“Life Is Beautiful with Falun Dafa”

September 03, 2015 | By Xu Jing in Chicago

(Minghui.org) “The past year has been beautiful for me since I learned Falun Dafa,” said Pavel Castro. He recently shared his experiences in discovering and practicing Falun Dafa at the 2015 Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference in Chicago.

Since learning Falun Dafa less than a year ago, 20-year-old Castro restored his relationship with his parents and younger brothers, was offered a manager position at a restaurant, and decided to go to college.

“Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance are three special words with profound meaning. I knew this is what my soul has been looking for,” said Castro.

Pavel Castro seated in Falun Dafa meditation.

Finding Falun Dafa

While surfing online last September, Castro read some stories of people practicing Falun Dafa and greatly benefiting from the exercises. He began reading the book Zhuan Falun.

“At first it was really confusing, like, what is this book about? But the more I read, the more it made me feel like a complete person. It really helped me balance my mind,” said Castro. “I finally realized that it is not how I try to understand certain concepts, but rather my mind is gradually elevated by taking in the spiritual principles in the book. So I can understand the true meaning of the book, not just the meaning on the surface.

“So, for the first half of the year into the practice, I read the book as much as possible every day. I set that as a priority and try to let go of my attachments.”

The Beginning of a Good Life

Before he started practicing Falun Dafa, Castro had drug addictions and was jailed a couple of times. He knew it was not the life he wanted, that he wanted to be a good person, but he didn’t know what could help him turn things around.

He used to work in a restaurant making burritos with a group of young men with similar problems. “The music was awful and they spoke foul language all day long. “Every day before I went to work, I had to study the Fa and tell myself to keep a peaceful mind,” said Castro. He noticed that the more he read the book, the calmer he became, and the negative environment no longer affected him.

“Of course, I sometimes asked Master for help. I was determined to cultivate my xinxing. I tried to improve my mind and to have a steadier mind. The environment may not have been really healthy, but it really helped me focus my mind.”

He focused on his work. If he made a mistake and others yelled at him, he would stay calm. He became more willing to help others.

His teammates noticed that he’d changed and asked him about it. He told them he practiced Falun Dafa and lent them the book to read.

His boss also noticed and offered to promote him to manager. He decided to go back to school instead.

He entered Elgin Community College and is taking general education classes. “I am determined to do better in school, too,” he said.

A Happy Family

Castro lives with his parents and two younger brothers. He used to lock himself in his room playing video games and didn’t want to talk to anyone. His father worried about him and often asked what he was up to. He used to avoid his father and quickly sneak back to his room.

After practicing, Castro became kinder and more attentive to his younger brothers. Castro told them what he had done wrong and how to be a good person. He bought a Spanish version Zhuan Falun for his mother, and she began studying it.

His father is happy to see the huge improvements in his son. Now they often chat a while when Castro gets home. “I feel everything in my family is getting better,” said Castro. “We are more closer now and get along better. I try not to live just for myself, but for them, too.”

Connecting with Practitioners, Working to End the Persecution

Castro had been doing the exercises by watching instructional videos online and had yet to meet another Falun Dafa practitioner. When he saw an ad for Shen Yun Performing Arts in Chicago, he bought tickets for his brothers and himself. He said he felt drawn to see the show but did not realize it was hosted by the Falun Dafa Association. At the show, he happened to meet a Falun Dafa practitioner who helped him find the local practice site.

“I think it is our predestined relationship that brought us together,” said Castro of this practitioner and others he has met since.

Castro participates in a Falun Dafa march in Chinatown, Chicago 2015.

Castro said he was shocked to learn the details of the persecution in China. “The more I read about Falun Gong practitioners having their organs forcefully harvested in prison, I really wanted to do something about it. I wanted to tell more people about this.

“You would think this stuff is behind us, but it is still happening. Before the practice, I didn’t know anything about China. Now it has made me determined to let people know about this. China has a rich culture, but the Communist Party destroyed the whole system. That is another sad thing about this generation.”

