Reflecting on My Cultivation

A Dafa Disciple from Austria

PureInsight | November 29, 2017

[] Last year, I experienced the biggest test since I started my cultivation. The test felt so hard to pass and I was pushed to the edge of my limit with my xinxing. My attachments were all stirred up. Having stumbled through, I could really see my attachments and limitations. There is still so much for me to learn and enlighten to.

As the coordinator of Austria FXH (Dafa Association), in 2008, I started coordinating the task of hosting Shen Yun in Vienna. Although I felt that I worked very hard, there was no breakthrough. I was really worried. In 2016, one month before Shen Yun began its tour, one fellow practitioner criticized me fiercely on the email group. Other fellow practitioners felt that if we wanted to sell tickets well, we would have to resolve this conflict. So a few more practitioners joined the conversation, and the criticism became more and more intense.

Some fellow practitioners believed that, as the third party witnessing such conflicts, they should also look inwards. They tried very hard to do so, but couldn’t find anything. They also saw the situation worsen, but didn’t know what to do. They felt very uncomfortable themselves. Some fellow practitioners thought that, if I was being criticized for this and that, then I must have done something wrong. So many different practitioners were involved, and the pressure in the environment became greater and greater. I was looking inwards and wanted to share directly with the practitioners who criticized me, however I didn’t see any positive results. When I met practitioners at our Shen Yun ticket sales booth, I was told that no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t help but think about the intense criticism on the email group. Some fellow practitioners, who were good at selling tickets before, couldn’t sell much, however hard they tried. When I saw all of these, I was under tremendous pressure. I really didn’t know what to do, as whatever decision I made, criticism would follow straightaway.

Once, I talked to a fellow practitioner at our ticket sales site. He told me that he had been thinking about what had happened. He had just read Master’s lecture, Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference. He pointed out one paragraph to me, saying that it might help.

Master said in Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference, “Indeed, certain coordinators have some qualities that are too much like ordinary people’s. But such are the types of cultivators you need to work with, cultivators with states such as they now have, and they do have many human thoughts. But they are still Dafa disciples nevertheless. This is how numerous and great the challenges that you face are and, as a coordinator, you have to face these and face them squarely, and you have to adapt to them. It’s just not possible for you to turn these practitioners into people who are a certain way or the kind of people you want them to be. Something as large as this whole society cannot even change them. Dafa cultivation can change them, but that is done one layer at a time, and until that process reaches the surface, the person will still be that way. Only those who are diligent are able to keep their bad tendencies in check. But normally there will be some people who aren’t even aware of [their problems] and remain that way. If you want them to be a certain way, that will be very hard for them to achieve. Even I, as their Master, have not set forth a requirement that they must behave a certain way. So how should you act, as a coordinator? Could it work if you serve as a coordinator for only some of the people? What kind of coordinator would you like to be? Have you thought about that? Are you hoping that everyone will be as obedient as a flock of sheep before you? That’s what you want, not what I want. As complicated as things are, [you should figure out] how to be a good coordinator of Dafa disciples. Now that Master has given you the responsibility, [think about] how you are going to lead these people well for me.”

I felt like I had never read it before. Especially when Master states, “you have to adapt to them”, I was shocked. I heard the opinions of those practitioners who expressed themselves so vehemently, and looking inward, sometimes I did have thoughts deep in my heart like, “how could they say that?” After I read Master’s teaching, I suddenly felt that my heart was broadened and a new path opened up before me. But what should I do exactly? How should I “adapt to them”? I still wasn’t sure.

I have been thinking about it ever since. Now, what I have come to understand is, its connotation includes: 1. To leave some room for others rather than making decisions based on my own wishes; 2. To assess each individual practitioner’s situation and give them an opportunity to use their capabilities. What changes us is cultivation. This is the foremost important thing. Easier said than done, and to what extent you can do it is dependent on true cultivation.

As Shen Yun 2016 came closer and closer, the pressure from those fellow practitioners who criticised me became more and more severe. With this state, the tickets were not selling at all. When some fellow practitioners suggested that we study the Fa together, they were also criticised for pressuring others, saying that it would be the same as the “people's commune” initiated by the Chinese Communist Party. That was the first time I felt that I couldn’t be the coordinator anymore. If we had continued like that, the result would have been unbearable to imagine. I asked for help from other countries. Luckily, upon learning the situation here, some fellow practitioners from other countries came to help. Together we improved the situation a little bit.

After Shen Yun’s shows had finished, our benevolent and mighty Master specifically gave us European practitioners a lecture in New York. I was quite shocked afterwards. When Master appointed the Shen Yun coordinator for Germany, I suddenly had a thought. I had known this fellow practitioner for years. I’m quite “stubborn” in terms of having my own ideas, but that doesn't invite fresh ideas; whereas the German coordinator is very “flexible and smart” and is very good at solving complicated issues, using simple methods. I’ve been coordinating Shen Yun in Austria for so many years, but haven't been able to do it well. Since Master has asked him to coordinate Shen Yun in Germany, surely he’d be able to coordinate Shen Yun well in Austria as well; then Austria would have hope. When I returned home, I asked the Shen Yun office if this practitioner could replace me to lead the coordination of Shen Yun in Austria. They agreed. At that time, I was so relieved; I felt that Austria now had new hope to welcome Shen Yun.

