Reflecting on My Cultivation

Experience sharing from the 2017 Euriopean Fa Conference in Paris
 

Last year, I experienced the biggest test since I started cultivation. The test felt so hard to pass and I was pushed to the edge of my xinxing. My attachments were all stirred up. Having stumbled through, I could really see my attachments and limitations. There is still so much for me to learn and enlighten to.

As the coordinator of Austria FXH (Dafa Association), I started to coordinate Shen Yun in Vienna since 2008. Although I felt that I worked very hard, there was no breakthrough. I was really worried. In 2016, one month before Shen Yun began, one fellow practitioner criticized me fiercely on the email group. Some fellow practitioners felt that if we wanted to sell tickets well, we must resolve this conflict. Therefore, a few more practitioners joined the conversation, and the criticism got more and more intense.

I learnt that some fellow practitioners believed they should look inward as the third party witnessing the conflicts. They tried very hard to do so but couldn’t find anything. They saw the situation got worse and worse yet they didn’t know what to do. They felt very uncomfortable themselves. Some fellow practitioners thought if I was criticized for this and that, then I must have done it wrong. So many different fellow practitioners were involved and the pressure in the environment got greater and greater. I was looking inward but also wanted to share directly with the fellow practitioners who criticized me, however I didn’t get any good result. When I met practitioners at the Shen Yun tickets selling site, I was told that no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t help but think about the intense criticism happening in the email group. Some fellow practitioners who were good at selling tickets before couldn’t sell much this time, however hard they tried. When I saw all this, I was under tremendous pressure. I really didn’t know what to do, as whatever decision I made, criticism would follow straightaway.

One time, I talked to one fellow practitioner at the ticket selling site for Shen Yun. He told me that he had been thinking about what had happened. He just read Master’s article Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference, he pointed out one paragraph to me saying it might help me.

Master says: “Indeed, certain coordinators have some qualities that are too much like ordinary people’s. But such are the types of cultivators you need to work with, cultivators with states such as they now have, and they do have many human thoughts. But they are still Dafa disciples nevertheless. This is how numerous and great the challenges that you face are and, as a coordinator, you have to face these and face them squarely, and you have to adapt to them. It’s just not possible for you to turn these practitioners into people who are a certain way or the kind of people you want them to be. Something as large as this whole society cannot even change them. Dafa cultivation can change them, but that is done one layer at a time, and until that process reaches the surface, the person will still be that way. Only those who are diligent are able to keep their bad tendencies in check. But normally there will be some people who aren’t even aware of [their problems] and remain that way. If you want them to be a certain way, that will be very hard for them to achieve. Even I, as their Master, have not set forth a requirement that they must behave a certain way. So how should you act, as a coordinator? Could it work if you serve as a coordinator for only some of the people? 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? 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. Now that Master has given you the responsibility, [think about] how you are going to lead these people well for me.” (Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference)

After I read this, I felt like I had never read it before. Especially when Master states, “you have to adapt to them”, I was shocked. I was listening to the opinions of those practitioners who expressed themselves very vehemently and looking inward, however, sometimes, I did have thoughts like “how could they say so” deep down in my heart. After I read Master’s teaching, I suddenly felt that my heart was broadened and a new path was opened up for me. But what should I do exactly, how should I “adapt to them”, I still wasn’t sure.

I have been thinking about it ever since. Now, what I have come to understand is, its connotation includes: to leave some room for others rather than making decisions based on my own wishes; we should assess each individual practitioner’s situation and give them an opportunity to use their capabilities. What changes us is cultivation. This is the foremost important thing. Easier said than done, and to what extent you could do it is true cultivation.

As the 2016 Shen Yun got closer and closer, the pressure from those fellow practitioners who criticised me was higher and higher. In this state, the tickets were not selling at all. When some fellow practitioners suggested to study the Fa together, they were also criticised for giving others pressure as it would be the same as the “people's commune” initiated by the Chinese Communist Party. That was the first time I felt that I couldn’t be the coordinator anymore. If we had continued like that, the result would be unbearable to think of. I asked for help from other countries. Luckily, upon learning the situation here, some fellow practitioners from other countries came to help. Together we improved the situation a bit.

After Shen Yun finished, our Benevolent and Mighty Master specifically gave us European practitioners a lecture in New York. I was quite shocked afterwards. When Master appointed the Shen Yun coordinator for Germany, I suddenly had a thought. I had known this fellow practitioner for years. I’m quite “stubborn” in terms of I have my own ideas but not many fresh ideas; whereas he’s very “flexible/smart” as he is very good at solving complicated issues using simple methods. I’ve coordinated Shen Yun in Austria for so many years but couldn’t do it well. Since Master asked him to coordinate Shen Yun in Germany, surely he’d be able to coordinate Shen Yun well in Austria too, then Austria would have hope. After I got back, I asked Shen Yun office if this practitioner could replace me to lead the coordination of Shen Yun in Austria. They agreed. At that time, I was so relieved; I felt that Shen Yun in Austria now had new hope.

