Learning while on the Path

A Practitioner from New Jersey

PureInsight | May 26, 2003

[PureInsight.org]Today I would like to share with you some of my cultivation experiences over the past three years. These are the experiences of an average cultivator finding herself in an extraordinary historical period, stumbling along to elevate into a God. I truly hope they will be of some help to you.

I learned about Falun Gong and the persecution after reading an article in the New York Times. Reading about the suffering of disciples in China made me feel very sad, and also curious about the practice. I thought it must be very powerful if the Chinese government hates it so much. And then one day I saw that an introductory class would be given at the local YMCA. After attending the class, I knew that I would be a Falun Gong practitioner from then on. I immediately stopped taking any vitamins, herbs or dietary supplements.

The next morning I woke up with a terrible backache, but there had been no injury and no history of any back pain. An x-ray found nothing. During this time, I read Zhuan Falun. After about 4 days, I realized my body was being cleansed and then the pain went away.

Several months later, plans were underway for the first march and rally in DC, marking one year of persecution. Also at this time, a group was formed as a non-profit human rights organization. The group needed to be ready for those who would learn of the persecution during the rally and want to help. They asked me to prepare an identity and website in time for the DC event, which was in a few weeks. Since the site was to be for an everyday, Western audience, it was designed to have a look, feel and tone that that audience might want, and the homepage was created with a black background.

Reaction was swift from the cultivator community. Black was karma, and black was evil.

This was a real shock for a Western practitioner who had grown up as a designer from New York City, with a closet full of black clothes. At first, I tried to defend the work based on the idea that it was intended for everyday people, so the culture and perspectives of the practitioner audience were not considered. This created many problems for the rest of the team, which was unfair to them, and unnecessary. So the night before the rally the homepage was redesigned with a white background.

Today I understand that changing the homepage was the right thing to do, but for the wrong reasons- it was done to reduce tensions and not alienate the majority of the practitioner community. Master's teaching in Philadelphia 2002 tells us to put others' ideas ahead of our own:

"When another God proposes an idea, they aren't eager to reject it, and they aren't eager to express their own ideas and they don't believe that their own ideas are good. Instead, they look at what the end result of the other God's proposed approach will be. The paths are different—everyone's path is different—and the truths that beings validate and enlighten to in the Fa are different, too, but the results might very well be the same."

The work provides a good opportunity for cultivation. At first there were only a couple of us on the team, so we couldn't get as much accomplished as we wanted to, and often had the sense that we were letting down the beings that were relying on us. We know now that Gods look at our hearts, and how well we cooperate with each other, rather than the number of things that are done. The team has matured a bit in its understandings, and others have joined. The atmosphere is generally harmonious between us, but these understandings weren't always there and of course there were some conflicts.

In the early days I was not very diligent in Fa study. Master tells us repeatedly to study the Fa as our first priority, because if we do not, we wind up treating our sacred work as an ordinary job. Furthermore, the effectiveness of our efforts directly relates to our xinxing level. As Master teaches us in the Boston, 2002 lecture: "Don't approach things with too many human attachments, and don't cause unnecessary conflicts and arguments by interacting with each other with human attachments. In these situations, your conduct should always show Dafa disciples' tolerance, kindness and niceness. The next person's things are your things and your things are his things."

On an intellectual basis this was clear, but at a deeper level I had an inability to move past some fundamental human attachments. For some months, there had been escalating friction between myself and another person on the team.

We both tried to ignore the problems, being as polite as possible, but nothing helped. We often found fault with each other, and complained to another person on the team. Bad thoughts began to interfere when I did the exercises and grew louder during the day. I was embarrassed for myself as a cultivator, behaving like an everyday person and following the old forces' arrangements.

A more experienced cultivator advised me to keep Shan in my heart, as it was the most powerful of the supernormal abilities and could rectify everything. But my heart was hard, and although I knew I was wrong and behaving poorly, it seemed that I could not look deeply enough at myself to understand how to change.

