Coordinating as One Body While Promoting Shen Yun Shows in Ottawa
Experience Sharing from the 2009 Canada Fa Conference
[PureInsight.org] In January 2007, Ottawa hosted Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time. Although we did not have any experience, we sold all 2300 tickets more than five weeks before the performance. The National Arts Center (NAC) staff told us excitedly that all standing-room tickets were also completely sold out ahead of time, which had never happened at the NAC.
Reflecting on the cultivation path we had walked over the past three years, as one of the main coordinators in the Ottawa Shen Yun promotion team, I deeply feel Master is looking after us with great care, and I have especially witnessed what Master said in “Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference,” when he said, “For Dafa disciples as a whole, in the process of validating the Fa, when you work together in concert, the Fa power is great."
I. Coordinate as a Whole Body
In June 2006, two Falun Dafa Association members in Ottawa were engaged in an important and urgent project—exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) organ harvesting atrocities. So there were differences among fellow practitioners and even among major coordinators about whether we should host Shen Yun Performing Arts in Ottawa during that time. In the end, we made the decision to have one show. Before the decision was made, everyone expressed his views fully, and obviously we did not have a very clear understanding from the perspective of the Fa that Master is rectifying the Fa directly via Shen Yun. But once the decision was made, what was in our mind was to let go of our self and cooperate unconditionally.
The promotion plan was made from an overall consideration of creating the least interference to other projects in validating the Fa and of making the most with the least manpower. Therefore, our plan did not involve the two coordinators of the Falun Dafa Association, who were in charge of exposing the CCP’s organ harvesting atrocities and did not involve fellow practitioners in other major projects. Sponsorship was also connected with the sale of the Epoch Times. No matter who came up with a good idea, others would cooperate fully and support it with righteous thoughts.
Before the ticket selling started, some practitioners expressed that we should achieve the goal of a sell-out environment for the show in order to build a reputation for the future. This thought was acknowledged and acted upon by many practitioners. We drew upon all useful opinions, communicated with each other and did things actively and voluntarily, from selling tickets at malls, putting up posters, distributing flyers effectively, selling tickets in our work places and Chinese communities, to looking for effective media sponsorship, etc. Although there were only about seven practitioners engaged with all their strength, we entered into a state of forgetting ourselves and cooperated very harmoniously and peacefully. Media promotion was in perfect coordination with the ticket selling at malls as if it was arranged by gods. This was so much so that we did not even have time to count how many tickets we had sold for three weeks. Not until the fourth week when a practitioner asked us did we get the information after checking with the NAC, but that was for the first four weeks only. Total tickets sold in malls and the box office were over half, and we still had three months left.
Reflecting on the path we had walked during the first year, each of us personally experienced the boundless power of Dafa when we coordinate as a whole body.
II. “Experience” & “Personal Abilities”
In January 2008, there were two shows in Ottawa, one on Sunday and one on Monday, with a total of 4400 tickets. Due to the smoothness of the first year, I had a show-off mentality and the attachment to validating myself—thinking that my plan and methods were good and forgetting that everything is done by Master. Master pointed it out in Zhuan Falun that: "You see them behaving like nice people in day-to-day life and out in the ordinary world, and they take their reputation and their own gain lightly. But once they stand out a little among their peers, they tend to be affected by reputation and gain."
As a result, the promotion plan in 2008 did not go so smoothly. Every practitioner who had participated previously had some “experience” to some extent, and this “experience” subconsciously became practitioners’ “individual abilities.” Plus the change in work and life, we did not do well in communicating and cooperating. But we are Dafa disciples, and cultivation practice is our priority. At different stages, Master has arranged opportunities to get rid of our human mentalities. If we ignore this, our cultivation practice will stagnate. In fact, by the time when the plan was carried out, we did not look within ourselves; instead, we had complaints and pointed fingers at each other. The consequence was that we could not find any free shopping centers where we could sell tickets and the gap got bigger and bigger among the whole body. Tickets were sold very slowly.
Gradually, we started to realize that we should look within ourselves. Otherwise, it would affect the salvation of sentient beings. After we rectified our hearts and let go of our selves, a miracle appeared. The tickets for the Sunday show were sold out in advance, and 96 percent of the tickets for the two shows were sold, although everyday people thought that it is hard to sell tickets for a Monday show.
After the shows were finished, every fellow practitioner who had participated in the coordination looked within to find what had not been done well, especially what needed to be improved in their cultivation practice. They listened to opinions of other practitioners and discussed ways to improve. They made up their mind to do better next time.
