The last straw came when the doctor told me I had severe keratitis and had to go to the hospital in the city for surgery.
It was a major expense that I had no way to pay. On top of that, my eyes were in constant in pain and my vision was blurry. I was devastated by fear that I might go blind, with no one to take care of me.
I was in such despair that I didn’t want to live any longer. I couldn’t understand why I had been born and why so many bad things happened to me; my entire 25-year-old life consisted of a miserable childhood and youth marked by disease and disability, poverty, and family abuse.
That day in 2013 when my doctor told me I had keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), I felt absolutely hopeless and filled with resentment. Little did I know I would soon see light at the end of the tunnel and embark on a new path in life that would help me find the health and happiness I longed for.
I was born into a poor and unlucky family. Both of my parents were widowed before they married each other. My father married my mother so that she could take care of his children. As for my mother, in order for her to marry my father she had to leave behind the daughter she’d had with her previous husband, giving her–my older sister–to my aunt to raise.
Apparently my father used to be kind and gentle, but that changed after I was born. Perhaps it was due to our extreme poverty. He often got angry and hit me. When my brother was born three years later, he became even angrier. He often grabbed both me and my brother roughly and flung us on the ground.
My mother was terrified that my father might throw us so hard that we would be injured or even killed, so she decided to leave him and return to her hometown.
She intended to take only my 1-year-old brother with her, carrying him in her arms. But even at the young age of 4, I had a vague suspicion that she was leaving for good, so I insisted on following her.
We had to walk 10 kilometers to reach my mother’s hometown. Since I had no shoes, by the time we were close to her family home, my feet were so blistered and in such pain that I could no longer continue. My relatives had to come and carry me the rest of the way.
My resentment grew as I got older. I hated my father for abusing my brother and me when we lived with him. And over the years, he came to my mother’s hometown to visit us only once. Immersed in poverty, anger, and sorrow, I vowed that I would never forgive him.
But my misfortune didn’t stop there. One of my hands was deformed and disabled, and when I started working after completing grade 9, housework was one of the few jobs I could do. But soon I had to return home due to a heart problem. The pains made it hard for me to even breathe.
Luckily, I was hired by a caring family in my hometown to do housework, and my heart problem didn’t get any worse. However, deep down in my heart, I blamed heaven for being unfair toward me. My elder sister and younger brother were both healthy and strong, while I was ugly and sickly.
Seeing how everyone around me was more fortunate and happier than I was made me miserable and depressed, to the point that at times I wanted to end my life.
After I turned 18, more miseries surfaced to torment me. In addition to my heart problem, other diseases and conditions such as arthritis, balance disorder, insomnia, and canker sores came one after another without warning.
Medical treatment was very expensive and it was always a struggle to find the money. My life consisted of going to the doctor whenever I was in pain and going to work whenever I felt better. Constant money worries and physical pain made it even harder for recovery to occur, but I could see no way out.
I began to get angry easily, ready to fight with my mother, other family members, or anyone at anytime. I was unable to tolerate any criticism or perceived slight. People who knew me when I was a child were surprised to see how much I had changed.
Then in 2013, the trouble with my eyes surfaced. It began with a sore eye. I had to quit my job at a restaurant and return to my hometown to have treatment. I thought I would only need a short period of rest, but I was soon diagnosed with conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. After three months of treatment, the doctor said I had keratitis and required surgery.
I worried about not having enough money to pay, not having anyone to take care of me after the operation, and about the possibility of going blind. I resented heaven, earth, and everyone. I became even more suicidal and just wanted to end my life once and for all.
As the saying goes, “when things reach an extreme point, they can only move in the opposite direction.” It was in my most desperate moment that the help I was meant to receive arrived: Some unexpected advice from one of my neighbors offered me a chance to reshape my whole life’s journey.
My neighbour lived in the city and was only back in our hometown for a few days. During that time, she visited me and advised me to read a book called Zhuan Falun and to practice five meditative exercises that went with the book. She said this would help me.
I learned that Zhuan Falun was the main book of teachings of a traditional Chinese practice called Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, for improving one’s mind and body. It teaches the moral and spiritual principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance and includes four slow-moving standing exercises and a sitting meditation.
At first I didn’t listen to my neighbor or believe Falun Dafa could help me. However, she was very sincere and even after returning to the city she called several times to urge me to go to her sister’s home to borrow the book.
I finally followed her advice. Her sister at first hesitated when she saw the state of my eyes, but gave me the book after seeing my determination.
Holding Zhuan Falun in my hands, I felt there was something familiar about it and started to read right away, despite my poor vision. To my surprise, I finished the entire book in two days, and not only was my vision no longer blurry, the pain in my eyes also subsided. I then began practicing the exercises, which I found easy to do and simple to learn.
After just one week of reading Zhuan Falun and doing the exercises, all my disease symptoms disappeared. Just as described in the book, my body had reactions such as vomiting and loose bowels for several days during the process of being purified. Then I was cleansed and finally experienced what it was like to be healthy. I felt light and full of energy. My skin, which used to have a dark tone, also turned lighter in color.
I was so happy that I hopped on my bicycle and rode all over town to tell my relatives. I wanted them to know about the magical book Zhuan Falun and the practice of Falun Dafa. That was really the first time I experienced joy and hope in my life.
Zhuan Falun answered many of the questions I had about my life and my reason for being. Understanding the preciousness and purpose of life dissolved the anger that used to plague me amid my misfortunes and suffering.
I stopped blaming heaven and was no longer jealous of others for their health and possessions. I changed my aggressive and impatient ways and didn’t shout at or argue with others anymore. I loved life and gradually let go of the past and learned how to forgive others, including my father.
I focused on looking inside myself for solutions to problems, and strived to improve my moral character to become a better person by following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.
As I continued to study Zhuan Falun every day, I found myself better able to distinguish good from bad and to live a simple and useful life with peace of mind. I understood that genuine happiness and good fortune comes from our good thoughts and conduct and our kind consideration of others, and that we are the ones who suffer the most if we let hatred and resentment dwell in our hearts.
About three years have passed. It’s thanks to Falun Dafa that I now enjoy good health, no longer endlessly tormented by illness like I used to be. I don’t miss days at work and even bought a motorbike, something I could only dream of before. I am capable of riding 200 kilometers without tiring.
I feel a sense of compassion toward everyone around me and my heart goes out to the many people who are suffering in life. I share my story with the wish that my experience can resonate with others. I hope more people can have the chance to read Zhuan Falun and know about Falun Dafa so that they can become healthy and happy as I have.
Nguyen Thi Hong 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.