By a Western Falun Dafa Disciple. October 16, 2017.
Work is work.
Cultivation is cultivation.
Work is not cultivation but the quality of our work is a reflection of our personal cultivation state.
These are my understandings about work and cultivation. I have been in business for many years and after becoming a practitioner ten years ago, I now understand how I should be guided by the Fa in my work. Working consumes a large amount of people’s time in ordinary society; this was arranged for Dafa practitioners as a way to validate the Fa and clarify the truth. Dafa cultivation can happen anywhere, including in ordinary society. As Master said (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 8):
“The majority of our Falun Dafa cultivators (that is, except for those professional cultivators) cultivate among everyday people. They therefore cannot avoid leading a normal life in ordinary human society and interacting with society. Everyone has a job and must do it well.”
The workplace is a valuable way to reach more sentient beings, make friends and clarify the truth. How well we cultivate is reflected in doing a job really well. But how many practitioners have done their jobs well?
Practitioners have started many companies. Some aim to make a profit, others are non-profit. Many practitioner run companies initially aimed to make a profit, performed poorly and these businesses unintentionally became non-profit. In fact, most companies run by practitioners have done badly, including some I have run. It’s not easy, even for very experienced business people to conform to the Fa, handle the massive interference from the old forces, save sentient beings and operate a successful business.
Practitioners start and run companies to validate the Fa and save sentient beings. The requirements for running a successful business are high, even for ordinary people. They say 80% of all new businesses fail in the first five years, even for ordinary people.
It’s not easy starting a business. The company must have the correct legal formation, ownership, capital backing and accounting. It must be staffed by experienced personnel and offer compelling value to customers. Many practitioners mistakenly believe that because they are practitioners or “have the heart for something”, their wishful thinking will bring good results and they can avoid the years of experience required to have a successful business or “take the short route”. That’s the party culture and it needs to be eliminated. Ordinary people have toiled for years, earned advanced degrees and learned in the “school of hard knocks” and you think because you are a practitioner everything will be handed to you? The heart is of course most important, but there are no short cuts in business — inexperienced people make many costly mistakes.
From my own experience, I was doing a poor job, my companies were not performing well and they mostly lost money. I had hired practitioners because they needed a job, not because they were the best or most qualified person for the position. Many of them were poorly qualified and did a poor job. This problem was caused by my attachments to showing off and saving face among practitioners. I was also using Dafa as an excuse to not do my job well. Once during Fa study, I was shaken when I read (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 3):
“There was a person who was walking on the street with my book in his hand, yelling, ‘With Teacher Li’s protection, I’m not afraid of being hit by a car.’ That was undermining Dafa. This type of person will not be protected. Actually, a true cultivator would not do such a thing.”
I had been using Dafa as an excuse to not do a good job at work and I was cultivating poorly because I had believed that Dafa would protect the business. If I “had the heart” and had faith in Dafa, that would be enough and I could skip things like being capable and paying attention to details or caring for customers. To ordinary people, these omissions make them believe that practitioners don’t care about them.
After noticing this in myself, I saw many others who were doing the same thing. No wonder projects were always short of funds and never seemed to meet their goals. How could they reach their potential to save sentient beings if they do poorly? Worse than that, our behavior could have a negative impact on the ordinary people we were supposed to save. Wouldn’t they find practitioners’ behavior to be odd? If we truly cultivate well, we would make doing a good job at work a priority and conform to ordinary society, leaving a positive impression.
Think about the positive impression left by practitioners working in the towel factory in China (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 4):
“In terms of xinxing improvement, though, there are many outstanding examples. One practitioner works in a textile factory in a city in Shandong Province. After studying Falun Dafa, he taught other coworkers to practice. As a result, the factory has taken on a new look. He used to take home pieces of towels from the textile factory, and so did the rest of the employees. After he started practicing Dafa, instead of taking things home, he brought back to the factory what he had taken home before. When others saw his actions, nobody would take things home anymore. Some employees also returned to the factory what they had previously taken home. This situation occurred throughout the entire factory.”
Whether you work for a business or run a business, this was arranged for us to cultivate in ordinary society, to make friends and clarify the truth. Many of the people we encounter in business as customers or employees and clarify the truth to are the practitioners of the future.
Once, I called a flower shop in a small and remote town in Arkansas, in the middle of the United States. I needed to send flowers to a person who worked for our business because his wife had died after a long illness. After placing the order, the woman on the phone who owned the flower shop told me “it’s lucky that you called me today, I’m closing my business in two weeks.” I was surprised and asked her why she would have to close. She shocked me when she said “This is a small town and there is only room for one flower shop here. I’m closing my shop after eight years so a younger person who also wants to have a flower shop has a chance to have a successful business.” I had a tear in my eye when I heard that. She continued “people around here would literally give you the shirt off their back if you needed it, a lot of people here are that way.” I spent the next twenty minutes thoroughly clarifying the truth to her. She understood everything. I would have never encountered her if I didn’t have this business. It reminded me that as remarkable as this person was, practitioners have to reach an even higher standard.
