Hundreds Join 25th Celebration of Falun Dafa Day at Santa Monica Beach

Hundreds Join 25th Celebration of Falun Dafa Day at Santa Monica Beach

Hundreds meditate for the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

5/14/2024

Updated: 5/14/2024

As the morning sunlight bathed the beach May 12, hundreds of people clad in vibrant yellow shirts sat in peaceful meditation, attracting passersby to stop and watch.
May 13 marks the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day, also commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the public introduction of the spiritual practice Falun Dafa. After meditating, attendees set up a stage by the seaside and celebrated the occasion with song and dance performances.
“It’s really beautiful and peaceful, giving a sense of tranquility. Watching each of them, I can’t help but smile along,” said British tourist Elton to The Epoch Times.
Centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, the practice, also known as Falun Gong, drew an estimated 70 million to 100 million followers in China in the 1990s, according to New York-based nonprofit Falun Dafa Information Center.
Hundreds meditate for the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

Hundreds meditate for the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

An adherent from Los Angeles, Chen Shiyan, told The Epoch Times that practicing Falun Dafa helped her quickly overcome her previous mental distress.
Before learning about the practice in Shanghai in 2013, Ms. Chen said that she was often melancholic due to psychological issues: “My personality used to seem strange to my family because I was always sulking.”
“If someone did something wrong, I would hold it inside and ignore them for a long time. Over time, I harbored a lot of negative thoughts, making myself very unhappy,” she said.
Although she sought counseling from a psychologist multiple times, she felt it only addressed surface issues, Ms. Chen said. At one point, her mental state worsened as she pondered the meaning of her life.
It was at this critical juncture that she happened to meet a Falun Gong practitioner, who introduced her to the practice.
“In the continuous study [of the practice], I saw that it was evil thoughts that prevented me from being kind to others, always wanting to fight with others, and feeling indignant inside,” Ms. Chen said. “Dafa teaches people to be good, to demand of oneself truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, to step back in the face of conflict, and to look inward for one’s own problems.”
After gradually following these principles, she said, “I felt peace and joy from the bottom of my heart, and I could be more tolerant of others.”
Shiyan Chen attends the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

Shiyan Chen attends the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

Besides the spiritual teachings, Falun Gong also incorporates meditation and slow-moving exercises, which the practitioners demonstrated during the gathering.
A Santa Monica resident, who stopped to check out the event, praised the goal of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance shared by Falun Dafa practitioners.
“It’s a beautiful principle. I think the whole planet needs that, every human being in every country. The world is on fire, so we need that,” Julius Potoczki told NTD Television, a sister media of The Epoch Times.
Seated among fellow practitioners, Qinghua Wang, who has practiced Falun Dafa for over two decades, reflected on his journey and how it has supported him through various hardships.
In 1998, Mr. Wang traveled to the U.S. to pursue his master’s degree at the University of Southern California. Later, he began practicing Falun Dafa after a friend introduced it to him, hoping it would ease the academic pressures he faced.
“After practicing Falun Dafa, my body and mind felt extremely relaxed, and even the most stressful academic tasks no longer felt overwhelming,” Mr. Wang said. “Problems that were once unclear suddenly became clear, and I was able to complete them smoothly.”
This newfound clarity extended to his career as well.
“Falun Dafa has expanded my wisdom. I can find solutions even to problems unrelated to my field with ease,” said Mr. Wang, who currently serves as the chief executive officer of a business.
Qinghua Wang attends the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Qinghua Wang attends the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Regarding his family and marriage, he said, “I find myself losing my temper less often. I used to be quite impatient and sometimes had a quick temper. But after practicing Falun Dafa, I’ve noticed a significant change in my temperament. Falun Dafa teaches us to be good people, to take the right path, and to look inward and treat others kindly when faced with conflicts.”
Another visitor remarked that the demonstrated practice and its values gave him a sense of tranquility.
“It gave me a sense of ease and happiness,” said Rory Fereday. “And I think it’s just a great sign of humanity and everyone getting together ... in peace.”
Mr. Fereday also expressed his shock upon learning about the situation faced by Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Soon after the practice reached its peak popularity in Mainland China in 1999, the ruling Chinese Communist Party launched a nationwide campaign against the practice.
Since July 1999, millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in prisons, detention centers, labor camps, and other facilities across the country. Inside these facilities, they reportedly face torture, forced labor, indoctrination, and even forced organ harvesting.
“I’ve only just learned that today, but that’s very upsetting because I feel like [the practice] is something very harmless and it doesn’t affect anyone, it only brings positive things. So the fact that they’re not supporting it is a bit concerning,” Mr. Fereday said.
People stop to ask about the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

People stop to ask about the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Two visitors hold up lotus flower decorations at the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Two visitors hold up lotus flower decorations at the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

According to the Information Center, there have been over 4,900 documented cases of Falun Gong practitioners who lost their lives due to torture and abuse while in police custody since the persecution began.
“Here in America, we have so much freedom that we take it for granted, where people like this can’t even celebrate their own religion. I think that’s really sad,” said Freddie Marales, who was also drawn by the vibrant colors and cheerful music of the event.
Anna Enright, who was visiting from Chicago, encouraged Falun Gong practitioners to continue spreading the truth.
“Don’t give up. Just pursue your dreams, your religion, your spirituality, whatever you want to pursue, never give up. It’s very important, because to me, it means when you’re true to yourself,” Ms. Enright said.
Hundreds meditate for the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

Hundreds meditate for the 25th celebration of Falun Dafa Day in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 12, 2024. (Debora Cheng/The Epoch Times)

Linda Jiang and Jennifer Zhang contributed to this report.
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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