Reflecting on 15 Years of Cultivation During Fa-Rectification
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
I obtained the Fa in 2001 when I was a college student in Florida. Today, I would like to summarize a few of my cultivation stories over the past 15 years of cultivating during the Fa-rectification.
1. Clarifying the Truth to Friends and Family
For about a year before I obtained the Fa, I had been searching for the meaning of life and trying out various spiritual practices. When I got a Falun Gong flyer during a student club event day, I decided to try it right away. On the first day, I felt strong energy circulating all over my body. Less than two weeks later, I finished reading Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun and felt really good about the practice. After a few months of reading and re-reading Zhuan Falun and other lectures, I realized that Dafa was what I had been looking for all my life, and devoted myself to cultivating Dafa.
I then wanted to introduce Dafa to my friends and family. Even before I obtained the Fa, I had heard about Falun Gong and the persecution from mainstream news reports and had a good impression about the practice. I assumed that my friends and family would have also heard about Falun Gong, have a good impression and maybe start cultivating as well. I was surprised that many of them had not heard about it, and those who had were often uninterested. It was a bigger shock when I found that some of them had read the same news reports I had, and somehow had a negative impression of Falun Gong!
My parents were very happy when they saw positive changes in me from the practice, changing from a rebellious teenager to someone with higher moral standards. But they couldn’t understand why I was involved in what they saw as a human rights issue in China, something so disconnected from their lives. They also worried for my safety, saying that if I kept being involved in truth-clarification work, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) might send thugs from China to beat me in the United States! At first, I found this concern to be pretty funny, but my family’s misunderstanding of the practice increased over the next two years, culminating in episodes such as my mother crying and begging me not to be involved in truth-clarification activities for my own safety. As a college student, it was intimidating for me to stand up to the disapproval of my family members, some of whom were very successful in their professional fields.
And since I had been brought up in a protected family environment during my childhood, my family’s misunderstanding of the practice ended up being the biggest test during the first two years of my cultivation.
I realized I had to start clarifying the truth in depth to my family. I had sent copies of Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun to most of my family members and friends when I first started practicing. I then started sending them other truth-clarification materials. When I visited my family, I got my mother and grandmother to fully watch Master’s 9-day video lectures with me on two separate occasions, after which my grandmother remarked how good Falun Gong was, and my mother also wanted to start cultivating, though she wasn’t able to keep up her cultivation when I wasn’t around.After Shen Yun started its world tour, I tried to find ways to take my family members to see the show.
One year, I found that Shen Yun would be performing in Texas around Christmas, where my brother worked as a software engineer. I went to visit my brother during the Christmas holidays and took him to see Shen Yun. A year later, I found that Shen Yun would be performing in Florida, and I scheduled a weekend trip to visit my uncle and aunt, who worked in finance and real estate there. My brother also came to Florida that weekend, and the four of us got to see Shen Yun together. All my family members who saw the show enjoyed it, and my brother, who has now seen the show three times, has had several positive changes in his life after seeing the show each time.
The process of having my family go from being worried or negative to supportive of Dafa wasn't instant or immediate, but happened over the course of many years, and through a variety of truth-clarification methods. Even though I still have my share of tribulations with them, I feel that their positive outlook towards Dafa has laid a solid foundation for them in the future. Compassionate Master has provided opportunities through the variety of truth-clarification projects, all of which have helped my family come to a better understanding of Dafa.
2. Spreading the Fa in My Hometown in India
After I obtained the Fa, I really wanted to spread the Fa in my hometown of Chennai, a south-eastern coastal city in India where I had grown up and spent my childhood. Chennai has about 4.5 million residents, and the encompassing state of Tamil Nadu has a population of more than 70 million. I knew that several practitioners had gone to spread the Fa in India in previous years, but found that there was no one really practicing in the city or state I was from. I mailed copies of Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun to most of the large libraries in the city, and when I checked on them during my trips, I found that the books had been checked out and read many times over the years.
My first trip to Chennai involved a lot of tests with my family about the practice. Some of their misunderstandings about the practice came to the forefront during that trip, and we spent quite a bit of time arguing about my cultivation and involvement in Dafa activities. I wasn’t able to do any Hongfa (spreading the Fa; introducing the practice) activities at all during that trip due to my family environment and felt very bad about missing the opportunity.
When I went back two years later, my family had become more supportive after repeated truth-clarification. My father, who runs his own software company and had been previously opposed to what he called my “religious evangelism” of the practice, even let me use his company office on weekends to hold the classes. During subsequent trips, fellow practitioners from other cities in India came to help with Hongfa activities, which was a big help.
