Change through Falun Gong; two stories from a married couple

First Story by Steffen Munter (adapted from original written at the beginning of July 1999)

Everything began nine months ago. Until then I had lived in a world, which left little except work and duty. This sense of chasing after riches and fame never made much sense to me and I saw clearly that humanity had lost her original nature with these pursuits. That’s why I tried to distance myself from this materialistic world and ignore it as much as possible. At that time I drank alcohol and smoked marijuana on an almost daily basis. Sports activities prevented me from completely sliding to the bottom. At the same time I was looking for the meaning of life. My interest in the esoteric and plants was huge. I also had a great interest in healing plants and teas. As if on cue, the weekend would find me unloading my stowed anger about the doings of humanity in excessive drinking binges. My girlfriend drank right along with me. Our relationship was often shallow. We experienced a constant up and down in our emotions. I often hurt her with my domineering and self-centered mannerisms. At the same time I could not circumvent her weaknesses. Often I simply left. That took its toll on both of us, was nerve-wracking and almost drove us apart.

Then, together with my sister, I obtained Falun Dafa. Right from the beginning it answered all my questions and put all the pieces of the puzzle, which I had collected through my esoteric searches into the right places. I was privilege to wisdom, which I had not imagined to receive, not even in my wildest dreams. But at that time I could not yet foresee how far Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance) would change my previous life.

In the beginning I looked upon cultivation as a theory of theoretical knowledge. But that would soon change into practical applications.

In the first month we learned the exercises from the book by ourselves. That was very difficult. We got really stuck with the fifth exercise. We made very slow progress. During the second month, following a hunch, I called a telephone number in Stuttgart. Soon after we drove to our first exercise group in Stuttgart, where, for starters, they corrected our movements. We borrowed the exercise video and were given the book “Zhuan Falun.” Thus fortified we drove home. During subsequent readings of the book, all my questions were answered, but other, new ones, kept coming up and soon there became a mountain of questions. During that time I did not drink so much on weekends any longer. I was not quite clear, why, but I simply did not have such a strong craving for alcohol anymore.

I came to the conclusion that if I really want to cultivate, I should quit alcohol and drugs. I had to come to a decision. From then on I did not want to consume alcohol or drugs anymore. With the finality of this decision reached, I felt a big weight being lifted off me. I felt light. One week later was my birthday. It was the first birthday in ten years that I spent being sober. I was out of work during that time, and am still out of work. In spite of financial difficulties, during Christmas time and over New Year’s festivities I went to the experience-sharing meeting in Odenwald (A hilly, rural region in Germany, conducive to contemplation). My girlfriend began Falun Dafa cultivation in January and has since then given up alcohol and drugs also. One month later, inspired by our changes, my mother read my copy of Zhuan Falun and also began to cultivate. Now there were already four of us – my mother, sister, my girl friend and myself.

At Easter, my sister, my girlfriend and I went again to an experience-sharing get-together in Odenwald. It was my girlfriend’s first time at an experience-sharing meeting. Each time after I attend one of these I feel light and trouble-free. Many things change. Every one of us tries to fight against their self-centeredness and egoism and to find the reasons for their problems in themselves now instead of blaming them on others, as happened in the past. We seem to do better and better with that effort. In many situations I also notice an improvement in my tolerance. I manage to restrain myself more and more.

Over Pentecost, at the same time as my sister attended the conference in Toronto/Canada,
My girl friend and I attended a Falun Dafa experience-sharing meeting in Berlin. It was difficult to find enough money to go there, but we managed.

My girl friend Marion has in the meantime become my fiancée and within two weeks will become my wife. I completely severed all ties with my former life and am trying to find work, to provide for a family and to assume the responsibilities for her. We are expecting a baby in December. Without the changes brought about through Falun Gong, the situation for this family would have been quite strained. I would have never given up my so-called freedom, our relationship would have severed, we would have never married and I would not have become a father.

Story of Marion Munter
(Adapted from the original written at the end of July 1999)
First of all, I wish to introduce myself. My name is Marion Munter, age 20. I come from the small town of Oehringen, close to Heilbronn [in Germany]. At the present time, because I am an expectant mother, I am not in the work force.

How everything started:

In October 1998, my boyfriend searched through several issues of the magazine “Esotera” to find an article about a healing plant called “Schwarzkuemmel” (A healing plant from which the seeds are used as a tea to help with a variety of ailments, such as arthritis and others; translator). While searching for this information, he came across an article about a Chinese meditation system called Falun Gong. Although I was interested in energy-fostering exercises and participated in them for several months, the story did not particularly touch me. My friend and his sister, however, were fascinated immediately, ordered the recommended first book about Falun Gong and taught themselves the five movements from the book.

Even after a few short weeks I noticed remarkable changes in my husband. I guess I noticed them because they brought about a big change in both of our daily conduct. At the same time I could not imagine a life without venting my stored anger during weekend alcohol and marijuana binges. On top of that, for two years I had suffered from the now so popular eating disorder, bulimia. With the help of therapists I had tried to overcome this disease but was not totally successful. The fear of weight gain was a hindrance to a complete recovery. That time in my life made it difficult for my family members, because I had become aggressive, had mood-swings and an uneven temper. My whole day was occupied with worries about my figure. I constantly thought how I could come closer to my perceived ideal figure. Because of that, there was not much room in my life for the problems and sorrows of my fellow man. I relished my role of a to be pitied woman and was addicted to being consoled and comforted by others. I craved the assurance from others that I looked slender and pretty.

