The scene of my parents quarreling was like an ugly movie I was forced to watch every day. My father hit my mother whenever he got drunk. Seeing this constant domestic violence from a young age traumatized me. Eventually misery and frequent suicidal thoughts defined my existence. I grew up and moved to the big city where I lived a degenerated lifestyle consumed by anger. I drank and swore and was always ready for a fight. But I had a shred of decency left in me and displayed the image of a gentleman whenever I was back in my hometown. I led this double life until one day I found the greatest treasure in the world that changed me forever.
I ran to the woods, my face soaked with tears, just wanting to die. I sat under a tree in the cold night, trembling. I can still remember the pained, choking sound of my sobs, as if I was being strangled or my heart was being torn to shreds.
Just when I was thinking how the boundary between life and death was only a fine line that I could easily cross, I heard the voice of my mother calling me. “Son, please come home!” she cried.
Her voice conveyed a hint of resilience despite a life filled with pain, abuse, and humiliation. My heart ached like it was being sliced by thousands of knives.
I had run out of the house because my father had hit and cursed my mother yet again. I was only a child in elementary school but had already witnessed a lifetime of bitter quarreling between my parents. It was a daily occurrence, along with my dad’s violent abuse of my mom.
My father was fierce-tempered and ill-mannered, and there was rarely laughter in my family. But what traumatized me the most was when he hit my mother, which happened every time he got drunk.
I returned home that night but nothing changed.
I grew from a depressed child and adolescent into a young adult steeped in every kind of debauchery, including becoming a drunkard like my father. But I was fortunate in that eventually I found the greatest treasure in the world that completely changed my life and gave me joy and purpose in living.
I tell my story in hopes that it can help other young people who may be going down a dark path. I hope my story can help them find their way out.
I Was a Good Boy Crushed by Depression
I was born in a poor village in the early 1990s where, despite the poverty, the natural surroundings were lush with greenery and vegetation. Graceful curtains of slender green bamboo could be seen everywhere, and the creak of the hammock as it swayed back and forth was a simple pleasure to the ear every summer afternoon.
That vast contrast was also reflected in my life during my early years.
On the joyful side, I had a rustic childhood that was simple and unhurried. I was a quiet and obedient child, and though I had to work hard to help my mother in the fields, I didn’t mind and was happy to do any work I was capable of doing. For this, I was also a favourite of my teachers.
On the not-so-tranquil side, I was frequently bullied because of my mild personality. Often I was even attacked and asked for money by others, despite them knowing that I had no money.
My parents’ daily quarreling and the ongoing domestic abuse I witnessed added to my distress. I was devastated by fear and depression whenever this happened, and inside I felt embarrassed and ashamed though I did my best to cover it up by showing a cold, unemotional face.
I felt completely alone. Instead of having dreams or ambitions like other children, my heart and soul were filled with resentment and loathing of the world.
As I grew older, the psychological and spiritual torment I suffered due to my family circumstances grew along with my age and affected my studies. After starting high school, the feeling of misery I held onto inside gradually worsened, and thoughts of suicide often entered my mind.
When I graduated from high school in 2011, I went to the capital hoping to find a job and make a better living than what my poor village had to offer. But I ended up being overwhelmed and seduced by the hustle and bustle of big-city life and its all-consuming rat race. It changed me into a completely different person.
I dyed my hair. I drank. I swore. I went out and partied. In the big city, I was a tough guy who feared no one. The anger inside me displayed itself in a rough temper, and I actually enjoyed gathering with my “buddies” to have a good fight with others. I kept an iron bar next to my bed so that I would be ready to get up at a moment’s notice to support my friends in a fight and beat up people.
I became exactly the violent and drunken man my father was, taking on those traits I once bitterly detested.
I worked to earn money mainly to support my degenerated lifestyle. However, deep down inside, I still had a shred of decency; whenever I returned to my hometown, my behavior was that of a respectable human being.
Thus, for several years I lived this double life of a two-faced person.
‘I almost made him a murderer’
I was too unstable to be able to hold down the same job for long, so I went from job to job. The longest one I had was at a laundry company where my coworkers were kind people and the director was a fair and upright person.
This was also where some unforgettable incidents occurred, including being nearly stabbed to death, that helped to moderate my behavior until eventually I turned my life around for good.
It was a trivial thing that led to the stabbing incident, totally demonstrating how society’s moral standards have deteriorated, with people no longer as kind and tolerant as in the past. I myself was a typical example.
I had a nasty argument with one of my coworkers just because he had borrowed my helmet without permission. Sharp words were exchanged, and we flung insults at each other.
My coworker’s uncle was a driver for that company and normally we were friends and were very close. Yet that night when he came to find me, he was a different person. He suddenly took out a sharp knife and lunged for my stomach. Luckily, at the critical moment, another coworker pushed me aside and I was only slightly injured.
