Letting Go of Ego to Support Shen Yun
Experience Sharing from the 2011 European Fa Conference
[PureInsight.org] It has been more than three years since Stuttgart practitioners started trying to bring the Shen Yun Performing Arts to Stuttgart. We must admit that this wasn't easy at all. Firstly, it was difficult to find a suitable date and secondly, some of the theatre’s technical conditions weren't compatible with what the Shen Yun performances required.
We were in luck at the beginning of 2010, as there was a date that fitted into our schedule. Then, disaster struck. New York advised that the European tour plan had been changed, which resulted in us having to cancel the performance. Truth be told, I was glad that it wasn't us that caused the schedule change and so we couldn't be blamed. Once I got over the feeling of being glad, I realized that I still held onto notions and my belief in bringing Shen Yun to Stuttgart wasn't strong enough.
Most of the practitioners in our area, including me, have a full-time job. A couple that had been quite active during the past year moved to Malaysia for business reasons. Therefore, there were only five Western practitioners in our area and each one was busy with work. Therefore, I was worried because I had no clue how much extra work we could handle. But, we encouraged each other and were confident that Dafa disciples could perform exceptionally well when needed.
We remembered what Master said in Zhuan Falun:
“When it’s difficult to endure, you can endure it. When it’s impossible to do, you can do it.” In fact, that is how it is. Why don’t you give it a try when you return home. When you are overcoming a real hardship or tribulation, you try it. When it is difficult to endure, try to endure it. When it looks impossible and is said to be impossible, give it a try and see if it is possible. If you can actually do it, you will indeed find: “After passing the shady willow trees, there will be bright flowers and another village ahead!”
In November 2010, New York informed us that two dates were available for the Shen Yun 2011 performances in Germany. We immediately asked the theatre if these two dates were still open. Sure enough, one of the dates was open and we reserved it. After so many years our dream came true. I was filled with joy and understood that Master felt we had matured and were ready to take on all that was needed for the performance to be successful.
We didn't inform the practitioners in our group until everything had been finalized and the contract was signed. Then, we all sat down and discussed what we had to do first. There was much to be done and many sentient beings to be saved. Besides, we all were glad that this gave us the opportunity to raise our xinxing on a personal and group level.
To organize a performance was uncharted waters not just for me, but for all practitioners in our group. Some of us had helped to arrange Shen Yun performances in other cities, but this was limited to distributing flyers or helping out at promotional booths. This time, we had to do everything from scratch.
Being the main coordinator I realized quickly that I practised an authoritative leadership style, which led to problems with other practitioners. At my everyday job, I spend most of my time working independently. I am self-employed and had not really experienced a team environment. Also, I was used to making quick decisions without getting anyone else involved. Therefore, I became stubborn and egoistic over the years.
From the start I took on the responsibility because I thought this way we could proceed more rapidly. I thought that long winding discussions were a nuisance and I realized that I was very impatient. This trait gave me nightmares during sleep and I woke up drenched in sweat. Once I recognized this, I went almost every evening to practitioners’ study group. We studied the Fa before discussing and then we shared. Since that time I’ve simmered down and my cooperation with other practitioners in the team has improved.
Two practitioners took turns to fill the coordinator position, which lead to problems and misunderstandings when communicating. This wasn't a good solution. I distanced myself from this responsibility and realized far too late that the misunderstanding developed into trouble among the group members.
I realized that I had opened a large gap. Sometimes I reacted authoritatively, at other times I was aggressive and sometimes I was even too passive. Once I recognized this weakness, I looked within and found that this notion, which put me constantly on the defensive, had become second nature to me. At the same time, I realized during our discussions that I craved recognition from others. This upheld my ego. I also made decisions to protect myself. I always wanted to prove that I was perfect.
After looking within, I asked myself, "Why do I always have to defend myself and justify everything I do?" I asked myself what attachment was hiding behind wanting to prove myself and found the fundamental problem was that I was constantly afraid. I was afraid to make a mistake or be misunderstood. Once I recognized this, I could let go.
