(Minghui.org) I started practicing Falun Dafa when I was a child more than 20 years ago. I feel extremely lucky and I am grateful for Master’s protection and guidance as I transitioned into a young adult. Although I’ve had setbacks and painful experiences in my life, the teachings of Falun Dafa helped me overcome them and find my path.
I would like to share my experience with young practitioners as well as their practitioner parents or grandparents. It is not always easy to guide and help young disciples in their cultivation. Many times, a young practitioner can be doing all the things that Dafa practitioners are supposed to do really well, but that does not mean he or she truly understands the Fa.
“What I want to tell you is that you are sizing yourself up with human thinking, rather than viewing things from the perspective of someone who is devoted to spiritual practice. And that is because there is a flaw in how you have developed yourself spiritually.” (“Wake Up”)
I believe each practitioner has his or her own way and timing when it comes to obtaining the Fa. Yet for those who took up the practice as children due to our families’ influence, we need to consider carefully, “Why do we want to continue practicing now that we’re independent young adults? Do we really appreciate the Fa or we are just going along with other practitioners because we don’t want to be left behind?”
Simply reading Zhuan Falun every day does not mean that you’re practicing or internalizing the teachings. Only when we are able to stay clear-headed and rational facing various tests and tribulations in life, can we walk the path that Master has arranged for us well.
Society has become quite chaotic and most people have lost sight of what’s true and what’s right in such a confusing environment. If as cultivators, we can’t center ourselves based on the Fa, we won’t be able to stay clear-headed and could easily be swayed by our own attachments and human notions.
“But, as long as you go by Dafa, go by what Master has told you, you will have a path to walk, and that will be something nobody can change. But the path will be very narrow—narrow to the extent that only if you are extremely righteous will things work out and will you manage to save people. Only if you can go about things in an extremely righteous manner will there be no problems.” (“What is a Dafa Disciple,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XI)
While reading Master’s recent lectures, I’ve noticed the emphasis on the requirement of “xinxing cultivation.”
“If you don’t cultivate yourselves well you won’t have mighty virtue, what you say will not be in line with the Fa, and then you can’t possibly save sentient beings. When what you say has no mighty virtue and no power, it will have no effect, and the evil will capitalize on that. What’s more, if you don’t cultivate yourselves well and your righteous thoughts are lacking, when you handle certain things you will tend to slip into human ways of thinking, …” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2005 Manhattan International Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. V)
I am part of a Dafa project which requires me to watch ordinary people’s media to learn how they analyze current affairs. I sometimes notice people express their disapproval of Dafa and in response, practitioners sometimes leave comments and get into debates with them.
When I thought about this, I realized that what truly stops ordinary people from learning and accepting the truth about Dafa could very well be that the practitioners they know are not all that different from ordinary people. These practitioners don’t cultivate diligently, are not guided by the Fa’s principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in everything they do—thus they don’t improve their xinxing. We may not realize it, but ordinary people are observing us—our words and our deeds. If we have not cultivated well, we won’t be able to touch people’s hearts.
Sometimes when I read sharing papers I can sense practitioners’ attachment to “receiving blessings.” They think that Master looks after practitioners and their families, so their children will for sure be accepted into a good college or find a good job.
However, Master has told us,
“But for a cultivator, I’ll tell you that suffering some isn’t bad, since the principles of the universe are turned upside down at this place of humans; the principles of this dimension of humankind are inverted.” (Teachings at the Conference in Houston)
“In fact, cultivation is about coming here to suffer, not coming here to be protected in the human world. When one studies Dafa he will be protected, but cultivating Dafa also requires one to endure suffering.” (Teachings at the 2005 Conference in San Francisco)
Besides serious interference that prevents us from doing the three things well, we have to change our mentality and rise above our attachment to fame, self-interest, and sentimentality to see the true “blessings” in life.
Master placed us in different professions and different social classes so we can connect with the people that we have predestined relationships with and establish our unique cultivation environment. Many times, whether something happens or not depends on whether it is meant to be. Many things have long-lasting effects on our lives that run much deeper than what we can perceive. However, the most important thing is that we are able to elevate our xinxing in the process.
