Digging out the roots of validating Self, and conforming to Western society
whilst working on the Films project
By Melbourne Western Practitioner
Greetings revered Master！
Greetings fellow cultivators！
Over the past year I have gradually become more aware of the intentions behind my words and actions. I realised that I had a strong attachment to validating myself, even though it was often deeply concealed. I was not only attached to validating myself, but also my ideas and notions.
In “Fa Teaching at the 2016 New York Fa Conference,” Master said: “…those of you who’ve come overseas, quickly learn as much as you can from Western people, or, from Chinese who’ve been in the United States for a long time. Ask them how to interact with people. Ask them more about things you do not understand, and quickly turn your way of thinking around. Otherwise, you cannot do anything in this place, and if you do things that have a negative effect, it is equivalent to bringing harm.”
As a native Westerner and one who is embedded in many facets of everyday society, I have long felt the need to clarify the truth by means that conform to the normal ways of society. When I read this section of Master’s Fa, and when I have read subsequent passages along similar lines, in a sense, I have felt validated. However, for a long time I was unable to recognise this as an attachment.
Whilst on the surface, the attachment could easily be justified as following Master’s words as Master does talk about the issue in several lectures, much deeper down it was actually the attachment of validating myself. I would hereby like to share the following experiences with practitioners in order to help fellow cultivators who might knowing or unknowing still harbour the attachment of Validating oneself or their ideas and methods.
- Coordinating our local Letter from Masanjia screening
Last year I coordinated a screening in Melbourne for the film, Letter From Masanjia. At the time when I took on the project, I was already quite overwhelmed with my everyday job and other projects I was working on. As the practitioners that were working on it previously were also overloaded, I thought that my husband and I should just make the time and take it on. In the past, I had been reluctant to step forward to take on any coordinating roles as I just preferred to work hard to support projects in the background, without shouldering the ultimate responsibility of whether the project succeeded or not.
However, at that time many projects needed new coordinators, and I couldn’t always just step aside leaving others to fill the void. I also felt that it would not be difficult for me to do, as I had previously helped quietly in the background for many other film screenings.
However, after I agreed to take it on, I realised that the producers did not want us to screen it in the same way that we had done for nearly every other film in the past, that is, hiring a hall to screen it on a projector. Rather, they wanted it screened and marketed via a cinema, essentially in the same way as a General release film.
Initially, I felt burdened as there was a lot more work to do, and I didn’t know much about the workings of the film industry. However, I soon felt incredibly grateful. Master was forcing us to step out of our comfort zone and attachments to make us conform to everyday society’s methods, and by doing so, we could help Master save more sentient beings.
What I didn’t realise at the time though, was that underneath my heart to save more sentient beings, there was also a strong attachment to Validating myself, and this manifested in my understanding that we should do our best to conform to ordinary society.
- Preparing for the screenings
I investigated the independent theatre scene in Melbourne and made some enquiries. Several didn’t get back to me at the start, and those that did mentioned that I would have to submit a detailed marketing plan for the film and obtain an Australian Classification. There were no detailed written marketing plans put together by the production company for such a purpose, and so I would have to create one from scratch. Also, I had never applied for a Classification before, nor did I have time to read through the pages and pages of the Classification Act to decipher what I needed to submit. I just didn’t know how I was going to find the time to put all this together, it wasn’t as simple as I had first thought.
I persevered with the Marketing plan and with feedback from others, managed to put a detailed one together. Upon enquiring about the Classification from the Government agency responsible, they mentioned that I could apply for an exception to the fees from the Communications Minister.
As I had been looking at things with a human mindset, I incurred lots of interference during the process of obtaining the Classification, but at the time did not recognise it as such. Whilst asking the Classification Board for guidance, a new staff member there would direct me to do one thing, and then when I would do it, another staff member would say that it was not the correct way to do it, and this would go on and on.
Sometimes the wait for processing their mail and submissions would take more than a month, and given what I had done was not always correct, it would take several months even to get to the stage of the final online submission for the Classification. It was only at that stage when their whole online system stopped working and wouldn’t allow users to upload anything on a newly created account. They thought it was very strange and they eventually realised they had a glitch in their software. It was only then that I realised that all of these things that were slowing the process down were interference, and that I should actively eliminate it. Finally the software worked again, and we could complete the final step.
While this was taking place, other states started booking venues to host their screenings. I realised not all were booking cinemas like we had originally been asked and I found myself feeling uneasy. I would think, “Why did I have to do all the hard work to follow the Production Company’s wishes, when some other areas continued to do things in the way we used to?” I felt some competitive mentality and a bit jealous. “They should listen to the producer’s wishes, they are taking the easy route!”
I had also done lots of work in the background to obtain the fee exemption and Classification to conform to Australian Law, but some areas were disregarding it. Whilst the need for a Classification was never really enforced by the non-cinema venues we had previously hired, every one of the cinemas that I had approached strictly enforced the need for the Classification as a condition of screening, regardless if it was a private hire or a general release.
The funny part of this however, was that multiple other cinema venues were hired in different states to screen the film, and unlike my experience, they were not asked to produce the Classification upon booking the venue. I realised that it was all in my mindset. I was attached to doing things that conformed to normal society methods. I justified this in my mind as following the law, but behind that was the attachment of validating myself and my way of doing things.
I am a cultivator of Dafa, and whilst I should be aware of everyday people’s methods to conform to society’s norms and laws, I should not be attached to them whereby I’ve formed a notion that limits the project from divine assistance.
My attachment of validating myself and my ways also manifested in the promotion of the film. When booking the cinema, without a second thought, I booked the largest cinema there was at Melbourne’s leading Independent Cinema complex, confident without a single unrighteous thought that we could fill the cinema, despite having a much shorter period of time than normal to sell the tickets.
