American Practitioners: Our Journey to Tiananmen Square
Somewhere deep in my heart, I knew that one day I would go to Tiananmen Square to validate the Great Fa of the universe. When I look back at my journey and all the events that led up to February 14, 2002, it is now apparent that it was all arranged long ago. Nevertheless, in the several months before the trip, imagination, fear, fame, and many other degenerate human thoughts rushed through my mind and I was faced with many large tests.
Just about one month after Scott introduced me to Falun Dafa in June of 1999, the wicked persecution began. Even though I knew little about it at that point, I had no doubt Falun Dafa was a peaceful and beneficial practice. Based on what I had read in Zhuan Falun, cultivating virtue and a good and kind heart was most important and so the government persecuting these gentle, upright people seemed extremely wrong and unjust.
I remember staying up for hours into the night, reading up on the news in Clearwisdom, trying to understand what was happening. I followed closely with admiration and respect, the efforts by those Chinese practitioners, courageously appealing for the right to practice their beliefs. With each report I read, I felt wounded in the heart, so deep was my sadness for this unjust massacre that unfolded and so quickly intensified. I often closed my eyes, imagining myself there with them. At that time, I didn't know yet how else I could support them.
One night around December 1999, I asked myself "why aren't we, Westerners, helping with their efforts there? How long can we stand to watch this bloody massacre for?" As soon as I had this thought I saw a magnificent image -- it was like a big bubble floating in the air: I was practicing with hundreds of other practitioners - westerners and non-westerners - in Tiananmen Square! The image was very vivid and it felt like I was having a quick glimpse into the future.
In early-December 2001, I learned from a local western practitioner that a second trip to Tiananmen was in the works and I was told who to contact for more information. I still wasn't sure if I should go, but figured that I should at least get some more information. Oddly enough, I quickly found myself helping with some of the coordination efforts---even though I was still undecided. Eventually the others just assumed I was going. Thus, I decided that I should take the next step and see if I could get a visa. I was almost certain that it would be denied considering all the press conferences and appeals that I had participated in right in front of the consulate. I simply walked in and was eventually granted a visa.
However, I still wondered if my decision to go was based on my attachment to Fame. Since early childhood, I have always wanted to be a "super hero" and have often thought about performing some heroic acts on Tiananmen Square. Yet, one day when I was reading Teacher's latest articles, my doubts and notions seemed to be totally dissolved by the power of the Fa. I can't explain what I enlightened to, however, while I was reading, it just came to me that going to Tiananmen would be very righteous and within the Fa's requirements of me.
In January of this year, about one month before the trip, while I was inside the revolving doors entering our building, Scott mentioned that a practitioner friend of ours was going to China... a few seconds later he added in a barely audible voice, "and maybe Scott will go too"...
I was petrified. Although I tried my best to forget his words, various human notions and attachments of sentimentality, fear and anxiety entangled my mind and turned into one big, grim, heavy cloud that overpowered me. Each night before going to sleep, accounts of torture and death ran through my mind, my heart would pound with fear. I faced my deepest attachment - the fear of death. Not the fear of my own death, but that of a loved one. Because of an incident that happened several years ago, I developed an uncontrollable fear of losing those close to me. It now surfaced again with unusual intensity.
To study with a calm mind became a real challenge, yet Teacher teaches us that "The boat to sail the boundless Dafa rides on hardships" and so I decided to take it as an opportunity to rise beyond my humanness. How could I assist Teacher and fulfill my role as a Fa-Rectification disciple, while harboring such stubborn aversions and desires? How could I allow the evil forces to use this attachment of mine to interfere with Scott's cultivation? I proceeded to study the Fa more diligently and send forth righteous thoughts.
One week before the trip, Scott told me that he had purchased his tickets. Not knowing what I had gone through that month, he was surprised when I said I too wished to go. But I asked him: "I still have so much fear, should I go still?" He said, "You don't have to have completed cultivation in order to step forward."
