17-Year Search for a True Spiritual Path: Russian Woman Grateful to Find Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) “For 17 years, I had sought a spiritual practice that could uplift me,” said Svetlana from Moscow.
Now 48 years old, Svetlana had traveled to monasteries, studied psychology and yoga, and tried to find true teachers in India. She was seeking the meaning of life, and although she was constantly learning and seeking, she still had many unanswered questions. She felt anxious and confused.
Finally, she came across Falun Gong in 2009. “This is what I was looking for,” she said.
Since learning to cultivate her heart and mind according to the principles of Falun Gong, her temperament has changed dramatically. She is happy and relaxed. “Falun Dafa is my faith, my heart,” she said.
Her long and arduous journey to obtain this Great Law, was worth it, she says.
Struggling in an Unhappy Marriage, Turning to Spirituality
Svetlana was born in Russia. Her mother was an engineer and her father worked in construction. She was a traditional girl who loved life and her family. She married when she was 19 years old, but her marriage was not happy.
Her husband was an Afghanistan veteran, and he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. This made his temperament fierce and explosive. He terrified Svetlana.
Despite their difficulties, Svetlana worked hard to help her husband look for work, and tried to ease his pressure. She was his accountant, his secretary, and she ultimately helped him become a manager of a small business. However, he was still a tyrant. She felt like she was in a state of constant stress. Feeling immense pain and loss, she started to think about her destiny and turned toward spirituality.
“I felt that my marriage was unsuccessful. I began to consider going to a monastery. I turned to Christianity and began to study the Bible,” Svetlana said.
She decided to enter the religious circle, hoping to receive God's redemption and relieve her mental anguish.
Svetlana entered a monastery and studied the Bible. She went to church every weekend to repent and tried to follow the Christian commandments, as she understood them. She put her heart into her study, but unfortunately her mood would not improve.
“I was very timid and anxious. I could sometimes feel some kindness in the church, but the religious rituals eluded me,” she recalled.
Though she studied religion, her heart did not connect with it. She was constantly wondering what the cause of her suffering was, what was her fundamental problem? She could not find an answer through her Bible study, so she decided to study psychology. Her husband forbid this, but Svetlana was determined, so she left him and their marriage ended.
Svetlana entered the Russian Academy of Education. She worked during the day and attended school at night, at her own expense.
In the early 1990s, oriental philosophical thought were starting to spread in western nations, inspiring people to explore other forms of spirituality. Oriental practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong started to fascinate young people everywhere. People's understanding of faith was no longer confined to the traditional forms of religion. It was during this time that Svetlana read a lot of philosophy books.
“I started to learn yoga. I read a lot of books, and started to study Mahabharata...”
Mahabharata is one of the two Sanskrit epics from ancient India. It has greatly influenced modern Indian philosophy and religion.
Svetlana had fallen in love with Eastern culture, so she began to research and practice oriental philosophical thought.
“After I went to several monasteries, I decided not to go anymore. I saw that some religions were not good and were corrupt. In my dreams, I saw how the pastors in some churches calculated the income from the rituals and the sale of church implements. I also saw that the earth was full of toxic gases, and to avoid being contaminated and poisoned, there was almost no place for people to go. I saw that there were non-humans walking in the crowds.”
Svetlana could sense things that most people can't sense. This made her want to find more ways to improve and elevate her spirit. She began psychological training in an Eastern school of thought.
Her psychological training was privately held and she personally experienced the Eastern faith. She also happened to catch up with a wave of new schools. After seven years of learning, she found that this path was a dead end.
She had a relatively stable job at the time as a professional business coach. She offered training to enterprise employees and managers, and she had a good income. But her spiritual pursuits did not stop.
“I often thought that I had not found the highest practice method and the highest master. But I was full of hope. I knew I would find one.”
She traveled to India in 2007.
Trip to India
“I continued to look for a high-level master. I started to learn Kundalini yoga and participated in a famous teacher's workshop. I eventually became an instructor of Kundalini yoga,” Svetlana said.
While studying yoga in India, she was also studying religion. She was involved in various workshops offered by renowned masters and yoga teachers, but was once again disappointed.
“I saw that they paid attention to reputation, their own personal interests, and making money, and I felt they were phonies. In my opinion, those seeking spirituality shouldn't place great value on money. I felt perplexed, lost, and disappointed.”
India, the birthplace of Buddhism, attracts spiritual seekers from all around the world. Svetlana didn't find what she wanted there. She had wanted to find a tranquil place to stay and she now realized that she might have been trying to escape something.
She was already feeling particularly down and out, when she was robbed. Her money, passport and return airplane ticket were all stolen. She felt it was a hint. She returned to New Delhi the same day, empty-handed. She went to Central Park and saw a marching band from Taiwan performing. She was drawn over by the music. She also saw that the band members were practicing some kind of exercise, and they had a tranquil, compassionate energy field. She saw their banner with the words “Tian Guo (Divine Land) Marching Band.” This scene has remained vividly in her mind, though she would only realize later that this band was made up of the cultivators of the very path she was looking for.
Finding Falun Gong
Svetlana’s search for spirituality continued. She went to India to study for two years and became a yoga teacher. She held seminars in Egypt and Turkey and gave lectures at the Yoga Federation.
