Translator, and find directions with the help of Google Maps. But everything was reversed.
We went to Guangzhou on a direct flight from my city. My father was very rude before the flight, worried that I was still in touch with that practitioner via cell phone. So he was watching me with a bad temper throughout the flight. At the same time, I was undergoing body purification and had to go to the bathroom constantly during the flight.
On our tour bus from the airport to the hotel, we were constantly warned to be on the alert for thieves, fraudulent vendors, counterfeit money, and even to exercise caution in banks.
After resting in the hotel, I decided to locate where we were on Google Maps and then find temples to visit. Surprisingly, all Google services, including the map and the translator apps, were filtered. Even the Google search engine was filtered. So I could not even search the Internet for ten days. I did not like to use the Chinese alternative search engines. Suddenly, I felt trapped in a multi-layered prison.
So I decided to ask the hotel manager about tourist destinations, especially temples. But he and several others said that there were no temples in this city. I was very upset. I saw people wearing very short shorts and there was no trace of traditional culture. Vendors were selling very expensive goods, and one sold my father a fake phone instead of a real one.
I was heartbroken and looked at the faces of people on the street so I could communicate with them. I did not see any trace of spirit in their faces and felt that I was only looking at robots that did not look much like humans with spirits. I endured that prison for ten days. Of course, I bought some clothes and then we returned home.
Further Study of Zhuan Falun
After returning from China, the practitioner at my former place of work invited us to celebrate Falun Dafa day on May 13. Despite many obstacles, I was able to participate with my mother, two of my friends, and the mother of one of them. It was there that I learned about the arrest, torture, and forced organ harvesting of Falun Dafa practitioners in prison. At the Dafa Day event, I met a kind, well-mannered female practitioner who looked very familiar to me, like a close family member. Although we only exchanged a few words, I could not erase her image from my mind later.
Shortly afterward, I was able to finish reading Zhuan Falun all the way through. I remember that at that time I could not understand the meaning of much of it, but I found some of its sentences so valuable that I had to read the book again to find them again. But the author had emphasized that we should not make marks in the book, so I decided to write those sentences down. But this time there were more inspiring sentences and I couldn’t write them all down, so I decided to just continue reading and understood that I should read the book many times.
A few months later, in 2015, my brother was sitting next to me watching a science-fiction movie (Interstellar). Everybody in my family knows of my intense interest in astronomy, but instead of watching the movie, I decided to become familiar with the Minghui website. I looked at the recent articles section. As I was scrolling up and down the titles, an article by the Master of Falun Dafa titled “On Dafa” caught my eye. It was precisely at the moment in the movie my brother was watching that showed the entrance to unknown parts of the universe. But Dafa was more exciting, so I began to read:
“Dafa is the wisdom of the Creator. It is the bedrock of creation, what the heavens, earth, and universe are built upon. It encompasses all things, from the utmost minuscule to the vastest of the vast, while manifesting differently at each of the cosmic body’s planes of existence. Out of the depths of the cosmic body, the tiniest of particles first appear, with layers upon layers of countless particles following, ranging in size from small to great, reaching all the way to the outer planes that humankind knows— those of atoms, molecules, planets, and galaxies—and beyond, to what is still larger. Particles of varying sizes make up lives of varying sizes as well as the worlds of varying sizes that permeate the cosmic body. Lives at any of the various planes of particles perceive the particles of the next larger plane to be planets in their skies, and this is true at each and every plane. To the lives at each plane of the universe, it seems to go on infinitely. It was Dafa that created time and space, the multitude of lives and species, and all of creation; all that exists owes to it, with nothing outside of it. All of these are the tangible expressions, at different planes, of Dafa’s qualities: zhen, shan, and ren.” (“On Dafa,”Zhuan Falun)
I suddenly got goosebumps, my tears were flowing, and I was shaking. It was as if I had been confronted with the great luminous truth. The same thing I had been looking for all my life between the lines of books, between nights and tears. And now those glorious words were powerfully before my eyes. And in the midst of these thoughts, I felt the bold presence of a person who had prepared those moments and guided me to open and read that article. It was as if he had arranged each step of my life precisely. With these thoughts, I printed that article so that I could read it many times. And where should I put it so that I could see it every day? At the beginning of my copy of Zhuan Falun.
