My Cultivation in Falun Dafa
Sterling Campbell, New York, USA
My name is Sterling Campbell and I am thirty-five years old. I was born and raised in New York City and I am a musician.
My goals from an early age were to achieve fame and fortune through music. When I graduated from high school, I spent all of my energy studying music because I wanted to make music. Most of my time was spent performing in clubs or rehearsing with numerous bands. My musical skills began to develop during this period. I started getting attention on the New York music scene. In 1986 I was asked to audition for a famous entertainer to go on a world tour. I felt confident I could pass the audition, which I did. We began the tour a couple weeks later and traveled extensively around the world. Our concerts were praised by both the public and the media, and I was constantly showered with compliments. Because of this grand exposure, I was able to establish my name in the music industry. After the tour, I was in demand. I began recording on numerous albums and continued to tour with prominent artists. I was enjoying my newly found success, but, unfortunately, I was beginning to fall into traps. My five-year relationship with my girl friend ended, mainly due to my selfishness and infidelities. I was deeply obsessed with my career and social status. I always tried to be a good person, but I found myself using goodness for personal gain. At this time I had no idea that I was doing anything wrong. My career continued to flourish in the 90's. I came into contact with new people, places and temptations.
Up to this point, drugs were taboo in my life. It was the one thing I prided myself for never doing, but I eventually became a victim to that temptation, too. I began taking all kinds of drugs and started drinking alcohol daily. To make matters worse, I developed a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. This trend continued almost everyday for eight years. After a while, I became very depressed and ashamed of myself. I couldn't believe I let this happen. I was very angry with myself and would constantly put myself down. When I grew tired of blaming myself, I tried to blame my family, my friends or the music business. My confidence and self-esteem were shattered. I became increasingly paranoid around people and just hid away in my apartment. This was a very dark time. I wanted to change it, but I did not know how. I started taking Yoga, Taichi and seeking therapy but to no avail. I continued my addictions. It felt like imprisonment.
In 1998, I was introduced to Falun Dafa while I was taking an early morning walk in the park. I saw a group of women practicing and a pamphlet was handed to me by one of the practitioners. The next day, I called the contact person and she explained that Falun Dafa was an advanced cultivation practice of mind and body and that it would improve both your health and well-being. She also mentioned that it would not cost me any money. Before Falun Dafa I was quite cynical about a lot of these spiritual things due to the fact that I spent thousands of dollars on people who were putting a price on spirituality and universal matters, so I was surprised that she mentioned it would not cost me any money. The next day, I went to the practice site to learn the exercises. There are five movements to the series and they are very easy to learn. After the practice, I began to ask more questions. The practitioner, seeing that I was interested, offered me the book Zhuan Falun by Master Li Hongzhi. She said the book could explain Falun Dafa in more detail. I began reading the book later that day. The more I read the more I was drawn into the book. I felt I was in the presence of something very unique and immense. There are no words to describe the feeling that came over me. I knew that I had found the ultimate truth. I began going to the park every morning to practice the exercise and read Falun Dafa book Zhuan Falun. Within a month, my drug, alcohol and cigarette addiction had all disappeared. I couldn't believe this was happening.
In Zhuan Falun, Master Li constantly talks about giving up all attachments. In hindsight, my substance addictions seemed like an easy task, not knowing that I was just uncovering the surface of the true source of my attachments. Fears, jealousy, showing off, competition, selfishness, fame--all of these things were attachments in my heart, but I was too blind to see it or didn't want to see it. I figured, " Well, I'll just practice hard to get rid of these attachments like I did the others." I made it sound so easy but it is the hardest task I've ever encountered. Because of the speedy recovery from drugs & alcohol, I wasn't satisfied with the results of my new task. I began feeling unworthy and depressed. When I practiced with others, I would become competitive and jealous. I was treating it like a racing competition. All the things I was trying to get rid of would not go away. I could not tolerate people making more progress than me, so I began to keep my distance from other practitioners. The depression got deeper, and I felt I was abusing this wonderful gift that I was given.
What was even harder was trying to cultivate while being among my family and friends. Everything changed for me so fast that my friends and family could not understand what was happening. They could not understand my behavior--especially when I began struggling with the practice. I was trying to become a better person and to achieve enlightenment. But my energy, at times, was going in the wrong direction. I started to become self-righteous and critical at times. It was always an after thought when I realized what I was doing. In fact I became more aware all the time of my personality. I found I was able to stop myself from doing something wrong and, at the same time, uncover a new habit that I had been unaware of. This was part of the process.
About a year after I started practicing, my music career began to gain momentum again. Everything felt different. For so long I equated music to drugs, alcohol or being promiscuous. I now reject such notions. I'm still challenged with other obstacles, but I am determined to change them. I can't imagine my life without Falun Dafa, and I hope others can experience what my fellow practitioners and I have. Falun Dafa has set me on the right path.
I would like to thank all of the practitioners for their wonderful support and to Master Li for guiding me to truth.