Since 1999, China has experienced the most concerted campaign of propaganda and disinformation that the world has ever seen—one using every communication channel and the communist regime's entire mass media arsenal. The key target of this campaign has been people who follow the ancient spiritual practice of Falun Gong. In the most literal sense, their voices have been silenced amid a cacophony of venom and lies. Here, they have the opportunity to present their stories of perseverance, faith, and personal evolution, straight from the heart.
Since the 1970s, Eastern and New Age spiritual practices have planted roots in the English-speaking world and Western Europe. In recent years, they've also expanded to countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain.
A recent Falun Dafa experience sharing conference in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, drew over 100 participants from all over Eastern Europe—from Russia to Serbia—where they discussed the personal growth they've experienced as a result of the spiritual meditation practice.
Kerka, a practitioner from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, first saw the instructional book for Falun Dafa while walking with her boyfriend, with whom she had a child. She had been thinking of leaving him at the time, but that changed as she delved further into the practice.
"Little by little everything in my life began to transform," Kerka said at the conference. "We never parted, but in fact, Dafa helped me to understand what a family truly is. We got married and started over. All aspects and relationships in my life received blessings. The situations, which seemed impossible and complicated, improved."
Others have experienced concrete health benefits from the practice.
Zdravko, who is from the town where the conference was held, recounted how he was able to break off his 25-year habit of smoking a pack a day soon after he started practicing Falun Dafa.
He also had pain in his ribs after a fall, and had been using painkillers, which weren't enough to soothe his injury. Remarkably, his pain eased considerably after he finished Falun Dafa's 9-Day video lecture.
The wonders of the practice extended to the people around him, and when Zdravko was asked to teach Falun Dafa to prison inmates, he witnessed a rapid rehabilitation in their character.
One of the inmates was a felon named Kostadin, who had submitted an experience sharing paper that would be read remotely at the conference. He said that Falun Dafa has allowed him to make peace with his life.
"It's my ninth year in prison, and before, I didn't know what to do, what to think about, or how I would make it through my life sentence. I had a lot of accumulated anger and hatred in my heart, related to past and present events in my life," Kostadin wrote, according to Minghui.org.
"Dafa helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel, become aware of my existence, understand the meaning of my life, the pain, and suffering, and see the overall picture and accept things lightly."
The day before the conference, the participants had gathered to do group Falun Dafa exercises in downtown Stara Zagora—to spread awareness of the persecution that adherents to the belief were facing in mainland China.