Christiane Teich, who prefers to be called “Chris,” has traveled the world in search of spiritual fulfillment, and after 30 years, she has finally found it.
Originally from Germany, Chris lived in Africa and South America before making her way to India.
Chris tried many different spiritual practices, including transcendental meditation, yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism, but did not find what she was seeking until she learned about the practice of Falun Dafa, which is so simple children can participate.
While in India, Chris heard about a wonderful little place in the mountain area of the northernmost part of India called Ladakh.
Ladakh lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. It borders Tibet to the east and is inhabited largely by Tibetan Buddhists. The sparsely populated region is known for its remote mountain beauty and Tibetan culture.
Although she lived mostly in Sarnath, India (the place where Buddha gave his first teachings), Chris began visiting Ladakh nearly every summer, where the climate was unlike other parts of India—in Ladakh the air is cool and the weather is nice.
“The climate is totally different in the high altitude, dry and just pleasant in the summers,” she said.
It was here that Chris was introduced to the meditation practice of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, and it was here that she later helped teach the practice to school children.
Chris fondly recalls attending an annual women’s meeting where women from many near and far villages gathered to cook, sing, dance, and weave. A Chinese-American woman began demonstrating the Falun Dafa exercises together to the women with a local Tibetan person.
Falun Dafa is a spiritual cultivation practice that was introduced to the public in China in 1992. It involves five sets of meditation exercises and teachings of the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
In 1999, fearful of its popularity, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a persecution against practitioners. Since then, millions of Falun Gong adherents in China have been illegally detained, with the vast majority of them abused in custody by police, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Chris had never seen these qigong exercises before. She asked the woman a few questions and was directed to a shop, where she was able to purchase the only available copy of Zhuan Falun, the book that holds the core teachings of Falun Dafa.
Once Chris learned more about the spiritual practice, she began putting up posters and stickers about Falun Dafa all over the biggest town in Ladakh every summer—so much so that in 2007 one of the local schools asked her to come and teach the students the exercises.
Children and others who have learned the practice say it makes them feel more calm and focused, with better mental and physical health and better relationships with their family.
In 2008 and 2009, Chris began to educate the public about the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in China by setting up an information booth and passing out truth clarification materials.
In 2010, Chris went to a different school and began to teach the exercises again. The administration and students had a lot of exposure to Falun Dafa.
“This is a Tibetan school, where regularly the director and teachers had been given truth clarification materials, and many materials were in the school library for years. Many children had already received Falun Dafa and Truth Clarification flyers at outside displays over the years, so this school was very much prepared,” she said.
Chris stayed at this school and two small branches of it until 2013.
“Besides realizing the impact on the children and teachers, I was in many other schools, often in villages, and realized the wonderful opportunity,” she said.
For Chris, this pilgrimage that started some 30 years ago had culminated into a mission to spread the teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in India’s schools.
She continues to visit Ladakh every summer—and even before she gets there, Chris sends posters, stickers, and flyers to residents who are eager to pass them out far and wide, including to the most remote regions. Just last year, Chris sent over 220 pounds of materials to Ladakh.
Chris recalled that one time she returned to Ladakh a little later than usual and was touched by how much the people missed her. With a tear in her eye, Chris spoke about how they asked, “Where have you been; why didn’t you come?”