Marina was someone who wanted to change the way she lived her life. She once had many unrighteous thoughts and did something bad, which seemed to be a huge burden on her mind. She often cried and wanted to find a way to remove the huge burden from her mind
I was told the story about Marina Vassong a long time ago. Much to my surprise, the couple are almost fluent in eight languages including English, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Yiddish, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Hebrew. When asked how they usually communicate with each other. Both of them said that they spoke English at work; spoke Russian and Azerbaijani to their countrymen; spoke Yiddish and Hebrew to Jews, and spoke Russian at home.
|Marina practising the second set of Falun Gong exercises||Marina and her husband Tony|
The highs and lows of their lives
Marina was born in Gorky city in central Russia, which is about a six hour drive west of Moscow. After graduating from high school, she once worked in a music school, teaching children singing and dancing. She majored in mechanical engineering and computer science at university, but her job in Moscow turned out to be in the field of public relations.
Marina was so capable that she once took up a position as the Chair person of the Railway Worker’s Union, supervising over three thousand workers. However, it was a pity that as a Jew, she was unable to attend Synagogue because all the Synagogues had been destroyed and no Jewish scriptures were left.
Marina’s husband Tony is also a Jew and who was once a violinist in Baku’s opera house.
In 1988, when the Republic of Azerbaijan started to persecute minorities, Tony left and later moved to the U.S. from Israel.
At the end of the 80's, as many as 1.2 million Jews left the former Soviet Union and many medical doctors, scientists, engineers, musicians, etc. were among them. As so many professional personnel suddenly swarmed to Israel, it was impossible for them to find a suitable job. Tony thus became a worker in a sock factory.
From a violinist to a factory worker, the sudden change was a vivid reflection on the highs and lows of his life. Currently Tony is a technician for a factory manufacturing electronic parts in southern Philadelphia.
Marina‘s grandmother was her guardian angel
Marina’s grandmother was her angel and the one who taught her to cultivate her character and to be righteous. When Marina was six, she was a lovely but wild girl who often liked to fight with others.
Once, she was beaten by a boy and was badly bruised. After coming home, she complained to her grandmother, “Because I was beaten so badly, how do you think I should fight him back?” Her grandmother replied, “Did you like been beaten like this? How do you feel?” She said, “I hate him. I am really painful.” The grandmother replied, “Such being the case, why do you want to do the same to him? Do you want him to hate you and suffer like you? Thereby, little Marina suddenly calmed down.
When Marina was ten, she wanted a bike. Her grandmother told her that she needed to toil before she could get the bike and asked her to knit a woollen shawl for herself. In the following month, little Marina persevered to knit the shawl. When she felt tired and wanted to quit, she just thought about the bike.
Finally, she finished making the shawl. She sold the shawl for sixty rubles and bought the bike by herself. Since then, Marina has believed that as long as she works hard she will be able to achieve anything. After her grandmother passed away, whenever Marina needed to make an important decision, her grandmother would emerge in her dreams and pass on some instructions.
Ridding herself of her huge mental burden
As a project coordinator, Marina works for a chemical company in Princeton City, New Jersey. She is strongly connected to China because her husband, daughter, son-in-law, cousin, aunt and herself have one thing in common, that is, all of them practise Falun Gong - a Chinese way of cultivation originating from China.
I curiously asked her that as Falun Gong is a cultivation practice that is strongly connected to Chinese culture, but both of them have Russian and Jewish backgrounds so how is it that they could accept such an oriental based cultivation practice?
Marina said that at first she also felt more or less that way. Once upon a time, when she was practising the Falun Gong exercises in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia City, some Chinese people also felt that it was very strange. Soon she enlightened that principles taught in Falun Gong have no national boundaries, and that it can be practised by anyone, despite their nationality, gender, race or social position. Later on, when she exchanged experiences with other western practitioners from Australia, Italy, France and Russia at a Falun Dafa experience sharing conference, they all bore the same sentiment.
How did she come to learn such a cultivation practice? In spring of 1997, while jogging with her neighbour, Marina told this neighbour that she wanted to change herself, as she had many unrighteous thoughts and had done something bad; she felt that these unrighteous elements were like a huge burden on her mind; worst of all, she couldn’t get rid of it whatever she tried. Due to this helpless situation, she often cried and drank alcohol. When getting drunk, she was able forget about it, but after an hour or two the feeling always re-emerged. She really wanted to get rid of this huge burden.
After listening to what she said, her neighbour simply reacted, “Oh! A colleague of mine is learning a kind of self-improvement practice. Would you like me to ask her to give you a ring?”
Shortly Marina received a call from a Jewish lady in Russia, and she gave Marina a copy of Falun Gong’s main book, Zhuan Falun. As soon as Marina started reading, she felt that the content seemed quite familiar to how she acted and thought when she was younger, but that she had just somehow forgotten such things. How could she have forgotten? Such a thought made her cry for some time. Then she started practising Falun Gong, since she knew that it was what she had been looking for.
Naturally coming to practice Falun Gong
Before she started to cultivate in Falun Gong, her blood pressure was very unstable. From time to time it would suddenly rise and drop. She didn’t know whether she should take the medicine to make her blood pressure go down or vice versa. After practising Falun Gong for six months, this problem vanished. From then on, she has never asked for any sick leave from her company.
When someone in his company was sick, others were afraid of catching the illness. They always said, “Go and sit beside Marina,” because everybody knew that Marina never got sick. But best of all, after a year the huge burden on her mind disappeared.
What is more interesting is that in the beginning her husband Tony didn’t believe it, nor did he practise the exercises. When Marina was practising the exercises, he would even make faces at her. One day, Marina dreamt that the founder of the practise, Teacher Li, told her in Russian that she should go out to practise the exercises with others. She thus started to practise the exercises at the Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia City. Tony drove her to and from the practice site in person because it made him nervous whenever she drove.
One day, Tony was bored to death while waiting. He followed other practitioners’ movement to practise all of the five sets of Falun Gong’s exercises. On the way home, his attitude had totally changed and he was incredibly quiet. Marina asked him, “What’s up?” Tony seriously said that he felt his body had somehow been purified. He felt that his whole body was now so pure and light.
In this way, Marina and Tony are now walking hand in hand on their paths toward their original true selves.
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