'My Dearest Daughter, I Will Not Leave You Behind'
(Minghui.org) Editor's note: for simply refusing to renounce her faith in Falun Gong, a woman was imprisoned for eight years, during which time her husband had an affair and her daughter became cold and distant. Upon her release, she worked to reconnect with her daughter by following the principles of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.
I looked around. The house – my house – was nothing like what I remembered from eight years ago.
It seemed to have not been lived in for quite a while, although someone appeared to have made some attempt to clean it. The kitchen showed signs of disuse: a cabinet door lay unhinged on the floor and the faucet was leaking.
My husband was gone, not to my surprise. I can't remember what he told me, but it's not like it mattered much anymore. Either intuition or memory told me that he had been living with another woman; that must be where he was now.
My daughter was also nowhere to be found. I knew that she had been staying with her paternal grandparents for many years. That must be where she was now.
Gradually, as day turned into night, the realization also sank in for me that I would spend my first day as a free woman alone, in an empty kitchen, with only a few chairs for company. Holding back my tears proved to be futile.
That first night, I reminded myself to be strong. But pieces of my old life nagged at me, interrupted my thoughts, and dragged me back into the past – to both happier and sadder times.
Sensing the Invisible
My parents were both engineers. Despite the communist party's atheist rhetoric and the staunchly pragmatic views of my parents, I've always believed in the existence of gods, spirits, and ghosts – in short, because I could always sense them around me.
From time to time, I would be able to hear sounds that other people couldn't hear. Needless to say, getting people to believe me was difficult.
Once, when I was in college, I had taken an afternoon nap. While half-asleep, I could see and hear many people walking in and out of my room, holding loud conversations. But I knew that my door was locked, so how could they possibly have gotten in?
Becoming more conscious, I wanted to sit up and have a better look at these people but felt that I couldn't move. Suddenly, I saw an old man over me, pressing down on my shoulders to keep me down. I was very frightened and tried to wriggle out of his grasp – and I was finally able to, managing to sit straight up in bed.
Then I turned around to look back at the bed, only to see another “me” laying on the bed asleep.
I was so scared that I collapsed back onto the bed. And then I woke up.
Since then, I never slept during the day by myself. Even at night, I could hear someone breathing next to me while I slept. I had to ask my mother to watch over me as I slept at night for some peace of mind.
It seemed that I would be forever plagued by these phantasms until I ran into Falun Dafa – a Buddhist, mind-body practice – in 1996.
I had gotten married just that year, and my husband had taken me to visit my sister in a big city on our honeymoon. While we were there, my sister gave me a copy of Zhuan Falun, the main teaching of Falun Dafa. I began to read the book on our way home.
At first, it was hard for me to believe some of the things in the book, but I just knew that it was a good book. It was enough to convince me to take up the practice.
From then on, I have never been bothered by beings that only I could sense.
“I Came Here to Learn the Fa!”
I had a healthy, adorable daughter in 1997. Before she could even say a full sentence, she would often look at the Falun symbol printed on the cover of Zhuan Falun, move her tiny hand in circles, and say, “Spin, spin, spin!” [Note: Falun Dafa teachings say that the Falun continuously rotates in other dimensions.]
One night, I was laying in bed with my daughter. For a lark, I asked her, “Why are you here?”
To my surprise, my one-year-old replied, clear as day, “Mommy, I came here to learn the Fa!” [Note: Fa is the Buddhist term for the Way.]
I was completely awed. I had never expected that my one-year-old would have such a precise answer to such an existential question.
A Little Helper
After that, whenever I would sit down to read Zhuan Falun, my daughter would play quietly by herself and not interrupt me. Whenever I'd stop, without missing a beat, my daughter would say, “Mom, keep reading!” Even when I was having an off day and did not want to read, my daughter would take the book and put it in my hands.
My daughter also told me that she could see many eyes in the sky watching us and many people within the pages of Zhuan Falun.
The fifth exercise of Falun Dafa was a challenge for me back then. Sitting in the full lotus position for an hour was painful and I often struggled with whether or not to stop halfway through. But whenever I had that thought, my daughter would come over and sit next to me with her legs in the full lotus – even if this meant waking up from her nap. This small gesture was often what gave me the courage to forge on.
The Chinese Communist Party banned Falun Dafa in 1999 when the number of practitioners surpassed 100 million – more than the number of people in the Party. The authorities arrested many practitioners and threw them into prisons or forced labor camps. The television, radio, and newspapers were full of propaganda defaming the practice.
But I knew I couldn't give up on Dafa. At that time, I really didn't know what to do, so I resorted to writing small notes – “Falun Dafa is a righteous cultivation way. It is not the evil practice that state television claims it to be. Please trust me: No one will risk their own safety to tell you a lie.”