Participating in Kundalini Yoga classes requires students pay a fee, and this is a rule in the circle. But as a yoga teacher, she understood her own situation. She had not found any answers herself, how could she lead these students?
“I was torn. One practice interferes with the other. My life was not going well,” Svetlana said.
That year was rough. She cried a lot and her heart was filled with pain and sorrow. She thought a lot, but had no one to share it with. She wondered why she had not met a true master? Some time later she met a monk with supernatural powers. She could sense his clear energy field.
“I saw a bluish glow from him. I was interested. He invited me to have a talk.”
People called this monk the Vedic monk. The monastery where he stayed was located near Nizhny Novgorod. Svetlana went there and he showed her around the monastery and introduced her to the guru. But Svetlana was not interested in those.
“Do you know a real master on Earth?” Svetlana asked him as soon as she had the chance.
He was very cautious, looked at her, nodded, and whispered, “I know one. No one is higher than him. He is a real Master. His level is not known to me. He is a boundless Master.”
“Who is he?” asked Svetlana.
“Li Hongzhi.” the monk said.
Svetlana never heard the name before. She wrote it down.
“There is a book, Zhuan Falun,” he told her.
Svetlana had never imagined that the monk was secretly practicing Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong). His master did not even know his secret. He also told Svetlana that in the monastery, the monks mixed many Indian practices and read books from many different schools. He said that, although he had learned a lot of Indian cultivation methods and Taoist methods, he knew that none of those things were good anymore. No religion could save people. There was only one way: Falun Dafa. His words impressed her.
Svetlana later browsed the Internet at home and found the book Zhuan Falun. She saw that it had been translated into nearly 40 languages and was available online free of charge. She was surprised that all Falun Dafa teachings were free of charge and there were also free instructional videos online.
She read the book and the teachings resonated with her. All her questions in life were answered. She was inspired.
“This is what I have been seeking,” she remembers thinking, “I have spent 17 years searching for this cultivation way!”
For 17 years of her life, she had pursued many different avenues to find a practice that resonated with her. Now she had finally found Falun Dafa and she understood the cause of all of her pain. She also understood how to cultivate.
She found her shortcomings by comparing her behavior and thoughts with the teachings of Falun Dafa.
“I noted that I had many attachments and incorrect notions. I was selfish and prone to competing with others. I had a bad temper and was touchy. I had sexual desire. I once wrote down each of the attachments that I was aware I had and the number was somewhere between 80 and 90–so many attachments I had to get rid of,” Svetlana said.
She understood that cultivation is something that must happen as one goes about one's daily life. Only by following Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance could she reach a higher realm of mind. She also understood the meaning of practicing in only one school that is mentioned in Zhuan Falun. She discarded what she had learned before. Though it was difficult to do that, she was determined and she terminated her yoga class.
“To practice Dafa, I needed to really let attachments go. The biggest ones were the attachments to reputation, personal interest, and emotion. I think this was the most important step and decision of my life. From that moment on, I really felt my spiritual ascension. My body and mind became very relaxed,” Svetlana said.
With a pure heart to start practicing Falun Gong, she experienced the extraordinary.
“I felt the rotation of Falun in my abdomen when I started practicing Falun Gong. I noted Falun rotating in other parts of my body too. I saw Master remove black stuff from my stomach. I once heard my spine return to normal and saw a golden energy rush down my spine.”
Dissolving karma and cleaning up the body is to purify the body in Falun Dafa practice. Svetlana experienced some of these types of manifestations at the beginning of her practice when she had severe headaches and vomiting. She was clear in her mind that Master was taking care of her. She thought that her brain had been loaded with too many schools of practice.
“I was vomiting all night. I couldn't stand properly. I felt very dizzy. When I tried to get up, my view was blurry. After that, I fell asleep.
“After one day, my condition gradually improved. I could drink a little and eat something. After another day, I felt so light and clear-minded. I believe Master cleaned out my internal organs. After that, I felt full of strength and had an extraordinary sense of renewal.”
Her health improved dramatically and she became broad-minded. Her relatives and friends noticed. They said that she had become more cordial, calmer, patient, and caring. Her relatives and friends began to pay attention to Falun Gong and signed petitions condemning the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP’s) persecution of Falun Gong.
She went to New York to participate in the International Falun Dafa Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference in 2010, nine months after she started practicing. It was her first time participating in such a large conference. More than 6000 practitioners were gathered together. She was impressed.
“I remember that conference. Listening to other practitioners sharing, I suddenly felt a great compassion. Tears streamed from my eyes, and my heart pounded. Five minutes later, Master appeared on stage. The whole audience stood up. I finally saw our great Master. Master gave a lecture on the stage. My tears streamed down.”
“I have had the privilege of seeing Master many times since then. I remember every moment of every time. These are the most precious memories in my heart. I feel Master's infinite compassion. What I want to say is: Master, thank you for saving me from hell; thank you for letting me get the truth and become your disciple. I will practice and fulfill my vows.”
Svetlana's heart is growing ever more pure. Her work now involves embracing innocence every day, as she is an early childhood teacher. She demonstrates her patience, kindness, and love through her work, and her students love her. Her gentleness and kindness have also won the trust of the children's parents. Her own family has become more harmonious. Her relatives and friends have a good understanding of Falun Dafa because of her.
Svetlana feels fortunate to have found her path, one that allows her to keep ascending and return to her true self.