A few days later, I was talking to that first practitioner on the phone, but I hadn’t mentioned my experience of reading “On Dafa.” However, he told me that at the beginning of the book there is a text called “On Dafa.” Then he said that we needed to take out that section, print the new text from the Minghui website, and replace it! My whole body trembled again. Such an event and a huge change! It was as if I was a small, humble member of Master’s audience. I felt Master’s infinite mercy and I was sure there was no better way for my life.
Later, I realized that Master decided to change “On Dafa” to more adequately represent the great and boundless Dafa. I am very grateful to my dear Master who saved me with his boundless mercy and brought me so much peace of mind.
Karma Transformation and Xinxing Improvement
My father was interested in doing business with China and traveled there several more times. But the result of all his business activities was severe psychological damage. In the meantime, however, he had me to accompany him to several exhibitions in my country where Chinese people were present. Whenever I had the opportunity, I talked to them about Falun Dafa and the persecution, because by that time, I had learned through Master’s articles about the nature of the CCP and the persecution of Falun Gong, and I understood that by informing others, they could be saved and it could help to end the persecution more quickly.
Shortly after beginning my cultivation in Falun Dafa, my home environment suddenly changed a lot. I was so surprised by the strange behavior of my family members, who were all very dignified and kind before. Now, they did their best to control me out of prejudice so that I would not get in touch with other practitioners and practice Falun Dafa.
Despite many efforts, I could not find the cause within myself for these tensions, and I tried not to resent them in my heart. At the same time, the thought that a wrongdoing on my part had caused my family to disrespect the practitioner from my former workplace put a lot of stress on me.
“Everything seems to suddenly go wrong, from others treating them badly to upset supervisors and tense situations at home. Issues spring up everywhere, and it doesn’t seem to make sense. But the initial smooth sailing they had was due in fact to their having quickly reached a certain level of attainment, thanks to their good innate foundations. Yet that would be nowhere near the kind of attainment it takes for a practitioner to achieve spiritual perfection. Further progress is still needed. So the bar has to be raised.” (“Perfecting Your Character,” Zhuan Falun)
One day I learned that there was an exhibition in the countryside, where Chinese people would be present, and I decided to go there alone. I called that practitioner and got some Chinese-language flyers from him. I went to the fair, and I think it was the first time in my life that I’d handed out a flyer. I remember when I gave the first flyer to the person in charge of a booth, her face changed color. “Why are you spreading these lies? Do not continue. Our government will find you and make trouble for you!” a Chinese woman said angrily and fearfully in English. I told her, “But we are in this country. This is not China and it is not a problem.” We were about six feet apart and I had subconsciously taken a few steps back. “Our government is watching us everywhere. Do not continue to do this!” she said. I tried to speak with a smile and a calm mind, but I was very surprised. I wondered what else was written in Chinese on that flyer that I didn’t know about. I thought that I should have translated the text for myself beforehand so there would be no surprises.
So I decided not to hand out any more Chinese flyers and just talk to people instead. It took me a while to calm down and then I went to the booth where someone looked friendly. Based on my previous experience in China, I told her I could help her with translation if she wanted, and she agreed. That way, I had the opportunity to talk to her calmly. Several domestic visitors came over and I translated. After they left, I told her that I was practicing Falun Dafa. Her behavior changed a little and she seemed to be frightened. But she confirmed that there was a persecution in China and that her mother’s aunt was a practitioner and had been arrested and had disappeared. “People who practice Falun Dafa—their minds are closed,” she said under her breath. It was clear that she was repeating what she’d heard before. I told her that Falun Dafa is good and has many benefits. I asked, “You really have not seen your aunt anymore?” After that, she no longer wanted to talk to me.
