(Minghui.org) I’m in my 70s and I began to practice Falun Dafa in 1996. Because of my experiences while I was incarcerated I’m deeply aware of the importance of upholding my steadfast belief in Master and Dafa no matter the circumstances. Remaining steadfast is critical for us to walk through tribulations.

Overcoming My Fear of Doing the Falun Dafa Exercises in the Labor Camp

After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to suppress Falun Dafa in July 1999, I went to Beijing to appeal. After I returned home, someone reported me, resulting in my being arrested and sentenced to a two-year labor camp term.

The labor camp was notorious for its brutality and several practitioners were tortured to death there. In the beginning, the guards kept me and two other practitioners in the same cell. One practitioner suggested we do the Falun Dafa exercises together to protest the persecution. I agreed. But because I had been tortured in the detention center, I was afraid. My fear stopped me and I didn’t join them when they did the exercises. The guards soon came and took them away.

After that I felt uneasy: Master arranged these two practitioners to help me overcome my fear. Why did I back off at the critical moment? Isn’t fear also an attachment? Master said, “The entire cultivation process for a cultivator is one of constantly giving up human attachments.” (Lecture One, Zhuan Falun)

I made up my mind to let go of fear; otherwise, there was no way for me to safeguard and validate Dafa. But it wasn’t easy during this harsh persecution. I repeatedly made up my mind, but each time I backed off. After more than 10 days, I decided to do the exercises that night. I noticed the detainee on duty was known to viciously beat people, so once again I gave up.

Another 10 days passed and once again I decided to do the exercises in the evening. By that time, however, I found out that although the detainee on duty was not fierce, the guard in the hall was much worse. If he saw me, I could not imagine what would happen to me. So I hesitated once again. I felt regretful and depressed. I was pained because I was unable to overcome my fear. Master said, “...Accomplishing is cultivating.” (“Solid Cultivation,” Hong Yin) I decided to do better.

Two more weeks passed as I battled between fear and righteous thoughts. I decided to do the exercises even if I was beaten to death. I noticed the vicious detainee on duty had fallen asleep. I was nervous, but nonetheless started. The guard in the hallway saw me, but did not do anything. After one hour, the detainee on duty noticed what I was doing. He began swearing and threw a wooden bench at me. I felt very relaxed because I was happy that I overcame my fear. This experience helped me to later step forward to oppose the persecution and validate Dafa. I also decided that when it was time to validate Dafa, I should just do it without hesitation.

After I was held at the transition division for three months, I was assigned janitorial duties. This was a coveted position since janitors were not required to do forced labor. Some inmates even bribed the guards to get this position.

I knew Master made the arrangement for me. I was determined to make the best use of the time to cultivate myself and validate Dafa. When I noticed posters on the bulletin board that defamed Dafa, I decided to remove them. When I went there, however, the posters had been replaced with something else.

I thought of another way of validating Dafa. One Sunday morning when the hundreds of inmates were taking a day off, I went up to a high place and began to do the exercises. An inmate saw me and called out, “Someone is practicing Falun Dafa!” Another inmate said he would call the guards. Because they pointed it out hundreds of inmates watched me do the exercises. I was not afraid. When I did the third exercise, a guard said, “I watched you for a while and did not see anything wrong with Falun Dafa.” He just handcuffed me but did not beat me.

Although I lost the janitor position because of this incident, I did not regret it. After all, practitioners are here to validate Dafa, not to pursue comfort.

Reciting the Fa and Meditating in Solitary Confinement

Soon after this, the guards beat another practitioner. I called out and told them to stop. The guards were angry and put me in solitary confinement. Despite the freezing cold weather, I had to sleep on the concrete floor. I was not given a blanket and my clothes were very thin. I was only given two meals a day, each one only 0.1 kilogram (or three ounces) of food. The third day, they gave me a blanket, but it was very thin and did not help much.

Master said, “Cultivation must take place through tribulations...” (Lecture Four, Zhuan Falun) I thus considered this a good opportunity to improve. In the past, I was busy working and didn’t have much time to study the Fa and do the exercises. Now, I had plenty of time. I kept reciting the limited contents I remembered from Hong Yin, Essentials for Further Advancement, and Zhuan Falun. Time passed quickly. I did not sleep much, but I still felt there wasn’t enough time.

When I practiced some qigong systems in the past, it was easy to meditate. After I began practicing Falun Dafa, however, my legs were stiff and I had difficulty even putting one leg up in the single lotus position. But I knew I was in pain because of my karma.

