Germany: Breaking Through Difficulties and Hardships

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Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners! I’m from Germany.

In the autumn of 2021, the wonderful long-awaited news arrived from the United States: Shen Yun would return to Europe in 2022. The moment I saw the email, every cell in my body was filled with joy, and my whole body immediately became excited. Life instantly switched back to "Shen Yun work mode". In this way, my cultivation also entered a new phase.

Here I would like to share with you my cultivation experience of how I broke through tribulations under the guidance of Dafa, during the process of doing Shen Yun work in the past year.

In March 2020, the CCP virus spread around the world, and Shen Yun’s European tour was forced to terminate. When we restarted preparations for the Shen Yun tour in autumn 2021, we found many, many things were different from before: documentation and transportation costs continued to rise; many partner companies and theatres were still in a semi-dormant state, and most of their employees were working from home. Because of the general decline in business volume, many employees only worked for a short time each day, which meant whether it was dealing with theatres or advertising agencies, it was often impossible to locate people, and often it took days to get a response when you asked something.

Among all the hard-to-locate people, there was an advertising company salesperson ‘A’ who was a mild-mannered and soft-spoken person; she was never in a hurry, but she was the one who gave me the most headaches. A's advertising company occupied half of the German outdoor advertising market. To do outdoor advertising, it was impossible not to deal with this company.

From 2017, when I started contacting this advertising company, I had experienced a lot of unbelievable things. I originally thought an advertising company would answer a customer's call and respond to the customer's inquiries eagerly. But in reality, let's not even talk about negotiating or lowering the price, even knocking at the door of an advertising agency with a monopoly was not an easy task.

When I contacted this company in the first year, I made numerous calls and wrote a lot of emails, but no one responded. When I finally got an email from them, I had already missed the advertising period for that year. The next year, we managed to meet the company's sales executive and two salespersons, one of whom was salesperson ‘A’, who seemed to be very understanding. After we clarified the truth, we negotiated the preferential price step by step and started to cooperate. During this period, she and her family were also invited to watch Shen Yun.

However, the road to cooperation was not plain sailing and wasn’t without obstacles. Nine times out of ten, I wasn’t able to get through to advertising salesperson A's mobile phone. The company's landline was always connected to the automatic answering machine. When I sent emails to her, I was not sure when she would reply, sometimes it took days of waiting.

‘A’ was an experienced salesperson with a long-established track record; she also had a lot of annual leave, being a family orientated mother, she always took bank holidays, and always took days off during school holidays.

The advertising company ‘A’ worked for was a large corporation with a complicated structure. To do one thing, it had to go through many procedures. As soon as any link had a bottleneck, things were delayed. Therefore, our cooperation with this company was full of variables. Often, we planned to advertise in a certain period, but as a result, we would miss the best advertising period because a certain link failed to keep up. After working together for a few years, every time I felt a little apprehensive, it was like playing drums in an orchestra, and every time there were always a few beats that missed the notes. Some fellow practitioners in our team even suspected salesperson ‘A’ was deliberately making trouble, and they worried when this company was mentioned.

In 2022, Germany arranged a total of 48 performances in nine theatres in eight cities. The first performance in the city of Cologne was scheduled for early January. There were only two months from the day when the Cologne theatre lease was signed until the show, and before Christmas was the period when major companies were advertising heavily, and there were few good advertising spots left. We needed to communicate with salesperson ‘A’ immediately to negotiate prices and arrange advertisements. However, as always, her calls were not answered, and she wouldn’t reply immediately after leaving a message. What could be done? Go to the office to meet her? That was not feasible. Because of the pandemic, she worked from home most of the time. Day by day, apart from calling and writing emails over and over again, I couldn’t do anything, and I really couldn’t think of any way to change this anxiety-provoking situation.

One day, a thought came into my mind—I thought: when Master was teaching the Fa, he often told us to be more considerate of others. Master said in “Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Jinan”: "But in doing anything, you need to treat others with kindness and try your best to be considerate of others. Just follow this Dafa in doing anything."

So, should I also be considerate of this salesperson ‘A’? Whilst thinking about this, another voice immediately popped into my mind: "Customers should come first, salespeople think about their customers, it was only right. We were customers and gave their company so much business every year, why should we be considerate of her, she should be considerate of us." At this time, another voice said, "No matter what environment a cultivator was in, he should follow Dafa and be considerate of others at all times."

