May 30, 2009
Open and free: This Falun Dafa group meditates in public in Ubud, teaching the practice free of charge. Falun Dafa is practiced in public parks and street corners in Indonesia and more than 70 other countries around the world.
You can find them on any street corner or people's park almost all over the world. Shimmering around them is a sense of well-being and complete calm; buses and motorbikes charging by and streets crowded with shoppers and onlookers do not disturb their meditation.
These are the Falun Dafa practitioners in Bali who follow the ancient laws of
the universe - Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance - based on ancient
Buddhist and Taoist teachings.
Adherents to Falun Dafa in its homeland, China, are today tortured, raped, murdered and dissected for organ harvest, according to the Falun Dafa website and world press, including The Wall Street Journal.
In Bali, they practice in public in Renon Park and on a busy street corner in the tourist town of Ubud on Saturdays.
Falun Dafa is a series of gentle movements and meditation aimed at helping people become more calm and generous of spirit, according to Denpasar Police officer and Falun Dafa convert, Roby, who goes by one name only.
"I've been following Falun Dafa since 2003. I started when I saw that it increased people's moral, mental and intellectual abilities. I felt if I followed the laws of this philosophy it would make me better able to serve the public in my role as a police officer and also as a citizen," says Roby, adding that there are several other practicing Falun Dafa followers within the Denpasar Police force.
"There are five active followers and many others have read the books about this form of exercise and meditation. I believe it makes us more willing to help people and reduces egoism and selfishness -- it makes us more patient in our work with the public. We are not arrogant and know we are here to help society."
Touching on allegations of corruption within Indonesia's police force, Roby points out if more police and other civil servants followed Falun Dafa, those allegations could be crushed overnight. "If all police followed the laws of honesty, they would never take the wrong road."
Siti Aminah, a 32-year-old Muslim originally from Jember, says Falun Dafa has
changed her life.
"In the past I had a bad heart. I was on heart medication for years and suffered terrible constipation because of that. I was sick all the time and nothing helped. I tried eating loads of fruit and vegetables, exercise, tablets -- you name it, I tried it.
"I was also depressed a lot of the time and found it hard to control my emotions. I came across the book about Falun Dafa, Zhuan Falun by Li Hongzi. I went along and started the meditation and exercise.
"Within three months I was off heart medication, and have never been constipated again. Everything is working again. That was five years ago. And the best part is I can now control my emotions," says the robustly healthy Ami, who is a volunteer with Falun Dafa.
Ami stresses the regimen is "not a religion, but an understanding of universal truth. You must believe in truthfulness, compassion and forbearance," explains Ami, adding meditating on these behaviors increases the ability to act generously and kindly to others.
Among the group in Ubud one Saturday were Muslims, Hindus, Christians and atheists, who all insisted Falun Dafa is for all. As evidence of its accessibility to all is the fact that Falun Dafa training is given free. All its books, audio materials and other teaching tools are also free. Added to this is the open-ended nature of Falun Dafa.
"We do not have any levels. A new follower is equal to someone who has practiced for years. We also do not have lists of members -- people can come and go at will. We hold our sessions in public so that anyone can join in whenever they feel like it. There is no registration or payment, no politics or religion. We are all volunteers," says Ami on the sidelines of the group meditation.
Their movements are slow and gentle, almost like washing their bodies with
warm air. The silence and internal stillness within this group comes off in
waves of kindly energy; the busy street almost disappears, the frustrated
honking of horns fading like geese flying over the horizon.
Young Dessri Mama, just 14 years old, has been practicing Falun Dafa since she was 11. "I think it helps with my school work and my concentration. I like doing this. I know a little about the principles of the universe. That means knowing how to be a good person, how to control our anger and jealousies," says Dessri in perfect English.
Dessri is already aware of how oppression can affect innocent lives. "Falun
Dafa is still banned in China. Between 1992 and 1999, more than 100 million
Chinese practiced this meditation.
"Then it was banned," she says. She points out this is another reason why people around the world practice Falun Dafa in public. "It helps make the public understand what is happening to people who follow Falun Dafa in China."
The Chinese Communist Party banned Falun Dafa in 1999 following a demonstration by more than 10,000 practitioners complaining over the expulsion of three university students [Correction:Practitioners gathered in Beijing to petition for the release of fellow practitioners arrested in Tianjin City-ed.], according to East Asian politics student, Leslie Austin. It is freely practiced in the rest of the world.