Looking back, why couldn’t I handle this situation or coordinate the work well during the 2016 Shen Yun? It was like the saying in Chinese – “one incompetent leader can exhaust the whole Armed Forces.” I realized that I had so much sentimentality towards my fellow practitioners. As I was among the first few practitioners in Austria, I had experienced many fellow practitioners’ process of obtaining the Fa, their starting cultivation and then becoming mature cultivators. I felt that all practitioners in Austria were very close to me, whether they were easy to get on with or not; I felt like they were all my family.

As time flies, I gradually became too attached to them. When they made suggestions, although I was looking inward, a large part of me was using my human sentimentality to try to understand them and want good for them. I put too much emphasis on the issue itself and couldn’t let it go. Once we were in the midst of conflicts, it became harder for us to see things from the perspective of the Fa. Thus, our discussion became a discussion of all the details of the issue, rather than a solution based on the Fa. Because of my emotions towards my fellow practitioners (“family members”), when faced with various opinions, I tried to be exhaustive – I took the stance that everyone’s opinion was good and every suggestion reasonable; I was just trying to be the nice guy. As a coordinator, however, this made my decisions and the principles they were based upon unclear, leading to upsetting some practitioners. Also, I found it very hard to say “no” to others. Hence, I tired myself out dealing with various opinions. When I really couldn’t balance them all, I then said “no”. But this made the “no” sound so resolute, rather than fair. Without any power behind my decisions, many saw me as being like a dictator. And when I saw that fellow practitioners couldn’t pass their tests, I really hoped that they could make it through, so I tried my best to help them. But again, because it was all based on sentimentality, I cared too much about the matter itself. At the end of the day, cultivation is everyone’s own choice; I cannot decide for others.

I also realised that I didn’t communicate well enough with others. When I experienced difficulties during coordination, I usually didn’t speak out, as I felt that this was a test for me to pass, and that I should try to endure it and harmonize the situation. However, I didn’t think of other fellow practitioners. If I didn’t say anything about the situation, not only were they unable to help, but they also didn’t understand why I made certain decisions. When we were working on hosting Shen Yun again in 2017, for a while, some fellow practitioners also had high hopes for the new coordinator. They were waiting for him to make lots of decisions. In one of the Shen Yun meetings we had, this practitioner shared frankly with everyone that this was his first time to be a Shen Yun coordinator and that there were so many things that he didn’t know; He therefore couldn’t make decisions. He hoped that others could tell him more about their experiences and make suggestions, helping him by making the decisions together. Afterwards, the pressure between fellow practitioners reduced a lot. Many practitioners took the initiative to come up with ideas to help make decisions. Eventually the pressure among us disappeared and everyone took even more initiative to improve things. This was very inspirational to me.

Cultivation wouldn’t count if it wouldn’t move one's heart. After the 2016 Shen Yun, the test didn’t disappear for me just because I was no longer the coordinator. After the New York Fa conference that year, the few practitioners who were fiercely criticizing me before started a new round of criticism through our email group, while encouraging other practitioners to express their views. I was so surprised. I didn’t see any kindness in their criticism; it was as if everything was my fault and I’d better be beaten to death. I’d never experienced the Cultural Revolution in China, however, I felt like what they were doing was like the “verbal struggle” that took place back then. I thought to myself, "These few western practitioners have always claimed that I've been following the CCP’s way of doing things, but they don't realize that what they are doing is more like what they claim." Based on the Fa, I knew that as the main coordinator, I had unavoidable responsibility for not doing well with Shen Yun in Austria, but emotionally, I just couldn’t accept the way they criticized me.

During that time, there were so many criticising emails every single day, one after another. Even some practitioners who used to cooperate very well in the past started to say that I was no longer suitable to be the coordinator in Austria, because I was Chinese. I felt so bitter inside, but just didn’t know who I could talk to. I was under so much pressure and felt like I was on the edge of a cliff. I knew I wouldn’t pass the test by looking outwardly; I should look inward and improve myself. But my state was not stable. Sometimes, I could look inward, whereas other times, I looked outward and thought that others were unfair. I even thought to myself: "I have already tried so hard and they still carry on like this! I’d better leave Austria and go to another country; they can do whatever they want."

Around that time, one veteran practitioner wrote an email. He stated that, because I had made decisions in Austria most of the time, gradually, he and others had become more and more passive, since I would make the final decision at the end anyway. So they no longer took any initiative to think about things. He also said that whether or not we could change the situation in Austria depended on whether I could change myself, as well as whether others could take the initiative, rather than relying on me. His sharing really made me reflect. I do things relatively faster than others. Although I wanted everyone to get involved, after a while, I would become impatient and decided to do things myself in order to move things forward. It has its advantages, but also has its drawbacks. What I'd done had actually made the environment very passive, and consequently, some fellow practitioners were reluctant to take on responsibilities. As for myself, I experienced increasingly more limitations and became ever more tired.