I would like to use my own experience to illustrate these points.
Reading the Fa without Understanding the Fa
I was in elementary school when my mother started practicing Falun Dafa. She asked me to read the Fa with her so I read the book every day. However, besides the simple principles of not striking back when hit and not swearing when cursed, working hard, being kind to others and improving myself morally, I didn’t understand many higher Fa principles. All I knew was that Zhuan Falun teaches people to be good and that the propaganda TV programs were full of lies.
Soon after my mom and I began practicing, the persecution started. Practitioners countered the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s smear campaign by telling people the truth about Dafa and exposing the regime’s lies, despite the extreme danger. Although I was scared, I still did what I could to spread the truth about Dafa because I knew what I was upholding was right and that is what I should do.
I was an obedient and mature child. I performed well academically and was a diligent little disciple. I often dreamed I was taking an exam but I didn’t understand and couldn’t answer any of the questions. When I was misunderstood or wronged by others, I knew I needed to endure but I became like a “vat filled to the brim.” I felt my frustration and resentment could spill over any time. I didn’t know how to fundamentally expand my capacity.
My understanding of the Fa was skin-deep and my human notions dominated. I comprehended Dafa only in ways that “benefited” myself. For example, Master tells us in Zhuan Falun that a person’s life is predestined so this became my excuse to be lazy. I didn’t feel that I needed to study hard as my success in school was already predetermined.
I seemed to do fine on exams with a little bit of last minute cramming. I relied solely on my being a practitioner and didn’t put in the effort to really learn the material. When I ran into difficult tasks or situations, I always wished to skip directly to the end—I wanted to avoid the process and the hardship. I became very dependent and always hoped that others would take care of everything for me.
Although I always got good grades and did the three things well, I never actually assimilated to the Fa.
“Everyone knows that our school of cultivation does not shun ordinary human society in cultivation, and neither does it avoid or run away from conflicts.” (Lecture Eight, Zhuan Falun 2014 Translation)
Everything went as planned until my last year in high school, when I did horribly on the college entrance exam. I scored so low that I was only accepted by a college that ranked much lower than my expectation. It completely crushed me.
A Breakup Brought Me Back to the Fa
Even thought I never cared much about fame and money, I longed for a loving relationship and marriage. Hidden behind this strong desire was my attachment to a “happy life” and my hope to find a man that would shield me from the many tribulations and hardships in life. Of course, I didn’t realize this until much later.
After I met my boyfriend in college, I lost all my drive to achieve. I enjoyed having him make all the decisions for me which saved me the hassle of thinking for myself. Besides laziness, that was also my fear—I didn’t want to face any of the hardships and obstacles life entails. I hid behind my boyfriend and shirked responsibilities.
In order to stay with him, I gave up a great career opportunity that would have taken me to another city after graduation. However, just as we carefully approached the subject of marriage before graduation, he told me I had to choose between Dafa and him. He told me I could never bring up Dafa in front of his family nor give out truth clarification fliers ever again. He explained that his family was persecuted during the CCP’s Cultural Revolution and he was determined not to bring that kind of danger and humiliation upon his family again.
I was raised with traditional values and ever since we started dating, I believed that he was the one I would marry. He was going to be the only man I ever dated, married and spent the rest of my life with. My future revolved around him. Now given the choice of either Dafa or him, I felt as if my world was falling apart.
The truth is, I just couldn’t bring myself to say that I would leave Dafa, I just couldn’t do it. Although I wasn’t very diligent in my cultivation, just the thought of walking away from Dafa caused a horrible feeling, as if my life was pealing away from me. I remained silent, so he turned around and left.
The following weeks were very dark as I sunk into depression. My heart was broken into a thousand pieces and the excruciating pain seemed permanent. I was an empty shell merely going through the motions in life. Strange voices kept popping into my head, telling me to end my life. Luckily, whenever such thoughts popped up, Master’s Fa regarding killing came to mind,
“For practitioners, we have set the strict requirement that they cannot kill lives.” (Lecture Seven, Zhuan Falun 2014 Translation)
This passage gleamed like gold in the dark. Master’s words protected me like a guardian angel.