I always wanted to put both legs up and meditate in the full lotus position. I began to keep my legs crossed while I recited the Fa. As I didn’t have a clock, I counted reciting one paragraph of Dafa teaching or reciting a poem from Hong Yin 10 times as one minute. I also set a goal of not letting down my legs until the preset time. I sometimes gave myself a “bonus” by extending the time for another 10 or 20 minutes. Because of the intense pain, I sweated heavily and my clothes and pants were wet. However, I was soon able to do the sitting meditation in the full lotus position for more than an hour.

After a few days, I decided to stop counting. I meditated during the four-hour period between breakfast and lunch. The pain would start with my legs and then spread to my entire body—it was intense beyond description.

I remembered Master’s words, “When it’s difficult to endure, you can endure it. When it’s impossible to do, you can do it.” (Lecture Nine, Zhuan Falun) I continued no matter how painful it was. The pain was so intense I couldn’t even cry. I wanted to cry out, but I knew I could not do that.

At lunchtime, I put down my legs and crawled to the doorway to get my food. I lay on the concrete floor for more than an hour to recover before I could eat. By then, the food was cold.

I suffered a lot, but it was worth it. At first, I had difficulty meditating with even with one leg up. But now I could meditate in the full lotus position for several hours. In addition, I felt I was rapidly improving in other dimensions. When I did the first exercise and recited the verses, I could feel my body and mind merging together. The feeling was wonderful.

When most people were released from solitary confinement, they looked exhausted and were emaciated. But I was filled with energy and looked great. This experience helped me and improved my ability to endure.

The Tying Up Torture

The worst torture in the labor camp was being tied up in excruciatingly painful positions. Every inmate was terrified of this torture method. A special rope made from rough coconut husks was used. It was tied around my shoulders and then along the arms to my wrists. The rope was then tightened. Because it was so tight, it deeply cut into my flesh and the blood circulation was cut off. Both of my arms were pulled up in the back. The rough surface of the rope pierced the flesh like needles and caused maximum pain. If one was tied up like this for extended periods of time, the person’s arms could be disabled. After the ropes were untied, the pain was even more intense.

Torture reenactment: Tying up arms

To make me stop practicing Falun Dafa, two guards held me down on the floor and tied me up with these coir ropes. One guard stood on each side. They stood on my hand and pulled the rope tightly. My hands were swollen, and the swollen areas were again tied up with more ropes. My hands turned green. It was extremely painful, but I knew I couldn’t give in.

They then tied my arms behind my the back. The rope was wrapped around my neck, crossed my chest, and ended with a knot in the back. The guards then inserted a steel pipe between my arms and back to further tighten the rope and intensify the pain.

“Will you stop practicing Falun Dafa?” one guard asked fiercely.

I was in so much pain that I almost passed out, but I replied peacefully and with determination, “I would rather give up my life than Falun Dafa.”

The guards were surprised. After a while, one of them said, “Watch the clock [to make sure we don’t go over time].” It was just a few minutes, but it felt infinitely long to me.

When the guards untied the rope, it felt like I was being shocked with electricity and stabbed by thousands of needles. The rope was covered with my skin and flesh. My arms were filled with spikes from the coir rope, and they were bloody and bruised.

My hands and arms were numb for two weeks. I could not use chopsticks and had to eat with my hands. Yellow fluid seeped from the injuries and scars began to form on my arms, which didn’t fully disappear for 10 years.

Improving My Communication Skills to Clarify the Truth

Soon afterwards, several practitioners and I were sent to the Strict Management Team, also known as a “prison inside prison.” We were given little to eat and even pigs would not eat that food. The vegetable leaves were yellow with long and hard stalks. It was hard to chew or swallow and inmates called them “bullet shells.” There was little oil and some insects occasionally floated on the top. The steamed buns served in the morning were as big as mahjong tiles (similar to golf balls).

Although the environment was bad, we Dafa disciples knew our mission. Whenever the guards slandered Dafa during meetings, we would call out, “Falun Dafa is good!” and “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good!” The inmates sometimes joined us and shouted louder than us.

I wasn’t good at public speaking, but I wanted to speak out against the hate propaganda that slandered Dafa. I decided to practice my skills while I was incarcerated in the labor camp so that I could clarify the truth better after I was released. Since the labor camp withheld food as another form of abuse, I decided to find opportunities to expose the persecution while improving my communication skills.

When an inmate brought in a big load of stale food, I went up to him and also called the quartermaster. My plan was to tell them how bad the food was. But when the quartermaster came I could not say anything. He swore at me and beat me. I decided to do better next time.

Another opportunity soon came. A group of people from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), People’s Congress, and Women’s Federation came to visit. I saved my steamed bun to show them how bad the food was. When they came, I walked towards them. One guard shouted, “Watch out! Some inmates are making trouble!” They ran out of the room.

This visit was important for the labor camp to be nominated for a national award. The inmates and guards thought I was a big troublemaker, and I faced retaliation.