III. 100,000 Flyers
A coordinator should be very clear about the principles of the Fa. That person has the responsibility to catch up when the situation of the Fa rectification changes in order to "Follow Teacher closely, steadfastly cultivating Dafa" (“The Knowing Heart”) and also has the responsibility for the improvement of the whole body. Master said in “Fa Teaching at the U.S. Capital” (2007) that: “The focus for you right now is simply to find ways to do better, to be more efficient, to have a greater impact, and to save more people.”
The population of Ottawa is only 880,000; including people in the nearby cities, it makes a total population of only 1,200,000. In 2009, we cherished the chance that the Falun Dafa Association was in charge of presenting Shen Yun. Although it was hard, in order to aid Master in saving more sentient beings, we decided to have four shows with 8800 tickets in total. From the very beginning, we started to encourage each other, compensate for each other, and harmonize each other. Whoever came up with good ideas, such as using techniques to raise the efficiency of ticket selling, selling tickets at nearby cities, have marketing training and so on, others would cooperate. One of the coordinators helped with the implementation of some good suggestions without attracting public attention. However, not everything was so smooth. The human attachments that hadn’t been removed emerged from time to time.
In August 2008, after the first printing of the Shen Yun flyers came out, we found a big typo on the flyer. The show time for Friday was set for 8:00pm but it was printed as 2:00pm. I felt very uncomfortable in my heart—I had been over-confident and didn’t take enough time for other practitioners to proofread it first and thus it resulted in such a big mistake.
This mistake was on 100,000 Shen Yun flyers! Upon hearing this, one of the coordinators became very upset with me. She blamed me for my strong self that led to such a big mistake. She also listed the words and behaviors I had had for a period of time. She used very sharp words. Another coordinator also echoed her views on the side. At that time, it smelt like gunpowder and the atmosphere was immediately no longer peaceful.
A few days later, another practitioner said, “I have something for all of us to discuss.” She told us what she had seen with her celestial eye. She said that Practitioner Li made a mistake on the printed flyer. Everyone blamed him and he felt very guilty. However, she saw people who blamed Li that day passing their white substance to him. She asked us to think about it.
Later, that coordinator shared with me that it was a great shock to her, like a heavy hammer coming down on her and waking her up. Gradually, she started to not look for others’ mistakes any more. I am really happy for her change.
In fact, this let all of us further understand what Master had said regarding that practitioners should look within unconditionally instead of finding what is right or what is wrong superficially when things happen and conflicts occur. On the surface, it could be the mistake of somebody else. In fact, it is a chance for us all to look within ourselves. When we point out other peoples’ problems, our attitude is very important too. Master also told us that when mistakes are made, instead of correcting the mistakes, we should help harmonize everything. Everyone makes mistakes, so we should be tolerant in our treatment of others. It was a warning to me as well. In the past, we rarely made mistakes because we believed in the power of the whole body. When a person’s self is too strong, the evil will take advantage of the loophole.
Of course, after the mistake was found on those 100,000 flyers, Ottawa practitioners as a whole showed tolerance and optimism. They thought we should not throw away the flyers. Where there is a mistake, there is a correction. So, some bought pens, some divided flyers, and some printed stickers. As a whole, practitioners voluntarily made efforts to correct the error. Some practitioners shared that even though they had not participated in the proofreading and printing of the flyers, they would add positive energy to it when they were correcting the mistake so that ordinary people would genuinely get to know Shen Yun. Later, almost all practitioners participated in the correction work, and all 100,000 flyers were handed out.
IV. Getting Sponsorship
After the first Shen Yun show in Ottawa in 2007, a reporter named G from a main local western media who was manipulated by the CCP wrote an article without watching the show, which led to a very bad effect and caused lots of interference. We had a press conference immediately to expose the lies and to clarify the truth. At the same time, we kept making appointments with G and the president of the newspaper. R is in charge of sponsorship and he watched the show. I kept clarifying the truth to him and shared the praises from the audience with him. However, the CCP did not just let it be. In late 2007, the CCP invited reporter G to have a free trip to China. G went to Sujiatun and wrote a vicious article in an attempt to refute the allegations of the CCP’s organ harvesting atrocities. We continued to clarify the truth to G and the press. While preparing the shows in 2008, due to a lack of righteous thoughts and being alone, I did not get the media sponsorship from this newspaper.
