(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part 1)
When I left China to attend graduate school I lost my familiar cultivation environment. Practitioners were spread out across the area I moved to and it took a long time to drive from one person’s home to another. Most of the time we studied the Fa and did the exercises on our own. When I ran into problems, I could no longer hide behind someone else—I had to figure it out myself.
I struggled with the overwhelming amount of school work and at times I honestly felt it was impossible. Due to the tremendous pressure, a classmate had a mental breakdown and dropped out of the program. I just kept pushing through while I continued to improve in my cultivation. I believe that Master knows us better than we do and he only arranges tests that he knows we can pass.
I also realized that there are no shortcuts to the hurdles and hardships in life. Only by resolving each one as they surface will they not accumulate. For example, when I was in China, I always did the bare minimum to pass exams but didn’t really learn the material. I thought I was being “smart” and got away without having to put in the work, but the karma I owed never disappeared and the problems that I needed to resolve were still there.
Now that I was in graduate school in a different country, I not only had to make up for what I didn’t learn in college, but I also had to do it in a foreign language. It was twice as difficult and required twice the effort. Studying abroad is not easy like students in China believe. Whichever environment you’re in, you have to face the difficulties specific to that environment. Everyone has his or her own responsibilities and his or her own path to walk.
So I kept my head down and plowed away. I no longer worried about whether I had enough time, instead, I focused on putting in solid work and tackling difficult problems and subjects one at a time. When a truth clarification project came up, however, I still prioritized Dafa projects first. There are very few practitioners in our area—if I didn’t do it, then no one else would. When I didn’t have enough time, I meditated instead of sleeping. When I got too tired to carry on, I recited Master’s Fa.
“...“working the body, tempering the will.”” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun 2014 Translation)
“Let joy be found in hardship.” (“Tempering the Will,” Hong Yin Translation Version A)
There was a time when I didn’t understand much of the lectures taught at school. When I went to sleep, I saw Master in my dreams, standing in front of a blackboard going over the material covered in the lectures. Master asked if I understood it and I said no. Immensely compassionate and patient, Master said, “It’s okay. I’ll explain it again.” Gradually, my grades kept improving. During the last year of the program, I consistently got near-perfect scores.
One exam was supposed to cover the material from two books. Because of the language barrier, I misunderstood the teacher and thought that I only had to study one of the books. Although I studied hard, I didn’t know the answers to half of the questions on the exam, not a clue. I thought, “Nothing happens by chance. This is just one of the hurdles to overcome, right?”
I settled down and worked on the questions I knew the answers to first, then I read the other questions. I read each question carefully, and as if chatting with a friend. I talked to them. Question, “What is the principle of ABC?” I quietly read the name “ABC” a few times while asking the question, “So what does ‘ABC’ mean? Can you introduce yourself to me please?”
After asking a couple of times, a vague idea popped into my head. I jotted down this idea, tried to expand based on it and figure out what ABC might mean. Using this strategy, I finished answering all the questions one by one.
After I got home, I immediately found the book I didn’t study and looked up the answers. I was surprised that pretty much all the answers I came up with were correct.
What I learned from this experience was that if you don’t study like you’re supposed to and depend solely on being a practitioner, you probably won’t experience such miracles. However, when we have limitations but have done everything that we possibly can, Master will help us. The most important thing is that we always try our best.
I was a few credits short by the end of my last year of graduate school. The school decided that I needed to take two more classes to complete the program. Although not being able to graduate on time was very disappointing, I quickly got over it and focused on getting rid of my human notions about this development.
Soon the local practitioners found out that Shen Yun was coming to our area for the first time. We needed to do our best to promote the show. One other practitioner and I were the only ones that had a relatively flexible schedule so I thought I was meant to be involved in Shen Yun promotion.
After speaking with the other practitioner, we decided that she would work on promoting Shen Yun to large groups and organizations and applying to participate in local events, etc. Her language skills were much better than mine and she had experience organizing large events. I, on the other hand, would go door to door and distribute Shen Yun promotional material in residential areas.
We got up early each morning to study the Fa and do the exercises. Then we went about our day tackling different tasks. I prepared maps of local areas the night before and headed out the next day carrying a big bag of promotional material to cover those areas. When I ran into people while distributing these fliers and booklets, I told them about Shen Yun.