Looking back, why couldn’t I handle the situation or coordinate well during the 2016 Shen Yun? It was what we say in Chinese – “one incompetent leader can exhaust the whole Armed Forces”. I realized that I had so much sentimentality towards fellow practitioners. As I was among the first few practitioners in Austria, I experienced many fellow practitioners’ process of obtaining the Fa, starting cultivation and becoming mature cultivators. I felt all practitioners in Austria are very close to me, whether they are easy to get on with or not, I felt like they are all my family.

As time flies, I gradually became too attached to them. When they made suggestions, although I was looking inward, a large part of me was using my human sentimentality to try to understand them and want good for them. I put too much emphasis on the issue itself and couldn’t let it go. Once we were in the middle of conflicts, it became harder for us to see things from the Fa. Thus, our discussion became a discussion of all the details of the issue rather than a solution based on the Fa. Because of my emotions regarding “family members”, when faced with various opinions from different fellow practitioners, I tried to be exhaustive – everyone’s opinion was good and every suggestion was reasonable, I was just trying to be the nice guy. As a coordinator, however, this had made the principles that my decisions were based on unclear, which consequently upset a few fellow practitioners who were involved. Also, I found it very hard to say “no” to others. So, I was busy dealing with various opinions and made myself very tired. When I really couldn’t balance them all, I then said “no”. But this made the “no” sound so resolute rather than fair. Without any power behind it, many others saw such a decision as dictated. When I saw fellow practitioners couldn’t pass their tests, I really hoped they could make it through so tried my best to help. But again, because this was all based on the sentimentality towards family, I cared too much about the matter itself. At the end of the day, cultivation is everyone’s own choice, I couldn’t decide for others.

I also realised that I didn’t communicate well enough with others. When I experienced difficulties during coordination, I usually didn’t speak out, as I felt this was a test for me to pass, and I should try to endure it and harmonize the situation. However, I didn’t think of other fellow practitioners. If I didn’t say anything about it, not only couldn’t they help, but also they didn’t understand why I made certain decisions. When we were working on 2017 Shen Yun, for a while, some fellow practitioners also had high hopes for the new coordinator for Shen Yun in Vienna. They were waiting for him to make lots of decisions. In one of the Shen Yun meetings we had, this fellow practitioner frankly shared with everyone: this was his first time to be Shen Yun coordinator, there were so many things he didn’t know well at all, so he couldn’t make decisions. He hoped others could tell him more about their experiences and make suggestions, helping him to make the decisions together. Afterwards, the pressure between fellow practitioners reduced a lot, many practitioners took the initiative to think of ideas and make suggestions to help him to make the decision. By doing so, the pressure among us disappeared and the initiative by fellow practitioners improved. This was very inspirational to me.

Cultivation wouldn’t count if it doesn’t touch our heart. After 2016 Shen Yun, the test didn’t disappear when I was no longer the coordinator for Shen Yun. After the 2016 New York conference, the few practitioners who were fiercely criticizing me before started a new round of criticism in the email group, and they also encouraged other fellow practitioners to express their views. I was so surprised as I didn’t see any kindness in their criticism, but everything was my fault and it felt like I’d better be beaten to death. I’d never experienced the Cultural Revolution in China, however I felt what they were doing then was like the “verbal struggle” that happened back then. I thought to myself: these few western practitioners always claimed that I was following the CCP’s way of doing things, but they didn’t realize what they were doing was more like it. Based on the Fa, I knew as the main coordinator, I had unavoidable responsibility for not doing Shen Yun well in Austria, but emotionally I just couldn’t accept the way they criticized me.

During that time, there were so many emails like this every single day, one after another. Even some practitioners who used to cooperate very well in the past started to say that I was no longer suitable to be the coordinator in Austria given I’m a Chinese. I felt so bitter inside but just didn’t know who I could talk to. I was under so much pressure and felt like I was on the edge of a cliff. I knew I wouldn’t pass the test by looking outwardly, I should look inward and improve myself. But my state was not stable, sometimes I could look inward, whereas other times I looked outwardly and thought they were unfair to me. I even thought to myself: I have already tried so hard and they still carried on like this, I’d better leave Austria and go to another country, then they can do whatever they want.

Around that time, one veteran practitioner wrote an email. He stated that because I made decisions in Austria most of the time, gradually, he and others became more and more passive since I would make the final decision at the end anyway. They no longer took the initiative to think about things. He also said that whether or not we could change the situation in Austria depended on whether I could change myself, as well as whether others could take the initiative rather than relying on me. His sharing really made me reflect. I do things relatively quicker. Although I wanted everyone to get involved, after a while however, I became impatient so decided to do it myself in order to move things forward. It has its advantages, but also drawbacks. What I had done actually made the environment very passive, consequently some fellow practitioners were reluctant to take responsibilities. For me, I had more and more limitations and became more and more tired.

