Greetings Venerable Master,
Greetings fellow practitioners,
I started cultivating about 17 years ago and since then many things have happened. I have radically changed my way of thinking and consequently many situations in my life have changed. I want to share with you some cultivation experiences of the last few years.
Do not follow practitioners as role models
When I started practicing, I was in southern India. I started doing the exercises every day, reading and collaborating to distribute leaflets. Two foreign practitioners had invited me to do the exercises. They organized the practice in the morning and evening, distributed Falun Gong photocopies in the participants' languages, and, after a week, gathered us together to watch Master's video showing the exercises. We were very impressed by their attention to each person and how they did the assistance work. I watched them with admiration, and the first few years I remember bringing them up often as an example of assistance work in the local group that was being formed in Florence.
After a few years I dreamed of one of the practitioners who had first shown me the exercises. He was with me in the universe, among the stars, about to enter a dark tunnel. His face was dark and he turned to me and asked me to follow him. Despite my esteem for him, I told him no, that I would not follow him.
Later, during the parade at a European conference, I met some practitioners from that initial group from India. There was also one of the assistants at that time who informed me that the other had quit practicing years before, around the time I had dreamed about him. I was shocked and understood how great my shortcomings had been in taking these assistants as role models and praising them. Master warns us of this in several writings.
Master said: “If you want to be a practitioner, it all depends on cultivating your heart and on you, yourself being enlightened since there are no role models.” (The transformation of karma, Lecture 4, Zhuan Falun).
Master wrote in “Mature” (The Essentials of Diligent Progress III): “...it is incumbent upon the cultivators to blaze their own trails, and it is required of each person that he affirm the path that he himself has come to realize—role models aren’t set up to follow.”
Since then I have been very careful not to hinder the path of practitioners by praising them or taking them as role models or putting them on a pedestal.
The others act as a mirror
I am responsible for Shen Yun in Florence. During the promotion of Shen Yun, I got to see some aspects of my own cultivation that I didn't think were good, thanks to misunderstandings that had occurred with fellow practitioners. I had seen behaviors in them that I didn't understand and didn't agree with, and so I looked inside myself to try to understand what was causing my misunderstanding and how I could improve.
I realized that when I talked to them I was not kind, I took it for granted that they should listen to me, I missed many opportunities to cultivate looking at the shortcomings of others instead of looking inside and cultivating myself. I thank them because they acted as a mirror for me, seeing their shortcomings I saw my own, I saw judgment toward those who did not participate, because I was following my notions, not the Fa. So I saw that I had expectations from people, assuming that others understand what I understand.
For example, when we had to go out for promotion, I could not understand and accept that some people did not participate, even though they said they understood the importance of the project and wanted to help Master, and sometimes I even felt resentment toward them. So I apologize if, because of that, I could not motivate them well.
I was reflecting: how can we help other practitioners when they have a problem of one kind or another? I remembered what Master said at the New York Fa Conference in 2017: “Your common goal is to save the people in the world, so you should be the closest and should help one another.” (Fa Teaching at the New York Fa Conference on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Dafa’s Introduction to the Public)
My understanding is that we should help each other to do what Master asks. For me, it means not telling the other person what to do, everyone has his own understanding and process, and we should support him. The really important thing for me is the process of "doing together." Master asks us to cooperate and help each other. Often in the past I have based my helping on attachments, friendship or pleasing the other, basing helping on emotions. But that which is based on attachments is bound to fail while what is based on "compassion" is not only durable and solid, but is the right soil on which the best bonds grow.
Taking a step back
It was time to step back and see things from a different perspective, to look inside myself and see my shortcomings. This led me to reflect seriously on the first of the principles: Truthfulness - being authentic, being true. I recognized that although I think to be truthful, I have often not been true, not saying what I think out of fear: fear of other people's judgment, fear of conflict or discussion, and choosing to stay quiet, comfortable and pleasing the other person. So instead of Zhen-Shan-Ren, I let fear guide my behaviors. I saw that I was letting go, but out of fear, however, generating negative thoughts, keeping the discontentment in my heart that became heavy and brought me down.
