The Journey of a Western Falun Dafa Practitioner
“Only after Sakyamuni, Lao Zi, and Jesus came could people today truly know what righteous faith is and cultivation is, what a Buddha, a Dao, and a God is, and so on--these kinds of things. Throughout history the thinking of today's mankind was being enriched, and this has allowed people to recognize and understand the Fa, and to obtain the Fa. The entire course of mankind's history was laying this foundation. In other words, it was for teaching Dafa that human beings and human culture were created…” (“Touring North America to Teach the Fa”)
“Religions exist for two purposes, in fact. First, they truly make it possible for those who are good and can cultivate to attain the Way; second, they can ensure that human society’s morality remains at a relatively high level. Those are the two things religions are to do.” (“Teaching the Fa at Lantau Island” from Zhuan Falun (Volume II))
A Traditional Christian Upbringing
I was born in a little village community of no more than 50 households in the middle of England. The community was built around the Church. All new babies were christened in the church and nearly all villagers went to church, at least on special occasions – Easter, Christmas and Harvest Festival. There would be a village fete each summer and everybody pulled together to make it successful – there was generally a good community spirit.
My grandfather was a farmer and Grandmother a typical farmer’s wife. She did lots of cooking and baking, was involved in village activities and played the organ at church.
So it was natural for me to be introduced to Christianity from an early age. Each Sunday, Mother, my elder sister and I would go to morning prayer and as I got older I took up the duty of “pumping the organ” for Grandma. Later, when an electric system was installed, I joined the choir. Not that my singing was much good but it was to bring children closer to the church, get them to take part in Sunday School and learn more about Christianity.
I was a diligent student, a believer. We were told that Jesus was our savior and that if we were good throughout life we had a chance of going to heaven. I never had a clear concept of heaven but I understood it was better to be good than bad and I always had a genuine urge to be kind to and to help others. I helped Mother with housework and spent a lot of time with Father on the farm.
On leaving school I moved to the nearest big town and undertook an apprenticeship with a large engineering conglomerate. This new environment gave me freedom but I channeled my energies into study and sport. As a hard-working country boy I had a strong body and was particularly good at cricket, playing two matches each weekend as well as practicing on weekday evenings, so my church life suffered. However, I still retained my belief and continuously tried to live by the teachings of Christianity.
After many years of study I managed to get Professional Engineer status and in 1970 joined a Management Consultancy company. I continued with a firm belief in Christianity, and went to church fairly consistently right through to the mid 1980’s.
I have always been interested in the world and the universe, wondering about its make-up and if there is anything beyond this universe. I was thinking very hard about this problem but just could not get a breakthrough.
My understanding from Christianity is that there is heaven, earth and the underworld but no explanation is given. And we are told about hell without any explanation of it except that it is a seething pit of fire.
A Life-changing Experience
A big change happened in my life in 1988. One night, I had a panic attack, hyperventilated and passed out. After waking probably 30 minutes to 45 minutes later, I found that parts of my memory had disappeared. As an engineer, I could not even remember how to wire an electric plug.
Although I carried on working after just 2 weeks of rest, it took 5 years for me to fully regain my health. I stopped going to church as I thought that Jesus was no longer looking after me.
My “illness” had a profound effect, and my marriage was also broken at the same time. I left home and felt that I had sinned against heaven. I have not been to a church service since and the incident set me off on a new path to travel.
By this time I was working on international projects still for the same consultancy company. In December 1994 I started working on a World Bank project in Tianjin, China, for which I had laid the groundwork 3 years earlier. It was there that I met a Tianjin woman who became my wife in 1998. In fact, looking back I can see predestiny written all over this happening and on many other occurrences in my life.
After finishing in Tianjin in 1999, I then got another 3-year project, this time in Liaoning Province in the cities of Shenyang, Anshan and Dalian. Following that I was in Xian and Nanchang before working on an EU Project in Kosovo.
