Greetings Master, Greetings fellow practitioners
I am a Falun Dafa practitioner from Sweden. I obtained the Fa in mainland China in 1997 and came to Sweden to attend university in 2014. I would like to share with you my experiences on the path of cultivation and the challenges I encountered this year while participating in Shen Yun merchandise sales.
Persevering in Cultivation
I have been practising cultivation since the age of five, following my parents. I strive to uphold Master's teachings, being considerate of others, showing forbearance in all situations at school, and doing good deeds. After the persecution began in 1999, my family experienced severe persecution. I witnessed police ransacking our home and my parents being sent to brainwashing centres multiple times. Despite these challenges, our entire family continues to encourage and support each other in persevering with our cultivation practice.
I had always thought that my parents would be there to encourage and support me, but things took an unexpected turn in 2011. While I was in college, my parents were again suddenly arrested by the police and illegally sentenced to two years of forced labour. When I received a call from a malicious police officer, I was utterly shocked. I was studying in a distant place far from home, alone. There were no fellow practitioners around, and though I had many friends, there was no one I could confide my pain in. I even dared not show my suffering, as I was uncertain about how they would react if they knew my parents had been arrested for practising Falun Gong. I remember spending an entire week alone, hiding under my blanket at night and crying, trying not to let my roommates hear. During the day, I had to wipe away my tears to attend classes, all while trying to figure out how to cope with the situation at hand.
I forced myself to calm down and stop crying. I asked myself, "Without the guidance and companionship of my parents, should I continue practising Falun Dafa? If I choose to continue, I will also face similar risks. Am I afraid?" As I pondered the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance in my life and compared them to the chaos of pursuing falsehood, evil, and ugliness prevalent in society, the more I thought, the more I felt determined to continue cultivating. Master has taught us that the path of every Dafa disciple is arranged by Master. I want to follow the path arranged for me by Master.
I felt as if Master was right by my side, and my heart was filled with warmth. I knew that Master was encouraging me. Next, I treated myself as a Dafa disciple and dealt with the current situation accordingly. Overcoming my fear, I returned to Beijing, visiting all the detention centres in an effort to rescue my parents. I also exposed the malicious police officer's misconduct and his contact information on the Minghui website. I looked within and identified my attachment to strong affection toward family. I had been practising as if it were all for my parents. Their arrest was a test to see if I truly practised for myself. Meanwhile, my fear had prevented me from clarifying the truth to any classmates or teachers. So, I approached my friends at school one by one and shared the truth with them individually. I told them about the persecution my family was enduring and the benefits Falun Dafa had brought me. I also encouraged them to quit the evil party.
During the days of cultivating alone, every morning before anyone else woke up, I would study the Fa. Soon after, a test emerged. I began to develop red rashes all over my body, accompanied by intense itching. There was hardly any spot on my body below my neck and above my ankles that had intact skin. Everyone who saw me urged me to go to the hospital. I knew this was a test. So, I started wearing long-sleeved clothes to conceal the rashes and quietly studied the Fa and practiced the exercises, resisting the urge to scratch. I persevered like this for a month, and eventually, the rashes disappeared. I knew I had passed a significant test.
One morning while I was studying, I came across Master's teaching in “Teaching the Fa at the Eastern U.S. Fa Conference”: “…every one of you may encounter things that strike you at the core, and sometimes the feeling may even be quite strong. Some of those things may not directly manifest around you, on your body, or in the things you encounter. They might manifest in the things that other people go through, or when others criticize you, or during some other conflicts. All these will make you choose between studying Dafa or not studying Dafa, or whether you want this Fa. What you choose will be looked at. Everyone will encounter these situations.
Therefore, when you’ve encountered these things, it’s testing you to see if you can continue to cultivate, and if you can steadfastly cultivate in Dafa. This is most critical.”
I realised that this was a test for my heart and soul, challenging me to make my own choice, to determine whether I truly wanted to cultivate in Falun Dafa, and to examine whether I could let go of my attachment to strong affection toward family. This test was quite challenging, but I managed to overcome it.
Cultivating myself in the work environment
After I started working, I encountered a significant challenge. Three years ago, I joined my current workplace. On my first day at work, I met my partner colleague, A. I greeted A and introduced myself, but she not only ignored me but also didn't respond in any way. The situation was awkward, and I thought A didn't like me. Subsequently, my supervisor asked A to help me understand the job responsibilities, but A didn't provide any explanations. She kept her head down and focused on her tasks. When I asked her questions, she responded impatiently and loudly, telling me to figure things out on my own. I was shocked and angered by her attitude. How could someone be so rude? Then, something even more infuriating happened. A needed to pass by me, and she used her body to push me aside while loudly telling me to move away. She was the first person I encountered on my first day at work. Why was she treating me this way?! At the end of my first day, I found myself wondering how I could possibly continue working under such circumstances.
In this manner, I endured each day, trying my best not to get angry and avoiding arguments with her. I felt like the work environment was suffocating and subdued. When I returned home, my mind was in turmoil. I didn't know how to deal with this colleague. I wanted to calm down and study the Fa, but all I could think about was her shouting at me and her tone of voice. I also noticed that A never expressed gratitude; she only loudly commanded me. I didn't know how long I could continue working in such conditions. It had only been a week since I started, but I was already feeling overwhelmed.
Finally, the weekend arrived. I came across a passage in "Essentials for Further Advancement" that talked about "What is Forbearance": Forbearance is the key to improving one’s xinxing. To endure with anger, grievance, or tears is the forbearance of an everyday person who is attached to his concerns. To endure completely without anger or grievance is the forbearance of a cultivator.