When preparing for the shows in 2009, I realized that I should have strong righteous thoughts that they should sponsor the show to make up for the loss, and this is compassion indeed. After the show was over in January 2008, I had told R, who is in charge of sponsorship for that newspaper, that the show achieved great success. Even though the Chinese Embassy interfered so much, rather than yielding, we doubled the shows and had even greater success. This shocked R strongly. When I requested R to sponsor us, he did not refuse but felt awkward.
Until early July, R agreed to meet me. He invited his colleagues to meet me with him on a Friday. It was not easy! I waited for half a year. That day, before the meeting, I sang the “Fa Rectifies the Cosmos” while driving. Soon, I received a phone call from R, saying that the other person could not make it, so the meeting was cancelled. I asked to arrange another meeting the following week. But R said that he would be on a four-week holiday. I was puzzled and then realized suddenly that: “The desire to show off plus the attachment of zealotry are most easily exploited by the demonic part of your mind” (Essentials for Further Advancement).
Four weeks later, R came back from his holiday. After many phone calls, R finally agreed to meet me in mid-August. By then, I thought of the story told by Master in Zhuan Falun about “cultivating to an Arhat.” I told myself to handle it seriously this time. There should be nothing but the heart to save people. So, I invited another practitioner who had very strong righteous thoughts to go with me and to send forth righteous thoughts for me.
R asked as soon as he met us, “Is the message in the 2009 shows the same as in 2007?” His implication was to ask whether there was content about Falun Gong. I said, “The same. The show intends to promote genuine traditional Chinese culture. The part about Falun Gong is the essence of traditional culture. The show cannot do without it.” R did not say anything about that any more and started to discuss details about sponsorship. After a few days, R told me that they decided to sponsor us and how they were going to sponsor.
This opened up my thinking a lot. I realized that a coordinator has his or her limitations. Any attachment could be an excuse for the old forces to interfere, but when we cooperate well as a whole body, loopholes can be compensated for, and it won’t be that easy to be interfered with. Master told us about “The great Tao has no formality,” and “Since they’re Buddhas, they have a human form. They can also assemble into a form or disperse into matter” (“Teaching the Fa in New York City,” March 23, 1997). In other words, we can arbitrarily form into all kinds of teams and groups, but the form as a whole body can be small or big. A coordinator shared that the situation of ticket selling at a location reflected the overall cultivation status of that location. It was not decided by an individual but the whole energy field. Thus, we should coordinate with each other and support each other. Another coordinator in charge of ticket selling attached great importance doing our best at forming a whole body. She carefully arranged practitioners according to their cultivation status to form the best team and the best energy field to save sentient beings. I saw the distance between myself and others.
V. Renting Space in Malls
In early September of last year, we started to sell tickets on a large scale. Although we seemed to have tried our best, there was quite a distance between the speed of sales and the goal we expected. By mid-October, we didn’t sell even enough for one of the four shows. There were only two and a half months left. The coordination team got really anxious. At the same time, we failed to get permission to sell tickets at a big chain store in east Canada. Since before Christmas is the most effective time to sell tickets, this meant we had lost our planned effective ticket selling environment at this crucial time. On the one hand, the coordinator tried to look within for xinxing problems and other practitioners looked within too. They pointed out that perhaps practitioners in east Canada attached too much importance to this chain store. On the other hand, Ottawa started to initiate another plan: to rent space in November and December in the biggest mall.
A coordinator who is in charge of other major projects other than Shen Yun voluntarily took the responsibility of booking the mall.
Usually, space before Christmas would have been booked before the end of June, with nothing available after that. But we found out quickly that there was space left in the biggest mall. We felt the compassion from Master. Because they did not know much about the truth of Falun Gong, the mall hesitated about whether they should give us the space. After constant clarification of the truth, we got the space eventually. However, disagreement occurred at this time about purchasing space in the mall.
A coordinator came to me and said that it was too expensive to spend over $10,000 for two months and worried whether it would lead to a barrier for us to find free space as a non-profit organization in the future. I was very confident and said strongly, “There won’t be any barrier.” At the same time, I said in the manner of an order, “This is quality time. The cost is even lower than what we would have paid the chain store. I am expecting to spend 10 percent to 15 percent of our revenue to cover the cost. Let’s just do it.” Due to my insistence, the coordinator did not insist on her opinion. So we rented the space in the first mall. I immediately spent several hours to arrange people to sell tickets there.
Master pointed it out in Essentials for Further Advancement, “Clearheadedness,” that: “While working, your tone of voice, your kind-heartedness, and your reasoning can change a person’s heart, whereas commands never could!” I also understood more what Master said in Essentials for Further Advancement, “Expounding on the Fa” that: “Dafa is harmonizing all sentient beings, and all sentient beings are also harmonizing Dafa.” I realized that even if it is a good idea to validate Dafa, while harmonizing Dafa, we should not simply impose our understanding on others. We should think more about others, taking others’ ability to understand and accept things into consideration.
