Cultivating among the ordinary society
Sharing by Benjamin H.
As time goes by, I can feel more and more that the future for Falun Dafa practitioners, as well as all sentient beings, is going to be bright. Lately, I have had more and more realisations about cultivating amidst society, and harmonising the world around me.
When I began my cultivation, I was of course completely in the mindset of self cultivation. I saw this everyday society as putrid, and saw my single goal in life as getting out of it and never looking back. But this mindset brought me great pain. I stifled all my political and social opinions, put aside all my hobbies, and saw as attachments all my career goals, and aspirations for the future in this world. To everyday people, I was an empty shell – those around me felt that I had no concerns whatsoever for the world around me. They saw me as uncompassionate, uncaring for the issues of world poverty and human suffering that I was once so deeply concerned about. I would tell them that Dafa practitioners are compassionate, and about the suffering of practitioners in China, but even I myself was unsure of how to balance looking at the issues in China, and my perception of being ‘unmoved’ – which as I saw it then was being cold, detached and unemmotional. The message would never get through to those around me, as people felt they had nothing in common with me. Just as Master said in the chapter on zealousy, or ‘being too engrossed’, in Zhuan Falun, nobody thought I was normal, and it was indeed horrible for me. But I saw my misery as the manifestation of sentimentality, and would not give myself even the benefit of crying alone in my room.
當我開始修煉時，完全是處於自我修煉的狀態。我覺得常人社會很骯髒，我生命中唯一的目地就是脫離它，永不回頭。但是，這種想法給我帶來了極大的痛苦。我抑制自己對政治和社會的看法，放棄了所有的愛好，將事業上的目標和對未來世界的憧憬當成執著。對常人來說，我就像一個空殼 – 周圍的人覺得我沒有善心，對這個世界上所發生的事漠不關心，而從前我曾經深深的關心著人類的貧窮與苦難。我跟他們說，大法學員是善良的，還告訴他們學員們在中國所遭受的迫害。然而，就連我自己都不清楚該如何看待中國所發生的事，我當時所理解的”不動心”就是冷漠、不動情。我周圍的人之所以不能瞭解真象，是因為他們覺得跟我沒有共同語言。正如師父在<轉法輪>的”歡喜心”這一節中講到的，沒有人把我當成正常人看，這對我來說真的可怕。但我認為自己的苦惱是人的情的表現，我不允許自己哪怕是在房間裡獨自哭泣。
Things slowly began to change when I began a relationship with a girl whom I had, out of selfish desires, left a year before I began my cultivation. I started to realise that to form a harmonious relationship, I needed to smile sometimes. I needed to show an interest in her affairs, before she, or anyone else, would show an interest in mine. But my interest in everyday affairs was always a facade. I would pretend to be happy for someone when I wasn’t, would pretend to be interested when I wasn’t, I had a sense that I had become quite a shallow person, but I thought that this was how a practitioner should be – still completely unconcerned for anything in the secular world, mind and soul far away in another place. Of course, I was still very much in the mindset of self-cultivation, but I myself was unable to understand why, nor could I understand what was meant exactly when other practitioners told me that the period for self-cultivation was over.
Things have changed quickly since the publication of Nine Commentaries – I have been thrust into everyday society. Every week I write articles that don’t even mention Falun Gong, and I write about political and social issues in the everyday world. I use my understanding of the Fa to analyse the issues, to decide what a righteous understanding at this level of the cosmos should be. I call non-practitioners and listen ernestly to their opinions.
自從九評出版以後，情況有了快速的變化 – 我一下子被推入常人社會。我每星期都要寫與法輪功無關的文章，報道常人社會的政治和社會問題。我用自己對法的理解來分析問題，並確定在宇宙中人這一層的正的理應該是怎樣的。我與常人接觸並認真傾聽他們的看法。
My work for the paper has brought about a desirable situation in my everyday affairs. I am studying journalism at university, and my work at the paper looks fantastic on a job resume. So while I am working for the paper and helping to clarify the truth, I am also playing a harmonising role in this world, and I am furthering my career.
This has in turn brought about a good climate for clarifying the truth to my friends and family. The issues that they care deeply about, I now also have knowledge and understanding of. I am all of a sudden interested in their affairs, their passions, aspirations, their views on the world. They see me writing stories for the paper about all kinds of issues in a meaningful way, and for the first time they feel close to me, they respect me, and they truly feel that I am compassionate. Now the issue of the persecution of Falun Gong comes up quite naturally, and I talk about it in the same way I talk about everything else. Since I have now tapped into their views about the world, they feel they can relate to my issues of concern, and they use their understanding of the world around them to express sympathy, or outrage, or offer help in any way they can see.
