Elevating in My Musical Journey
墨尔本 (Melbourne) : 于 / Ms Yu
Greetings fellow practitioners!
I obtained the Fa in Beijing in 1997, and I’d like to share my cultivation experience after joining the Tian Guo Marching Band as a French horn player.
Part1. Predestined to play the French horn
I was touched after hearing a sharing from a practitioner who attended the Tian Guo Marching Band parade in Hong Kong, and it made me wish to join the marching band. But I thought that since I didn’t have any knowledge or music, nor did I understand music theory, I wouldn’t be able to join the band and learn an instrument. My wish was just that – a wish.
But Master must have seen that I had the heart, because a few days later, after our morning Fa study, a practitioner friend asked if I wanted to join the marching band. I replied in disbelief, because I thought I was incapable of learning and had no faith in my abilities. This practitioner played the French horn in the marching band, and said that if I wanted to learn, she guaranteed that I would be able to. She gave me a French horn a few days later, and I began by musical ‘cultivation journey’.
Because my personality is unrefined and I’m uneducated due to my rural upbringing, learning to play the French horn was unthinkable. I ran into one difficulty after another, from figuring out how to hold the horn, to pressing the valves. I’m quite small and so my fingers are also quite short and I had difficulty reaching the different valves. Holding the instrument in the right position was also tiring, not to mention the weight of the horn itself. Reading the musical notes was also difficult, and I didn’t know how to read what looked like tadpoles on each line, let alone memorise the notes.
这时A同修说先别想的太复杂，首先先把号吹出声音来，然后再把声音尽量吹久一些，再去找Do Re Mi（哆唻咪）基本音调就可以了。于是，我就抱着这把号对着较音器一个音符一个音符的吹，我本就是个自卑的人，而且做事很急躁，希望马上见到效果，干完就完了没有耐性，不能坚持，又害怕同修看到我笨而学不会笑话我。
At this time, my practitioner friend told me not to overcomplicate things, and just to focus on blowing out sound first. Once I could consistently blow out sound, I could then practice the basics like do, re, mi. So, I began practicing note by note. But because of my low self-esteem, I have a habit of doing things in a hurry to see quick results, and I didn’t have much patience. I was also afraid of other practitioners laughing at my inability to learn.
But just simply blowing out sound wasn’t that effective, and I still couldn’t recognise the musical notes. I thought I should just forget about it, and give up. But this practitioner continued to encourage me. She reminded me that it would take time, and that by patiently practicing note by note, I would eventually be able to play the horn. Whenever this practitioner had the time, she would come to my home to help me practice.
Part2. Elevating while practicing the French Horn
Not long afterwards, I snapped the valves off my horn because I didn’t know how to properly maintain it. Practitioners would often call the instruments Fa implements, and I wondered why this Fa implement would end up broken in my hands? I felt very distraught at the time, and cried as I held it. I thought that maybe this was a sign that I was not meant to play the horn, and it was something I couldn’t accomplish. “Forget about it, let’s just give up”, I thought. But my practitioner friend still continued to encourage me. When we shared about our experiences, she said: “Do you want to try to enlighten based on the Fa? Is this testing you, to see if you can persevere in the face of adversity?” Her words woke me up. She was right. How could I, as a cultivator, use an everyday person’s mentality to approach problems?
Master said: “So whether it is good things or bad things you run into, so long as you cultivate in Dafa, they are all positive, to be sure.” Teachings at the 2005 Conference in San Francisco.
I think this was a test for me, because I tend to do things carelessly and in a hurry; and whenever I encounter difficulties, I back off in fear. But this obstacle was there for me to eliminate my attachment. And so, I received another horn from a practitioner. But this was a double horn, so not only was it heavier than the previous horn, but it was also more difficult to blow out the notes. Even if I had the strength, I didn’t know how to use it.
Yet still my practitioner friend continued to come to my home to help me practice, and share with me based on the Fa, without any complaint or frustration, so I felt obliged to drop my pride, grit my teeth, and persist. I even thought that the only way to give up was if this practitioner stopped coming over, or she lost faith and patience in my ability. I felt a lot of pressure in my heart, and thought that the path ahead was difficult. But this practitioner did not give up on me, and continued to remind me to take it slowly.
I’m grateful for Master’s arrangements, because this practitioner and I would study the Fa every morning, and through this process, I slowly enlightened to my problems. Looking within, I saw my competitive mentality, my attachment to saving face, to showing off, to listening to compliments. Other practitioners had passed the entrance test after a short period of time and had joined the marching band. To use a common Chinese saying, I was really “in admiration with jealously and hate”. I was jealous of their abilities and self-confidence, and I hated that I didn’t have any culture, talent or self-confidence myself.
After discovering that I had a very strong attachment to fame, it reinforced my thought that although I’m not very cultured, I could still play the horn and I could still join the marching band. Hoping to be recognised by others is also a manifestation of pursuing fame. This is only a surface-level understanding. Looking within further, I found another issue. In the process of sharing with practitioners, I realised that a few practitioners around me, including family members, all had the same trait. They were all independent thinkers. They had their own thoughts, and when they encountered difficulties they would tackle them head on, and use a lot of initiative. They are not easily swayed by other people’s thoughts.