After a week, the tickets sold very well at the mall. Soon, that coordinator took over the arrangements for that mall schedule and phoned me to ask whether we should rent space in another mall because the income of residents around the other mall was relatively higher. I saw immediately that this practitioner was not attached to her idea and had a better understanding by watching other coordinators and following the Fa principle: “But true improvements come from letting go, not from gaining” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.”). After that, I realized again and again that on many occasions, what is important is not the method itself but our heart to harmonize Dafa and let go of self.
VI. The Last Month of Ticket Selling
From early September to the end of November—within three months—we sold 4000 tickets. When December came, we still had 4800 tickets left. The coordination team started to see the difficulty in selling 4800 tickets within one month.
Putting in a lot of hard work for a long time, the coordinator in charge of ticket management hardly had time to sleep. It was quite difficult for her to stay up until three or four o’clock in the morning—sometimes she would stay up until six o’clock—in order to divide the tickets for the next day. At this time, one practitioner offered to help her with the division of tickets. One coordinator offered to take over shift arrangements for the malls. More and more practitioners stepped forward. And the coordinator in charge of other major projects also stopped what she was working on and cooperated with ticket selling. Some practitioners took time off from work, one postponed his graduation date, and another decided to wait a little longer to start a family.
However, we ran into another unexpected difficulty. On December 10, 2008, the transportation system in Ottawa announced a strike due to salary and other issues with the city. All buses stopped running. Ticket selling at the two malls where we rented space was affected too. Traffic in the malls began to decrease. At the same time, some people wanted to return tickets, saying that without buses they couldn’t come to watch the show. But Ottawa practitioners did not let their hearts be moved. We sent forth righteous thoughts to get rid of the interference. And we did not count on external changes since we knew our internal changes were what was fundamental.
On December 14, 2008, only two and a half weeks before the show, and we had 3200 tickets left. It was a very critical time. The coordination team called an urgent experience sharing meeting. One coordinator shared the urgency of saving people and hoped that we did not leave any regrets behind. Other practitioners shared that we needed to keep a pure heart by eliminating tiresome human mentalities using righteous thoughts. The most important thing was that no matter how busy, how tired we were, we should insist on studying the Fa and doing the exercises. Belief in the Fa and in Master is the guarantee for everything. Some practitioners shared how to strengthen sending forth righteous thoughts. Some shared the importance of practitioners at each sales location to harmonize with each other and to support each other. Some shared their understanding that Master had assigned every seat to a being to be saved, and we should just try our best to make it happen. We encouraged each other that it was our fortune to endure a bit of suffering at this important moment. If we did not do well, there would be no time left for regrets. One coordinator who works in a small business had already taken six weeks off from work. Other coordinators and practitioners working in companies spent all their time selling tickets during the final stage of promotion. Some practitioners and coordinators who did not get involved in selling tickets took good care of other projects and things related to the show.
At the time, I saw that Ottawa practitioners were facing huge difficulties but treated every sentient being passing by with their divine thoughts and compassion to save them. They spread the beauty of Shen Yun to people in the world. I felt practitioners as a whole achieved a state of having “no energy channels and no acupuncture points” as if the macro-cosmic orbits were completely open. Everyone worked voluntarily, compensated for each other, supported each other, and cooperated with each other. Everyone became a coordinator. That unprecedented activeness touched me.
Master pointed out that: “The beings that are handled with benevolent solutions are assimilated to the Fa by the best method. And Dafa disciples are getting something even better than a benevolent solution, because Dafa disciples are cultivating proactively, and cultivating themselves toward the future, so it's more precious than being benevolently resolved” (“Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Western U.S. Fa Conference”).
Perhaps, the unshakable firmness, the silent cooperation, and the contribution of every disciple in Ottawa moved the righteous gods in this universe. Miracles occurred. Within ten days after the experience sharing, we sold 2000 tickets! The highest selling record in one of the malls was 100 tickets a day. Box offices and Ticket Master’s highest record was 95 tickets a day.
I felt deeply that coordination is just a form and it is Master who strengthens us and it is the Fa of the cosmos that coordinates us all.
Out of the 8800 tickets for four shows, we sold 8620 tickets—about 98 percent. Seeing so many people being saved, we felt the boundless compassion of Master. We appreciated that Master gave us a precious chance to upgrade as a whole body.
