I Learned to Harmonize Work and Family with My Mission to Save People
Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
When I was a child I looked up at the starry night sky and wondered where I came from and why I was here. In the 80s, qigong was very popular and I became interested in supernormal powers and other such phenomena.
Even though I studied many spiritual teachings seeking answers, I had more questions. Later I decided to practice Falun Gong. When I opened Zhuan Falun for the first time, after just three pages I realized that I had found the answers that I had been looking for all my life.
I immediately felt that Dafa was so profound, all-encompassing and beyond all other teachings. I realized that those who could obtain Dafa were extremely lucky. I knew that all the tribulations I encountered in the course of my cultivation were due to my karma accrued from the past, which Master had already been greatly reduced. Cultivating Dafa has improved all aspects of my life, family, studies, and work.
Soon after I started practicing, I was tested. I had a conflict between going out to promote Dafa and my family responsibilities. I did not treat this as interference. I seriously thought about this issue and realized I had a responsibility to my family. I realized that family life is part of my cultivation and I need to do well with this. I have learned a lot from my family, and they’ve helped me to progress in cultivation.
The issue is not how much time or money I spend on them, or how much housework I do, the issue is my heart. It is a choice between just thinking of myself, my mission, and my cultivation versus truly caring for other people and being willing to help them. I feel that so many fellow practitioners have the mistaken understanding that “not caring” is the same as “being merciful.” They do not consider family members’ problems, are not concerned about them, and do not spend time with them. These practitioners think that this is the way to get rid of “sentimentality.”
My experience is completely different. For example, when my kids were born, my heart was filled with love for them. When I began to cultivate, a new feeling emerged: if I could love and care for other people just like I love and care for my kids, an unconditional love, I would be getting closer to true mercy. It is actually an issue of whether we can truly respect and care for other people. When I think and behave this way, everyone, including my family, feels it. Now my family helps and supports me when I work on projects. Together we do truth clarification and promote Shen Yun. A family is a great team. The steady increase in income also makes it easier for everyone to focus more on cultivation.
Becoming a Professional in Order to Save People
In 1997, a medical delegation from China came to Boston to meet the US medical community. Many fellow practitioners who were educated or worked in the sciences went to Boston, seeking to promote Dafa to the medical community. We ran into the same problems that we had with most of our other activities for the past 20 years: It's hard to communicate with the medical community.
I thought about how to enter their circle. I thought to myself how fortunate we are as Dafa disciples to be able to cultivate. Because we all work in different fields, we are familiar with the different jargons of our various professions. The spread of Dafa in different countries also means that we have to know the local language. I realized that we could play the role of translator and bridge those gaps. We are divine messengers spreading the beauty of Dafa to people in our various professional fields.
I started to prepare for the United States medical licensing exams. After July 20, 1999, I registered for the exam and studied for it even as I continued my thesis research and participated in activities to inform people about the persecution.
In the evenings after the kids went to bed, I studied. I got up early every morning. At that time I did not know how to study for the exam. At different stages in my studying, strangers appeared and helped me. I realized that Master was helping me. With Master's help, step by step, I passed all the licensing exams.
From my studies and exam preparation I realized that, if I did not work very hard, did not try my best, I would not pass the exam. Many fellow practitioners shared with me their experiences that they could easily get good scores without working too hard as long as they did the exercises and studied the Fa.
That was not my experience. In my case, if I put forth 30% of my effort on my studies, I would score 30. If I gave it 60%, I would score 60. If I put in 95% or more of my effort, I could score 500 or even 1000, far more than the effort I put in. From this I realized that Master had been teaching me and I needed to try my best, no matter what I was doing: with my family, in my everyday job, clarifying the truth, or helping with Shen Yun.
Later, I entered the residency program. Resident physicians in the United States are very busy, so they are not allowed to work more than 80 hours per week. We had days and nights of highly intensive work. I developed the thought, “Let me work hard, but only up to 80% so I can have time to work on truth clarification.”
