(Shared at October 2001 Washington DC Conference)
(Shared at October 2001 Washington DC Conference)
On August 22, seven Seattle Dafa practitioners started from Seattle's Federal Building and began our journey as a part of the "SOS Global RescueWalk." Our journey took us across the states of Washington, Oregon and California. In the morning of September 26, thirty-five days and more than 900 miles later, we arrived at City Hall in San Francisco. With the exceptions of several stretches of highway and dangerous mountain roads near the cliffs where no pedestrian traffic was allowed, we covered an average of 20 miles per day. After more than a month of walking regardless of weather conditions, we safely arrived at our destination.
During the journey, not a single practitioner gave up. Whenever we reached places where there were local practitioners, many of them would give up their weekends to help us. Some practitioners brought their own families, including elderly parents and young children, to walk with us for a part of the way. In the evenings, we often slept in tents in the wilderness. Our clothes were frequently soaked with sweat, and we became very tanned from the sun. Almost every one of us had blisters and broken skin on our feet, but no one ever voiced any complaint. All of us simply gritted our teeth and endured the almost unbearable pain silently, because all of us knew that it was a part of the magnificent, historic period when the Fa is rectifying the entire cosmos, the kind of moment that one could never experience again in millions or even billions of years. In order to clarify the truth, eliminate the evil, save sentient beings, and safeguard the Fa, none of our suffering was worthy mentioning. Every practitioner who participated in the walk knew that his or her participation in the walk was not accidental. We all had our own duties to fulfill and tribulations that we had to pass.
The eldest practitioner who participated in the walk was a 73-year-old practitioner from California named Mr. Chen. He joined in the walk after we had already left Seattle, and walked alongside us everyday for the next 20 days. He is a retired senior Chinese official who joined the Red Army in 1947. He had participated in the liberation war as well as the Korean War. He had suffered from serious heart ailments in the past. Once after a serious heart attack, his heart had stopped beating for more than 30 minutes before he was finally resuscitated. After he began to cultivate Dafa, his diseases disappeared. He told us, "I want to use this walk to tell the people of the world that Falun Dafa is good. For a 73-year-old senior citizen like me to walk 20 miles a day for 20 days, it is a miracle in itself." In the afternoon of the third day after he joined in the walk, as he was climbing an upward slope, he felt dizzy, things around him started to look black, and he could no longer take another step forward. He tried to support himself by holding on to the guardrails around the slope with both of his hands, and he sent out a righteous thought, "This is interference from demons. I am a person who has almost died three times already. What is there for me to be afraid of? I am going to continue my walk. The Fa rectifies the cosmos, the Evil is completely eliminated." Once that thought came out, in a blink of an eye, he started to feel perfectly fine again. He easily increased the pace of his steps and caught up with the rest of us.
A pair of newly married Dafa practitioners joined us when our "SOS Walk" team crossed the state line to California. They had only been married for one day, and had planned to spend their honeymoon in Hawaii. They had purchased their plane tickets and made other arrangements a long time ago. But when they heard that we had arrived in California, they decided to cancel their trip and spend their honeymoon on the SOS walk. The groom could handle the pace of 20 miles a day, but the bride was born and raised in the US, and had never traveled on foot for a long of stretch of time. But no matter how difficult it was for her, she continued the walk.
We had an adorable ten-month-old young practitioner as part of our "SOS Walk" team. Her name is Yuming. During the journey that lasted more than a month, she followed the same schedule as all the adults. She slept and got up at the same time as the rest of us. It is something that most normal ten-month-old babies cannot do, but our young practitioner did just that. She was able to change her sleeping patterns based on various Dafa activities. In addition, she almost never cried and never once disturbed the Fa-spreading activities of the adults. Again, that is something that most normal babies cannot do. She always opened her eyes wide and looked around as if she were searching for something. Every morning after the practitioners started their walk, she would sit in her child-seat, riding in the car while her mother was walking. Every day when we took a break at noon, we would get her out of the car, hold her hands so she could toddle around for a while. In the afternoon, she would go back to riding in the the car seat. When the adults gathered to study the Fa in the evenings, she would sit nearby to play by herself and rarely cried. What she liked the most were Dafa books. Whenever she saw a Dafa book, she would try to grab it and hold it close to her heart, and it would be quite difficult for us to get it out of her arms. Even though she was only ten months old, she had already participated in the experience sharing conferences in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C. When she was only five months old, she went with her parents and participated in three weeks of Fa-spreading activities in Geneva.