Just two days before the trip, my mind and heart settled down. The heavy cloud no longer existed; heartfelt resolve had replaced it. The image I had seen years before gradually returned to me and made me smile again. Before we left, I spoke to many fellow practitioners and their support and kind advice made all the difference.
During the Fa conference in New York, many of the '36 westerners' who went to Tiananmen in November shared their experiences with us. During our meeting, one of the previous travelers was asking each of us why we wanted to go to Tiananmen and was saying that if we don't know why then we shouldn't be going. I was a bit concerned because I really couldn't explain to others why I was going. I eventually realized that my decision to go was coming from a place very deep in my heart and that I didn't have the ability to verbalize it. My current understanding is that I simply had a "Knowing Heart."
Our flight arrived in China in the evening of February 11th and our group of eight practitioners spent the next two days doing tourist things. On the 12th, four of us went to Tiananmen Square the second we walked onto the square, we could feel the intensity of the evil pressing down on us. Many police watched us, took pictures and filmed us very closely, while several plain-clothed police followed us. I then understood that Tiananmen Square is a very significant place in other dimensions and the old forces are doing everything in their power to control it.
The next day, seven of us went to the Great Wall. After climbing to the highest point of the Wall, several of us sent forth righteous thoughts. I quickly cleared my mind and found that my righteous thoughts came forth very strongly. Afterwards, I just sat there and gazed out at all the mountains with a very clear mind. A very powerful understanding, from somewhere deep within, manifested in my mind. The understanding was that Dafa disciples must be deeply rooted in the Fa. I know I have read this many times, but this time, I actually 'experienced' this understanding on a very deep level.
The night before we were to go to Tiananmen, I woke up at about 4:30 am, in a half awake state, my attachment to fear and anxiety surfaced in very large way. My heart was pounding, my hands were sweating, and I couldn't stop thinking about the next day. My imagination was running wild. After about 30 minutes of lying sleepless in bed, at around 5:30am, I decided to get up and send forth righteous thoughts. I finally calmed down and studied the Fa for an hour---my mind became clear and my anxiety disappeared. I then went back to sleep and we woke up at about 8am.
I was hit with another wave of anxiety when I found out from practitioners back home that 14 practitioners had already been detained from their hotel the night before. At this point I felt tremendous pressure all over my body. We left our hotel room and once I got outside all the pressure and anxiety was lifted. It felt like I had passed a large tribulation and my conviction to validate the Fa on Tiananmen Square became rock-solid. I knew in my heart that no matter what happens I would make it the Square and yell out 'Falun Dafa Hao.'
Our group of eight practitioners (6 Americans and 2 Brazilians) finally gathered together outside the hotel. One of the Brazilian practitioners carried all his possessions, including his Dafa books in a large backpack. Several of us subtly mentioned to him that it wasn't a good idea -- we saw that the police on the Square searched the backpack of every person. The Brazilian firmly said, "I will walk onto the Square and I won't be touched---you will see."
He waved goodbye, making his way towards the Square on his own. We respected his conviction. Later we learned that he indeed walked right onto the square, his backpack never checked, he made it all the way to the people's monument, holding a rose in his hand for those practitioners who had lost their lives. The rest of us were stopped on the outskirts of the Square. This practitioner had been cultivating pretty much on his own in Brazil for the past 2 years and it took him a long time to understand the importance of being a Fa Rectification disciple. We asked him if he would go only one week before our departure. He amazed us when he immediately replied with a solid "yes," dropped everything, and met us in Beijing.
We took the subway to the Square and while in the underpass that goes under the street and comes up onto the square, 3 police officers asked if they could do a security check on us. It turned out that they just had metal detectors and four of us easily passed the check and quickly walked up the stairs onto the square. At the top of the stairs, I noticed that the practitioner who was carrying our 9-foot golden Dafa banner practitioner was still being checked and they had just found the banner. All the police started to yell to the officers to stop the rest of us.
