PureInsight | October 13, 2003
[PureInsight.org] My wife J. introduced me to Falun Dafa in late 2001. She is Chinese and has been looking at different Qigong practices for many years. In December 2001, she finally found what she was looking for and wanted me to try it too.
Her request caused a great conflict in me. If taking up the practice required that I stop believing in God, I wasn't sure if I could do that. I had grown up with a very strong belief in God but I was never much of a churchgoer. I had attended a few churches over the years but was often disappointed in the level of commitment I saw in the members. In many cases, it appeared that the people attended to improve their social or business standing.
After six weeks of reading and studying Zhuan Falun, I became comfortable with the beliefs and teachings and could see the very close relationship between my beliefs and what Master Li was teaching. In February 2002, I began the exercises and practicing Falun Dafa.
Almost immediately after I began the exercises, Master started cleansing my body. For several days and periodically in the weeks that followed, Master purified my body. I had read Master's discussion about how he would cleanse our body but I was surprised that it could happen so quickly.
My medical history before beginning the practice was not of a serious nature. I had moderate high blood pressure for about 5 years, which was brought under control without medication soon after I began the practice. I had a total hip replacement in December 2000 and was recovering and gaining strength in my right hip. The doctor who performed my hip replacement had informed me that it was a matter of time before my left hip would need replacement and I had started experiencing minor hip pain in the left hip prior to taking up the practice. The problems with my hips made it very difficult for me to sit with even my legs crossed normally. In fact, since the age of 11 years old, I had not been able to sit with my legs crossed. My wife helped by devising a set of little cushions that I could use to gradually be able to sit cross- legged and today I can sit with a small cushion that is about three inches thick when compressed. When I first started, the cushion was about 14 inches thick. I have every confidence that with Master's help I shall someday be able to cross my legs lotus style.
I am very grateful to have found Falun Dafa. Master provides so many rich, rewarding, and educational experiences. It seems like everything that I am involved in provides a wonderful opportunity to recognize the harmful thoughts, beliefs and attachments that I have.
I have been fortunate to attend many Fa conventions. Each convention brings new learning and inspiration to me.
My first convention in Boston introduced me to the idea of one body. A young couple opened up their home to my wife and me. They provided us with refreshments and snacks and took care of us like we were their children. In the past only my family had treated me so well.
Several other Fa conventions introduced me to the power that Dafa has by showing me the suffering that people had endured, the strength they had and the grace and compassion they showed to those who brutally abused them during their persecution.
I had read several articles about the persecution but when you had a person there before you talking about his or her personal experience, it indeed gave me a profound appreciation for true courage, strength and compassion.
Dafa power was further demonstrated by the change that it has made in several young people's lives. It is amazing how a simple practice like ours can turn people's lives from alcohol, drugs, crime, self-abuse and the abuse of others. The magic formula is a fundamental child-like belief in Zhen Shan Ren. I gained a realization that all control is within yourself and no real help can come from outside. This is something so simple but so profound.
Meeting with News Media and Government at the Local, State and Federal Levels
Since I am a Western practitioner with a teaching and business background, I am fortunate to be involved in some VIP work. I have been to the State Legislature in Austin, to the Congress and Senate in Washington and to some local district offices both at the State and National level. In addition, I have had the opportunity to contact city government and on one or two occasions I have had the chance to talk with the newspapers and television stations in Houston.
This type of work is very beneficial to me as a practitioner. I have learned several lessons from doing this work. When I first started doing this work, I would go into the meeting with a list of things that I want to accomplish, a set of goals. After much discussion and information sharing, I would leave the meetings disappointed at the results and feeling that not much was accomplished.
In talks with my fellow practitioners, it was pointed out to me that I was putting my focus on the wrong thing. If I focused on my message, what I wanted to tell the VIPs, then the results would follow. I was also reminded that patience and seeking a common ground could go a long way towards having someone accept my messages. But old habits are hard to break and I still need to remind myself of that simple rule for success each time I prepare for a meeting.
