Falun Dafa Around the World: Gothenburg, Sweden (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net) Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a country on the eastern Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders Finland to the northeast and Norway to the northwest. The Baltic Sea is on the east and the North Sea on the southwest. Sweden is a highly developed country, most notably in the knowledge-intensive and export-oriented manufacturing sector. Its automotive industry, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and shipbuilding industries, as well as aircraft engineering are well-known throughout the world. Its agricultural modernization and labor productivity are among the most advanced in Europe. Sweden is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Gothenburg (Göteborg) is a beautiful seaport city and the second largest city in Sweden. The city encompasses 450 square kilometers and has a population of 510,000 in the urban area, with a total population of 920,000 including the greater metropolitan area. It is located on the west coast of Sweden, facing northern Denmark across the Kattegat Channel. As Gothenburg is situated approximately halfway between the capitals of three Nordic countries – Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm – and over 450 shipping lanes lead to the rest of the world from here, it has naturally becomes a key Nordic port, known as Sweden’s “Western window.”
Swedes place a high premium on quality of life. In the summertime, many Swedes go abroad, and Swedish tourists are among the largest group of European tourists. Many Swedes have a great interest in Asia, particularly China, with its long history and ancient civilization. There is a great interest in traditional Chinese knowledge and culture, including Chinese medicine, qigong, and martial arts.
Many Swedes fortunate to attend public lecture given by Master Li Hongzhi
In May 1992, Falun Dafa, an ancient Chinese cultivation practice, was introduced to the public in China. Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, with its principle of Truthfulness-.Compassion-Forbearance, has benefited more than 100 million practitioners physically and mentally. Falun Dafa has been widely embraced across the world. Many people throughout the world began to learn about Dafa upon the recommendation of family or friends, or via the Internet or media reports. A number of Swedes attended a public lecture introducing Falun Dafa in Gothenburg in April 1995, given by Master Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa. From that time onward, many in Sweden learned about Falun Gong and started practicing it.
Master Li Hongzhi personally taught Falun Gong in Gothenburg in April 1995
The venue of Master Li's lecture in Gothenburg in April 1995
Master Li patiently explains Falun Gong to the students in Gothenburg
Swedish practitioners with Master Li during the course in Gothenburg
Ms. Wang, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, has lived in Sweden for many years. She had been interested in qigong for a long time. Most of her friends and students were also interested in traditional Chinese medicine and qigong. In the summer of 1994, she visited Beijing with her Swedish students for a study tour. By chance, she saw many people practicing the Falun Gong exercises in Zhongshan Park in Beijing. She experienced a significant effect after trying it just once. A few days later Ms. Wang and her family attended a nine-day lecture series given by Master Li in Jinan, Shandong. She was so happy to find Falun Gong, which gave her a calm and peaceful feeling from deep in her heart, something she had never experienced before. She realized that finally she had found a genuine Master!
After returning to Sweden, Ms. Wang kept in contact with Falun Dafa practitioners in Beijing. She wanted to bring Falun Gong to Sweden as early as possible. She believed that Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance would be readily accepted by the Swedish people. With this thought, she visited Beijing again in December 1994. In early January 1995 she attended another lecture given by Master Li at the conference hall of the Ministry of Public Security. She received a copy of the book Falun Gong and a videotape of the Falun Gong exercise instructions. She brought them back to Sweden as treasures. Then Ms. Wang and her Swedish friends started practicing Falun Gong in their spare time. She was surprised to find that some of them were quite sensitive, and clearly sensed the rotating Falun in their abdomens. The new practitioners felt very good and looked forward to Master Li coming to teach Falun Dafa in Sweden soon.
Beginning in March 1995, Mr. Li Hongzhi received numerous invitations to lecture abroad. He was welcomed by the people and governments of every country that he visited. Upon hearing that Master Li was teaching in France, Ms. Wang immediately invited Master Li to give a lecture in Sweden. Master Li agreed and came to Sweden on April 6, 1995.
In order to allow more people to learn about Falun Gong, Master Li gave five lectures in Gothenburg and Stockholm. The audience grew in number with each lecture. Therefore, on April 14-20, Master Li gave a seven-day Falun Gong session at Nordengården in Gothenburg. Most of the attendees in that session were Europeans from various cities in Sweden, including professors, doctors, nurses, workers, and managers.