VII. After the Show
Every year in coordinating for the shows, due to the pressure and stress from all aspects, as coordinators we could be strict with ourselves, measure ourselves with the Fa standards, and harmonize everything. However, there were tests in our individual cultivation that we didn’t completely pass everything at the time. After the show came to an end, conflicts followed. I felt Master’s compassion in giving so much care for our salvation.
After this year’s shows, the conflicts between another coordinator and I occurred again. There were also conflicts with another contact in the area. She put forward a suggestion: the Federal Government work in Ottawa is very important; we should try our best to present Shen Yun when the House session is open again. She suggested hosting more shows in May and presenting Shen Yun when the House is open next year. Other coordinators had different opinions. And I had my thoughts too. We all stuck to our own reason for about four weeks and did not give up our own thoughts. In the end, we found that it was getting hard to find a theatre for next year and realized that we had to cultivate ourselves better or big losses would occur.
A coordinator came to me and wanted to address the problem of our cultivation practice. That night, the four coordinators had a meeting. One of them pointed out my problem in cultivation. She said, “Li has had more and more experience in hosting the Shen Yun shows, and therefore has become stronger and stronger, preferring good words. In fact, the Federal Government work is really important. It is not a bad idea for the coordinator to make that suggestion. Of course, you see the limitation of the idea. But the fundamental issue is that her suggestion is against yours and made you feel uncomfortable.”
I admired this practitioner’s straightforwardness and incisiveness. I remembered what Master said in “Teaching the Fa at the 2004 International Fa Conference in New York: “Why is it that at times you see arguments coming up a lot, and sometimes the arguments go on and on? Why is it that in validating the Fa, disciples' opinions are time and again not unified? …What's the real problem? It's very simple—it is a question of whether you are validating the Fa or validating yourself.” I realized more and more the need to constantly get rid of self. We should not slack off after the shows are over and leave a loophole for the evil.
In closing, I would like to discuss a bit about facing conflicts and tribulations. In the past, I kept saying that when everything went smoothly in validating Dafa, we felt the enormous compassion of Master. But recently, I understood more and more the other side of a god’s compassion during conflicts and in tribulations. I understood more about the lyrics written by Master for the Shen Yun performance, “Why Refuse,” that “Compassion is the eternal state of a god.” Master mentioned in the recent lecture “Teaching the Fa to Australian Disciples” (DVD) that: “It is a good thing no matter what you come across in cultivation practice.” Master also said that when we are in tribulations, “It is simply an excellent thing. Even gods may feel jealous” [Editor’s note: Not from formal source of translation]. I was deeply touched by what Master said.
Master pointed out in Zhuan Falun, “Practicing in total comfort—who’s ever heard of that? That’s how you think about it, from an ordinary person’s standpoint ... Of course, that Buddha won’t step in. That tribulation was set up by him, and it was to improve your character so that you can improve yourself through the challenges.”
I see that sometimes I do things with a selfish heart. I realize that what gods do is totally different from the standpoint of human beings. The standpoint of gods is “for others.” Master said in “Teaching the Fa at the 2004 Western U.S. Fa Conference” that, “Selfishness is a fundamental attribute of the cosmos of the past. Because of that attribute, formation-stasis-degeneration-destruction and birth-aging-sickness-death are inevitable. In the future the Fa will be all-harmonizing, perfect, and selfless.”
Recently, I participated in addressing problems existing in different areas. I found a general phenomenon that coordinators are attached to self. I realized that it is not a coincidence for me to handle this. It not only helps me get rid of this attachment, but also makes me realize that it is a serious form of persecution of the whole body by the old forces if coordinators are attached to self. The old forces enlarge this attachment, not only achieving the goal of strengthening the persecution of the coordinators, but also of dividing the whole body and interfering with the Fa rectification of the area or even larger areas.
The path of cultivation practice is actually very narrow. I will study the Fa well, upgrade my xinxing, and walk the most righteous path I can. I will deny the path of “self” arranged by the old forces. I will follow the righteous principle of the universe and walk on a path of “selflessness and altruism,” a path “for others.”
In promoting Shen Yun this past year, we involved many Dafa disciples and there was quite a gap between the resources we made use of and the scope of what Master expected us to achieve in saving sentient beings and what the Fa requires of us. How can we can we become truly professional in our way of promoting the shows and “selling tickets” and have Shen Yun shows year around? How can we achieve the goal of saving more people by using the least manpower and resources? That is what we need to break through as a whole body.
Thank you Master!
Thank you, fellow practitioners!