My thought was simple—I just wanted everybody to know that, “Shen Yun is here.” Since I didn’t have a car, I covered almost every inch of that city on foot. Some nice neighborhoods are on hills and the houses are far apart from each other, so Master arranged for people to stand on the side of the road when I walked by. They called their neighbors to come out and listen to me talk about Shen Yun. When I got lost, there was always a kind person to point me in the right direction.
Carrying a heavy bag of fliers and walking all day is physically demanding. At first, my legs were so sore it felt like they were soaked in vinegar when I meditated in the morning. However, I knew if I didn’t take my own cultivation seriously, I wouldn’t be able to effectively save sentient beings—then everything I did would be a waste of time and resources. So I gritted my teeth and endured. One day I was so tired after distributing fliers that as I walked, my knees locked and I couldn’t bend my legs. That night I missed the last bus to my place and had to walk two hours to get back home.
I was at the brink of tears and all kinds of human notions cropped up, “Would I become disabled if I walked this much every day?”
I suddenly thought, Master knows what I am going through. Everything is under Master’s control and Master’s plan is the best. So, what am I worried about? Step by step, I eventually managed to get home. As soon as bad thoughts popped into my head, I recognized them as interference and eliminated them. After a few hours of sleep, I got up early, as usual, the next day for Fa study and exercise before heading out to distribute fliers again. My legs were soon back to normal.
In an experience sharing article, a practitioner said that she was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the femoral head, a degenerative condition that causes the upper ends of the thigh bones (femurs) to break down due to a disrupted blood supply and poor bone repair. According to an X-ray, she had this condition. However, this practitioner felt completely fine. She moved around like a normal person and didn’t feel any pain.
I became even more convinced on the Fa principle that matter and mind are the same. If one’s thinking is limited to this human dimension, it would be very hard to make breakthroughs while in the middle of big tribulations. Only when we have the guidance of the Fa and strong righteous thoughts, can we elevate to a higher plane and rise above and beyond the limitations and delusions of this human world.
The day before the Shen Yun performances started in our city, I went out to distribute fliers as usual. I ended up in a valley so beautiful that it seemed out of this world. After rounding a bend and passing a hill, a huge rainbow suddenly appeared in the sky. It was such an amazing sight, I felt it in my soul. I knew it was encouragement from Master.
The Shen Yun performances were a huge success in our city and every show was sold out. I knew Master had strengthened us in this process.
I visited another city to take care of some business and had the rest of the day off. So I joined a practitioner at a local attraction to clarify the truth to tourists. Multiple tour buses came and dropped off their passengers close to where we were. Some Chinese tourists were deceived by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) lies which slander Falun Dafa and were very hostile towards us.
Even though I had never met any of them before, some cursed me or even tried to hit me. I tried my best to smile at them but tears welled up in my eyes. I felt so wronged. I admired the calmness and compassion of those practitioners who clarify the truth at tourist attractions all year round. I reminded myself to stay calm.
As I watched a big group of tourists walk away without taking any of our fliers, I felt so sad for them. My compassion must have emerged. I knew this was a rare opportunity to clarify the truth to these Chinese tourists. I hurried after them and felt that I needed to wake them up. Just when I shifted my attention from my hurt feelings to truly helping others, I shouted out, “Please take a look at these facts. The Tiananmen Square self-immolation was a hoax!”
Amazingly, the entire group stopped walking and turned around. They started chatting with me and lined up to each get truth-clarification fliers. It was just like what Master said,
“When clarifying the truth, when validating the Fa, and when encountering challenges as you do things, adjust yourself and look at things with righteous thoughts. It might just prove to be effective.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2009 Washington DC International Fa Conference,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. IX)
After graduate school, I started my doctoral studies at a research institute. I was getting paid for doing the research so I no longer needed to work part-time jobs to cover my living expenses. I started to think about marriage again. I was almost 30 years old and still single. My attachment to having someone that I could depend on resurfaced.
