PureInsight | September 22, 2009
Experience sharing at the 2009 Washington D.C. Fa Conference
[PureInsight.org] Greetings honorable Master and all fellow practitioners. I am a Dafa disciple from Washington D.C. Please let me share with everyone my experience of promoting Shen Yun Performing Arts in the past few years.
1. Returning People with Predestined Relationships to Their Home
Shen Yun is very influential. Its effect of saving sentient beings is obvious to us all. As a reporter, I was often touched by the audience’s exhilaration, happiness, tears and their visions of hope. I remember interviewing several people when Holiday Wonders was held at the Beacon Theater at the end of 2006. One time, a person patted my shoulder. He expressed his excitement and delight with many hand gestures, but he didn't say anything. I finally realized that he was deaf. His eyes glistened with joy and excitement. The exhilaration on his face is truly an unforgettable memory. Another experience was associated with Holiday Wonders in New York City at the end of 2007. A Peruvian engineer told me enthusiastically, “I felt like I was in heaven when I saw the show. I have been waiting for this moment for 27 years.” He didn’t seem to be wealthy, but I told him that Shen Yun would perform a New Years show at Radio City Music Hall. I suggested that he bring his family to the upcoming shows. Indeed, I saw him at Radio City Music Hall, accompanied by his family members. Such touching stories often come to mind. They remind me that I should let more people know about Shen Yun so that they too can be encompassed by Buddha’s grace.
Promotion efforts in New York City didn’t run smoothly at the beginning of 2008. One practitioner contacted a chain store to help sell tickets. Because this project needed a lot of manpower, I took one week off and went to New Jersey to help sell tickets. I did not consider myself a very diligent practitioner with strong righteous thoughts, but I was willing to do my best to save sentient beings even though it meant a lot of work and physical suffering. I looked at the crowd of people passing by our booth. I felt that Master gave me the boundless power of compassion from the very root of my being. I felt that there were so many kind and precious sentient beings becoming lost in human society. I really hoped to help them since they had such great courage to come to the human world, just like us. How great it would be if I could bring many more people to the theater to allow Master to save them directly. I really didn’t want to miss anyone.
This wish supported me many times. Sometimes, I could stand and converse with people in the store without any break for the whole day. My perseverance was also related to what I experienced in the torture reenactment exhibition in New York in 2004. One time, a passerby viewed the torture reenactment exhibition and was shocked. All of a sudden, he saw a practitioner squatting down and eating on the roadside. This practitioner’s face was still covered by “blood” since he was having a break from the exhibition. The passerby seemed to be drawn back to reality and felt that what he had just viewed in the exhibition was like a drama. I still remember the change in his expression at that time.
Therefore, when I dressed as a Chinese empress in the store, I hoped that I could behave like an empress. I hoped I could bring people back to the realm of traditional Chinese culture so that they could be saved more easily. Although, I was a little tired after a long day, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. At the end of the day, I had lost my voice and walked with swollen legs. However, after a good rest during the night, I could start the following day in good spirits again. Perhaps, my strong wish to save sentient beings allowed me to understand more about Master’s help.
In the process of selling tickets, I met many different people. Two stories impressed me a lot. One was about a gentleman with a cynical personality. He didn’t believe that the show was as great as we had mentioned. On the other hand, because his wife was almost blind, he also considered that buying a ticket for his wife was a waste of money. This reminded me of Master’s great compassion. When Master spread the Fa in Mainland China, he helped some blind people regain their vision and helped some people with Kyphosis (hunch back) straighten their backs. Master has given hope to many people that suffered such miserable conditions. I told the gentleman, “Please bring your wife to the show. She is less fortunate than us because of her poor vision. If you would like to make her happy, please be sure to bring her to the Shen Yun performance. This show will give her boundless hope. The music of the live orchestra combines both traditional Chinese and Western instruments and carries very positive energy. The music has been acclaimed by so many world-class musicians that it is still worth buying the ticket even if she can only listen to the music.”
I also shared with him a lot of audience feedback and the story of the deaf and disabled man I mentioned above. The gentleman replied, “I am a person with a distrustful nature. I would like to do some research on the Internet before I make my decision. Is that alright?” I said, “Of course. But I sincerely hope you do not miss this beautiful show.” I asked fellow practitioners to send forth righteous thoughts. Two hours later, he returned. He said, “I read many articles on the Internet. Fifty percent are positive, while fifty percent aren’t. I don’t know what to do. However, you are the best salesperson I have ever met in the world. You are a really nice person. I am willing to ‘gamble.’ Please help me buy two tickets on the first floor.” I smiled and said, “You won’t think that you have ‘gambled’ after you see the show.” He sent me an email after the show. He stated, “Thank you so much for encouraging us to see this performance. It was wonderful! My wife enjoyed it very, very much.”