For Castro, though, he says he’s found hope in a dark world and that is his cultivation path in Falun Dafa.

Chinese version available

Category: Beginning Cultivation

Swedish Artist’s Family Journey of Practicing Falun Gong

September 03, 2015 | By Minghui correspondent Ziyun Meng

(Minghui.org) A family of Falun Gong practitioners live in a small town in Sweden, near the border with Norway, called Arvika. They are well known for their contributions to the community.

Kristina Kleinert is a dancing instructor and choreographer. Her husband Werner Kleinert is a karate instructor who also manages a construction company. They have three beautiful daughters.

Kristina, Werner and their eldest daughter started practicing Falun Gong in 1998. The following year the persecution started in China, and their lives underwent a drastic change.

The Kleinert family in New York City’s Times Square in May 2015.

Learning Falun Gong

In 1998, Werner’s brother Rychard called him and said, “Werner, I’ve found an exciting practice called Falun Gong. You must come to Gothenburg to learn it, because we have been seeking a genuine practice our whole lives.”

Kristina and Werner had not heard of Falun Gong, but they had tried many other forms of meditation. They had both felt for a long time that life must have a more profound meaning and that a spiritual practice would likely unlock the answers.

Werner actually went to India in his youth to search for a cultivation practice. He learned Yoga and Hinduism and got to know some teachings from Buddhism and Daoism. He later practiced martial arts and eventually opened a martial arts school.

But Werner did not immediately do as his brother asked, so Rychard called him again, “Have you gone to Gothenburg?” he asked, “A book titled Zhuan Falun has all the answers we have been seeking. You must go to Gothenburg!”

Two weeks later Rychard traveled to Sweden. He had just spent one week in Gothenburg participating in a free Falun Gong teaching session. He visited Werner and brought an audio recording of a nine-day lecture seminar given in China by the founder of Falun Gong, Master Li Hongzhi. They decided to offer a free nine-day session in Arvika and play the audio recording of Master Li’s lectures. About 40 people attended the first lesson, and more than half of them completed the entire nine-day session.

Werner still remembers how he felt the first day of the session. “Listening to Master Li’s first lecture I felt energy filled the whole room, to an extent that I almost could not bear,” he said, “My celestial eye opened. I could see scenes in other dimensions. Later I gradually calmed down.”

Werner not only saw scenes in another dimension, but also experienced some significant changes physically and mentally. He knew Falun Gong was what he had been searching for so many years.

“The more I listened to Master Li’s teachings, the more I knew this is what I had been seeking. Since then we [his family] have been practicing Falun Gong and mindfully following the principles,” he said.

Werner had been addicted to smoking and liked to drink wine. He had tried many times to quit both habits, but had failed each time. After practicing Falun Gong something changed, and cigarettes tasted different to him.

“I felt nauseated when I put a cigarette into my mouth after practicing Falun Gong. It was a terrible feeling. I completely stopped smoking within a few days,” Werner said.

He similarly got rid of his attachment to drinking. His 20 years of addiction were over. “I got great help from Master Li,” he said.

After listening to the nine-day lectures they felt full of joy and decided to offer many free nine-day teaching sessions to spread the practice to more people. Many people in the area started practicing Falun Gong as a result.

Touring Europe after the Persecution in China Started

Werner and his family were attending a nine-day session in Varmland in July 1999 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the persecution of Falun Gong. The news stunned them. The CCP’s propaganda about Falun Gong was broadcast in European and other foreign media. The family felt pressure and a strong need to explain the facts about Falun Gong to European people.

“Our practice was simple and gentle before the persecution,” recalled Werner, “But our practice became difficult and we felt pressure after the persecution. We did not entirely understand the situation in China with the Party. We did not know how to clarify the truth.”

