France: Cultivation Experience in Running a Tianti Bookstore in Paris

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Greetings, respected Master!
Greetings, fellow practitioners!

I am Sun Fenglong, a Falun Dafa disciple from France. I came to France in 1994 and began practicing Falun Dafa in March 1999.

Finding Falun Dafa

In 1994, I came to France to accompany my husband while he pursued his doctoral degree. At the end of December 1998, we took out a full loan to buy a store and let me manage it. With no experience and no money to hire help, I had no clue how to run the business. The pressure and anxiety were almost unbearable. The stress was excruciating. I yearned to calm my mind, to stop obsessing over money-making every day.

Perhaps it was this thought that created the opportunity. A fellow practitioner from China gave me a copy of Zhuan Falun. On March 2, 1999, I finished reading the last page. After closing the book, I said to myself, "From today on, I have decided to practice Falun Gong."

No matter how tired I was from work each day, no matter how late it was, I would finish five sets of exercises before going to sleep. In July 1999, when I attended the first European Fa conference in Paris, I learned that the Chinese Communist Party had begun persecuting Falun Gong. Since then, I actively participated in various projects and joined the ranks of clarifying the truth.

I established a practice site in my city, formed a Fa study group, and collected signatures on the streets to protest the persecution. I used my spare time to work on projects and write articles. Every weekend, I devoted myself to the activities of anti-persecution. Every day I was full of vitality and grounded. Practicing Falun Dafa completely freed me from the shackles of living just for money.

Establishing Tianti Bookstore and Cultivating Away Competitive Mentality

In early 2021, the New York-based Tianti Bookstore headquarters communicated with us, expressing the hope that Paris could open a physical Tianti Bookstore as Master's Fa-rectification progressed, and more predestined people would start practicing Dafa. 

We recalled Master's teaching in "Teachings at the Conference in Switzerland": "But there are only two mainstream methods: One is that we have books in bookstores and that we have practice sites, so Law Bodies can take people to find them; the other is Fa conferences and our students sharing their experiences with family. It’s mainly with these two methods that more people come, and their quality is high." 

We realized that running a bookstore aligned with Master's Fa principles. Therefore, we four practitioners discussed it and decided to establish an association in ordinary society called "Tianti Center France." Each of us had specific roles, and I became the chairperson of the association.

After establishing the association, the first thing was to open a bank account. I made an appointment with the manager at my own bank to discuss opening the account. However, our two scheduled meetings were canceled on the day of the appointment, citing unexpected events. I expressed my understanding the first time, but when it happened the second time, I felt competitive. I said to the manager, "Since you're so busy, I'll open an account at another bank, and we don't need to arrange another meeting." Then I left with a displeased look on my face.

I completely forgot my identity as a Dafa disciple and the purpose of applying for the account – to facilitate the truth-clarification projects. I treated the matter with an ordinary person's mindset. Subsequently, I approached three other banks, and none of them were willing to open an account for us. Their reasons were the same: since I was the chairperson of the association, I should open the account at my personal bank. Otherwise, they would need to investigate my credit background, which would be troublesome. After the first two banks rejected us, I still didn't wake up, but when the third bank also refused, I realized that I had made a mistake.

As a cultivator, I should not be in contention with an ordinary person. From a cultivation perspective, my competitive mentality arose just because my appointment was postponed. How could I run Tianti Bookstore with such a mindset? Looking inward, I also saw that although I diligently studied the Fa and practiced the exercises every day, when dealing with matters, especially when the other party didn't know I was a Falun Dafa practitioner, I seemed to exempt myself from adhering to Dafa's principles. This was a clear case of not genuinely cultivating.

After realizing my cultivation issue, I returned to the first bank. The manager showed displeasure and said, "Didn't you say you were going to other banks?" After I explained the reasons for the other banks' refusal, he said those were just excuses. I understood he was right. The three banks' refusal was Master's hint to me to pay attention to genuine cultivation. If one of the banks had accepted our account application, I would have missed this opportunity for reflection, and Master's hint would have been in vain. I thanked Master for showing me the consequences of not cultivating genuinely at the early stage of running the bookstore. Once the bookstore was operational, there would undoubtedly be many unexpected events, and if I didn't handle them with a cultivator's mindset, interference from evil would be inevitable.

I calmly told the bank manager, "I still hope you can help us open the account here." He said, not so kindly, that the bank wouldn't accept any requests for fee reductions or concessions just because we were an association. I admonished myself not to compete with others over interests. So, I smiled and told him that I could accept his conditions.

Several months passed, and the bank was still not giving us notice of the account opening. Perhaps Master wanted to see if I had the determination to cultivate away my competitive mentality and whether I had enough patience and tolerance. In any case, I reminded myself not to miss this opportunity for improvement. I patiently called them to inquire about the progress every day. Finally, the day to sign the contract arrived.