The other story was about an elderly couple. They were more than 80 years old. They chatted with us just like we were family members. The lady really wanted to see the show after listening to my introduction. However, the gentleman was unwilling to buy tickets since he had not visited Manhattan for many years. I looked at him. He was so old that he couldn’t walk steadily. I thought, “They are old. They have been waiting for such a long time for this precious opportunity to see the show. I cannot allow them to miss it.” I liked this elegant lady from the bottom of my heart. We sent forth righteous thoughts for them. Eventually, they bought tickets. Two days before the show, I was still concerned about them. I called them and told them that I hoped I could give them a ride. However, I was too busy to do it and offered my apologizes. I reminded them to arrive early so they wouldn’t miss the opening program.
After the show, the lady called me. She said she thought that I worked for the store and went there to find me. She wanted to thank me in person since the show was so beautiful. The lady and her husband spent four hours traveling to the theater and she said that her husband almost gave up on the way. However, they remembered what I had said and eventually arrived at the theater. I was very moved when I listened to her story. The knowing side of sentient beings understands that this is the only hope for them. They wish to cherish this opportunity. We have to make their wish come true. One year later, I called them again during the Thanksgiving holiday. I told the lady that Shen Yun would return and hoped that her grandchildren could go to see the show as well. She was very pleased that I still kept them in mind.
I have never considered myself a salesperson. I offer people tickets to board the Fa boat sailing towards “the new universe.” We have to do our best to share the beauty of Shen Yun with others, let them know that Shen Yun performs a first-class show, and then clear the interference through sending forth righteous thoughts. Otherwise, people would think that we are no different from other salespeople, and the effect may not be very good. Regarding people’s choices, it is really up to them. As long as we clarify the truth well, people with predestined relationships will come back. I appreciated having this experience and met a variety of people over those 9 days. My wish to save sentient beings was strong, and I really started to cherish my predestined relationships with other sentient beings.
2. Creating a World-Class Brand for Shen Yun
A practitioner once talked about the experience within a particular city. The ticket-selling was not very good there. Hence, some nearby practitioners were asked to attend the show to improve the turnout. On the way to the theater, the practitioner driving the car smelt the lunch boxes that several passengers carried with them. She also smelt other unpleasant odors around the other passengers. Afterwards, she said, “A first-class show must have a first-class audience. The best seats are worth almost 100 US dollars. The audience that can afford it must be people from relatively high social levels or VIPs. They not only hope to enjoy the show, but also consider the environment of the theater and the quality of the surrounding audience as important parts of this cultural event. If they saw others from the audience with inappropriate dress, behavior, or smell, they would find it strange. On the contrary, even though the theater was not full in some cases, the people that bought expensive tickets enjoyed the show like finding an undiscovered treasure. They would be proud to be in the audience of this great show and recommend the show to their family and friends.
This practitioner may have talked about the issue with complaint, but, I think she pointed out an important aspect. Filling the vacancies in the theater with practitioners is not consistent with “truthfulness.” It also caused negative effects among the audience. We discussed this issue deeply. Thereafter, we seriously endeavored to improve our image and etiquette. People that pass by quickly cannot tell whether we represent Shen Yun Performing Arts or not. However, their impressions of Shen Yun are driven by their impressions of us. Therefore, practitioners in our team tried our best to dress well and have appropriate makeup and etiquette. We memorized the features of Shen Yun, using concise introductions in conversations with people so that they could understand the most outstanding parts of Shen Yun even though they only stayed at our booths for 30 seconds.
First-rate performance requires first-rate promotion. Fellow practitioners and I tried many different ways to bring the information of Shen Yun to those living in luxurious apartments, business centers, art institutions and the various levels of government. The information regarding Shen Yun entered mainstream society. It gives people in high-class society the opportunity to be saved. This “brand-name effect” can also efficiently influence people in the middle-class or lower-income social levels, encouraging them to see the show... In our minds, we trust Master and we are completely confident about the quality of Shen Yun. Master and Dafa disciples are well prepared. We do not have the mentality of pursuit while selling tickets. However, I do not want to miss any person that would like to be saved.
Master said in “Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference:”
“…Even when in your daily life you pass by people so quickly that you don't have a chance to talk to them, you should still leave them with your compassion and kindness. Don't lose those who should be saved, especially those with predestined connections.”
Our attitude towards sentient beings determines their future. We have a tremendous responsibility to save sentient beings.