We tailored a promotion campaign that targeted a certain demographic and geographical area surrounding the venue.
However, with less than two weeks left before the screening, only 3 tickets had sold, and 2 of those were mine as I was testing the ticketing system. For a moment then, my righteous thoughts suddenly turned to fear. We had sold only 1% of the tickets, and to break even due to our spend on the marketing and venue hire, we would have to sell nearly all of the 240 tickets.
When looking within, I wasn’t that concerned about the financial loss, and searched deeper as to why the tickets weren’t selling. Once again, the attachment of validating myself had surfaced. I was fearful of losing face if we didn’t get many attendees, especially as I insisted on having a cinema screening to resemble a regular film experience as much as possible. I had also previously been very vocal to the practitioner body to follow the producers wishes and not arrange their own viewing parties. In addition, I had held the project up for several months as I unsuccessfully sort to obtain a General Release in cinemas, and the interference in obtaining the Classification. I was worried that practitioners would have no idea of the work done in the background for no apparent result, and would therefore think that I was lazy: I was fearful of losing face.
Master said: “There’s something you must pay attention to: you are validating the Fa, not validating yourselves. A Dafa disciple’s responsibility is to validate the Fa. Validating the Fa is cultivation, and what you remove in the cultivation process is none other than the attachment to self; you can’t, instead, go and exacerbate the problem of validating oneself, even if you do it unwittingly. When you’re validating the Fa and cultivating, that is a process of removing self, and only when you do that are you really validating yourself. That’s because ultimately you have to let go of all your human things, and only after you’ve let go of all your human attachments can you step out from the throngs of everyday people.”
“Teaching the Fa at the Meeting with Asia-Pacific Students”, Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. VI
After I enlightened to this and was able to let go of the attachment, the majority of the practitioner body really got behind the project. Ticket sales instantly picked up, and by the time of the screening day, we had only a handful of tickets left, which were sold in the final minutes before the screening started. I had also let go of my initial concern of the planned promotional strategy not being followed and materials being distributed all over town. After letting go of the attachment of validating myself and doing things my way, it didn’t bother me at all.
Master just arranged the materials to be wherever they needed to be, and I was grateful beyond words for every practitioner that fully put their heart behind promoting the film. It was no longer “my project” but rather a vessel that all Melbourne practitioners could utilise to help save their sentient beings.
I also enlightened that I was getting caught up in the formalities of the human world and, using Master’s Fa to validate my opinion and look outwards, rather than look inwards to see how I could improve.
- Watching Master’s lecture: Fa Teaching Given to the Australian Practitioners
A couple of weeks after the Letter From Masanjia screening, it was arranged for us to watch the 2007 lecture: Fa Teaching Given to the Australian Practitioners, at big group Fa study. I hadn’t watched it for many years so I was glad to have the opportunity again. I volunteered to bring the computer and DVD to screen it from, but that afternoon just before study, I parked my car down a street that was soon to become a Clearway. When I went back to find my car after my last job for the day, it had been towed away to a compound, along with the computer inside and the DVD for Fa study. Although I felt quite silly and sorry to my husband because of the large fine I incurred, I was not that moved and very thankful to Master as the Fa study room was only a short Tram ride away and I could still get there in time. Additionally, another practitioner had also previously volunteered to bring his computer and DVD too, so thankfully we could still all watch it. Clearly the old forces were trying to interfere and didn’t want me to enlighten to what I needed to by watching it again.
That evening, when watching the lecture, it was as if I had never watched it before. I realised that previously, I had not been listening to Master’s words in the lecture to look within to improve my xinxing, rather I could only recall the parts that validated my opinion and notions, that was, the section where Master suggested the Chinese should learn from the Westerners as they know the society.
I was shocked and disappointed in myself when I realised I had only taken in the Fa that validated my notions. Then I realised that Master gave me many other reminders too. A fellow practitioner often emailed out their criticisms of other individuals on the group list, and often quoted Master’s Fa in doing so. I felt that it was incredibly disrespectful to use Teacher’s Fa in such a manner, and I wondered why this practitioner wasn’t looking within. That night watching the lecture again, made me realise that I had been doing the same, albeit in my head, but nonetheless I was still using Master’s words to validate myself and my notions.
I listened intently that night and enlightened to so many things that I couldn’t remember from before. In that lecture, Master even spoke about practitioners Validating themselves instead of Validating the Fa, and that practitioners were studying Master’s Fa to excuse their attachments instead of improving themselves, however I had not previously taken these things in.
I have enlightened through these experiences that what really matters is one’s heart, and this is what the Gods see. Master guides us in His teachings how to cultivate and better save sentient beings, and we should read it in a state of wuwei, without intention, and with the heart to improve ourselves to become divine beings, not validate ourselves to remain human. Of course we should abide by the laws of our society, and I still understand that we should indeed speak and conduct ourselves in ways that everyday people can understand.
This is my current understanding at my own level. I invite practitioners to kindly point out anything incorrect or inappropriate.
Thank you benevolent Master！
Thank you fellow practitioners！
我调查了位于墨尔本的独立经营的剧场，并多次询问。刚开始，有几家剧院没有回复我，有的则要求我提交一份详细的电影营销计划，并取得“澳大利亚分级”（Australian Classification）。制片公司并没有一份现成的详细书面营销计划，所以我必须从头开始拟定一份。而且，我以前从来没有申请过（电影）分级，我也没有时间去阅读一页页的《分级法案》（Classification Act）来分析出我需要提交的内容。我完全不知道怎样才能抽出时间应对好这一切，这并不像我当初想象的那么简单。