What I did was actually try not to do my best at my job. People could feel it. My chief criticized me and said that my heart was not on medicine. In front of other attending physicians, she said that my mind was on Tiananmen Square. I realized that Master was pointing out my gaps through their words. I had artificially set a criterion for myself, instead of following the criteria of Dafa. That would not work.
I saw the same problem in many fellow practitioners. They put their whole hearts into truth clarification projects but seldom spent time with family and only did the minimum at their jobs. With an effort of 100% or more in truth-clarification projects and 50 or 60% for their families or jobs, the end result for their project is merely 50 or 60%, since their xinxing is only 50 or 60%. Our xinxing is reflected in every aspect of our lives. Nothing can be ignored. Those who truly do well are those who can do well in everything: family, everyday jobs, and truth clarification.
Master mentions the issue of killing in Zhuan Falun and that every step we take was arranged by higher beings. When someone gives up these arrangements after taking up cultivation and does well only with truth clarification projects, he will lose a lot in cultivation that cannot be compensated for by doing projects well.
Any test or tribulation has a corresponding part in our new universe. If we just cultivate in truth-clarification projects but don't pay attention to family and our everyday job, our new universe may be incomplete, with those parts corresponding to family or job missing.
We Have to Do Our Best in Everything
I used to bring all my shortcomings that manifested in my daily life with me when I participated in a project. Practitioners who didn't pay attention to their families or everyday jobs also brought this same lack of attention and all their other shortcomings with them into truth clarification projects.
No matter how much attention they paid to the projects, as soon as they ran into problems, all their shortcomings were exposed, such as trying to take shortcuts or not being responsible. No matter which project, they brought the same problems, repeated the same mistakes, stumbled on the same things, and achieved the same substandard results.
Our goal is to be more effective at clarifying the truth. If we truly want to be better at it, we need to do better in every aspect of our lives. I realized the meaning of Master’s teaching, “to cultivate while conforming to ordinary people to the greatest extent.” (Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International New York Fa Conference)
When talking about family, everyday jobs, or tribulations, some practitioners often wonder aloud whether the arrangement is Master’s or the old force’s. It seems to me that they want to make their own arrangements. Actually, Master said that we participated in the design of our fate and journey.
For example, when I first started practicing and saw that some practitioners were often with Master I felt envious, hoping that I could be close to Master, too. Then I thought: “It was you who wanted to stand on the front lines.” I understood and stopped thinking about how I could meet Master.
After many years, I had a better understanding that nothing in life is accidental. Every aspect of our lives is on the front lines, because we are helping Master save people.
When I graduated from residency training, a teacher advised me to be responsible wherever I went and that my employer’s business was my business. I kept this thought foremost in my mind. Later she invited me to go for further fellowship training at a top cancer center. Within six months I did a few projects and published four high-quality papers. Colleagues could feel my passion and dedication to the job.
I was working in an academic medical center. I did not have much solid support, and the facilities and resources were lacking. I started my research with my daily work in the clinic. There was no research lab, so I started with the simplest chart review.
At home I shared housework with my wife; at work I put in my time in the clinic, taught, did research, and handled administrative duties; with fellow practitioners I coordinated Shen Yun promotion and truth clarification projects to local governments and communities. I was doing what I was supposed to do.
One by one miracles happened. I passed every board certificate and had more certifications than anyone else in my department. An international scientific committee invited me to join. A national medical society invited me, a junior physician, to participate in writing a framework for residents. My professional society presented me with a prestigious award for the most influential paper of the year. Besides working on truth clarification and Shen Yun promotion, each year I published three or four papers.
These achievements were all beyond my abilities and I know it was Master who made them possible. What I did was to have a right attitude towards every aspect of my life.
