Revered Master, dear fellow practitioners!
I am 17 years old and have cultivated since being in my mother’s womb, where I started to participate (although indirectly) in many Dafa activities. It is not often that children or teenagers write a report, so most adults do not know what our cultivation is like. I hope my report will give some insight into the cultivation of a teenage practitioner.
Swimming Against the Tide
Xinxing tests started early on for me at school, and I can't even remember most of them. But there are four incidents I can still clearly remember and I would like to share them with you today.
In our day to day lives, the topics of vaccination, climate change and homosexuality come up again and again. In my school too, they are often brought up in class. A few years ago, we discussed the topic of “families" in class. Modern families, such as homosexual families, were also discussed. We eventually took a vote, in which we were to decide whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry or not. All my classmates voted in favor for homosexual marriage, while I abstained my vote. My classmates were surprised and asked me why. My answer was that I don't care. I am neither for them, nor looked down upon them.
My classmates interpreted it as me being against gay marriage and therefore branded me as homophobic. Even years later they still teased me about it. It bothered me that they continually called me homophobic. I repeated my answer every time and endured the mockery. After a while, it bothered me less and less, until the feeling of being exposed disappeared completely. I remained steadfast in my conviction and took it more and more lightly until my classmates hardly ever teased me about it.
A similar situation occurred on the topic of "climate change". When we were talking about it during our break, I openly said, "Climate change doesn't exist!" My friends didn't take it so well and tried to convince me that it does exist and that it is not a matter of faith.
At home I talked about it and realized that my statement was not correct and that ordinary people might misunderstand me. The next day at school I changed my statement and said, "I don't believe in man-made climate change." However, my statement was completely ignored.
For the next few weeks, they kept teasing me about it, only ever taking my first statement into account. My teachers also picked up on this situation and I was asked several times why I didn't believe in climate change. I didn't know how to respond at the time and didn't say anything. I held back because I didn't want to give in to competitiveness.
Another scenario happened in eighth grade. Our school trip was coming up and we were supposed to bring in our vaccination cards. I was the only one who didn't have a vaccination card because my parents and I never wanted me to be vaccinated. My classmates were surprised and shocked by this. They immediately wanted to know why I wasn't vaccinated and also told me what I should vaccinate myself against.
Again, I didn’t really know how to respond. I just said that I didn't want to and didn't see any reason for it. I didn't want to talk about Falun Dafa and explain that we don't necessarily need to vaccinate ourselves.
Afterwards, my friends often said that I would die before them because I was not vaccinated against life-threatening diseases. They also said that I would get Alzheimer's disease. I didn't say anything about it and just let it wash over me so I wouldn't fight or argue. I would have lost the debate anyway, because I usually run out of arguments and am not exactly familiar with the subject. However, though I did understand that from a cultivator's point of view I shouldn't fight back, I didn't handle the conflict properly and thus actually failed my xinxing test.
Master says in “Zhuan Falun” in The Fourth Talk: “But as we have taught, a practitioner should refrain from fighting back and always hold himself to high standards.”
A few months ago, I then found myself in a similar situation again. It was at the beginning of the Ukraine war, when a big demonstration was announced in Hamburg. As a result of the demonstration, the school authorities decided to excuse the pupils from classes in order to be able to participate. My teacher had the idea to go together as a class and said to let him know whether we wanted to participate or not.
My friend and I didn't want to take part in the demonstration, so I wrote in our group chat that I wasn’t going to take part. A little later I got a message from a classmate who called me divisive because I didn't want to go. It was a long message and after reading it at first, I was shocked, horrified and a bit angry. I was upset inside that he considered me divisive and wanted to basically force me to participate in an event that I had no interest in.
At first I ignored the message and discussed it with my mother and friend. Both were shocked, especially my mother, who was stunned that one classmate would put so much pressure on another. Together with my parents, I thought about what my response would be. After a few attempts and a lot of thinking, I put a reply together. However, it was very harsh and direct.
In the message I told him directly that it would not be divisive of me not to take part in the demonstration, because the others could still go even if I didn’t go myself. As a result, I would not prevent anyone else from going. I also mentioned that I would comply if there was no other option and told him directly that I found his behavior offensive and unacceptable.
Finally, I wrote my real reason for not participating, namely that I would rather concentrate on the persecution in China and that my priorities were therefore different from his.
I had my doubts whether I should really send the message or not, but I couldn't think of any better words or ways of putting it. So I decided to read the message to my parents and ask for their opinions. They also found my message harsh and direct and were not sure if it would have a good effect.
However, I thought I should send it anyway because, firstly, I couldn't write a nicer message at that moment and, secondly, I wouldn't write to him at all if I didn't now.
I realized that it was a test and that it was about explaining the truth to him. Master gave me another chance to crawl out of my shell and after years I finally took it.
In the end, I sent it to him with an apology at the end for the harsh tone. His response was positive, and I think he could understand where I was coming from. In retrospect, I am also glad and a little proud of myself for sending that message.
My xinxing tests at school are definitely not over yet. I only have one more year until I graduate, but still, I believe that the trials will continue, and new situations will come up where I will share a different opinion from the others. I hope that I can continue to come out of my shell and talk openly about Falun Dafa and the persecution.
Backstage at Shen Yun
My father has been helping backstage at Shen Yun for many years. I have also felt the need to help out in past years, but I was always too young. Last year, I was sitting at the dinner table with my family and we were talking about the planning for Shen Yun. I had jokingly said that I could help my father with Shen Yun. His answer was: sure!
At first I was unsure whether he was serious or not. After many weeks, I was still thinking about it, even though we hadn't brought up the topic again. In addition, the subject of vaccination came up more often - also in connection with Shen Yun. At first, I didn't want to be vaccinated at all and was getting away with it everywhere. Now I was faced with a decision: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?
In the meantime, my father actually confirmed that I could help out backstage at Shen Yun. My first two inner reactions were joy because I was allowed to help, and at the same time shock, because I was finally allowed to help.
During the COVID situation it was uncertain what the restrictions would be in the theaters. Therefore, the question came up again: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? And thus the follow up question: Shen Yun or not Shen Yun? The answer came quickly: Yes, I will get vaccinated so that I can safely help out with Shen Yun. Because I really wanted to help, the decision ended up being easy for me.
The backstage job exceeded my expectations. I usually don't like to work, but backstage I did everything with joy and motivation. One example: we had to rehang every curtain several times. For this we had to tie loads of bows but I didn't mind it much at all. My attitude was: just do it and don't think. That's what my father gave me to start with. Because if you think too much, you might even mess up the planning. You help where you can and at any time. There is no such thing as being lazy.
At the last performance I dismantled cables and technical things, and the technical manager of a company jokingly offered me a job. This made me realize that the diligence of cultivators is something special and catches the eye of ordinary people and leaves a good impression. Working backstage was hard, but it filled me with joy every second.
I thank Revered Master for this opportunity! I thank my parents for their helpful support during the past years!
(Selected to the European Fa-conference 2022 in Warsaw)
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