Elevating Myself in the Tian Guo Marching Band

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Greetings Benevolent and Great Master!
Greetings respected fellow practitioners!

First of all, thank you Master for giving me the chance to join the Tian Guo Marching Band, and for protecting and strengthening me in my cultivation during the Fa Rectification period.

I’m a practitioner from Germany. I joined the Tian Guo Marching Band two years ago. I’m delighted to share some of my understandings with you all today.

Heart of Determination
I joined the Tian Guo Marching Band after a few twists and turns. I was not determined to join this project, and was deterred by human notions.

In the first half of 2013, I reluctantly joined a Marching Band training session. The coordinator responsible for the French Horn said that I was suitable for playing this instrument, but I felt that she didn’t tell the truth – she only said this because her team needed more people. She didn’t let me try other instruments properly either.

The first character of my name is the same as the character on Tian Guo Marching Band’s costume, which means music. However, based on its pronunciation in my name, its meaning is “happiness”.

Every time when my German friends and colleagues ask me what my name means, I reply saying that my parents wished me to be happy every day. I never thought that my parents may have wished for me to know a bit of music as well.

I never knew how to sing, nor was I interested in it. I’m tone deaf. From primary school to university, whenever we had to sing the brainwashing songs forced on us by the wicked Chinese Communist Party, I sang the wrong notes. Every time my classmates had to remind me to sing quietly, so they wouldn’t be misled by my wrong tones.

These experiences put me in agreement with one notion of ordinary people – people who can’t sing, can’t play musical instruments well. It seemed right to me. So, after the Marching Band training session, I never really started learning the French Horn. The instrument given to me was left idle in my house for four years. At the time, I thought I had no karmic relationship with the Tian Guo Marching Band.

In the summer of 2017, I took the initiative to take part in a training session to learn to play the bass drum. In order to play the bass drum in the band, one must pass a rhythm test. Something happened just before the test though.

It had been four years since I was first introduced to the French Horn. The practitioner who always thought that I was suitable for the French Horn was quite angry when she found out that I was learning to play the bass drum. She questioned me in front of other marching band members: “It is easier to learn the bass drum. You can even do it without a teacher. And given you will always walk at the front during the parade, it’s most conspicuous. That’s why you want to learn the bass drum, right?” She wasn’t completely wrong.

As I didn’t pass the rhythm test, my wish to learn the bass drum vanished. According to the practitioner who conducted the test, my musical sense was not so good and I’m tone deaf. The practitioner’s professional judgement reinforced my agreement with the ordinary people’s notion that those who can’t sing can’t play musical instruments. I was seriously thinking whether I should just give up the Tian Guo Marching Band.

To my surprise, things took an interesting turn. On the night of the test, the Marching Band coordinator asked me to share my cultivation experiences in the group training meeting. I said, I chose to learn the bass drum because I thought it’s easy to learn. I wanted to take a short cut. On the surface, I appeared to be eager in saving people, but in fact, it was my attachments at play behind the scenes.

I had an attachment to comfort, and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to learn another instrument. I also had the attachment of validating myself, as I wanted to prove to myself that I can learn to play the bass drum as quickly as I imagined. At the end of the sharing, I firmly said to my fellow practitioners: “No matter what instrument I learn, I do hope I can join Tian Guo Marching Band.”

I received applause of encouragement from fellow practitioners at the end of the sharing. At the time, I could feel that I no longer had the fear that I couldn’t learn other instruments well. Neither was I limited by ordinary people’s notions. I enlightened that it was due to Master’s compassionate strengthening that I was determined to join Tian Guo Marching Band.

The French Horn was the first instrument I tried, and it gave me the impression of nobility and gracefulness.

I was later embarrassed to ask the coordinator, who was angry with me when I wanted to learn the bass drum: “Can I still learn and join the French Horn team? This time, I promise you I’ll learn it with all my heart.” She replied straightaway: “Of course. Welcome to the team!” She also apologised for her angry attitude before.