That evening, the division manager invited me for a talk. I told him it was a felony to withhold detainees’ food, plus it severely damaged our health. “After a detainee comes here, they don't get anything to eat the first three days, then they get one meal per day for the next three days and two meals per day for the next three days. That is, one doesn't get three meals a day until the 10th day,” I said. “That’s why I want to report this.”

“But this is the Strict Management Team and it’s supposed to be like this,” he argued.

“But no one gave you the power to withhold food and mistreat detainees. Is there a policy for this?” I asked.

He remained silent.

I then shared my rough estimate that there was at least 120,000 yuan difference per year between the expense spent on the food and the funding they received, according to public reports. When I asked what they did with the extra 120,000-yuan, the manager remained silent. With Master’s help, my mind was clear and I talked fluently for one hour. He did not interrupt me.

“Why are those inmates repeatedly arrested? It’s because punishing them can’t change their hearts. Once they are released, they will continue to do bad things. On the other hand, when a person practices Falun Dafa and follows the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, his heart is truly changed. Practitioners became better people after taking up Falun Dafa,” I said. The manager told me to go back and he did not give any orders to have me punished. This never happened in that labor camp before. I knew Master protected me because I did the right thing.

The next morning, the steamed buns were bigger and we were given more food. The inmates were excited and said, “Falun Dafa is truly great!” Some of them gave us a thumbs up.

My communication skills improved. No matter the circumstance or who I talked to – even professors, I spoke fluently and led the discussion. I was able to quickly come to the point. If time permitted, I could talk for hours with a clear mind and good logic. This helped expose and reduce the persecution in the labor camp. When people asked if I were a professor, I told them I only had middle school education.

Opposing the Persecution

The day after I returned home from the labor camp, a police office surnamed Meng said he wanted to chat. As soon as I left the house, several officers dragged me into a police van and took me to a brainwashing center hosted by the 610 Office.

This was also a vicious place. Two people were assigned to watch me all the time. The staff members were well paid and provided with good food. Many practitioners in my area had been held here. After my experience in the labor camp, I was not afraid.

The next day, a so-called expert came and said, “Someone in the next room was 'transformed' [to give up practicing Falun Dafa]. You should do the same.”

“I agree ‘transformation’ is a good thing,” I replied.

He was happy to hear this.

“But it is only limited to changing from bad to good. I assume that’s what you are here for; otherwise you would be committing a crime,” I said.

As soon as I said this he walked out of the room and never came back. Several people came later, but none of them succeeded. The two staff members assigned to watch me laughed and one said, “It seems you are transforming them!”

Since they could not convince me, they began to play videos that slandered Dafa.

“Since this brainwashing session is for me, I should take this lead,” I said. “Plus you are calling this a law education center. So, let’s watch a legal channel.”

I took the remote and selected a legal channel. It happened to be talking about a case of illegal detention. I told them, “I am an innocent citizen. I didn’t violate any laws. It’s illegal for you to hold me here. Just like the TV program said, you are committing crimes.” Some of them had law degrees and they were unable to refute me.

Every evening, there were meetings in the brainwashing center discussing how to persecute practitioners. The lead staff member in my room reported my situation every day and received instructions for the next step.

I told them, “You attend the meeting about me every day, but you never told me anything about it. This is not right. You eat well and are well paid because of me. But you excluded me from the meeting. Starting tomorrow, you do not need to go. I’ll go instead.”

Seeing that they were unable to control me, the authorities planned to send me back to the labor camp. They called me into a room with three police officers. They asked my name, gender, and birth date. I knew they already had this information.

I said, “You don’t even know my name, yet you arrested me. How absurd! I am leaving now.” I walked out.

In the hallway, I loudly said, “How can you arrest Falun Dafa practitioners at will? We are not second-class citizens.” Several guards came and tried to beat me, but I stopped them.

Wei, one of the staff members assigned to watch me, was sympathetic. He went to the office, pounded the table, and said loudly, “I’ve watched this and it is your fault. You’ve detained him here for over 10 days but don’t know his name. You also want to beat him. Let me tell you, if something happens to him, I will go after you. Since you cannot transform him, I think you better release him.”

I was transferred to a regular detention facility and kept in isolation. After one year, I developed some medical conditions. When the police took me to a hospital, I told the doctors and nurses, “My health was great after I began practicing Falun Dafa. But these police arbitrarily arrested me and illegally held me in a black jail. Call the hospital security and have them arrested since they broke the law!”

I told the police, “You must sign the accountability agreement before they give me any medical treatments. You will be held accountable if anything happens. If you don’t want to bear the responsibility, your best option is to release me.” None of them wanted to take the responsibility so they released me. My condition soon disappeared without any treatment.

(To be continued. See Part 2)