(Minghui.org) I'm a 55-year-old Caucasian in Europe. My father was an engineer, and my mother was a pharmacist. Despite being part of a typical middle-class family, my life was not so typical.

Something Magnificent

From my early age and my first sense of self, I was a genuine explorer. My first discovery was science: as a young school kid, I subscribed to science magazines, performed experiments, and assembled electronic devices. I could spend hours all by myself, studying and planning how to solve a problem, totally focused on my projects. My family believed I would become a scientist just like my dad. But I never did. In science, I didn’t find what I was looking for.

A bit later in my childhood, I had a great urge to express myself in writing. I wrote very special letters to whoever I felt close to, and I also wrote poems. As a teenager, I felt I could sing my poems, so I formed a band. I became a frontman of a rock band as the lead vocal and bass guitar. In my early twenties, I was a smart, uncompromising and good-looking young fellow with my own view of the world. That was all reflected in my music, and those who had the opportunity to listen to it loved it. I had great potential to become a rock star. But I didn't.

While serving in the army, which was obligatory in my country, I did not spend too much time hanging around with other folks. They also felt I was different. Once a week, soldiers were granted an afternoon leave from the barracks. Every “normal” person used it to have some fun–drinking booze and maybe hanging around girls. I used my leave to get to the public library. Each week, I’d return to my dormitory loaded with books. While not on duty, I devoured the books. After some time, I started to write one on my own. Before my service was over, I wrote my first novel at the age of 19.

After returning home, I continued to write literature and play music. Having fun was the most boring thing to me. While my friends were going out and enjoying life, I worked to fulfill my dreams. I knew I had to do something very important, something magnificent, something that would shake the world. I also knew that focus is crucial for any great achievement. For that, I gave up my music career, dissolved the band, and focused on writing. I probably had all I needed to become a famous writer. But I never became famous.

At the age of 24, I fell in love. I didn't have much previous experience in relationships, but that wasn’t necessary to know instantly that she was the one. We got married. We had one child. And another one.

At that point, I had to forgo my dreams. I gave her unselfishly all I had–all those long years of writing, composing, striving for stardom. I became an ordinary guy, working a regular job, living between love and hate, fear and exhilaration–living for a moment, not for eternity.

When you live for moments, they pass by you quickly. The kids were growing up, and we were growing old. I grew to be a worldly man from nearly being a monk in my youth. The world had its effect on me. How couldn’t it? Injustice, inequality, lack of freedom–it all hurt me badly. As I couldn’t do anything about it, I had to live with pain from day to day. I was becoming a bitter, unbalanced, angry man, seeing the bad side of everyone and finding mistakes everywhere and in everyone. Being like that didn’t feel good.

At some point, I started to wonder: How did I give up on my dreams, and where did I lose them on the way? Was I really special, or was I just imagining?

I was 40 when I finished my second novel. It was picked up by a major publisher and finally gave me the recognition I longed for. I thought this was my final chance to make a difference, so I continued writing like mad.

At 43, my third novel was published. I continued writing theatre plays one after another. I was so busy, but when I looked beyond my computer keyboard, I had to admit the world wasn’t becoming better. Nations warred over petty interests of individuals. Brothers became worst enemies. Police were the biggest criminals, and degenerates were adored as saints. Hatred, lies, and deception were everywhere I looked. For centuries it has been like this–people hurting people, and that’s it. How can I live in this world? What is the ultimate purpose? Why am I here, for God’s sake?

I'm 55 now and sailing smoothly. The purpose of my life has taken on a totally different meaning. How did I get here? Well, that needs a bit of explaining.

What is Cultivation?

In ancient China, they called it xiulian, or cultivation of mind and body. So, what is cultivation of mind and body? Western civilization knows of cultivation of mind, which is religious for the most part. You try to behave according to principles of the religion, try to repent and not make the same mistakes again, while you pray to God to accept you to a better place. Many religions were introduced in the West before or after Christ. There were also plenty of non-religious cultivation ways but no cultivation of both mind and body.

There are all kinds of cultivation practices in the East as well, such as Yoga in India, qigong in China, and martial arts. People tend to think martial arts are meant for fighting an enemy or for self-defense, but if that’s true, why do people practice it in monasteries? Who do they need to defend themselves from in a monastery built on top of a mountain? Actually, it’s because it is a cultivation way, and cultivators of the past would leave the secular world to cultivate in solitude.

This brings us to a problem. Passed from mouth to mouth through history, most cultivation ways lost their genuine teachings. Tai Chi is a typical example: It is known that master Zhang Sanfeng during the Ming dynasty presented the movements of Tai Chi, but not a single word of his teachings was left behind. Therefore, is Taichi that many people practice today a real cultivation way? I wouldn’t say so. Modern people practice it for fitness, but that cannot achieve the true goal of cultivation of both mind and body. They don’t even know what was it used for.

At least that’s how I learned from the xiulian I’ve been into for 13 years now–the only cultivation way that has both movements and teaching in its original, pure form. It is quite well known in China but not so much abroad. So, how did I get into this special cultivation way, and how did I stumble upon it?

Greatest Discovery

It was a cold winter day in one of Europe’s tourist capitals, and I happened to be there on business. A major political convention was being held, and the city was tightly sealed. Helicopters flew in the sky above, while streams of tourists crawled through narrow streets. In all this commotion, something stood out: a man in his thirties was sitting by the tourist attraction, a bit away from the hustle, his legs in the lotus position, his eyes closed. The look on his face was peaceful and serene–it seemed he didn’t mind the -20 degrees Celsius and all the mess on the streets. He was there like sitting in an eggshell. I could not look away from him.

