PureInsight | October 23, 2014
[PureInsight.org] Hello everyone. My name is Nate and I have been cultivating for the past two-and-a-half-years or so. Without a doubt cultivation practice is and has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. Even writing this article has been quite challenging. I have been trying to write something like this for the last year-and-a-half, and I was never able to get further than a paragraph. I felt, and still feel that my cultivation is not really anything worth mentioning. I stumble frequently and my attachments and my gaps are many. There are so many practitioners who are better than me, who are more diligent than I am, and who do the three things much better than I do them. But, I was reminded that writing an experience sharing article is not about validating myself, it is about validating the Fa. I might not be where I want to be in cultivation, but an experience sharing article is about my experience as a practitioner, good and bad. So, when I was asked to write an article, I was not able to find any valid excuse not to do it. Of course, my attachment to reputation showed itself, but I was able to recognize it and move forward. I also thought what if Master came to me directly and asked me to write an article? What excuse would I have to say no? I would have none. So, while I certainly am not fond of speaking to a large audience, and I feel that my cultivation could be much better, I was asked to write an article, and I have no excuse to say no.
In my short time as a cultivator, I have not noticed many changes in myself, but those who knew me before I began cultivation tell me the changes have been quite considerable. One thing I have noticed is that I am no longer the angry and intense person I used to be. Whenever I was dealing with my anxiety and depression, and just general stress that life served up, I was greatly affected. No matter how much I tried not to show it, my anger would come through. I was always angry because I could not figure out how to fix what was wrong with me, and because my life was not turning out how I thought it should. I was so affected that I would noticeably make people uncomfortable when they were around me. It is not that I ever took my issues out on them, but being in that kind of state certainly can have a negative effect on people. On many occasions, people told me I was the angriest person they had ever met. However, after practicing for these last few years, all that has gone away. I still deal with intense bouts of thought karma, and cultivation certainly has not become easy, but because of Falun Dafa, I can deal with issues much better than I used to. My family and friends have said that I am now a completely different person. I do not know about that, but I am glad they understand that Falun Dafa truly is good.
Beginning the Practice
How I became a practitioner is a pretty straightforward story. In my last year of graduate school, I just happened to get a roommate who was and is a Western practitioner. From the moment we met, we began having very long conversations about everything. Naturally, he brought up the practice, and of course, many more long conversations ensued. Eventually, he gave me Zhuan Falun to read, and I was able to finish it very quickly. From then on, all I could think about was Falun Dafa. After about five or six months of thinking it over, I decided to commit to being a practitioner. However, as everyone knows, cultivation is not a simple matter. I had a great deal of resistance, and had it not been for my roommate to help me along, I would have quit.
I immediately had deep self-doubt. The requirements of a practitioner are so high, and I felt that my starting point was too far away. On many occasions I decided to quit because I knew there was no way I could succeed. But, my roommate was always there to help me. I explained how terrible I was and how I would never be able to do this and he would always tell me to never stop reading the book and not to quit. So, I decided to keep moving forward and to take things one step at a time.
Once I was able to steady myself some, the first attachment I focused on was my speech. Having been an athlete for a large part of my life, and holding many jobs in manual labor, being vulgar and cursing like a sailor came as natural to me as breathing. I would sometimes even be cursing without even realizing it. So, with much effort and constant vigilance, I have been able to gradually bring my speech to be more in line with that of a practitioner.
With so many attachments to remove, I sometimes get so frustrated because I feel I am not where I should be in my progress as a cultivator. I get anxious because I feel like I do not have enough time, which is another attachment. I am often anxious because I know I was allowed to come in late, and I have a lot of ground to make up. So, when I cannot meet the standards of a practitioner, I become even more anxious. But, whenever these feelings come up, I remember the story about the cultivator who failed twice because he became excited and then scared when he was about to break through the three realms. The lesson I take from this story is, no matter when I came to the practice, what my level is, what group I am in, or when the Fa rectification ends, as long as I am a practitioner, and things have not wrapped up, I must do the three things well because I am a cultivator during the Fa rectification and nothing else matters.