It was only 1pm and I really wanted to make our 2pm meeting with all the other practitioners. I started to walk away quickly thinking that perhaps I could go into the nearby subway entrance before anybody saw me. However, within two seconds a plain-clothed officer had grabbed my arm. I looked into the Square and thought: "There is no way I'm going to leave China without yelling 'Falun Dafa Hao!' on the square." At this moment, I shook my arm away from officer and ran towards the flagpole and yelled out several times, as loud as I could, "Falun Dafa Hao!!" I got about 15 meters and the officer was grabbing my arm again, but I continued to run. I reached into my coat pocket and threw out about 100 small, yellow truth clarifying flyers. The officer eventually tackled me to the ground, but while sitting there, I was still able to reach into both of my pant pockets and I threw out two more large handfuls of flyers. I looked back in towards the center of the square and saw a beautiful scene---there was a huge cloud of Dafa Flyers suspended in the sky. My wife and two other practitioners had also thrown out all of their Dafa flyers.
I kept yelling "Falun Dafa Hao!" as loud as I could. The policemen quickly dragged me off the square and half down the subway ramp. I'm not exactly sure why, but I then started to yell, "Help, I'm being attacked!!!" The people in the subway were shocked. The police stopped and then dragged me back up onto the square. I began to yell, "Falun Dafa Hao!" again, with all my might. About six officers dragged me over to a police van and I resisted getting in. Eventually one of them got my arm behind my back and started to choke me. Eventually they pushed me into the van. I kept yelling "Falun Dafa Hao!" as loud as I could. Another practitioner was put into the same van and it then drove across the square. I yelled "Falun Dafa Hao!" out the window to the crowds of people until eventually an officer covered my mouth.
I passed the metal detector check and quickly walked up the stairs onto the square. Looking down the stairs, I saw our fellow practitioner in a choke hold. I froze for a second, hesitating in leaving him behind like that. But then began to walk quickly towards the center of the square where many people gathered. Over my left shoulder there was Scott in the middle of the wonderful cloud of hundreds of our flyers. A few more steps and I was tackled, hitting the ground hard, face down. I immediately began to yell "Falun Dafa Hao." There was a big crowd of people around me then, during those few minutes I felt nothing but Shan (Compassion) in my heart. While being dragged around, I calmly looked into the eyes of each person in the crowd and told them from my heart "Falun Dafa Hao." With each eye contact I felt as I physically touched that person in the heart. I still feel this type of connection now whenever I clarify the truth to people. Instead of just repeating words that may sound good like I did before, since that day the words really come from my own heart and the effect is very different.
Firmly squeezing my wrists, the police twisted my arms behind my back forcefully, yanked my hair down, chin tightly pressed against my chest, covering my Western face as much as possible and muffling my voice. They picked my body up in the air, trying to push me into the car legs first but somehow they had great difficulty doing this. I kept pushing the car away with my legs to stay there as long as possible. While this resisting took little effort from me and caused me no pain, it seemed they were working very hard. I remember my feet were above the car door when they dropped me to the ground, and I hit the ground with my head. I lost some mental clarity at that point and they finally threw me in the car.
In the small car, I was strongly held down by all in the car and it was hard to take a breath. I was happy to see my fellow practitioner was in the same car. We shared the sublime thought that what we had done was most righteous. His familiar face and words of encouragement were great to see and hear. They drove us away to the Tiananmen Police Sub-Station.
In the Tiananmen Police Substation there were at least 50 police crowded in the entranceway. They searched me and took all of my possessions. I was surprised, when an officer tried to take off my watch and I said firmly, "No, That is mine!" He then left the watch.
They sat us down in a room where several other practitioners were already sitting in meditation on the floor. I continued to yell at the officers asking them if we were arrested and if we were not then they should let us go. My wife said, "calm heart," as I was getting too excited. She was right, and I decided to close my eyes and send forth righteous thoughts. I was somewhat surprised because most of the police officers seemed very "small" and I was not afraid of them at all.
