I would like to share my cultivation improvement experiences, and how I used it in teaching performing arts.
1. Overcoming my ego
Students are usually encouraged to be selfish, to express their own desires and attract the audience's attention as much as possible. However, Master has told us selfishness is the reason for the degeneration of the old cosmos. We cultivators comprehend that our egos won't lead us to higher levels. Then, how can I explain the harm of selfishness to students during my teaching?
Communication was the first step, the core concept in performing arts--an art form that demands teamwork. The audience does not come to watch a certain individual show off. How sincerely the artists perform and how well they communicate with each other are of prime importance. During the exercise of communication I told the students that their performance looked dubious, because they only cared about their own feelings, thoughts, or assumptions, instead of finding out what others need. I shared my cultivation realizations, using words they could comprehend, "To be a good performing artist, one has to first help other artists to perform well." The Fa principles touched the students' hearts and they immediately understood it. Below are notes from students.
Student 1: In the initial practices I found myself able to react and adapt well, but most of the time I used words to express my thoughts and did not know how to perceive other people's feelings. By fitting other people into my framework of thinking, instead of considering others, I did not experience personal growth and my ego got bigger. In later practices I found my own problems and tried to solve them.
Student 2: The most important thing I learned from this is how to communicate with people. It may seem trivial, but how many of us truly know what communication means and are able to achieve it? Communicating with others means treating different people with different approaches since each has a unique character, temper, and personality. It is unlikely that we will be able to change other people--just like various roles themselves in performing arts that we will play. The only thing we can do is to change ourselves and improve in the way we treat people.
2. Using Fa-principles to interpret performing arts, leading students to be better people
I paid attention to the drama-selections in the classroom. To validate the Fa and save sentient beings, I used various dramas to disintegrate the Party culture, and that would encourage students' good thoughts.
One drama is a story on two women and one man. Many people consider the theme as two women competing for the same man. This is a contemporary, degenerated notion, since loving a person actually means caring and sacrifice. I told the students that the plot deals with how one of the women gives up the man since another's happiness equals one's own happiness. I also explained the decline of moral values to the students. Students changed their awareness from confusion to understanding, and in the end were touched. Below are notes from some.
Student 3: I feel I have grown up and become more mature, in performing arts and real life. Instead of being spoiled and arrogant, I am more considerate of others. My mother was surprised at my change, and I even think it is a miracle. I am more confident and have learned to handle things in a positive way. Instead of making things unnecessarily complicated, I now treat people and handle things with sincerity and a smile.
Student 4: This drama made me understand for the first time what love is. As a male, I am irritable and have a strong ego. I used to be selfish when dealing with females and did not allow others to touch things under my control. My stubborn character changed because of this drama, since I became aware that love can be selfless. This made me more tolerant, at least toward females.
Master said in Zhuan Falun,
"This agrees exactly with the cosmic climate as the Tao School describes it, for the yin and the yang are reversed, with yin in prosperity and yang in decline." (Lecture Three, Translation Version 2000)
Many boys nowadays do not behave like boys, and girls do not behave like girls. I constantly corrected students' degenerated notions by selecting dramas that represent traditional values, and systematically explained traditional culture to them. These efforts helped disintegrate the Party culture influence they were under; they benefited very much.
One student wrote, "Thank you very much for assigning me this role. To be honest, initially I did not like it, thinking this role is too different from me. I lacked confidence. Once rehearsal began, I suddenly understood why you asked me to play this role. You as a teacher have good insights into people; otherwise, I could be a different person now. Although you did not tell me directly, you gave me an opportunity to find it out for myself. After putting on water sleeves [props for this drama she played] I realized that I, too, could be a gentle and elegant lady. I would like to pursue this direction, to be a woman of truthfulness, compassion, and beauty."
Fa-study provides us with a better understanding of the meaning of compassion. As performing artists we need to bring compassion to the roles we play. The audience would thus understand the importance of preserving inborn purity during the course of one's arduous life.
