I obtained the Fa in France in November 2006. Having cultivated for 11 years, it seems I just recently know how to take my own initiative to cultivate and most of the time I was in a passive cultivation state while attached to doing things. Every time when conflicts emerged, I had no other way out except reluctantly looking within. Today I would like to share with you some of my cultivation experiences.
No Trivial Matters in Cultivation
I was a particularly sleepy person since childhood. If someone woke me up, I would throw the pillow at the person and pull over the quilt to continue sleeping. I was very often in a state of lack of concentration, lack of energy and always wanted to rest. Every day I needed to sleep for over 10 hours, sometimes even more, as if the mind could not be clearheaded otherwise. Very often the more sleep I had the heavier my head became, the more sleep the more tired. I found that my main consciousness was not strong enough, full of messy thoughts and a lack of logical thinking. I could not stick with any thought or idea for a moment. No matter how many times the alarm clock rang, it was useless, I seemed unable to hear the alarm ringing at all. My friends always laughed at me that even an earthquake could not wake me up. During these years of my cultivation, I tried many methods to get up earlier to do the exercises but the effect was not good. I still needed fellow practitioners to knock on my door. The occasions I could wake up by myself naturally were very few.
In Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public Master mentioned at the beginning: “For Dafa disciples, your doing the three things well is just the biggest thing.” I felt I really had to get up earlier to study the Fa and do the exercises, there was no time to postpone it. I was determined to change the situation, making an agreement with another practitioner to help each other. At the beginning we two got up earlier to study the Fa and establish a good cultivation environment. We might not able to get up at the time we set, however we promised that if one person could get up, then call the other one. We kept doing this for one day, two days … a week. We both had a strong desire to solve the problem that we could not get up earlier. Having done this for about two weeks, another practitioner joined us, then slowly we could get up on time. After a period of time another three practitioners joined the group. We decided to send early morning righteous thoughts together, then do the exercises and study the Fa. Now we regularly have 6 people together to study the Fa in the morning. I can hear the alarm and get up on time now. During the process I felt that cultivation needs a strong desire and willpower plus persistence. There is no short cut, only persistence. We did it bit by bit by encouraging each other and forming a positive field. I enlightened that cultivation is not really doing something significant but assimilating to the characteristic of Truthfulness Compassion and Tolerance in our daily life and removing attachments bit by bit.
2. Breaking through Human Notions
Last year, because of the change in my work, I went to the United States to participate in a new project. Upon arrival in the US, the first test for me was related to time. I grew up and formed a habit of doing things very slowly, I had no concept of time. I found that the pace of work in the US is robot-style, people can work like a machine, with less rest but high efficiency.
On the third day there, I was at a loss. The workload they assigned to me was more than twice I could finish in my normal capacity and the time allowed was only half of the time that I usually spent on completing the same amount of work. I really did not know how to do it, I thought there was no way for me to finish the task on time, and also I thought the arrangement was very unreasonable. Later on, a practitioner explained the reason why the work schedule had to be set like this: it was to match with the schedule of Shen Yun promotion, as a lot of content in the work was Shen Yun related. I had to accept the arrangement but had no idea how to complete the task within the limited time period. I was so anxious and felt as if my whole body was burning every day, my temperature was particularly high and my body felt like it was being baked in an alchemy stove. The practitioner who worked with me is a quick and highly efficient person. I think she would wonder how on earth there was such a person like me doing things so slowly. I think her patience was really cultivated during the time she worked with me.
During that period I did the three things every day, my mind was very clear, things could also be done faster than usual, but there was still no way for me to complete the task. I began to work every day from the moment I opened my eyes, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. My efficiency did not miraculously increase and the tasks were not completed on schedule. I was extremely depressed. Once I burnt instant noodles while cooking, another time I carelessly stepped on air and rolled down the stairs. My heart was suffering much more than the physical pain. Sometimes I felt I could not keep going, my body and mind could not bear it any more. I was completely stuck on the notion of time and very afraid of time.
One morning before I got up, in the state of half-awakening and half dreaming, a paragraph of Fa in Zhuan Falun emerged in my mind: “There once was a person who was tied to a bed. They took one of his arms and claimed that they would slit it to make it bleed. Then they blindfolded his eyes and scratched his wrist once. (He was not at all cut and bleeding.) A water faucet was turned on so that he could hear water dripping, and he thus thought that it was his blood that was dripping. The man died shortly afterwards. In fact, he was not cut and bleeding—it was running water that was dripping. His psychological factors caused his death.” (Cultivation Insanity, Lecture Six, Zhuan Falun). The sentence “His psychological factors caused his death” was hovering in my mind. Suddenly I realised that if the psychological factors can cause the person’s death, then the person can live if he changed his way of thinking. The same can be applied to my situation: If I change my thinking, don’t think I am a slow person with slow actions, don’t acknowledge that I could not finish the task on time, if this thing is arranged by Master, then there must be a way out.
