Greetings, respectful Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I have practiced cultivation for 20 years already.
In the summer of 1999, when the CCPs persecution of Falun Gong had just started, I also experienced one of the most difficult periods of my life, which was like a test of life and death. At the same time that I and my family experienced some very difficult tribulations, in the world more and more negative things were happening, and this made me lose faith in goodness, kindness, and human nature, and I couldn’t see any ways it could be resolved. I also developed symptoms in my body, and this made me feel very helpless, and I knew that there would be no use in going to see a doctor, because I knew that a doctor could not use miraculous means to resolve the problems of the world. This situation continued for at least two months. When I searched within to think about what I could do to change the situation, everything changed, I wanted to know the truth, no matter how saddening for people this was. At this time, I knew nothing about the persecution of Dafa and of what Falun Gong practitioners in China had experienced.
The first time I heard about Falun Gong was in Autumn of 1999. At the time I happened to be in Lund (which is where I live), where I read in a Swedish newspaper an article written about a Falun Gong practitioner in Lund. After I saw this, I was very interested, and planned to in the next year, namely 2000, try to learn how to practice Falun Gong, because at the time I was very busy with attending university.
In the spring of 2000, I tried to practice the Falun Gong exercises for the first time. At first, I had a mentality of distrust and suspicion, because in my ancestral home of Romania, as far back as when the communist party was ruling, we had been warned that everything existing in Western society is dangerous. Even so, I was drawn in by the tranquil and harmonious Falun Gong exercises and was also drawn in by the Falun Gong practitioners patience and kindness towards new practitioners. In the summer of 2000, I attended for the first time a Falun Gong summer camp in Varberg, and this was an unforgettable experience. I felt like all the Chinese and western practitioners who were attending the summer camp were like family, I felt as if our hearts had linked together, and it felt as if I had met them before.
In the first year of my cultivation practice, I experienced my tribulations, although the majority of them were tribulations whilst amongst family members. Afterwards, I experienced tribulations with other practitioners and, also at work. The intensity of passing a test and tribulation was different each time, and I didn’t in fact pass each one well, and sometimes my human side would get the upper hand. I would always know in my heart and mind, that as long as I didn’t put myself first, and not to give priority to consider my human side (such as thinking how pitiable I am etc.), but if I could rather consider everybody in general, or otherwise if I could think about how what I had experienced was nothing compared to what the students in China had experienced, then I could successfully pass through these tests.
Looking back at the process of my cultivation practice, I realised that every time I was able to deal with tribulations very well, it was because I achieved not being moved, not allowing me to have more faith in the difficulties than having faith in Master or the Fa. And every time when I couldn’t pass tests well, it was because I was thinking of things in the way that everyday people do, making the problems become even greater than my own cultivation. This was a lesson that was very difficult to obtain, however it was also very valuable. I came to understand the importance of being a truly cultivating disciple and came to understand what true cultivation practice was.
I would often recall what Master said in “Essentials for further advancement” in the article “True cultivation” : “My truly cultivating disciples, what I have taught you is the Fa for cultivation of Buddha and Dao. Nonetheless, you pour out your grievances to me over the loss of your worldly interests, rather than feeling upset for being unable to let go of ordinary human attachments. Is this cultivation? Whether you can let go of ordinary human attachments is a fatal test on your way to becoming a truly extraordinary being. Every disciple who truly cultivates must pass it, for it is the dividing line between a cultivator and an everyday person.
As a matter of fact, when you agonize over infringements upon your reputation, self-interest, and feelings among everyday people, it already indicates that you cannot let go of ordinary human attachments. You must remember this: Cultivation itself is not painful—the key lies in your inability to let go of ordinary human attachments. Only when you are about to let go of your reputation, interests, and feelings will you feel pain.”
After contemplating this for a long time, I discovered that on the question of cultivation practice, it was easy for me to understand in principle and in my mind, but when facing an actual test then I would forget. I should make an effort to remind myself, that I am a Dafa disciple, and I should achieve being able to learn how to be on the Fa.
Since 15 years ago, I attended many Dafa projects, apart from Shen Yun, and I also had the luck to take part in the Zhen Shan Ren art exhibition held in Sweden part together with other practitioners. During the process of taking part in the art exhibition, I encountered many predestined people of different ages, backgrounds, cultures, and social stratum. The latest project I took part in was in an art gallery in a town called Molndal, near Gothenburg. The art gallery gave people a sense that it had a very good energy field, and it was as if it was prepared for exhibiting these paintings. During the period of the art exhibition around 1000 visitors attended.
There were more young people and teenagers visiting this exhibit than previously, however there were also people who came from other age groups. We had to adjust the topic of conversation according to their age and interests, sometimes out of wanting to protect the children, we would try to avoid showing them the paintings of people experiencing cruel torture, but many children persistently went directly into the interior of the exhibition room to see those paintings which depicted the persecution as their main theme. A few very brave young girls and boys who were about 10 to 12 years old, without the accompaniment of adults, came every day for several days, and brought different friends each time. Their school was near the art gallery, and they always came during break time. A young girl aged around 10 years old whose outward appearance was very mature brought different friends for one week, many times. One afternoon, she told us that she wanted to bring her mum, and as a result her mother came in the afternoon to see the exhibition. This mother told us, that it was her daughter who brought her here, and how her daughter had told her mother that she had been deeply moved by this painting exhibition. Afterwards, the young girl wanted to contribute money in the donation box, and also enquired about how they could help the practitioners who were being persecuted in China. She also wanted to bring her father to the exhibition in the next week.
