(Minghui.org) Revered Master, Dear fellow practitioners,

I began cultivating in Falun Dafa less than a year ago.

When I look back at the years before that, I can see how they were all preparing me for that moment. I can see how they tempered my character so that when Dafa appeared at my doorstep I would be able to identify it and accept it.

I was blessed with parents who raised me wisely and with affection. My parents’ moral standards, regarding speech and behavior, were always very high. But they never leaned toward the spiritual, nor did they believe in the existence of things beyond this tangible material world.

Growing up in a completely atheistic environment, I was made to believe that there was a material explanation for each and every phenomenon, and that if there was no such explanation, then it probably didn't exist.

Throughout the years, and thanks to many wise people whom I met as I made my way through life, this absolute atheism eroded. However, on the surface I still had this very strong notion that there was no reality that was not tangible or material.

But something inside me knew that there must be something beyond. I searched far and wide, in better and lesser ways. Psychologists, mediums, shamans, "masters"—lots of money, time, and hopes spent and wasted.

Each time I let go of my inner quest, I had an accident, which I knew for certain was meant to put me back on track. Gradually, I came to understand that there indeed existed a mountaintop that could be reached. But it was nowhere to be found. There were paths that seemed very good at the beginning, and I tried taking them, but I found that I couldn't. Other paths I found deterring to begin with.

I couldn't keep up my meditation practice. I looked everywhere for a role model, but in vain. I started accepting the thought that I might have to pave the way for myself.

It was clear to me already that I was here for a reason: I came here to elevate and to improve myself. I had a clear feeling that every hardship I encountered was a challenge and a test. But I was still under the control of the old materialistic logic. I fantasized about the day when I would be able to settle the conflict between the two: my scientific skepticism - the logical thinking style which I was very proud of - and my inner knowledge that there was a greater reality than the tangible reality I could perceive with my senses.

My husband's view on this whole journey of mine was a source of amusement. From his point of view, it was clear, as it still is today, that this pursuit of the ultimate truth is futile. He firmly believes that we are merely products of an evolutionary process, that the whole universe was created by chance, and that we, too, inhabit it by chance; there is no higher purpose for our existence except for the ones we invent by ourselves and for ourselves. My logical-skeptical side used to share this viewpoint, and, to a certain degree, still does to this very day.

When I learned about people who turned to monasticism, I was filled with a strong yearning and a feeling of missing out on something. During those years I raised a family, and I knew that this option was not feasible for me. I had a strong yearning to go all the way on a spiritual path, but I thought that it was too late for me, and I also couldn't find any such a path. I was already able to envision the mountain, and could imagine its top, and how lots of small curved paths were leading to it, none of which was meant for me. And in this vision I was walking a very unclear path in the approximate direction of the envisioned mountaintop. Sometimes I was walking all alone, and sometimes in the company of others. I really enjoyed the way, the view, the journey, but deep inside I knew that it would come to an end one day without any results, and without me knowing whether I had really reached that mountaintop at all.

I found comfort in my professional vocation, which allowed me to touch the sublime. I worked as a therapist, finding solutions to personal conflicts and hardships through bodywork and motion. When I stood in front of groups, I would feel that something greater than me was guiding me. I felt that I was only a vessel conveying divine grace to others. I envisioned a huge tube standing between heaven and earth, filled with grace, love, and light. I knew that, throughout the ages, great enlightened people, such as the historical Buddha and Jesus, drew their power from it. I envisioned how my colleagues and I found a small slit through which some of this divine abundance could come through.

This was my situation a year ago. I was very busy, successful at work, appreciated, with wonderful kids and a loving husband, and had a strong and healthy body. I knew that I had a path to take and was grateful for it, except I wasn't really sure what that path was. I wasn't sure whether it led anywhere, and couldn't tell for sure whether I was on it or not. I felt frustrated. I waited for a sign, for something or someone to show me the way. On the other hand, I was so busy supporting my family and taking care of my children, and supporting my husband's new business, that if a real Buddha had appeared at my doorstep and handed me the Fa, I would have told him to come back later, when I had more time.

