(Minghui.org) Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners! 

Nearly my entire cultivation journey has been with the media. I wrote my first article in January 2005, soon after the English language Epoch Times was launched. I was a pretty new practitioner so I didn’t understand what The Epoch Times was. I remember wondering if I could write something professional enough to be published. Little did I know that I was already one of the most qualified contributors we had.

My life prior to cultivation was all arranged by Master [Master Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa] for this work. I have a Master’s degree in political science; I’d always been an avid reader and writer; I consumed news my whole life, and in previous jobs I was trained to train others.

By early 2009, my husband and I moved to New York and I became the paper’s first World News Editor.

In the early days, we went from knowing a little bit… to knowing how little we knew… to trying to figure out how to learn what we didn’t know. We were a loosely organized group of part-time volunteers trying to build the foundations of a media empire. I had faith in Master and the Fa that we were destined to become a major media and play a significant role in saving sentient beings, but truly I had no idea of how we’d ever get there.

There was certainly a lot of tempering along the way! I’ll share one episode from a few years ago because it changed my mindset in working for the media and I believe it was a pivotal time for the English Epoch Times.

Learning What It Means to Be One Body—The Hard Way

In 2016, the English Epoch Times was losing a lot of money. Once again, we had to scale back from publishing daily to publishing weekly to save money.

Many of the veteran Westerners were sure our problems were due to forces beyond our control: It was hard to get advertisers because The Epoch Times was seen as a an ethnic Chinese paper; it didn’t help that most sales people were Chinese; we imagined the name was hard to pronounce and hard to remember (“eee-pock,” “e-pick,” “eee-potch”); if you typed “epochtimes.com” it took you to a Chinese website. We were constantly changing editorial direction to chase ways to generate money, which was frustrating because we felt we weren’t doing anything long enough to get good at it. We blamed the Chinese management style and we felt that our CEO, with all his other responsibilities, didn’t take enough time to understand us.

Then, in the spring of 2016 came an opportunity for the English language Epoch Times to break away and operate independently. It seemed like a dream come true. We were sure we could do better on our own.

I was one of three people who ended up in charge of daily operations under a somewhat hands-off Western businessman CEO.

The business strategy was to make a very high-quality paper, send samples to targeted people, and surely enough people would subscribe to sell ads and make money.

The approach had merit—some elements are part of today’s successful formula—but something was obviously wrong.

It was our starting point: it was born out of negative thinking about fellow cultivators; looking outside, not inside, for the source of our problems; giving up on cooperation; not thinking about whether our actions hurt others; pride—and many, many other things. This experiment lasted 10 months. In the end we were no further ahead.

During this time, we almost changed the name of the paper, believing it would solve many of the problems I mentioned earlier. We were looking at it entirely with human thinking. I believe that in another dimension it would have ruptured an important, perhaps a cosmic, bond. I won’t go into the whole story of how we came back together, but that was the impetus. With some strong hints, we enlightened to the fact that our true path is to be one body under the main coordinator.

Coming back wasn’t easy. I had to let go of pride and accept that we had failed. I spent a lot of time looking inside. I came to understand that surface changes amount to nothing—situations only improve when we upgrade in our cultivation. I vowed to let go of all negative thinking and cooperate unconditionally. I would not resist the new situation, not hold onto any resentment, and would work wholeheartedly at whatever I was tasked with. I realized that the key to our power is cooperation.

As Master said,

“If you can find a way to cooperate well, to be of one mind, and apply all your strength together in one direction, then, with the abilities you have, you will really be an unstoppable force. So what I’m wondering is, do we have to wait until you’ve cultivated better before you get close to that and increase your [collective] strength? (Laughing) Only if you can manage to do this while things are the most difficult will your situation change fast and will you do a good job with what you are supposed to do.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. X)

Perhaps enough of us upgraded through this experience because things did change rapidly after this! It was shortly after the inauguration of the 45th president, and as the cosmic climate shifted in America, a wide path opened before us. The English media has been on a path of steady success since then.

I could also see that I was very stuck in selfish thinking, considering only the problems in my small corner of the whole company. When I made the decision to wholeheartedly cooperate, I could suddenly appreciate the burden the main coordinator carries: dealing with staff interpersonal conflicts, everyone having complaints, each new financial crisis, and constant attacks in this dimension and others.

I often think that our media is similar to the Shen Yun Orchestra. For the first time ever, Eastern and Western instruments and styles were combined, harmoniously creating music that’s never existed before. Our media too must create something that never existed before, by harmonizing our Western and Chinese sides.

Today, we are performing as an orchestra. So many top managers and staff for the English language media are from the Chinese side. They brought with them deep experience through years of tempering, and a sincere heart for cooperation to see the English language media succeed. Just looking at marketing, customer service, our websites, social media, writers, TV producers, video editors, etc. ... it’s clear that the English media absolutely could not function without our Chinese talent.

One last word on eliminating negative thoughts about fellow cultivators. Through this experience I realized that there’s no way our main coordinator can lead us well if staff members hold on to negative thoughts about him. Imagine hundreds of people tossing black sticky substance at him in other dimensions—how much harder are we making it for him? My understanding is that he does not have all the knowledge himself, but if we support him with our powerful righteous thoughts, he will receive exactly the wisdom he needs. Master put him in that position. My job is to follow Masters’ arrangements, not to create obstacles.