Because of these superficial thoughts, my character was affected and had changed. Earlier on I was robust, a little round, even-tempered, always friendly and in a good mood. There was much room to think about others problems and assume some responsible thoughts about my grandmother or empathize with a mentally handicapped person, for whom I was a caretaker during a one-year tour of duty in a mental institution.
I could give my all to this kind of work, because I liked myself, in spite of experiencing occasional feelings of inferiority. Even at that time I already smoked marijuana, but for a different reason than later. At that time I missed this drug not for the purpose of attempting to forget my sorrows, but instead to heighten my feelings of joy in life. Even the relationship with my mother with whom I still lived at the time, was a relatively good one, if I discount the usual problems arising during the years of puberty.

I lost all that when I developed the obsession with my societal standard for slenderness.
At the urging and request of my father, I agreed to be admitted to a clinic, which treats psychosomatic illnesses. There I had to confront my problems, could not deny them any longer or hide them. I was far away from alcohol and drugs. In the beginning my eating disorder became worse and I wanted to continue to lose weight. In time, my situation improved somewhat, but in small steps. But there was still this mountain of problems confronting me.

When the therapy was almost over, I stopped and moved in with my grandmother. I searched immediately for a therapist. After one year of talking things through with this therapist I noticed some changes. The relationship with my boyfriend improved somewhat and I reconsidered the former decision to break with him. With the help of two social workers I was able to get my own apartment, a necessary step to being removed from the familiar influences that created conflict in my life. I found an entry-level job, mended the relationship with my mother and resumed contact with former acquaintances. After that year I was able to control my bulimia. I limited my eating/purging episodes to once a week and sometimes even extended that period. I also became less aggressive, was able to laugh again and was not depressed so often.

In spite of that there was a huge chasm between my boyfriend and me. Falun Dafa had already filled him; spoke of tolerance; to look for faults within oneself – things I did not know how to deal with. On the other hand, I asked myself what life’s purpose is, but could find no answer. Instead, I was still very busily absorbed in myself, was caught up in the chaos my feelings created; occupied with the ideal of physical beauty, where I attempted to present myself so faultless that I allowed few people to really know me. Without a mask, a false image, lies and deception and many superficialities which controlled me, or, to express honestly, which ruled me, I never showed myself in public, since I was afraid not to be acknowledged any longer, not to be affirmed by outsiders any longer, if someone would come to know my weaknesses.

I still lived in a world of extremes – when I was gone for the weekend, I would rant and rave and then submit to the grey workweek, the daily grind. Then it helped tremendously to occasionally smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. The chasm between my boyfriend and me became larger and larger. He did not drink and smoke any longer, read the book constantly and was no longer interested in all-week-long barhopping. At that time I could not imagine that those changes might also be possible for me, since I was still trying to treat my problems with many different methods and substances.

I reacted against my boyfriend’s criticism of my life style with increased use of alcohol and marijuana. He tried to influence me with his enlightened wisdom.

In time I became more open toward him and his newly acquired values, partly because for a long time I had been interested in naturopathic healing and energy mechanisms, whereby one bring body, mind and soul into harmony. I insisted however on continuing with my Rune exercises, which I had pursued for the past several months. They brought me some bodily relief, but did not change my thought patterns.

At the beginning of January it became my time. I obtained the teachings of Falun Dafa. At first I read the book “Falun Gong,” where my friend Steffen and his sister Annett could help me with questions that would pop up. As early as two weeks into the study, I noticed a change in my thought patterns, which I could only attribute to the book. I also noticed that deep in my heart I had the wish to be able to eat like a normal person again, without the constant fear of becoming overweight. One evening I had my first test. My friend’s sister invited us out for Chinese food. I had to make a decision whether or not I wanted to rid myself of this diet-insanity. After a two-hour struggle, where the opposite sides to this dilemma were battling, I was able to come to the best decision. I sensed deep in me that there would be no other way for me if I wanted to find my inner balance again.

Since that day I have overcome my biggest problem, which had troubled me for so long. At that time I also began to do the first four exercises. Slowly, I allowed myself to eat normally once more. I felt more energetic and balanced than I had ever before in my life. I further noticed that my craving for alcohol and marijuana became less and less, and then disappeared completely. I also found it no longer desirable to go wild on weekends. I have abandoned all relationships with my casual acquaintances and I could finally find peace again. I am trying to elevate my level through increased reading and conduct myself according to Dafa.

I am getting closer and closer to my former true self, became robust once more, am concerned about others, became even-tempered and calm, emotionally stable and filled with harmony and a positive outlook on life.

The changes in me seem to affect my fellow man in a positive way, since I don’t want to fight with anyone anymore. I think they can profit from my calm manner. I could not abandon my remaining old addiction, to cigarettes, an attachment, which I tried to defend with weak arguments. I tried various techniques to rid myself of this addiction but did not know why I still could not give up smoking.

In time my stubbornness was revealed. It had to do with my eating disorder. I had great fear to lose control of my eating habits without the aid of appetite-curbing cigarettes. When I became aware of that, I tried to become more effective in my search to curb the addiction. For a long time I limited myself to four cigarettes a day. Two days before our experience-sharing conference in the town of Guetersbach I succeeded in quitting smoking.

My positive changes have improved the relationship with my friend. Our interactions are developing along the lines, which I dreamed about for a long time. We are establishing a great relationship of trust between us based on tolerance and thinking of the other first. We don’t have to hide from each other any longer; instead, we aid each other in advancing our cultivation. About three weeks ago we were married. Our baby is expected in December.

Without Falun Gong we would not only have lost our relationship, but also my life would have taken a drastic turn. Therefore I am very grateful for the opportunity to cultivate according to the law of the cosmos, Zhen, Shan, Ren [Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance].

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