(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
In the autumn of 2021, we heard the wonderful long-awaited news from the United States: Shen Yun would return to Europe in 2022! The moment I saw the email, every cell in my body was filled with joy. Life instantly switched back to “Shen Yun work mode.” My cultivation also entered a new phase.
I would like to share with you my cultivation experiences of how, guided by Dafa, I broke through tribulations during the process of preparing for Shen Yun to come to my country.
By March 2020, COVID had spread around the world. Due to the pandemic lockdowns in many countries, the European leg of Shen Yun’s tour was canceled. When we restarted preparations for the Shen Yun tour in the autumn of 2021, many things were different: documentation and transportation costs continued to rise; many partner companies and theaters were still not open across the board, and most of their employees were working from home. Because of the general decline in business as a whole, many employees only worked for a few hours a day, which meant that, whether we were dealing with theaters or advertising agencies, it was often impossible to locate people. It often took days to get a response when you asked a question.
Among those who were hard to locate was an advertising company salesperson, “A.” She was mild-mannered and soft-spoken and never in a hurry, but she was the one who gave me the most headaches. A’s advertising company occupied half of the German outdoor advertising market. It was impossible not to deal with this company to do outdoor advertising.
Beginning in 2017 when I started contacting this advertising company, I experienced many unbelievable things. I originally thought an advertising company would answer a customer’s call and eagerly respond to inquiries. But, in reality, just contacting an advertising agency that had a monopoly was not easy.
When I contacted this company the first year, I made numerous calls and sent many emails, but no one responded. When I finally did get an email response, I had already missed the advertising period for that year. The next year, we managed to meet the company’s sales executive and two salespersons, one of whom was salesperson A, who seemed to be very understanding. After we clarified the truth, we negotiated the price and started to cooperate. We invited her and her family to Shen Yun.
However, the road to cooperation was not smooth sailing and wasn’t without obstacles. Nine times out of ten, I wasn’t able to get through to A’s mobile phone. The company’s landline was always connected to the automatic answering machine. When I sent her emails I was never sure when she would reply. Sometimes I waited for days.
A was an experienced salesperson with a long-established track record; she also had a lot of annual leave. Being a family-orientated mother, she always took bank holidays and frequently took days off during school holidays.
The advertising company A worked for was a large corporation with a complicated structure. To do one thing required following many procedures. A bottleneck in one link delayed everything. Therefore, our cooperation with this company was full of variables. We planned to advertise during a certain period, but as a result of the complications, we would miss the best advertising period because a certain link failed to keep up. After working together for a few years, every time I contacted them I felt a little apprehensive. It was like I was playing drums in an orchestra. Every time a few notes were missed. Some practitioners on our team even thought A was deliberately making trouble, and they expressed their concerns whenever this company was mentioned.
In 2022, we arranged a total of 48 performances in nine theaters in eight cities in Germany. The first performance in the city of Cologne was scheduled for early January. There were only two months from the day the Cologne theatre lease was signed until the show. Major companies advertise heavily before Christmas, and there were few good advertising spots left. We needed to communicate with A right away to negotiate prices and arrange advertisements. As always, however, her calls went answered, and she wouldn’t reply immediately after I left a message. What should I do? I couldn’t go to the office to see her. Because of the pandemic, she usually worked from home. Apart from calling and writing emails over and over again, I couldn’t do anything, and I really couldn’t think of any way to change the situation.
One day, a thought came into my mind: when Master taught the Fa, he often told us to be more considerate of others. Master said in “Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Jinan:” “But in doing anything, you need to treat others with kindness and try your best to be considerate of others. Just follow this Dafa in doing anything.” (Zhuan Falun Fajie The Law of Zhuan Falun Explained)
So, shouldn’t I be considerate of A? As soon as I had this thought, another thought immediately popped into my mind: “Customers should come first. Salespeople must prioritize their customers. We give their company so much business every year. Why should we be considerate of her? Shouldn’t she be considerate of us?” Another thought said, “No matter what environment a cultivator is in, he should follow Dafa and be considerate of others at all times.”