My mother knew what I was going through but didn’t know how to help. One night, she handed me Zhuan Falun and said, “Maybe Dafa can help mend your heart. One thing after another, isn’t life like a dream a lot of times? Now that you’re awake, it’s your opportunity to start anew. How could you stay down and never get up?”
I had always avoided pain and discomfort, so I had never sat through the one-hour meditation exercise. When I sat with my legs double crossed that night, I suddenly realized the awful pain in my legs was removing the pain I felt in my heart. With my legs double crossed, I held Zhuan Falun with both hands and read carefully, one character at a time. The intense pain repressed my human notions and all I could think of was focusing on each character of the Fa.
After who knows how long, I felt the word “cultivation” jump out and enter my head, radiating with layers after layers of shimmering gold, like a blossoming flower. It was just like Master said,
“The fact is, that was something hidden deep in your heart, like an electrical plug. The minute it’s connected, you get galvanized.” (Teachings at the Conference in Canada)
Twelve years after I first picked up the book Zhuan Falun, I finally understood the meaning of cultivation.
“Since cultivation is something that you must do proactively, out of your own will, when you are tempted by profit and gain, or when you suffer the wrenching pain in connection to your reputation and emotions, you must really be able to readily let go of those things, and only then will things work out for you.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the 2010 New York Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XI)
After this painful experience and tribulation, I came to understand what Dafa disciples are and what Dafa cultivation is really about. The pain that I endured suddenly became a good thing. I also gained insights on many things that I only vaguely understood before, like where humans are from, why we are here, and what determines things that happen in this lifetime. To call that moment life-changing is not an understatement—my entire outlook on life was elevated to a new height.
A Door of Opportunity Opens
After going through the painful breakup, I began to truly understand what cultivation is about. However, other things in my life seemed to be in complete disarray. Since I didn’t go to a “good” college and my major was unpopular among potential employers, finding a job was challenging. I missed a great opportunity for my ex-boyfriend. I ended up in a low-paying job which put me in a very tight financial situation.
Although my position was considered potentially lucrative, I held myself to the standards of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. I was strict with myself and did not do anything that exploited my position for my own benefit. I worked very hard and put in a lot of hours but was paid the basic salary which was barely enough to pay my rent and other expenses. Many co-workers and friends laughed at me and called me stupid. My relatives accused me of being “misled” by Dafa. They chalked up my failure to get into a good college, not knowing how to bribe and use connections, and working countless hours but not getting compensated all to my being “dense.” They laughed at Falun Dafa’s principles that I held myself to.
Studying the Fa diligently helped me stay clear-headed during that time. I didn’t care about the many setbacks and I didn’t let people’s mean remarks get to me. I asked Master in my heart, “What should I do to validate the Fa? What should I do to let others see that the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance that I held dear was the most valuable thing in life?”
Perhaps because I put others first, things soon took an unexpected turn. A friend of mine from college, whom I had not been in recent contact with, sent me an application for a graduate program at a college outside China. She encouraged me to give it a try.
I didn’t think I was in the position to apply for studying abroad at the time. I couldn’t afford the expensive tuition, or the room and board. I didn’t graduate from a good college and my GPA wasn’t good, especially my upper level courses. My language skills were not good. I simply could not compete with those who had been applying and preparing to study abroad since I graduated a few years back.
However, I decided to give it a try since the opportunity was there. I had nothing to lose—even if it completely failed, I could just go back to the life I was living.
I worked full time while I gathered and prepared the paperwork to apply for the graduate program. I filled out the forms with true information and ignored others’ “suggestions” to change my grades to make them “look better.” In the process I continuously worked on getting rid of my attachments and things went surprisingly well. Soon, I was accepted by that university into their graduate program and the tuition was not as high as I had expected. It was a miracle that everything just worked out.
When my friends and family learned that I was going to study abroad, their attitude took an 180 degree turn. They were suddenly willing to listen when I told them about Dafa.
(to be continued)
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