Finally, one day some work problems arose that were clearly the result of our inability to get along. I wrote the practitioner a note outlining what I thought had happened, and suggesting that we both needed to look at ourselves and work this out. We could not elevate with these attachments, and neither could we rectify the environments we were responsible for. Master says, in "Touring North America to Teach the Fa", "When you conduct yourselves righteously Master can do anything for you." We couldn't be getting the help we needed from the Buddhas, Gods and Taos to insure success in our Dafa work, because we were not cooperating. We were failing the beings that were waiting for us to help them, and we were running out of time. My teammate essentially agreed.

Now that things were out in the open, finding the fundamental attachment was imperative. Almost 2 full days of study did not seem to help. Then I thought if I could describe the issue clearly to Master in a question, surely He would guide me. More reading and writing did not produce a question.

The next night I went to bed early. At 12:30 AM, my upstairs neighbor began to vacuum, something she had never done before at that hour. Now awake, I could study and write.

Master prepares the path for each of us to contribute in this Fa-rectification period, and so had provided the skills and background needed to do the sacred work. My teammate had many skills and was very dedicated but was not yet so experienced in certain things. I insisted on a high degree of professionalism in our work to present the best image for Dafa, but we had different opinions of what that meant and how best to achieve it. The surface issue was dissatisfaction with my teammate's work, but the problem was within me. With all my heart, I wanted to understand the fundamental attachment.

All along I had been thinking that since the Dafa work was directly related to my professional work, it would be a great opportunity to serve Dafa and also showcase what I could do for an employer. It finally dawned me that I believed it was as important for the work to look great for our everyday audience as it was to encourage a prospective employer to hire me! If the work didn't meet my professional standard, someone might think I wasn't capable.

Once I realized that, I was shocked. There was a deep attachment to fame and self-interest that allowed me to equate my own potential benefit with the sacred Dafa work. I realized that this attitude was terrible and I felt very ashamed. And then I realized my upstairs neighbor was only vacuuming to wake me up because it was time to wake up.

Not long after this, we attended the Fahui in Philadelphia. It happened (because Master arranged it) that my teammate and I stood next to each other at a checkout counter during lunch, and we began to talk. Suddenly, she apologized to me, I apologized to her; we hugged, and said we'd try to do better. I told her that the problems between us did not begin yesterday, and they won't end tomorrow, but at least now we have a chance to improve. Our conflict was a true gift, to help us both elevate our xinxing.

Since then, there have been some rough patches from time to time, but for the most part there is an improvement in the way we treat each other. Now there are fewer times when my heart is moved, but when it is, it is possible to more quickly understand that the circumstances mirror my own attachments. These days it seems that selfishness can be traced to the root of all my attachments. They assume different forms and different names, and can be intellectualized and rationalized but it's only just a disguise.

Fortunately, in North Jersey, we have a reading group that provides an excellent study and cultivation environment, so there are opportunities to examine our issues and improve. It includes people from many different countries, backgrounds and durations of time cultivating, from 7 years to several months. The more veteran practitioners encourage everyone to speak, especially those people who might be a little shy. If someone has a problem we try to focus on that and discuss it from the Fa perspective, to make sure that no cultivator falls behind. There is almost never any mention of project work, except as it relates to a cultivation issue. This provides an environment that nurtures newer practitioners and helps all of us to grow.

The following is an example of how a problem for one cultivator in our group became an opportunity for us all to improve. Several months ago, a veteran cultivator, a 75-year-old woman from China who spoke no English, was having some serious problems. This lady felt that it was her job to expose the persecution outside the Chinese consulate in New York, and so she went there every day. Her daughter did not have positive feelings about Falun Dafa and wanted her mother to stop going. She refused, and tensions mounted in the home. Eventually, things became so difficult that the elderly practitioner left to go and stay with another cultivator. Nonetheless, she seemed strong and determined to continue on with what she felt was right.