When I first thought about spreading the Fa, I thought of placing an ad in newspapers. Then, I remembered Master's teaching:
“Of course, sometimes students will, as a personal act, put announcements in newspapers to inform other people about it. That too can allow a lot of people to obtain the Fa. I don’t disapprove of that approach, for it can help the predestined ones become aware of it.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Switzerland)
I wondered if placing ads was the right thing to do. But since my trips to Chennai were only once every year or two and I wasn’t sure when other practitioners would come to Hongfa in the city, I decided to put a small ad in the city’s largest newspaper. At the last minute, I placed the ad across the entire state, hoping that anyone predestined might see the ad and learn the practice from the website, even if they couldn’t come to the classes. The ad had some simple and basic information about Falun Gong, including the website and the fact that it was being taught for free.
On the first day the ad ran, I received phone calls the entire day from people inquiring about the practice. In addition to people from all over the state who called, one man from a small, far distant town took a 6-hour train ride each way to Chennai to attend the classes, and he came many times over the years to re-learn the exercises and keep in touch. One lady had purchased the Falun Gong books during a book fair, but couldn’t continue practicing because she hadn’t been able to learn the exercises; she was able to resume practicing after attending the classes. I tried to set up a practice site once a week at the city beach; one young man, after learning the exercises at the beach, told me that this was what he had been waiting for his entire life.
Over the years, my fellow practitioners and I visited large and small newspapers to clarify the truth, and most of them placed short write-ups about the Falun Gong classes in their events section. One year, the second largest newspaper in the city ran a prominent feature article about Falun Gong and its health benefits, along with interviews of local practitioners. When the newspaper article first came out, I was really happy, thinking it was the culmination of years of work we had put into spreading the Fa. But when I read the article, I found that my fellow practitioner who came to help that year was also prominently featured in the article. My first thought was, I put in most of the effort these past few years and he came just this one time to help; how come he got featured so prominently along with me? I quickly realized that this was jealousy; it was not important who was more prominently featured, as long as sentient beings could be saved.
I was reminded of Master’s teaching,
“The success of his work is only a manifestation among ordinary humans. It is the mighty power of Dafa itself and the specific arrangements made by my Law Bodies that enable people to obtain the Fa and spread the Fa widely.” (“A Heavy Blow” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
Over the years, my fellow practitioners and I taught the exercises and introduced Dafa to several hundred people in Chennai. There is one interesting story that happened during our Hongfa activities. Before we held the first Falun Gong classes in the city, Chennai had been in severe drought–it hadn't rained for many years and the entire city was plagued by a severe water shortage. Less than a day after we held the first Falun Dafa class in the city, it unexpectedly started raining for the first time in years. During those years when we extensively spread the Fa, the rains were of the right amount to solve the city’s drought situation without causing any flooding.
It really was as Master said:
“But no matter what, you are the hope for the beings there! In the future you'll see this. (Applause) If an ethnic group or a country doesn't have Dafa disciples right now, it will bring them a ton of difficulty--and that's at a very minimum. So no matter how few Dafa disciples there are in a certain place, that is hope for that ethnic group.” ( “Teaching and Explaining the Fa at the Metropolitan New York Fa Conference” from Teaching the Fa at the Conference III)
3. Clarifying the Truth at Work
During college and graduate school, I had plenty of opportunities to work with fellow practitioners to clarify the truth, such as having a daily practice site on campus, truth-clarification events, putting up posters, placing English Epoch Times in prominent buildings around campus, etc. Soon after finishing up grad school, I found myself working at the Manhattan headquarters of a Wall Street investment bank, a company that employed close to ten thousand people in their Manhattan office alone. I always had flyers at my desk, and could clarify the truth directly to my work colleagues when the opportunity presented itself. But there were none of the bulletin boards or other ways to hold events that I was used to in college. We contacted the company gym a few times about holding Falun Gong classes, but didn’t hear back. I was a bit lost on how to clarify the truth on a large scale at work.
One day as I walked past the posh cafeteria at the center of the company headquarters, I noticed the three to four mainstream Western English newspapers that the company subscribed to every day. I really wished to see the English Epoch Times there; I hoped that one day EET would become an influential paper and reach people working at big companies. Then I thought, “Is there a way I can bring EET to my company today?”
“So in clarifying the truth, don't wait, don't rely on others, and don't just hope for changes in external factors.” (“To All Students at the Nordic Fa Conference” from Essentials for Further Advancement II)
Less than two days after I had this thought, I somehow found the contact information for the person in charge of newspaper subscriptions at the company. I purchased a subscription for a few copies of the daily New York EET edition, hoping to clarify the truth to her once she started receiving the paper. Two days later, without my doing anything else, EET started showing up along with the other mainstream English newspapers at this prominent location of the company headquarters.
I had many notions when I first took out a subscription: will my company accept EET and place it along with the other influential newspapers? Turns out they did, and EET was placed at the most visible location of company headquarters from the very first day it arrived. Then I thought, there are so many Chinese employees, what if any of them cause interference? That fear proved to be unfounded as well. It really was as Master said, “Everything has been prepared, and all that’s missing is for you to carry it out.” (“Dafa Disciples Must Study the Fa” from Teaching the Fa at the Conference XI)
4. Learning Chinese and Clarifying the Truth to Chinese People
When I first obtained the Fa, I knew very little of Chinese culture, far less the Chinese language. I never thought that I would be learning Chinese one day, but after cultivating for about a year, I really wanted to study the Fa in Chinese. A year after that, I started studying Zhuan Falun using a Chinese to English translation software.