Master says in Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. International Fa Conference, “A person who has a position of responsibility is actually a coordinator, and getting more capable people involved is what’s key. How big of a role can any one individual play? Only when the group as a whole plays its role has the coordinator done well. When a coordinator does well himself, well, if you’re the only one doing well, then you should just be an average student in that case. The key is that you have got to play the role of and fulfill the duties of a coordinator. And I’ll mention another thing. The coordinators in all regions must abandon the approach of overseeing all things big and small. Each region should give free rein to the students in that locale and support them when they take the initiative to validate the Fa. Don’t hold them back, unless it’s those who often go to extremes. Veteran Dafa disciples have matured now, and they are walking their own paths towards Consummation. You need to be clear on this.”

I shared with a fellow coordinator from another European country. She said that fellow practitioners complain about us coordinators, because many of us from FXH (Dafa Association) haven't done well. "Rather than have regrets at the end, it would be better to be criticized and correct our mistakes now," she said. She’s right. Master is very worried. I'm also hoping that Austria can catch up, so shouldn’t I just change myself quickly, rather than be angry with others? Why should I feel wronged? If we can’t do it well, everything will end up in vain. Once I enlightened to this, my state gradually stabilized.

Looking back after passing the test, I was really scared. Since the evil persecution had started, I’d stumbled through so much; how could the pressure from my fellow practitioners almost destroy me? Doesn’t it reflect issues in my cultivation? How can I make my cultivation more solid? I started to reflect on my daily Fa study and exercises.

Commuting to work (round trip) takes me three hours a day, which used to be a good time for Fa study. But I’ve been so tired in recent years that I usually sleep through the journey. When I get home, it’s usually quite late, and I have so many things to do and coordinate. Fa study and exercises have become a new challenge every day. This test with fellow practitioners was like a blow with a heavy hammer; it made me realize the urgency of Fa study. Since the beginning of this year, I had started to study the Fa with a few practitioners on Skype in the morning, before work. Even though the time I had in the morning was quite limited and I couldn’t join them on a daily basis, once fixed, this morning Fa study schedule helped my cultivation a lot. It also became easier for me to find the time for Fa study during the day. I go to Vienna to work everyday. In a park in the city centre, there are many Chinese tourists. Fellow practitioners also do group exercises there in the mornings. I’ve always wanted to join them, but have never managed to do so, time being so limited. I also go out during my lunch breaks to clarify the truth there.

After Shen Yun concluded their tour this year, according to Master’s compassionate arrangement, I went to the exercise site to pick something up. The enormous energy and the peaceful field really shocked me. I felt that all my bad elements were being eliminated while I was there. I truly felt that Master wanted me to see the importance of self-cultivation in saving sentient beings. So I made up my mind – I wanted to join the group exercises. When I explained my wish to my colleagues, they were very understanding and supportive. From then on, I was able to start work at 10am, one day a week, so I could join the exercises. These little changes made my cultivation more solid than before.

This year is the 25th Anniversary of Falun Dafa being introduced to the world. Time really flies! I remember obtaining the Fa not long before the persecution started in 1999. One day, I was walking with a fellow practitioner. I said, "Once I reach Consummation, I’ll definitely come back and save these sentient beings in the world”. My understanding of Dafa was very shallow back then, but my heart was pure. As I cultivate, I understand more and more, the responsibility of Dafa disciples. Lately, I quite often recall what I said back then. Nowadays, time is so pressing; our vows need to be fulfilled.

Cultivation is not easy. Looking back, I can see how painful it has been to pass tests. But once we make it through, what we increasingly see is how our attachments limit us, so we feel gratitude while improving.

To finish off, I would like to share with everyone Master’s teaching from A Congratulatory Letter to the Fa Conference of Europe, “A Fa conference is meant for cultivation. What a cultivator cultivates is none other than him or herself. The outside pressures that Dafa disciples face are tests as well as opportunities to be more diligent, while the internal conflicts and pressures among Dafa disciples are, likewise, tests and opportunities to be more diligent. Every one of us, excepting me alone, is a cultivator. How well you do is a reflection of your cultivation state, and no one is an exception. You will not be able to complete the final leg of your journey well if your cultivation is deficient in some way, or if you have human thinking or attachments. What a cultivator works on is always him or herself, and even the slightest change to your human thinking amounts to an improvement and will be witnessed by divine beings. Cultivation is not something done for Dafa’s sake, and nor is saving lives. Rather, cultivation ensures that a being is progressing toward spiritual perfection, while saving lives comes from a cultivator’s compassion and his or her responsibility when sentient beings are in peril. The journey that you take is a process of letting go of your many strong attachments and walking the path well.”

Thank you Benevolent Master! Thank you fellow practitioners for your help!

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