PureInsight | February 23, 2004
Chapter 7: Some Company in Beijing
[PureInsight.org] Joel finally came back and I could tell he was a little frazzled, questioning the "what-ifs." I quickly stood up and put my hands on his two shoulders.
Zenon: "You know what you need to do?"
I continued before he could even say a thing.
Zenon: "You need to sit and read. I have to go out. There are some things I need to do."
I wanted to record some video footage of the city streets of Beijing, full of cars and people in their hustle and bustle. If I ever wanted to make a video of this trip I was going to need a lot more footage of China besides the Great Wall. Off I went to get shots of everyday people doing ordinary things. Of course I made it just in time to miss the flag lowering ceremony held every evening in Tiananmen Square. Instead I just tried to get some shots of the hundreds, if not a thousand plus, people in the Square when two young ladies walked up to me and said hello. I took my eye out of the camera's viewfinder.
Zenon: "Oh, hello."
Girl One: "What are you doing here?"
Zenon: "Just taking some video footage of all the people in the square."
I wasn't prepared to engage in a conversation, my mind was elsewhere.
Girl Two: "Wow, you look professional!"
My camera was not much bigger than my hand. It was just a small consumer camera, nothing flashy.
Girl One: "Yeah, professional."
Having spent some time with Chinese people I had a feeling that they weren't 100% sincere, but they were friendly and it all seemed harmless enough. Even if they might want some money they seemed quite nice. Then my battery died on my camera and I gracefully glided my palm through the air onto my forehead, "why didn't I charge the battery?"
Zenon: "What do you girls do here in Beijing? Are you students?"
Girl Two: "Yes. We are art students. We're painters."
Girl One: "What do you do? Make movies?"
Zenon: "No, I am a painter too."
Both girls together: "OH YEAH!"
With a big smile I said, "We're all painters."
Girl Two: "What do you paint?"
Zenon: "Walls, homes, businesses."
The girls laughed.
Girls: "Do you like art? We can show you some Chinese Art."
Zenon: "LIKE ART?! LIKE ART!? I love art. Let's go."
We began walking.
Zenon: "Why is your English so good?"
They laughed and responded:
Both girls together: No, no, not so good.
It turned out that they had a Canadian English teacher at school. After I said a few words in Chinese they were quite pleased and wanted to know why I knew Chinese but we were still walking through the Square, surrounded by police and people, so I told them that I would tell them later. After a short walk we hopped on a train and went to another part of the city that I was not familiar with. They walked me into this small gallery.
Girl One: "Tell us which is your favorite? Is it this one? Is it this one? Would you like to buy one?"
Zenon: "Please slow down. If you want to know my favorite then I will have to see them all."
There were indeed some very beautiful paintings. Girl One kept telling me the meaning of each. Almost everything in the Chinese culture bears a deeper meaning than what you see on the surface. She was so happy and excited. I could tell she really loved Chinese art. She got to several paintings of plants and, if memory serves correctly, they each represented a different season. The one that stood out for me the most was the painting of the bamboo. She began to explain its meaning.
Girl One: "This painting of the bamboo represents truth. Bamboo is very solid and unwavering like truth. It grows straight up, representing standing for truth in all circumstances. Bamboo is also hollow which represents being humble while standing for truth. Would you like to buy it?"
I could only think of my fellow practitioners in China who, for two and a half years, continued to stand up for the truth in Tiananmen Square, in their homes, cities, schools, work places and so on. They still continue to stand for the truth under all circumstances of illegal arrests, torture, beatings, rape, expulsion, extortion and coercion. Yet never have any of them said that they were great for doing so. Instead they have humbly attributed it to the boundless and profound teachings of Falun Dafa. They were all represented by this bamboo in the painting I stood staring at in some little student gallery in Beijing. She continued. The next painting was about virtue and the flowers in the next represented compassion. I could see she truly cherished these beautiful principles in her heart. It was no longer a matter of fear or no fear, these girls had to know the truth about Falun Dafa and I was going to tell them.
Girl Two: "Come and take a look at this one."
It was Chinese calligraphy. The Chinese character was "Ren" meaning tolerance, endurance or patience.
Zenon: "Hey that's 'Ren.' It's very beautiful."
That character "Ren" meant endurance, patience, tolerance and the ability to endure suffering.
Girl Two: "Would you like to buy it? It is very deep in meaning, very profound."
Silently remembering all of the suffering that the practitioners in China are enduring.
Zenon: "I know."
