By a Western Practitioner
In 1998, it was explained to me that the events showing up in my life are like a mirror, reflecting what is going on inside of me. It took me a while to grasp the concept, and I wasn’t sure how to proceed from there, but due to what my life felt like at that time, it was obvious that I needed to change what was going on inside of myself. That served as the beginning of a spiritual quest, in the hope of regaining health and understanding the events of my life.
During the previous twelve years, I had been to many doctors attempting to improve my health. Their treatments and medications failed, to their astonishment. I felt alarmed when I realized that I was being given medication so new that the doctor asked me to save the package insert so he could read it. After edging away from what seemed like a deathbed, I realized that I was responsible for my own recovery. I did a lot of reading on what I thought were the problems, and spent a lot of money on alternative healing with herbs and supplements, naturopathic doctors, several chiropractors, Tai Chi and Yoga. None of these worked for very long, if at all.
There had been a lot of time to reflect on my life and wonder why I had lived through some life threatening events just to come to a place of slow and painful agony. It didn’t make sense, but I eventually learned how to maintain enough of my health to resume my family obligations. The premise that there is a spiritual component, a way of life, that impacts health and environment, began to trickle in. Discovering that I was even more responsible for my situation than I originally thought didn’t feel very good until I realized that somewhere in this was a tool that could change everything. Not only could I tell that I would regain my health, but I knew somehow that I would be healthier than I was even at birth, although I wasn’t sure how to accomplish that or even what it meant to have a level of such pure health. I started reading spiritual books and attending workshops, feeling slightly better, but always wondering why I wasn’t finding my direction in life and why I wasn’t experiencing dependable health. Searching that avenue for several years brought me to the conclusion that a spiritual component is important to life, but I hadn’t found the right one.
I received the best gift ever when I attended a meeting in 2003, one day before my birthday, and it was announced that the speaker practiced Falun Dafa. I hadn’t heard of Falun Dafa before, but I had been observing how calmly this woman was handling all the interruptions while she was trying to start the meeting. I didn’t often feel calm inside. I wondered if she had achieved that calmness she radiated through Falun Dafa. I was also intrigued that it didn’t require a fee at a time when it seemed that achieving and maintaining physical and spiritual health usually did.
The first few days after learning the exercises I went about my life as usual. Then I decided that the only way I would know if there was anything to this Falun Dafa would be if I really tried it. I discovered that it only took fifteen minutes to do all five exercises with the instruction video, so to expedite learning them, I did them twice a day. It still took a month to feel like I could graduate from the instruction video to the music CD. It also took me that long to buy Zhuan Falun. Once I began to change my thinking, and let go of notions and attachments, the concepts I was unsure of began to make more sense. The practitioner I met with was always patient and encouraged me to read the book more. My life has changed a great deal since starting the practice of Falun Dafa. My health began improving during the first week of learning the exercises. I didn’t need the herbs and supplements, and I began to systematically reduce the prescriptions, that I thought I would always need to take, and completely eliminated them. It didn’t all happen over night, but has been a steady progression. The health issues are continuously reduced and eliminated. I immediately felt like my life had been greatly simplified. It has been a relief to discard all the fliers and brochures advertising spiritual workshops and know that I’m not missing out on anything. It has also removed a financial hardship.
With the help and guidance of Master Li and Zhuan Falun, life is making more sense and I am much calmer now. Looking inside for answers to the issues that show up in my life is gradually becoming easier, and I am increasingly able to observe the challenges rather than being so immersed in them. There have been a couple of painful lessons due to allowing negative, or unrighteous thoughts. I noticed later that information had been presented to me prior to the events, through reading Master Li’s lectures or through someone sharing an experience, that provided the keys that would have avoided the unpleasant outcomes. What I am understanding from my experiences is that in at least some situations, when an event comes up that was not intended to be part of my cultivation path, I am given clues that would potentially allow me to gracefully walk right on by.
Master Li explains in “Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Chicago Conference” (Li Hongzhi, May 23, 2004):
“Of course, we don’t acknowledge any of the things that the old forces arranged—I as your master don’t acknowledge them, and Dafa disciples of course don’t acknowledge them either. (Applause) But after all, they did do what they wanted to do, so there’s all the more reason for Dafa disciples to do even better and cultivate themselves well in the course of saving all beings. When you encounter ordeals during your cultivation, you have got to cultivate yourself and look at yourself—that doesn’t mean acknowledging the ordeals arranged by the old forces and trying to do well amidst the ordeals they’ve arranged, that’s not the case. We negate even the very emergence of the old forces and everything that they’ve arranged; we don’t even acknowledge their existence. We’re fundamentally negating all of their things, and all of, and only, the things you do while negating and getting rid of them is mighty-virtue. It’s not that you’re cultivating amidst the ordeals they created. Rather, you are to walk your own path well while not acknowledging them, not even acknowledging the elimination of their ordeals’ manifestations. (Applause) So looking at it from this angle, what we need to do is completely negate the old forces. Dafa disciples and I don’t even acknowledge the manifestations of their last-ditch efforts.”