In 2017, at the end of parade for the European Fa Conference in Paris, one member from the bass drum team jokingly asked me: “Now you’ve switched to learn the French Horn, when will you take part in the parade?”

“When is the next parade?” I asked.

He replied: “Should be in May next year in London.”

“I’ll see you in London then.”

I enlightened that it was Master who admonished me through the fellow practitioner that I should not forget about my promise. I must do what I said.

Soon after I went back to Germany, I found a professional French Horn player with ease. The first time he played “Falun Dafa is Good”, I was exclaiming in my heart: “Wow! How can the tone of the French Horn be so beautiful, graceful, natural and poised? It felt like a great singer was signing in front of me. The tune just lingers in the air.” When he finished playing, there were tears in my eye. I was shaken by the beautiful melody and the profound meaning.

Then, the music teacher taught me how to blow the French Horn. I did whatever he asked me to do, with no doubt or hesitation at all. I also asked another practitioner who plays the French Horn to teach me as well. He played the treble while I played the bass. We practised together.

Five months later, I successfully passed the test of the Marching Band. The following month, I was able to join the first big parade in 2018, which was in London. After seeing my advancement, my teacher encouraged me: “People who don’t know you would have thought you’ve been learning it for two or three years.”

The practitioner who was responsible for the testing wrote an email to me after I passed: “Your advantage is your timbre, which is very pure.”

I have never dreamed that I, being tone deaf, could pass the music test and join a parade after learning for such a short period of time. Looking back, if I didn’t have the heart of determination, I would not be given the wisdom, nor would I be able to overcome the difficulties to break the notions of ordinary people and learn the French Horn.

Saving People Wholeheartedly
The journey to London last year wasn’t smooth. The direct flight to London was cancelled just a few hours before takeoff, so I had to change to another flight which would depart the next morning and land in a city which is three hours’ drive away from London. Luckily, I made it to the rehearsals.

When reflecting on why these interferences appeared, I realised that my heart wasn’t one hundred per cent in saving people.

This was my first time going to London so when I booked the flight, I wanted to get there one day early not because I wanted to prepare for the parade or to join the truth clarification event outside the Chinese embassy but to do some sightseeing.

When I found out that the flight had been cancelled, I looked inward. I could see how my starting point had deviated from the requirement of Dafa disciples. I was very ashamed of myself, as I had the attachment to seeking pleasure. I should have prepared for my first ever parade with the Tian Guo Marching Band wholeheartedly, because I was going to London with only one purpose – saving sentient beings. But I fell down to the ordinary people’s level. How could I save sentient beings then?

On the way to London, I kept looking inward and realised that I didn’t have a strong heart of urgency for saving people. I didn’t appreciate the precious extended time that Master has given us to save sentient beings. I just thought, with no group plans, it was OK for me to relax a bit and arrive one day earlier. However, the loophole was exploited by the evil. Before the battle between good and evil, not only did I not have a heart that is a hundred per cent devoted to saving people, but I also had the attachment to comfort and seeking pleasure.

When I saw my attachment, I sincerely apologised to Master: “I have realised my mistake, please forgive me Master. My only mission is to help Master in rectifying the Fa and to save sentient beings.”

I noticed my status changed a lot since then. On my second day in London, we all sat down to practise. Once, we were playing “Falun Dafa is Good” together, the power of the music and the strong energy field made me feel like I couldn’t even sit on my chair. It was like I was being lifted up. I was so thankful to Master for really making me feel the huge power of the Dafa music in saving sentient beings.

On the day of the London parade, I warned myself: “Nothing is important except saving people. I must have a pure heart in saving people.” This pure heart made me feel the solemnness and sacredness in saving people.

We were walking on a very wide road. The practitioner in front of me was playing saxophone and he was quite tall. In order to see the baton, I had to get used to lifting my chin up a bit. Once, the commanding practitioner indicated the next song was “Falun Dafa is Good”, and the music started. I was shaken again from deep down in my soul. I was thinking: “I came to save sentient beings. I hope all beings remember Falun Dafa is good. Then all sentient beings could be saved.” I was playing while I had this thought, and I was shaken so much that I had tears. There was no reason for that. It was just for saving people.

