Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of the spiritual discipline of Falun Gong, spoke at an international conference in San Francisco on Thursday.
Mr. Li addressed the approximately 3800 who participated in the conference and then answered questions related to the cultivation practice. The general theme was for practitioners to elevate their moral character by acting in accordance with the principles of the practice and through introspection.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that teaches the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, and involves five meditative exercises.
The purpose of the conferences was to share insights and experiences among people who practice Falun Gong. The conference lasted the whole day.
Attendees From Around the World
Pirjo Svensson, a manager, came from Sweden to attend the conference. “First and foremost, I think it’s a very precious opportunity to be here. It’s given me a lot of insights,” she said.
She said that she realized she should not have bad notions about others. “I have let things like that seep into my mind, and I have been aware of it, but I haven’t been able to eradicate it.” She also explained that the heavens are watching all of our thoughts, “so we need to be pure in the mind; our hearts have to be pure.”
Coming from Calgary, Canada, Carrie Gilkison, who is in sales, said she found the conference “grounding.”
“The conference gives me an opportunity to really reflect on things. Day to day there are a lot of distractions, so here is a perfect opportunity to try to do better.”
“The nature of one’s heart is the main [focus],” she added.
Gwendalle Cooper, who just turned 86, also attended the conference, noting that it helped her find her shortcomings.
Developing Mercy After Persecution
Chao Yu, an IT professional, came from Chicago, but until last year was in China. Mr. Yu had been in prison in China for 10 years because of practicing Falun Gong. His wife, also a practitioner, was imprisoned for nearly 11 years.
Falun Gong has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999, a brutal campaign that has involved torture, brainwashing, and massive propaganda campaigns.
“During the 15-year persecution of Falun Gong by the Communist Party, I’ve accumulated a lot of hatred in my heart, in fact. I’ve tried to suppress it, and I’ve tried to develop mercy, but it’s difficult for me,” said Mr. Yu, who suffered torture during his imprisonment.
“After listening to one of the speeches today, I have to change my heart,” he said. He said he felt that he has a great responsibility as a Falun Gong practitioner to live by the principles of the practice and have compassion.