From this I saw that during the process of learning the horn, I didn’t really take into account the suggestions and advice from other practitioners. And so, when my practicing didn’t go well, I thought of quitting. In my mind, I had always thought that these practitioners were strongly opinionated, and I disliked their self-confidence. In fact, I was the one who was not on the Fa. I realised that I did not meet the standard of Zhen-Shan-Ren, and I didn’t treat myself as a practitioner when facing difficulties.
Cultivation requires taking initiative. Since playing the horn was a part of cultivation, isn’t it meant to cultivate away this attachment of mine? If I can’t learn to play, it means that I’m not willing to improve. Looking at myself, I could see that I’m lazy, I seek comfort, and I don’t want to put in the effort, yet I still want to get something from nothing. I also have the thought of validating myself. In the beginning, I wanted to join the marching band because I wanted to assist Master in saving sentient beings during Fa rectification. Looking back, my own self-validation was mixed in with this thought.
But I wasn’t as talented as other practitioners who could pick up their instruments with relative ease. I struggled to learn, and the practitioner helping me only told me to practice the basics and easy tunes. Sometimes this practitioner would compliment me one day saying that I played well, but the next day would say that I did not play as well. I thought to myself: “Whether I play well is subjectively up to you. How long must I keep practicing until I can join the marching band?”
At the time, it was the height of the pandemic, and this practitioner was not busy with work. So, she had the time to come and teach me, and she would explain the purpose of practicing the most basic techniques, while convincing me to stop pushing for quick improvements. The other practitioners in the marching band were also very caring, and recommended that I just practice the tunes for the exam. Once I passed the test for the marching band, I could go back and refine the basics. Others recommended that I find an everyday teacher, or search for tutorials online, and so on. With so much conflicting advice from different practitioners, I was at my wits end.
Due to my persistence in studying the Fa every morning, I slowly came to a realisation: wasn’t I just trying to hurry things along? I would do things with a foggy mind, think that I was stupid, and then not want to think about it further. Playing the horn is not something that can be hurried. Not only must you focus your mind, but you must also coordinate your mouth, breath, and hands well.
Master said in Zhuan Falun: “Everyone may have heard that Zen Buddhism also speaks of the differences between sudden enlightenment and gradual enlightenment. Hui Neng, the sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism, taught sudden enlightenment while Shen Xiu from the Northern School of Zen Buddhism taught gradual enlightenment. The dispute between the two on Buddhist studies lasted a very long time in history. I call it meaningless. Why? It is because what they referred to was only the understanding of a principle in the process of cultivation. As to this principle, some may understand it all at once, while others may enlighten to it and understand it gradually. Does it matter how one enlightens? It is better if one can understand it all at once, but it is also fine if one gradually enlightens to it. Aren’t both cases enlightenment? Both are enlightenment, so neither is wrong.”
I feel that I’m the type of person who goes through gradual enlightenment. So, given that I’m cultivating, Master certainly has a cultivation path arranged for me, and I need to have the mindset of a cultivator to approach problems. If I was an everyday person, I could just give up. But I am someone walking a path of cultivation, and I need to use Fa principles as my standard. Along this path, I will encounter problems to help me cultivate, and my path isn’t necessarily going to be the same as others. If I want to cultivate away my impatience and carelessness, as well as other attachments like the fear of obstacles, I need to be serious in my efforts.
After I corrected my mentality, I felt that the instrument was no longer that heavy. I started treasuring it with all my heart and would regularly maintain its condition. After practicing like this for a while, I was also no longer moved when the practitioner helping me said that the music exam required close attention to the details. Everything is arranged by Master, and I just needed to practise solidly.
Back then, I would set aside 2 hours a day so that I could truly calm my mind and focus on playing every note and every tune. Although it was still up to this practitioner to determine the lesson, I no longer objected, and my heart was no longer impatient. My thoughts about when I would pass the test also disappeared. I could calmly approach my slow and steady improvements, and I was not moved by external noises interfering with me. From the depths of my heart, I was “unhurried, slow, and smooth”.
Through the process of practicing unhurriedly, I discovered that the coordination between my breath, mouth, and hands greatly improved. I could also quickly grasp the finger work for new pieces. Even though every day was very repetitive, I became more and more interested in playing the horn. The process of playing had also changed the way I thought about things. At home, I could control my temper so that things would be harmonious. The French horn and I began to communicate with each other, and its sound became more mellow.
One day, while I was concentrating on practicing my scales, Master’s Fa appeared in my mind:
Your paths of cultivation are varied
But none is outside the Great Law
When one is attached to nothing
The path underfoot is naturally smooth
Hong Yin II
I was reminded of another Chinese saying; “Haste brings no success”. In that moment, I felt as if my whole body was enveloped by a righteous energy field, and my whole dimensional field stood still. I felt Master’s radiant compassion watching over me, and Master telling me that this was my cultivation path. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. Thank you Master!