3. The Responsibility for Sentient Beings
We held seven Shen Yun shows in the best theater in Washington D.C. this February. Some practitioners praised our team for selling many tickets, and asked us to share our experiences. The members of our team collaborated very well with each other, and we committed ourselves to selling the tickets. We also tried to improve our skills. I am not a good coordinator, but everyone in our team had a pure heart for saving people. Although some were not good at speaking fluent English, we maintained strong righteous thoughts and helped each other. There was no conflict among us as we all focused on saving people. Here, I would like to share my experience of cultivation during the process of promoting the latest Shen Yun shows.
On a Saturday in January, we did a very good job. Members of our team encouraged and supported each other. During the busiest times, we needed to deal with several groups of customers. That day, we sold more than 100 tickets. Although everyone was happy, I felt saddened the most that day. Before the store closed, a couple came in. The wife was attracted to our booth, but the husband didn’t express any interest and went shopping. I talked to the wife for ten minutes. She decided to buy two tickets for her and her husband. When she went to the cashier, I could not find the tickets I promised her. Then I realized that the tickets I promised her were sold by another practitioner, but had not been crossed out on the seating chart. When the wife returned, I apologized and told her that I would find two better tickets. I called our ticketing hot-line, and found two tickets for her right away. At that time, her husband came, and learned what had happened. He insisted on returning the tickets. He said that they have a membership to the theater, so they trust that the service offered by the theater, and thus would rather buy tickets from the box office at the theater directly. He explained that he would not feel comfortable if he left without the actual tickets in his pocket. I had to apologize again and told them that I truly hope they would enjoy the show and asked them to buy the tickets from the theater. On my way back home, I couldn't get over this. I was so sad that I almost cried. I was thinking that sentient beings born in the era of Fa spreading have waited ages for this chance to be saved, but our unprofessional approach and carelessness pushed them away.
I felt guilty that I pushed away people that Master tries to have saved. Later, we sold a lot tickets, but I couldn’t forget this couple. Every time I thought of them, I sent forth righteous thoughts, hoping they would buy the tickets at the theater. A week before the show, I learned that there were still some tickets available. I called them after sending forth righteous thoughts. I told them sincerely, that “Due to my mistake, you had missed the chance to enjoy the show. To dismiss my guilty feeling, I will buy two tickets for you.” She said: “You don't have to do that.” I said, “I would like to make up for my own mistake.” She was touched and asked her husband. She told me that they would like to see the show. I bought two tickets right away. I appreciate that Master gave me a chance to make up for my mistake, and also felt happy for the couple, who could still be saved. They came to the show, dressed nicely. During the intermission, they found me. They hugged me and thanked me for giving them this chance. They kept praising the show. Later, I thought about it and learned a lot from this experience. I am an absent-minded person. I often burn pots on the stove, leave the keys in the car or forget to turn off the engine. I have caused trouble in my workplace. Since those troubles were not big enough, I never thought about why I am so absent-minded. But this time I realized that when it comes to saving people, my carelessness could destroy people's hope of being saved. This, of course, is very serious. I realized that it is actually an issue of responsibility for sentient beings. At home, I depend on my husband; in the company, I depend on my boss; at Dafa activities, I depend on the coordinators and other fellow practitioners. I often depend on others when I have stress. But how can I manage sentient beings in a celestial body if I don’t act responsibly? During the promotion of the show, I came to realize my responsibility for people. Sometimes, when I looked at those who were buying the tickets, I felt that they were like my children and I wanted to give them the best.
4. The Attachment of Pursuit Interferes with Saving People
Earlier this year, I obtained the contact information of a particular VIP. She had many connections that could be helpful in promoting Shen Yun. I developed an attachment to pursuit. I imagined the possible ways that she could promote the show after watching it. Two weeks before the show, I contacted her. She was happy to come to the show and promised to invite several colleagues who often organize shows and know people within the arts community. I was very happy. I forgot that saving her is of primary importance. I forgot that if she watched the show and was saved, that she would naturally do what she is supposed to do. I never heard back from her again. She called me right before the show started. She apologized that she had a family emergency and could not come, and people that she invited could not come either. I was very disappointed. This was a serious lesson. Things become difficult if we forget our task of saving people. In contrast, I once invited someone in charge of a veterans’ association. I didn't have any pursuit and didn't think of asking him for anything. Although his wife was seriously ill, I encouraged him to come. The day after the show, he emailed me, saying he was honored to have watched the show. He thanked us on behalf of the Mayor's office for offering a wonderful show to the veterans.