In this way, as an "ordinary me" and as a "cultivator me", with the two sides of me, one side said this, the other side said that, I ended up in conflict. In the end, my "cultivator side" prevailed. I told myself I am a cultivator first and foremost, and as a cultivator, I cannot act according to the principles of ordinary people. But a question remained, the salesperson and I had a business relationship where we paid for advertisements. What did it mean to be considerate of her? To understand her situation and not complain? But how would that be? Because I am understanding and tolerant, would she act quickly and give us a favourable price and book the Shen Yun advertisements that should be ordered? Obviously not! Thinking of this, I felt my train of thought got stuck.

At this time, a sentence from Lecture One in “Zhuan Falun” entered my mind. I remembered what Master said: “from the perspective of everyday people today, we will not be able to comprehend them by any means. From an everyday person’s level, perspective, and frame of mind, one cannot understand real things”

I understood the reason I got stuck in my thinking was because I was blocked by the realm of ordinary people, and the reason was because I still couldn’t think from the perspective of a cultivator. The moment I realised this my thinking changed instantly. What I thought was: All life on earth came for the Fa, and salesperson ‘A’ was no exception, not to mention she also took her children to see Shen Yun, and after watching it, she felt very good. They needed to repay Dafa's kindness after gaining their salvation, but they might not know how to do it. As a Dafa disciple, I could help her seize this opportunity to repay Dafa and help her fulfil her mission. The relationship between us was not a simple relationship between a salesperson and a customer. She was not a tool or a springboard that I used to complete my mission. We were all lives saved by Dafa, but I am lucky to be a Dafa disciple during the Fa-rectification period; I wanted to help her, guide her to do what she should do for Shen Yun, and to assist her in fulfilling her mission.

These thoughts flashed through my mind like lightning, and in just a few seconds, I suddenly knew what to do. I picked up the phone and dialled salesperson A's mobile number. She still didn't answer, and after a few rings, it jumped back to the answering machine. But after a while, my phone rang, and when I saw it, it tur ned out to be a call from salesperson ‘A’. She had never returned my call in such a timely manner before. It seemed a side of her understood my kindness.

I remembered what Master said in “Clearheadedness” from "Essentials For Further Advancement": “…your tone of voice, your kindheartedness, and your reasoning can change a person’s heart, whereas commands never could!” I reminded myself to guide this life with a pure state of mind, so she could accomplish her mission, not to complain, not to blame, nor to use future orders as a bargaining chip to put pressure on the other party, and of course she did not need the sweet words of ordinary people. This was not just a choice in terms of negotiation strategy, rather, what I was choosing as a Dafa disciple, was to prove through my actions, that real compassion was the greatest power that can melt steel, rather than to prove the advantage of being the client's financial master.

When the call was answered, ‘A’ explained immediately the complicated situation of the company and her own difficulties. She was obviously well aware of the delays their company caused us. At this time, my thoughts became very clear, and I knew what to say and what not to say. I told her I understood that big companies have their own ways of working, and I also understood her difficulties. Let bygones be bygones, and what we needed to do was to decide how to move forward and do it as quickly and as best as possible. She felt I had no intention of finding fault: who was right and who was wrong, but just wanted to do things well. The awkwardness was quickly dispelled; instead of trying to explain her difficulties she rapidly changed to finding solutions for working with me.

Since that day, I found she had changed. The next few months, as long as I made a call, she would call back quickly, and if we had any needs, she would respond quickly, and took the initiative to communicate with the various subsidiaries of the company, without me pressing hard. If she asked for leave at work, she would tell me in advance. I felt she was sincerely cooperating with us and wanted to help Shen Yun make the advertisement go well.

Before I experienced it myself, I could not have imagined the predicament that had plagued me for four years could be broken through in this way.

Regarding the pandemic in 2020, I first imagined it would not last more than a year and would pass. After a brief easing up of restrictions in summer 2021, as soon as autumn came, however, Germany began to tighten the pandemic prevention measures again, and endlessly, with more and more restrictions. November and December were supposed to be the peak period for audiences to buy tickets before Christmas. We waited for a pent-up boom, a purchasing spree in ticket sales, since the audience had experienced more than a year of lockdown, but instead, one wave after another, there was negative news that the number of people infected with the CCP virus was rapidly rising. By mid-December, just three weeks before the performance in Cologne, the first stop of the German tour, the Federation of Governors of Germany's 16 federal states decided to limit the number of spectators for large-scale performances. Specifically, for Cologne, the theatre had the largest capacity of 1,500. Yet this was limited to only 750 being seated.