One student wrote, "My teacher told me that prostitutes are people who suffer the most. It is a group of people who are members of society but do not have the life of a human being. Sadness and despair are buried deep in their hearts. Their souls, however, are still valuable. I was deeply touched by this realization and decided to play this role well. I hope the audience will be sympathetic for the role I play, shed tears for her, and bless her. I loved this role and saw some audience members in tears. I know I have succeeded in playing the role, but this is merely the beginning. This drama afforded me the opportunity to learn much from the role. I have become more considerate towards others."
3. Following Master and Teaching by Precept and Example
Master taught us by precept and example. In my teaching I try my best to maintain righteous thoughts, dress appropriately and be correct in the things I say and the thoughts I have. I try my best to manifest the wonders of Dafa. As far as clothing--I learned grace and beauty from Shen Yun dancer's performances; when students encounter conflicts I ask them to be considerate of others before they say anything. I ask them to look inward; when being treated unfairly, I ask them to let it go with a smile. Within a short period the students had fundamentally changed. They wrote of their learning and thoughts:
Student A: "I originally thought that everyone in this society is after money and prestige and recognition. There are no more pure people. But interacting with the teacher and noticing how the teacher dressed and speaks, I have found the purpose of doing things."
Student B: "In fact, in teacher's class, not only did I learn the performing arts, but also learned how to become a better person. For example: think before you speak. You will get repaid for what you did. Treat others tolerantly, and be strict with myself. These principles will help us forever in our lives."
Student C: "I will learn from you, teacher. No matter what happens, you are always so
calm. Every time you talk to people, you always leave room for others and consider others when you speak."
Student D: "Thank you teacher! You not only teach me performing arts, but also teach me how to be a human being. You are peaceful, happy and generous. You always influence me greatly and made me change and grow. I no longer work rashly. I am no longer depressed every day. I learned how to be tolerant. I learned how to be determined and strong."
4. Energy Field
"As you all know, our practitioners of this righteous way have this feeling: Because it comes from cultivation of a righteous way, it is benevolent and assimilated to Zhen-Shan-Ren, the characteristic of the universe. Therefore, all of our practitioners can feel it while sitting here in this field, and their minds are free of bad thoughts. In addition, while sitting here many practitioners do not even think of smoking. They feel an atmosphere of serenity and peace, which is very comfortable. This is the energy carried by a practitioner of a righteous way, and that is what it does within the scope of this field. Later, after this class, most of our practitioners will have gong--the truly developed energy. Because what I am teaching you is something from cultivation of a righteous way, you should also apply this xinxing standard to yourself. As you continually practice and follow our xinxing requirements in cultivation practice, your energy will gradually become more powerful." (Lecture Three, Zhuan Falun)
I have my own experiences related to this Fa-paragraph. Once before the beginning of teaching my performing arts class for young children a parent asked me what I usually taught in the class. I briefly introduced the curriculum. The parent said, "Teacher, I don't know what exactly you teach in class. But you must be teaching something, because my two children often used to fight with each other. But after each of your classes they never fight any more. They are always calm and peaceful together. I am very happy. I truly appreciate it."
I was surprised to hear that. I usually try my best to do what a Falun Gong practitioner is supposed to do. I send righteous thoughts for these students before I enter the classroom. I also instil righteous principles into the arts and drama they perform. But I did not know that it extended outside the classroom. I understand that this is what Master calls the energy field, "the energy carried by a practitioner of a righteous way."
Students from other classes also had similar experiences. One student said, "Within less than a year, we have all grown up. I feel deeply that this was teacher's influence. I don't remember who said that, but human beings are born with the ability to mimic. We have learned from teacher for a long time. Our point of view has changed. People ask me all the time about the biggest progress I made. I responded that it was the change in my mind, learning how to be a better human being. I understand that only when there is a change of thinking will our performance talents be further developed. Otherwise, no matter how talented we are, how deeply we comprehend technical performance skills, we would remain on one level."
I want to tell Master that many students were saved. The audience usually did not want to leave while seeing the performances I led. They sat there quietly without knowing why they didn't want to leave. But I know why: it is due to the effects of the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance on these students and these sentient beings.
Master gave me hints to write this article, but I delayed it. The attachment to validating myself prevented me. Today I let go of that attachment and finished writing.
Dafa makes me understand: the process of learning anything in art is a process of continuously letting go. Only when one lets go of different distorted human notions and habits will one be able to demonstrate freely what pure art is.
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