I was surprised that I was very calm at the police station. I felt emotionally detached as if observing a scene. At one point however, I heard the loud screams of a woman. I don't know what they were doing to her. We sent forth righteous thoughts. After about 30 minutes, we were all taken into a police van. They drove us away from the city for a long time during which we clarified the truth to the police officers.
The van stopped in front of a building that looked like a hotel but this was in reality a detention center where they illegally imprisoned and physically and psychologically abused people. Outside the van, they threw many men at us to separate us when we tried to stick together. Their faces were wicked and they used much brutality. A person had been filming the whole time but he immediately stopped when Scott began to yell, "The self-immolation is a hoax!" They dragged Scott up into the building and later they took me in.
They shoved me to sit on a chair. I stood up and said that I knew they tortured people there and that my friends had been beaten in that very place. I said I wanted to see how Scott was. A policeman walked towards me and pushed me forcefully against the wall and then pushed me to sit down. I stood up again, an older officer with an inhumane face walked up to me and, trembling with anger, picked up a large ashtray and motioned like he was going to throw against my face but he stopped. I felt bad for him; he had nothing inside, just a shell being manipulated by the evil.
About 3 or 4 policemen took me to a small room by myself. I asked them if they had any idea about the extent of the criminal government activity against Falun Dafa and if they knew that several hundreds of thousands of their own people were suffering with beatings, torture and even murder. "Do you know what it feels like to receive a real beating," they asked. I could see through their tactics and did not feel moved by them. I proceeded to tell them I had graduated from one of the best universities in the US and had received several accolades for excelling in academics and in athletics. And that I was one of the 70 people my company decided to keep out of over 600 employees. This was said with a humble pure heart, intending only to dispel whatever distorted notions they had about what practitioners were like and to shatter common lies fed to them like poison by their superiors and state media.
"Dafa has taught me to be a good person, a responsible worker and a loving family member and friend. Teacher's teachings have healed many wounds in my family and has brought much harmony into all my relationships, I'm a healthy, happily married woman." I told them I had gone to China just for that moment, to tell them about the truth of the persecution that was ravaging their great nation and about the consequences they would suffer if they chose to continue to persecute us. When I finished, a policewoman said that she could only believe what she could see. "Please promise me you will visit the Masanjia labor camp, you will believe me then." I said. She told me to write Masanjia on her piece of paper.
I practiced the exercises and sent righteous thoughts while the 3 policemen watched TV and smoked cigarettes. Looking at each one of them, I saw some light around their bodies, but inside them there were large blocks of black matter and my great compassion emerged. I continued to send forth my most righteous thoughts to eliminate all the evil.
After I was dragged in this Hotel/Detention center, I decided that I was not proving anything by physically resisting. Five police then escorted me to a separate room. Police officer A began to ask me questions such as, "How long have you been practicing" and "why did you come to Beijing." I told him that I would not answer any questions until I was together with my wife. He asked me the questions anyway, and I just answered each with 'Falun Dafa Hao' and he wrote down my answers. I then started to ask him questions about his job and his family. Eventually I told him why I practiced Dafa, why I came to Beijing, and why the Government's persecution is wrong. After about 15 minutes, it seemed that he couldn't handle listening to the truth anymore, he sighed, and lay down on the bed.
I sat in double lotus on the chair, sent forth righteous thoughts and then did the sitting meditation for an hour or so. One of the young officers sat next to me and asked, "Falun Gong exercises makes you very strong, right?" I replied, "Yes, in many different ways." "It was very difficult to drag you from the police van," the other office said. I said, "I know many people around the world who practice Falun Gong and they all have become stronger." "Yes, Falun Gong is good all over the world, but bad in China," the young officer said with a sigh, putting his head down in shame. I asked him if he liked his job and he quietly said, "No. It's terrible." I told him to make sure to never hurt Falun Gong practitioners; he nodded his head in agreement.
After another 2 or 3 hours, police officer A returned -- and I was taken to a room that was for the practitioners who did not cooperate during the interrogations. There were eight practitioners there and we all sent forth righteous thoughts. We didn't accept the orders from the police and ended up reading Dafa books and practicing all night.