It is usually difficult to sell tickets to Chinese people. We weren’t attached to selling tickets to them. Our goal was to let them know about the beauty of the show and of Dafa. Many Chinese were attracted to the splendid show. They weren’t concerned that the show was put on by Faun Gong practitioners. They felt that we made Chinese culture look positive. Some of them accepted materials and some bought tickets and took flyers for their American friends.
5. Eliminating the Attachment to Comfort and Striving Forward Diligently in Cultivation
Master said in “Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference:”
“There is something very real that I've observed, however. Namely, the change that a Shen Yun performance brings about locally is enormous. So many people become clear about Dafa in one fell swoop, and they change for the better. That would be awfully hard for you to achieve under normal circumstances.”
The shows in February had very good results. We decided to hold seven more. Washington D.C. is the capital of the USA, and also the political center of the world. Last year, due to our xinxing problem, we were not able to hold any shows here, and missed the precious chance to save people. We didn’t do very well in clarifying the truth to the government either. This year, Master gave us the chance to make it up.
I never encountered tribulations in my cultivation. I never had sickness karma or conflicts with other fellow practitioners. As Master pointed out, and in my words, in a comfortable environment I slacked off. Sometimes, I am attached to comfort. After the shows in February, I relaxed. I sometimes surfed online for food recipes and read news about movie stars. These attachments interfered with my Fa-study. After reading Master's teaching at the 2009 New York Fa Conference, I felt that every word in the teaching was said to me. I was very touched when listening to the Shen Yun dancers’ experience sharings. Their pure hearts made me cry. I felt that I had betrayed Master's benevolence.
I had a good life in China. After the persecution started, I was not attached to the quality of my life. I and my husband got married in Beijing one month before July 20, 1999. We put down all of our attachments, including the attachment to life and death, before we left home to appeal for Dafa. In those days, I didn't have an attachment to the good life. I was also like that when I first came to America. Now when I look back, I realize that the reason I didn't have an attachment to a comfortable life, and the reason I had put down my attachment to life and death before I went to appeal for Dafa, was because I knew that I had no ability to keep those things. The Communist Party can take everything away from me overnight. In this harsh external environment, I didn't dare to develop any attachment to comfort. But in America, the environment was better, so I slacked off. In fact, I realized that I didn't really eliminate my attachment to comfort. Master said in “Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York:”
“Actually, with some students it's not that their human attachments have been cultivated away but that the students have been too scared to do anything out of line.”
In cultivation, I always have to maintain a balance: I need to cultivate in the form of everyday society, but I cannot be dragged into everyday society. I try my best in my daily life and work. I make friends with the people within my environment so that I can clarify the truth to them. But I need to be careful not to be influenced by the negative things in society today. Perhaps, it is the most difficult part in our cultivation that we need to live in everyday society, while maintaining our hearts in cultivation. It is a sin against Fa-rectification and sentient beings if we develop attachments to comfort. Master said in “Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference”:
“The Final Judgment that they arranged was not limited to the judging of those who would play oppositional or negative roles, or those who would do bad things. Rather, those that had played positive roles would also have to face the Judgment. What would they face? Here's an example. While you might have played a positive role during Fa-rectification, there would remain the question: did you fulfill your responsibilities to the utmost degree?”
Two weeks ago, we started selling tickets in luxury shopping centers in wealthy communities. It was even harder than before. Many kind people had never heard about Shen Yun or Falun Gong. We came to change this. Master said in “Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference:”
“My Dafa disciples... you are distributed over a large expanse (gesturing), and you are each now responsible for your respective area of this world. Changes in your thinking can lead to changes in your surrounding environment. How the people in your region are is a result of the extent to which you have clarified the truth to them. The environment is shaped by your human attachments. When the environment is bad, it is because you made it that way.”
At the beginning, the ticket selling didn’t go very well. However, we knew that if we had strong righteous thoughts and a solid belief in Master and the Fa, and are willing to suffer, we would change the environment in these wealthy communities. Now, ticket sales are increasing; it is as good as the level we had earlier this year. It is just like Master said in Hong Yin Volume II (“The Master-Disciple Bond,” Translation Version A):
“When disciples have ample righteous thoughts, Master has the power to turn back the tide.”
With Master's help and protection, I have been cultivating for 13 years. Looking back over my precious time in the human world, my heart is full of appreciation to Master. I don't know how many times I have reincarnated within the universe and I don't know how I obtained this precious chance to cultivate. I wish in the future that I will keep striving forward diligently and not waste any time. I will try my best to fully use my capabilities given by Master to save sentient beings as we return to our original homes together.
Thank you, Master. Thank you fellow practitioners. Please correct me with compassion if anything is inappropriate.