Historically and geographically, Belgium is the hub of Europe. Celts, Roman, German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Austrian have left cultural legacies to Belgium. Today, Dutch, French and German are still Belgium’s official languages. As Brussels is home to the European Commission, NATO headquarters and over 900 hundred other important international organisations, it is thus regarded as the heart of Europe.
In July 2007, the “Wonderful Life,” a best-selling magazine in Belgium, carried a article entitled “Banned in China, but Falun Gong is Popular in Belgium,” which employed a contrasting approach to report Falun Gong’s popularity in Belgium and the persecution perpetrated by the Chinese Communist regime in China. In addition, it also introduced the principles of Falun Gong based on, the Falun Gong exercises and the way to start the cultivation practice.
As to how Falun Gong started to spread in Belgium, Ms. Yu Hong, the first Falun Gong practitioner in Belgium said, “I moved to Belgium in September 1996, after I learned Falun Gong in China. With my incessant studying of the Falun Gong principles as well as practising the exercises, I enlightened that this cultivation practice is very precious and indeed very wonderful; therefore, I wanted to let more people also have the opportunity to understand and cultivate themselves. In the beginning, I simply introduced Falun Gong to the people around me and taught them the exercises if they were interested in it. Afterward, I thought that I should introduce it to more people; as result, I placed advertisements on local newspapers for quite a while. During that period of time, I just wanted to let the Chinese people know the facts but later I sensed that I should also help Westerners have the opportunity of knowing about Falun Gong. I thus posted some simple introduction information in public places like schools, etc.
Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese cultivation practice, but how did Westerners start to accept it and even cultivate Falun Gong? She added: “When I first promoted Falun Gong, I usually introduced it to those who were interested in Chinese culture, such as Yoga practitioners and Tai Chi practitioners, since I thought at least they might be interested in Chinese culture or Chinese qigong. Therefore, I invited about thirty Tai Chi practitioners to view the video about Master Li’s Lectures and teach them the Falun Gong exercises free of charge on the evenings of weekends and the time available after work. To help more people have access, I put some books, tapes and flyers in a bookstore specialising in Chinese publications. Since some activities introducing Chinese culture were often held there, many Chinese culture lovers would go there from time to time. After reading the introduction to Falun Gong, some people were interested in it and called me to invite us to teach them the Falun Gong exercises. As a result, more and more people started to cultivate Falun Gong.
After more and more people cultivated Falun Gong, many practicing centres were thus established at fixed locations as in China, to facilitate practitioners to practice the exercises together.
“In the beginning, we set up a practicing site at the Cultural Centre and made public the information that we taught the Falun Gong exercises free of charge there. Over time, with more and more people joining us, we moved to the gymnasium of the Free University of Belgium to conduct the free teaching every Monday. On weekends, we practiced the exercises at an open-air location near the Temple Park, which is a famous tourist attraction in Belgium. As there were many people going and coming there, we practiced the exercises in the open-air to let more people know the magnificence of the Falun Gong exercises. When people wanted to learn the exercises, we would them.
At first, these activities were held only in Brussels area. Afterward, practitioners in Brussels started to promote Falun Gong in other provinces. They used their own holidays to introduce Falun Gong to local people in every city. As a result, more and more Falun Gong practice sites were set up in Belgium one after another.
“Back then, we placed some advertisements in nation-wide newspapers to help more people know about Falun Gong. By doing so for a period of time, more and more people including those in other cities came to know about the cultivation practice. When people phoned us to express their interest in learning Falun Gong, we would make arrangements for them to learn the exercises in the cities they lived over the telephone right away. After getting more people practicing the exercises there, we would establish a practice centre in that city. Basically there are practice centres in every city. On weekends, I taught those who wanted to learn the exercises and then invited them to participate in the group exercise practicing and group Fa-study activities.
As to who paid for the advertisements and rentals of the practice sites, Ms. Yu Hong explained as follows:
“In the beginning, since I was the only practitioner in Belgium, I paid for everything including the cost of buying some books with my own savings. At that time, I could afford to and I thought this cultivation practice is so great that it should be known and practiced by more people. That is the only thought in my mind, and I didn’t care much about the cost of placing advertisements in the mass media and renting practice sites. Afterwards, we were getting more and more practitioners and some people who were able to afford it also volunteered to rent places for their fellow practitioners to practice the exercises and study the Fa in a better environment.”
Right after starting to practice Falun Gong, many Belgian Western practitioners physically felt this cultivation practice was different from what they had practiced in the past and felt like practicing it. Since Falun Gong not only requires people to practice the five sets of the exercises, but also asks practitioners to cultivate their hearts according to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, Belgian practitioners held the nine-day free teaching classes many times for newcomers to view Mr. Li Hongzhi’s Nine Lectures with English sub commentary together. With that, more and more people come to know the importance of cultivating their characters and benefited from it.