When we met, the bank manager was kind and said, "Considering that your association won't have much money, I managed to get you the lowest management fees and other concessions." I genuinely experienced the beauty of eliminating competitiveness.

Master's Protection

Once, while consulting with an accountant about bookstore account matters, he mentioned that, according to French law, the head of an association couldn't receive a salary and could only work as a volunteer. This news triggered a trace of dissatisfaction in my heart. In truth, when I agreed to work with other practitioners to run the bookstore, I never intended to earn a salary. However, when the accountant said it out loud, I felt uncomfortable. After returning home, I felt dismayed by my reaction. How could I go backward in cultivation?

Today, I am doing the work at Tianti Bookstore, which directly connects me with sentient beings. Why was I moved by the accountant's words? Looking inward, I saw jealousy and an uneven heart. In the past, I was able to do things without considering personal gain or loss, wholeheartedly participating in anti-persecution projects without seeking rewards, because all the practitioners around me did the same, and I could do it too. Now, many projects offer remuneration to participating practitioners. Especially when I faced the prospect of receiving very little retirement pension, this unequal heart and attachment to interests emerged.

Master said in “Path” in "The Essentials of Diligent Progress II": “If there really were pre-made paths and effortless rides, that definitely would not be cultivation.” 

Previously, when participating in truth-clarification projects, on the surface, everything I did seemed like my own effort, but there was an element of going with the flow. I'm grateful to Master for letting me see my attachment to personal gain at the beginning of running the bookstore. I must eliminate it.

In the process of finding my attachments, I clearly saw that Master had been protecting me every step of my cultivation journey, sometimes even performing miracles. Our small family business didn't suffer any negative impact from my frequent involvement in various anti-persecution activities. On the contrary, we managed to pay off all the loans. For better participation in truth-clarification projects, we moved to Paris. When we sold our small store after the property appreciated in value, the money we received was precisely enough to purchase the housing I now own in Paris. All this happened when I had absolutely no intention of seeking personal gain, yet I unexpectedly gained a lot.

In Zhuan Falun, Lecture Four, “Costs and Rewards”, Master said: The “rewards” that people usually hope to experience for their efforts consist of worldly things, like living a more prosperous and pleasant life. For we who practice, however, the rewards that we look to enjoy are of a completely different nature, and would be something regular people could never experience, even if they wanted to—unless they took up spiritual practice.

I feel an infinite sense of gratitude towards Master.

Selfless Donations

We didn't start the Tianti Bookstore from scratch. In the beginning, a fellow practitioner volunteered to offer us a storefront at a low rent, which became the first donation to Tianti Bookstore. Another practitioner donated Dafa clothes and meditation cushions worth several thousand euros. The sales from these items became the first capital for the bookstore.

Later on, practitioners in France and other European countries donated cash and other items. Some European practitioners even attached their donations to their book orders. These acts deeply moved us and made us feel the collective aspiration of practitioners to run a successful bookstore.

Fateful Encounters at the Bookstore

On the opening day of Tianti Bookstore, we invited New Tang Dynasty Television in France to cover the event. Unexpectedly, a pair of practitioners from mainland China, upon seeing the news, immediately informed their daughter studying in France. As a result, the first customer to buy books at the bookstore was this Chinese student studying abroad. She joyfully bought a set of Master's lectures around the world and had the opportunity to attend the first Nine-Day Lecture Class on Falun Dafa that we held at Tianti Bookstore. Another Taiwanese practitioner living in the eastern region of France, who had been cultivating on her own, saw the news on New Tang Dynasty TV and joined the first Nine-Day Lecture Class. Since then, she stepped out and practiced, clarified the truth with fellow practitioners, and even established a practice site in her local area.

In the same month as the bookstore's opening, we organized the first Nine-Day Lecture Class in the bookstore. Up to now, we have held ten classes, both in Chinese and French, and have invited veteran practitioners to join us to facilitate cultivation experience sharing with new practitioners.

Over the two years since the bookstore's opening, we have sold over 4,000 Dafa books and sent over 200 packages to practitioners across Europe, with the furthest package reaching a practitioner in Uganda, Africa. Our work has received recognition and been welcomed by fellow practitioners!

During Shen Yun's performances in France, we sold books at the venues. Over these two years, we sold nearly 1,500 copies of Zhuan Falun to the fortunate ones.

Lastly, I want to share Master's teaching from "Teaching Given at the Epoch Times and NTD Experience Sharing Conference": "The heart is what’s looked at in spiritual matters, not how well you executed some task; it serves no purpose if you don’t improve as a person through it. In spiritual matters it all comes down to the individual."

I will continue to do well in the work of Tianti Bookstore and improve myself.

Thank you, Master!
Thank you, fellow practitioners!


(Selected article for the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)

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