I would slip these notes in the fare I gave to bus drivers or beneath people's doors.
Later on, I started printing sticky notes with messages dispelling the propaganda against Falun Dafa. I'd put up these posters on electrical poles, walls, or doors when I'd take my daughter on our after-dinner walks. Sometimes, my daughter would help me put them up.
An Invisible Barrier
In 2003, I was arrested while my daughter watched.
The police ransacked our home, breaking and taking things as they pleased. They had no reservations about tearing a mother from her five-year-old daughter, who could do little more than stare, wordless and wide-eyed with shock.
I was sentenced to eight years in prison for nothing more than refusing to give up my belief.
At first, my husband would bring our daughter to visit me. During each visit, my daughter was surprisingly calm, belying her age. She never cried or threw a tantrum – she'd just have lunch with her father and me and then leave.
One day, my daughter stopped coming to see me. I could sense that things were changing back home, without me.
Upon my release, my husband dropped me off at our home and left in short order. My daughter left for her grandparents' after a few perfunctory words to me. I was left alone in a place that we all used to call home.
Eventually – though it was by no means easy – I made the conscious decision to move past the cold treatment from my husband, daughter, and parents-in-law, and to let it all go.
“It's not been an easy eight years for them, either,” I thought to myself.
My husband and I had worked at the same company. After my arrest, he became the company pariah and was passed over for promotions. My daughter, too—she hardly knew how to explain to her classmates why her mother was in prison. To children, only bad people went to prison, and so she would say that her mother was dead. Her grandparents didn't help the situation, either, as they were completely brainwashed by the propaganda. They taught their granddaughter that her mother had caused this family disaster, even though it was the communist party that created the tragedy and implicated our family.
That was perhaps the most painful hole in my heart: the distance that my daughter now kept from me. Her grandparents' firm belief that I, as a Dafa practitioner, had brought misfortune to our family and the propaganda in her school textbooks all told her that Falun Dafa was bad, leaving her with nothing but contempt for me.
My daughter refused to call me “Mother.” To her, I was trash. She spoke rudely to me and would leave whenever I said something that displeased her. It all but broke my heart. I did all I could to cater to her and not upset her so that she would stay with me just a little longer each time she visited.
One day, my daughter came to my house for lunch.
“An old lady tried to tell me and my classmates about Falun Gong today. She said something about quitting the communist party,” she said proudly. “My classmates got really mad, so I walked right up to her and gave her a good slap.”
I was shocked. This was only a fellow practitioner trying to help people understand our plight, and it was not lost upon me that I could have easily been in that practitioner's shoes. My daughter's behavior was absolutely inexcusable.
“How could you do that?” I asked, criticizing my daughter for the first time. “Forget everything else – in what universe is it right to hit an old lady?”
But my daughter wouldn't listen, which only made me more worried and frustrated. I demanded that she fix her mistake and quit the Communist Youth League immediately.
That incensed her even more. Slamming her house key on the table, she ran out the front door.
I ran after her, all the way to her grandparents' house. After my daughter went back to school in the afternoon, my parents-in-law began to yell at me. They told me that they wouldn't let me to see my daughter again if I ever mentioned Falun Dafa to her.
Walking home, I felt numb and empty inside. I had no idea what I should do.
My daughter stopped coming to my house – what used to be her home – after the incident. My husband also asked me for a divorce: the woman he had been seeing put pressure on him to marry her, and he didn't want to be associated with Falun Dafa anymore. His parents supported his decision.
And when it rained, it poured – it just so happened that my mother had a stroke at about the same time, which had left her half paralyzed. I had to take care of her full-time.
This was a dark time for me. Everybody I cared about seemed to be pushing unbearable weight on my shoulders. Seeing I had no other choice, I signed the divorce papers and took my aging parents to stay with my sister in another city.
Sitting on the train, I watched what used to be my city get smaller and smaller, and my heart ached. I once had a home in that city, with a happy family. Now, for me, that city had become unwelcoming and cold.
My practice had harmed nobody. It gave me solace and made me a better person. I had to wonder at the kind of ruling power that would punish a peaceful meditator like me – what could it possibly have gained from destroying me and my family?
In our new place, my mother and I both studied the Dafa teachings and did the exercises at home. Bit by bit, my mother's situation improved.
As she got better, I began to go out again to raise awareness of the persecution and clarify that we were not evil – just a cultivation practice. But thoughts of my daughter, this small existence who told me she had come here for the Fa, still lingered in my mind. So every few months, I'd go back into town for a couple of weeks in hopes that I'd be able to see her.
I was able to see her each time, but every time my daughter would only stay for a short while. We didn't really have much to say to each other; my daughter would just ask for money or ask me to buy things for her. I was unemployed at that time and didn't have a steady income, but my kind father would give me some money for my daughter so that I wouldn't look bad.