Master says in Teaching the Fa at the Western U.S. International Fa Conference: “… A person who has a position of responsibility is actually a coordinator, and getting more capable people involved is what’s key. How big of a role can any one individual play? Only when the group as a whole plays its role has the coordinator done well. When a coordinator does well himself, well, if you’re the only one doing well, then you should just be an average student in that case. The key is that you have got to play the role of and fulfill the duties of a coordinator. And I’ll mention another thing. The coordinators in all regions must abandon the approach of overseeing all things big and small. Each region should give free rein to the students in that locale and support them when they take the initiative to validate the Fa. Don’t hold them back, unless it’s those who often go to extremes. Veteran Dafa disciples have matured now, and they are walking their own paths towards Consummation. You need to be clear on this.”

I shared with a fellow coordinator from another European country. She said other fellow practitioners complain about us because many of us coordinators from FXH (Dafa Association) don’t do well. Rather than regret it at the end, it’s better to be criticized and correct our mistakes now. She’s right, Master is very worried. I also hope Austria could catch up, then shouldn’t I just change myself quickly rather than being angry with others? Why should I feel wronged? If we can’t do it well, everything will end up in vain. Once I enlightened to this, my state was gradually stabilized.

After I passed this test, looking back, I was really scared. Since the evil persecution started until now, I’ve stumbled through so much, how could the pressure from fellow practitioners almost destroy me? Doesn’t it reflect the issues in my cultivation? How could I make my cultivation more solid? I started to reflect on my daily Fa study and exercises.

My commute to work (round trip) takes 3 hours a day, which used to be a good time for Fa study. However, I’ve been so tired in recent years, I usually slept through it. When I got home, it’s usually quite late and I had so many things to do and coordinate. Fa study and exercises became a new challenge every day. The test with fellow practitioners was like a blow with a heavy hammer, it made me realize the urgency of Fa study. Since the beginning of this year, I started to study the Fa with a few practitioners on Skype in the morning, then went to work. Even though the time in the morning was quite limited, and I couldn’t join them on a daily basis, once fixed, this morning Fa study mechanism helped my cultivation a lot. It also became easier for me to find the time for Fa study during the day. I go to Vienna to work everyday. In the city centre park there are many Chinese tourists. Fellow practitioners also do the group exercises there in the morning. I’ve always wanted to join them, but the commute takes 3 hours a day, I also come out during lunch to clarify the truth. The time is so tight so I was never able to do so.

After Shen Yun finished this year, under Master’s compassionate arrangement, I went to the exercise site to pick up something. The enormous energy and the peaceful field really shocked me. I felt all the bad elements were eliminated while I was there. I truly felt that Master wanted me to see the importance of self-cultivation in saving sentient beings. So I made up my mind – I wanted to join the exercises. After I explained that to my colleagues, they were very understanding and supportive. From now, I was able to start work from 10am one day a week, so I could join the group exercises in Vienna in the morning. These little changes made my cultivation more solid than before.

This year is the 25th Anniversary since Dafa was introduced to the world. Time really flies! I remember I obtained the Fa not long before the persecution started. One day, I was walking with one fellow practitioner. I said: once I reach Consummation, I’ll definitely come back and save these sentient beings in the world. My understanding of Dafa was very shallow then, but my heart was pure. As I cultivate, I understand more and more the responsibility of Dafa disciples. Lately, I quite often recall what I said back then. Nowadays the time is so pressing, our vows need to be fulfilled.

Cultivation is not easy. Looking back, I could see how painful it was to pass a test. But once we made it through, what we see more and more is our limitation and gratitude during improvement.

At the end, I would like to share with everyone Master’s teaching from A Congratulatory Letter to the Fa Conference of Europe:

“A Fa conference is meant for cultivation. What a cultivator cultivates is none other than him or herself. The outside pressures that Dafa disciples face are tests as well as opportunities to be more diligent, while the internal conflicts and pressures among Dafa disciples are, likewise, tests and opportunities to be more diligent. Every one of us, excepting me alone, is a cultivator. How well you do is a reflection of your cultivation state, and no one is an exception. You will not be able to complete the final leg of your journey well if your cultivation is deficient in some way, or if you have human thinking or attachments. What a cultivator works on is always him or herself, and even the slightest change to your human thinking amounts to an improvement and will be witnessed by divine beings. Cultivation is not something done for Dafa’s sake, and nor is saving lives. Rather, cultivation ensures that a being is progressing toward spiritual perfection, while saving lives comes from a cultivator’s compassion and his or her responsibility when sentient beings are in peril. The journey that you take is a process of letting go of your many strong attachments and walking the path well.”

Thank you Benevolent Master! Thank you fellow practitioners for your help!

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