Music Teacher: Letting Go of Ego and Guiding My Students with Dafa’s Principles
(Minghui.org) Soon after I graduated from university I became a middle school music teacher. Coincidentally, the first school arts festival was held by our city and I choreographed a group dance and was the lead dancer. We won the first prize and made our township proud.
I was given many opportunities to go on stage and showcase my dancing, singing and ability to play the pipa (a traditional Chinese instrument similar to a lute), which I'd studied in college.
I was self-centered and pursued status and self-interest at others’ expense. When we prepared to represent our township in a city-sponsored performing arts event, we rehearsed two programs. However, one of the programs had to be canceled due to insufficient funding. Out of frustration and revenge, we withdrew our other program.
Letting Go of Ego and Self-interest
I began practicing Falun Dafa in spring 1998, and learned that “Zhen-Shan-Ren is the Sole Criterion to Discern Good and Bad People.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun) (Zhen-Shan-Ren is Chinese for Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance).
Guided by these higher standards, all of my shortcomings were exposed and I corrected them.
In July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the brutal persecution against Falun Dafa. I was transferred to an elementary school in the remote countryside. I knew that the authorities had no reason to demote me because I had done an excellent job. But at that time I had no concept of resisting the persecution. I thought that I shouldn’t give the authorities a hard time and I shouldn’t be afraid of hardship, so I silently accepted the unreasonable demotion.
Due to a shortage of schoolteachers at the elementary school, I was not able to stick to my subject. I had to teach things I hadn’t trained for. Over the past 20 years I’ve probably taught every subject.
In China’s education system, students’ grades are used to measure the teacher’s performance and determine their evaluation and promotion. Consequently, students have become teachers’ vehicles for pursuing self-interest.
To improve a student’s academic record, verbal and physical punishment was the norm. Teachers would encourage the students to cheat, and would even go so far as to correct the students’ answers after their test papers were turned in. Some teachers even asked their coworkers to change their students’ scores, or bribe the authorities to change the students’ ranks. Some even obtained their students’ tests from the Education Bureau ahead of time... I’ve seen many inappropriate things.
How should I behave in this corrupt environment? I couldn’t engage in this behavior and I should try my best to guide my students. I believed that maintaining high morals is part of their education, so I taught my students to be honest, kind, tolerant and forgiving. I planted the seeds of goodness in their young hearts.
The school authorities and my coworkers remarked that they felt good around me. One principal said that being around me was “like a spring breeze.” They praised my teaching ability, my mandarin, handwriting and other talents. The vice principal joked that I was a “talented lady” and added, “When I hear parents referring to the teacher who has the best temperament, I know they must be talking about you.”
Everyone approved of me even though I had no titles and didn’t win any honors. I did not pursue status or self-interest and just focused on my teaching. I strove to be a good example and to teach my students well.
I laughed when one parent told me, “My son says you’re like his mom.” I didn’t accept gifts, but when I couldn’t refuse them, I would find a way to gift back in an equivalent amount. Another Dafa practitioner who works in another school also did the same thing.
The parents knew that we practitioners cared about little self-interest, and were very respectful to us even after their children had graduated.
Maintaining a Calm Heart
As my cultivation progressed, I no longer cared about being unfairly treated. I won the women’s championship in a teacher’s table tennis tournament, but when the person who came in second was sent to the city-level competition, I didn’t care.
I later won first prize in the teacher’s speech contest held in the township. The township education committee told me to get ready to participate at the city level. In the end, I wasn’t sent to the contest. When someone who scored lower than me was sent, I did not care.
Another time, I was passed over for the “Distinguished Teacher Award.” I was teaching first grade math that year and my class, among two dozen classes, was in the top 3 in every quarter. When the new school year started, my students were assigned to another teacher.
I won “The First Prize in Teaching Quality” that year. Given that and my students’ good grades, I should have ranked pretty high, but I was only ranked eighth, missing the “Distinguished Teacher Award” by just one place.
After the awards ceremony, I overheard someone saying that the ranking often had errors. I wondered if that was true in my case so I mentioned it to the principal. The principal had the ranking recalculated and it turned out there was a mistake and I should have been in the top 7. I asked the principal what he planned to do, and he said, “If only you'd mentioned this sooner. Now the awards have been given out.”
I did not want to give the principal a hard time, so I said, “It’s fine.” If I didn’t practice Falun Dafa, I would have made the principal correct the mistake in the township or at least apologize to me and promise to put me in the next round of awards.
The husband of the teacher who won the award happened to be on the committee who did the ranking. When the principal told the teacher her award should have been given to me, she was very upset and said, “I’d rather destroy it than give it back!”
If I weren’t a practitioner, I might have tried to claim the prize from her, or had an argument with the principle, or even brought the drama to the township. But I did not do any of these things.
“If something is yours, you will not lose it. If something is not yours, you will not have it even if you fight for it.” (Lecture Seven, Zhuan Falun)
The following school year, I had to take over that teacher’s class as she began her maternity leave. Two months later, I was given another “Teaching Quality Award.”
Later on, at the performance evaluation, with my two “Teaching Quality” awards and a few stage performance award certificates, I was promoted along with those who held a stack of awards. I gained a deeper understanding of that Fa principle.
Stopping Violence with Peacefulness
One day, as students were leaving school at the end of the day, someone reported a drunken man holding a brick and making trouble. The principal and I ran outside to stop him.
I remembered Master’s words,
“If you do not help stop a murder or arson, what would you get involved with?” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun)
A young man was holding a brick. Two female teachers stood within 6 feet of him. Both looked terrified. The vice dean was yelling at the drunk, “Don’t you dare!”
The elementary students were lined up about 12 feet from the man. There were so many of them that they would not be able to quickly disperse. If the drunken man attacked the students, the consequences would be unthinkable.
I walked right up to him and said, “Give it to me.” He gave me a vicious look. I was not afraid. I looked him in the eyes calmly and said again kindly, “Give it to me.” The ferocity in his eyes suddenly disappeared, and he handed me the brick. I tossed it into the flower bed.
“If you want to be a practitioner, it all depends on cultivating your heart and on you, yourself being enlightened since there are no role models.” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun)
Only when a practitioner conducts themself according to the Fa, are their actions most righteous and effective.