Having a Heart of Compassion Changed the Environment at our Practice Site

A New York City Practitioner

PureInsight | April 26, 2004

[PureInsight.org] Greetings, Master. Greetings, fellow practitioners of the great Fa.

About a year ago we started a practice site with Western practitioners in the heart of New York's Chinatown.

We chose to start our first practice on a Sunday morning. I noticed that the area was very dirty, with trash everywhere. There were about 60 Chinese people just a few yards away from us who seemed very surprised to see us. They talked very loudly and made it difficult for us to concentrate during the exercises. One guy who practiced a kind of monkey qigong did his monkey thing a couple of feet next to us and also screamed like a monkey from the bottom of his lungs. He continuously jumped up and down a tree. Once he hit the ground so hard that our exercise CD-player skipped. We ignored the interference and kept practicing.

As practitioners, we always have to set a good example in human behavior. When we went to the practice site we cleaned up the area before and after the practice. The area became much cleaner in a matter of weeks and people now seem to follow our good example to keep the place clean.

There was also quite a lot of interference in the beginning. Sometimes people yelled at us or said bad things about Falun Dafa. One morning somebody whispered something Chinese into my ear while we were meditating. After the meditation I found a letter under my mat with one page of handwritten slander.

On one occasion the usual group of communist party members was close by spreading their propaganda against Falun Dafa. After we finished with the practice a young female Chinese student, also a practitioner asked us to send forth righteous thoughts. She wanted to address those people and went over while the rest of us sent forth righteous thoughts. After 15 minutes I stood up to look for her and found her surrounded by 40 men. She sat on a wooden block with her hands on her knees right in the middle of this group of men. The leader kept threatening her with his finger pointing right at her face. She seemed to ignore these verbal attacks and just kindly clarified the truth to them. The contrast of these opposites – good and evil - was breathtaking and one of the most moving pictures I've ever seen. The pure heart and friendly nature of this young practitioner could easily take on so many people. In that moment I felt the boundless power of the Fa.

Some practitioners get anxious or angry when faced with a person who's poisoned. Some often ignore the evil slander because they easily fall into a debate. This is just avoiding the problem. We should face those people with compassion. The young practitioner did that and I'm sure she won a few of their hearts.

I think the person who was leading these verbal attacks in a most vicious way has turned around now. After this incident I always smiled at him or said hi when I saw him. For months he has refused to take our truth clarification material, but last week he actually took it. A few weeks ago he even told me his name and I had a pleasant conversation with him about his work and family.

He and many others saw us doing the exercises and meditation for the whole winter. One Sunday we had about a foot of snow and did the exercises in the snow. It was beautiful. In the past I would stick my hand out of the window in the morning and when a single raindrop hit my palm I'd think "Great! I don't have to practice." Even when it's freezing to the point that people rarely go out, the question to cancel the practice never came up among us. I think seeing us the whole winter doing the exercises; we somehow gained the respect of the people around. Rain or shine most practitioners come to the practice.

When we go to Chinatown, we're often still too involved in our own affairs. We talk to each other a lot or are absent minded because we worry about our own cultivation. I feel this is being too engrossed and we need to care more for the people around us. It has become so much easier lately and we shouldn't miss anybody because we're attached to our own concerns.

To my knowledge there are about one million Chinese in New York. I think it's very important that they see us in person to get to know who we are. It's hard to hate somebody you personally know. Even a single practitioner going to Chinatown maybe for an hour can make a big difference. It seems like people are waking up and strongly sense what we're doing for them. We get lots of "thank yous" and smiles every Sunday. When I go to a shop in Chinatown, sometimes a person recognizes me and asks: "So did you guys practice today?"

Master taught in the Atlanta lecture:

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.

(From "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Atlanta Fa Conference")

This sentence had a deep effect on me and I try to have kind and friendly thoughts about people. If I cultivate those thoughts well it becomes natural to approach somebody.