And then, suddenly, I got a mysterious disease that sapped all my energy. I knew for certain that it was the sign I had been waiting for. I knew that it was an opportunity for introspection, and that there was a lesson to be learned. But I didn't know what that lesson was.

In the meantime, I was shooting in all directions. I wasted a fortune on therapy, counseling, mediums, shamans, and food additives. I took antibiotics and went to see various experts. But my situation only deteriorated.

I tried to look within to understand what my lesson was. I let go of many attachments in that process, including letting go of life and then choosing life again. I gained many insights, but I didn't improve whatsoever.

In one of the spiritual books I used to read, I found a precise description of the "New Man" - the righteous, enlightened person of the new age. It was a very accurate description of what I had in mind. I wept with joy at finally finding precisely what I was looking for, and I was willing to join, on the very same day, any group, religion, or school that would lead me there.

I called the person who gave me the book, but after a short conversation I realized that, as far as he and the others who promoted the book were concerned, the ideal described in the book was only an imaginary, impractical, and unachievable ideal. So, in the meantime, they only settled for trying to become slightly better human beings. When I hung up the phone I had tears in my eyes. Was there really no way to get there? I knew I couldn't make it alone. I needed someone to lead me.

On the verge of despair, I found Dafa, or, more precisely, Dafa found me. An acquaintance of my husband, who heard that I was ill, called me and offered to have me come and practice Falun Dafa with him. The words "Falun Dafa" seemed very familiar right from the start, and there was no question in my heart whatsoever whether I should try it or not.

That same evening I searched the website and began learning from the exercises videos. As that practitioner recommended, I started listening to the audio lectures in English. The following day, I suddenly got worse. I was considering hospitalization. I found it difficult to stand, to sit, or even to breathe. I finally decided to postpone going to the hospital. The following day I improved slightly. The practitioner and his wife visited me and we all practiced together.

I wanted to keep listening to the audio lectures, but it was a bit hard for me to understand the English. Then, a fellow practitioner told me that there was a book with the lectures in Hebrew. My husband and I were invited to dinner that evening at some friends of ours. I told my friend about Falun Dafa, and she said, "Hey, we have a Falun Dafa book. My husband found it. Would you like to take it?" She took a copy of Zhuan Falun from the shelf and handed to me. I don't know how long that book had been lying there on the shelf, waiting for me. A few days later, I was already able to practice for a whole hour, whereas before I was not even able to stand for 15 minutes.

I kept practicing the exercises and reading one lecture per day. In about a week or two I was standing on my feet again. I gradually returned to work and was able to take care of my domestic affairs and my family. My mountains of food additives were replaced by one single book, and all at once I found a way, with a strong sense of direction, guidance, meaning, and good health.

The concepts of looking within, of seeing every hardship as an opportunity for growth, always seeking the truth, and trying to always speak the truth, were not completely new to me. I had tried to elevate and improve myself even before, but, all the same, something had profoundly changed.

There was no more room for compromise. Prior to receiving the Fa it was clear to me that I was making the rules and thus could also bend them. Suddenly, that responsibility was taken from me. If, before, life was a sequence of moral compromises, while seeing the gap between the ideal and reality, and standing helpless, now I could see every ideal and walk towards it with confidence. I sometimes stumbled, and I am still far from reaching that ideal, but I am no longer compromising. Every step is just a milestone along the path.

Before, I was lost in the foothills of the mountain, stumbling along from one dead-end to another. Now, suddenly, I could see this great path opening right ahead of me, leading directly to the top. Though it is steep, hard, and elusive, it is nonetheless a clear path.