Master said at the "Fa Teaching Given in Manhattan" on March 26, 2006,
"Some people are always stressing that they’re right, but even if you are right, even if you’re not wrong, so what? Have you improved on the basis of the Fa? The very act of using human thinking to stress who’s right and whose wrong is in itself wrong. That’s because you are then using the logic of ordinary people to evaluate yourself, and using that logic to make demands on others. As gods see it, for a cultivator to be right or wrong in the human world is not important in the least, whereas eliminating the attachments that come from human thinking is important, and it is precisely your managing to eliminate those attachments rooted in your human thinking as you cultivate that counts as important."
Collaboration and cooperation among practitioners improved more and more. We had an important meeting during one of the weeks leading up to the show. We were going to meet with one of Stuttgart's most demanding and pretentious magazines and so decided that two of us should attend. All other practitioners were sending righteous thoughts. During negotiations, we could sense the strong support from the practitioners. We were able to tell our counterparts the history of Shen Yun and about the Falun Dafa association in detail. We were surprised by the harmony and positive environment we created during the discussions and how confident we were when making our case and giving our presentation. We were offered several pages of coverage on Shen Yun at a reasonable price. That aside, we got a valuable new contact that primarily deals with Asian culture.
When we printed the first batch of Shen Yun flyers and handed them out to practitioners, there was a problem. One of the flyers had a misprint -- the performance dates were wrong. We immediately came to the conclusion that there was a gap we hadn't closed. My first thought was that we should not waste our time with negative thoughts. That same night, Master hinted how we could correct the mistake, which was to paste a red dot over the weekdays in all 20,000 flyers. The flyer mentioned three more performances on the backside of the flyer, but the first thing the reader would see is the red dot. This problem turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The outcome was the difference between a good and a bad thought.
Ticket sales improved slowly, but were still flagging. A press release to the area's media brought with it some positive results. But, we encountered difficulties during the last three weeks of promotion at the music conservatory. Someone kept tearing down the posters and the flyers kept disappearing. After discussing the problem with the school’s leadership and telling them about Shen Yun, the obstruction disappeared.
There were only two days left before the performance. We had ceased most promotional activities. Unfortunately we couldn't fill the theatre, so our hearts were heavy.
The weather was beautiful, just like a midsummer day. We all worked hard up to the last minute. I could see how people changed after leaving the performance. Without exception, the people left the theatre with a big smile on their face after the show.
Annette Schavan, the minister for Education and Research, was among those who dearly enjoyed the performance. Angelika Schlöndorff, a film editor, was quite taken with the show and said, "I really liked it very much. It was very, very good. This truly comes from my heart." The wife of Oskar awardee Volker Schlöndorff came all the way from Berlin and had to travel for six hours to attend the show. All other VIP's loved the show as well.
The media reported favourably on the show during the next few days. The Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper talked in detail about the show and titled it, "Shen Yun Danced in Heavenly Worlds", ending the article with the sentence, "In summary, when watching Shen Yun, one sees grace, compassion and the exceptional beauty of heavenly worlds. The dancers presented all these in the most superb artistic manner and gestures." I was sure that no words could describe the journey through the Middle Kingdom more adequately and to the point.
Another of the many quotes is from the Bietigheimer Zeitung newspaper, where it was written: "Dance Performance Shen Yun takes its audience through a magical world."
In retrospect, I can say from my heart that as the main coordinator my cultivation level rose quite a bit during the preparations for Shen Yun. There were also many changes for the better amongst the other Stuttgart practitioners.
I vividly experienced the strong energy of one body, from the arrival to the departure of the Shen Yun artists. Everything ran like clockwork. We didn't allow the cooperative environment to be harmed despite the occasional problem, or let the thought that it could be done better come to haunt our mind.
I gave one of my neighbours, who I didn’t really know very well, a flyer months before the show. She took her entire family including sons and their grandmother to the first Shen Yun performance. She said, "This was a wonderful present, which was worth every penny." They loved the show. She told me that she downloaded the first 100 pages of the book Zhuan Falun immediately after the show. This deeply touched my heart.
Master gave us the opportunity to partake in this one-of-a-kind show, and gave us the chance to organize this show and be a particle in the Fa rectification, save sentient beings and raise our xinxing.
Thank you Master
Thank you fellow practitioners for your ongoing support.