Overcoming the fear of public speaking
and joining the Shen Yun presentation team
Greetings Master, greetings fellow Dafa practitioners.
According to studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. People fear public speaking more than death...from a cultivation standpoint, maybe this qualifies as a test of life and death?
I grew up with different social fears, which have stuck with me right into adulthood. I remember at a certain age, I was nervous even when visiting the post office. I would memorize what to say beforehand, hoping I wouldn’t stutter when the time came to approach the counter.
During cultivation this issue has become apparent especially when studying the Fa in a group, so sometimes I would avoid group studies because of it. If there was a project meeting I would study the Fa at home and then arrive after the group study was over. This fear kept me from studying the Fa with a clear mind. It was also self-centered and not respectful of the Fa.
It seems to me that attachments appear in irrational and strange ways. The more this became an issue the more I would get attached to the problem itself. In other words it occupied my mind and kept me from having a proper understanding of Master’s format – the group study environment.
One day I was planning to avoid group study as usual, but somehow I ended up right in the middle of it, without a way out, but I later realized that it was Master helping me, teaching me that I could overcome this fear and elevate above it.
When it came my turn to read, the nervousness would reach its peak, then I suddenly thought; “start reading, don’t think about anything else, just read and don’t stop” so I kept reading and reading until the paragraph was complete. Afterwards I felt happy and more confident. I had broken through this attachment with perseverance.
After reflection, maybe Master tempered me in this area, so that when the time came, I would be able to let go of the attachment of fear and become a Shen Yun Presenter, to save sentient beings and assist Master in the Fa rectification. To put it a little more simply I could never have imagined standing up in front of a group to present Shen Yun or even give a sharing at a Fahui in front of all of you.
After moving to
Although I knew it was important I started avoiding even the thought of doing it. But thanks to my wife I was in for a surprise. She did mention a couple of times that the main coordinator had told her that it was time to prepare for the evaluation but I didn’t quite register and saw it as something I most likely would try to avoid.
One day she came to me and said, “We’re doing the evaluation this weekend”. I immediately thought; “What?! I haven’t agreed to that! I’m not ready!” I was a bit upset, because I didn’t have the time to prepare, and if I was going to do this I wanted to do it well.
Not having enough time to prepare felt unfair and poorly planned. I reluctantly agreed to it. After all I knew it was the right thing to do. So, Saturday morning came and we we’re getting ready to head out the door. As I was getting ready, out of the blue my wife started to point out some shortcomings in me and instead of taking it like a cultivator I became upset again. It led to a string of emotional reactions such as sadness, anger, helplessness and unfairness, to name a few. I felt I wasn’t a good cultivator and I didn’t even measure up to the standards of an ordinary person.
I thought I might as well just stop cultivating, because looking back I felt I had done extremely poorly. I felt I couldn’t manage to do anything well so why go and do this evaluation? It was a big tribulation for me. The pressure was just too great. All I wanted to do was to fall on the bed and try to sleep my pain away. I even thought about crying as an option, although I never really cry.
But after some thought, I became more rational and I realized that it was a type of interference that I had to eliminate. To go through the evaluation is a righteous thing to do. If I don’t do this, do I meet the standard? As I walked around in our apartment not knowing whether I should be getting ready or just lie down, a fierce battle went on inside my head.
My human side wanted relief by just giving up and staying home. In any case I could just do the evaluation later on when I was better prepared right? On the other hand I felt a light shining through and a voice saying. “This is possible to do! Let go of the pain and everything and just go forth and complete this.”
It reminds me of the last part of Zhuan Falun: “When you are overcoming a real hardship or tribulation, you try it. When it is difficult to endure, try to endure it. When it looks impossible and is said to be impossible, give it a try and see if it is possible.”
Some of the resentment started to disappear and the encouragement from my wife was getting easier to accept. So without too much thinking and doing I maneuvered my body out of the apartment and into the car. I couldn’t feel my body as it was numb from the suffering; it felt like steering an old damaged ship across rough seas.
On the way in the car we started to run through the script and memorize each part. I really hadn’t had much time to prepare but as I was doing this it became easier and easier to let go. Quickly I decided in my mind. “OK, time to let all of this go. Just focus on this script now, you can do it”.
I really felt these righteous manifestations came from beyond me. I think that because I was able to put the Fa first despite the suffering, Master gave me the power to keep going. We kept running through the script over and over until we arrived. I was quite nervous when I entered the room but when my time came it all went well and I passed the test. It felt like such a triumph! I passed!
As preparations for Shen Yun moved on it became apparent that there was a need for Shen Yun presenters. In the beginning I thought, “although it would be amazing to be able to present Shen Yun to a group of people there’s no way I would dare to do that”.
