PureInsight | October 10, 2009
Experience sharing from the 2009 Washington DC Fa Conference
[PureInsight.org] Shifu hao! Dajia hao! Hello Master! Hello everyone!
The title of my paper is “Some Experiences in Understanding that Our Own Improvement is Most Important.”
I moved to New York almost five years ago to work on The Epoch Times. It has been very hard work and we did not see much progress for about four years, but the process has been well worth it. Although there were many dark times, practitioners persisted, and now many of us feel like we can see “light at the end of the tunnel” for the English newspaper and website.
The paper has become more and more professional, more practitioners are joining the work, the financial situation is improving, and it looks like English Epoch Times will be ready to assume its place as the number one English-language media soon.
Today I want to share a few things I experienced and realized during the years of our work as practitioners on this media.
If you watched the video of Master talking to practitioners from Australia in 2007, you may remember he talked about how some practitioners who work in businesses run by other practitioners will sometimes say, “I'm here to cultivate, I'm not here to work.”
For me, on the other hand, I realized that at The Epoch Times, I sometimes have conducted myself as if my thought was different, but just as much a problem. My thinking may have been, “I'm here to work, I'm not here to cultivate.” Just to say this out loud of course points out the problem!
Master said in the Canada 2006 lecture:
“When someone doesn't handle things well, troubles will constantly arise. But those who do handle things well will constantly meet with tests as they cultivate. If you categorically regard all of them as interference and try to resolve the troubles just for the sake of resolving them, then you won't be able to resolve them, because they come about for the sake of your improvement.” (Teaching the Fa in Canada, 2006)
At The Epoch Times, we have had several talented people contribute for some time and then leave, without really explaining why. Of course I realized, as one of the key coordinators, that I needed to look inside and see what my role was in this situation. But for a long time I did not look deeply enough.
Several years ago in another project, I was a contributor to the work, but others were making the final decisions. I frequently gave well-reasoned advice from my knowledge and experience. It seemed like most of my input was ignored, or at least it was not used. Even though the decision-makers said that they carefully considered everything, it was hard to believe this, and many things I said were not even acknowledged in any way to the point that I did not know if what I had spent so much time and heart on meant anything. Eventually, it seemed to me that the decision-makers were determined to do things their own way and not change themselves and the way they handled things, and my hard work was a waste of time, time that I could use on other important truth-clarification projects. So I left that project. I believe many other people involved in that project also left over time.
Of course you can see that I had a problem in that situation, but what I felt at the time was that those coordinators were not handling things in the best way. The coordinators made decisions in private, and also seemed to carry themselves with a sense of superiority.
Several years later at The Epoch Times (ET), I had to consider if things were reversed and if I, as a coordinator, was not in the same state as those coordinators. I was a decision-maker, and talented people were leaving ET. Could it be that they gave their time and their heart, and that they felt their contributions were not valued and not acknowledged? Could it be that they felt that their time, so precious during this brief and historic period of Fa-rectification, would have more effect in helping to save sentient beings if they used it elsewhere?
I regret the loss of people and the delay to overall improvement at ET that my lack of consideration toward other practitioners and their ideas has caused. And I regret my basic lack of compassion for some hard-working practitioners. I was slow to enlighten to something even though I had vividly experienced something similar myself years before.
Master in his infinite benevolence always gives us more chances to improve. In recent months, in the course of trying to get things done at The Epoch Times, I have received some strong and very personal criticism from a number of practitioners who are involved in one way or another. Many unpleasant words were directed at me: “Poor manager,” “Disorganized,” “Selfish,” “Stubborn,” and so forth. If one is a practitioner, even someone like me, who is slow to enlighten to things, one must eventually calm down and really listen to practitioners when they have something to say.
So the only path was to listen, and cultivate myself more. I have increased Fa study in recent months, and I have made a real effort to listen to people who have new ideas or who want to criticize me. Just listen, not talk back, not try to defend old ideas or defend myself, but just listen, and try to find what are the true and useful points that practitioners bring up. Even when practitioners become very emotional, even when they say things that are not accurate, I know I can definitely learn some things from what they say, and I can treat it as cultivation. It is actually a gift they are giving me, helping me to improve when I could not do so by myself.
Master has brought up the issue of practitioners being unable to accept criticism so many times, and most explicitly in the Los Angeles 2006 lecture. So I have read that lecture more often, and I think I'm finally starting to get it, three years later!
Another problem I have had is frequent disagreements with some of the young men at ET. I realize that it is partially a competitive mentality on my part, wanting to show that I have more experience or that I know more. This is one problem on my part. But I wasn't able to make much progress on changing myself until, one day during group study early in the morning, a couple of sentences in Lecture Two of Zhuan Falun jumped out at me:
“Why is it difficult for young people to develop supernormal abilities? In particular, a young man still wants to strive to accomplish some objectives in ordinary human society! Once he has supernormal abilities, he will use them to achieve his goals.”
“That's it!” I said to myself. “These young men all are working hard to reach some goals and establish themselves in society. I remember how that was a struggle for me, and yes, it is really pressure, it's really hard.”
This enlightening and the memories from my own life help give some perspective to help me better understand my younger colleagues at ET, and it made the competitive and impatient feeling in me diminish.
I remember when I was younger how much I would have appreciated someone with more experience discreetly telling me what to do in certain situations, mentoring me, or just giving a well-timed kind word once in a while.
So now I try to act and think with more compassion and care toward these young men who are not only working hard to reach some goals in society, but also working very hard to clarify the facts, every day. Acting and thinking more compassionately is something I still need to improve a lot on, but now I believe I have found the sources of my problems.
The newspaper has been able to improve tangibly only after our cultivation as individuals has improved and only as our group environment has improved.
If the group of practitioners working on ET does not cultivate well, it will not matter how hard we work on external things, such as making more phone calls to sell ads or improving our writing technique. On the other hand, if we do cultivate ourselves diligently, including looking inside at every turn and accepting criticism, then the quality, reach, and impact of the media will improve fast. Of course, there are other factors that affect how well the media can contribute to saving sentient beings, such as cooperation among practitioners, and the support of righteous thoughts by practitioners who are not directly working on the newspaper. But without our own improvement as cultivators, there can be no success.
Recently, a few practitioners told me that I had become much more open about things at The Epoch Times. This surprised me in several ways: I had not realized that I had been closed or resistant to new things previously, nor that it was so noticeable. And I did not really know how the change that they saw had happened―I was simply trying to listen to and accept criticism more without resisting it or defending myself, just trying to cultivate myself better according to Dafa. I certainly did not try to become more open with any intention, but openness seems to have been the natural result of simply doing what Master has asked us to do so many times. Thinking about the change that others saw in me helped me to reflect and write this paper.
Master has said that our improvement is most important. I realize that I cannot forget this while working hard with other practitioners to produce a media that will help tell the truth to sentient beings.
Let me close with a few words from Lecture Four of Zhuan Falun. My understanding is that these words apply not only to our individual cultivation, but also to our truth-clarification projects and businesses:
"My fashen know everything―they know everything on your mind, and they can do anything. They will not take care of you if you do not practice cultivation. If you practice cultivation, they will help you all the way to the end."
Xie xie Shifu! Xie xie dajia! Thank you, Master! Thank you, everyone!