Dear Master, Dear fellow practitioners,
Today I would like to share with you my experiences about assisting. I have been thinking about assisting for a long time, but these thoughts are always accompanied by worries. The latest announcements from the Minghui editorial team have helped me to gain more clarity about this.
The wrong understanding about assisting
I can listen well and am there for others. That's a sentence I've always been proud to say about myself. However, lately I doubt whether this is really so important from a Fa point of view or rather a human thing.
6 years ago we had a sharing together with the assistants from Germany and German-speaking Switzerland about what "assisting" actually means. What are our tasks according to the Fa and how can we encourage practitioners to do their tasks in the Fa-rectification better.
During the sharing, I realized that my most important point was actually listening and being there. The German word "betreuen" means to take care of someone and make sure they have what they need for their well-being.
Well, that's exactly what I do in the projects where I have a leading function or lead the sharing. In one project I sometimes hear, "during sharing here we can be much more open than usual", "here we are not judged for our weaknesses", "here we can safely express our thoughts". Oh, how I am always happy to hear these words! But is this really the environment that our revered Master wants from us?
As I began to think about this, a passage in Fa Teaching at the 2013 Greater New York Fa Conference came to mind:
“Master has entrusted so many Dafa disciples to you, and expects you to lead them well. So it is something you must do, and it is your responsibility. If you don’t do it well, it’s directly related to your cultivation.”
Am I guiding my fellow practitioners well, as our revered Master expects me to? The answer pierced my heart: no, not at all. You just listened, gave them a humanly safe space to express their thoughts. I still think it is very important and essential for an assistant to listen well and be there. But it is not enough to guide them well. When fellow practitioners talk about their worries or fears, it is very good as an assistant to listen with a compassionate mindset and to be there for them. Sometimes, however, it is also necessary to use stronger words so that we can walk the narrow path set out for us by the Fa. I have realized that I cannot do the latter.
There are practitioners who don't show up at the project for months, and I can't tell them that they should rather look for another project. Why can't I say that? If I see someone complaining too much about others, why can't I stop them? Why do I even participate in this? We talk about our understandings and share our experiences, but I don't guide them, instead I "go with it". I don't use clear words when they should be spoken.
The reason: because I want to save my own face. If I listen well and give practitioners a space, they like me. If I am not so strict, they like me. On top of that, it makes me less of a target for conflicts. This is clearly an attachment, namely showing off.
Our Master has taught us in Zhuan Falun, Chapter 6: “A tendency to show off can be a part of many actions, including even good deeds.”
Even if I understand my coordinative task as a servant and seem to be there for others, that's really just my ego wanting to be flattered. And that is not cultivation.
Master explains it in chapter 9 in Zhuan Falun: “You would have no way to make spiritual progress if there was no strife around you or chances to work on your character. It wouldn’t be possible if everyone got along just fine.”
When I realized this, I felt ashamed, but did nothing to change the situation. That's when I understood how deep this attachment actually runs with me. Looking back, I think that many of my steps in the Fa-rectification were accompanied by showing off, which looked like diligence from the outside. I realized that the project and I were being blocked from elevation.
In Lecture 1, Zhuan Falun, Master has explained: “Every single thing that makes up creation, wherever it may be in the universe, is alive and has thinking, and whatever it does, no matter the level that it exists at, is an embodiment of the Way of the universe. And so you will not be able to progress to higher levels of existence, or attainment, if they do not agree to it. Their reason would be that your character has not grown sufficiently.”
When I used to share, I would ask my cultivating husband afterwards if what I said was okay. I was always careful not to make a mistake in the sharing, to reveal too much, and was too concerned with what impression I made instead of looking at what was important: how I increased my xinxing and, more importantly, how others increased.
A few months ago I started to pay less attention to these superficial things and to share more directly. Honestly expressing my concerns, naming problems, used to be very difficult for me. I held back so that I wouldn't make a mistake. I have forgotten what Master told us in the Fa Teaching at the 2015 West Coast Fa Conference:
“I have said before that, for a Dafa disciple, it’s okay if you’ve made mistakes. Just openly and honestly admit to your mistakes and show that you’re getting back on track and want to do well, and everyone will admire you for that.”
I was afraid of making mistakes because that in turn meant loss of face. Later, I understood that I had too little faith in my fellow practitioners. When they see my numerous mistakes, they will react according to the Fa, because they are disciples of the same Master. Why the fear?
Our Master encourages us to go our own way, and my understandings in the Fa show me the way to guide my fellow practitioners well: by cultivating openly and sincerely, as our revered Master teaches us.
As I understand it, the focus of assisting should be that the assistant accompanies the fellow practitioners on their path. I think of it like a travel guide who simultaneously ensures the safety of the travellers and also that they do not go astray and get lost in a foreign country or in the jungle. The tour guide, i.e. the assistant, does not give any orders, because he is not a general - he just holds up a colourful umbrella so that everyone stays together. He always looks around to see if everyone is there and brings back the lost travellers.
Master asked us the question in the Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference: “What kind of coordinator would you like to be? Have you thought about that? Are you hoping that everyone will be as obedient as a flock of sheep before you?”
But that is not what Master wants from us: “That’s what you want, not what I want. As complicated as things are, [you should figure out] how to be a good coordinator of Dafa disciples.”
My current understanding is that good guidance means that assistants ensure the safety and cohesion of fellow practitioners.
Too much involvement in projects
In addition to the point about how to guide practitioners well as a person in charge, I found the following sentence in a Minghui editorial called "Be Responsible" important: “It’s also common for Dafa Association coordinators to be busy with projects that they are in charge of and thereby neglect the responsibilities of Dafa Association coordinators.”
From the beginning of my cultivation in 2001, I was constantly thrown in the deep end and had to walk my own path - be it in the clarification work to politicians or the establishment of Dafa websites. Right from the get go, I was already involved in the activities, and my cultivation is very closely connected to the projects for clarifying the truth. That's why I'm often involved with the sharing in project groups and neglect the sharing in my local group and generally in the groups in Germany.
Together with the other members of the German Falun Dafa Association, I am responsible for preparing our big sharing on Mondays on Sonant. That's when all of Germany and German-speaking Switzerland come together to share our latest experiences. The sharing should be up-to-date, related to cultivation, easy to understand and relevant to Fa-rectification. Often there are more than 200 practitioners. No easy task.
During the preparation, I noticed that sometimes I don't know at all what is going on in the groups. In Germany we have a lot of smaller groups and we are therefore in close contact with the assistants. Because I'm busy with my projects, contact often comes too short.
And there is already the little word: "busy". It means to focus one's attention on one thing or person. In my case: I concentrate almost exclusively on projects. However, the Minghui editorials have made me aware that this does not do justice to my responsibility towards the practitioners locally and in my country.
Our Revered Master clearly stated His expectation in the Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference: “I would like to tell you that, since you are a coordinator, you should gather the local practitioners and bring them together on Master’s behalf so that they can improve in cultivation, and you should help Master by leading them well. That is your responsibility as a coordinator in your area.”
When I became aware of this Fa principle, I felt my heart become lighter. For months I kept thinking about it and worrying about why some projects around me were not having the effect they should. I got the answer from the advice in the Minghui editorials: because I neglect my real task, which our Master gave us, to guide our fellow practitioners well.
Let us do our tasks better together so that our Master can hear good news from us.
(Selected article for the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)
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