PureInsight | August 2, 2004
My cultivation began last July when a Chinese student handed me a flyer about Falun Dafa. I was her Teaching Assistant (TA) for a Computer Science course and was very interested when I saw the flyer. Soon, she showed me the website and asked me to look at Zhuan Falun. Since then, I have been practicing Falun Dafa for exactly one year along with pursuing my Master's degree in Computer Science. I have put a conscious effort into studying the Fa and applying the principles of Falun Gong in my daily life.
I grew up in Mumbai [Bombay], India in a somewhat conservative Hindu Brahmin family. Education was very important along with religion and moral values. My exposure to Hindu scriptures was higher than the other castes as I belonged to the priestly caste. There were a lot of prayers for different gods and goddesses and also rituals. Since childhood, I would not pray properly. My parents and grandparents had to force me a lot. I would ask them questions like "If God is everywhere, then why should I go to the temple?" I considered my younger brother, who was very diligent in prayers and studies, to be doing the right thing and often wondered why I was not like him.
After I came to the US to study, the first fall semester did not go well. I was upset and wanted to improve. That was the first time that I considered spirituality on my own and started seeking the Truth. I remembered that The Bhagavad-Gita, the holy book for Hindus, was supposed to solve the problems of life. As I read it, however, I could not understand it easily. I tried to read interpretations of it written by other people and then realized that it is not at all easy to understand. The next semester had already begun and I did not have enough time, so I did not continue to read it.
I finished my classes in the first six weeks of the summer semester and had the next seven weeks free with only teaching work to do. That was when the Chinese student clarified the truth to me and I stopped seeking further.
Reading Zhuan Falun
Since I had no classes, I finished reading the book within a week and then started reading all the conferences, one after the other, everyday. It was as if I was taking a crash course in Falun Dafa. The Chinese practitioners were very supportive and encouraged me to keep going. I also did the exercises and sent forth righteous thoughts. I even agreed to go to the DC conference last year.
At first, the book seemed very easy to read due to its colloquial style. I was already familiar with concepts such as reincarnation, karma, etc. I did the exercises and noticed that I could sit in full lotus for an hour right away. If I felt pain, I would shrug it off by reminding myself of the practitioners in China who were being persecuted. However, I could not concentrate well. I also realized that this ability counts for nothing and I should think little of it.
I had never known any Chinese spiritual practices before and could not rationalize the fact that I was getting interested in Falun Gong. In my heart, though, I knew that this practice was very good and that everything Teacher said was the Truth. Previously, I had had the notion that there could be nothing beyond Hinduism as it was so ancient and contained a lot of difficult scriptures. However, I also realized that it does not matter where I seek the Truth as long as it is the Truth.
The challenges of clarifying the truth
At first, I found it difficult to clarify the truth to people. Although I had read a lot, I had not understood the principles well, so there was a lot of interference from the old forces. I did not recognize the importance of saving sentient beings by talking about the persecution, as Teacher has mentioned. It had not touched me from within. I had not read enough about the persecution and felt that most people would feel unpleasant when I spoke about it. Also, I thought that if I stated some facts about China, people would consider that to be political. I did not feel confident at all.
In the Computer Science department, very few people have anything to do with spirituality. They would rather discuss a safe topic such as computers. Also, knowing about computers means being considered very smart and making a lot of money. Many computer science people consider themselves to be very smart and logical. So, clarifying the truth was very difficult for me, and I felt it had to be done with a lot of rationality. It was a great test of xinxing.
When I spoke of Falun Dafa to people, I would first mention about the practice and when it began in China. If they listened further, I would mention a little about persecution. And almost immediately, I would get excited and talk about high-level principles from Zhuan Falun. My mindset was that if the Buddha Fa is responsible for the creation of everything in this universe, then they should all be able to get to it. This was clearly not correct as I saw that people were actually not very interested. My parents were such an example. They did not want to learn it; however, they did not mind my practicing Falun Gong.
As I did more truth clarification, I found that some people had a negative view of Falun Dafa, as they did not try to understand what it is. I also observed there were three types of people having differing views on higher beings or Gods – non-believers or atheists, strong and semi-believers, and agnostics. The strong believers would not be interested at all. That seemed reasonable. Some semi-believers and atheists would be interested in knowing and then dismiss it as not for them. If I explained that there is no worship of any God, some would take a look and be interested. The agnostics would be disinterested if I just mentioned the word "spirituality". It would remind them of existing religions and they would think of Dafa to be something similar. I realized being a good person was not enough. I had to start thinking from their point of view to clarify the truth better.