Jealousy and Its Close Friend, the Showoff Mentality

One attachment I struggle with a lot is jealousy. Another is showing off. I’ve recently understood that these two are very close friends.

I remember about 10 years ago, a practitioner offhandedly said something like: “What’s it like to be married to such a capable practitioner that everyone admires?” I was a bit crushed. “So that’s how people see us? My husband’s great and I’m not doing anything worthy of recognition?” I answered dismissively, saying that I’d never thought about it like that. But it stuck with me ... obviously. It evoked my jealousy, and shook my confidence.

Of course I know from Zhuan Falun, that jealousy is a very serious attachment:

“The issue of jealousy is very serious as it directly involves the matter of whether you can complete cultivation practice. If jealousy is not abolished, everything that you have cultivated will become fragile. There is this rule: If in the course of cultivation practice jealousy is not given up, one will not attain Right Fruit—absolutely not. ” (Lecture Seven, Zhuan Falun)

So I’m aware of catching myself when I start thinking this way—and it crops up in many different situations—but there are many layers to this stinky onion.

One thing that helps is remembering that jealousy is like wishing I had someone else’s arrangement, which is basically not trusting what Master arranged for me. I also find it helpful to remember that when it comes to fellow cultivators, it’s silly to be jealous since we’re all one body. It would be odd if my finger was jealous of my knee. And worse if my finger’s jealousy gave the old forces an excuse to make my knees weak and unable to carry my body.

I recently noticed another layer to this ugly attachment, and how dangerous it can be! I run a journalism training program. Since the fall of 2018, about 50 people have gone through the formal program and over 100 more have done elements of the online version.

In between sessions, I traveled to different places to work on staff recruitment—I went to Europe, Australia, Canada, and cities in the U.S. As part of my presentation, I showcased one grad as a shining success story. I described how he had been a new practitioner, and that shortly after moving to New York he was asked to join the training. He did very well, and in a short time after graduating he was already doing very professional on-the-ground reporting. I showed a video of him talking about how proud his family was. His story was incredibly inspiring to potential recruits!

But while I was sharing all this, I always had a feeling that I shouldn’t be; that singling out a practitioner and putting him on a pedestal would make him a target for the old forces. Soon after, this practitioner left the media and really struggled in his cultivation. I feel extremely responsible! I hadn’t thought of others first; I didn’t cultivate my speech, and I was showing off, showing the world what a great job I did training such a successful new journalist. It also made me realize how interwoven all of our paths are—none of us exist in isolation. Our actions definitely impact others.

Breaking Through the Fear-Self-Doubt Cycle

My greatest attachment—the one that lies under all others—is fear. Jealousy and showing off are really the fear of not being good enough or being seen as good enough. Tied to all of that are also big fears of losing face; of making big, damage-causing mistakes, and then people knowing about these mistakes. As a result, I try to run away from taking on very public roles. I tell myself I’m much better at supporting and training others—which has truth to it—but it’s also a convenient excuse to not face my attachments. The old forces contrived to feed this fear in a very convincing way: mainly, a large pile of evidence that tells me I’m not a worthy cultivator.

Since the start of my cultivation, I’ve struggled to meet the standard with basic, entry-level things: My mind is that constantly churning sea; I can’t calm down and focus when doing the most important things—I close my eyes and before I know it, elaborate random scenes are playing out in my mind. I feel sleepy when reading the teachings, sending forth righteous thoughts, or when I meditate. Every time I read a passage from the Fa about how bad this is, about what a basic requirement it is, or any time a fellow practitioner notices I’m sleepy and helpfully points it out, it only confirms how far I fall short, and instantly zaps me of all confidence. It makes me want to crawl in a deep hole and hide. This causes me by far the most anguish and suffering in my cultivation. I know the old forces are happy to see me react this way, but the evidence is so convincing that their argument is hard to reject.

All of these results in a fear that if I take on something important, my shortcomings will cause losses, that thing won’t get done well, and I’ll be publicly shamed.

It’s hard to share about this, since I haven’t broken through it. In my notes I found many helpful passages from the Fa that I previously saved, enlightenments I’ve had about it, encouraging thoughts from fellow practitioners, but the truth is it’s still with me very strongly. I’ve also been very reluctant to expose it fully—out of fear people will judge me—so I decided I should at least break through this one fear. Sometimes I think I haven’t suffered a lot in my cultivation, so maybe this is my big tribulation.

Recently, I read a passage that stood out about willpower. 