During this time, I realized through my cultivation that I had a strong attachment to competition, which caused the incident with my daughter. I was able to work on this attachment and slowly let go of it. Afterward, it became much easier to talk with her.
I knew my daughter read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, so I'd often bring her stories about historic prophecies and other dimensions from Minghui. My daughter would take them and read them.
The second year after I moved away, I once had an opportunity to have a longer conversation with my daughter. I took her shopping and then to dinner. At dinner I told her about what Falun Dafa truly was, about the persecution, and why people should cut their ties with the Party.
This time, I asked her to quit the Youth League and Young Pioneers, which almost all Chinese students were compelled to join at school.
My daughter lowered her head, reticent. I could tell that she had her reservations, and I felt terribly sorry for her. This was not the way she originally was, but the Party's constant barrage of propaganda and brainwashing over the years had built a sturdy, poisonous shell around her. I also felt sorry that I had not cultivated enough benevolence in my practice to be able to penetrate this shell and help her.
It was almost time to say good-bye.
In a final attempt, I put my hand on my daughter's forehead and softly caressed her for a few seconds. I begged Master for help: “Master, please purge the communist party's influence from her brain.”
Like magic, my daughter suddenly lifted her head.
“Mom, please help me quit the communist organizations,” she said.
I was speechless. My heart was filled with joy and gratitude – Master was with me all this time!
Let's Go Together
As I kept studying the Dafa teachings and memorizing Zhuan Falun, I was able to find more of my attachments and correct them.
It was around that time that I needed a job – without one, I would not be able to support my daughter when she went to college. I also didn't want my daughter to think that I was a leech who only took things.
I then found a job without much hassle.
Over the next few years, my relationship with my daughter gradually improved. From how I lived my life, my daughter was able to see that being unlawfully imprisoned didn't break me – instead, I was able to live a full life every day.
When my daughter was studying for the college entrance exam, I came back into town to support her. She was happy to have me back, and we spoke a lot during this time. To me, it felt as if the final pieces of that invisible barrier that had separated us for years was finally melting away.
It was like the floodgates had opened in my daughter's mind: she poured her heart out to me. Years of words that she had held back burst out all at once.
She told me how miserable her life was after the police took me. Her father verbally abused her every time he got drunk, and all her grandparents did was curse me and make things worse. Without a proper outlet for her emotions, she rebelled against her father and neglected her studies.
And perhaps for the first time in a long time, my daughter cried. Why wasn't I here, she asked. Why did I have to be taken away?
The impact of all those years of her pain stung me, and for the first time, I began to tell my daughter my own story.
I used to be very aggressive and would fight with anyone over anything; I had an infamous temper. I was also troubled by intense nightmares. Dafa made all of that go away. I became a highly-regarded teacher at work and did almost all the housework at home without complaint. When the police arrested me at work, my managers and colleagues all cried for me; even the police officers were surprised.
It was Dafa that made me a better person, so I felt it was only fair that I speak up when Dafa was slandered by the communist party. I also believe it is my obligation to tell people the facts about Dafa and that its practitioners are innocent.
I told her of the many prophecies that foretell the inevitable demise of the Party, why people should sever their ties to it, and also the miraculous stories about her as a baby.
Slowly, my daughter stopped crying and listened quietly. In the end, she looked at me and said calmly, “Mom, I think you're saving people.”
With tears in my eyes, I pulled my daughter in for a hug – I had been waiting for this moment for years!
My daughter published a statement on Minghui shortly after, retracting all of the negative things she'd done and said about Falun Dafa, and promising to make up for them in the future. But I knew in my heart that this was only a first step. I will never forget my daughter's own words: “Mom, I came here to learn the Fa.”
Everything seemed to just fall into place for my daughter from then on. She was accepted to a prestigious university close to where I lived and would come home to me on weekends and holidays. I gave her a copy of Zhuan Falun; at first I read it to her, but soon she took it and read it by herself. She had a lot of questions.
When I would look over at her sitting in the full lotus position reading, I would smile and think back to when she was younger and seated next to me when I was doing the exercises. It felt right.
My daughter and I may have overcome many tribulations, but we're still far from perfect.
Sometimes she is still rude or lazy or won't want to study the Fa. On these occasions, I've learned to look within myself for the cause – my daughter is only a mirror of myself. She likes to interrogate people, but I have an attachment to competitiveness. She loves to indulge herself and shop, but I have an attachment to money. She spends a lot of time on her phone, but I also do the same.
I am working hard at eliminating these attachments now, with her next to me.
My dearest daughter, let's walk forward together on the path of cultivation! I won't leave you behind.