(Clearwisdom.net) I keep seeing articles on the Clearwisdom website about fellow practitioners who have held hunger strikes to protest the persecution. I want to share my understanding on this issue. Please point out anything inappropriate.

The Chinese Communist Party has resorted to extremely sinister and brutal means during the past eight years of persecution. Some Falun Gong practitioners have held hunger strikes to resist the persecution. This is generally seen as an extreme act in ordinary society. However, the practitioners' determination and pure righteous thoughts, the protection provided by Master's fashen, and the manifestation of Falun Dafa's boundless power through the practitioners' flesh bodies has indeed suppressed the evil during the early stages. Many practitioners were able to free themselves from the evil persecution.

Later, many practitioners imitated this act, and holding hunger strikes seemed to be the natural thing to do when a practitioner was detained and persecuted. After a practitioner was released from prison, practitioners often asked him/her, "Did you go on a hunger strike in there?" Some practitioners who experienced persecution also told others, "I held a hunger strike while I was detained." This seemed to imply, "I did what I was supposed to do." The hunger strike has seemingly been turned into a necessary step in opposing the persecution.

This understanding however, not only acknowledges the old force's persecution, but it is also a manifestation of human notions, such as self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction. The black hands, rotten demons, and Party specters in other dimensions see the gap, so they take advantage of it by arranging wicked people in this world to force-feed the practitioners and give them injections, which has caused injuries and sometimes even death, thus further complicating the situation. What's even more serious is that some people have developed doubts about Master and Dafa, thinking, "Why did the hunger strike not work? Why did Master's fashen not protect me?" This line of thinking leads one to fall into the black hands' and rotten demons' trap, as they want Dafa practitioners to develop doubts about the Fa and eventually give up. They want to destroy Dafa practitioners.

Master said in his most recent article, "Fa Teaching at the U.S. Capital,"

"In the twinkling of an eye, eight years have passed since Dafa disciples were first subjected to persecution. During this process Dafa disciples have traveled many arduous paths, and it really hasn't been easy. You have gone from at first not knowing what to do or how to deal with the persecution to gradually understanding how you should do things. And not only have you come to know how to do things, you have also grown, owing to the harshness of the persecution, ever more rational and clearheaded."

Regarding the issue of holding hunger strikes, I think that all Dafa practitioners, regardless of whether they are currently detained or not, should have a clear and rational understanding on it. I say this because it involves the issue of whether practitioners can better coordinate and work together to disintegrate the evil, especially the evil elements inside the dark dens where practitioners are incarcerated, so we can end the persecution and explain the facts more widely and effectively in order to rescue more sentient beings. Here, I simply want to illustrate three points based on my personal experience.

First, righteous thoughts are always the most important. A hunger strike is not mandatory. Moreover, even if we do use it, it's considered the last resort.

When I was held at a detention center for the first time in 2000, I never thought about holding a hunger strike. One day the water supply was cut off, and one practitioner thought we should go on hunger strike, because without water, we could not eat or use the restroom. (The restroom was located in each cell, so we ate, slept and used the toilet all in the same cell.) Of course, this was only a superficial reason for holding a hunger strike, and everyone had different thoughts about it.

At the time, the guards had just deceived me into writing a "guarantee statement." It was indeed a deception. The guards took money from my friend, who was also a practitioner, and they promised to release me. They dictated a guarantee statement and ordered me to write it. They then held my hand and took my fingerprint. I was attached to getting out, so I went along with their scheme. After I returned to the cell I realized it was a mistake, and I regretted it terribly. In a dream, I saw the words "All [of your] previous efforts are wasted," and I was about to fall into an abyss. I then joined the hunger strike to redeem myself and to express my determination in Dafa cultivation. I did not think about anything else.

I was force-fed several days later. The water supply was resumed, and our hunger strike ended. I later learned that all the other practitioners, regardless of whether they participated in that hunger strike or not, were sent to a forced labor camp. Although I was released, the price I paid was a stain on my cultivation path. Although I published an announcement to make up for it, I not only fell, I also delayed Fa-validation and truth-clarification efforts. It was not supposed to happen at all.