In the next few months, the situation did not improve. The 16 federal states appeared to be competing for who had a firmer stance on pandemic prevention, and no one was willing to relax the pandemic prevention restrictions. Seeing other countries in Europe loosen their restrictions one by one, Germany's pandemic prevention restrictions remained unchanged. Faced with the difficult ticket sales situation, I felt tremendous pressure and didn't know how to make a breakthrough.

One day, I came across a famous video about a Visual Cliff experiment. In the experiment, a baby under the age of one was placed on a table, and a transparent tempered glass was installed in the middle of the table. Beneath the glass it looked like a cliff, and there was a sea of fire on the cliff. The baby climbed to the edge of the Visual Cliff, looked down, saw the danger, raised his head in hesitation, looked again, and saw his smiling mother standing across the table; he saw his mother's big smile and encouraging eyes. Then without hesitation, the baby crawled towards his mother. The baby, who was afraid of going over before, now easily crossed the Visual Cliff.

I thought this was Master trying to enlighten me. Master must have known my heart was unsteady, so he used this method to remind me that the predicaments in the world were all illusions, and told me to just move forward boldly and not be afraid. Master's smiling face appeared in my mind, and I remembered what Master said in "Master’s Message to the European Fa Conference Held in Vienna": " Master is watching you all, and always looks forward to good news from you." I told myself to steady my mind, all difficulties were but illusions, just move forward in the direction of Master.

At the start of the preparations from autumn 2021 to the end of Shen Yun's German tour in early June 2022, we experienced countless difficulties and critical junctures during these nine months. One day, a certain federal state might suddenly say it would limit the number of spectators, causing the audience not only to not buy tickets, but also to want to refund their tickets; Another day, a theatre might say there was a technical problem; The following day it might be the printer distributors who would say our materials could not be sent out on time. The worst thing that ever happened was a few days before a performance, the company that provided the dry ice suddenly said, "Sorry, we can't deliver the dry ice to the theatre on time, there was a shortage of stock in Germany. You need to find your own way." I once joked with fellow practitioners that during the past nine months, it seemed like I was opening blind boxes all day long, only every time I opened a blind box, I rarely saw any surprises, most of them were shocks, it just depended on whether we kept our hearts steady. For a while, as soon as the phone rang, my heart sank, not knowing what bad news was coming. After getting used to it, every time I heard bad news I thought: everything was an illusion, the Fa-rectification will come true, the problem had a solution; if plan A doesn't work, then go for plan B, if plan B doesn't work, go for plan C, as long as you don't give up , you can always find a way. My fellow practitioners and I had always encouraged each other like this every time, and every time it turned out to be a near miss.

It was said to be a near miss, but the process was like sitting on pins and needles. Every day when I opened my eyes there were a pile of difficulties in front of me, and every day I felt tormented. For a while, I didn't even think I could smile anymore.

One thing I recalled which made me most nervous was about the remodelling of a theatre orchestra pit. The theatre originally had an orchestra pit, but it hadn't been in use for fifteen years. In order to further improve the performance, we had repeatedly expressed to the theatre we hoped they would open the orchestra pit and remodel it according to Shen Yun's performance requirements. The original owners of the theatre thought it would not bring them any benefit, so they never agreed.

In 2021, the theatre changed hands, and we finally saw new hope. The newly appointed general manager did not reject our request, but thought there was not enough time to renovate the orchestra pit this year. Unexpectedly, things suddenly turned around three weeks before the performance. The theatre manager suddenly called me and said that the renovation could start immediately, but here was the problem: in the past fifteen years, the theatre stage had been remodelled many times, and several layers of steel rails and planks had been installed on it. Even in this theatre the technicians who had worked for many years did not know the original appearance of the orchestra pit, and because the current management team had just taken over the theatre, even the original orchestra pit drawings could not be found, so they could not give us the exact size of the orchestra pit. The only guarantee was to open the abandoned orchestra pit and try to restore it to its original state.

The renovation project began. The practitioners from Shen Yun's production department and our local technical department kept communication with the theatre’s technical department, repeatedly checking various data, and all of this was during one intense tour after another, and I also accompanied the company from one city to another after another. No one was able to monitor the progress of the work on site.

With less than three weeks to go, with Easter holiday in between, the construction team didn't work during holidays. Could the project be completed on time before the show? Could it meet the Shen Yun performance requirements?