I immediately got up from bed and began the job in a positive attitude. With the same daily workload allocated to me, I did not think about time, but simply concentrated myself on doing it piece by piece. At the end of the day, for the first time I found I had completed all the tasks. That night I felt particularly relaxed, not so afraid of time thereafter.
My efficiency was improved because of a change to my own notions. The limited time seemed to become longer, which enabled me to complete the work. This experience gave me an unlimited encouragement – I can do it. Since then, I have begun to consciously change many other notions I have.
3. Getting Rid Of Ego
Because I have some work experience, I was positioned as a group leader, I wanted all the work to be carried out according to my own ideas. However, different practitioners have different viewpoints about a particular issue. I tended to control others to do things according to my idea, which created big conflicts. Also, I could not be understood by fellow practitioners. I failed to communicate with fellow practitioners in time and thus created gaps between us, and the work progressed very slowly.
Facing the difficult situation and the conflicts between practitioners, I went through the heart-wrenching and agonizing process of looking within. Finally I found my strong ego, which had been hiding for a long time. I always thought that my ideas were smart, did not carefully listen to others’ opinions that were not in line with my ones, and always tried to persuade others whenever there were different opinions. While sharing with others I had the mentality of being superior or fighting, my voice would very often be in the tone of educating others. I always wanted others to cooperate with me and considered everything from a self-centred angle.
Having found those attachments, I really realised that I needed to have a fundamental change in my cultivation. Those attachments were not my true self. To recognise and remove those attachments, the first step was changing my way of thinking. Ideas from any individual could not be perfect and comprehensive. Doing something according to an individual’s idea is not what Master wants. Master wants disciples to let go of ego and harmonise the one-body. I realised that only by getting rid of ego and incorporating good ideas from all of us would it be possible to complete the task well.
I found that when I spoke, it was not for others to understand but simply to show off my knowledge. The root source of every word was from selfishness. I was determined to get rid of this ego by all means, starting with increasing the time as well as the frequency of FZN every day. A miraculous thing happened: very often my mobile phone would ring the FZN gong even without setting the alarms. I did not think too much about it, but later on I realised that nothing is accidental for a cultivator. It was Master who reminded me to FZN more. After strengthening my righteous thoughts, my thinking became clearer. It was much easier for me to catch every unrighteous notion. Once the ego emerged, I could immediately catch it, and I said to Master I was wrong, I should not have such an unrighteous notion.I immediately eliminated it via FZN.
I also apologised to practitioners who’d had conflicts with me before, and shared my cultivation experience. I admitted that those problems were derived from my ego. I invited practitioners to point out my attachment directly whenever they saw it, so I could get rid of it quickly. All of us shared some cultivation experiences. I asked them what the best way of communication should be and what made them uneasy before. After openhearted sharing, I felt the gaps between us disappeared. They told me that they often did not understand what I was trying to do, they could not read my mind and it was hard to know how or when to cooperate with me.
I realised that the most important thing is to fully communicate with each other beforehand when we work together on a project. We must be aware of each other’s progress and situation at any time, so we can all be on the same page. I started to share my idea of doing things with them, meanwhile listening to their views so we could form a better idea, and always paying attention to others’ progress and offering help whenever needed. We all were helping each other in cultivation, dissolving conflicts and correcting mistakes in a timely way. After doing so, the things we could not possibly complete before could be completed miraculously, the outcomes were more ideal and the environment became more harmonious. I really realised that all things were well arranged by Master in cultivation, it wasn’t necessary for us to be overly worried, and also wasn’t possible for one person to do everything. We just needed to follow the path arranged by Master and cooperate with each other. If a task wasn’t assigned to oneself, it wasn’t necessary to take over another person’s job because of worrying about their cultivation state. All things arranged by Master are the best.
4. Changing Negative Thinking and Maintaining a Positive Attitude
Once on a weekly meeting, a fellow practitioner pointed out that I had too much negative thinking and she felt very depressed every time when sharing with me. I was surprised. If my thinking caused such a big negative effect on practitioners, then what was the root cause of this negative substance inside me? I started to pay attention to my every single thought. I found I often used to consider the shortcomings of almost everything. My thoughts were indeed very negative, as if entering a dark room, all I saw were negative things.