In the end, my “cultivator side” prevailed. I reminded myself that I am a cultivator first and foremost, and as a cultivator, I cannot act according to the principles of ordinary people. But the salesperson and I had a business relationship where we paid for advertisements. What did it mean to be considerate of her? To understand her situation and not complain? But how would that be? Because I am understanding and tolerant, would she act quickly and give us a favorable price and book the Shen Yun advertisements? Obviously not! Thinking like this, my thoughts got stuck.
At this time, I remembered a sentence in Zhuan Falun. Master said,
“When you look at things from the level of an ordinary person, or from that standpoint, or that level of awareness, there’s no way you’re going to understand what is real.” (The First Talk, Zhuan Falun)
I understood the reason I got stuck in my thinking was because I was hindered by the realm of ordinary people. This was because I still couldn’t think from the perspective of a cultivator. The moment I realized this, my thinking changed instantly. I thought: “Every life on earth came for the Fa, and A is no exception. She took her children to see Shen Yun, and after watching it, she said she felt very good. She needs to repay Dafa’s kindness after being saved, but she might not know how to do it. As a Dafa disciple, I could help her seize this opportunity to repay Dafa and help her fulfill her mission. The relationship between us is not a simple one between a salesperson and a customer. She is not a tool or a springboard that I can use to complete my mission. We are all lives saved by Dafa, but I am lucky to be a Dafa disciple during the Fa-rectification period; I want to help her, guide her to do what she should do for Shen Yun, and assist her in fulfilling her mission.”
These thoughts flashed through my mind like lightning, and in just a few seconds, I suddenly knew what to do. I picked up the phone and dialed A’s mobile number. She didn’t answer, and after a few rings, it went to the answering machine.
After a while, my phone rang, and when I saw it, it was A. She had never returned my call so quickly before. It seemed a side of her understood my kindness.
I reminded myself to guide this life with a pure state of mind so she could accomplish her mission. I should not complain, blame her, or use the promise of future business as a bargaining chip to put pressure on her. This was not just a choice in terms of negotiation strategy, rather, what I was choosing, as a Dafa disciple, was to show compassion through my actions. Rather than trying to leverage future business, real compassion is the greatest power and it can melt steel.
A explained the company’s complicated situation and her own difficulties. She said she was well aware of the delays their company caused us. At this time, my thoughts became very clear, and I knew what to say and what not to say. I told her I understood that big companies have their own ways of doing things, and I also understood her difficulties. “Let bygones be bygones.” What we needed to do was to decide how to move forward and do it as quickly as possible. She understood I was not trying to blame her or determine who was right or who was wrong—I just wanted to do things well. The awkwardness was quickly dispelled; instead of trying to explain her difficulties, she rapidly switched to finding solutions.
She changed after that day. During the next few months, whenever I called, she responded quickly. She also took the initiative to communicate with the various subsidiaries of the company—without me pressuring her. When she asked for leave at work, she told me in advance. I felt she was sincerely cooperating with us and wanted to help Shen Yun.
Before I experienced it myself, I could not have imagined the predicament that had plagued me for four years could be broken through this way.
After the pandemic broke out in 2020, I thought it would not last more than a year. After a brief easing up of restrictions in the summer of 2021, as soon as autumn came, however, Germany began to tighten the pandemic prevention measures again, adding more and more restrictions. November and December were usually the peak period for people to buy tickets before Christmas. We waited for a pent-up boom, a purchasing spree in ticket sales, since the audience had experienced more than a year of lockdown. Instead, the news was bad—the number of people infected was rapidly rising. By mid-December, just three weeks before the performance in Cologne, the tour’s first stop in Germany, the Federation of Governors of Germany’s 16 federal states decided to limit the number of spectators for large-scale performances. The theatre in Cologne had the largest capacity, 1,500. But due to the new restrictions, seating was limited to only 750.
Over the next few months, the situation did not improve. The 16 federal states appeared to be competing for who had a firmer stance on pandemic prevention, and no one was willing to relax the restrictions. Seeing other countries in Europe loosen their restrictions one by one, Germany’s pandemic prevention restrictions remained unchanged. Faced with the difficult ticket sales situation, I felt tremendous pressure and didn’t know how to make a breakthrough.
