(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master and fellow practitioners:
When I first began to practice Falun Dafa, several veteran practitioners kept telling me over and over again that they were very diligent at first but then slacked off increasingly as time went by. I now understand why Master Li arranged for me to hear these stories at that time—to always remind me to cultivate as diligently as I did in the beginning.
As time goes by, I have noticed myself slacking off in cultivation. I used to be very strict with myself. Whenever I discovered an attachment, I took it very seriously. As time went by, I thought I could get rid of it at a later time.
For a while, I was going in circles and did not make any breakthroughs to higher levels. All of a sudden I noticed that I was longing for a break—a break from cultivation. I looked enviously at my family and friends as they treated themselves to vacations, sent me weekly photos of delicious food and all-you-can-eat buffets, or told me about their new homes. I had long since renounced all these things and no longer found any pleasure in them. Why was I longing for such things now?
I realized that it was the attachments to sleep and comfort that were keeping me awake and preventing me from cultivating diligently. It is a test that I have not yet passed. Later, I realized that it was a fundamental issue regarding what the above remark was supposed to reveal to me. I would like to share this process.
Higher Principles Apply to Cultivators
I used to sleep a lot before I stepped on the Dafa cultivation path. I could easily sleep 11-12 hours a day. Whether lying down or sitting up, at home, on the train, or in the car, I was always tired. Not only me, I also observed this behavior in my family members. We were always ready for a nap—especially after a heavy meal.
When I started cultivating, I wanted to break this habit. After all, eight hours of sleep should be enough—that was what I expected of myself at that time. It was normal and natural, I didn’t have to force myself, and I was still filled with energy. But, the standard is raised with each level.
Later, I took part in different projects to validate Dafa, and, all of a sudden, time kept running out. So what to do if I wanted to get everything completed in one day? I slept less: first, it was seven, then six, and later less than five hours. It was a very painful process for me. Master’s Fa explanations helped me see my problem from the point of view of a cultivator:
“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.” (Teachings at the Conference of Changchun Assistants)
The suffering I felt seemed rather extensive. The difficult thing was that I believed I could end this suffering immediately if I lay down for a moment or continued to sleep. “Just for 10 minutes,” I heard in my head. However, Master arranged for me to have some experiences that helped me understand that higher-level principles apply to cultivators.
One night I felt stressed out because I couldn’t fall asleep. The next morning I had to go to work early, and a particularly strenuous workday awaited me. After tossing and turning in bed for hours, I decided to get up and meditate. Only then could I fall asleep. The next day—even though I’d only slept for three hours—I was filled with energy and was able to deal calmly with many different conflicts. I was surprised that there was no sign of tiredness.
Another time, I couldn’t stop myself and went back to sleep after sending forth righteous thoughts in the morning. My excuse: “I’ll be able to concentrate better when I study the Fa” Of course, I wasn’t able to. On the contrary, I felt drowsy all day and my whole body ached. I understood that, for us practitioners, the principles are the opposite of those for ordinary people.
Whenever I slept longer than I should, I would have dark dreams, all very similar at their core. Then I woke up and knew I should get up. After many such experiences, my thoughts gradually changed. When I felt tired, I no longer automatically thought about sleeping. I realized that there were substances preventing me from cultivating, and I needed to break through them.
As time went by, getting up early was no longer a chore and got easier and easier. I used to set my alarm to go off every eight minutes for an hour, and I still had a hard time getting out of bed. Now, I got up after the first ring, ignoring the tiredness that felt like a heavy burden on my body. But the tests got harder.
Cultivation Does Not Wait
I work full-time for a practitioner-operated media company. I shared my workspace with a practitioner at that time. When Shen Yun returned to Europe after the long COVID hiatus, I was delighted that Master had given me this wonderful gift. My colleague and I both had the desire to help with Shen Yun promotion, so we took turns during working hours. When one of us helped with Shen Yun, it meant very long days of work for the other. Shen Yun gave me a lot of strength during that time. Everything should be no problem, such as little sleep, often 11 to 12 hours of concentrated work on the computer, and no weekends. Experience showed me that everything was doable.
But what ultimately led to a problem were my human expectations. Whenever I thought I had reached the limit of what I could handle, additional conflicts with fellow practitioners arose. In my heart, I began to complain about my work situation. After a while, the bad thoughts turned into bad actions. When criticism or conflicts arose, I always saw myself as the victim. The others would have to show me leniency, because I gave up and gave away so much. Given my complaints, I further fueled many conflicts among the team members.
And, when I noticed that fellow practitioners did not make good use of their time, I became inwardly unbalanced. Although I didn’t say anything, I silently wondered how this person could just rest while I was faced with so much work. My heart constricted, envy and the feeling of being treated unfairly intensified.
Ending of the Shen Yun Season
When the Shen Yun season ended, I thought, “Well, now I can take a break and travel, if necessary alone, as long as I can get away.” But, things turned out just the opposite. The media company was restructured. I got a new assignment, and the transition phase was very challenging—for all employees. Instead of the break I had hoped for, I had to work even longer, often seven days a week. I gave up and accepted the new requirements.
I longed more and more for an ordinary life, for a break from cultivation. I wanted to sleep longer and live a more comfortable life. I gave myself over to the human thoughts that enveloped me like a veil, and I no longer had the strength to fight them. I remained like this for a few months, gradually moving away from the strict requirements of cultivation. However, despite my attitude and understanding, I did not give up Fa study or the exercises.View Fa-Validation Projects with Dignity
One day I overslept the morning online Fa-study. After a long struggle with myself, I caught up on the sub-chapters in Zhuan Falun that night. Here I had an experience that happened many times when I first began to cultivate. When I studied the Fa, it felt like Master was speaking to me. Each sentence touched my core, and I felt warm energy flowing through my body.
Master’s Fa Touched Me Deeply
“People in the past were very virtuous and had noble character, and persevering through even just minor ordeals could result in their gaining higher energy. But people aren’t like that today. They tend to lose their enthusiasm for spiritual practice as soon as the going gets tough, and then they have only less belief in it, which makes things even harder.” (The Fourth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
I felt something heavy leave me during the Fa study. I had a similar experience a few days later when doing the exercises in the park. I could observe how, gradually, sincere thoughts arose in my mind and displaced the negative thoughts.
My complaints suddenly seemed absurd to me. This situation helped me become aware once again that thoughts and feelings are nothing. Sometimes they show up one way, sometimes another. So why hold onto them? I was put in a state where I was physically and mentally strained. It was looked at whether I could still firmly resolve to cultivate in such a state. I was confronted with the question of whether I was really worthy of the title “Dafa disciple.”
It also became clear to me how important Fa learning and practice are. When the to-do list is very long, studying the Fa and doing the exercises often come up short. Now I was reminded once again that when I have a lot to do, I should take more time to learn the Fa.
Once when I complained about not having enough time, an acquaintance said to me, “You don’t have time, you take time.” If I cut my Fa study short, I have set a wrong priority and have not taken the time for it. All other explanations are lazy excuses.
Master said: “No matter how busy you may get, you still must study the Fa.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa,” Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XI )
I regret now that I have only endured the difficulties and not taken the suffering as joy. Also, I did not regard the Fa-validation work with dignity. Not every living being can arbitrarily participate in a Dafa practitioners’ project. The deities do choose. It is a great honor. I am very grateful that I have been able to grow a little bit in my cultivation through this test.
Thank you, esteemed Master, for every arrangement I had to face.
Also, thank you to all fellow practitioners for establishing a shared cultivation environment.
(Presented at the 2022 Switzerland Fa Conference)
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