Everything I had said, and everything I had done in the past, suddenly became clear to me, and had its own place in the jigsaw puzzle of my life. Each and every occurrence in my personal history suddenly became meaningful in retrospect. Suddenly, the vague awareness I had turned into very firm knowledge. It was suddenly so clear to me that the principles I was looking for throughout my whole life were simply "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance." How could I not have seen this before?

Suddenly my work gained a whole different meaning. I realized that what I had been doing for the past ten years was actually seeking truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

And, since then, well, I keep walking my path. I still falter, sometimes falling back into the habit of looking for a material explanation for something that occurs. Skepticism is the first thing that jumps into my mind whenever I encounter something. I still cling to my attachments.

It is easier for me to let go of attachments I already considered bad before cultivating. But the "good" attachments--affection for my husband and children, pursuing physical fitness and health, seeking spiritual euphoria, excitement, and a sense of connection with nature and to others--I still cling to those.

It is easier for me to accept the parts of the Fa that go along well with my older views of life, as opposed to the parts that contradict them.

Whenever my body is cleansed, and the dirty things leave it and I experience pain, I still want to complain, just like a little child complaining about the filth that comes out when she cleans her room. But, exactly as a child trusts her mother that everything will be fine, I try to have faith in Master that He will eventually settle everything for the best.

I know for sure that I am being taken care of, because, so far, during this whole year, no matter how much I have suffered, how many symptoms have reappeared, how much I hurt, my performance was never affected. I might squirm with pain the whole night through, but when I have to get up in the morning and take care of things at home and go to work, even if my legs tremble and shake and I feel that I am about to pass out, people around me don’t notice a thing.

Even when I had to travel down south for a few intense days as part of an important project, the night before I was trembling and sweating in bed, tossing and turning all night long. However, I didn't think of canceling my trip, because I knew that it was only karma leaving my body, and that the next morning I would be at work with full strength, because Master would not allow any symptoms of diseases to impede my performance in ordinary human society, and would not allow them to damage the opinion that my workplace colleagues have about Dafa. Ever since I went back to work, I haven't missed a single day. I have become more clear-minded and efficient, and my colleagues know that it is all owing to Falun Dafa.

Two weeks after I began practicing, when I was already functioning well at home but hadn't yet returned to work, I ran up the stairs and twisted my ankle. I didn't pay any attention to it, and kept on walking normally and doing whatever I was supposed to do. I went to bed as usual.

In the middle of the night, I woke up with pain in my foot. It took me several moments to recall that I had twisted it. But at that moment I didn't remember that I was a Dafa disciple, and I applied some lotion to my leg to relieve the pain. The pain grew worse until I couldn't lie in bed anymore. Every position was painful, so much so that I couldn't breathe. I didn't know what to do, but then I suddenly remembered who I was.

I somehow managed to limp to the living room, supporting myself against the walls and furniture. I laid a blanket on the floor with some pillows and laid down in an awkward position with one leg up on the couch. I started studying Zhuan Falun. I realized that, because I was treating myself as an ordinary person, and seeking relief, it was exactly what I got. I told myself that I was paying back karma and thanked Master for allowing me to cleanse myself like that, realizing that I shouldn't treat myself as an ordinary person.

After a few hours of studying, I decided to try practicing. Every movement was painful, but I was surprised to find that I was able to stand normally, putting most of my weight on the other leg. I started doing the first exercise, and gradually found that I was able to shift the weight to the sore leg.

I kept on, and when morning came, I had finished. I tried stepping on the foot slowly, and found that I was able to walk normally.

When my family woke up, they didn't know what I'd been through that night. My husband was surprised to find the blanket on the living room floor, but, besides that, my family wasn't aware of anything that had happened during that night. They went to bed with their mother in good condition, and when they woke up in the morning, she was in precisely the same condition.

The only thing that did happen was that it took me several weeks until I was able to sit again in the full lotus position. This reminded me each day not to forget the lesson I learned that night.

