It happened often after my mother died. At night, my grieving father would cry brokenheartedly over the loss of his wife, and even sing to her, because he longed for her so much.
I was in seventh grade, and didn’t understand how he could love my mother so deeply and yet always argue with her when she was alive.
My father’s hot temper frequently sparked fiery conflicts with my mother and everyone in the family. My mother had a history of illness and the conflicts made her depressed and worsened her already-poor health.
My mother was a diligent woman who always took good care of all of us. But our family’s financial situation was very difficult and it was after strenuous work on the farm one day that she fell ill and never recovered.
Losing my mother was a most painful episode in my life, followed by my own illnesses and low self-worth, my family’s ongoing poverty, and my estranged relationship with my father and stepmother.
This was the darkness that plagued me throughout my growing-up years, until my cousin gave me a life-changing gift during my last year of university. It was a book that opened a whole new horizon for me, like a holistic remedy for letting go of a painful past and finding everlasting health and happiness.
That was five years ago. Today, at 27, I am a respected pharmacist running an honest business that continues to thrive in a fiercely competitive world. I serve others in a fair and responsible manner with all of the passion and enthusiasm I have to give.
Very importantly, I have found healing in both my health and relationships, owing to that precious book that transformed my worldview. I share my experience here in hopes that others may also benefit from the good it has offered me and countless other people around the world.
A Wretched Childhood
I was born into a poor farm family of five siblings. I was the third child and the only son. My father said I was the hardest to raise—the one who made him the most miserable. From a young age, my health was poor. My kidneys were weak and my bedwetting lasted until I was in sixth grade. My father repeatedly sought treatment for me but nothing helped.
Though my father cared very much for his wife and children, he had a fiesty temper that made family life far from harmonious. He constantly fought with my mother, and at one stage they even considered divorce.
When my mother passed away, I was in my early teens and my youngest sister was only 4 years old.
My father remarried a year after my mother’s death. At the time I said to myself that if my stepmother was good to us, then I would call her mother. But it wasn’t to be, as she often spoke to my sisters and me with harsh words, and I felt that she had an “evil tongue.”
I was normally a good-natured and obedient child, but over time I began to hate my stepmother, and then I hated my father as well. I soon stopped showing respect to both of them.
I often had conflicts with my stepmother and I would exaggerate small disagreements and turn them into big altercations. She eventually had a baby, and jealous thoughts of her and my new stepbrother constantly plagued me.
Family Discord and Ill Health
The discord in my family continued to escalate. By the time I was in grade 10, I could no longer stay in the same house with my father and stepmother. I left and went to live with my grandmother.
It was at this time that I started to suffer from chronic rhinitis, an inflammation of the nose that led to frequent nasal congestion and sneezing. Sometimes I could hardly breathe. Although it was not life-threatening, it created great discomfort and stress in my life. My father, despite our conflicts, made a great deal of effort to seek treatment for me, but none was successful.
Although my health was poor, I was a good student and had a passion for learning. I even received a scholarship starting in grade 8. However, in grade 12, as the university entrance exams approached, my health suddenly deteriorated. My weight dropped to less than 105 pounds and I looked pale and haggard. Fortunately, due to the care of my older sister, I succeeded in passing both the exams for pharmacy school and medical school.
I was worried that my bad health would prevent me from being able to manage the demands of being a doctor, such as the requirement to work overnight shifts, so I chose to study pharmacy.
Learning about Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance
There was no improvement in my health throughout my five years at university. Coupled with my troubled childhood and adolescence, I developed an inferiority complex. I rarely engaged with the other students in class or interacted with others, partly due to my low-esteem.
Little did I expect that near the end of my university studies I would find a path to transforming my life for good.
One day, during my last year in pharmacy school, one of my cousins brought me a book called Zhuan Falun and encouraged me to read it. It was the main book of teachings of Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, a traditional Chinese qigong practice for improving the mind and body. It consists of reading the book and performing five simple meditative exercises as part of one’s daily life.