After I had this thought, an old schoolmate suddenly contacted me. He was very attentive and seemed to care about me a great deal. Without me realizing it, my attachment to wanting everything to be taken care of by someone else came back. We went to school together and knew each other well which I thought was a big plus—I didn’t have to spend time getting to know him. If everything went well, we might even get married right after I got my degree. Maybe I could get a job at his company and that would save me the trouble of looking for jobs.
We started dating. Even though something didn’t feel quite right, I didn’t want to face it. I used “forbearance” as an excuse to not delve deeper into the problem because I was driven by the attachment to getting married soon. I tried to be nice to him but he became more and more unreasonable. Eventually, he blew up and demanded that I immediately stop my doctoral research and move to the city where he lived. He even said disrespectful things about my family.
I couldn’t just leave my research project unfinished and walk away. When I insisted that I needed to be responsible to my mentor and my project, he gave me an ultimatum and threatened to break up with me. When I agreed to break up, however, he backed down and became more reasonable and accommodating. So we were back together again, then off again, then on again, and back and forth.
Society has declined so much that he felt my sincerity was me being dumb and he belittled me. After feeling horrible to the point where I couldn’t eat or sleep, I calmed down and began to examine our relationship with a clear mind.
Was my goal of getting married merely a pursuit of the form of marriage? Of course not. As Dafa practitioners, we are establishing culture and lifestyle for future people. As for what makes a marriage, many ancient texts gave the definition—it is based on mutual love and respect, commitment and support. Marriage cannot be based on short-lived passion or self-interest.
A person lacking basic morals and upright conduct is not worth relying on for the rest of my life. If we didn’t have mutual commitment and trust even at the beginning and had to use tricks to make the other person compromise, then how could we face the challenges marriage brings in the long run?
I finally realized that this “perfect match” as it seemed on the surface was only another test and another opportunity for me to go even deeper to find the root of my attachment. All the heartaches that I experienced were probably karma that I had to pay back. As I became more and more rational in my thinking, the relationship ended.
As human society’s morals continue to rapidly decline, many things that we as practitioners know we shouldn’t do have become the norm for people around us. They even look at us and think that we’re old-fashioned. This makes it even harder for me to find a suitable marriage partner. Sometimes when my attachment and sentimentality surfaced, I’d think, “If I stick to these strict principles and miss a good match, then wouldn’t it be a shame?”
But when I thought about it with a clear head, I realized that most marriages are not perfect. These days, even the most perfect marriage only lasts a few years. Regardless, the couple would have to go through birth, old age, sickness, and death. If I missed my opportunity to cultivate in Dafa because of a few years of so-called happiness, then I would really regret it.
Modern women can make a living even if they don’t marry. So they don’t face as much pressure from society. I decided that maybe being single gave me a better cultivation environment to temper my xinxing—it’s a great opportunity for me to get rid of my dependency. It is a huge advantage that now I don’t have to worry about making enough money for the basics such as food or clothes, and still have plenty of time for my cultivation and truth clarification. As long as I let go of my attachments and let nature take its course, I’ll be good. Even if marriage is not in my fate, as a Dafa practitioner, the environment and situation I am in is where I need to establish a form of cultivation for the future.
Digging further, I found my attachment to fear of ending up old and alone. This again is my human notion that I needed to eliminate. Is it guaranteed that one will not be alone in a marriage? Not really. Such feelings are caused by our human notions, karma, and predestined relationships, and are not determined by marital status.
Many young practitioners prefer to find a fellow practitioner as their life partner. Practitioners and ordinary people do have a big difference in their thinking and personal conduct. We have more in common with other practitioners that is for sure. But still, we have to treat the cultivation of our minds and thoughts seriously.
Dating or marrying a fellow practitioner is not guaranteed to be easy, and it might even be more challenging. The attachments that you need getting rid of, the effort that you’re supposed to put into your relationship, the commitment you have to maintain, and the notion about marriage and family that needs rectifying, all require hard work. Only when you work through tribulations and make improvements little by little, can you have a good ending.
Some practitioners think that as long as their children study the Fa, they don’t have to spend time teaching and guiding them. In fact, this is also a reflection of wanting to take shortcuts in their parental responsibilities. In Dafa cultivation, we strive to improve ourselves regardless of whether we are parents or children. However, as parents in a family setting, you have the responsibility to educate children. You’ll need to put in the effort and cannot slack off even a little bit. To do a good job in our role in society and family, is to harmonize and establish the principles of this level.