After 5 or 6 hours in the small room where the interrogation had taken place, I was told to follow them to where Scott was. I got to a big room, filled with 40 to 50 policemen and about 20 practitioners in the center. Scott was not there. Someone told me he was in another room. We began asking each other about other people we knew. Have you seen so and so? How about so and so? It seemed like the aftermath of a battle, we were counting the bodies and the wounded. I thought of our Chinese practitioners... our ordeal paled in comparison to what they must endure.
Throughout the night, policemen walked in the room and randomly pointed to practitioners, who would have to go with them. No one knew where they were taking them or who would be next. One of the worst memories I have is of practitioners being forcefully dragged away and beaten up outside the room for not wanting to have their picture taken. For several days and even weeks I felt very ashamed for not having done anything to stop that evil act, after all I had gone all that way just for that, yet I passively watched this violence right in front of me. It's hard to think and act clearly in the center of evil, thus I gained further admiration for those who cultivate in that environment.
At about 3am, I was taken out of the room and we were all taken back to our hotels to pick up our luggage. The bus driver got lost and the entire trip took about three hours. The entire time, Eliana and I spoke with police officer A about Dafa. He brought up all the typical government fabrications and each time we easily clarified the truth to him. It was very sad because each time we would clarify something, he would say, "I want to be a good man and I just want to do my job well. I know my government would never hurt anybody." I could tell that he was brainwashed by the government and it was difficult to tell if he was being genuine or just playing "good cop" with us.
We spent about 20 hours in the big room. All of the practitioners made efforts to communicate with them, to reach them, to touch their hearts however they could. Dafa disciples' compassion shone like gold, manifesting itself in the center of the most dreadful wickedness.
We sent forth righteous thoughts at set times. One practitioner knew Teacher's "Fa-Rectification Disciples" by heart and whenever he would recite it, the room lit up with the precious words. Some of the policemen would quiet down and listen attentively. During one of the conversations, a policewoman said -- "but you are different from the practitioners in China." "Try to talk to the Chinese practitioners, you will surely find the same heart of Zhen-Shan-Ren." We said, "It is Jiang that wants you to think we are all bad people." One of the policemen I talked for several hours said, "Maybe one day, if I leave this country, I'll start considering what you are saying...." We said: "you must think about what we are saying immediately. We traveled halfway around the globe because this matter is so urgent." We kept talking all night until the next morning when it was time for me to go. I said goodbye to him. His last words were "I'll think about what you said." I wished I had reached more of them. There are so many people like him, being used, lost in dreadful deception. We must reach them.
At about 10am, they came to the room, took us to a van and drove us to the airport. After the plane finally took off, I felt relief, but also sadness. I should have spent more time clarifying the truth to the police, instead of reading and doing the exercises.
When I now look back at that brief moment on Tiananmen Square, I often think, "why didn't I do this and why didn't I do that?" I didn't even try to send forth righteous thoughts or use my supernormal abilities to stop the officers from detaining me. What I have come to realize is that you can talk all you want about how you should act when you confront the evil, but what you actually do is a reflection of how deeply rooted you are in the Fa. As Teacher says in The Knowing Heart, "Grand talk counts for naught when it comes to life and death, Actions reveal what is true."
Although our appeal didn't unfold exactly as we had planned, based on current media reports, our trip to Beijing is having a major impact in clarifying the truth to the world. Also, most of us realized that a large part of our journey was to offer the truth to hundreds of police officers. The Westerner appeals on Tiananmen Square are delivering a large blow to the evil forces.
- While in the midst of evil, we constantly sent forth righteous thoughts and remained focused on our mission to clarify the truth to as many people as we could. Don't depend on an evil environment to be this diligent.
- Actively find and eradicate attachments without relying on extreme situations to show them to you
- Remember that countless beings are waiting to be saved, each act of clarifying the truth--small or big-- has an impact that directly affects your own Consummation
- Above all, never slack on studying the Fa and taking the Fa as Teacher