His friend approached me, and I learned there is a large group of people persecuted in China–tens of millions–for doing the same type of meditation. The name is Falun Gong or Falun Dafa. It is something really ancient, but through history it was passed down from master to disciple, all the way until the early nineties, when it was presented to the public and spread like wildfire throughout China. In 1999, the Communist Party of China was afraid that its popularity would exceed its own, so it banned Falun Gong. Many people have since died in the persecution in China, and many are still targeted by the brutal persecution. For this reason, practitioners abroad try to raise awareness by demonstrating the practice in a peaceful manner.

The information was totally new for me. As a sworn atheist, I was never interested in anything spiritual, but as a worldly man, I did care about human rights issues. Thankful for the knowledge, I gladly accepted a flyer.

I didn’t read it, however, until two years had passed. People say there’s a time for everything. My time came with an emergency in my family: my wife suspected she was seriously ill. After a medical exam, she was told she was at the terminal stage of lung cancer. Her father had already died of the same illness, and we knew there was no cure in Western medicine. That’s when I remembered cultivation–didn’t they mention many people in China were cured of serious illnesses? What was its name?

I felt lucky when I found the Falun Dafa flyer stashed in my drawer. Together, we learned the movements and started to practice.

At the same time, I began to read Falun Dafa books. I was blown away. To my surprise, it was not any kind of mystical mishmash with meanings hidden behind meanings purposefully in order to make the author seem more knowledgeable than he actually is. It was straightforward and simple, written in modern language, with references to scientific things. I excitedly swallowed the book’s content practically overnight.

My view of the world instantly broadened. I clearly remember my thoughts at the time: the world is not this tiny speck of dust called Earth; the space that surrounds it is not a cold, dark and unfriendly place–it’s the home for great enlightened beings. Their nature is Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The higher they are, the more benevolent they become.

The vast cosmic body, including the innumerable planets and stars and galaxies and the vacuum within, and all those deadly phenomena of the stars, including black holes and white dwarfs–it’s all in perfect harmony. Everything is cool–only I’m uncool. I don’t resonate with them. So, how can I tune myself to this universal harmony? By this great cultivation way, that’s how!

A month since we started to practice together, my wife found out that her test results were in error. She was healthy and stopped practicing. But I stayed and continue to practice today.

No Need for Escape

Thirteen years later, I’m the richest guy in the world! Through cultivation, I gained 1) supernatural health, 2) energy that I lacked even as a teenager, 3) peace of mind to help me find solutions in any crisis, 4) understanding of cosmic phenomena that no scientist can ever have, and 5) answers to the questions philosophers from antiquity to today have craved for. Do you know anyone who claims to have these? Probably only if he’s insane. But Falun Dafa practitioners are very rational and down to earth. I used to be a dreamer, but I don’t dream anymore.

My life is simple. I practice the exercises for 90 to 120 minutes each morning, which cleanses my mind and body and relaxes me more than a night’s rest. This is because when you sleep, your brain cells are still active, but when you meditate, all your thoughts go away.

I also use a couple of hours to study the Dafa teachings, which helps me view the situations I encounter in my daily life from the perspective of cultivating the mind. The rest of the time I’m just like everyone else–working at my workplace, spending time with family.

What really makes my life simple is the absence of needs. For example, throughout my life, when summer arrived, I had the sudden, uncontrollable urge to escape from the city and to make all kinds of plans for traveling to the seaside or the mountains–to be free. But most of the plans couldn’t be realized owing to lack of time, money, or other things. This made me more stressed, disappointed, and quite frustrated.

Now I don’t need any kind of escape–I’m fine wherever I am. I feel free no matter what. The real freedom cannot be bought or won–you can only cultivate it. Freedom is being free from attachments, and that’s what all genuine cultivation ways were meant for. Whether it was disciples of Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, be it martial artists in the East or alchemists and monk-knights in the West, they all had the same goal: freeing oneself from desires, fears, opinions, ambitions–freeing oneself of attachments. You can also understand it as being free of yourself. The self is the biggest burden a person can carry.

Seizing the Time

The more time passes by, the more I realize the preciousness of the moment when I spotted that guy meditating on the street. I never met that fellow again, and I don’t know his identity, but I feel I do know him, as I now do the same whenever I can. The reason is when you have something so precious as the Way, when it is the way to unload your burden–how can you not share the good news with others?

Lao Zi, the great founder of Taoism, said, “When a wise person hears the Tao, this person will practice it diligently. When an average person hears it, this person will practice it on and off. When a foolish person hears it, this person will laugh at it loudly. If this person doesn’t laugh at it loudly, it’s not the Tao.”

Now I have a better understanding of past self and my excursions to science, literature, music and so on. Although I never became a scientist, a musician or a famous writer, these were all stepping stones on my path. Without them, I couldn’t get to where I am now.

If I could turn back the clock, if I had the power to change things, I’d still leave it as it is except for one thing: those couple of years when the Falun Dafa flyer was stashed in my drawer. Being aware of how meaningful and valuable each moment is, I regret the time lost. With the mind I have now, I’d join that guy right on the spot.

There is an explorer in each person today. For this kind of exploration, you do not need to leave your study room. But that doesn’t mean it is less adventurous, and from time to time it is much harder than exploring the world. At the same time, whoever tries to explore this road might end up finding something much, much greater than what he had hoped for.

I’d like to add that this is all my own understanding and my enlightenment from Falun Dafa at my present level, including what was mentioned about Taichi and other cultivation ways.

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