Reflecting on the past week, I realised that I had been enduring, but it was a forced kind of endurance. I was afraid that if I got into conflicts with others so soon after starting a new job, it would affect how people perceived me. I felt bullied by my colleague, yet due to a sense of pride, I didn't dare confront her. Outwardly, I didn't argue with her, but internally, I was constantly arguing with her in my mind. I was generating resentment and realising that I hadn't truly achieved the “forbearance of a cultivator”.
But how could I truly achieve "to endure completely without anger or grievance"? Master teaches us to be selfless, so I tried to be completely selfless. Over the next few months, whenever I worked with A, I tried my best not to harbor negative thoughts about her in my mind. When conflicts arose, I focused on examining my own shortcomings. I strove to unconditionally look within myself. At the same time, I treated her politely, asking if she needed help, but I didn't expect her to treat me the same way in return.
As I delved deeper into looking within, my thoughts became clearer. I realised that what actually bothered me was her tone and attitude. She hadn't caused any trouble in our work tasks; it was merely her tone and attitude when asking me to cooperate on tasks. Why was I allowing myself to be affected by something as intangible as tone and attitude? About six months later, I discovered that I truly had achieved the state of "to endure completely without anger or grievance." However, occasionally, when her attitude was particularly bad, I couldn't help feeling angry. I questioned why I should be thankful when she was being so rude. I recognized that as a cultivator, I needed to remove layers of resentment. Every now and then, I would get angry again, but then I would work hard to look within and remove another layer. This is the process of cultivation. I also realised that I had retaliatory thoughts. I couldn't respond to her with the same tit-for-tat approach that an ordinary person might use. So, I would still express gratitude for her help.
I genuinely wanted to thank colleague A. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been able to uncover so many attachments within myself. After working alongside A for a year and a half, one day, after handing her something she needed, she suddenly smiled and said thank you. I was taken aback for a moment, then replied happily, "You're welcome!" We both laughed. It was the first time I had seen A smile so sincerely and genuinely. Later, when I blocked her way, she politely asked me to move. I was surprised by A's transformation. I knew I had passed that test. Recently, another colleague told me that working with me had changed A significantly. Before, no one could work with her, but now, our work environment has become much more relaxed.
The Tests Encountered in the Project of Selling Shen Yun Merchandise
Last year, I joined the Shen Yun merchandise sales team, where my main task was to sell Shen Yun commemorative items during the performances. I was thrilled to be part of selling Shen Yun merchandise because I recognized the significance of this project. I believed that when the audience bought commemorative items after watching the Shen Yun performance, it would help sustain the enthusiasm for Shen Yun and contribute to promoting next year's performances. Additionally, the exquisite Shen Yun merchandise would allow customers to bring home the purity, goodness, and beauty, reminding them to remember the principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance."
This year, in addition to the sales tasks, I took on a new responsibility. I needed to purchase display racks and tablecloths for our sales booth. Last year, the setup was done by practitioners from other countries, but this year, we were responsible for our own booth arrangement. I willingly accepted this task and started preparing for it. After discussing with fellow practitioners, we compiled a list of items we needed to purchase. Initially, I thought this task wouldn't be too difficult; we just needed to buy everything on the list.
As I began searching online for the required products, I found an overwhelming array of options. To find the suitable racks, I had to measure sizes, check the dimensions of Shen Yun merchandise on the Shen Yun Collections website, sometimes compare items at home for size and color, and if possible, I would even visit stores to physically inspect the chosen racks. Despite putting in a lot of effort into selecting the items, fellow practitioners had opinions – some thought the quality wasn't good enough, others said the size was incorrect, the price was too high, or the color was wrong, and so on. Gradually, I lost my patience. When a fellow practitioner pointed out that the selected display racks looked cheap, I didn't say anything outwardly, but in my mind, I was thinking: "Close enough should be fine. Who would notice what the racks behind the merchandise look like?" Although I had such thoughts, when it came time to place the order and make the payment, I hesitated to click the "Confirm" button.
Two months passed, and I was wasting a lot of time comparing products online and discussing with fellow practitioners, yet I hadn't purchased a single item. The items in my shopping cart were piling up, and so were the suggestions from fellow practitioners. My mind grew more and more agitated, and I realised that something was off about this situation. Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the Fa Conference at the U.S. Capital" (in Collected Teachings Given Around the World, Volume VII): "When a Dafa disciple has a hard time with something and needs to think things over, he should look for things starting with himself and do things in line with the environment needed by Dafa disciples and the Fa-rectification. When a problem occurs, it is because that person is stubbornly going against the Fa principles. Go and find where the problem lies, let go of that stubbornness, and sort things out."
I started looking within: Firstly, I realised that I had been treating the purchase of display racks as an ordinary task, not considering it from the perspective of cultivation. Secondly, even though I had been seeking advice from fellow practitioners, my intentions were impure. My discussions with them were motivated by fear that the display racks I bought might be criticised by fellow practitioners. If everyone agreed on a certain rack, then even if I wasn't satisfied with it later, I wouldn't solely bear the blame. This was a cunning way of trying to protect my own self-interest. When I thought that customers wouldn't pay attention to the quality of the display racks, it revealed a sense of irresponsibility influenced by Party culture. I had wasted so much time, yet I couldn't bring myself to buy anything. I was afraid that the items I received might not match the images online, and I was afraid of wasting money. This was a manifestation of fear.
After thoroughly looking within, I realised that behind this seemingly small task lay so many of my attachments. Once I straightened out my mentality, I opened my computer to purchase the display racks. This time, among the numerous options, I easily selected the suitable products. The rest of the process went smoothly as well. The received display racks were perfect for our needs, and every single rack found its purpose. Not a single penny was wasted.
Thank you Master. Thank you fellow practitioners.
(Selected article for the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)
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