A year ago I wasn't a diligent practitioner. I had many tribulations, like daily physical discomfort or even debilitating pain in my arms and legs. Almost every day I felt too tired to talk to people. Even though these tribulations were quite decent sounding excuses for not going out and clarifying the truth – I realize now I was very selfishly attached to my own concerns. I cared more about my own tribulations than about being kind and compassionate to people. I felt I had a right not to show up to activities because of my tribulations and just stayed home to study the Fa by myself. Of course my progress was very slow because this was another attachment to my own situation.

In "What is Forbearance (Ren)?" in Essentials for Further Advancements Master taught:

To endure with anger, grievance, or tears is the forbearance of an everyday person who is attached to his concerns.

Cultivation is hard. But we should care for people. Sometimes when we're attached to our own concerns we don't even realize there are people around us, or we just communicate on a superficial level.

A big turning point came for me when a practitioner pointed out that I sometimes didn't do what I said. I knew that was true. I often told practitioners I would go to an activity, but then not show up, because I had too much work, too much pain or was too tired. I also told fellow practitioners: "Oh I should go to the consulate more, I should practice and hang out with practitioners more" etc. All those words were just empty talk and the only person I was fooling was myself. After the practitioner pointed this out, I looked inside and saw how unreliable I was.

I started immediately to closely observe what I say. When I promise something to cultivators or everyday people, I now usually do it. This has tremendously benefited my cultivation. After a year of slowly adding the things I'm supposed to do I'm now doing Dafa work almost every day. I try to eliminate the "shoulds" and "maybes" and use my words in a more specific and committing manner. If I'm not sure or don't mean to do something I keep my mouth shut and often still do it because I feel lighter and more responsible. I get the feeling of slowing down, and my thought activity actually does, but I get much more done.

A god has a thought and it is done right away. In our case, since we have a human body, we can't always do that but we can get as close as possible in giving our word more weight.

If we say something and end up not doing it, we're actually worse than the standard that gods established for human beings. One hundred years ago, an honorable person in the west, often called a "gentleman," would honor a promise for the rest of his life. In ancient Japan when a Samurai said something you could consider it done.

Let's look at an example: One powerful way of truth clarification is to go to a store in Chinatown, and just be part of the community. After being nice and buying or eating something I think I should give the sales person a flyer. This is a very pure and selfless thought, since we should tell the truth to everybody we meet. But then all those thoughts that don't even belong to me come out, like: "She won't take it...maybe he doesn't like Falun Gong, or I don't want to bother anybody" A god thinks and it's already done. So if I think I want to give this person a flyer, then I should take that flyer out of my bag right away and hand it over with a smile. With this straightforward thinking and acting, we use our minds less and allow our hearts and bodies to open up.

To feel more comfortable around practitioners and everyday people we need to cultivate openly. I try not to hide my attachments anymore and feel much lighter that way. Hiding our attachments makes no sense and is a big additional burden. There's nothing to fear if we cultivate openly and with dignity. In fact people will feel more comfortable around us because we're at ease and don't hide who we are.

With Chinese and Westerners practicing together now, the new practice site in Chinatown is growing fast. I enjoy seeing the progress in other practitioners and myself. I don't speak their language but I see a lot of beauty and purity in the faces of my fellow Chinese practitioners. The serious face expression some others and I previously had seemed to melt away. We're becoming much friendlier and less concerned. Even with the language barrier the smiles and the compassion of practitioners can aim right at a person's heart. With our own improvement and lightheartedness the environment changes constantly and dramatically. Many ordinary Chinese people joke with us, smile at us, and seem to feel comfortable around Falun Dafa practitioners. We're no strangers anymore and they start coming to learn the exercises.

My last thought goes to the practitioners in China who are not different from the Chinese people at our practice site or here in the audience. They are our friends and fellow practitioners. Let's never forget this and do everything we can to ease their situation.

Thank You.

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