I used to complain unconsciously about a lot of things, commented on piles of problems, but others wouldn’t like to listen to me. I was not the person in charge so my remarks wouldn’t be helpful for solving problems, but creating further conflicts sometimes. Therefore I adopted the approach of speaking less and doing more, just doing well the jobs assigned to me. I was reluctant to say anything even though I felt there was a better way to do things. I felt it was difficult to change anything, all others were doing it that way, so why bother with it. I even dismissed the intention of trying it in another way. However when things were done by others, I could always find a lot of problems. Once a practitioner completed a job and asked for my feedback, I did not say anything because what I saw were all problems and didn’t know what to say. I thought I avoided conflicts by saying nothing, but the practitioner was angry with me at that time. She pointed out that I frowned all the time since entering the room, it seemed I was unhappy and dissatisfied with everything, and she was upset upon seeing me like that. I was not aware that I frowned all the time. A practitioner accidentally took a photo of me, and upon looking at the photo I got a big surprise. The person in the photo looked anxious, extremely fatigued, and no vivid expression in the eyes. How come this is a person who is cultivating in Dafa? Back at the time I obtained the Fa, I was really happy. I found a Master, I was very happy even though I did not understand anything. I was smiling broadly all day. How and when did I become a person like this? After so many years of cultivation, why had I become more and more unhappy, had more and more human notions, and lost the feeling of cultivating with the heart I once had at the beginning?
Cultivation in Dafa is cultivating Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance and checking ourselves according to the Fa. I was always attached to doing things perfectly, attached to doing things rather than cultivating myself on the Fa, worried too much about not being able to save sentient beings if the thing was not done perfectly. Actually all of these are my human notions. Everything is done by Master. We ourselves just need to follow the requirements of the Fa and the standard of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. If we didn’t do it well this time, then try to do it well next time. Make an effort to check every single notion of ours, do not be attached to the things themselves, maintain a positive attitude, simply look at the good aspects of fellow practitioners, take responsibility if something was not done well, solve problems we notice, and then we will observe improvements on a daily basis.
The thing I did is almost the same as before, but now my mentality is different. I do not attach to who’s right and who’s wrong, I can accept criticism even though the mistakes were not made by me. No matter what happens it is not accidental. If something is not done well, I then change my way of thinking and do it well again. My thinking has become simpler and attachments have been let go of, so a lot of things are going well.
Often, I felt unhappy with others by judging them this or that. It was actually my own attachments being touched. Once the attachments are removed, others are still the same but I myself will not be moved. Cultivation is our own matter, only by looking within and changing ourselves can problems be really resolved.
Being a long time in a project, I found that the key factor for a project’s success is not personal ability. Of course, personal ability is important but not critical. The really key factor is to form one-body with openhearted sharing among practitioners. It is actually not easy for a person like me who came from mainland China. Like Master mentioned, western people, even though they just know each other, they can talk to each other about anything including family and private matters. However, I grew up in mainland China and educated since childhood with the Chinese proverb to “refrain from hurting others, yet guard against those trying to hurt you.” After five years in France, I gradually realised that my thinking is different from the French people’s thinking. My self-protection is very strong, which has become natural and difficult to realise by myself. In fact, every word I said and every thought I formed were derived from this strong self-protection system.
The manifestation of this self-protection made others feel that I am not sincere and do not care about others. Others do not know what you are thinking about and also you are not willing to have an openhearted sharing at group Fa study. The old forces can easily take advantage of this and create a gap between me and other practitioners. Once I found this deeply rooted attachment, I sent righteous thoughts for a long period of time, but with no obvious effect. In normal situations, I could realise this attachment, but fell into self-protection again once something happened. There seemed no improvement at all. I felt very depressed.
At the 2014 New York Fa Conference, Master said: “Those who come out of the evil Party’s country are highly self-protective, and they have a strong desire to air their opinions on certain matters, whereas people outside China aren’t like that.” (Fa Teaching on World Falun Dafa Day). I burst into tears at the conference. I vowed to Master quietly that, within this year, I must remove the mentality of self-protection.
Every time I sent righteous thoughts, I paid great attention to my single thought and checked if it was self-protective or selfish, removing it once it appeared. Slowly this attachment was getting weaker and weaker. I also started to share with fellow practitioners unreservedly and gained the trust from other practitioners.
Almost every year there was a story of “Journey to the West” in Shen Yun shows. Some practitioners joked that the situation in a Dafa project is very similar to their journey to the Western Paradise to acquire the scriptures. There was a group leader Tang Monk who had limited capabilities on the surface, a group member Monkey King who had powerful personal capabilities, Gigsy who had a lot of attachments and the Sandy Monk who was hard-working without complaints. Similarly, practitioners all are doing things for saving sentient beings, are one-body, no matter in the same project or different projects, we all are walking on the path of Fa-rectification. There are practitioners with strong capabilities, some are hard-working practitioners, and also some with a lot of attachments. But we are all Dafa disciples, we have our responsibilities, we all are in the maze of this human world and couldn’t see our abilities. But we are fellow practitioners walking on the same path, and we should be the closest to each other. We maintain our cultivation environment together and help each other in cultivation.
For so many years in this secular world, cultivation has been actually purifying our own thinking, using the wisdom obtained from the Fa to validate the Fa and save sentient beings. I hope we can work together to remove our gaps, form one-body, become close companions, be diligent and fulfil our prehistoric vows together.
The above is my personal cultivation experience at my limited level. Please point out anything improper with compassion.
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