With righteous thoughts I could get rid of these negative things and eliminate them. Important was "telling myself the truth" and being clear with myself. Recognizing an attachment did not eliminate it but started a process to unmask it, detect it even when it was well hidden, and finally, let it go.
Master said: “if you can take a step back, you will find your horizon broadened endlessly and your perspective changed completely. Steel your will to let it go, and your realm will change immediately. In that state you will find yourself light and spry.” (Teachings at the Conference in the Western U.S., in Los Angeles, 1999).
Then I sought confrontation with some practitioners, told them of my difficulty in saying things for fear of their reaction, of conflict, that I was not interested in being right with my ideas, but was seeking sincere confrontation to improve and do better together. With a free heart I was able to listen and understand without prejudice, and during the activity for Shen Yun I found more tolerance in myself and was able to collaborate better for the project.
Master said in “Fa Teaching Given at the 2002 Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A”: “If another person’s idea can achieve the same effect and you aren’t attached to your own idea and instead you go along with his, then whether you’ve shared your approach or not, gods will all see this and think, ‘Look, he isn’t attached, and he’s able to be so tolerant and broadminded’” and even further on: “It’s not like gods see that your idea worked and then they raise your level. Instead, they only raise your level when they see that your understanding in that area has improved. This is a principle of a true Fa.”
Now, I try to look first in my heart - what is the motivation that moves me to do something and I have seen that if there is no attachment behind it to do "just the way I want" or "to show off". In short, if there is no ego in action, then the heart is free and the action becomes simple and also effective.
Then it was my husband's turn. I was afraid to tell him that I had to go for a meeting related to the theaters' research activity but I was delaying, delaying, not knowing how to inform him. I also had to tell him that I wanted to go to the European Fa conference in Paris in August, but I couldn't find the courage. Conferences, with all the difficulties involved in going there (money, family, work) have always been a blessing in my growing experience.
On that occasion, I happened to be proofreading the translation of an article for Shen Yun's website about the dancer Karina Fu, who had said in the interview, "Whenever I feel discouraged or worried, I think ... just do it. Just do it." Those words made me think, and with a clear mind and a heart free from fear, I told my husband the truth and everything went well. I thought that sometimes Master also encourages us through the words of others.
In my understanding, conflicts and adversity are like a stormy sea where we stand with our boat, more or less solid.
Master said in “Your Heart Should Know”, The Essentials of Diligent Progress II: “The Fa saves all lives with Master as guide.”
Finally, thinking about the latest project in which I am collaborating, I recognize that I always have so much difficulty feeling comfortable with the Internet, and just through the experiences I have shared, I have realized that my own ideas and concepts about something are not important What is important is to follow the direction that Master points through the coordinators. According to my understanding with this project Master wants to get as many people as possible into a "clean world" to save them. There are many projects to save sentient beings and each has its own needs, but only by being a part of them can we understand them and offer our contribution with the goal of saving sentient beings.
Situations in recent years have shown us that circumstances change quickly. We do not know what tomorrow holds but we know what we can do "here and now" and this is also what is required of us at the moment. In my understanding, I have seen that I did not always have a clear understanding of the things to do, but it was in doing them that I found the clarity I needed.
I would like to offer my support to the coordinators by trying to collaborate with them and cooperating with fellow practitioners.
Master said in “Be More Diligent,” Fa Teaching Given in Washington, D.C. 2010: "However, if you are focused on the superficial, ordinary human things, then you are attached and are using human thinking. Don’t give weight to such things. If you can manage to quietly complete what you notice is lacking, quietly do well what you should do, and quietly do something well when you find it to have been done less than ideally, then the multitude of gods will have tremendous admiration for you and exclaim that this person is simply extraordinary. Only doing things this way counts as what a Dafa disciple should do.”
These are my current understandings, I ask you please if you see shortcomings, to point them out to me.
Thank you Master!
Thank you fellow practitioners!
(Submitted to the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)
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