Although I was in Tianjin when the persecution of Falun Dafa started and in Liaoning at the height of the persecution, as a foreigner in China, I knew little about it. There was a colleague working on a counterpart project in Sichuan who told us about his secretary’s husband who had disappeared under unusual circumstances. He practiced Falun Gong, but that was all he knew – as an expat working in China it is difficult to learn the truth.
Before going to Kosovo I had an injury to my right hip. Specialists said, “No cartilage, you need a hip replacement.” I agreed for that to be done but the Kosovo project started so quickly that the operation had to be delayed.
First Introduction to Falun Dafa
In my spare time in Kosovo I was reading about the developments in stem cell research and my wife was also scouring the web for ways to solve my hip problem without surgery. Towards the end of the two-year project in Kosovo, she found and read about Falun Dafa. She printed out the English version of Zhuan Falun and gave the chapters to me to read, one by one on Sunday afternoons.
I read but did not comprehend! I told her, “This book is about teaching people to be good, similar to Christian teachings.” But from the way my wife talked about Falun Gong with me, deep in my heart I knew that our life would soon change.
Now I know that she found the solution to my hip problem but I did not recognize it. As soon as we came back to Hong Kong in 2008, I immediately had the operation.
In the year that we were back in Hong Kong my wife made contact with local Hong Kong practitioners and started to practice Falun Gong. I felt that Falun Gong was something more for Chinese people. I was still living the normal Western human existence of doing sports, chatting to mates and drinking. This continued for the first part of my next 2-year stint in Kosovo.
From the time we went back to Kosovo in 2009, my wife was making contact with practitioners in the surrounding Eastern European countries and when we had holidays she would arrange to meet with some of them. She also played Master's lectures, and songs composed by Dafa practitioners in the car when we were driving.
Truly Practicing Falun Dafa
In the early autumn of 2009 my drinking buddy went back to the UK, and my wife said that since I had time in the evenings now, why not join her in doing the exercises. As a sportsman I thought, no problem, a few simple exercises – so I started to learn. We looked at the video and tried to do the exercises as correctly as we could.
Although I have generally been illness-free for most of my life, at that time I did have some health problems, including tinnitus in my left ear which was driving me crazy, a bad neck for which a specialist had told me that I would need to take medication for the rest of my life, acid stomach, a cyst on my neck which was lanced twice before but kept swelling and oozing smelly liquid, a painful right shoulder, and some other issues.
After doing the exercises for a few months all of these problems just disappeared one by one. But it was the energy that I started to feel between my hands while doing the exercises that intrigued me.
Two other key things happened while doing the exercises. Prior to taking up the exercises I had pain when lifting my right arm above the shoulder (colloquially called “50’s shoulder”). While I was practicing one day I heard a “bang” in my back just above the right shoulder blade – as if a tendon had been freed to move in its sheath – after which my arm pain disappeared!
On another occasion I was in the standing stance doing the 4th movement of exercise 2, when I had a sharp pain like an electric shock in my right ear. This happened a number of times on successive days. I had not been able to answer the telephone using my right ear for many years as my hearing in that ear was not good but after these occurrences my hearing was fine!
I also noticed that my eyesight improved. From these happenings and from the energy I was feeling during exercise I knew that Falun Gong was something really powerful and wanted to learn more about it.
I then started reading Master's lectures and teachings more diligently and finally found the answers to my questions about the universe and answers to myriad of other questions. I was introduced to a whole new world.
2009-2011 for us was a period of learning and exploring. We traveled to many countries in Europe, meeting up with local practitioners at exercise and truth-clarification sites and seeing Shen Yun performances many times in the UK, Athens and Bratislava – it was such a privilege.
My big awakening came in attending the European Fa Conference in Rome in November 2010. The experience was so moving, I cried almost the entire time. The personal stories of torture in the labor camps in China, stories of practitioners recovering from life threatening illnesses, the stories of compassion... I just did not know there were such amazing people in the world. I knew then that my life would take a great change; I had to try to help even if in just a small way.
In December 2010 we went to the Israeli Fa Conference, and this again was amazing.
I believe every word Master tells us. Falun Dafa is broad and profound – the revelations are beyond description.
Thank you, Master!Thank you, fellow practitioners!