Kristina gradually became a coordinator to help spread Falun Gong in Europe. From 1999 to 2001, their family toured many cities to explain the facts.

Explaining the Facts through the Performing Arts

Kristina and another practitioner, a musician named Charlotta Johansson, organized a performance titled “Lotus.” They toured Sweden and performed the show in many schools and theaters.

“We shared the message about Falun Gong and the persecution via dancing, music and poetry,” Kristina recalled.

“Music and dancing can touch people,” she said. “We have such specialty. I like dancing on stage. I think dancing can deliver the message and touch the audience.”

Kristina Kleinert performs traditional Chinese dance

While Kristina planned the many events they held across Europe, her husband helped her with the more concrete tasks of transporting and setting up the equipment they used.

“We are a perfect team,” he said. “We contributed to many meaningful events.”

“Informing the public about Falun Gong was hard right after the persecution,” he said. “We toured many cities. We needed to apply for permits from the police. It rained a lot. We did not have enough hands. It was difficult.”

They had a common wish to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. They knew the persecution was personally initiated by Jiang Zemin, who at that time was head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They went to protest when Jiang visited Lithuania, and called for him to cease the persecution.

“There were many difficulties during that trip,” Werner recalled. “We met with hail and rain. It was very windy with hail and rain when we crossed a bridge near Jiang’s hotel. The strong wind seemed to want to keep us from crossing the bridge. We were drenched.”

About 10 years later, their whole family toured Sweden again to raise awareness. This tour also included the Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truth, Compassion, Tolerance) exhibition. Their car was piled full of informational materials. In each of the more than 10 cities they visited they held concerts on the street with dancing, singing, speeches and demonstrations of the Falun Gong exercises. The activities drew the attention of many passersby.

Their eldest daughter Tara, was 11 years old at the time and she danced as part of the tour. Their second daughter Mira, who was 8 years old, looked after the informational materials. Their youngest daughter Indra was just four years old. They met many people who expressed appreciation and support for their efforts.

New York Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference in 2015

Werner and Kristina brought their daughters to attend the New York Cultivation Experience Sharing Conference on May 14, 2015. More than 8000 Falun Gong practitioners from over 50 countries participated in a large rally near the United Nations and a parade across 42nd Street from the east side to west side of Manhattan, on May 15. The parade celebrated the 23rd anniversary of Falun Gong’s introduction to the public and also called for an end to the CCP’s persecution.

“We had not come here together before,” Kristina said. “This time we come together to participate in this grand annual conference along with practitioners from across the world. We wish to display the beauty of Falun Gong, and call for an end to the persecution.”

Their daughters were excited to attend the conference in New York.

Werner and Kristina’s daughters (L-R) Mira, Tara, and Indra.

Mira said she practices Falun Gong with her parents. “I understand that practicing is a serious matter with significant meaning,” she said, adding, “I am happy to participate in the events [in New York] and listen to Master Li’s teaching.”

Ten-year-old Indra said she began practicing Falun Gong with her parents when she was very young. She said, “I can tolerate others in school and do things carefully. I know to look inward when facing a conflict. I am glad that I am a practitioner.”

Chinese version available

Category: Journeys of Cultivation

Changchun Engineering College Faculty Member Sues Jiang Zemin

September 03, 2015 | By a Minghui correspondent from Jilin Province, China

(Minghui.org) Dr. Zou Xiangyang from Changchun Engineering College has filed a complaint against former dictator Jiang Zemin for initiating the persecution of Falun Gong. Dr. Zou has been arrested, sentenced, and harassed many times over the past 16 years, just for practicing Falun Gong.

Dr. Zou used to suffer from many ailments before he took up Falun Gong, such as genetic heart disease and chronic anxiety. With his poor health, he even had to suspend his studies for his doctorate degree. However, he regained his health just one month after he started to practice Falun Gong and subsequently finished his degree.

Given Three Years of Forced Labor for Appealing for Falun Gong

Dr. Zou went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong in July 2000. He was arrested and detained for 15 days.