Since July 20th, 1999, the Chinese Communist regime has persecuted Falun Gong through various despicable practices such as defaming Falun Gong with fabricated lies, illegally dismissing Falun Gong practitioners from their workplaces, illegally ransacking their homes, illegally arresting and detaining practitioners, etc. Furthermore, the regime fabricated a variety of lies to incite people’s hatred against Falun Gong and even extended the lies overseas. In these regards, Ms. Yu recalled: “I would like here to share my personal experience. Before 1999, I often participated in large scale exhibitions and other activities to teach the general public in Belgium the Falun Gong exercises. I still clearly remembered that when I rented a booth at a large-scale exhibition in 1989 to promote Falun Gong, after introducing Falun Gong to officials from the Chinese Embassy to Belgium who visited the exhibition, they thought that Falun Gong was very good, and we were invited to teach them the exercises at the Embassy. During that period of time, some of the Chinese officials did cultivate Falun Gong and joined us practicing the exercises outdoors on Sundays from time to time and attended the group Fa-study sessions once a week. All these were widely known by people concerned. However, they quit after the persecution started in 1999. It was inconceivable for many Western practitioners that such a wonderful cultivation practice good for the body and mind could be suppressed with the entire national governing machine. As a result, we strived to explain the facts about Falun Gong to the Belgian governments and parliament to help people know what Falun Gong really is and let them know that it is wrong for the Chinese Communist regime to persecute Falun Gong.
Many members of the Parliament who have realised the facts about Falun Gong thus started to call for an end to this persecution with their own ways. Some wrote to the authorities in the Chinese Communist regime to stop the persecution against Falun Gong; other called on the European commission to take action, and still others helped Falun Gong practitioners hold Falun Gong’s truth-clarification photo exhibition in the European Parliament so as to let more people realise the facts about Falun Gong, in an attempt to end this persecution altogether.
On the other hand, Falun Gong practitioners set up information booths on the streets to distribute the material to passersby and re-enacted the cruel torture Falun Gong practitioners have suffered in China to help the general public of Belgium to know the facts about Falun Gong. In fact, many Belgians started to cultivate Falun Gong after the persecution was launched by the Chinese Communist regime.
Philip came across a Falun Gong flyer in a health product store in early 2002, and he found a Falun Gong practitioner according to the contact information on the flyer. He said: “At first, they taught me how to practice the five sets of the Falun Gong exercises, and I found that these exercises were really very good. Afterwards, they introduced two books, Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun to me, and I was overwhelmed by these two books as I found answers to the questions which had long bewildered me.” After practicing Falun Gong, Philip felt that both his body and mind had undergone significant changes. He said: “For instance, before I started to practice Falun Gong, I had to go see doctors at least there or four times a year, but during the past five years after I began the cultivation, I have never visited a doctor (because I am very healthy). This is the benefit I have gained physically. On the mental fitness front, I’ve lived a more balanced life, and I have become more peaceful as well as confident, and my mind has become much clearer.”
Like other Falun Gong practitioners, Philip has participated in many activities to explain the facts about Falun Gong and called for an end to the persecution. He added: “As I have benefited a lot from the cultivation practice physically and mentally, I hope that others can also have this kind of opportunity to know about the magnificence of Falun Gong.”
Wulena started to cultivate Falun Gong in 2000 when she was fifteen years old.
“I learned about Falun Gong from my father who read a report about Falun Gong and the persecution it suffered in a newspaper. My parents cultivated Falun Gong first, and they invited me to join them afterward.” Wulena talked about the changes in his attitude towards life after cultivating Falun Gong: “It actually changed me a lot. It has changed my thinking and my world views. It also teaches me how to behave myself well in various situations. When encountering difficulties, I can always find better ways to deal with the situations calmly through studying Zhuan Falun.”
At first Wulena didn’t know how to explain the facts about Falun Gong to her friends, when she was sixteen years old, but everything has changed now. She said: “Back then, I was only sixteen years old and I felt it was quite difficult for me to explain what Falun Gong was to my friends. But I am grown up now. I am twenty two and I am able to share with my friends my experience in cultivating Falun Dafa. Two of my classmates even joined me practicing the Falun Gong exercises.” Wulena hopes to let more people help stop the persecution together through participating in various Falun Gong activities. She said: “I felt it is very important to let those who have never heard of Falun Gong know that Falun Gong is very good and they should know that the Chinese Communist regime is persecuting Falun Gong and take some actions so as to jointly put an end to the persecution.”
Before Falun Gong was persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime in 1999, Belgian practitioners had made it to various places to teach the Falun Gong exercises and promote Falun Gong, so as to let more people know about Falun Gong. After the Chinese regime started to persecute Falun Gong, the practitioners have made use of their available time to demonstrate the Falun Gong exercises in various cities and villages to let the general public know about the on going bloody persecution against Falun Gong practitioners in China. More and more people have come to know about the facts of Falun Gong. Many of them have also started to cultivate Falun Gong and helped explained the facts about the cultivation practice to counter the persecution.
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