I was improving at a snail’s pace, and after about 8 or 9 months, I nervously passed the first piece. Even though I took longer than other practitioners, I was still excited, and was thanking Master over and over again in my heart！ I also thanked the practitioner who helped me for her selfless sacrifice！
Part3. My family environment changes along with my music practice
Obstacles in learning the French horn came not only from learning the instrument, but also from my family environment. Although my family members who are practitioners supported me, I always felt that they weren’t cooperative and harmonising. I’m not very smart, and my mind is a bit slow, so it takes me longer to learn compared to other practitioners. In addition to learning the instrument, I still needed to cook at home, and it felt like there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything.
Once after Sunday band practice, I returned home to find a load of pots and pans to wash. Seeing the mess, I thought to myself: “I’m doing something very important, so why can’t you help me out? I even cooked for you before I left, but you don’t even consider cleaning up after you’ve eaten. I look after the children’s piano lessons, as well as their tuition and Fa study. It seems like the list of things I have to do never ends!” During that period, I would often silently shed tears, and would complain to other practitioners that my husband wasn’t cooperative.
But the practitioners just said that I shouldn’t be so quick in thinking about myself. I should instead think about how he has to work every day, and even on days off, he has to work on Dafa projects. It’s not easy for him! Isn’t Master using the practitioners’ words to give me a hint?
Master said in Essentials for Further Advancement, Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature, “I also want to tell you that your nature in the past was actually based on egotism and selfishness. From now on, whatever you do, you should consider others first, so as to attain the righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism. So, from now on, whatever you do or whatever you say, you must consider others—or even future generations—along with Dafa’s eternal stability.”
Before I started playing the horn, I didn’t have as much pressure in my daily life. But after taking up the instrument, I’ve had to balance so many things at home. No matter what I did, I always felt very busy, and I couldn’t calm my mind down.
In Zhuan Falun, Lecture 4, Master says, “You should be strict with yourself, though we allow you to improve gradually. If you could succeed all at once today, you would be a Buddha today. Thus, it is not realistic. You will be able to achieve this gradually.”
I enlightened that my family is my primary cultivation environment. If I can balance it well, then I have cultivated, and I have done as Master asked. How could I then say that others aren’t cooperative and harmonising? This is looking outwards, and cultivating poorly! The people and environment that surround me are reminding me that I need to slow down, and cultivate myself solidly ! Once I understood this Fa principle, I needed to align every thought and action with it. I adjusted my mentality, and carefully planned out every task for the day. After a while, everything was going like clockwork, and I still had time to practice the French horn.
Through this process, my attitude toward my child’s studies and piano lessons also dramatically changed. When he didn’t focus on his piano lessons, I kept telling him to practise, and he would become frustrated and unwilling to learn. I would tell him that Master has said in “Collected Fa Teachings, Vol. XIII”，Fa Teaching Given at the 2015 New York Fa Conference：
“You have to wholeheartedly do a good job at whatever you are supposed to do—and only then is it admirable. ”
This had a very good effect on my son. At school, and in his extra-curricular classes, he would always be praised by the teachers; they would say that he is very sincere, kind toward others and forgiving. Some teachers would ask how we raised him, and I would tell them it’s because we practice Falun Gong and believe in Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
In my two years of learning an instrument, I’m deeply grateful for the weekly lesson plan that my practitioner friend implemented for me. From not even knowing how to hold the instrument to now reading the musical notes and playing. This journey has been both difficult and moving, and I am so grateful! I’m grateful that my wisdom has been opened under the guidance of Dafa and Master, and that my xinxing has improved. Through solidly practicing the horn, I’ve had the opportunity to truly cultivate.
In writing this experience sharing article, I had the chance to reflect on my cultivation journey over the past two years. In the past I would always doubt my cultivation, and it seemed like I didn’t cultivate – but that is not the case. In the past two years, I can feel from the words of my everyday friends their recognition and respect for Master and Dafa.
One of my everyday friends, who I got to know the year I moved to Melbourne, said that I used to be a typical housewife who was always physically and mentally dependent on others. Now that I am more independent, she said that I’ve become younger, more thoughtful, and musically competent. I said that this was all due to the Fa principles taught by Master, and it was Dafa that changed me.
She said with deep feeling: “Your Master is amazing!” Indeed, in the eyes of everyday people, our Master is “so amazing’!” In my mind, “amazing” is not a word that can adequately describe Master!
Reflecting on these past two years, my musical journey, my cultivation at home, and my intangible changes are all a result of Master’s care and encouragement. And of course, under the guidance of the principles of Dafa.
Thank you Master! And thank you to the practitioners who have helped me cultivate during the past two years!
Above is my cultivation experience at my current level. Please compassionately point out anything inappropriate!
Thank you Master!
Thank you fellow practitioners!