Recalling Master Li's visit, Ms. Wang said, “I was so excited when I heard that Master Li would come to Sweden. I wanted to prepare for this immediately but I didn't know how. I just told all my friends and patients, and also advertised the event. But I was not confident. Knowing there were often about six thousand attendees in a class in China, I wondered how many would come to this lecture. I remembered one day I phoned Master Li and told him that I was thinking about this. Master Li said to me, ‘Go to sleep now. It is worth my trip as long as one person is able to genuinely start practicing Falun Gong.’ Thus, I was relieved. The result was actually beyond my expectation. There were many at the first lecture and over 120 attendees for the seven-day session. Among them, about 20 came from France, following Master Li. All the others were from Sweden.”
Chinese and western practitioners share wonderful memories of Master Li's teaching
For the lecture series in Sweden, in order to reduce the costs for the attendees, Master Li taught the contents of the nine-day lecture series in just seven days. During those seven days, Master Li was always considerate of the students in every matter. He repeatedly explained things, in order to enable the students to understand. Both Chinese and Western students came away with a deep impression of Master Li’s profound compassion.
Ms. Wang said, “During the session, Master Li taught us Falun Dafa and explained it very clearly and patiently. In order to help the Western students understand better, sometimes Master Li had to draw pictures. It took Master Li lots of time to correct the hand gestures of every student learning the exercises. Someone’s movements went wrong again after being corrected, so Master Li had to correct them again. Sometime Master Li had to correct just one student's movements several times.
“Moreover, Master Li was always punctual, following the timetable and reminding students to arrive on time. Every day, Master Li always arrived ahead of the schedule and started teaching punctually. He was always neatly dressed, and held himself to a high standard. One of the most poignant impressions I have is that I saw him carrying a box of instant noodles when I met him at the airport. Master Li led a very simple life and was considerate of others in every matter. We were short of staff for that class so I became irritable and impatiently answered questions from some of the students. Then, while we were eating together later, Master Li told me, ‘You need to be nice to these students.’ I felt that he was very easy-going.”
One of the students in that session, Pirjo, a nurse, recalled that it was a joy to attend that class. “One of my friends recommended the class to me, so I went just out of interest. My work left me exhausted. I had to ask for sick leave often. I had back pain. I was tired all day. But during the class, my body was cleansed. I felt a lot of energy. Everything became wonderful. I had many, many questions in the class and Master Li answered them very patiently and thoroughly. Master Li also taught us the exercises patiently. If someone’s movements were not correct, they were corrected by Master Li.”
Bolette still could not help becoming excited and grateful when recalling the seven-day class. She said, “Over the years I had been looking for a Master who could guide me home. I was not clear on which home, or even of the meaning of home. But in the depths of my heart I knew that it was very important for me to be able to go back home. But I had never found such a master, and one day I was thinking about giving up my quest. I thought that my Master might be able to find me, so I decided to just wait. During Easter of 1995, perhaps the time came. One day I went to attend a qigong class but the qigong master did not show up. Instead a Chinese lady came and told us that a Chinese qigong Master would come to Sweden and give teachings. She handed us the flyer about that class. I didn't read it right away but I felt deep in my heart that the Master I had been looking for this whole time was coming. That feeling was so clear. After attending Master Li’s lecture, I talked with that Chinese lady and told her that I had been waiting for this for a long time. We both had tears in our eyes. We didn't know why we had tears at that moment. Although our understanding of the whole lecture was limited, we did realize somehow that this lecture was totally different from what we had learned before.”
Bolette continued, “I was most impressed when we started learning the exercises after class. Master Li corrected our movements, and I could feel that the movements were very powerful. I experienced a profound feeling, which I had never felt before. Every time my movements were corrected, the corrected movement brought up strong energy. I was always amazed. One day when we practiced the second set of exercises, Falun Standing Stance, I stood there in the wheel-holding posture. Master Li corrected the position of my left thumb. I felt that Master Li’s touch was so light and so careful, that I was almost unaware of it. It was an incredible feeling, the difference in that slight alteration. Since then, I have also corrected movements for many other practitioners. I have also tried my best to be very respectful, very light, so as not to disturb them. One day during the class, as I did the second set of exercises again, I was holding my hands in front of my head with much effort. I opened my eyes and saw Master Li standing in front of us, smiling peacefully. I know he was helping us by cleansing our bodies."