However, there is no end to the progress in cultivation. I felt greater responsibilities that needed more efforts, such as improving the quality of my truth clarification, doing truth clarification to high levels of mainstream society, pioneering new fields, and so on. It is my understanding that Master has HIS plan and schedule, and everyone needs to be saved, including the upper levels of society.
Master also told us that all occupations are our temples. My understanding is that when I am working hard and conscientiously in my profession, sentient beings are connected to Dafa through me and can thus be saved. So they are also helping me.
My senior colleagues told me that they were all watching me. However, no one pushed me, and I worked very hard. Everyone could see it. My colleagues knew that I was very active in promoting Shen Yun and also involved in other truth clarification activities. Because my work performance was exemplary, they had no complaints.
More than half of my colleagues went to see Shen Yun. I kept on recommending Shen Yun within the health care system, including to several hospitals. Slowly, their responses changed from “no” to “yes,” from email/eblast to selling tickets inside the hospitals themselves. I also recommended Shen Yun to the hospital president, dean of the medical school, and university president. One year the president of the university replied that she had heard very positive comments about Shen Yun.
Their positive thoughts about Dafa will positively impact their future. When we give up on family or our everyday jobs, we are giving up on those predestined sentient beings who were supposed to connect to us through the connections of family and our jobs. We should not neglect those who are closest to us and who actually have the greatest predestined relationships with us. When you abandon them, they are going to fight against you. This manifests as persistent tribulations.
Our Behavior May Save Others
What Dafa disciples say and how we behave is the most powerful way that we clarify the truth. My colleagues have been watching me, and my relatives and friends are also watching me. Many years after my residency, a former colleague told me that she admired me because I could keep smiling even under so much pressure.
Even though many of our relatives and friends still do not understand Dafa, they have a very positive opinion of Dafa disciples by observing my wife and me. Our path is getting smoother and better. Later, when I was offered another job, I realized that it was a pretty significant challenge. I realized that sentient beings in a new field wanted me to help Master save them, so I took the job. Everything has gone pretty well.
Fellow practitioners often say that it's not that they don’t want to handle everything well, rather, they don’t have the time or energy to take care of everything. In my experience it's not an issue of time or energy, but an issue of whether you pay attention or not. Are you really treating family and your everyday job as part of Fa-rectification cultivation practice? My understanding is that Dafa is the most important, that helping Master save people is the most important. But, at the same time, I very seriously treat my family and my job as part of my cultivation practice. These do not conflict with each other.
Many times several challenges have appeared at the same time. I do not just deal with some and give others up. I try to take care of them all. Many times I encounter challenges in truth-clarification or Shen Yun promotion while there are other issues at work and with family. I try hard to suppress my urge to handle some things on the surface but focus on other things. Instead, I try to deal with each issue patiently and on its own merit. When one thing is handled well, other things appear to be resolved.
On the other hand, some practitioners tend to go extremes, and people cannot understand them. Our behavior should reflect the beauty of cultivation so that they will think well of us. These practitioners’ abnormal behavior may cause misunderstandings, making it hard for people to understand or accept us. This may create obstacles for their future cultivation. Dafa disciples should be “supernormal” instead of “abnormal!”
Dafa is very profound, but Zhuan Falun is written in simple language. The gods of the old universe thought that the Fa might be extremely difficult to understand. It is the same principle, no matter how high we cultivate to. The higher we cultivate to, the more gentle, sincere, kind, and altruistic we become. Everyone wants to be friends with us.
Fellow practitioners often discuss whether some arrangement is the old force's or Master’s. The old forces did not know Dafa. Dafa came from Master. If we can follow Dafa, it will be Master’s arrangement; if we do not follow Dafa, then we may be following the old force’s arrangement.