In his complaint letter, Dr. Zhou wrote: “I was arrested again in March 2002 in the middle of giving a lecture. The police blindfolded me and took me to the Jingyuetan Police Department.

“During my detention, I was tied to an iron chair while the police used electric batons to shock me. They slapped me in the face and beat me with a metal rod. They also put a metal bucket over my head from the afternoon till late evening. I was held at the Tiebei Detention Center for a month. Afterwards, I was given three years in the Chaoyanggou Forced Labor Camp.”

Mentally and Physically Tortured in the Labor Camp

In the camp, Dr. Zou was forced to sit on a small stool for a long time each day. In the end, the skin on his buttocks split, and his underwear stuck to his bottom. It was extremely painful when he tried to remove his underwear. Due to the poor conditions, he later got scabies.

The food he ate sometimes had gone bad and smelled rotten. The rice and flour they were given was old and stale.

“I was forced to do some hard labor in the camp. I had to dig the ground in the spring and pick corn in the autumn. We had to process the corn in the winter, and in our spare time we did building work and made paper bags,” Dr. Zou added.

“The mental torture was the worst. I was forced to watch videos and read an array of materials that slandered Falun Gong. We were also forced to write a ‘thought report’ once a month. This ‘thought report’ had to meet their standard, otherwise we would be tortured more severely. I was forced to sit on the concrete floor and was deprived of sleep for not writing the report they wanted.

“In the evening of April 7, 2004, guard Wang Kai directed criminal inmates to beat and threaten all the practitioners and keep them from sleeping because they didn’t sign their names on the report.”

In September 2003, Dr. Zou’s wife and son were told to go to the camp. The guards pressured his wife to divorce him in an attempt to pressure him into renouncing his belief.

Dr. Zou’s health deteriorated as a result of the severe persecution. He lost nearly 40 pounds and developed both tuberculosis and pneumonia. He had difficulty walking and was released on medical parole on May 25, 2004.

A Second Forced Labor Term

Dr. Zou was arrested again at home on April 24, 2007, and the police ransacked the place. The book Zhuan Falun, two electronic books, an MP3 player, and a computer were confiscated. After a month in detention, he was again assigned to a year in a forced labor camp.

The Family Suffers

Dr. Zou wrote about his family’s suffering in his complaint:

“My arrests and years in forced labor camps took a toll on my mother. She died in October 2002 as a result of pressure from the authorities and stress over my situation.

After she died, my wife went to the labor camp and asked if I could attend my mother’s funeral. The guards used this as an attempt to blackmail me into giving up my belief, but I refused. After two hours at an impasse, I was allowed to go to my mother’s funeral.

During the past 16 years, I have been harassed countless times. My wife and son have suffered a lot of harassment as well. They were not told where I would be detained after I was arrested, so my wife had to scour all the local police stations, police departments, detention centers, labor camps, and brainwashing centers to find for me. She was frightened and depressed and suffered great financial losses. She had to bring our son up on her own.

My son also suffered when he was growing up. I wasn’t there to look after him or be with him. Other children have their parents take care of them or spend time with them having fun. But my son didn’t have that.

One Chinese New Year, some children set off fireworks with their father, but my son just stood there alone and looked at them.

He was bullied and discriminated against at school and developed bad behavior as a result. He has a bad temper and doesn’t like to study.”

Financial Loss

Dr. Zou was due to be promoted to be an associate professor in October 2000 but was passed over because he refused to give up his belief in Falun Gong. He was also removed from his position of lecturer and made to work in a laboratory.

His monthly salary was 500 yuan lower compared to that of an associate professor. Over the past 16 years, he has lost nearly 180,000 yuan in income.

His wages were stopped during his detention in the camp, adding up to a total loss of 108,000 yuan in wages.

Chinese version available

Category: Prosecuting Jiang Zemin