The Magic of Clarifying the Truth

I am gradually being exposed to the magic of clarifying the truth. In the beginning it didn't come naturally. I only did it because Master told us to do so. Gradually it started to flow from within me, and then it started burning within me. I was surprised to discover how happy clarifying the truth really makes me.

Not so long ago I wanted to clarify the truth to a salesman at the nature shop where I shop regularly. He is a religious person, who practices alternative medicine. I didn't know how to begin, so I simply approached him, handed him a flyer and told him about Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, and about the persecution. He listened attentively, asked a few questions, and expressed his sympathy. When I finally left he looked me in the eyes and said with excitement, "Thank you for thinking about me."

I suddenly realized that I was treating myself as a sales agent, trying to "sell" the truth for my own interests. Such a wrong attitude! I shouldn't be selling anything. I am giving away for free the most magnificent and important thing one could hope to get. People are waiting in line to get it. There is no need to beg them, no need to think of how to convince them, as they are truly yearning for the truth!

In my regular job I come into contact with many people, and the groups often change.

Sometimes I wonder whether helping people find Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance within themselves could make a substitute approach to clarifying the truth. Actually, I had been looking outside, trying to find out whether it would "count" as clarifying the truth. Nowadays I only look within myself. Does it satisfy my own urge for clarifying the truth? While I am at work, do I still remember why I am really there?

I cannot always talk about Falun Dafa, and can't always use the words "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance." I am not self-employed. I work at the Ministry of Welfare. The Welfare Ministry sends me to various places to instruct people about a certain method. I must be careful, especially when working with orthodox Jews, not to be perceived as a missionary who tries to seduce people to "idolatry." I always keep in mind what my supervisors might say if they had "caught" me talking about Falun Dafa during one of their classes.

A few months earlier I had attended a meeting with a supervisor and a hostel manager at the Welfare Ministry. We talked about various problems at the hostel, about the principles that should be conveyed to the workers there, and how to help them keep emotionally balanced, etc. At a certain point they asked me "You seem to be so calm, do you practice Yoga?"

How glad I was to find I had some flyers in my handbag! I immediately took a few out and handed them over to them, and told them about the practice. The supervisor was very excited, and wanted to know where she could learn the exercises, etc.

I also give movement classes to groups on a regular basis. Most of the participants are orthodox Jewish women. For a long while I was thinking of how to tell them about Falun Dafa. It seemed like I simply could not find an appropriate moment. I decided to keep waiting for the right moment to clarify the truth to those women.

On Holocaust Memorial Day I was having doubts whether it would be an appropriate moment to clarify the truth. I was always trapped in the concept of the sacredness of the Holocaust, thinking that no other catastrophe in history compares to it. Trying to talk about another human catastrophe in the context of the Holocaust would be blasphemy.

At the middle of the class I decided to let go of those notions. I let myself flow with whatever was on my mind, and things simply interconnected and flowed smoothly. One of the participants spoke about the phenomenon of the denial of the Holocaust, and how awful it was that people believed deniers of the Holocaust. I said that there are things so horrific taking place in the world that people would rather deny them than confront them, and that there are also such things taking place nowadays, for instance in China, and so on…

They listened attentively, to the story of the persecution, and also to my personal story. By the end of class they asked me to show them the exercises. I demonstrated the exercises, and some even wanted to learn them. They signed the petition I had. Some took flyers. I know that some also visited the official website, looking for more information on the subject.

I still feel that of the three things, clarifying the truth is not what I do best. Sometimes whole days pass by without clarifying the truth to anyone. Sometimes I meet people, but don't find the opportunity to tell them. Sometimes I forget to look for the opportunity, or I am too afraid that they might find me a nagger or too obsessive.

Whenever I do manage to clarify the truth to people, I feel such inner joy and satisfaction. It makes me wonder why I don't clarify the truth all the time.

I am grateful to Master for all he has done for me and for the world. For the hardships that he carries for me, and for the life I have been given anew.

I hope to be worthy of that honor, to be worthy of carrying the title of a true Dafa Disciple.