Thursday, December 13, 2007

In tune with the cosmic energy

A few youngsters in Kochi propagate the Chinese teaching of Falun Dafa

By Shevlin Sebastian

One night, Nikhil Govind, 22, was lying on his bed at his home in Pachalam. He was thinking about the lectures he had read of the Falun Dafa Master Li Hongzhi. Suddenly, he felt his body become stiff. He could not move his hands and legs. “I felt scared,” says Govind. “I wanted to call my parents, but I could not, because my tongue was stuck. I started hearing strange sounds in my ear.” Soon, an energy enveloped him from head to foot. “I remembered reading that when this process happened, it meant my body was getting purified.”

After the energy went over his body, like the way the light moved over a paper in a photostat machine, he was able to move his hands and feet. “After that I was in a state of bliss for several hours,” he says.

Govind is a believer of the Falun Dafa philosophy, which states that to be a better human being, you have to follow the three great virtues of the universe: Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance. Falun Dafa also has five sets of meditation exercises, all gentle stretching movements, which allow the cosmic energy to flow into the body. Incidentally, Falun Dafa is also known as Falun Gong.

Lin Hongzhi started the movement in China in 1992. It spread rapidly throughout the length and breadth of the country. But in 1999, seeing its popularity, the Chinese Communist Party banned the movement and cracked down on its practitioners. The ensuing international media coverage brought unprecedented worldwide publicity to the teaching. According to the web site -- www.falundafa.org -- it has followers in 80 countries, with more than 100 million followers. In China, itself, despite the crackdown, there are still millions of followers.

Govind encountered the Falun Dafa teaching by accident. One day in 2005, a cousin, Naveen Arthapully checked the Falun Dafa India web site, and saw that a group in Hyderabad was going to have a demonstration of the exercises. “He asked me to come along,” says Govind. They stayed for two days and learnt the exercises. Then Govind read the books by Hongzhi and started practicing on his own.

On a Wednesday evening, last week, a group of four young men gather at the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium at Kaloor. Jose Johni, 22, and Govind have both just completed their B. Tech. Ajith Kumar, 23, works at a call centre while Hamesh Vinod, 20, is doing a Marine course.

Govind and Johni are wearing bright yellow T-shirts with the words ‘Falun Dafa’ printed in English and Chinese, and the name of the web site below it.

Asked how the teaching changed his life, Govind says, “I used to drink and smoke, but I stopped after practising Falun Dafa. I have got rid of negative traits like anger, fear and jealousy.” In its place, he says, he has a clear mind, better concentration, and inner peace.

Ajith Kumar has also stopped drinking and smoking. “I was searching for a meaning in life and Falun Dafa has provided it,” he says. For Johni, who has been practising for the past one and a half years, Falun Dafa has purified his body. “Earlier, I would become tense, especially when exams were approaching, but now I feel relaxed all the time,” he says. For Vinod, who has tried all sorts of therapies, including reiki and meditation, in Falun Dafa, the impact on the mind and the body is instantaneous. “I am looking to increase my mental power,” he says.

Govind places a MP3 player, which looks like a small white cube, on the floor and switches it on. Haunting Chinese music, as well as the chants of Li Hongzhi, can be heard. Immediately, the young men stand still, with their eyes closed. After a few moments, they begin to make languid movements of their arms as they begin the first exercise: ‘Buddha stretching a thousand arms’.

Meanwhile, even though it is a stadium, there are cars, tipper lorries and autorickshaws, with blaring horns, going past. “One reason we do this in a public place is to get more people to know about Falun Dafa,” says Govind. “We distribute leaflets to those who show an interest.”

However, most people, on their evening walk, barely glance at the group, except for one elderly man, who is wearing white keds. He stops and stares silently. He seems to be debating within himself whether to come forward or not, but in the end, he walks away.

The group is not aware of this, because during the five exercises, their eyes are closed. But doing the programme in public has been an effective method because they have got a few members, including Vinod. “I used to come for weightlifting in a gym in the stadium and when I saw them, I got curious and wanted to know more.”

“There is no fee,” says Govind. “Falun Dafa has no headquarters or centres anywhere. All of us are volunteers, we have printed the leaflets with our own money, and we feel this is the best way to get people interested in the teaching.”

(Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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