They kept telling me how sad it was that people no longer cared for traditional art. Even their teacher's art was selling at very low prices, and his work was outstanding. I could only agree and feel their pain. We all knew, although we weren't saying it, that the two girls may not have much of a career after they finish their schooling in traditional Chinese painting. Although I wanted to buy their paintings I didn't have the money and that seemed to be the case for a lot of people as I kept learning while I was in China. It didn't bother me so much that they wanted my money. At least they weren't shoving me around. Plus I began to understand how hard it must be for them.
After the art gallery we went to a dumpling house across the street from Tiananmen Square for dinner. I wanted to raise the topic Falun Gong. It was the only thing on my mind but there were just so many people in the place. There are bound to be some plain clothes police in the area. Tiananmen Square is the most socially sensitive place in China especially for Falun Dafa at that time. I just didn't know who could overhear so I refrained. Although the conversation was nice they kept asking me what I was thinking about but I was just too afraid to open my mouth. I then followed them to an internet café hoping to find a quieter place to raise the rather sensitive topic. I helped them set up their instant messenger service' on one of the computers, which Girl One was ever so grateful for. Now she could speak to Todd in New York City.
After our experience at the internet café we went walking down the street and I began to become a little restless. If I didn't take the next chance to bring up Falun Dafa then I would surely not have another one and they would be gone. I kept waiting for fewer and fewer people to be walking near to us but that was difficult in Beijing. I realized my procrastination was definitely getting in the way, I got fed up with myself and decided to tell them.
Zenon: "Do you know why I can speak some Chinese? It's because I am a practitioner of Falun Dafa."
Girl One: "REALLY? YOU!?!"
Girl Two just smiled condescendingly.
Girl One: "BUT WHAT ABOUT LI HONGZHI!?!"
She was speaking of the founder of Falun Dafa who, since the crackdown on Falun Dafa two years prior, has had hundreds if not thousands of defamation articles and TV shows made to attack him and his reputation.
Zenon: "There is no need to speak so loudly, but he is a good man."
Girl Two told her friend to keep her voice down.
Girl One: "Really!?! Nooo."
Zenon: "Have you ever met him?"
Girl One: "No"
Zenon: "Then how could you know? I have met him. I know. There was one occasion when a small group of about ten practitioners and I had a chance to speak with him. When someone asked about Jiang Zemin Mr. Li did not get angry, he didn't even frown. He never attacked him with curse words or defamation. It is not a secret that Jiang Zemin is not Mr. Morality. Millions of your nation's money has been used to attack Falun Dafa and Mr. Li Hongzhi and yet he hasn't even tried to defend himself. If he wanted to defame Jiang Zemin, could there be a safer place, in a room with only a few devoted practitioners? No. But yet he didn't. I have seen Mr. Li speak publicly on many occasions and never has he ever said anything bad or immoral about China or the defamation, after seeing this, I was so clear. He just simply and truly is a good man."
In fact he is much more than this but I had to start small. They couldn't handle too much, too fast. Mr. Li has selflessly and tirelessly taught Falun Dafa for three years. In the beginning his fees for his personal lectures were the lowest in the country and these fees were simply in place to cover administrative and travel costs. Once his book was published he stopped teaching and lived off the very small royalties from his book sales. His books were also free to be downloaded off the internet.
He never asked for people to give him money and no one ever paid a membership fee. Naturally, this angered many other people teaching Qi Gong, as they were trying to make a living from it.
We had come to a store and Girl Two went running inside. Girl One and I continued talking.
Girl One: "But what about those people who burnt themselves in Tiananmen Square?"
Zenon: "I am glad you brought up this point. I almost completely forgot about it. It was staged. Those were not Falun Dafa practitioners. Did you see the CCTV footage shot in the Square, of the people burning themselves?"
She nodded yes and I continued.
Zenon: "Well, so did the whole world. When we got it, we slowed it down, to examine it. Do you know what we saw?"
She shook her head, no.