My heart was palpitating up and down, and I was anxious for many days. When I woke up in the morning and opened my eyes, I thought, "How's the orchestra pit?" Whilst I was doing the exercises, I was thinking about it, whilst I was studying the Fa, I lost focus and was thinking about it. The orchestra pit had simply become a demonic interference torturing me. But it was only after the fact I realised the orchestra pit was not the demonic interference, rather, it was my heart fearing hardship that was the real demonic interference.

Comparing Master's description of a superior person, an average person, and an inferior person in Hong Yin 6, I could see a huge gap in my cultivation. When encountering difficulties, I couldn’t even smile anymore, and how could I talk about “solving difficulties with a smile". Judging from my current state, the realm of a superior person seems out of my reach. And the phrase "the average person cannot remain calm in a tribulation" was fitting for me. I pondered about myself; I'm torn between an average person and an inferior person. And Master said in “Drive Out Interference” from “The Essentials of Diligent Progress II”: "What I want are disciples who cultivate in a confident and dignified manner, magnificent gods who are indomitable, unbreakable."

I knew that although I had done a lot of things as the project coordinator, if my realm did not meet the requirements of Dafa, everything would be but empty talk.

I didn't know how to achieve the state of "The superior person can solve the difficulties with a smile", but I knew the state of "not being calm" was wrong. I was not calm, because I was afraid of difficulties and lacked a sense of responsibility. When my xinxing did not meet the standard, when encountering difficulties, I didn’t have enough wisdom, and could not come up with apt solutions.

After the orchestra pit renovation project started, the practitioners from the Shen Yun production department would always CC me in emails when communicating with the theatre technical department. When I received an email, I often just opened it and didn’t read it carefully. The superficial reason was that it was technical and I did not understand, so I felt technical issues had nothing to do with me, though it was good to know the content of their communication. In fact, I vaguely felt the reconstruction of the orchestra pit might not be so smooth, because after the theatre changed hands, it was a new team that had just taken over, and the personnel were all temporarily put together. After dealing with them several times, I felt their internal communication was not smooth. The person in charge, the general manager, lived in another city, and was never on site. That's why I had been worried all the time, and felt helpless.

Knowing that I was afraid of difficulties, I was determined to overcome it. I memorised the poem “The Difficulties in Saving Others and Saving Oneself”, and recited it silently whenever I had time.

My heart became calmer, and I no longer subconsciously avoided the topic of the orchestra pit renovation. I dug up all the emails from the tech department about orchestra pit modifications, and read them carefully. A point of contention was seen in a recent photo sent by the theatre: From the photo, the orchestra pit was open, the floor and railings were ready, but 24 steel rails protruded from the stage and were placed on the orchestra pit like a trellis. These rails were installed when the theatre stage was remodelled and had to be sawed off. I looked at the date, and soon the Easter holiday would start, and once the holiday was over, Shen Yun would perform at this theatre. Could it be that the theatre wanted to keep these 24 steel rails untouched, wasn’t it unfinished? What could be done?

Should I look for the general manager? He was not on site, and he must first check with the technical department of the theatre. If the technician said there was not enough time, I would not have a chance to change his decision. I judged in this case, the real decision-making power was not the general manager, but the technician in charge of the orchestra pit renovation. I managed to ask the general manager for the technician's phone number. When I called and asked, he indeed told me Easter holiday was coming soon, and the construction team had no time to saw off those 24 rails. The project was really in trouble. He explained to me no one was working during the holiday. I thought to myself, it doesn't matter what people say, what really mattered was what Master wanted. I asked him to call the construction team immediately and explain Shen Yun is a world-renowned high-end performance, and the orchestra pit can't be jeopardised.

At my insistence, he agreed to make calls. I put down the phone and started sending righteous thoughts. After a while, he called back, but each time I was unable to hear his voice. He actually called seven times and for seven times I couldn't hear him. There was obviously interference. I saw a fellow practitioner standing nearby, I hurried over to him, and called the theatre technician on his mobile phone, and finally got through this time. He told me, it’s a go, the construction team promised to saw off the 24 steel rails and to ensure it would be completed the night before the Shen Yun performance.

After Easter, what greeted Shen Yun was indeed a completed and decent orchestra pit. I breathed a sigh of relief. This experience once again confirmed that Master was always by our side. As long as we believed in Master and the Fa, and followed Dafa to cultivate ourselves, we would be able to overcome difficulties.

Thank you Master for your care along the way, and thank you fellow practitioners for accompanying me all the way.

If there is anything inappropriate, please compassionately correct me.

(Selected to the European Fa-conference 2022 in Warsaw)

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