One day, I came across a video about a Visual Cliff experiment. In the experiment, a baby under the age of one was placed on a table and a transparent tempered glass was installed in the middle of the table. Beneath the glass, it looked like a cliff, and there was a sea of fire on the cliff. The baby climbed to the edge of the Visual Cliff, looked down, saw the danger, raised his head in hesitation, looked again, and saw his smiling mother standing across the table; he saw his mother’s big smile and encouraging eyes. Then, without hesitation, the baby crawled towards his mother. The baby, who was afraid of going over before, now easily crossed the Visual Cliff.
I thought Master was trying to enlighten me. Master must have known my heart was unsteady, so he used this to remind me that the predicaments in the world were all illusions and told me to just move forward boldly and not be afraid. Master’s smiling face appeared in my mind, and I remembered what Master said in “To the European Fa Conference Held in Vienna:” “Master is watching you all, and always looks forward to good news from you.” (“To the European Fa Conference Held in Vienna,” The Essentials of Diligent Progress III)
I told myself to steady my mind, that all difficulties were illusions. Just move forward toward Master.
At the start of the preparations, from autumn 2021 to the end of Shen Yun’s Germany tour in early June 2022, we experienced countless difficulties during these nine months. One day, a certain federal state might suddenly say it would limit the number of spectators, causing the audience not only to not buy tickets but also to want refunds; another day, a theatre might say there was a technical problem; the following day the print distributors said our materials could not be sent out on time.
The worst thing that happened was a few days before one performance, the company that provided the dry ice suddenly said, “Sorry, we can’t deliver the dry ice to the theatre on time. There is a shortage in Germany. You need to find your own.” I once joked with fellow practitioners that during the past nine months, it seemed like I was opening boxes blind all day long, only every time I opened one, I rarely saw a surprise, just a shock.
For a while, whenever the phone rang, my heart sank—would it be good news or bad news? After getting used to it, every time I heard bad news I thought, “Everything is an illusion. Every problem has a solution. If plan A doesn’t work, then go for plan B; if plan B doesn’t work, go for plan C. As long as you don’t give up, you can always find a way.” The other practitioners and I kept encouraging each other, and every time it turned out to be a near miss.
It was said to be a near miss, but it felt like we were sitting on pins and needles. Every day when I opened my eyes there was a pile of difficulties in front of me, and every day I was tormented. For a while, I didn’t think I would ever smile again.
One situation that made me terribly nervous was the remodeling of a theatre orchestra pit. The theatre originally had an orchestra pit, but it hadn’t been used for 15 years. In order to further improve the performance, we repeatedly suggested to the theatre we hoped they would open the orchestra pit and remodel it according to Shen Yun’s requirements. The original owners of the theatre thought it would not benefit them, so they never agreed.
In 2021, the theatre changed hands, and we finally saw hope. The newly-appointed general manager did not turn down our request but thought there was not enough time to renovate the orchestra pit before the performances. Unexpectedly, things suddenly turned around three weeks before Shen Yun came. The theatre manager called me and said that the renovation could start immediately, but there was a problem: Over the past 15 years, the theatre stage had been remodeled many times, and several layers of steel rails and planks had been installed on top of it. The technicians who had worked for many years in this theatre no longer remembered the original configuration of the orchestra pit. Because the current management had just taken over, the original blueprints for the orchestra pit could not be found. They could not give us the exact size of the orchestra pit. The only guarantee was to open the abandoned orchestra pit and try to restore it to its original state.
The renovation project began. The practitioners from Shen Yun’s production department and our local technical department kept communicating with the theatre’s technical department, repeatedly checking various data, and all of this was during one intense tour after another. Since I went with the company from one city to the next, no one was able to monitor the progress of the work on site.
There were fewer than three weeks to go, with the Easter holiday in between. The construction workers didn’t work on holidays. Would the project be completed in time? Would it meet the Shen Yun performance requirements?
My heart was palpitating, and I was anxious. As soon as I woke up each morning, my first thought was, “How’s the orchestra pit?” Even when I did the exercises, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I read the Fa, I couldn’t focus. The orchestra pit situation became an interference that tortured me. I realized the orchestra pit was not the interference, rather, it was my heart that feared difficulties and hardship—that was the real interference.