Zenon: "We saw something very scary. When the policemen were using fire extinguishers, to put out the burning woman, there was a lot of smoke surrounding her. But you could see a policeman strike her in the head, killing her and she fell to the ground. Once we showed this to people around the world, this portion of the video footage was removed from the Chinese government's version of the video. Furthermore, the reports of how many people were burned changed more than once in the first week. All of a sudden in the second week there were reports about a little girl being burned in the Square. How could the media have forgotten to report the burning of a little girl for one whole week? How did so many police have so many fire extinguishers so quickly? When the 'survivors' were interviewed after the incident, how come they spoke of things like 'burning karma with fire,' trying to sound like cultivators, when these ridiculous things are never mentioned in Zhuan Falun? Why are foreign journalists forbidden from investigating and are persecuted when they do try to cover the immolation incident or Falun Gong? The reasons you don't know is because if any one in the government reveals the truth they, too, will also be persecuted. Furthermore, the Chinese officials don't want their country to lose face. Even other countries around the world don't want to admit that Chinese officials are responsible for such a heinous crime. This truth is too big for people to accept. But once it is fully revealed many people will bow their heads in shame. It is truly sad. It is not only sad for the victims of that crime and it is not only sad for the practitioners facing the persecution but it is truly sad for all of China."
Girl Two joined us again and we kept walking. They were heading home so I decided to walk them to their bus. I figured it was a good opportunity to talk with them more about the true situation of Falun Dafa.
Zenon: "Even IF! Even if they were Falun Gong practitioners, which they were not, but IF they were, how can you blame Falun Gong? Haven't many students in the universities in China committed suicide?"
Girl One: "Yes."
Zenon: "Has anyone ever blamed the universities for the students' death? Could anyone rightfully blame the university for the student's death?"
Girl One: "No."
Zenon: "Your government estimated that over 70 million people in China practice Falun Gong. Out of such a large number, 5 people have perhaps hurt themselves. How can you blame Falun Dafa? This is why it was obviously staged because it was used specifically to attack Falun Dafa in the media. Within ten days after the persecution of Falun Dafa started, the state run media released over 300 defaming articles attacking Falun Dafa and its founder. That's an average of 30 a day."
I was going a little fast and heavy but there was very little time left. I began telling them about how my three years of practice brought me out of a very shallow and damaging lifestyle and how this impressed my mother and friends. I told them how later my mother started to practice as well and her rheumatoid arthritis that she had had for 32 years went away. Girl One was in awe. In the beginning you could see the skepticism in her eyes but now she was all ears. The only problem was that we were walking in the street and it was hard to speak to both of them. Girl One only heard half of what I was saying.
Zenon: "Did you know that Falun Dafa is practiced in over 40 countries around the world right now?"
Girl One: "No."
Zenon: "Did you know that Falun Dafa and Mr. Li Hongzhi have received awards for the benefits Falun Dafa has brought to society? Did you know that just this year Mr. Li Hongzhi was one of the top six people nominated in the world for the Nobel Peace Prize and that is the second year in a row that he has been nominated?"
Girl One: "No."
Zenon: "If you come to Canada with me, we can go on the internet, and then we can see anything we want about Falun Gong. If you type in Falun Gong on the internet in China your IP address will be traced and you will be arrested. You should take a second and think about it."
Girl One: "Wow, I should start to practice Falun Gong."
Zenon: "If you want to, that is wonderful, but please be careful. One thing you can do is let more people know what I have told you. I told you that I would speak Chinese to you."
Then I recited a poem to them.
Girl Two: "Who wrote that?"
Zenon: "Mr. Li Hongzhi wrote it."
Girl Two: "That is not a poem, those are forbidden words."
I had never heard that expression before.
Zenon: "Excuse me, what did you say?"
Girl Two: "Forbidden words. Those words are against the government."
The words in the poem talked about cultivation, which had nothing to do with matters of politics. I was a little bit shocked.
Zenon: "No. You are wrong. Falun Gong is not against the government nor will it ever be. We just want to practice cultivation."
Then she made a sour face.
Girl Two: "Why do I see people going to Tiananmen Square to hold banners that say, 'Falun Dafa is good'?"
Chuckling inside, I thought, wow if she only knew what I was going to do in less than 24 hours.
Zenon: "Because it is good and it is important to stand up for the truth. It is exactly like the painting of the bamboo that we were looking at this evening. We must stand up for the truth. It is good and people should know that."
Their bus showed up and they began to thank me, as I did them. I wanted to continue but Girl Two ran to the bus, then I said goodbye to Girl One who walked away backwards and thanked me more than once before she turned to run for her bus. I felt like I wasn't finished but I decided to head back. I had a big day tomorrow.
Off to the Hotel. I went walking through the streets of Beijing. Some alone time for self reflection was in order, so I wasn't in a big hurry to get back. I decided not to take a cab.
