NEW YORK—Donned in bright yellow jackets and caps that cut through the cloudy, overcast day on Sunday, May 13, over 1,000 adherents of Falun Gong gathered to create a massive message.
The participants—practitioners of a traditional spiritual practice also known as Falun Dafa—joined to form 5 Chinese characters spanning across the lawn on Governors Island, New York. The event marks the final day of last week’s World Falun Dafa Day celebrations.
At its core, Falun Dafa teaches 3 principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Mindful of Falun Gong’s ancient roots in Buddhist and Daoist traditions, practitioners follow these precepts in their day-to-day lives, striving to be better people. The practice has attracted tens of millions worldwide.
The message, meticulously planned and formed by event organizers who had earlier laid out and tested crowd positions, reads “Falun Dafa Hao” translating simply to “Falun Dafa is good.” Underneath the main characters reads “5.13 Falun Dafa Day” in English as well.
The characters, formed by practitioners who sat and meditated over the course of a few hours, spanned 308 feet long and around 76 feet wide, according to event organizers.
The spelled out May 13 date marks the day when the practice was first introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in Changchun, China. May 13 is also Mr. Li’s birthday.
Despite chilly winds and downpours of rain, participants continue coming out year after year to promote the practice and to also raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Dafa, ordered by communist regime leaders, that still persists to this day in China.
This year’s events signify the 26th anniversary since the practice was first introduced. Many of the participants hail from the local New York area, but most come from a range of different backgrounds and countries.
Many of the participants said they benefited immensely from Falun Gong in terms of both physical and mental health. Despite the gloomy, wet weather, they were still excited to take part in the character formation.
“Before I practiced there were certain things about me I didn’t like so much, I thought there was no way to get rid of those things. But as I started to practice I saw that those things are not the true me, the changes in me were very internal. Not only did I stop certain things I wanted to do, but I stopped doing those things. I used to have some problems with sleeping, at that time I was in college and I used to start to sleep at 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. The problem was I couldn’t fall asleep at night but now after practicing, it was no longer a problem—I could sleep like a baby. I thought I should stop by in New York to support this event. I’m from Slovakia but I work and live in Austria.”
“I came to Mumbai pursuing modeling, I was looking for something to find peace inside because the modeling world is so hectic and you’re like running around, it’s so many castings before you get a job. I was looking for something to ground me and make my mind peaceful. The first day I practiced I felt warm and very positive, I actually felt like I had no negative thoughts about anything, I was like ‘I think its the meditation I’m doing that’s starting to change me.’ As I started to read (Zhuan Falun) more, the depth of it was so much, I felt like this was the kind of knowledge I was looking for. On the surface whenever something wrong happened I stopped blaming others and started to see what I can do to prevent this from happening or what we can do to make it into a better situation.”
“Actually I discovered Falun Gong through the internet, I was interested in qigong meditation so I was looking for different practices and I found the book for [the practice] online. I was reading and found it very interesting. I felt like my mind was becoming very quiet and I could really focus and become clear. I kind of did meditation before but I never really could fully get into it. But after starting practicing Falun Gong I felt like I was getting helped.”
Lee Rubacek (David’s son)
“I’ve learned to be selfless more. There’s no point arguing, I don’t like to argue, like I have a new insight into how to interact with others. I never really put myself first, I’ve become less selfish because of the practice. Now I always think of putting others first.”