Before I leave the discussion about VIP work, I want to talk to you about thought karma. It was in connection with one of my meetings with the newspapers that I came face to face with thought karma. I had read Master's lectures and discussions on thought karma but after much thought and consideration, I was still confused on how to differentiate between normal thought activity, normal negative thoughts, a lack of confidence in my abilities, and thought karma. The thought karma experience happened in downtown Houston as three other practitioners and myself were walking to the newspaper office. We didn't have an appointment, didn't know whom to contact and didn't know how to find out whom to talk with. As we walked down the street all kinds of negative self-talk was going through my head, then suddenly as we reached the corner there was a large desperate shout in my mind "NO! THIS IS STUPID! NO ONE IS GOING TO TALK TO YOU! YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ENOUGH TO FIND OUT WHOM TO TALK TO! THIS IS A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!" The shouting voice sounded like me but it didn't sound like me. I had never heard myself say such a thing in that tone. It was a thought with a HUGE NEGATIVE and EVIL ATTITUDE. I stopped dead in my tracks. I knew immediately what it was. In fact, I thought so this is what thought karma feels like. Knowing that is was thought karma only made me more determined to go inside. With that thought of going inside, I started walking again but with a calmer mind. We entered the building and talked to a guard who gave us information about who to try to talk with and allowed us to make some calls from his telephone. When we couldn't talk to anyone personally and kept getting answering machine messages, he offered to call someone he knew. The person he knew came down and although she didn't work in the news area we needed to talk to she took the package and made sure it was delivered. She told us whom to call to confirm that they had received the package. We called later but after some discussion they declined to publish the story because it was not a local event and they had covered Falun Dafa extensively back in October 2002 when Jiang Zemin had come to Houston. Besides, everyone they had was working on the Space Shuttle Crash that occurred in 2003.
My wife and I spend between two to three hours each day in front of the Chinese Consulate. We send forth righteous thoughts, hold banners and do truth clarification activities.
Those activities are very rewarding to me. The positive support of the public is nice but the human comments from those that don't understand or care about our cause are what really help to temper my patience and compassion.
I thank Master for the wonderful statement "I just want to save you" for it has helped me immensely. When people make their non-supportive comments, I find that by simply thinking of Master's statement " I just want to save you" that I can change a heart of anger and desire to get even to a compassionate feeling of pity for the individual making the statement.
The time at the Consulate has also taught me a valuable lesson that simple is better. For a period of several months we had been able to attach our banners to the scaffolding attached to the Consulate building. As a result, we had increased our banners from two to five. However, suddenly the police came and ordered us to remove the banners as they were not to be attached to private property or public property for that matter. It was very upsetting at first but after we calmed down (we shouldn't have been upset in the first place) we realized that we had been diluting our message with too many banners and that people had lost interest in our banners. Now, thanks to my wife's ingenuity, we use elastic bands to attach banners, one at a time, to our bodies when we do the standing and sitting exercises. Since we have made this change in our banners the public seems much more attentive in reading the banners and we get many thumbs up and victory signs from the passing motorists.
Another lesson learned at the Consulate is that timing is important. Before I retired at the end of last year, my wife and I would go to the Consulate in the afternoon after work. When I retired, my wife suggested that on days that we didn't have group Fa Study that we should go to the Consulate in the morning so that we could meet people who were coming for visas and passports. That way we could have a direct impact on someone that was going to China. We found that by doing that we could impact each day anywhere from 2 to 10 people going directly to the Consulate. That doesn't sound like much but multiply that by 22 days a month and 12 months out of the year and the number could amount to two or three thousand people each year.
Falun Dafa Introduction
Because my home is 25 miles north of Houston in an area with only two Falun Dafa practitioners with 15 miles of me, I frequently am involved in trying to introduce the Fa to the people around my area in the Woodlands and Conroe. This area probably has a combined population of around 100,000 people, with most of the people being non-Asian. A team of 5 to 7 people will frequently reserve a local library meeting room, post announcements in the local newspapers and hold a seminar to introduce Falun Dafa and the exercises to the people living in the area.
Since I am a relatively new practitioner, I saw this as my opportunity to be really helpful in spreading the Fa because after all I live in the area and would be a good contact. Yes, my attachments quickly became exposed. Show off mentality, pursuit and focusing on the results all surfaced immediately. In the meetings I talked glibly and arrogantly demonstrated the exercises, although I had just started and wasn't as skilled as the rest of the team. I set expectations in my mind of how many people we should recruit, compiled phone lists and did follow-up after follow-up phone calls to let people know the locations of the parks where they could get help with their exercises. Although the people were extremely polite and seem to encourage me, no one showed up. After a few weeks of unsuccessful results, I started looking at my process. I realized that I was approaching spreading the Fa like a person that was an assembly line worker and not a practitioner. Master has told us many times that we are spreading seeds in the many places that we visit and these seeds may either germinate or not. If they germinate, we may not ever have the opportunity to see the outcome as the Fa may grow in private or in another location.
Also, Master continues to remind us to focus on the message and information and don't worry about the results.
