PureInsight | June 6, 2005
[PureInsight.org] Greetings Shifu, greetings fellow Dafa disciples. I am glad to be here. I felt in my heart that I needed to share the understandings I have gained and the miraculous experiences I have witnessed in serving as a guide for the several Uncompromising Courage Exhibitions in the hope that my sharing will help us improve.
When I went at the National Arts Club in New York to see the Uncompromising Courage exhibition, I found out that there was only a single practitioner, one of the artists, guiding the tours and few visitors other than practitioners coming in. She was leaving the following day and we felt that there was a reason for us to be there and that we should help. I asked the practitioner artist to take me on a tour and tell me about the paintings. Little did I know what a profound effect this would have on me.
I was considered an artist in my younger days and I thought I knew how to appreciate and that I understood art. I was wrong. As she brought me into each painting with her explanations, revealing the hidden symbolisms, composition and techniques, I realized how each and every detail was expressing a story filled with inner meanings. I could visualize the stories coming alive in the works and my enthusiasm grew. I felt that I wanted to share the wonder I discovered in these pieces of art.
Rapid Improvements, Lessons Every Night, and My Expanding Heart
Being so moved by the art I knew I had to improve to be able to meet the requirements and fulfill my mission that I now recognized. This opportunity for improvement came in many forms. First, I had a deep knowing that I was to do this. I had never before experienced this sense of being in and embracing my mission. As I was changing my heart expanded and I was on the edge of tears for weeks. On every understanding from the Fa or while talking about the paintings and seeing a person's heart open during the tour, tears would well up.
At night, during sleep, many times I would be rehearsing and improving the ways how to better bring the paintings alive to people through my descriptions. Sometimes I would go over an instance which I thought I had not done well during the day and do it correctly for that person in my dream. This process continued all night and I would wake up remembering it all in a clear state of knowing how to do it better. Thus every day I could describe the paintings in a natural way and the right words that each person needed to hear would flow. As my proficiency improved so did the level of difficulty of the tour. New challenges were presented by new people, some being cynical, or a large group coming at once with one individual in the group trying to dominate. All these challenges forced me to strive more and improve.
Going Beyond the Ordinary to Bring People In
It was obvious we had to actively bring people in and it was necessary to directly tell people about this experience of a lifetime that awaited them in this show. To the streets we went, charged with the enthusiasm of our newfound depth of understanding of the paintings.
In order to bring the people in, we had to break away from our usual way of clarifying the truth. We came up with an unconventional method of bringing people directly from the street to follow our lead toward a new experience.
The method that we came up with was to creatively inspire people by intriguing them with inspirational stories from the art to go beyond their routine and have an experience like they had never had before. And it worked! In addition, we came together as one body and developed a system of leading the public from one practitioner to another until they would finally make it to the art show. We set up this conveyor-belt-like system where an English-speaking practitioner outside would strike a conversation and intrigue them. Then, lead them to the next practitioner who in turn would lead them to the next smiling practitioner and so on until minutes later they would find themselves entering a world surrounded by the most remarkable paintings, telling the most incredible true stories they had ever heard.
As time went on, the challenges that came up taught us what we needed to know for the next step. For example, at one point we did not have any invitations left to give people in the street, so we would only show them the last invitation and walk with them talking to get their attention. And it worked well, even better than handing out invitations. We had no choice but to communicate fully the unique nature and power of the paintings. This method combined with the efforts of practitioners across Manhattan made this the most popular art show the club had ever seen. The President of The National Arts Club was very impressed with the art and the unprecedented response. He commented on the number of influential visitors and the wide variety of people who had come for the first time to the club because of our show.
Talk Only about the Art and Let the Art Clarify the Truth
Practitioners introduced visitors to the paintings by pointing out elements in the paintings, telling the stories behind the depicted scenes, asking visitors what they could see or wondered about. Practitioners who acted as guides and hosts noticed the range of remarkably visible transformation of the visitors during the tour. They entered with ashen faces, bewildered, unsure and with clouded eyes. By the time the visitors had taken in all the paintings, their faces and demeanor had noticeably changed, and most left with clearer eyes, relaxed faces, smiles, and a brightness about them. Many expressed their gratitude for the experience by thanking eagerly every practitioner who had led them in on their way out and often wanting to know what they could do and when we would have another exhibition. You could see that they had been touched. The paintings clearly had elicited in people the desire to align themselves with goodness in the face of evil.