After I read Zhuan Falun, I knew in my heart that it offered a promising way to improve my health. I was most impressed by its principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance and its emphasis on good morals as the path to a healthy mind and body.
However, since it was my last year of pharmacy school, I was preoccupied with finding a job after graduation so I didn’t make a serious effort to follow the practice and do the reading and exercises regularly.
‘Shake the World’
It wasn’t until I watched a movie one day that I realized the preciousness of Falun Dafa. The movie, called “Shake the World,” was a true story about events that occurred in China in 1999, according to the introduction.
It piqued my interest, and upon watching it I was surprised to find that it was about Falun Dafa. It was about both the goodness of the practice and the horror of its persecution by the communist regime in China since 1999.
The main character’s name was Ding Yuan, a daughter from an ordinary family in China who died of torture after being illegally imprisoned. Even under those horrible circumstances, she didn’t give up her belief in Falun Dafa.
I was deeply moved by the extraordinary courage and faith of the practitioners in China, and I cried like a child while watching the film.
From then on, I began to seriously study the teachings of Falun Dafa and to follow its principles.
A New Horizon
Zhuan Falun opened a whole new horizon for me, completely changing my worldview. It answered many questions that I previously had about life, the universe, and a myriad of topics including science and health.
I started to understand the purpose of life and the reasons behind illness and suffering. I learned that the key to resolving conflicts was to kindly and generously consider the other person first, before thinking of myself. I realized that, in the face of trials and tribulations, the magic tool was to look inside and find the cause and solution within myself.
I began to earnestly use the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance as the criterion for distinguishing good from bad, using them as principles to live by in my daily life. The more I read Zhuan Falun, the more my spirit was raised and the more my life brightened up.
I learned by heart the poems written by Falun Dafa’s teacher Mr. Li Hongzhi, immersing myself in their profound meaning, leading me to walk well the path of a good person.
Whenever I was stressed, I found that listening to the beautiful music of Falun Dafa helped me calm down and enabled me to deal with in a constructive way whatever problem was facing me.
Falun Dafa helped me resolve a conflict I was having with my uncle at the time. He and I shared a small rented room during my last year at university, and he enjoyed playing computer games for long periods at night. I was already having trouble with nasal congestion and finding it hard to fall asleep. The noise from the games made it even worse, and I became very angry with my uncle.
Then I looked within and realized how my lack of both honesty and tolerance contributed to the problem.
My relationship with my uncle was restored after I talked with him frankly. We lived together harmoniously from then on. I was finally able to feel well rested each morning, as sleep began to come to me more quickly. I also found increased self-confidence as a result. My classmates told me they noticed the positive change in my appearance.
As I continued to study Zhuan Falun and do the Falun Dafa exercises daily, my health and energy improved more and more. My weight increased from 105 to 155 pounds. I was able to sleep less and get up earlier, which gave me more time in the day to accomplish tasks. I felt cheerful and happy, and I realized that practicing the exercises was the best form of rest.
I also recognized that my jealousy of my stepmother was wrong, as was my resentment of my father for his love for his new wife. After I adjusted my thoughts and behaviour, my relationship with my father, stepmother, and half-brother all changed for the better.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” emphasizing the important role that one’s mental state plays in one’s overall well-being.
I saw this clearly in my practice of Falun Dafa. Following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance thoroughly transformed my attitude toward life. As I became a more humble and peaceful person, people around me also changed and conflicts and troubles resolved themselves. It brought me physical healing as well.
Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance—these are three simple words that carry unparalleled strength. They have brought enormous good into my life, and I hope that upon reading my story you will be compelled to learn more about Falun Dafa and have the opportunity to discover this goodness for yourself.
Nguyen Van Thong lives in Vietnam.
Falun Dafa is a cultivation practice of mind and body that teaches truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as a way to improve health and moral character and attain spiritual wisdom.
For more information about the practice, visit www.falundafa.org. All books, exercise music, resources, and instructions are available free of charge.