Once I tried to explain to my agnostic friend that Master Li has seen the most microscopic particles of the universe and has explained related principles in the book. Why would he say that Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance is the highest Truth of the universe? How could something as simple as this be the Truth? Won't it be interesting to read what he says?
With the passage of time, I understood that I should have righteous thoughts every time I clarify the truth. Treating people as family members, as Teacher mentioned in the 2003 Lantern Festival, also makes things easier. If they showed interest, I could ask them to read Zhuan Falun and we could gradually discuss the principles. This seemed to be a good approach. I learned to become more patient and not rush into things.
Righteous thoughts are the key
My American roommate has been a serious challenge to me when it comes to sharing my understanding of Falun Dafa. He would often say that I should be interested in girls as I am young. According to him, I was wasting time on something that had no visible benefits instead of doing my course work or enjoying life. He had an influence on me since he had more experience in life and I respected him. I could sense the arrangement of the old forces. There was no use avoiding him.
At first, I thought there was something really wrong with me. Why would he refuse to look at it? Was it because I had some attachments? Was I not righteous enough? Was it because his karma was too high? I wanted to let him know that Falun Dafa is good by living according to the principles. I also took this as an opportunity to improve myself, as my level of tolerance and understanding would be truly tested almost everyday.
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with my roommate. He was worried that I would be so devoted to the practice that I would do this all my waking time. That day, I was watching the video of Lecture 8 when he arrived. I reminded myself to be very righteous. He said that since I had already watched this a bunch of times, why would I want to watch it yet again? He thought I was trying to go to extremes like people in religions. I told him that Falun Dafa conforms to ordinary society and that one cannot go to extremes. One should only try to adhere to the principles and try to understand them. In the end, he agreed to read Zhuan Falun. The magic of righteous thoughts had worked.
From this conversation, I understood that people bring in their notions about religions and other practices and apply them to Falun Dafa. Also, I began to feel that we had a predestined relationship. For ten months, I had been suggesting that he read the book, but he had never agreed. I understood that losing interest in someone just because he did not agree is not correct. That is forming an opinion and judging him. There are endless opportunities. This was a test of my compassion too.
Wanting a girlfriend
I did not know how to address this situation and am still not completely clear. This issue arose as my roommate had influenced me. When I was in India, it was not an issue as I was staying with my parents, and in our family tradition a young person doesn't have girlfriends or boyfriends. My family practices arranged marriage so there is nothing to worry about since a girl would be arranged for me. It sounds strange, but we still follow this practice. However, the lifestyle in the US was having an impact on me. Also, since I am in college, I see a lot of people dating.
How could I address this issue from the Fa? I was not clearheaded. All kinds of thoughts came to me – Is speaking to a girl correct? If she is interested in me, then I can tell her more about the principles. If she is interested more in the principles, then I can be more interested in her. I considered the fact that since I am alone sitting in front of the computer the whole day, I needed company and should probably have a girlfriend. Also, this is the age when people have girlfriends. I did not seek inward to find the cause of my confusion.
A practitioner friend of mine said, "Don't think that you are just 25 years. Think of yourself as 2025, since we have all been reincarnating." This made a lot of sense, as I am 25 only in this human world. Another practitioner explained that I probably have some fear of solitude and that I may be thinking too much about it. I must treat this lightly and not pursue it. In "Lectures in the United States," Teacher said:
Cultivation is full of hardships. And it isn't limited to the hardships you suffer. I've said this before: "It's unbearably cold at the top."
So, if I have to get to the top, that is, reach Enlightenment, these human thoughts have to be eliminated. I have taken this matter of a girlfriend very lightly since then.
I just described some of my cultivation experiences in the past one year. I would like to thank everyone for being patient in listening to me. I sincerely hope that all of us can do our best to focus on cultivation.
I will end with what Teacher said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.:"
Since you're Dafa disciples, you shouldn't put your hopes in so-called "natural" changes, external changes, changes in the ordinary society, or in some favors that someone might do for us. You are Gods, and you are the future rulers of different cosmoses, so who would you count on? All the beings are counting on you!