English Feature #7-35170 Broadcast August 20, 2001
The practice of Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong as it is also known, has attracted international attention both for its diverse multi-million-member following and for the severe resistance it has encountered from the Chinese government. Today on New American Voices Lisa Fan, a Chinese woman who discovered the Falun Dafa teachings four years ago, talks about the role the practice plays in her life in America. This feature was written by VOA intern Mark Cabana.
A mere two blocks from the United States Capitol building, Lisa Fan sits on the floor in the gymnasium of the federal office building where she works, practicing Falun Gong during her lunch hour. She meditates and performs the five sets of Falun Gong exercises with other practitioners who sit in a circle and repeat the movements. A tape provides background atmosphere.
Falun Dafa mood music
Lisa Fan arrived in the United States ten years ago as a student from China. Now in her early thirties, she works full-time as a computer network engineer. She discovered the Falun Dafa teachings about four years ago, and since then has introduced her husband, an American, to them, as well. She credits the practice, which she describes as self-improvement for mind, body and spirit, with helping her husband quit smoking, and with promoting a healthier lifestyle for all of her family.
Since its inception nearly a decade ago in China, the teachings of Falun Dafa have quickly spread throughout the world. However, two years ago the Chinese government banned Falun Dafa as an illicit cult and cracked down on the practice, arresting many of those who openly supported the teachings.
"In early nineteen-ninety-seven the Chinese government did a survey and they estimated 70-100 million people in China were practicing Falun Gong. This is more than the number of Communist Party members."
Lisa Fan believes that the crackdown was the work of what she says are people who felt threatened by these large numbers and who wanted to preserve their own power. The teachings of Falun Dafa were introduced nto the Washington area about six years ago and attract a wide variety of people according to Lisa Fan.
"It's very hard to categorize Falun Dafa practitioners because people practice Falun Gong from all walks of life, from all different age groups. I've seen children, like, three or four years old to people 80-90 years old. This practice truly brings people together, you see four generations of family practicing together. And you see people from Ethiopia, Africa, Europe, Asia -- everywhere. So I think what brings people to this is that everybody has a mind, body and spirit and everybody wants to live a healthy life.
The practice of Falun Gong also helps Lisa Fan connect to Washington's Chinese community.
"In D.C. there are a lot of Chinese people who practice Falun Gong, and we're also actively involved in Chinese Community events. Like the Chinese New Years celebrations and some other community events. We also have a Ming Hui Chinese school, it's like part of the community, and we join some of the area parades and provide some programs. We also participate in the annual Cherry Blossom Parade."
In addition to her twice-weekly Falun Gong meditation-exercise classes, Lisa spends weekend mornings practicing Falun Gong at the Washington Mall--the long grassy park that stretches down the center of the Capital.
"Every Saturday and Sunday morning we come to the national Mall right in front of the Air and Space museum - 20 to 30 people to do the group practice. People come to Washington because it's convenient and a nice area, and also because when we do the exercise in a public place it's a good way to share this wonderful practice with more people."
Mrs. Fan invests a lot of time practicing and popularizing Falun Dafa. But she believes it has offered her something that she was unable to find anywhere else.
"All my life I've been a seeker. I've been searching for the truth to life and the universe. I've searched in religion and also practiced Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga, for my physical health. I've also studied the Chinese I Ching and some other fortune telling things, just to try to know about life. I can say Falun Dafa is the best thing that ever happened in my life. It has woken up something deep within my heart."
Next week on New American Voices, doctors and patients talk about the practice of traditional Chinese medicine.
New American Voices intern Mark Cabana is a senior in Political Science and Asian Studies at Fuhrman University in Greenville, South Carolina.