Finally, the show off mentality is being worn away by Master's allowing me to make errors and embarrass myself in front of my colleagues who are very kind and never use the situation to put me down. They usually smile like the kind wise mother when she knows her unruly child has learned a valuable lesson in life. Yes, the Fa is indeed very kind.
In addition to the local Fa introduction activities, I have had the opportunity to spread the Fa in several places in the U.S. and in Mexico City.
The trip to spread the Fa in Mexico City was truly remarkable. It was a whirlwind trip. We left Houston on a Friday morning and returned on Sunday. The trip was very active.
Upon arriving at the airport the Mexico Falun Dafa practitioners from Mexico City picked us up in a bus to take us to the hotel to check in. From the hotel we walked to a park to view the Falun Dafa pictorial history display, demonstrate some exercise and mill around to be seen by the people living there. The activity in park lasted for an hour or two.
After the park we walked to the city square where some of us distributed brochures, others demonstrated the exercise and the few that spoke Spanish visited with the people and answered their questions. There was a great deal of interest in Falun Dafa and most of us kept busy the whole afternoon in the square. As the sun started to go down and the people started leaving we decided to go back to the hotel. We caught the subway and then walked a short distance to the hotel.
This trip really demonstrated the wonder and magnificence of Falun Dafa. It was really remarkable how we were able to accomplish so much with so few Falun Dafa practitioners who spoke Spanish. I think there were a total of 4 people who actually spoke the language and they were available to answer specific questions. The people teaching the exercises were able to do so without the need of an interpreter. And the stamina of the people was amazing. Standing or sitting doing the exercises in the hot sun for more than 6 hours non-stop. Passing out brochures and on your feet the whole time. No one sat down except to fold flyers. Also, many of the practitioners had backpacks with computers, cell phones, brochures, water bottles and who knows what else that they had to lug around with them. Everybody went about his or her business with energy and enthusiasm, never seeming to be tired.
Upon our return to the hotel, I estimate that everyone had spent a good 10 hours on their feet walking, standing, exercising or passing out brochures. The amazing thing was that only my back hurt a bit from all the standing. My two hips were fine and had no pain. That night at the hotel, I did the sitting meditation for an hour and called it a day. The next morning when I got up there was no pain. My feet, legs and back felt very comfortable. There wasn't any soreness anywhere: how different from when I do non-Fa activities. It is really true what Master says about when doing things unselfishly how much you can accomplish and how comfortable you will be.
That Saturday we attended a Fa convention in Mexico City and on Sunday morning we flew back to Houston. I went to work on Monday feeling pretty terrific both physically and mentally.
Practicing One Cultivation Way
In closing my experience sharing paper, I just wanted to mention some of the tests that I have received regarding practicing only one cultivation way. In my opening I mentioned my original concern about Falun Dafa's conflicting with my beliefs. There have been several occasions when I have been tested. People will come by and make a religious statement, or tell me to repent, or urge me to do something else. I also come across a lot of signs posted in various places, one of which is on my way to the consulate that I pass every day. The sign is in a field and it is someone's personal message to motorists. When I first noticed the sign, it said, "Are you going to hell? Yes or No?" and it suggested some scripture verses. At the end of August, the sign had been changed the to a prayer that someone needs to say to ask Jesus come and save you.
The most unusual experience, related to one cultivation way, was at a city health center where the director had asked us to come to demonstrate Falun Dafa to the staff. We arrived, set up our display boards, went through the introduction and were preparing to demonstrate the exercises. During the break in the activities, an individual got up and starting talking about his religious beliefs. I thought that perhaps the director had approved this activity because sometimes, in city or county facilities, equal time has to be given for a different view. As the fellow was leaving he made it a point to stop and ask me if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I said that I had accepted Jesus as my savior but I failed to mention that I was now practicing only one cultivation way, Falun Dafa. I regretted not saying that. I even thought in my mind that was what I was thinking. In future conversations regarding religious beliefs I have remembered this incident and make the remark that Falun Dafa practitioners recognize Buddha's, Taos and Gods but we only practice one cultivation way. After the man completed his discussion and left the room, we demonstrated the exercises and visited with the staff. Before we left, the director returned and we were discussing the meeting. When I mention the individual discussing the aspects of his religion she was shocked. She had not approved that at all. In fact, this person was a patient but no one, not even the staff knew it.
In closing, I want to again thank Master for the opportunity to practice Falun Dafa. His kindness and mercy are evident in each moment of my life. As I look back on my history, I can see how truly deluded and lost I was and how much pain I unnecessarily endured because of my ignorance of the Fa.
In addition, thank you my fellow disciples for your time, patience and caring.
If I have misstated any ideas or concepts, please help me improve by pointing out my misunderstandings.