(Clearwisdom.net) One day in 399 BC, inside a prison at the foot of the Acropolis in ancient Greece, a barefoot old man with disheveled hair was enthusiastically talking with his friends about the dream and the truth he had been pursuing. A guard arrived with poisoned wine in a pottery cup. The old man calmly took a look at the cup and then said to his friends, "Ok, my time is up!" He then poured the wine down his throat.

He was Socrates. This old man, whom later generations regarded as a great philosopher, was not remarkable in appearance: he was short, fat, bald and had a "lion nose." Before he was imprisoned, he stood daily in front of the "Porch of the Temple of Zeus," discussing and seeking wisdom and truth with his students, including Plato and others. Many words of great wisdom had emerged from his mouth. He enjoyed great fame among the young people, but he eventually incurred the jealousy and hatred of some nobles, who accused him of two fictitious crimes. The first crime was that Socrates had neglected and insulted the gods by considering himself as intelligent and as someone who had "studied everything in heaven and on earth." The second was that he had poisoned and corrupted the young people's minds, and roped them in by asserting that he could teach them moral integrity.

At almost the same time, in 493 BC, another old man, already in his sixties, led his disciples and traveled to other states to preach his "Kingly Way" of governing a state. Materialistic politicians, though, did not accept his teachings. When he and his students reached the State of Song, Sima Huanxiao in the Song area did not welcome his arrival. Instead, he went as far as planning to kill the old man. This prompted the teacher and his disciples to hurriedly escape to the State of Zheng. Unexpectedly, during the hasty escape, the teacher and students became separated. When the students realized this, they went everywhere to find him. One person in the State of Zheng told them, "Outside the east gate is an old man with a wide forehead and prominent cheekbones. He looked as bad as a homeless dog. I don't know if he is your teacher." After the students found the old man, they told him what they had been told, and this old man laughed loudly. This man was Confucius, who thereafter influenced China for over two thousand years. Later generations respectfully called him "the Greatest Sage and the First Teacher." This elderly man, who had run into obstacles everywhere, finally decided to quit his position as a government official. Instead, he concentrated his energy on teaching his disciples and compiled history and the classics. As time went on, his disciples collected his major teachings, and thus the book Lun Yun came into being. For this book, it came to be understood that "knowing half of it would be enough for a person to govern a nation."

Shortsighted and self-proclaimed smart persons often lose sight of the truth in the midst of their scorn and contempt. Over two thousand years ago, in the city of Nazareth, which was then a part of the ancient Roman Empire, people often ridiculed Jesus, who came from a carpenter's family, by saying, "Aren't you just the son of the carpenter Joseph? What truth do you know to teach us?" For three hundred years after Jesus was nailed to the cross, the tyrant kings and the Roman nobles ruthlessly tortured his disciples; they were also burned alive or fed to the lions. Jesus' disciples were depicted as demons that hated mankind and that killed infants to drink their blood and eat their flesh during their worshipping rituals. Now the ancient Roman Empire no longer exists, but for the past two thousand years, the universal principles of love and forbearance of Christianity have served as the foundation of Western civilization.

People often say that history is astonishingly similar, and what have the repetitive dramas appearing on the stage of human history taught people?

Thirteen years ago, on May 13, 1992, a qigong master, wearing simple clothes, started to hold a ten-day long qigong seminar in Changchun City's No. 5 Middle School in Jilin Province, China. The 180 attendees of this seminar did not realize at the time that a magnificent, historic human drama had quietly begun on that stage. Several days later, the news that "Falun Gong is miraculous" rapidly spread by word of mouth among the family members and friends of the individuals who had attended that seminar. This qigong practice not only is very effective in curing people's illnesses and making people healthy, but also has the miraculous effect of purifying people's minds. The three words, "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," have awakened people's Buddha nature, which had long been hidden and dormant. In just seven years, through spreading from person to person and from heart to heart, Falun Gong was transmitted all over China.

Falun Gong has also been spread overseas and taken root in many countries. When around the world as many as 100 million people practice Falun Gong, its popularity incurred the jealousy of those in power in China; they deemed Falun Gong as "competing with the Party for people's hearts." Soon the government administrative branches, secret agents, the military and the police committed cruel torture, killings and other violent measures against practitioners. The perpetrators even promulgated frightening and bizarre lies on the radio, in the newspapers and on television. The financial and human resources of the entire nation were mobilized to persecute a group of people that just want to cultivate themselves to be kind and good.

Behind the names of 2,200 Falun Gong practitioners who lost their lives-- including Chen Zixiu, Zhao Xin, Gao Xianmin, Liu Chengjun, Zhou Zhichang--are heart-breaking stories. They were men and women from all walks of life, from the countryside, college professors, workers and government employees. In the eyes of their family members they were the good wives, good husbands, kind mothers and strong fathers; they were once as energetic as you and I. They endured extremely inhumane tortures and died during extreme suffering.

Falun Gong practitioners have endured intense hardships for six years. Facing labor camp sentences, imprisonment and being compelled to stay away from home to avoid further persecution as well as people's scorn, Falun Gong practitioners have not harbored any hatred in their hearts. They have used various ways to clarify the truth to people about Falun Gong. They firmly believe that the truth will finally drive away the lies and peace will defeat violence. Just as sunlight will eventually dispel the fog, Falun Gong practitioners' sincerity, forbearance and compassion will also eventually melt the frost and snow that have covered people's minds.

After six years of this violent storm, Falun Gong is still strongly and peacefully standing while that wretch who has become frenzied from jealousy, and who clamored to "eradicate Falun Gong in three months," has been the subject of lawsuits in many countries. This huge eighty-year-old evil Party, which has mastered all kinds of methods to persecute people, has even failed to snuff out Falun Gong.

Following the evil Party's culture and its logic, as soon as someone mentions Falun Gong, many people's first reaction is, "The Chinese Central Government has already decided on the nature of Falun Gong." Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party has "decided on the nature of Falun Gong," and the persecution is still rampant. Zhao Gao during the Qin Dynasty also "decided on the nature of a deer as a horse." The ancient Greek nobles "decided on the nature of Socrates as poisoning the minds of youths," and the ancient Roman Empire "decided on the nature of Jesus' followers." "The nature has been decided" - isn't the universe giving people the opportunity to make a choice between kindness and evil, following one's conscience and going against it, and logical reasoning and blind obedience?

Humans live amidst illusion. Where do we come from and where are we headed? The drama has historically played out in the rise and fall of societies, as well as mankind's glory and misery. Every life has been playing his or her own part in this great historical drama, and every life has an opportunity to make his or her own choice during this critical historical moment. In order for you to have such a precious opportunity, there are people who have given up their lives without regret, because they know that this opportunity is critical for you. Perhaps the thousands of years of recurring history, and the repetitive historical dramas have all been played out for you so that you could have this present historic opportunity. How can you not cherish it?

May 13, 2005