My name is Joel. I started to practise Falun Dafa just over one year ago. I am here to share some reasons why Falun Dafa has become such an important part of my life.
I grew up in a hot blooded, short tempered, southern Italian family. I learnt to fight with my brothers at a young age. I have worked with my brothers almost every day for the past 12 years in our family-owned business. I didn't know my anger was a problem until I met Sharon.
Sharon was my fiancée. We dated for six years. Sharon was a kind person. She never swore or raised her voice. Sharon used to look out for my best interest and truly cared for me. I can remember how Sharon liked to have fun, how she laughed all the time.
I also remember when I would come home after a fight with my family. I would look for any reason to fight with Sharon. My abusive, evil, hurtful words would spit out of my mouth right at her.
Day after day I vowed to Sharon I would stop getting so angry. But as soon as Sharon did something I didn't agree with or as soon as she didn't agree with something I did, that powerful and uncontrollable feeling of rage would build inside me again and I would lash out. I couldn't stop my anger and unhappiness, and Sharon finally left me.
My discontent, unhappy and angry life became progressively worse. I became a victim of my own agitated mind. I blamed society and my family for all my unhappiness. Thoughts of blame, self-loathing and negativity stormed in my head in a whirlwind of confusion. I became a slave to my addictions. However, it didn't matter how much marijuana I smoked or how much alcohol I drank or who I slept with or how much money I made or how many trips I took or what books I read or what psychologist I went to see, I couldn't stop my dissatisfaction with life or my anger.
I wanted answers but I didn't know where to turn. I decided to call my mom who I knew practised Falun Dafa, for some support. I had witnessed fantastic changes in her attitude towards life since she started practising Falun Dafa. I told her how I felt, how I was so confused and tired of going around in the same vicious circles of negativity over and over again and that I needed help. My mom smiled and gave me a copy of the Falun Dafa book, Zhuan Falun. With all her love and compassion she said very simply to me, "Start to read this book. All of your answers are in this book."
I followed my mom's advice. I started to read the book and do the Falun Gong exercises. I vowed I would dedicate myself to read a little of the book each day and also do the full set of the exercises at least twice a week for the next six months.
Zhuan Falun is the hardest book I ever tried to read. It pushed all of my buttons. As soon as I started to read, thoughts of judgement and doubt filled my head. I judged and criticised what I read. I doubted the teaching. I found all kinds of things in the book I didn't agree with. I found all kinds of things that went against my beliefs. I found all kinds of things I didn't understand. The more I tried to figure it out with my intellectual mind, the more lost I became. It made no sense to me. However, I was determined to stay true to my six-month goal, so whenever I came across something I didn't understand or didn't agree with, I just put those things aside and continued to read with an open mind.
Three quarters of the way through the book I felt the power of Zhuan Falun. I became aware of character traits in myself that I had never seen before. I realised I grew up a very insecure, dissatisfied and selfish person. I was never happy with who I was or what I had. I always wanted more. I judged and criticised everyone I met. I looked at people as objects for my own needs. What benefit could they possibly give to me? Were they good enough? Were they smart enough? Were they attractive enough? Could they make me any money?
My life purpose was to strive and stress to succeed for more money, for bigger and better things, to compete and struggle for my own personal interest and to win at any cost. I constantly tried to win the approval of others as I lived my life according to their expectations, while my relationships ended up in conflict as I harshly judged and criticised those who didn't live up to my approval or expectations.
I complained about my life and fought with people because I had learnt to see others as competitors or as only an audience for my own words and actions, and I had mastered the art of controlling and manipulating people for my own emotional needs and selfish desires.
Falun Dafa brought all of all my deep-rooted mental and physical defilement's up to the surface and right in my face. It made me aware of who I was and how I lived.
The basic teaching of Falun Dafa is simple: Keep upgrading myself by living in accordance of the universal characteristics of Zhen Shan Ren, Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance which Falun Dafa teaches are the true characteristics of the entire universe and of every human being. Don't fight with others. View others through the eyes of kindness and compassion. Diminish your attachments. Work hard but don't compete and stress for personal interest. Accept and understand others for who they are and look within to cultivate myself and live a peaceful life. As a practitioner one must follow the characteristics of the universe instead of the standard of ordinary people. If you can follow these characteristics then you are a good person.
When I first heard these words they sounded so peaceful. This was the answer I had looked for all my life! I was going to live by these guidelines! With this new information I felt like a new person. A kind person, a compassionate person, a tolerant person.
The next day I walked into my office with my new attitude. Within 5 minutes my brother said something that pushed my buttons. I flew into a rage and yelled and screamed as loud as I could. I left in a rage and slammed the door behind me. I boiled in negativity all the way home. I walked into my living room. The first thing I saw was Zhuan Falun on the coffee table. I sat stunned. "I understand the teachings! I know these teachings are the real truth, the real answer to my peace and happiness! Why can't I do it? Why do I slip back into my old negative and abusive patterns?"
And then a story came to me. A story I witnessed some years ago of a young boy who throughout his short life had been badly abused by his mother. He had cigarette burns all over his body along with several fractures in various stages of healing. He also suffered from malnutrition.
In this story a police matron is very gently and very cautiously holding this little boy as the mother is being handcuffed and arrested for child abuse. As the police matron starts to take the child from the room the child begins to lean over the police matrons shoulder, (begins to lean over safety's shoulder) and reaches out to his mother. He screams, "Mommy, Mommy!" He screams out to the torturer, wanting desperately to go back.
I wondered why this child would want to go back to such a hell. Then I realised this negativity was all this boy had ever known. This abuse was his only familiar thing. He had no concept of what truth was or what kindness was or what compassion was.
I now understood that I, like that little boy, had become so familiar with my patterns of negativity that the simple and pure traits of kindness, compassion, selflessness actually felt foreign to me. All my life I had chosen the wrong paths. I kept choosing to react to my impulses of anger, greed, lust, and selfishness. I realised my unclean, restless, uncontrollable mind kept me in my old familiar negative patterns. I knew if I wanted to build these new traits of kindness, compassion and forbearance into my life I would need support and I would need a guide. Falun Dafa has given me the support and guidance to create new choices in my life.
I thought, it's easy to look out into this world and want to stop the violence and the hate and the pain that surrounds us every day of our lives. It's easy to blame our society. It's easy to blame others.
However, how often do I look at myself and take responsibility for how I act and how I treat people in my everyday life?
Falun Dafa has taught me the only way I can truly make a difference in this world is to acknowledge my own shortcomings and choose to learn to cultivate my mind and live my life with higher morals and higher virtues so I can make the right choices.
As I continue to read Zhuan Falun over and over, I find that the teachings incorporate themselves into my everyday life. My old patterns of negativity and fear are slowly decreasing, as new patterns of kindness and compassion and forbearance have become more the norm.
I am forever thankful for the awareness and wisdom and peace Falun Dafa has helped me build in my life.
Falun Dafa has helped me shift my perspective of my relationships with my family, my friends and with my society. For the first time in my life I feel a genuine peace and happiness with everyone I come in contact with. I also feel more content and happy with myself.
As a practitioner my new life goal is to bring the characteristics of Zhen Shan Ren (Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance) into every relationship I have. With Falun Dafa as my guide I feel fantastic strength because I know my life has a great purpose. I also feel fantastic peace because I now know my future children will learn to live in this new realm of peace and happiness, and for this I am forever grateful.
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