Falun Dafa practitioners from across the United States came to California on Oct. 15 to be with each other and to call for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of the peaceful practice.
One of them was Katherine Combes, who is from Kalispell, Mont., very close to the Canadian border, “a pretty isolated area.”
She said she made the journey because, “I feel it’s important as a practitioner, since we hardly have any other practitioners in Montana, to be with other practitioners and to share, and especially do our meditations and exercises together.”
Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) is a traditional spiritual practice that consists of five gentle exercises and follows the principles of truthfullness, compassion, and tolerance, according to the Minghui website, which carries news about the practice.
Combes was in San Francisco for a parade, group exercises, and an experience sharing conference, called a Fahui in Chinese, which is set for Thursday.
She has practiced for 14 years, she said, after learning it from a local man who voluntarily shared the practice.
She said she felt more peace of mind. “From the moment I started to practice Falun Dafa I knew it was a predestined relationship that I had to fulfill, and I’ve just gained so much from practicing Falun Dafa in so many ways, especially I’m so much more balanced.”
Her commitment seemed deep. “I just feel so many questions that I’ve had for so many years have all been answered, and I could never quit this practice because I’ve gained so much from it,” she added.
She has a small cohort of fellow practitioners in Montana, who do the exercises and meditate as a group, but she said she felt the chance to come to a large international conference was special. “It’s so important to connect with, and share, and especially … to share our cultivation experiences, and I just gain tremendously from it. There’s no way you could stop me from coming.”
One man came from a nearer city, Las Vegas, yet his life began further away than that of his fellow practitioner Combes.
Tian Bo, who is from Beijing, began learning Falun Dafa in China in 1996, he said. He has been in America more than 10 years, and “I like this country very much.”
He and his companions drove about 10 hours to join the activities. “I think the Fahui here is very important for us,” he said. It happens once a year, and “it is a good chance for us to meet together to help each other.”
But the gathering was not only about helping those who were present. It was also about helping fellow Falun Dafa practitioners in China, who are persecuted for more than 1o years by the communist regime.
“They really need help over there. All media and everything are controlled by the communists. They have no chance to speak out. And we are in this free country, and we are just trying our way to let more people know what happened in China. I believe if more people know the truth, more countries know the truth, and say a word, it will stop the persecution,” Tian said.
Minghui has documented almost 3,900 cases of Falun Dafa practitioners who have died in dentition from torture, neglect, or exploitation, though human rights groups and researchers estimate the total number to be much higher.