Master said, 

“You fall asleep while studying the Fa, you fall asleep while reading the book, you also fall asleep while doing the exercises. You haven’t even broken through the beginning stage yet. It’s about willpower! As you know, during your cultivation, not only will all elements that constitute your humanness try to stop you from breaking away from being a human, but also everything that constitutes the human environment won’t let you leave. You have to break through everything and overcome all kinds of ordeals. The biggest manifestation is the suffering they create for you. Suffering comes in different forms, and sleepiness is one of them. Those people who aren’t able to cultivate or who aren’t diligent don’t realize that this is a form of hardship. You are unable to attain the Fa—it doesn’t let you study the Fa—and yet you aren’t even aware that it’s an ordeal. Unless your heart isn’t with the Fa or you don’t want to cultivate, why not overcome it? Strengthen your willpower. If a person could become a Buddha simply by overcoming sleepiness, I’d say it would be too easy. How will you cultivate yourself if you can’t even pass a small hurdle like this one?” (Teachings at the Conference of Changchun Assistants)

Willpower means having a powerful will, a strong main consciousness. The dictionary describes willpower as: “strong determination that allows one to do something difficult.” Clearly I must strengthen my will and not let the old forces so easily discourage me.

Remembering That Everything Is for Our Cultivation

Here’s the paradox. While I spend a lot of time not feeling qualified to be a practitioner, I also feel far from being human. In particular, I have learned that most difficulties can become very trivial if I remember that everything we encounter is for our cultivation, nothing is a coincidence.

A final story illustrates an initial blow, but was extremely helpful in exposing those persistent attachments.

Soon after English NTD started creating daily news programs, I became an anchor. At first our shows were pre-taped, so if we made mistakes, no worries, we just tried again. Soon though, we transitioned to live broadcasts. One day, I made a huge mistake. I was powdering my nose when the camera came back to me after a segment. I was mortified. How many people saw it? Who might be watching?! What would they think?!

The very next day, I was told I was no longer needed to anchor. I knew we’d been training someone, but nobody said who’d be replaced. I was moved by emotion. I felt crushed, like I’d been fired. Since I wasn’t told why, I filled in the gaps with my own explanations: It’s because of the nose-powdering; someone complained; because I’m not good enough; or maybe it’s to give me more time for my teaching; or maybe...

The reason, however, is irrelevant because I remembered to take it as cultivation. In one conversation I could see so many attachments move me: self-doubt, jealousy, fear, loss of face, and showing off.

But it was also an arrangement in other ways. Those months of anchoring allowed me to gain critical skills I was missing. I teach broadcast journalism (with help from outside professionals), yet I didn’t personally have the experience speaking on camera, reading from a teleprompter, or know what it’s like to be live. I also learned how to wear makeup, do my hair (kind of), and get decent clothes. For a long time I’d wanted to learn these things, but “didn’t have time” and gave in to attachments of laziness and wanting to stay unnoticed, etc.

A few months later, I needed all of this when I started hosting a show with very little time to prepare.

Miracles Happen When We Stay the Course

Looking back over these past 16 years, it feels truly miraculous how far we’ve come. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined being paid, let alone that a million people would be paying to read The Epoch Times and watch our videos.

For English NTD, the progress has been even more rapid. When I first moved to NTD about 2.5 years ago, we were preparing our first anchored news—15 minutes per day for social media. Today, English NTD broadcasts about 30 hours per week of original content, on a 24-hour station to tens of millions of households across 30 states, and on a major carrier in the UK, with more expansion to come.

For me, it’s such a powerful validation of the Fa and it shows that there’s literally no limit to what we can accomplish when we let go of self, cooperate as one body, and put cultivation first.

Of course there will be tests, it’s all about how we treat them. And if you’re full-time, working day-in and day-out with practitioners, this is precisely where our tests will happen.

Master said,

“Accordingly, in your future cultivation practice you will run into all kinds of tribulations. How can you practice cultivation without these hardships? If everyone is good to one another without conflicts of interests or interference from the human mind, how can your xinxing make progress by your only sitting there? That is impossible. One must truly temper and upgrade oneself through actual practice.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)

As I’ve tackled my own attachments to jealousy and showing off, I feel those elements have also been reduced. In the past, there was a lot of competition and jealousy between The Epoch Times and NTD (at least on the English side). If someone moved from one media to the other, it felt like a loss and a betrayal. Today, we work hand-in-glove, supplementing whatever is needed without any hesitation, making both media stronger.

Certainly seeing these miracles has helped me increase my faith in Dafa and overcome some amount of the self-doubt. None of us are here by accident and I feel so deeply grateful and privileged to be part of the media.

In the past, when our CEO set some impossible-sounding goal, I would nod politely, but really be thinking: “That sounds nice. Now what can we really hit?” But today, I hear those numbers and think, “Great, so that’s the next step.” Truly, nothing feels impossible.

If we truly cultivate well then as Master said, “The doors before you that were once shut will open and the road will become wide.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the Epoch Times Meeting,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. X)

I’ve often been asked how I’ve been able to stay here so long, did I think of quitting, especially during the toughest times. To me the answer is simple: Master has told us the role the media needs to play in Fa-rectification, and that’s not going to happen on its own. Tribulations are inevitable. If giving up is the answer when troubles wash over us, then of course the ship will sink, and along with it, all those sentient beings we’re supposed to save—and I’m not going to let that happen. So, I know I have to stay the course.

Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners! 

(2021 International Online Fa Conference)

Chinese version available

Category: Experience Sharing Conferences