I’ve come to understand through the Fa that when divine beings arrange something it is often not as simple as it seems on the surface. After having gone through many tribulations, I started to understand that although life is full of obstacles and setbacks, each person has his or her own unique set of hardships that he or she has to work through. But with Master looking after you, everything will eventually turn into a good thing. The most important thing is to be able to enlighten to the principles, cultivate solidly, and elevate oneself.
“Going through hardship and suffering is an outstanding opportunity to remove karma, be cleansed of sin, purify the body, elevate your plane of thought, and rise in level—it’s an extraordinarily good thing. This is a correct and upright Fa-truth.” (“The Closer to the End, the More Diligent You Should Be,” The Essentials of Diligent Progress III)
At the same time, as long as we truly let go of our attachments, what we lose will be compensated in another form.
Master also told us,
“So whether it is good things or bad things you run into, so long as you cultivate in Dafa, they are all positive, to be sure.” (Teachings at the 2005 Conference in San Francisco)
For example, it crushed me when I didn’t do well on my college entrance exam and ended up going to a below-average college. However, when I applied at an overseas research institute to do my doctoral research years later, it was precisely because I did my undergrad studies at a lesser-known college, that I passed the Defense Department’s security clearance. My mentor was amazed as many applicants who went to really prestigious universities in China were rejected by this institute.
Breaking up with my college boyfriend was devastating and caused me so much heartache. Two years after we broke up, he had an accident and passed away. He was only in his mid 20’s. Each person has his own fate. If I chose him over Dafa, even if we married as I wanted and had the happiest life together, it would have only lasted for two years. I likely would have become a single mother and would have had to raise our child alone. I would suffer more hardships.
It may seem that I lost a good prospect for marriage at the time, but the love and relationship we shared was only a temporary illusion. If something was not predestined to be mine, I wouldn’t be able to keep it even if I tried. Moreover, giving up a good job to be with him put me in a difficult financial situation which prompted me to leave China and pursue higher education abroad.
In fact, I had the opportunity for special admission to grad school during my senior year in college, but someone used underhanded means to bribe a key school administrator and replace me. I felt it was unfair at the time but later found out all students with special admission had to write a statement slandering Falun Dafa in order to pass the political review process. My being replaced in a way became a protection against this ridiculous protocol.
It took me an extra year to complete my graduate program. Although it seemed to be a major setback at the time and caused a lot of financial pressure, that year gave me the opportunity to participate in Shen Yun promotion and awaken sentient beings. That year also served as a buffer when it came to my personal relationship, so I didn’t hastily marry someone who was not a good fit for me. The extra time made the problems and hidden pitfalls of the relationship reveal themselves. What’s more, is that this extra year unexpectedly made me eligible to apply for citizenship in the country where I was going to school. Looking back, I can’t help but be amazed at how everything worked out so perfectly.
We live in a special era in history and came here with a mission. Only when we completely assimilate to the Fa, can we better harmonize our environment as a whole—this is better than speaking a thousand words. The entire universe is watching us and we’re the human race’s only hope. Our words and deeds are being observed and contemplated, and our existence is becoming a validation of the Fa.
I was introduced to Dafa by my family when I was a child. I didn’t go through a miraculous illness healing as many practitioners experience. My celestial eye is not open. I have not experienced supernatural abilities nor have I seen anything in other dimensions. Thus whenever my non-practitioner friends ask me why I believe in Dafa, my only explanation is that it is truly touching and rectifies my heart, it is reshaping my life.
As human beings, we are all lost in a maze. With the various traps and temptations around us, I have slacked off in my cultivation at times. But when I look back on my cultivation journey, I can easily see the physical and mental state I was in whenever I was not strict with myself and veered away from Dafa, compared to the state I was in when I had strong righteous thoughts and righteous actions. It was a cleansing process of my most microscopic particles. As long as we put in the effort and continuously get rid of bad things and assimilate to the Fa, Dafa is shaping our lives.
I hope I continue to cultivate myself well, so I can coordinate with other practitioners and save more people.