Some of the paintings are quite brutal and to talk about them in a way that can keep the listener interested without being too depressed, was not always very easy. But we succeeded in doing this by talking more about the beauty of steadfast belief in the principles of the Fa, and how the practitioners would still hold firmly to compassion and non-violence in the face of brutality.
Here is an example of a discription given for a painting called
Turning the Great Law Wheel. This painting is of our Master before an audience at the 2003 Fa Conference in Washington D.C in the painting along with are Master can be seen numerous energy currents in the color of red, which filled the entire meeting hall. The scene is incomparably magical.
In describing the painting I would say: "This picture was inspired by an event at an experience sharing conference. Practitioners hold conferences coming together to share their experiences of being on the path of cultivation. Sharing understanding they have enlightened to, attachments they recognized and let go of, hardships they have overcome and insights in clarifying the truth about the persecution.
"In this work, the Teacher and Founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, stands on stage before the audience doing a hand motion called turning the great Falun, also known as the Principle wheel. Through the practice of cultivation (or self-refinement) with the improvement in your heart, morals, and mind nature, and by assimilating to the principles of Truthfulness (Purity), Compassion (Kindness) and Forbearance (Giving Self control), virtue increases, a form of light, high-energy mater. This energy is cultivated (Grown) as one increases virtue. By combining the exercises with the raising of virtue, one's body becomes filled with high-energy matter.
"This has been confirmed in scientific studies that can measure energy. And it's been known for a long time qigong masters and monks have this cultivation energy called Gong.
"This energy can awaken one's natural inborn abilities like the third eye. This is quite common in the practice of Falun Gong, for those with few attachments and pure intentions to have these abilities opened. Those who can see other dimensions with their third eye described this swirling energy to the artist as seen in this picture.
"Those who couldn't see it could feel a wonderful positive feeling."
This is an example of how with the paintings as a visual we can go much further in describing the wonders of Falun Gong.
The exhibition presented the visitors with the truth from many levels – the facts of the persecution, the power of Zhen-Shan-Ren – the truth was there for them to grasp to whatever degree they could. As the visitors went from painting to painting, their understanding noticeably improved, and they were able to see the strength of character exhibited by the practitioners in the paintings as they upheld Truth-Compassion-Forbearance in the face of the most evil brutality. People had never seen an exhibition like this before. The power in the room seemed to increase with the momentum built by the practitioners and possibly from the transformation happening among the viewers. The energy field became stronger over time.
People's transformation came about from the momentum built by practitioners involved in the project and with the belief and recognition that practitioners' art had the ability to eliminate karma and remove barriers in people's minds. They were able to reach understandings so great that for many their awakened knowing side seemed to come forward. Observing this we understood the great responsibility we had in contributing to their wonderful experience.
As they were introduced to the paintings it was as if they were in a giant washing machine where their notions and karma were being washed away. Painting by painting their understanding increased and the amazing thing was we did not have to clarify the truth. The paintings did it in a more thorough way than we ever could and in fact when we fell into our old methods of clarifying the truth you could see them become rigid and close up but when we talked about the artists and the inner meaning in the art, in this way engaging them into the paintings, they would open up.
The art was a bridge to endless possibilities. The paintings and the compassionate words of the tour guides bridged the gap to places normally too far for them to go with limitless possibilities coming from the Fa.
Harmonizing the Environment and Each Other
Canadian practitioners assumed the role that would later seem to be what we were meant to do. Our working together and taking care of each other played a crucial role in our being able to overcome the obstacles in making the art show successful. The practitioners involved worked together very harmoniously. We put our heart into it and recognized the value and cherished the opportunity. We all seemed to know spontaneously what to do without prompting or lengthy discussions. We felt ourselves naturally walking our paths. Participating in the art exhibit brought about encouragement by the transformations we witnessed in the viewers and the heart filled with thanks. Practitioners commented on how they were moved by the images and felt inspired to do better.
In the first days of the show there was a lot of interference in the environment in the form of the access to the room being changed from the front entrance to having to go to the back through a maze of rooms and corridors, or the room being crammed with tables and chairs overnight which were not removed by the time of the show, the hours of the show being shortened, and the like.
