[The following article appears in the book Hearts and Minds Uplifted--The Power of Falun Dafa, first published by the Clearwisdom editors in 2006. The many short stories in this book were written by people of all ages, from many countries, and from all walks of life. They are all very personal and unique, and yet they share a common theme: the tremendous spiritual growth that comes from practicing Falun Gong. For more information or to order Hearts and Minds Uplifted, please see: http://www.mhbooks.org/mhbooks/index.php?target=products&product_id=29937&sl=EN ]

(Clearwisdom.net) As I grew older and experienced many ups-and-downs in my life, I felt sad and sorry that I was born into a world where people fight when their self-interests are infringed upon in the slightest way. "Why has mankind fallen so low and become so corrupt?" I asked in despair. "Where can I find a piece of pure land?" From elementary school to college, I often had the desire to explore the mysteries of life.

In 1998, I graduated from a university and started my career. I never stopped my search for the meaning of life. I tried to find answers in books of all kinds: philosophy, Buddhism, history, etc. I would pick up a book full of hope, but end up putting it down in disappointment.

Finally, I stopped looking for answers. I put my heart into poetry, literature, music, and having fun with friends. Although I was busy, I had a sense of being lost and felt sorrow deep in my heart, so much so that I hid from others at times.

Seemingly by a chance, something happened that changed my life at the time of the 2002 Chinese New Year.

Right before the Chinese New Year festivities began, I received several emails about Falun Gong. They claimed that the persecution of Falun Gong was "the greatest injustice in history," and that "China Central Television was framing Falun Gong." Because the information in the emails was so different from the official propaganda, I thought it was not very believable.

I went back to my hometown during the Chinese New Year. While chatting with my father, who is a policeman, I learned that Falun Gong practitioners are indeed not like the people described in the Chinese media. On the contrary, they really are good people, surprisingly good people. I was very surprised and confused at the same time. "If they are such good people," I wondered, "then why is the government spreading such a big lie and making so much effort against them?"

After the Chinese New Year, I went back to work in City A. Driven by my curiosity, I tried to use the Internet to get more information about Falun Gong. I wanted to visit the Minghui/Clearwisdom website and see what Falun Gong was all about. When I couldn't break through the Internet blockade, I visited a colleague's mother when I heard that she practiced Falun Gong.

This lady kindly told me about Falun Gong and described her family situation. She told me about the changes she had experienced since she started practicing in 1996. She told me that her whole family lived in harmony until 1999, when Falun Gong began to be slandered and persecuted by Jiang Zemin and the Chinese Communist Party. Hearing her story was like waking up from a dream. I was shocked by what had happened in the land of China.

When I got back home I watched the video CD she had given me. The video showed an elderly farmer who had walked to Tiananmen Square from Shanxi province just to tell people that Falun Dafa is good. On his journey, he lived and camped in the open, and had worn out nine pairs of shoes. The video showed how the government mischaracterized the appeal that took place on April 25, 1999, yet the picture showed the facts: about ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners had peacefully appealed to the government. This is a government that has a reputation for brutality. Yet so many people, knowing they could face death, were willing to disregard their own lives and appeal on behalf of Falun Gong. They looked so calm, so peaceful, and so unperturbed.

Here was a group of ordinary citizens who were willing to sacrifice so much: not for fame, not for self-interest, but only to clarify the truth to everyone. I was deeply moved by their extraordinary heroism. When I saw that people kept holding up their banners on Tiananmen Square with the words, "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," even when the police were beating them, I could not stop my tears. With extraordinary actions, these people demonstrated unbelievable selflessness and great virtue! They were clearly using their lives to protect kindness, to defend justice, and to call out to others' consciences. In an instant, the banners they held above their heads with the three words, "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," made me understand everything they were doing. At that moment, I made the best decision in my life, a decision I will never regret: "I want to be one of them."

On that day, March 3, 2002, I declared to my friends, "I want to be a Falun Gong practitioner." Seeing their astonished looks, I earnestly explained to them, "Falun Gong practitioners have been wrongly accused. They are good people, and they are being persecuted! I am going to tell everyone I know about the truth of the persecution!" In the atmosphere of violence and intimidation in China, and out of concern for my safety, my friends immediately called my father and informed him of this shocking news. My father rushed to see me the very next day.

My father lectured me for a long time, and I also heard my mother crying over the phone. They were deeply hurt by my "impulsive" decision. My father knew that Falun Gong is good. In his eyes, however, I was like a moth flying into a flame; my mother didn't understand the truth, and she believed that a person should just go with the flow in all situations. They pressured me to give up my choice. My father even threatened to sever our father-son relationship.

Because I chose to cultivate in Falun Gong, my family might become divided, I might lose my job, and I might be put in jail and persecuted at any moment. All of a sudden, I faced a pressure I had never experienced before. At that moment, I began to experience firsthand the unimaginable difficulties behind every step and every decision made by those Falun Gong practitioners. The scene from Tiananmen Square where the banners were recurrently held up high by the practitioners came to my mind. Deep inside my soul a voice told me, "For justice, for compassion, I will never give in!" Finally, I told my father, "Dad, I do not regret my decision. Even if I am going to be put in jail and beaten to death, I will not regret it." Knowing he could not change my mind, my father left feeling disappointed and worried three days later.

I started to study Master Li's books, from Essentials for Further Advancement and Guiding the Voyage, to Zhuan Falun. Although my understanding was not deep, my soul was deeply touched over and over again. I was moved and convinced by the profound principles of the Fa. My wish to cultivate became firmer and firmer. All my doubts about human society and life disappeared. I no longer felt self-pity from living in a world full of evil and deceit. I no longer felt lost because I lacked purpose and direction in life. I no longer felt sad for all those sentient beings who could not escape the misery of having feelings such as resentment and hatred. On the contrary, I felt fortunate to be living in the time when Falun Dafa is spreading around the world. I felt very proud of choosing the path of cultivation, because this is the path along which I can return to my true self. I felt joyful and encouraged for the infinite grace and compassion that have come to the human world.

I started to learn the exercises, and went from doing the single leg crossing position to doing the double leg crossing position. I endured fatigue during the standing meditation, and the discomfort of the sitting meditation. I became more convinced that Falun Dafa is true to its name and reputation. My confidence in practicing grew, as well.

Looking back over the past year, I have changed from being hostile towards Dafa to becoming a Dafa practitioner. I am grateful to the unknown practitioner who sent me the email, my father, and my colleague's mother. If it were not for them, I would still be wandering along a path to nowhere. From personal cultivation to validating Dafa, I am grateful for all the help and encouragement from my fellow practitioners. I am also grateful for the teaching and numerous enlightenment opportunities provided by Master. Only with all this help and support am I able to improve step by step.

Most of my friends think that this choice of mine is rather foolish; they even feel sorry for me. For someone who has not experienced cultivation firsthand, I can understand their confusion, but when a person's heart is filled with concern for others, when a person's heart is filled with kindness and justice, when a person's heart is filled with the truth of the universe, then personal gain becomes insignificant. Nothing can cause a cultivator's firm belief in the universal principles and truth to waver.