It has also brought about a change in my girlfriend’s understanding of Falun Gong. She told me not long ago that she never believed me when I used to talk about Falun Gong, because it was all just words. But she said that now I have truly demonstrated with my character that Falun Gong is good, that it is nothing at all like what the Chinese government says it is. We now have a loving relationship based on mutual gratitude and respect.
As time has gone by, I have felt the environment around me become more and more harmonised, and this has brought me a deep sense of happiness, and a deep wish to further transform the world around me into a perfected, harmonised society based on the wonderful truths of the Great Fa. After sharing and contemplation, another practitioner, and I put a motion to the student council of my university, the University of Technology, Sydney. The motion commended Falun Dafa for its three principles and benefit to the public, condemned the persecution in China, and called on the Australian government to cease the banner issue, and put human rights before trade with China, as well as resolving the student council to write letters to Mr Downer, Mr Howard, and the Chinese Embassy. The motion passed swiftly, unanimously. We gave them a ten minute powerpoint presentation first, with a few simple photos of large-scale practise sites in China before the persecution, and photos of victims of torture, while discussing the issues. They were all very supportive, some were very deeply moved and took extra initiative to help in their various ways. The other practitioner sat quietly and sent righteous thoughts while I presented, which maintained a harmony in the room. The process from the initial idea right through to the motion being passes has been almost effortless. Instead of sharing about the process, I thought I would just briefly share about one of the reasons why I think it went so well.
Basically, I think the good relationship forged with the student council has played an important role. Ever since I have started having dealings with the student council, I have always taken an interest in their affairs. They are very political, very active and very vocal about issues that they care about – and indeed they care very deeply about the issues of concern to them. Deeply, they are kind people and want the best for the world. Perhaps their political and social views might differ from mine, but I have always been supportive and cultivated away the judgemental attitude that I first had towards them.
I have always avoided saying things that would seperate me from them. I don’t make a point of saying that Falun Dafa is non-political, because to them politics is a good thing, capable of bringing about positive change in the world. When they talk about their student campaigns, such as against Voluntary Student Unionism, I take a genuine interest and try to offer advice. I make sure that I show as much concern about their issues of concern as I want them to show towards ‘mine’. I take great care to portray myself as a ‘normal’ person, with long-term goals in life, constructive opinions about the world, a circle of friends, and interests in a range of things, including meditation and the situation in China. I think they see me in a way as ‘campaigning’ for better human rights in China, as a kind of quiet human rights activist, and I think that is a good thing because those are the things that they care about and relate to – it makes them feel closer to me, like they can relate to me and talk to me on their level, and of course it makes them sympathise and empathise with the cause of Falun Dafa practitioners. When they offer me advice, they offer it from their experience, and that makes them feel good, like they can truly offer their help and guidance.
Once I ran into one of them on campus, and stopped to say hi. She was taking care of a stall giving information about the current political campaign against Voluntary Student Unionism. I chatted to her and her friend about it, and listened to their opinions, while offering mine. I told them about the stories I had written about the issue in The Epoch Times. Basically, I fostered a closer relationship with them by taking an interest in their views. I was all the time holding myself to a practitioners’ mental standard, so naturally I was alert to opportunities to talk about my life and the things I was involved in to do with Falun Gong, but none came up. I said goodbye, and as I was walking off, I heard my friend say to hers, ‘that’s Ben, he runs the Falun Dafa club’, and then proceed to tell her about the pressure the university has been put under from the Chinese government due to its Falun Dafa club (that’s another story!). I think that by presenting the Falun Gong situation in a situation in a way that she understands and relates to, I have moved her, and she now deeply sympathises with my actions to do with the situation in China.
I used to think there was no point in thinking about the future, since it was all going to end soon, anyway. But that view is now long gone. I am taking steady steps towards a future in this world by planning my career, building on my relationships, and doing my best to get good results at university. But at the same time, I am a cultivator, and naturally when disturbances come up I will do my very best to take them lightly, look within and improve myself according to the Fa. I take the initiative to do what a Dafa disciple should do, and I find I am able to do that in a way that conforms to my everyday life. And of course this would not be possible without diligently doing the exercises and studying the Fa.
I think at this time, all practitioners should strive to become truly exemplary characters in the eyes of the people of the world, so as to leave a sure and steady way for the harmonized existence of the beings of the future.
These are just a few things based on my very limited understanding, and of course there are plenty of things that I am not doing so well in, that I need to do better.