Just when I was feeling most anxious, a practitioner sent me a poem from the just-released Hong Yin VI (There is no official English translation of Hong Yin VI yet. This is only a rough translation.):
“The Difficulties in Saving Others and Saving Oneself”
It is not difficult for Dafa disciples to cultivate.The difficulties are from human thinking.The superior person can solve difficulties with a smile,The average person cannot remain calm in a tribulation,The inferior person cannot get rid of the endless human heart.Dafa’s spreading in the world is not an ordinary matter.Returning to our holy home by saving others and oneself—How many people can achieve this and how many are just making empty talk?(Hong Yin VI)
When I read Master’s description of a superior person, an average person, and an inferior person, I could see a huge gap in my cultivation. When encountering difficulties, I couldn’t even smile anymore. How could I talk about “solving difficulties with a smile.” Judging from my current state, the realm of a superior person seemed far out of my reach. The phrase “the average person cannot remain calm in a tribulation” described me.
I looked at myself: I was torn between being an average person and an inferior person.
I knew that, although I had done a lot of things as the project coordinator, if my realm did not meet the requirements of Dafa, everything would be but empty talk.
I didn’t know how to achieve the state of “The superior person can solve difficulties with a smile,” but I knew the state of “not being calm” was wrong. I was not calm, because I was afraid of difficulties and lacked a sense of responsibility. When my xinxing did not meet the standard, when encountering difficulties, I didn’t have enough wisdom, and I could not come up with appropriate solutions.
After the orchestra pit renovation project started, the Shen Yun production department practitioners would always cc me in emails when they communicated with the theatre technical department. When I received an email, I often just opened it but didn’t read it carefully. The superficial reason was that it was technical and I would not understand it. I felt technical issues had nothing to do with me, even though it was good to know what they were discussing. In fact, I had a vague feeling that the reconstruction of the orchestra pit might not go well because after the theatre changed hands, a new team had just taken over, and the employees were all temporarily assigned. After dealing with them several times, it seemed they weren’t communicating very well among themselves. The executive manager of the theatre was a novice with a strong personality. He often insisted on a decision when the information was incomplete. The person in charge, the general manager, lived in another city and was never on site. That’s why I worried all the time and felt helpless.
Knowing that I was afraid of difficulties, I was determined to overcome it. I memorized the poem “The Difficulties in Saving Others and Saving Oneself” and recited it silently whenever I had time.
My heart became calmer, and I no longer subconsciously avoided the topic of the orchestra pit renovation. I dug up all the emails from the tech department about the modifications and read them carefully. One point of contention was shown in a recent photo sent by the theatre: It showed the orchestra pit was open and the floor and railings were ready, but 24 steel rails protruded from the stage over the top of the orchestra pit like a trellis. They had been installed when the theater stage was remodeled and had yet to be sawed off. I looked at the date. Soon the Easter holiday would start, and once the holiday was over, Shen Yun would perform at this theatre. Could it be that the theatre wanted to leave those 24 rails as they were? What could be done?
Should I look for the general manager? He was not on site, and he would first have to check with the theatre’s technical department. If the technician said there was not enough time, I would not have a chance to change his decision. I figured that, in this case, the real decision-making power was not the general manager but the technician in charge of the orchestra pit renovation. I asked the general manager for the technician’s phone number. When I called and asked, he indeed told me that the Easter holiday was coming up and there was no time to saw off those 24 rails. The project was really in trouble, but he said that no one would work over the holiday. I thought to myself, “It doesn’t matter what people say, what really matters is what Master wants.” I asked him to call the construction company immediately and explain that Shen Yun is a world-renowned high-end performance and that the completion of the orchestra pit really couldn’t be jeopardized.
At my insistence, he agreed to call. I put down the phone and started sending righteous thoughts. After a while, he called back, but I couldn’t hear him. He actually called seven times, but I never could hear him. There was obviously interference. I saw a fellow practitioner standing nearby, so I asked to call the theatre technician on his mobile phone and finally got through. He told me it was a go, that the construction company promised to saw off the 24 steel rails and to ensure it would be completed the night before the Shen Yun performance.
After Easter, what greeted Shen Yun was a completed and decent orchestra pit. I breathed a sigh of relief. This experience once again confirmed that Master is always by our side. As long as we believe in Master and the Fa and follow Dafa to cultivate ourselves, we are able to overcome any difficulties.
Thank you, Master, for your care along the way. Thank you, fellow practitioners, for accompanying me all the way.
If there is anything inappropriate, please compassionately correct me.
(Presented at the 2022 European Fa Conference)