It was a major conflict that led to the involvement of the company director to help us move toward reconciliation. The incident was resolved after I apologized.
But I deeply regretted my offensive words and lack of consideration for others, as it was because of my inability to control my anger that my coworker’s uncle was pushed to such violence. He was a normally a good and kind man and I almost made him a murderer.
‘This is what I have been looking for’
After this incident, my wild days were soon to end, as I was about to find the path to changing myself and discovering the true meaning of life.
In the summer of 2015, my cousin from Taiwan came to Vietnam to take care of her father who was in the hospital. She gave me a book called Zhuan Falun and encouraged me to try my best to read it as much as possible because it was a very precious book.
Zhuan Falun is the main book of teachings of a traditional Chinese self-improvement practice for the mind and body called Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong. It teaches people how to “cultivate” themselves, or to improve their character, and to become better people by following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. It also includes a set of simple meditative exercises that help calm the mind and improve one’s health.
The more I read Zhuan Falun, the more interested I became and the higher my spirit lifted. It also helped me better understand the law of cause and effect—the consequences awaiting a person who does bad things versus the bright future for those who contribute good to the world.
Reading the book daily and continuously was what strengthened my ability to resist everyday temptations and overcome harmful habits. It helped me to be always mindful of distinguishing good from bad.
The more I read, the more I also came to understand why there is so much conflict, pain, illness, and ill will in today’s society. I understand that it is because the moral standard has slid down so much that it is barely recognizable from the upright traditions people followed in previous decades, when life was simpler and people were kinder and less selfish.
Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance were like pure water that cleansed my mind and body and helped me steadily improve my moral character.
Over time, I abandoned my sorry lifestyle. I gave up alcohol, swearing, and fighting. I stopped dying my hair as a way of rebelling against tradition. I did my job seriously as a trustworthy and reliable employee and no longer tried to find ways to avoid work and responsibility. As I learned from Falun Dafa, a person is accountable for every action he or she takes.
The profundity in every sentence of Zhuan Falun touched me deeply, and I whispered to myself, “This is what I’ve been looking for.”
Field of Compassion
Whenever I went to the local Falun Dafa practice site to study Zhuan Falun and to do the exercises with other practitioners, I could feel a merciful field of compassion. And I gradually realized that I myself had developed such compassion. My body was full of energy, and I no longer succumbed to colds whenever the weather changed. I also recovered from stomach aches and back pain.
The changes in me extended to my family as well, including both of my parents.
My mother used to be plagued by illness all year round, her chronic diseases and conditions resulting from decades of harsh conditions working in the fields. When she called me to take her to the hospital one day, which was quite a financial burden for my family, I realized it was an opportunity to help her learn Falun Dafa and experience the benefits that had helped me so much. I had seen many elderly practitioners at the practice site and listened to their stories about how Falun Dafa had helped them improve their health both physically and and mentally.
Not surprisingly, my mother experienced miraculous changes to her health after she began reading Zhuan Falun and doing the gentle exercises and meditation. Her poor appetite and insomnia also completely improved.
Then our attention turned to my father, who at first tried to prevent my mother from practicing Falun Dafa because it was something new to him. But over time he came to recognize its benefits because he could see not only the improvements in my mother’s health but also the changes in my behaviour and attitude toward him.
I had stopped resenting my father for the way he treated my mother. I tried to be understanding of him instead of arguing with him like before. Through the compassion and tolerance my mother and I developed as a result of practicing Falun Dafa, we gradually helped my father understand the goodness of our practice and how it has spread all over the world, benefiting tens of millions of people of all ages from all walks of life.
“The principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance are the essential characteristics of people as they truly are, and the whole world needs those principles,” I said to my father.
Sowing Seeds of Benevolence
I started a Falun Dafa practice site near my home so that more people in my area could come to learn and to study Zhuan Falun and do the exercises together.
My greatest wish is to be able to help sow the seeds of honesty and kindness and to let more people know about Falun Dafa and to follow its good principles.
I learned from Zhuan Falun that if you always maintain a heart of benevolence and compassion, you will always have peace of mind. If you always maintain a heart of forbearance, fighting and arguing will have no way to disrupt your life. And if everyone were honest and truthful, lies and deceit would have no place in the world.
The principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance are beautiful and cherished values for people of any age. I especially want to tell young people like me that there are many young practitioners around me and all over the world who have made the principles and exercises of Falun Dafa a part of their daily lives.
In particular, many young people today are full of complaints and self-pity, tormenting themselves and looking everywhere outside of themselves for answers to their troubles. Instead, they could be embracing a life filled with happiness and purpose.
Through practicing Falun Dafa I have found a peace and wellbeing that will stay with me my whole life, and I have gained confidence knowing how to live in an upright way and how to tap into my inner resources to overcome tribulations on my own.
I hope my story can help others discover the true joy and meaning of life that can be found in the pages of Zhuan Falun.
(All photos in the article provided by the author)
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.