Meanwhile, my home environment was very difficult and unpleasant. Day and night, and when we were eating together, there were insults and reprimands, mostly aimed at the practitioner who introduced Dafa to me. Every time I started to study the Fa, someone would come by and get angry when they saw the book in my hand. And once, when I came home from work, I found that my book was hidden. But I continued to study on my laptop or cell phone and tried to do it early in the morning or late at night. Whenever I communicated with a practitioner on my cell phone, I was very scared and anxious, because every time, someone would suddenly come up and try to take the phone from me.
I realized that the main issue was my own inner fear, which I had to overcome and work through. This nurturing of fear was present at every stage of my cultivation and I finally found a way to overcome it. After experiencing such a situation many times, I finally realized that the root of fear is accepting a wrong thought—like believing a lie. After believing that lie or wrong thought, we deprive ourselves of our natural rights and a broad and open vision. Then, based on that mental state and impure environment, demons are allowed to produce violence and a poisonous environment and move within it. In such an environment, it is easy to believe that wrong idea more and more and also to unintentionally validate it by making decisions based on the acceptance of the environment. As a result, the devil makes the thought bigger and stronger. After I became aware of this, every time the environment became frightening, I searched for the lie I’d accepted and overcame it by revealing the truth.
“There is also a powerful form of karma that has a large impact on those leading spiritual lives, called the karma of thought. Thinking is a natural part of existence. But since people get lost in the secular world, they often have thoughts that revolve around things such as status and influence, power, wealth, lust, or pride, and over time, these shape into a powerful form of karma, known as the karma of thought. In other dimensions everything is alive, and karma is no exception. With any true practice one must eliminate karma. To eliminate karma means to destroy it, to transform it. Naturally, the karma won’t go for it, and so you will face adversity and obstacles.” (“The Importance of a Strong Mind,” Zhuan Falun)
While I was feeling lonely in this turbulent and stressful situation, two other practitioners got in contact with me. But from the beginning, I found their behavior very different and disturbing. One of them seemed very angry with me, and sometimes he said he was testing me. I asked myself, “Does he think he is my teacher?” The other was constantly complaining about other practitioners. It was a difficult situation. I now know that it all had to do with my own cultivation situation, because I was somehow at a stage of choice and had to reach the standard of not practicing two spiritual ways at the same time. This was the biggest decision and change in my life.
However, at that time I could not understand this properly and I was not aware of the existence of a clear and distinct direction from Master in the book Zhuan Falun Fajie-The Law of Zhuan Falun Explained. Because until then, this book and several other books had not been translated into my language. For this reason, I saw that the practitioner’s insistence on changing my belief as coercion. However, during that time, I was asked to translate that part of the book, and for this reason, I managed to understand it directly with Master’s guidance. Once again I felt that big changes were happening at a time when they had the most impact and meaning. I feel how fortunate I am that Master pays so much attention to my situation.
As Master said:
“The practice only seems hard to people because they still hold on to worldly things. So there is nothing inherently hard about the practice or advancing to higher stages; it’s simply that people are held back by attachments. The difficulty lies in the allure of worldly things, which are so tangible and immediate, and hard to forsake. Another likely pitfall is the anger people experience when there is a falling out, which might get the best of them if it’s not kept in check.” (“The Spiritually Adept,” Zhuan Falun)
I then decided to let go of this inner zealotry and, more importantly, the jealous thoughts that led to the comparison of the two methods and the resulting mental conflict. Then I seriously decided to practice only Falun Dafa. When I made that decision, the practitioner who had been pressuring me left forever without my telling him anything about my decision.
The other practitioner who constantly complained about other practitioners was very troubling because I didn’t view her temperament as being in accordance with the Fa standards. Meanwhile, my family strongly tried to keep me from being in touch with them. But I was thirsty for the Fa and I often read in Master’s articles about needing to have an environment to study, practice, and share experiences with other practitioners. I also realized that the behavior of that practitioner was a mirror of my own thoughts, which includes thought karma and the habit of looking outside. Although I have always kept quiet about my thoughts and I have never been someone known for saying bad things to anyone, my judgment was seething. With more introspection, I realized that judging someone is a quick and cruel decision that is the exact opposite of mercy and patience, and it is in conflict with the teachings of Dafa.