It became very evident that we needed to rectify the environment. In addition, reflecting on the cancellation at the other venue at the last minute without any explanation, we understood it was our responsibility to clean up the environment with righteous thoughts. After this realization, several practitioners showed up to view the paintings. We asked everyone to sit and send forth righteous thoughts for close to half an hour. Consequently the situation changed. The tables were removed and the staff became more considerate and respectful. They agreed to keep the space clear of interruptions.
From then on, visitors as well as employees of the National Arts Club spoke in hushed tones when they entered the room. Visitors commented on the serenity, positive energy compassionate atmosphere they felt in the room. On the third or fourth day the Buddha sculpture was uncovered in the middle of the room and we held a small ceremony reciting Lunyu in various language. The sacredness of the sculpture illuminated the room.
The Importance of Having Practitioners Take the Tour
When inviting practitioners to take the tour some said that they were practitioners and knew all about it and did not need it. I suggested everyone should take the tour especially practitioners. When they did, their appreciation for the art grew along with their understanding, adding to the field and building the momentum for the show from within. Many of them stated that they found the art uplifting and made them want to do better.
Practitioners' art is more than just the artist's medium to clarify the truth. It is a vehicle that all practitioners can utilize to move people's hearts, awaken their knowing side and help raise their morality by showing them true aspirations.
Lessons from Dealing with the Media
We realized the opportunity to attract the media especially with the bomb threat to the Club in an attempt to cancel the show. All the difficulties Teacher had laid in our path for us to discover the solution for allowed us to draw upon these lessons and handle the next task: dealing with the media in a creative way.
We prepared a media advisory entitled, "What does it take to show Uncompromising Courage?" and brought it to the NY Times offices in person. They said they were not interested so the group of practitioners with me continued to SFRT and encouraged me to keep trying despite the security saying that since 9/11 nobody will come down to see you. Our persistence and patience and constantly sending RT produced good result. The art editor from the NY times came down and after our explaining the situation and showing pictures of practitioners' art, she was enthusiastic and promised to run a story on it and she was indignant to the fact someone would try to stop the art.
At the same time, other practitioners went to other media outlets and had met with similar barriers. They too did not take no for an answer and persisted even when they were told they would have to wait for many hours. They waited, continuing to send righteous thoughts without being daunted by the wait, and soon after they had an interview and the story was picked up. They realized that not speaking very good English or having no experience with the media was not an obstacle at all when one has a right heart.
Combining the Dai Show and the Zhen-Shan-Ren Exhibitions
In Boston, when we combining the two art shows, the Dai and the Zhen-Shan-Ren exhibitions, we actually put their strengths together and made the show very successful.
the Dai exhibition is useful in drawing in crowds, particularly Chinese people, raising awareness, and easily getting sponsorship. Dafa art can save people as it is infused with gong and has the ability to directly expose the persecution. In addition, its importance was emphasized by Teacher in the lecture on fine arts. The understanding I gained is that art is very important. Being connected to mankind's aesthetic and moral values, it enables us to improve those areas for mankind. With art mankind can once again have the wish and aspire to heavenly paradises. With this wish the Gods in the future will be able to give these heavenly kingdoms to them.
On an ending note, I wanted to share some miraculous experiences that occurred while serving as a guide to the Zhen Shan Ren exhibition
While giving a tour to a practitioner with an open expectant heart, inspired new words entered my mind and flowed from my lips and the instant I said them, we both experienced the painting come alive in a place without time. Then, we both turned to each other with the question, "Did you experience that!" Yes, we did. And it occurred again with other paintings. As inspiration came, the art came alive, revealing its power. On another occasion, when I said that the painting entitled "In Harmony" draws you to connect with the practitioner depicted in the painting to become one with heaven and earth as I gestured with my hand in a sweeping motion, practitioners said they felt themselves falling towards the painting. Even a non practitioner expressed having a feeling of levitating.
These experiences reinforced my determination to give the tour to everyone, including practitioners because hearing the incredible stories in the art they would experience a new found admiration and enthusiasm for the art, adding to the momentum of the show. I hope that, with this greater appreciation and understanding of our art, support from practitioners will continue to grow in all areas. So we can do even better in sharing these magnificent art works with the world.
Thank you everyone. Thank you Master.