Fifteen years have passed quickly. While recalling the Gothenburg lectures given by Master Li, the Western practitioners invariable have happy and grateful smiles on their faces. They have treasured the practice and the cultivation environment. As Bolette said, "I am very grateful for that time. When I needed them most, there were always practitioners around me. I am very grateful to this practice environment given by Master Li. Thanks to this environment and place, it has enabled us to continue, support each other, and have a perfect journey. It is very important to have such an environment.”
Seeds of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance have taken root deeply in Sweden
Although the Eastern concept of cultivation practice is generally not as well known in the West, many Western practitioners have gradually understood what cultivation and practice mean through following Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in their daily lives. They have also come to understand that the inner meaning of cultivation and practice is cultivating one’s mind and heart.
Swedish practitioner Pirjo said, “When I met Master Li for the first time during the lecture series, I felt that he was not an ordinary person. I had a kind of feeling that I was unable to describe. I felt very happy in his presence. His energy made me joyful. He told us a lot of good things, the importance of being a good person and why one should be a good person. He gave me a very warm and peaceful feeling. He himself just sent forth the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. No matter how many questions we asked, he was always very patient and answered all of them for us. Though many questions were raised many times, he still answered them patiently. Later when Master Li talked about cultivation and practice, I was very drawn to the concept. Although I didn’t have a deep understanding of Dafa at that time, I still understood that it was very precious. I knew that I had found a great way. I understood that everything taught by Master Li was true."
Pirjo added, “Attending that lecture series changed my life. After starting cultivation, I learned how to break through difficulties when I encountered them in my life or at work. I have learned to follow Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in doing all things. Sometimes I find that I need to eliminate old habits in order to make no more mistakes, to be in full compliance with Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It is really a challenge for everyone, but we can try anyway. We can do it as long as we make up our minds.”
Swedish practitioner Sven had a great interest in Asian history and culture before he started practicing Falun Gong. A friend of his recommended that he attend Master Li's lecture series. He said excitedly, “That lecture left a deep impression on me. He was really a great Master. I saw a Master's style. He told us profound teachings in plain words. Everything that Master Li taught touched me deeply. I felt very, very good when I was sitting there listening. I had never had such an experience before. Even just sitting and listening enabled me to feel energy running through my body. I was enlightened deeply by those profound teachings. When Master Li talked about Falun, I felt energy rotating in my body. At that time I didn’t understand what Falun was, but I felt energy rotating in my abdomen. I had tried different qigong practices before, but there was simply no comparison to Falun Gong. Falun Gong talked about everything, from here to the whole universe. The qigong I had practiced before was only for healing illness and keeping fit, just at the level of qi. After starting cultivation practice in Falun Gong, I have gradually come to understand that cultivation should involve improving inward, making an effort to upgrade one's own mind and heart, and complying with the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.”
Later, when Sven tried to apply the standard of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to improve himself in his everyday life and work, he found that it was indeed not easy. He said, “At my workplace, sometimes my colleagues and I did not get along well. During such instances it was indeed difficult to be forbearing. Sometimes I was able to do it, so I was happy. When I failed to act according to Dafa's principles, I tried to look inward and prepared to do well the next time. Every occurrence is like a mirror that reflects your mind clearly, allowing you to see if you really understand. In terms of how to cultivate, I am more and more clear about it. At first, we didn't have many reading materials, but I understood that the core principle was Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The most important thing is to understand this.”
The Swedes have cherished the opportunity to learn Dafa with Master Li Hongzhi. The practitioners have continued for years since the classes to hold nine-day sessions with Master Li’s lecture videos, in order to introduce Dafa to more people. They do the Falun Gong exercises at an exercise site every Sunday. More and more people have joined them. It soon became more and more important for student to be able to read Zhuan Falun in Swedish. To meet the need, several Swedish practitioners undertook the task of translating it. They were serious and meticulous in the process of translation. After successive revisions, the Swedish version of Zhuan Falun was published in October 1997. The seeds of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance have taken root deeply in Sweden.