So I stopped judging that practitioner, and it was only then that I realized that her point of view originated from the basis of wishing to validate the Fa and truly cultivate. By identifying problems in others, she tried to get rid of them in herself, and by talking about these problems she also helped me not to get caught up in those kinds of issues. The most important thing about her insights, which I completely agreed with, was that the older practitioners often try to act as masters for new practitioners. They fail to pay attention to not using Master’s Fa as their own words and to not add anything to Dafa when talking about the Fa. This practitioner made it clear to me that I should be very careful when I speak and to specify what is my understanding and what is Master’s Fa:
“Nor should you use my words as your own, as that would amount to plagiarizing my teachings. What you should do is to say precisely what I have said and indicate that it’s what I have said or written. And that’s really the only way to go. The reason is, when you say it this way it will carry the power of Dafa. But if, instead, you tell people your own ideas as if they were Falun Dafa proper, then you are not in fact sharing our practice with them, and it amounts to undermining it. Your own ideas and opinions are not Dafa’s teachings, and haven’t the power to save people or do much of anything. None of you can teach the Way as I have.” (“How to Introduce the Practice to Others,” Zhuan Falun)
So we became good friends and together we were able to do good things in terms of validating the Fa. And I was careful all the time to choose only Master’s Fa as a guide and not subconsciously follow or rely on others.
Letting go of judgment also helped me forgive that angry practitioner, and I was able to understand that the very difficult cultural and environmental conditions in which he had grown up as a child had affected his subconscious, and he did not realize at all that he was behaving differently. But he thought that I was behaving in the same way!
For this reason, I was careful not to react to the people whose mistakes I was witnessing but instead to be able to understand them and be kind to them. However, the conflicts between the practitioners were very intense and it was easy to form the impression that some people were clearly lying and saying slanderous things, things that are very ugly for a practitioner. These thoughts subconsciously made me angry at liars. I realized again that I was judging and that I had to cultivate benevolence.
This Fa from Master really helped me cultivate benevolence:
“Any kind of matter or life in the universe is composed of microscopic particles that make up larger particles, and these then form surface matter. Within the scope covered by these two kinds of matter of differing properties, all matter and lives possess dual nature just the same. For instance, iron and steel are hard, but they oxidize and rust when buried in the earth. Pottery and porcelain, on the other hand, do not oxidize when buried in the earth, but are fragile and easily broken. The same applies to human beings, who possess Buddha-nature and demon-nature at the same time. What one does without moral obligations and constraints is of demon-nature. Cultivating Buddhahood is to eliminate your demon-nature and strengthen and increase your Buddha-nature.
One’s Buddha-nature is Shan, and it manifests itself as compassion, thinking of others before acting, and the ability to endure suffering. One’s demon-nature is viciousness, and it manifests as killing, stealing and robbing, selfishness, wicked thoughts, sowing discord, stirring up troubles by spreading rumors, jealousy, wickedness, anger, laziness, incest and so on.” (“Buddha Nature and Demon Nature,” Essentials For Further Advancement)
My understanding is that, in the midst of contradictions, practicing cultivation is to display one’s benevolence and be able to pay attention to one’s Buddha-nature, not demon nature. Because, as Master said, all human beings have both demon nature and Buddha-nature. In this case, not only do we not see those conditions as contradictions, but we also see them as an opportunity to validate and nurture the other person’s Buddha-nature. With this approach, many situations were truly reversed and there were many good experiences, which I will talk about in another experience sharing.