Even if I made it to the podium I wouldn’t be able to utter as much as a sound”. But during one of the trainings I suddenly realized; “There’s hardly anyone doing this task and there doesn’t seem to be that many practitioners that speak fluent English. Am I just going to sit here and not do anything because of this same fear of public speaking that has always tried to stop me from doing what is a being’s birthright; to speak out?”
Suddenly it wasn’t just a personal choice anymore. It was about whether I wanted to help my fellow practitioners that obviously needed help. I didn’t say anything that day but thought about it a lot in the following days. I started thinking that this was actually something doable if I could just let go of my fear. And what was this fear anyway? I have always felt that this passage from essentials for Further Advancement has accompanied me in crucial times: “If you are not afraid, the factor that would make you afraid will cease to exist.” (“Eliminate Your Last Attachment(s)”，Essentials for Further Advancement II)
Some weeks went by and my confidence started to weaken again. Although I was asked to present and had said yes, I didn’t actively step forward enough. Weeks went by and nothing happened. I started thinking that they probably had enough presenters and that I wasn’t needed. More weeks went by and nothing happened. The part of me that wanted to avoid this challenge grew stronger and stronger to the point where when I realized that it probably wouldn’t happen for this year’s Shen Yun, I was relieved. So I didn’t become a presenter last year.
I was meant to do it but my xing xing wasn’t cultivated to
the point required so I missed that opportunity or didn’t follow Master’s
arrangement in this regard. After this year’s Shen Yun performances in
About this time, I started to memorize Zhuan Falun again. I had memorized Zhuan Falun on and off for years. I remember my first experience of memorizing Lunyu. All the hindering notions that came up when trying to memorize the first sentence were mind-blowing. Especially the thought that this would take forever so what was the point of continuing? Instantly ten thousand reasons for why I should stop would manifest.
But suddenly one thought emerged and I believe that because of this thought I am still able to memorize today. It was: “I am sitting here with the book and the words are in front of me. Even if I can remember only one sentence today, then maybe I can remember another one tomorrow. The Fa will not only enter my mind but be inscribed in my heart.
Wherever I go with or without Zhuan Falun I am still able to read the Fa!” I completely overwhelmed myself by completing memorizing the first paragraph in one go. I was very encouraged and kept going. The feeling of sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed and a quiet mind and to feel every word passing through my heart was solemn. It was my first experience of pure joy. I felt true happiness from the bottom of my heart. It was liberating! A few times I reached a state where I felt that my body was completely immersed and aligned with the Buddha Fa’s light.
I kept memorizing until completing Lecture One. Then new circumstances came into my life, things changed and I wasn’t able to stay diligent and keep up. Since then I have memorized on and off. My understanding is that this is not ideal. I should have kept going. But on the other hand I haven’t used that as an excuse to not pick it up again later.
So when I picked it up again this time it helped me become more determined to do the presentation and when the coordinator approached me to schedule the level 2 evaluations I agreed to do it within 2 weeks. I increased my studies of the materials and listened to the training more. I spent a whole day studying the materials 2 days before the evaluation and when the day came I felt prepared. I passed the exam.
Then the time came and I was asked to fill in my available times in the presentation schedule. There was one in 3 weeks and that distance made it feel quite doable. I would have sufficient time to practice and get ready. But as always time went fast and those 3 weeks went by in a flash and suddenly the day arrived.
I was a little bit tense the day before but I had faith that Master would arrange everything for me and everything would go well. I kept my mind righteous while running through the presentation in my mind on the way there. When I eventually got there the room had about 40 people.
Soon after the president of the club announced the speaker and as energy rushed through my body I walked up and grabbed the microphone. This was the first time I’d ever done this and it went well. The people thanked me afterwards and some even asked more about Falun Gong since the presentation mentions the persecution.
Since the first presentation I have done about ten now and have another ten ahead of me before Christmas. One of the most amazing things about it is to stand there and validate the divinely imparted Chinese culture, clarify the truth about the CCP’s evilness, Falun Gong and then the beauty of Shen Yun. It has given me a deeper appreciation of these things and the audience is often very moved and inspired with many warm comments and invitations from audience members for me to speak to other groups.
After looking back and writing this sharing I’ve realized that although I’ve often felt inferior and unworthy of Master’s compassionate care, Master has always been there arranging things for me and invisibly and compassionately helping me break through and achieve new goals in saving sentient beings.
Here I would like to wholeheartedly embrace Master’s saving grace with boundless gratitude. Thank you Master for letting me be your Fa rectification period Dafa disciple. I will keep up until the end!
Thank you everyone; thank you Master.