While enjoying my late night stroll through the streets of Beijing I wanted to reflect on the pleasant evening with those two very sweet young ladies. But I was overwhelmed with fury and anger. I felt like I could roar like a beast and shake all the buildings in Beijing. My fury was raging inside and all I could do was clench my teeth, push my heels into the ground while I walked and try to stop myself from exploding.
Those girls were so nice and innocent. They truly cared for their country. They were even moved by noble human virtues. Their hearts were genuinely good. But they weren't allowed to know about Falun Dafa. To me they represented the very innocence of the modern day Chinese culture, and how it was being shamefully deceived.
Nothing has ever spread throughout the world, transcending cultural and racial divides, offering mental, physical, emotional and spiritual guidance at such a rapid speed. The benefit it has brought to humanity is unprecedented. In all of this, it has never asked for anything in return. Not to mention how the practitioners have faced years of persecution. They have not only maintained their practice, but have battled the persecution. Fighting, not with aggression, not with stones, fists or bombs but with peaceful means and with compassion in their hearts. These girls and millions like them did not have a fair chance to even look at it for themselves. Instead they are filled with hate-breeding propaganda.
Remembering that they were having difficulty selling their teacher's art works for low prices, I feared that they would not have much of a career. All I could see was the possibility that these two girls would finish school without a job, and would then join the police force, being ordered to torture practitioners of Falun Gong. The first week on the job they would go home as quickly as possible, then they would be holding down the practitioners for force feeding, and before you know it they would be using electric batons to torture and shock the private parts of female Falun Gong practitioners. I could see their once sweet faces screaming "SIGN THIS PAPER" in anger, "WE WILL STRIP YOU AND THROW YOU IN A MALE PRISON, IF WE KILL FALUN GONG PRACTITIONERS IT IS COUNTED AS SUICIDE, DO YOU WANT TO DIE?" Then when they are questioned about what they did, they will just reply, "the orders came from above". They will become the masters of deceit, as they lie to themselves, just as they were lied to.
This was not contemplative; it just appeared in my mind. I had barely been walking for thirty seconds. I had heard these stories from practitioners who had gotten out of China, read them on the internet from letters sent out of China or on human rights web sites. I didn't even have to close my eyes and I could see all the propaganda spilling into other countries through Chinese consulates and in Chinese newspapers fueling this unfounded hatred in the world's most populous culture. The rage I felt was beyond measure.
There was very little stopping me from being arrested for beating my way into Zhongnanhai, then government compound, and screaming "I WANT THE PARTY'S LEADER RIGHT NOW!" It was like a demonic dragon, breathing its fire of hatred into the hearts of the people and I wanted to extinguish it. I noticed that the demonic nature that I had harbored for so many years, before I began my cultivation in Falun Dafa, boiling like a cauldron of anger, hate and despair. In fact, this would probably make this dictator quite happy that he started a fire of hate in my heart. I almost lost control but I remembered that I was a Falun Dafa practitioner. It was my responsibility to myself and to everyone else to remain within the Universe's Law of Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance.
My fire was extinguished. My heels stopped making dents in the sidewalk. My jaw relaxed and my fists loosened in my jacket pockets. My breath and walking pace slowed down and a few tears trickled down my face that I didn't care to wipe. There were a couple of tears for the Chinese people and a couple of tears because my heart was deeply touched by what I was planning to do the very next day. My mind became as solid and as motionless as marble and I just stared straight ahead with a very intense and profound sense of seriousness as I made the rest of my way back to the hotel.
It was late when I returned. The peephole was black so I knew Joel was asleep for sure. I made sure to give a rather heavy knock to make sure he could hear me. The sound of the door unlocking and then there was Joel, half-conscious, blinded by the light from the hallway. He took a second or two, but once he made out my silhouette he greeted me in a low voice.
Zenon: "You were sleeping, already."
Joel: "I AM sleeping."
I kicked off my shoes, got changed and climbed into bed. Not being that tired, I sat up with my back against the headboard.
Zenon: "You have to hear what happened to me tonight."
My tone was pretty serious. The light clicked on and Joel half sat up in his bed. Whipping his eyes he turned his head squinting at me.
Joel: "What happened?"
As I was telling him the story of the two girls, he nodded and asked about what they did and how they reacted. Near the end of the story he became very quiet. He looked at the wall directly in front of him.
Zenon: "Joel…we've got to do this."
He didn't move his head. He just kept looking forward.
Joel: "We're doing it…its already done."
Now came the time to see if I wanted those principles in me or if they were indeed in me at all….