(Minghui.org) I stood inside the courtroom waiting for the verdict. I had sued the Chinese communist government. I never thought I would find myself battling the most powerful human rights abuser in the world, but there I was. 

I grew up in a well off family. My father was a powerful self-made real estate tycoon. My two older brothers and I learned the value of money from a young age. Mom took us to church every Sunday but that was because everyone else in the neighborhood did. We were never religious or spiritual. I was popular in high school, a championship wrestler and friends with everyone. 

After college I joined the family investment business. I realized fast that working with family is always stressful because it’s never business, it's always personal. There was a lot of tension and fights between my father and me. He was the type of person who would not let go of the reigns and the conflicts between him and me grew. 

For the next ten years I would work hard and make a lot of money. I gained an insatiable appetite for expensive clothes and cars. Boss suits, $500 Versace shirts... I remember having 18 cars at different times. I also remember having just as many girlfriends, and more! 

In my early thirties I started feeling discontented with life and what I had. I couldn't quench that thirst, like I was trying to fill a hole that I couldn't put my finger on. Money, women, parties, nothing could stop the feeling that something was missing. 

Tensions arose in my family because of my discontentment. I was quick to argue with my brothers and especially my father. Against my family's wishes I decided to take a year off to travel and “find myself.” 

I traveled to Egypt, Israel, and finally to India where, for eight months, I drove a motorcycle from the south to the north in search of what “spiritual” truly meant. I had no idea what I was looking for. I found hundreds of different spiritual practices and those who followed them. I met guru after guru and visited temple after temple. In the end it seemed like everyone had the answer as long as I had the money. 

After eight months I realized that, just like in the Wizard of Oz, if I were going to find answers it would be in my own back yard, not thousands of miles from home, so back I went. 

Back home I had a newly found appreciation and gratefulness for what I had. I loved my house, my cars, my freedom, so much abundance and luxuries that I had taken for granted. That lasted for about 3 months. Then everything went back to the way it was before. I continued to work and my discontentment continued to grow. 

A year or so later my mom came across Falun Gong. For years I would joke with Mom that she always studied the “spiritual flavor of the month,” this practice after that practice. With Falun Gong I didn't feel any different. However, as the months passed I started to see fantastic changes in her life. She seemed happier and more content. 

I started to look into it. The very first thing that hit me was it was taught free of charge. After my spiritual search across India, the one thing I felt deep in my soul was: for any teaching to be pure it had to be free. This one principle alone in Falun Gong got my respect and attention. I then joined my mom in doing the exercises. 

The exercises were simple but so powerful. I realized that I was completely engrossed with stress and tension. I couldn't shut my mind up. It wandered all over the place. I worried about what I should do today and what needs to be done tomorrow.

At the end of the exercises I felt amazing! I was finally able to start to control my mind instead of my thoughts and emotions controlling me. That night I slept like a baby.

For the months that followed I experienced what compassion and empathy truly were. How from a young age I had seeds of narcissism planted in me, where it was always about me and what I could gain. I saw people as objects for my own desires and had no idea what it meant to think of others first. 

Then one day without even thinking about it I realized that I wasn’t stressed or tense any longer. I felt calm and content. I didn't want for things. My work ethic improved and I was even able to heal the strained relationship I had with my father before he died. I also met my wife at a Falun Gong practice site. 

Falun Gong helped me to see what it truly meant to be a good person. It also answered all the questions I ever had about the meaning of life and the universe. It has given me so much and has never asked me for anything in return. 

In 1999 when the Chinese communist party started persecuting Falun Gong I was confused. How could something so good be attacked in China? That afternoon I met a polish Falun Gong practitioner. She said, “You didn’t grow up in a communist country. I did. That is what communist dictatorships do.”

The more I learned the more I realized she was right. The communist regime is atheist and in China all spirituality must be controlled by the regime or it is attacked. Falun Gong was their next target. 

The deaths and terrible torture cases continued to roll in day after day. Word of tens of thousands killed for their organs was being backed up by investigative reports coming in one after another and a multi-billion dollar propaganda campaign started to smear us around the world. 

I was a white male who grew up in the suburbs of a metropolitan city. I never knew what discrimination was, what persecution was, what propaganda was and just like that I became a human rights advocate. 

One morning I got a call from my father saying that the Vice Consul General of China had slandered me in the local newspaper in reply to an article I wrote bringing awareness to the persecution. A month later I sued him for slander. It was a difficult case. No one thought I would win because of Diplomatic Immunity. 

The following year I sat in the courtroom waiting for the verdict. The judge read the findings and then ruled in my favor. Just like that I won the case. I started to weep. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life. The case set a precedent around the world. 

Nineteen years later, we are still on the streets giving out flyers and raising awareness of the atrocities happening in China. We are still out-numbered and out-financed, but 19 years later the most powerful human rights abuser in the world still cannot silence the millions of people who hold goodness and universal justice in their hearts. 

As I turn 50 this year I am so grateful that I have realized that the real answers are within. Falun Gong has helped me to gain the most profound inner peace I ever imagined.

Sure, I still enjoy nice cars, nice clothes and the art of a good deal, but my priorities have definitely shifted. My peace of mind is no longer determined by things, but by how much I can treat others and also myself with Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. I am still a work in progress but at least I am finally enjoying the ride!

(Submission to “Celebrate World Falun Dafa Day” 2018 on the Minghui website)