California Falun Gong Practitioners Celebrate Anniversary of First US Teaching

By David Lam
David Lam
David Lam
October 15, 2021 Updated: October 15, 2021

SUNNYVALE, Calif.—Practitioners of the Chinese meditation discipline Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) gathered in Ortega Park in Sunnyvale on Oct. 3 to commemorate the day Falun Gong was first taught in the United States.

Dozens of practitioners from around the Bay Area met at the pavilion near the center of the public park. Surrounded by a grassy field, trees, and passersby, they did the Falun Gong exercises together to peaceful music.

Falun Gong includes five meditative exercises as well as moral teachings centered on practicing truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in daily life. It was publicly introduced in China in 1992 by its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi.

By 1999, tens of millions of people in China were practicing it, and it had also spread to many other countries around the world. The first time Mr. Li taught Falun Gong in the United States was on Oct. 5, 1996, at the pavilion in Ortega Park.

Epoch Times Photo
People do the Falun Gong exercises under the pavilion at Ortega Park in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Oct. 3, 2021. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)

Today, practitioners still go there for daily group exercises.

“It’s a very good feeling,” Kevin Snead, a Falun Gong practitioner from Sunnyvale, told The Epoch Times. “I come here very early in the morning every day. I’m a person that used to not get up in the morning, but I come here, and afterwards my day is set; I feel so good.”

People who practice Falun Gong have reported improved physical and mental health, reduced stress, and better interpersonal relationships.

“In my job I have to deal with a lot of people,” said Snead. “And when I’m out in traffic, and someone’s cutting in front of me, or something else is happening, all those things can create instant reactions.”

After taking up meditation and reflecting on himself, Snead handles those things much differently now, he said.

Matthew Kang, a practitioner from Sonoma County, told The Epoch Times he has been practicing Falun Gong for 20 years. He said a friend told him about “Zhuan Falun,” the main book of Falun Gong, and after a while Kang learned the exercises from someone in San Francisco.

“I think [Ortega Park] is a really special site,” Kang said.

He feels it’s special because it was Mr. Li’s first stop in the United States.

Kang commutes throughout the Bay Area to do the exercises with other people. He made a 2-hour drive to Ortega Park for that purpose earlier this month.

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong practitioner Matthew Kang does one of the Falun Gong exercises at Ortega Park in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Oct. 3, 2021. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)

Practitioner George Lee told The Epoch Times that he started going to Ortega Park 20 years ago. He said that since he knows how beneficial the practice is, he resolved to attend the daily group exercises.

“Because I notice if you don’t come every day, if you miss a single day, you get an excuse to miss another day,” he said.

Lee said there are usually at least 5 people there in the early mornings, but sometimes on weekends there are 20 people.

He said any newcomers are welcome to stop by to learn for free.

NTD Television’s Nancy Han contributed to this report.

David Lam