After I began practicing Falun Dafa, it didn’t take me too long to dig in my heels and flick away any notions of illness when viral-type symptoms appeared. I simply refused to own them. I haven’t been as successful with some other issues. This has caused me to waste a lot of valuable time and they have also hampered my ability to be a good representative of Dafa at times. I have ignored them at times and had them go away, but that would be “trying to do well amidst the ordeals.”
From Zhuan Falun, Lecture Six,
“Whenever there is interference of one kind or another in qigong practice, you should look for reasons within yourself and determine what you still have not let go.”
I used to feel baffled and stuck and not know how to proceed with this, but my attitude has changed recently and it is almost like an adventure. I began to notice that clues can pop up anywhere and at anytime, as long as my intention is to resolve the issue, and as long as I am paying attention. I have been thinking about any notions or attachments related to these issues and it is surprising sometimes what comes up. When I started brainstorming about my opinion or attitude toward something and perhaps where it originated from, I started finding fear, selfishness, etc. Sometimes I had already verbalized a clue unwittingly, only to realize it later, as if I was giving myself the answer. There have been a couple of times that my attachments have been brought to my attention in the presence of other practitioners. There are two things that result from this. One is that it is a compassionate environment to learn a lesson. On the other hand, it can affect other practitioners, and while there may be something helpful in it for them, I would rather not interfere or detract from our purpose at hand. If I had maintained righteous thoughts and ignored the test, then I may have succeeded in negating the issue. It has been worth the time and effort to seriously look at the reflections and make changes. Other areas of my life have benefitted from this and when I look back at the things I have let go of, I have wondered why I was so attached to begin with. It seems that when I change my thinking, my environment changes, and the challenge dissolves.
Another practitioner shared with me that allowing thoughts during exercises and meditation may be equivalent to practicing a second way. Choosing Dafa was obvious, but there was more work to be done. Then earlier this year I realized the importance of taking Master Li as my master. Following that, I began observing my level of trust in Master Li. When I catch my mind wandering now, I remind myself to trust Master Li, which seems to shift my heart into a more compassionate state, and muscles I didn’t even know were tense begin to relax. Now I’m able to get a better look at what my attachments are that allow this interference. One thing I discovered is that I felt at some level that I needed to convince people that Dafa is good, rather than operating from a powerful inner knowing that would radiate. In fact, a lot of the worries and concerns that I have held seem very unnecessary the more I trust Master Li.
One major worry I used to have about traveling related to food. I’d had to be very careful about what I ate for many years and traveling tended to greatly complicate finding enough safe food. I really hesitated when it was suggested early this year that I might want to attend the Western U.S. International Fa Conference in San Francisco. When the practitioner said she suspected Master Li would really like me to go, I decided I might as well give it a try. Considering all the improvements that had already occurred with my health, this seemed like a good time to change my thinking about this too. So I decided that whatever food was available would have to be fine. And it was. I made the healthiest choices available, moved on, and I was fine. The improvements in this area continue. Being in a Dafa environment resolved other things as well. The headache I arrived at the airport with melted away in the presence of other practitioners and was replaced with abundant energy. On the last day we had a grand parade that was quite long, with beautiful sections as well as solemn ones. By the time our section began moving, I was already very hungry, and having to put pressure on my stomach, as breakfast was earlier than usual for me. I had begun to ache in various places from waiting so long and from the weight of the prop I was carrying. This might sound miserable, but I felt calm inside, and peaceful, because this was for Dafa and I trusted Master. Shortly after our section began moving, all the discomfort disappeared. We walked a fair distance, up those San Francisco hills through Chinatown, and it was easy. There was abundant energy for all the distance several of us walked after the conclusion of the events as well.
I am finding that trusting Master, shifting my heart into a more compassionate state, and taking the search for the clues to the reflections of my inner self as an adventure, have helped me feel much calmer.
From the very beginning, the facts of the persecution were explained to me. It was difficult to imagine and still is, what that environment is like. I find that the more I break down my personal barriers, the freer I am to help clarify the truth about the persecution. For a while, maybe a long while, I think I just drifted along believing I was following the course of nature and clarifying the truth, when actually I was allowing old beliefs and attachments to have control of my life. They interfered with my true Dafa path. I started to wonder where my thinking needed to be as a practitioner to give the most benefit to those who are persecuted in China. I am going to give a lot of thought to not only the reflection of the persecution and everything in my environment as a means of finding my attachments, but also to how whole an image I am holding of all of it.
While these are just my understandings and experiences, please share any corrections.