As Master said (Zhuan Falun, Lecture 7):
“Everyday people will do whatever they want to, and that is their business; it is not possible for everyone to truly cultivate. As a practitioner, however, one should follow a higher standard, so I am putting forward the requirements for practitioners here.”
This was an ordinary person, but she was acting like a practitioner. As soon as I heard this woman’s story, I knew this was a hint to give one of my businesses to another practitioner who had helped it in the past and I could settle a debt with him. I told my wife and she agreed immediately. The business was quite valuable, as it took years to build. Some practitioners were surprised when they heard about this. We have to always consider others first.
Why is working with practitioners so difficult? Part of this is caused by the origin of practitioners; my understanding is that practitioners were kings where they came from and it’s very difficult to have “two tigers on one mountain”. The other factors are caused by attachments, especially those around money.
A person can be attached to getting a lot of money and also to not having money. Getting a lot of money isn’t usually an issue with practitioners, we just don’t care that much about having a lot of money. In order to obtain the Fa, practitioners had to give up a lot, in my experience, it involved losing a big lawsuit and a lot of money — many other practitioners have also had this experience. Even though our attorney told me that we were correct and the other party had caused great damage, we lost and I took the outcome very lightly. When our attorney called with the bad news, she was surprised. “Wow, most of my clients would be really upset about this.” I used that chance to clarify the truth to her again. Taking a big loss lightly like that was a very difficult xinxing test and I know many practitioners who have also passed this test — the old forces put it there to block the entry into Dafa for new practitioners. For two days after this loss, I could feel de being added to my gong column. Practitioners need this virtue to save sentient beings, not to live comfortably in human society.
Intentionally avoiding money is also an attachment. In my understanding, many practitioners have cultivated in past lives where they gave up all material comforts and money. They feel very comfortable with that form of cultivation. Practitioners can endure great hardships. However, we are cultivating Falun Dafa, which doesn’t have this requirement of giving up all money. We are required to give up the attachment to money, not the thing itself. It’s not possible to live in ordinary society without money.
The culture of the communist party can cause or feed this same attachment as well. Under Marxism, people are taught that it’s a sin to do better than others at work. Everyone is supposed to get the same thing, regardless of effort or virtue and people are jealous of those who find financial success through work. In the West, people who treated their customers well or had a successful business used to be looked up to. They took care with their customers and workers and society benefited. Today, even in the United States, people want to hide their success the way the Chinese do under communism. It will be a responsibility of practitioners to validate the Fa through their work, to help eliminate this party culture from the future society.
Dafa includes everything in the cosmos, including upper society, high level positions in society and business all the way down to the lowest things. Each practitioner can validate the Fa in nearly limitless ways, in any profession or level of society. There are practitioners who work in banking and finance and their job is to handle large sums of money for other people. Some of them are very well paid and there is nothing wrong with honestly earning a big paycheck or even having a lot of money, as long as we are not attached to it. When practitioners validate the Fa, they are leaving things for the future. What kind of human society would there be if everyone was penniless or commerce didn’t exist? The form of commerce and money could change in the future, but there will always need to be interactions between people.
In my understanding, earning money is not a sin if it’s something you are supposed to have and we go about things following the Fa and conform to human laws. The goal is to save more sentient beings. Cultivation in Dafa is solemn and dignified. Shouldn’t practitioners conform to ordinary society to save more sentient beings? How can we reach upper society if we are as poor as a beggar, if we have this chance?
Practitioners are mindful that money is a low level thing. As Master said in Zhuan Falun (Lecture 9):
“In the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss, the trees are made of gold, and so is the ground, birds, flowers, and houses. Even the Buddha body is golden and shiny. One cannot find a piece of stone there. The currency used over there is said to be stones.”
We make use of money to live in ordinary society, to validate the Fa and save sentient beings, but we are not attached to money.
Many times practitioners will suffer or bear hardships caused by their own negative thoughts, instead of maximizing their talents to take on more responsibility and be more successful. These thoughts in my own mind caused me to “wander in the desert” for almost ten years. Only recently, I have broken through these notions and got things in line with the Fa and everything at work improved immediately. Shortly after this breakthrough, I was invited to a new board seat where I will be able to meet many people in upper society from all over the world. As other practitioners have shared, it is very difficult to reach people in upper society, and this is entirely due to removing my attachments so I could follow the arrangement made by our benevolent Master.
Most practitioners need to work. We have to be mindful about others, maximally conform to ordinary society, and leave the best for the future society. We should also cooperate where we can with other practitioners and fully eliminate any party culture. Our work is one way practitioners can have a positive impact on society; it is a time that has been arranged by Master for us to validate the Fa and save sentient beings. We should treasure this opportunity.
Kindly point out any omissions in my sharing.