Professor at Fordham University Shares His Understanding After Reading Article by Founder of Falun Gong

By Jenny Li
Jenny Li
Jenny Li
Jenny Li has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2010. She has reported on Chinese politics, economics, human rights issues, and U.S.-China relations. She has extensively interviewed Chinese scholars, economists, lawyers, and rights activists in China and overseas.
and Olivia Li
Olivia Li
Olivia Li
Olivia Li is a contributor to The Epoch Times with a focus on China-related topics since 2012.
January 31, 2023Updated: February 21, 2023

On the eve of Chinese New Year, Mr. Li Hongzhi, founder of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, published an article titled “How Humankind Came To Be.” Mr. Li said he disclosed heavenly secrets in this article, which are meant to “provide a true picture of affairs, and to give people another chance at salvation.”

After reading the article, William Baumgarth, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University in New York City, said he feels that the “only viable path” for a good person to get through a difficult time is to enhance virtue and become a better person.

“The sections dealing with the beginnings and cycles of creation reminded me of themes prevalent in classical Greek (and Roman) philosophy: Plato, particularly in his Timaeus, but also the Stoics, in their cosmologies of universal development and, finally, conflagration and rebirth. I find these theories creative, thoughtful, but not intellectually compelling,” Baumgarth told The Epoch Times on Jan. 27.

“Much more compelling is Li Hongzhi’s explanation on why we are placed presently in such a bad realm of the universe. It is slightly reminiscent of Plato’s Myth of Er at the end of his ‘Republic.’ Li Hongzhi brings out the importance of growing knowledge, enhanced virtue, and the acceptance of what we all have been thrown into, and the conditions of our time do seem to indicate some imminent destruction. Virtue and acceptance may well be our only viable path,” he continued.

A Ph.D. from Harvard University, Baumgarth is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and is currently serving as associate chair for administration in the Department of Economics. He formerly served as chair of the Political Science Department, interim chair of the Classics Department, president of the Faculty Senate, chair of the University Tenure Review Committee, chair of the Fordham Middle States Review process, and director of the Rose Hill Honors Program. He teaches in the areas of Classical, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary Political Philosophy.

Baumgarth said the first thing he learned from the article is that “life has meaning,” and secondly, the meaning of one’s own life is a result of decisions that he or she has made.

“Bad decisions lead to bad circumstances, and that you, instead of getting angry or getting dejected or depressed, you should accept what’s happened and move forward,” he noted.

Baumgarth believes that Mr. Li knows a lot about the world and about human beings. “I think when he comes to human beings, I think the message he gives in the first place is don’t be negative about where you are … Secondly, acquire virtue, acquire character traits and morality. The only way that good people are going to get through this is by becoming better people. That is the situation that he sees us in, which is one of degeneration. Maybe we are on the edge of destruction, [but I am] not clear how close we are to that,” he said.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, was introduced to the public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. The spiritual practice is based on the guiding principles of “truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance,” which teaches practitioners to be good people and strive to become better until they can return to their true natures.

The Chinese Communist Party began a full-scale persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999. In the past 20-plus years, Falun Gong practitioners all over the world have been resisting the persecution, and at the same time, the practice has spread all over the world. Today, Falun Gong is practiced in over 100 countries around the globe.