“The Dafa of the universe (the Buddha Fa) is coherent and complete, from the highest level to the lowest level. You should know that ordinary human society also comprises a level of the Fa. If everyone were to study Dafa and give up their jobs in society, ordinary human society would cease to exist, and so would this level of the Fa. Ordinary human society is the manifestation of the Fa at the lowest level, and it is also the form of existence of life and matter for the Buddha Fa at this level.” ( “Cultivation and Work” from Essentials for Further Advancement)
“Also, those of you here, whether you're a student or you have a job, none of you can neglect the role that you play in the ordinary people's society. You all have to do well in everything that you should do, and at the same time it makes things easier in your work of validating Dafa and clarifying the truth.” (Fa-Lecture During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference)
“Everything you're doing today is the actual practice that will be used as examples in the future, [including the aspect] of being able to cultivate while doing ordinary people's work. If you go to extremes you'll wreck this path, so you cannot go to extremes. You should just openly and nobly do well in what you should do in society, and then cultivate. Then you'll definitely be able to meet the standard that cultivators should meet, the standard for Consummation, because this is the path that the people of the future will take.” (Fa-Lecture During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference)
I feel that most fellow practitioners have good intentions and try to handle things well. However, their attachments sometimes get in the way. For example, the attachment to time. Some practitioners might think that everything will soon be over, so why bother to take care of everyday things?
Others behave like the saying, “Go on tolling the bell as long as one is a monk”, meaning they take a very passive attitude towards their lives, waiting for the day to come. Some of them spend all day working on projects, just as if they were spending time in a café. Many think that working on projects is the path to consummation, instead of being the path on which to cultivate while working on projects and removing attachments.
Another reason we may go to extremes is our unwillingness to face challenges. Many of us like to take shortcuts. In my cultivation practice, I realized that when we encounter problems or challenges, we have to face them. Master told us that we cannot bypass the challenges.
Another way some deal with challenges is to run away from them. From Master's teachings, we know that conflicts are the way to make progress in cultivation, which corresponds to our new universe. If we run from conflicts, run from responsibility, then we also run away from progress and improvement. If we keep on running from conflicts and challenges, all the way to the end, our new world may be defective and incomplete.
When society has misunderstandings about us, shouldn't we examine our behavior to see if we've done something wrong? Master told us about this many times, for example, in Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Singapore. That lecture left a deep impression on me. It is every Dafa disciple’s responsibility to protect Dafa’s reputation.
I now have a better understanding of why Master mentioned “practicing evil cultivation” in Zhuan Falun. Master told us that we could unintentionally practice evil cultivation. Master wrote in “Inaction” in Hong Yin that “Using the mind improperly is with action; Exclusively doing good deeds is still action.”
On the surface, we all have good intentions when we clarify the truth, but it won’t work if we go to extremes. If practitioners behave in extreme ways, we may damage the reputation of Dafa and place obstacles in the way of sentient beings’ future cultivation.
It's been my personal experience that our mission to help Master save people does not conflict with our regular responsibilities in taking good care of our families and our jobs. Rather, our families, our jobs, and other areas of our lives are the front lines where we must clarify the truth and save people. The front lines are not limited to clarifying the truth face-to-face or making phone calls to China.
The people we interact with every day are the beings who have predestined relationships with us and who made vows to Master. Our interactions with them also “clarify the truth” about Dafa. This way of truth clarification could be even harder, since this requires long-term interaction, and they are watching us every second. It is our responsibility to demonstrate how profound and solemn Dafa is by our presence in this world.
This year is the 25th anniversary of Master's first public teaching. It is almost 21 years since I started the reading Zhuan Falun. I have felt Master’s guidance every step of the way. From individual practice to clarifying the truth after the persecution started and from distributing flyers to clarifying the truth to government entities, the community, and the media to promoting Shen Yun, I have felt and experienced just how profound and all-encompassing Dafa is.
The longer the journey, the stronger my feeling and the clearer I've become on the harm of going to extremes. It was not easy to have come here with Master, and this is our only opportunity. We need to fulfill our missions.
I hope that, going forward, I will do better and have fewer regrets.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners.
(Presented at the 2017 New York Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference)
Category: Experience Sharing Conferences