Actually, before this occurred, I was once presented with an opportunity to escape. Thus, I didn't have to endure the long-term detention, during which I went astray and had no choice but to hold a hunger strike. The night of my arrest, I was able to pull my hands out of the handcuffs. However, instead of having powerful righteous thoughts, I was apprehensive of the police officers (who were sound asleep next to me), as well as of the several locked gates. I slipped my hands back into the cuffs, and I acted as an ordinary person. I missed the precious chance, which means I accepted and acknowledged the persecution. How could I blame anyone else? How could I say that Master's fashen was not looking after me? It happened because I was not rational and I didn't have adequate righteous thoughts.

Upon digging deeper, I realized that we should never have been arrested in the first place. If we truly studied the Fa well and truly did things according to Dafa's requirements, this persecution never would have taken place. The old forces imposed the persecution on us, and Master never wanted it, as it's not our path. Moreover, Master gave us abilities to protect ourselves before the persecution. After it began, Master taught us the Fa-rectification verses, all of which are powerful weapons to resist the persecution. When we use them well, meaning when we are full of righteous thoughts, the evil dares not approach us. Even if we are persecuted, we should first think about using righteous thoughts to stop the persecution instead of resorting to human means. A hunger strike would hurt this flesh body and can be misunderstood by ordinary people. Evildoers may even twist the facts and slander Dafa with it.

Second, giving up the "self" and completely negating the persecution is a fundamental righteous thought.

I went on a hunger strike again in 2003 when I was held at a custody center for the second time. I thought, "I must get out quickly." However, I ended up being sent to a forced labor camp. A fellow practitioner in the cell with me did not hold a hunger strike, and she was released.

This practitioner was a peasant with a simple mind. She read Dafa books and did the exercises. However, she didn't know about clarifying the truth and sending forth righteous thoughts because she did not have contact with other practitioners. When she listened to several of us sharing our experiences about clarifying the truth, she became worried about the safety of sentient beings from the depths of her heart. She said in a sincere and anxious tone, "When I go back, I'll immediately go to my friends, relatives, neighbors, and everyone I know. I'll tell them the truth about the persecution. Why didn't I know about such an important thing until now?" The next morning, she suddenly developed symptoms of a heart attack, although she had always been in robust health. She was taken to a hospital where she underwent a physical exam. She was brought back in the afternoon, and the authorities immediately told her family to take her home. It was a miracle, but it took place only because the thought of getting persecuted never even occurred to her. She learned about clarifying the truth, sending forth righteous thoughts, and rescuing sentient beings at the custody center. Moreover, she immediately thought about the predestined people waiting for her help. She was deeply concerned about them. This single thought carries the power to break through evil interference. It is a righteous thought that negates all forms of persecution from its root, as it is based on rescuing sentient beings and not on self.

Master told us: "Dafa Disciples' Righteous Thoughts Are Powerful." (from Essentials for Further Advancement II) Every genuine Dafa disciple, including myself, has proved Master's words to be true through firsthand experience during this evil persecution. Two days before Master published this article in April 2001, officers from the Criminal Police Division took me to the police department and told me that another practitioner gave my name in connection with a major case. I was reading Master's articles when they came for me. I said, "Wait for a moment; let me finish what I'm doing." They waited outside until I finished reading Master's articles. I thought (on the way to the police department), "I'm a Dafa disciple, and Master is looking after me. The old forces are not worthy of persecuting me. I cannot be persecuted even if I have karma and attachments, as Master has his own arrangements." Master had not yet given a lecture on sending forth righteous thoughts at the time, but righteous thoughts had always come forth in my head. When they asked questions, I recited Master's articles in my head. I never paid attention to what they were saying, but my every word shocked them speechless. They tried to threaten me, and I thought, "Old forces in other dimensions, do not persecute these people. They do not know the facts, but you are absolutely not allowed to use them and make them commit crimes by persecuting Dafa disciples. If you do, I'll eliminate you." This thought filled my entire being. It was very strong and I did not think about myself. Neither did I think about the persecution. I had no other thoughts, and this righteous thought never stopped. As a result, they dared not persecute me. They drove me home and treated me with respect.

We cannot acknowledge this persecution, regardless of the reason, because it's essentially evil interference. If we have not removed our fundamental attachments, such as lust, the evil will take advantage of it. Moreover, our righteous thoughts will not work amidst our attachments. This is why I was persecuted the second time.