About nine months ago, when promotion for Shen Yun was beginning in the St. Louis area, I had been working as a driver for public transportation in Illinois. My job was to transport elderly and low-income individuals to necessary appointments. This was a job I never wanted. About a year prior, I had graduated from art school, and I was all set to start my career as a professional artist and an art professor. But, as plans often do, they fell through. Nothing at all was going right for me. I had a job lined up after I graduated, but it vanished. After that, no matter how many applications I sent out, all I got was rejection. I even tried going back to school, but that fell through as well. I was thirty years old, I could not find a job and I was back home living with my parents. Everything was looking hopeless, and I did not know what to do. But, even with all of this happening, I never forgot that I was a cultivator. Every time I read the book, certain sections would jump out at me. Master’s words about upgrading xinxing (Zhuan Falun) were always heavy on my mind.
“Why are there so many problems all of a sudden? This person himself might not get it. Because of his good inborn quality, he has reached a certain level that brings about this situation. Yet how can that be a practitioner’s final criterion for completing cultivation? It is far from the end of cultivation practice!”
Then, one day my father got me a job as a driver.
I had always been a bit shy around people I did not know, but now I was forced to talk to complete strangers on a regular basis. One day it suddenly dawned on me that this was an arrangement by Master for me to clarify to truth. So, I overcame my shyness and began to find ways to talk about the practice and the persecution. The more people I spoke to the easier it was for me to speak. I was still shy, but I kept thinking that these people have been waiting for a very long time to hear about Falun Dafa, and how awful it would be if I did not try to talk to them about the practice.
I found that nearly everyone I spoke to had never heard about Falun Dafa and neither had they heard about the persecution. When I told them what was happening in China, many of them were genuinely shocked. Some of them were even noticeably moved. Then, of course, there were those that could care less.
But, no matter how their surface reacted, I knew deep down, they had been waiting for me to tell them about Dafa. So, for as long as I was driving these people around, I made every effort to tell them about the Fa.
After about a year of driving, I had become a part of the St. Louis Falun Dafa group, and was now helping with promotion for Shen Yun. As soon as promotions started, I began telling all of my passengers and my coworkers about the show. Unfortunately, most people I told showed very little interest, but there was one person who was much different from the others.
In October, about a month before promotions started, I had been driving an interesting elderly woman to appointments on a regular basis. Her name was Jeannette, and she was considered to be very difficult to deal with by my co-workers. She would frequently yell and curse at the dispatchers when she would call to make appointments, and she would get easily annoyed at minor things that different drivers did. She frequently spoke her mind and did not care about how she might make others feel. But, even with her reputation, she and I got along just fine; even though upon first meeting her I found her to be quite strange and I tried to keep my distance from her.
I was talking to Jeannette about Falun Dafa every chance I had, and she always seemed rather uninterested. She was devoutly Christian, and did not want to hear about other things. However, she thought well of me, and so she did not have a bad impression of the practice. When it came time to promote Shen Yun, to my surprise, she was very interested. She even gave me cash for a balcony ticket right then and there. I told her that I could hold her money for her until she found someone to go with so she did not have to sit by herself. She tried everyone she knew, but there were either conflicting schedules or people were just not interested. I had a thought that I could purchase a ticket and go with her, since I was planning on going anyway. But, I did not make that offer because of my attachment to thinking she was strange and wanting to keep my distance.
After about a month went by, she still had not found anyone to go with, and was very sad about it. I asked her if she still wanted me to purchase the ticket, and she almost started crying. She told me to forget about the ticket and she was not going. In this moment, I felt a great sense of discomfort because I knew that I had let her down. I was preventing her from being saved because I could not get over an insignificant attachment. By this time, I had already purchased a front row ticket, and was going with my grandmother, and my boss.
After giving it some thought, I decided that I would pay to upgrade her ticket and take her with me to see the show. But, it was too late. She would not listen to anything I said. I tried to explain to her what I wanted to do, but she just kept saying that she did not want to go anymore and that she wanted her money back.
Finally, as a last effort, I told my boss the situation, and she decided to help. My boss called Jeannette to tell her that her ticket was being upgraded and that she could go with us to see Shen Yun. I am happy to say that she accepted the upgraded ticket and was very grateful for the generosity. What was even more surprising is my boss paid to upgrade Jeannette’s ticket and told me not to worry about it.
So, Shen Yun came and went, and it was wonderful. Jeannette loved it, and is very excited to see it again next year.
I still talk to her from time to time, and after getting to know her, I found that she is quite a decent person. She is very generous, and kind, but is quite lonely. I am glad that I was able to overcome my attachments and that I took Jeannette with me to see Shen Yun.
This is the end of my experience sharing, and I would like to thank everyone for listening. If there is anything that needs to be addressed or corrected, please kindly point it out to me. Thank you.