Because I had tears coming down, my vision was a bit blurred. All of a sudden, I felt that there were many people watching us. Maybe because I was used to lifting my head a little bit, I felt like we were walking uphill. But in fact, we were walking downhill and there weren’t that many people watching us. Afterwards, I realised that it was probably sentient beings from other dimensions who were waiting for the arrival of the Tian Guo Marching Band, waiting to be saved.

Attachment Eliminated; Techniques Improved
The French Horn teacher taught me that the starting of the tone must be clean not sloppy, gentle yet firm. It cannot start loudly like firecrackers at play. At the end, it needs to have full breath with the tone lingering in the air. It’s easy to say in a few sentences, however it’s quite hard in practice especially if you want to advance further.

During my practise, I noticed that my breathing hasn’t improved much, yet breathing is so important. There was a period where I found that I couldn’t concentrate, my breathing was uneven, and my lungs were not powerful enough. I could feel that my shoulders weren’t relaxed. It was as if I was carrying heavy bags on my back. The teacher said that I seemed to be quite strong, so he didn’t know why I couldn’t utilise the strength.

Nothing is coincidence for cultivators. It must relate to my xinxing status. Gradually through looking inward, I could see that I have very strong attachments of complaint and validating myself.

I’ll talk about my attachment of complaining first. For a long time, I could not get rid of the attachment of complaint towards a few fellow practitioners who I used to work with in other projects. On the surface, I really think I was treated unfairly. When the attachment was so strong, I couldn’t concentrate in practising the French Horn, and bad thoughts kept coming up. Sometimes my status was better, but it stopped at the level of telling myself not to be the same as these practitioners, not realising and getting rid of my attachment based on the Fa.

In “Teaching the Fa in Washington D.C. in 2018” (team blue translation), Master answered one question relating to resentment:

“Disciple: I’ve always felt resentment in the process of my cultivation. It’s an attachment that’s difficult for me to get rid of.

Master: Resentment. It comes from the habit of your liking to hear nice words and liking good things to happen to you; otherwise you become resentful. Think about it, everyone, this is not acceptable. Cultivation shouldn’t be practiced like that. I’ve always said that a cultivator should look at things in reverse. When running into bad things, you should think it’s a good thing as it’s here for the purpose of improving you. “I should handle it well. This is about passing another test. It’s cultivation here now.””

In “Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa Conference” (team blue translation), Master said:

“When something happens between one another, no matter how terrible it is, you have to look at it positively, “Oh, this is beneficial for my improvement.” Facing conflicts, no matter who is to blame, you have to look inside yourself first. As a cultivator, if you cannot establish this habit, if you cannot see things in ways opposite to that of humans, you will forever remain human; at least when it comes to that particular step that you fail to do well, you are human.”

When using the Fa to judge and dig deep on my attachments, I realised that I wasn’t looking inward unconditionally. Instead, I focused on what others did wrong. Secondly, I always wanted others to change what they did wrong based on my standard, rather than the standard of the Fa. I also neglected my own attachments. I should focus on cultivating myself rather than others.

Through intensified Fa study and sending forth righteous thoughts, as well as asking for strengthening from Master and following the requirements of the Fa, I tried to see fellow practitioners’ strengths.

Steadily, I could feel the bad elements in my dimension being reduced. The thoughts that I forced on the practitioners that I complained about were getting less and less, and I was finally able to practise playing the French Horn with my heart. My shoulders also felt more relaxed, the feeling of carrying heavy bags disappeared. My breathing became smoother and I had more strength.

The other element stopping me from improving was the attachment of validating myself.