After the first persecution, I did not calm down and look inward. Nor did I think about the true nature of the persecution and which of my loopholes were being taken advantage of that caused me to take such a big detour. I thought that I did not have any fundamental attachment(s). I did not measure myself according to the standards in Master's articles, nor did I identify my fundamental attachments. I cultivated Dafa in order to leave the human world and become a Buddha or a Tao, so I could obtain true freedom. For a long time, I did not realize this was my fundamental attachment. This attachment was based on the self-serving principles of the old universe, and it goes against Dafa's requirement for "...righteous Enlightenment of selflessness and altruism." ("Non-Omission in Buddha-Nature" from Essentials for Further Advancement) I also had made a mistake related to lust. I corrected my behavior, but I did not fully recognize the actual damage caused by lust and desire. Moreover, I did not actively clean away those poisonous elements. According to my observation, many practitioners who were sent to forced labor camps fell short of having a clear understanding of their fundamental issues. In particular, practitioners who were repeatedly persecuted may have very likely had their omissions taken advantage of by the black hands and evil specters, regardless of the surface cause. In order to maintain powerful righteous thoughts, we must conduct ourselves strictly so we can truly achieve the Fa's standard that is required of us on different levels, and not give the evil any excuse to persecute us.

Third, as of right now, practitioners who are still detained should calmly look for their attachments, especially the fundamental attachments and lust. They should give up human notions and send forth righteous thoughts more frequently. Master told us in the poem, "Don't Be Sad" (from Hong Yin II):

"Imprisoned as you are,
don't be sorrowful or sad
Carry on with righteous thoughts and actions,
and the Fa is with you
Calmly reflect on the attachments you have
Remove your human thoughts
and evil will naturally die out"

Master also said:

"Also, regardless of whether my Dafa disciples were killed as a result of persecution or departed this world as a result of being persecuted by the old forces during this period of time, they have all reached Consummation." ("Fa Teaching at the 2007 New York Fa Conference")

As long as we cultivate in Dafa, we will certainly reach Consummation. We can practice cultivation anywhere, and should always conduct ourselves as cultivators, regardless of where we are, so we will walk a righteous path.

During the persecution, I worried most about whether Master still wanted me after I betrayed him. I was tormented by such worries and countless attachments on a daily basis. As a result, my life was very difficult. I often recited Lunyu as tears streamed down my face at night. I repeatedly told myself not to give up, as I must believe in the boundless power of Dafa. Although I knew about sending forth righteous thoughts, it was very difficult to safeguard my xinxing and maintain righteous thoughts in that environment. The first time I saw several hundred Dafa disciples lined up at the cafeteria in the labor camp, I instantly thought, "If all of these practitioners were to send forth righteous thoughts, this labor camp would certainly collapse." As soon as this thought emerged, I suddenly saw a scene: Dafa practitioners sitting on the ground and sending forth righteous thoughts with their palms in front of their chests. Millions of rays of golden light pierced the sky and everything became clean and clear within the blink of an eye. At the time, I didn't realize the dark den was maintained by black hands, rotten demons and evil Party specters in other dimensions, who have constantly recharged the labor camp with energy to maintain the persecution. I knew that I must rely on the righteous thoughts of Dafa practitioners, as a whole body, in order to eliminate the evil. When Master's teaching, "Stop the Evil Acts with Righteous Thoughts" was passed into the labor camp, more and more practitioners continuously sent forth righteous thoughts. This noticeably suppressed and cleansed the evil, which was reflected in this dimension by the many guards and their family members receiving karmic retribution.

Moreover, I now realize that the hunger strike is a passive act. Its prerequisite is acknowledging that one is being persecuted. It is opposing the persecution from within the persecution, and a hunger striker is not utilizing his divine side. On the other hand, sending forth righteous thoughts is proactive. First of all, one clearly knows in one's mind that he is a Dafa disciple, a cultivator on a divine path with the ability to defeat the evil. We shoulder the responsibility of rescuing sentient beings. We rescue those who are still salvageable with wisdom and benevolence. We also completely disintegrate all interfering and disruptive evil beings and elements using our supernormal abilities endowed by Dafa with the goal of better rescuing more sentient beings after clearing away the barriers. We face the evil during persecution, and it's an excellent opportunity to disintegrate it and indirectly rescue sentient beings. If we can break through the delusion of this dimension, we will no longer be restrained by the surface environment, and thus we can send forth powerful righteous thoughts. If Dafa practitioners join hearts and powers, we can completely disintegrate all evil and end the persecution.