Not long after that, we learned that a car had hit the elderly practitioner going 60 mph. Her leg and pelvis were both broken in several places. Several practitioners rushed to the hospital to see her. Her daughter, a single mother who worked fulltime, was by her side. One of the visiting practitioners told the elderly practitioner to keep righteous thoughts, but her daughter refused to allow anyone to speak with her about any cultivation issues. The group sat outside to continue to SFRT; then all the monitors began to indicate her condition was returning to normal.

Members of our group had planned to visit her every day try to read to her and SFRT, but her daughter refused allow the visits, as she blamed the accident on her mother's trips to the consulate. She also insisted that her mother have some medication for the intense pain.

As a group, we tried to look inside and cultivate ourselves to determine what our part was in her tribulation, what attachments we had, and try to rid ourselves of them so that we could better help her. We saw that she was not thinking clearly and realized that our main consciousness had to be strong, and we encouraged her also to be strong and do things according to the Fa. But she still did not read.

One day I went to visit her with a Chinese-speaking practitioner from our group. We met her daughter outside the room and spoke with her. She said that her mother had intense pain, and for this the Western medicine would be best, but she was replacing it slowly with Chinese herbs, as she was studying Chinese medicine. I asked, so you are a single mother, you work fulltime, and you are studying too? She said "Yes, and now I feel that I cannot leave my mother alone, so I am here all the time. I am missing an exam today, but what can I do? I could not get any doctor to see my mother over the weekend and so I am afraid to leave her side."

Master taught, in the Boston, 2002 lecture: "…try your best to walk a righteous path, and try your best, in all environments and with everything that happens to conduct yourself in an open and dignified manner, to be tolerant and broad-minded, to be able to understand others, and to be able to consider all perspectives. Then, I think you might be able to do a lot of things well." When the daughter spoke with such anguish over her mother's condition, I felt a lot of compassion for her and saw that I had not considered how difficult things were from her point of view.

I told her that I thought she was only trying to protect her mother from something she did not believe was good for her and so could understand why she didn't want us around. She seemed to appreciate hearing that and invited us to go in to see her mom.

My heart was moved when I saw my friend with tubes and casts, looking rather gray. She brightened when she saw me, and even though we did not speak the same language, we communicated well. I grabbed her hand and her grip was very strong. As the other practitioner spoke with her daughter, I whispered to her, Fa Zhen Nieh! She smiled and nodded enthusiastically, and then I was sure she would be fine.

The daughter chatted with us and seemed to relax a bit. Our friend was beginning to look better. By the time we left, the elderly woman's complexion looked healthier and her daughter seemed fine with the idea of having practitioners come and visit.

At our reading group, we looked inside again at ourselves. We wanted our friend to deny the old forces arrangements, but we could not force her, demanding that she do everything according to the Fa. We as a group had not acted compassionately enough to her, or to her daughter. We had not put ourselves in either of their positions, and tried to force her daughter to accept us. So we changed our behavior, to encourage rather than demand, and offered to help the daughter. When we saw that our friend was still ignoring our compassionate advice, we realized we had not yet truly cultivated the dignity of Dafa in a noble and upright way and had to continue to look within ourselves to do better.

The process was a lot of back-and-forth. By and by, our friend's condition improved enough to go home with her daughter. As she grew physically stronger she returned to reading and SFRT regularly. She now spends more time caring for her granddaughter, and her relationship with her daughter is improving. They had a good talk, in which she accepted responsibility for her own shortcomings, and told her daughter that she did not behave up to the standard of a Dafa disciple, and that she should not judge all Dafa disciples by her actions. She has begun to ask for work to do and is looking forward to rejoining our reading group. I'm grateful to her for the opportunity she gave us all to mature and happy that she continues to grow stronger in all respects.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation and reverence for our compassionate Teacher, who has arranged the best for all of our futures and provided these precious opportunities to raise ourselves up. Thanks for allowing me to share my cultivation with you today.

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