When Rosina Yriart read “How Humankind Came To Be” by Mr. Li Hongzhi, she felt hope that America could regain its spiritual and moral center. She shared it with several of her friends who found the message interesting. When The Epoch Times recently published a second article by Mr. Li, Ms. Yriart, a pilot, again shared it with friends, rereading that article each time she did.
“I think that Mr. Li is giving us [something] easy to read, it’s pleasant, it kind of makes your day—it inspires you,” Ms. Yriart said. “We are good people, we need to be, God is in us, God is love—and it kind of changes our attitude.”
Mr. Li is the founder of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice centered around the universal principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance. These three words had so inspired Ms. Yriart that when she learned about Falun Gong upon reading the first article, she wrote them down on a card for her granddaughter. The spirituality of young people in our country had been a topic weighing heavily on her mind, and she was happy to see the young woman thoughtfully considering the message.
Years ago, Ms. Yriart said her 14-year-old grandson told her “I’m an atheist.” He wasn’t alone among his peers, and she was heartbroken for him and the education most young people are left with today. She thought it likely the many rituals of organized religions were a barrier that further separated them from spirituality, which was why she found Falun Gong interesting.
“It could give them spirituality and make them understand that they’re spiritual beings that don’t exist because some genius invented AI,” she said.
“This country has the only Constitution in the world that is based on the belief that the almighty is the only one that can grant us freedom,” Ms. Yriart said. “And that freedom is what allows ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. And I think that’s why this country has been successful. But nowadays, between our politicians and unelected officials, and greedy corporations, they’re bypassing the Constitution and its beliefs, and that’s why we’re in such trouble.”
The most recent article “made me think,” Ms. Yriart said. “I was in bed and mulling it over, and the fact that God is in all of us and God is love, and I’m thinking ‘well how about the people who do not accept the almighty?’ For those people, they don’t know what unselfish love is, giving and being compassionate and kind. Those people are very capable of hatred, and we see it all around us today, and selfish gain. They’ll destroy other lives in order to achieve control or maintain control, causing a lot of pain, and they disregard life—and then they’re very unhappy, they complain.”
“But they won’t accept that God is giving us a chance to redeem ourselves, to become better, to become happy. And I think the only time [we] humans can be truly happy is when we accept the almighty, and we accept there is a kind, loving God,” Ms. Yriart said.
“Mr. Li’s simple message is very enveloping, and it reaches profoundly. And I maintain, the young people who have rejected the Catholic church or Christianity in general because of its rituals and traditions … the teachings of Falun Gong, of Mr. Li, are very attractive because it’s something new. And I think young people can really embrace it. And at the same time, it’s the same message of Christianity, of love. It is absolutely beautiful.”
Falun Gong was made public in China in 1992, and in under a decade there were an estimated 100 million practitioners of the spiritual discipline in China. It has since spread to 100 countries, and the main text “Zhuan Falun” has been translated into 40 languages.
By 1999, however, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a persecution campaign that involved global propaganda, illegal arrests, and live organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience.
“As Christianity is under attack once again, we have a lot to learn from Mr. Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong,” said Ms. Yriart. Today, churches in America are being targeted by government and culture alike, not unlike tyrannical cultures we have seen around the world before, she explained. Though Falun Gong was openly persecuted by the CCP, many followers did not lose faith or courage, and Ms. Yriart felt there was a lesson to be learned here.
A Moral Path
Chester Vidacovich, now retired, felt similarly to Ms. Yriart. “Nowadays things are sliding downhill very quickly,” he said, primarily in respect to morals and ethics.
“I try to live a moral and ethical life as much as possible, like Jesus said,” Mr. Vidacovich said. He found the article expressed the way he tried to live his life and his beliefs. “Everything in the article would be beneficial to people if they would adhere to that.”
John Sommers, a retired engineer and land surveyor, read “How Humankind Came To Be” several times and wrote a summary of it for himself.
“Every time I read it, I think it’s even better, I see more things about it that I like,” he said.
“Right now America is probably in the worst shape it’s been since I was born, and like I said, I’m 77 years old. And it’s due to a lot of the things he’s mentioned in the article, and those things have to be addressed,” Mr. Sommers said. “There’s ways out of the situation we find ourselves in.”
Prayer and meditation are daily components of Mr. Sommers’s life, and he felt the article could inspire others to take up such practices. The simple ritual has a way of connecting one to essential human values and virtues, he explained, and would move America back toward a spiritual path.
“It’s not a religious-type article,” Mr. Sommers said. “It’s just saying here’s what the solution has to be. It’s definitely correct. It’s an article that requires action.”
Carol Lazano, who worked in the court system and recently retired during the COVID pandemic, felt the article spoke of things similar to the way she was trying to live her own life, to right our wrongs and do good by others.
“It’s definitely worth it for someone to read and try to get something out of that, especially for someone who doesn’t have any spirituality,” Ms. Lazano said. “I remember walking away from it feeling lighter.”
Pamela Williams, who used to be a music teacher, had never heard of Falun Gong before coming across a pamphlet in a doctor’s office one appointment. To her delight, an article by the founder of Falun Gong appeared in The Epoch Times newspaper soon after.
“It was just mesmerizing for me, just the gentle way of speaking and not pushing,” she said. Ms. Williams added that she has done Tai Chi for many years and enjoys studying Eastern philosophies, but it’s hard to find any spiritual or religious activity these days that deosn’t push people to sign up for classes or join a membership. But Falun Gong, which is entirely free and voluntary, was refreshing.
“I’m hoping that it has appealed to other people … the other thing that impresses me a lot are the three words the author used, [truth, compassion, tolerance],” said Ms. Williams. “[The article] has a wonderful, symphonic feeling to me.”