The earliest memories of my childhood were that of simplicity and freedom, just like my hometown, Coonoor where I grew up. It seemed to me that the character of the people was a reflection of the town itself … simple, genuine and kind. Looking back, I recall how my mind often wandered away into the vastness of the mountains. I always wondered where all of life and existence came from ! As time passed, I moved to a city for my studies and then a job; life was a complete contrast compared to the serene life I had earlier. Trying to adapt to new ways I longed for the peaceful surroundings that I once had. Looking for ways and forms to experience a calm, which is unwavering was very difficult to find, almost everything I came across was superficial and limited.
During 2017, I started practicing Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong, a traditional self-cultivation practice of both mind and body based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance). Within a few weeks I was drawn to doing the exercises and the meditation, which made me feel energetic, extremely aware and connected to myself in many ways. Suggested by my friend who introduced the practice to me, I started reading the book, Zhuan Falun written by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa. The book led me back to the question I asked all along. I implemented the principles in my life in an effort to become a better person and my world truly changed. I understood that to change fundamentally I had to uplift my mind and body, it became something I couldn’t part ways with.
During one of my trips to New York, I met a girl from China, we spoke a little and I shared my experience of how I feel like a changed person after practicing Falun Gong. I sensed her being a bit apprehensive when she heard that, all she told me was that it wasn’t good and not to practice it. I was taken aback as I benefited greatly from the practice, just like millions of other people around the world. I realised then that I knew very little about why Falun Gong is being oppressed in China.
Looking up for information, I found that the Chinese Communist regime had unleashed a nationwide campaign to eradicate the practice since July 1999. Falun Gong’s increasing popularity and independence threatened the Communist regime, which believed in opposing ideologies. Since then the state’s security started tracking down, arresting, and detaining practitioners. Hundreds of thousands have been detained in labour camps, prisons, and brainwashing centers. While in detention, many have been routinely persecuted, facing numerous forms of traumatic abuse as part of the regime’s efforts to force practitioners into renouncing their faith. After watching the documentary ‘Human Harvest’, what came across to me as most horrifying is the killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs ! It is beyond comprehension how the Communist government has created a market and making profits through a trade of selling live organs. Having done no harm many are being a target of the intense nationwide persecution for more than 20 years up until this day.
Today in China, Falun Gong remains a subject which is unspoken of. Just like the girl I happened to meet, many still believe in the false propaganda and fabricated information spread by the Communist Party, that leads them to fear or even act indifferent towards Falun Gong practitioners.
In an attempt to know the reality, I found the truth. It only felt rightful to clarify the facts and raise awareness on this issue of human rights abuse, to put an end to this inhumane persecution. So people can make informed decisions and not be misled by false propaganda.
The conditions prevalent in Communist China is a stark contrast for most believers of any faith, especially for me holding wonderful memories of my hometown, where people still live a life of peace and simplicity as they are free to exercise the basic right to belief ! On the contrary I found answers to my quest through the wonderful practice of Falun Gong. Amidst troubled times I found the greatest gift … and through my experiences I came to realise, the truth can never change … even if our surroundings change ! More so in these times the world needs Truthfulness Compassion and Forbearance.
(Monica Tomas is a successful fashion model from hill town of Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. She started her modelling career from Mumbai. Presently, she is in New York working with an international modelling agency).