Today, I can hold some basic conversations in Chinese, and it comes in handy when clarifying the truth.
For example, when I meet people from mainland China, I usually start chatting with something like this, “Hello, are you from mainland China? I speak a little Chinese! I practice Falun Gong; I’ve been practicing for more than 15 years now. My health has improved after practicing Falun Gong, and I’ve learned how to be a better person. I really like Chinese culture and have started to learn Chinese. I hope that you can understand the truth about Falun Gong, and remember that Falun Dafa is great!”) By the time I finish saying this, the Chinese people are usually pleasantly surprised and more open to talking with me, and I can continue clarifying the truth.
When I started practicing, I found it really hard to clarify the truth to mainland Chinese. I found that they would get upset whenever I talked about Falun Gong, saying that I was a foreigner and did not understand China and even yell at me. I was often frustrated, and felt they were very difficult to save!
After I started learning and speaking Chinese, I found that Chinese people were at least more open and interested in talking with me. For example, one time I was sitting in a fairly empty New York subway train, when a group of about 10-15 Chinese businessmen in their 40s and 50s wearing suits got on the subway car and sat next to me. I was listening to the Fa, so I paused my player, took off my headset, said “Da jia hao [Hello]” and started clarifying the truth to them in Chinese. As I talked, half of the Chinese men started smiling; the other half had their mouths wide open. I continued chatting with them and clarifying the truth for a few minutes, and as I approached my train stop, I thanked them for listening to me and hoped that they would remember that Falun Dafa is good. As I got up, one of the Chinese men also got up smiling, reached into his pocket, and handed me his business card with contact information.
He told me in Chinese that he was from Guangzhou, and that if I ever visited China, I must come see him, and he would host me and give me a tour of the city. I felt that his knowing side must have awakened, and that’s why he was so nice to me after just a few minutes of my clarifying the truth.
I’ve had many similar positive experiences when clarifying the truth to Chinese people in Chinese, whether it be at college, work, truth-clarification events or asking Chinese people to quit the party during Tuidang (quitting the CCP) events. I’m not saying that my truth-clarification to Chinese is always 100% effective, but hopefully my clarifying the truth as a non-Chinese practitioner speaking in Chinese at least lays a foundation for them to fully understand the truth in the future, even if they don’t get it right away.
Chinese people, including my fellow practitioners, are often surprised to hear that I picked up Chinese not by going to Chinese classes or other regular methods of learning Chinese, but rather, through studying Zhuan Falun in Chinese. When I first started studying the Fa in Chinese, I used a software dictionary that showed me the Pinyin and English meaning of each word or phrase. I found that within just three months of studying Zhuan Falun in Chinese with the software for about an hour a day, I was able to recognize 30% of the Chinese characters without needing the software. In less than a year, I was able to recognize 80%-90% of the characters in Zhuan Falun, and then started joining Chinese group Fa studies and following along without needing the dictionary.
My experience was very similar to the process Master described:
“While half asleep and half awake he found that all the characters in the book turned golden and each word flew into his brain. After he woke up, he could read the entire book, and yet he had never had any schooling. A person who didn’t even know how to write his name could now read every word in Zhuan Falun. This phenomenon is quite common, yet it can’t be obtained through pursuit.” (Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Canada)
Even though I couldn’t see anything in other dimensions, I could feel the Chinese characters flowing into my brain while studying Zhuan Falun in Chinese, and I knew it was the power of the Fa enabling me to absorb the Chinese characters so quickly. It was only after I was familiar with the characters in Zhuan Falun that I started using other Chinese learning material, which were a useful supplement, but I definitely learned almost all my Chinese vocabulary from studying the Fa. Today, I can read almost all of Master’s lectures in simplified and traditional Chinese characters, but reading Chinese newspapers or watching Chinese TV is still very difficult for me! I found the whole process of studying the Fa in Chinese to be a very rewarding experience, and would like to encourage my fellow Western practitioners to do the same if possible.
During the 15 years of my cultivation, I spent the first half as a student in college or grad school, and had flexible time to clarify the truth and work on truth-clarification events and projects. During the second half, working in ordinary society, I had somewhat less time to do the three things directly, but could contribute more financially. Throughout my cultivation, I’ve had plenty of ups and downs, different challenges to overcome, and different attachments to deal with, such as qing, jealousy, competitiveness, marriage, etc. There are no shortcuts in cultivation, no matter how long one has cultivated for, and I really wish to cultivate well all the way to the end of my cultivation path. I hope that the cultivation stories I shared today were helpful to my fellow practitioners.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners!
(Presented at the 2016 San Francisco Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference)