Before I Started to Practise Falun Gong
I was born in south India in 1981 and brought up in a strictly religious family. At a young age, I was often very sick and emotionally detached. I was never good at anything other than schoolwork, so I never got along well with other people, including my family. I was atheist, though I did believe that there were higher truths that science could not explain.
During my undergraduate years in India, I experimented with various new-age, self-improvement and other techniques. Some of them worked, and I became healthier, got more self-confident. But I also hung out with the wrong kind of young people and lost my character and sense of morality. I knew that alcohol and drugs were wrong, but I developed a strong attachment to lust and pornography.
In early 2001, I realised that I had gone down the wrong path and tried several spiritual techniques. I read as many books and religious texts that I could find. While my state of mind improved, my health became worse - even worse than when I was a child. I realise from reading Zhuan Falun that this might have been the result of cultivating in several different practises at the same time - some of which, I realise now, had the nature of futi (spirit or animal possession).
When I came to Florida, U.S.A. for my Master's degree in August 2001, I was at the lowest and darkest point in my life. I was very sick. I had no job and had to be supported by my parents who were sending me a lot of money. Having been brought up in a sheltered environment, I had to adjust to a new environment and take care of everything myself. The environment that I lived in then was very morally corrupt as well, just like the people I had spent time with during my undergraduate days.
Starting to Practise Falun Gong and Truly Cultivating my Heart
But around one month later, in September 2001, I started to practise Falun Gong. My life was changed forever - for the better.
I got a flyer that a practitioner was handing out on my university campus in Florida. I had heard about Falun Gong and the persecution before through news reports, and my interest in spirituality led me to try it.
On the first day, I felt an energy belt spinning in my lower abdomen and a strong energy field around my hands during the second exercise. I would know later that the energy field in my abdomen was a Falun (Law Wheel, the symbol of Falun Gong).
My only regret now is that I read Zhuan Falun just once in the first 4 months of my practise. I came to realise the importance of studying the Falun Gong teachings only in December 2001 when I stumbled across the rest of Teachers' writings on the FalunDafa.org website during a holiday at my aunt's place.
In January 2002, I returned to school for the Spring semester, determined to follow the requirements of the principles taught in Falun Gong and be a good person. I happily (but with some difficulty) gave up my old bad habits. My grades went up. I got a job and would eventually get a research assistantship.
The story about how I got the job is interesting: 6 months of searching and I had not found a job. A promising lead was being held up due to complicated reasons. One day, I cried to Teacher in my mind: "Teacher, I don't mind suffering for my karma, but why should my parents have to spend so much money on me and suffer? I wish I could relieve their suffering and be less of a strain on them."
Two minutes later, I opened my e-mail inbox. My employer (at the job which had run into complications) had sent an e-mail saying that I could start work that day! This incident completely sealed my trust in Teacher and Falun Dafa - from that day on, I completely dedicated myself to Falun Dafa and following the teachings.
Exposing the Persecution and Balancing Things
In May of 2002, I read Teacher's "Touring North America to Teach the Fa". I had quite a bit of free time during that summer, and the reports about the persecution shocked me. I cried the first day I read them at work, finally understanding the seriousness of the persecution. After reading Teacher's newer lectures during that summer of 2002, I stepped forward (timidly at first) to expose the persecution.
In January of 2003, I got a research assistantship and started working with a professor. I had less time for cultivation and activities to let more people learn about the practice and the persecution, but I did my best at my research and balancing things well. During the later part of that year, I often stumbled both in my everyday work and cultivation due to lack of studying the Falun Gong teachings, but I eventually learnt my lessons, placed emphasis on studying the teachings and was able to balance things well.
In 2004, a research paper of mine was accepted to a prestigious research conference. In late 2004, having finished my research work in Florida, I applied to other universities for my PhD. While waiting for possible admissions, I moved to Manhattan to help with the efforts there.
In December 2004, I was admitted to an Ivy League university and am now diligently pursuing my PhD there.
My Life - Completely Changed
From a sick, weak and timid individual tired of life just before I started to practise Falun Gong, my life has completely changed. I am now illness-free, healthier, more confident in myself, hard working and honest - and a PhD student in a top university.
I can honestly say that it is because Falun Dafa has changed my life completely, just as it has changed the lives of millions of people around the world!
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