When I was able to look at people this way, I realized that the conflicts between practitioners in this environment are all because everyone is trying to protect this Fa. For example, recently, a practitioner made a statement that two other practitioners said was a misinterpretation and that the opposite was true. Then I found another practitioner who read it on a piece of paper. Prior to reading the paper, she’d agreed with the two practitioners who disagreed with the first practitioner. But as soon as she read the paper, I realized that it was exactly the opposite and that the first practitioner had not misinterpreted at all. However, his attachments had caused the misunderstanding. I later thought to myself, knowing that what I understood as a misinterpretation was just talking about the same thing, but it was complicated by people’s attachments. In the end, it was clear that none of them were saying anything wrong, but they thought that the other person was. I read this lecture that day and realized for the first time this deeper meaning:
“The inner eye (tian-mu) is something that many spiritual teachers have spoken of. However, it should be remembered that the Way reveals itself according to each person’s level of spiritual attainment. And so any individual will only be able to see things that correspond to his stage of progress; higher realities will neither be visible to him nor believable. And so he may think that what he sees, at his level, is absolutely true. And until he has reached higher realms himself, through practice, it will be hard for him to imagine that still higher things exist or are possible. So his level of attainment acts as a limiting factor, as it limits his realm of thought. And this accounts for why there are such widely divergent explanations of the inner eye, which makes things confusing. And so far nobody has explained it very well. This shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the inner eye isn’t something that can be explained well by those at a low stage of attainment.” (“The Inner Eye,” Zhuan Falun)
After understanding this, I was very careful about how I spoke to my fellow practitioners. I tried not to aggravate their attachments, but to try to help at the right time and to calmly tell them about the things I see and my understandings. However, conflicts were still unavoidable. But although the problems have not yet been totally solved, we are able to look inwardly more in this calmer atmosphere, and we have become more in tune with each other.
However, the oppressive environment in my family lasted for five years. My father often objected to my studying the teachings and prevented me from leaving home even when I was going to work. I have always considered such behavior unfair and disrespectful of one’s personal rights. He considered my disobedience to his orders to be disrespectful. It was precisely because I could not find the deeply-rooted attachment of competition in myself. I realized that I had not accepted Master’s Fa correctly within myself and with complete faith, and I had not been able to put the following into practice:
“The principle at work here is one that the average person isn’t aware of: that you will not get what you want if it’s not part of your life’s design, however deserving you may seem; while someone else who is incompetent might get it, if it is part of his life’s design. People might have their own takes on this, but their views aren’t spiritually informed. As higher beings see it, things in this world unfold according to higher designs that are in place. So what a person gets to do in life certainly isn’t going to be decided by how talented he is. The Buddhist doctrine of karmic rewards and retribution holds that the design of your life is based on your karma. So even someone immensely talented might end up with nothing in life if he doesn’t have much virtue. Yet a person who seems incompetent may have a lot of virtue, and will thus enjoy a position of influence or have great wealth. People can’t ordinarily see all of this, and so they always think that they should get whatever position or role they’re fit for. As a result they spend their lives competing with others and end up hurt, believing that life is painful and tiring; they never know peace or contentment. These sorts of people are so anxious they miss meals and lose sleep over it, and feel distraught.” (“Jealousy,” Zhuan Falun)
Talking to a diligent practitioner helped me better understand introspection, and I finally realized again that the root of the argument between me and my father was out of my desire to respond to his misconceptions, and that was out of my desire to change him, and that was out of a desire for superiority over him, and that was out of a desire to compete, and that was out of a comparative or egalitarian mentality—and that came out of jealousy.
“While jealousy can play out fiercely among regular folk, it has always been quite prominent in the spiritual arena as well. Different groups often show little respect to one another, and seize upon one another’s faults. But often these combative people and their practices are only interested in health and are a mess, since they came about due to entity attachment; few of them see character as important.” (“Jealousy,” Zhuan Falun)
After that realization, there were only a few more tests, which I was able to pass successfully because I had finally learned and understood this Fa of Master’s. The environment at home calmed down after five years of struggle, and my father really showed his solid, dignified, kind, and flexible personality again. He no longer interrogates or interferes with me when I leave the house, and he does not interfere with my study, clarifying the truth, and communicating with practitioners. My mother even works with me and gives good suggestions for how to clarify the truth better. They are fully aware of the nature of the Chinese Communist Party and tell others about it.
I have many more experiences to share but will save these for future articles. Fellow practitioners, please point it out if there is anything in my understanding that is not in accordance with the Fa.
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Category: Journeys of Cultivation