We followed along the winding path next to the ocean on our walk. Sometimes we came across congested cities, sometimes we crossed small towns, and sometimes we climbed mountains. Each day, our lives were full and exciting. No matter where we went, we would meet kind-hearted American people. We often sighed and remarked that there are just so many people in America who have predestined relationship with Dafa.
When we walked on the shoulders of busy roads, an endless stream of automobiles passed us everyday. When the drivers saw our banners or poster boards with the words of "SOS: Urgent Rescue of Falun Gong Practitioners in China" or "To the Chinese Government, Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong," many of them honked their horns or held their fingers in the shape of V's to show their support. Some people would shout, "You are heroes! You are magnificent!" The most interesting thing was that once several Americans shouted at the top of their lungs, "Long Live Falun Gong!" The sides of them who are clear are just so magnificent. There was an American named Nick who drove his car to find us twice and wanted to talk with us in depth. He once was a devoutly religious person, but he perceived that the church was not a genuine place for cultivation, and that the people there seemed to care most about the "donations." Therefore he decided to turn towards the East to search for answers to his questions about life. He traveled to Tibet and stayed there for 18 years, but the cultivation way that he practiced there still left him with many unanswered questions. He said that he was a successful construction contractor, but his physical wealth could not cover up the emptiness in his spirit. He then opened a bookstore that specialized in selling books on various cultivation methods. When he heard of the principles of "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance" in Falun Dafa, the fact that anyone can learn Falun Gong free of charge, and that "one's gong [cultivation energy] level is as high as one's xinxing [moral character] level," he was overwhelmed. He said, "This is what I have been searching for all my life. I have been looking for a genuine cultivation method that can elevate a person for such a long time now." With our help, he was able to contact local practitioners who live nearby that very evening, and he learned the five sets of the exercises the next day. We met a number of people like Nick on our journey. He was just one example. On average, we were able to hand out two hundred copies of flyers that introduced Falun Gong and clarified the truth each day. The people who live in remote places with fewer visitors especially appreciated and treasured our material. Once when a practitioner gave a copy of the "SOS: Urgent Rescue" flyer to a middle-aged Caucasian woman, she began to read it carefully right away. After she finished reading it, she looked at us with such a kind and sympathetic look in her eyes. She then took out $20 and wanted to give it to the practitioner who handed her the flyer. The practitioner told her that we could not take her money, but she could use various other ways to show her support to us. She immediately said that she would write letters or emails to her Congressman to show her concern for what is happening in China and her support to Falun Gong. As we bid her good-bye, she hugged the practitioner who handed her the flyer tightly with tears in her eyes.
We received a lot of demonic interference starting from the first day of our walk. In the afternoon of August 22, merely three hours after we first started the walk, the heaviest rain shower during the last ten years fell in Seattle. Each practitioner who participated in the walk was soaked to the skin. Even our shoes were filled with water. During the first three days, there was rain every single day, and our clothes were always wet. After we checked into our first hotel, two practitioners had their wallets stolen. Once as we were walking on a mountain road next to a tall cliff, a sudden gust of wind almost knocked the head of the team who held the poster down the cliff. During the first night when we set up the tents, even though it was in September, every one of us woke up in the middle of night from the cold. Even after we put on all the clothes that we had with us, it was still too cold for us to go to sleep. It felt as if we were in the middle of a harsh winter. Two of our cars collided with each other. Even though the damage was not too severe, it was still pretty significant. We need to eliminate the evil precisely because we received interference from demons everywhere. Most of the time, every practitioner took his or her steps while reciting silently, "The Fa rectifies the cosmos, the Evil is completely eliminated" and "The Fa rectifies Heaven and Earth, immediate retribution in this lifetime." One practitioner said that when our "SOS Walk" team left, numerous Buddha's, Taos, and Gods followed us in other dimensions and formed a long line. Whenever we came to a place, all the demons and ghosts would be eliminated. The Buddha's, Taos, and Gods would defeat and eliminate the evil, and the Buddha light would illuminate Heaven and Earth. The Law Bodies of Master Li protected and guided us and led us to many people with predestined relationships to the Fa. This was Master Li's benevolence.
We walked an average of 20 miles per day. Every practitioner felt differently with the same 20-mile walk. Some finished without much of an effort, while some found it difficult and challenging. But no matter whether we thought it was easy or hard, our hearts were filled with the desire of completing the walk and arriving at the final destination. It is just like our cultivation: "Follow Teacher closely, steadfastly cultivating Dafa." We will definitely succeed!