In this year’s parade, I played the treble part. Practitioners who can play treble could rarely join the parade for various reasons. Once I realised my role and responsibility, I started to reinforce my practice. I asked myself not to make any mistakes in playing, to cooperate well with the practitioners playing bass in the French Horn section and the marching band as a whole.

Although I intensified my training a few weeks before our parade in Frankfurt, I couldn’t see visible improvements in myself. Although the coordinator commented that my skill has improved a lot since last year and my playing was considered to be very melodious, I was not satisfied with my own performance in that parade.

Reflecting on my status, I could see the attachment to self-validation was still there. Looking deeper, there was also the impure attachment of showing off. I even disdained certain practitioners in the marching band. When I saw these attachments, I said to myself: “These attachments are so filthy, all of my wisdom and ability was bestowed by Master. Not only did I not appreciate it, I even took pride in it rather than being modest.”

I told myself that I must improve my status before the upcoming Cultural Carnival parade in Bielefeld, Germany.

At the beginning of that parade, the self-validation attachment kept surfacing. This made it hard for me to focus, my breathing wasn’t smooth, I couldn’t play a complete phrase, and I was overcautious in making mistakes. In the meantime, I couldn’t balance my body well, the mouthpiece was moving up and down all the time, the tones played by me were not stable. For a while I felt quite dispirited.

As we approached the city centre, I saw so many sentient beings. I felt like they’ve been longing for our arrival, they couldn’t wait to hear the melody which could inspire their kindness and open up their hearts so they could recognise the beauty of Dafa. These scenes made me try to adjust my status again. I was also sending forth righteous thoughts and asking Master to strengthen me. I said to myself: “Look, so many sentient beings were very excited to see the Tian Guo Marching Band so they could be saved, isn’t this why I join the marching band – to save them? I am willing to let go of all my attachments, just to wish the sentient beings could be saved, Master please help to strengthen me.”

Halfway through the parade, my conditions changed dramatically. My body was balanced. It felt the same as if I was standing still. My breathing was a lot smoother, the sound I blew out was no longer shaky. The phrase was also complete. I felt that I had endless strength.

When I saw those sentient beings clapping for us from the bottom of their hearts, I was truly delighted for them. I sincerely wish all of them could feel the beauty of Dafa and be saved after they learned the truth.

I remained in this state till the end of the parade. I felt that I enjoyed playing more and more. The more I played, the less tired I got. I genuinely hoped the parade could go on for longer. Somehow, I became a small, yet indispensable particle integrated into the entire marching band. I no longer had the attachment of disdaining fellow practitioners or the attachment to self-validation. All I could feel was how fellow practitioners wholeheartedly cooperate with each other and harmonise the whole body. The wonderful and pleasant feeling was so hard to describe in words.

After the parade, the coordinator said to me: “I heard your playing. It was very good.” I enlightened that it was Master’s strengthening that made me have breakthroughs in my blowing and breathing techniques. The character on our marching band costumes was interpreted as “be happy with music”. I think I finally experienced some of its connotations. A few hours of playing the treble did not make me feel tired at all. Instead, I felt very energetic and extremely happy.

Without the strengthening of Master, who opened up my wisdom, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to join the Tian Guo Marching Band at all. It was unimaginable for me to join the band in such short period of time to accomplish my sacred mission of saving sentient beings together with fellow practitioners.

Thanks to Master for giving me the opportunity to cooperate wholeheartedly in the Tian Guo Marching Band, so we can fulfil our great prehistoric vows together and return with Master upon consummation.

I could see my shortcomings in cultivation and gaps in my music attainment compared with fellow practitioners. Thank you, fellow practitioners, for your righteous support and help over the past two years.

I’d like to share with you Master’s poem “Solid Cultivation” from Hong Yin (translation C) as an encouragement:

“Learn Fa, obtain Fa
Compare with one another in study, in cultivation
Examine how each and every thing measures up—
Achieving these is cultivation”

The above are my cultivation experiences in the Tian Guo Marching Band. Please kindly point out anything inappropriate.

Thank you Master!
Thank you fellow practitioners!

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