On another day two 11 year old girls came to see the exhibition. One of them said directly: “Why didn’t I know about this before? I often come to this art gallery!” she meant why didn’t she know beforehand that they would hold a Zhen Shan Ren art exhibition here. After we briefed them about several paintings, they also wanted to put some money in the donation boxes.
A young girl said with tears in her eyes, that at first, she didn’t dare to look at those paintings depicting persecution, but after chatting to a practitioner who was the guide, she realised that artists want to pass on hope to mankind, and that although it is a very dark time in China, however people should not forget that bright promise is much stronger than the dark times. We talked about the importance of not hitting back when being hit, however that when we meet with unfairness, people have a right to peacefully and fairly denounce them. Then a promising brightness kindled in her heart and mind along with new hope, and when she left her face was lit with radiance.
One time, a family came along with their two children. The daughter was about 6 years old, and the son was a bit younger. The mother and father said that they like to take the children to see real art, however that this sort of art is really so rare these days. The daughter was very quiet, tranquil and very sensitive. After she took a look around all sides of the exhibition, then she stood motionless in front of a painting, and that painting is of a female practitioner suffering cruel torture, and it was as if the young girl could feel the suffering of the female practitioner in the painting, and also it was as if she wanted to comfort the female practitioner in the painting. When this couple wanted to leave the exhibition, the mother called for her daughter, but the daughter wouldn’t move, and stood where she originally had been, as if she was “glued” in front of this painting. She didn’t say anything and didn’t want to leave. The mother tried to call for her many times, but with no success. In the end I walked up to her and allowed her to select a lotus flower and told her to go home with her mother. On departure, this family expressed thanks for the art exhibition.
Once, a young man came to the exhibition, pushing a vehicle for children, and inside the vehicle was sat a young child. This young man was quiet, and shy, and looked at the paintings all around for a long time. After a while, I went up to converse with him. Whilst conversing, he told me that his mother had come to see the exhibition the day before and had recommended him to come and see the exhibition. Many of the visitors all raised the point that they would recommend their friends and family to come and see the exhibition.
One evening after we had finished a day of the exhibition, on our way back to our lodging quarters, we bought some pizza at a community restaurant in Molndal. At the time I hadn’t brought with me any materials but promised to bring some to him the next day. The next day, I gave him an information sheet and a lotus flower. His pizza shop was always very busy, and they had a child in the family, but he promised that he would come to the exhibition with his family.
On the final day of the exhibition, he and his family came to visit. They had not heard of this matter of how the CCP was persecuting Falun Gong and did not know what Falun Gong was. Their little daughter who was one and a half years old, upon seeing the Buddha statue of Master and the painting showing Master teaching the Fa, her whole face lit up, and she waved at the Buddha statue and Master.
This time, we had the opportunity to receive several rather large groups, and because fellow practitioners had organized it beforehand, we were able to book tour guides to introduce them to the paintings in the exhibition. This sort of opportunity was very valuable, and after the explanations were finished, we let them stay around, and to continue to have deep conversations with them. Amongst them were several people who had just started to learn the exercises, and moreover had expressed interest in Falun Gong and wanted to come to know more about it. This was both a valuable and positive experience.
Everyone’s stories were very moving, and all of these people from different backgrounds and cultures all opened their hearts and minds and told us how the stories in the paintings woke up something within them or something related to them. Many people also told us that they wanted to buy a certain painting, and that if they could afford it, then they would directly buy it. I cannot manage to tell you in this experience sharing article all the wonderful experiences we’ve had, but they will remain in our hearts and minds, and they will remain in the hearts and minds of the people we met in the art exhibitions.
Recently, we also held a Zhen Shan Ren art exhibition in a book fair in Gothenburg. Within the brief time of a few days, we drew in several thousand visitors. Every day, hundreds of people passed through our exhibition, and although there were many fascinating elements in the surrounding environment, we still came together with cheerful conversations. My understanding is that Master had sent a signal to us, about how we should come into contact with more people, because there were still many people who had not heard of Falun Gong, or who had not made known the standpoint they had in their mind, and these were all people that we had to come into contact with.
When so many crowds of people appeared before us every day, we should even more so be absorbed in our mission, the reasons for our being there, otherwise the visitors would also lose their attention. As a practitioner I continuously reminded myself at all times the reasons for why I was there
I am very thankful for these valuable encounters, recollections and experiences, as well as the glorious cooperation of all the practitioners from different parts of Sweden, and their efforts in making the exhibitions possible, enabling even more people to acquire this opportunity to obtain salvation. At the same time, I very much thank Master, because all the practitioners who took part in the art exhibit had a chance to cultivate themselves and save people, and moreover during the process of holding the exhibition, we could look within, and improve ourselves together.
Thankyou, dear Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners!
Submitt to the Nordic Fa-conference 2022.
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