Outlawed in China, legal in Vail Valley
Leejun Ivie discovered Falun Gong five years ago when she went back to China to visit her family. She noticed that her mother looked unusually healthy and youthful. Leejun asked her about it, and her mother removed a book from the shelf, “Zhuan Falun,” by Falun Gong (also called “Falun Dafa”) founder Li Hongzhi. Then she took Leejun outside into the grass and showed her the five exercises of Falun Gong. Ivie has never stopped practicing.”I wasn’t a very healthy person until I started practicing Falun Gong,” she says. “I want to share this with everybody.”To that end, she’s organized a workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. , Friday, Jan. 24, at the Vail Library to introduce anyone who’s interested to the practice of Falun Gong. Besides displaying the physical and mental benefits of the practice, Ivie would like to offer another side of the story of the movement, started in China in 1992 by Hongzhi.In 1999, after an informal survey revealed that as many as 70 million Chinese citizens were practicing Falun Gong, the Chinese government outlawed the practice and began an active policy of persecution of its adherents, according to Ivie. These persecutions have involved detentions, torture and the dissemination of misinformation by the Chinese government, which has portrayed Falun Gong as a dangerous cult, she says.Ivie says nothing could be further from the truth. “Falun Gong has no political or religious affiliations or ambitions,” she says. “There’s no ritual to it. It’s a practice. We’re just normal people leading normal lives.”The concept of Falun Gong is very simple, Ivie explains. There are three overarching principles truth, benevolence and forbearance and five exercises. Unlike yoga and tai chi, Falun Gong is absolutely free. The books can be downloaded off the Website http://www.falundafa.org, as well as Real Player streaming videos of the exercises.One local who became a practitioner through the Website is Leadville resident Jim Fogarty. After reading a news clip about Falun Gong online, he tracked down the Website, downloaded the book and the exercises, and started practicing by himself at home. He now travels to Denver once a week with Ivie to meet with other practitioners, as well as continuing his practice at home.”I haven’t been sick since I started,” says Fogarty, who has also developed an increased consciousness of the persecutions in China. He feels that he needs to make people aware of what’s going on in China. The United States government agrees with him.On July 18, 2001, the House of Representatives passed Resolution No. 188, which “expresses the sense of Congress that the government of the People’s Republic of China should cease its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.”The persecutions continue, though, according to Ivie. In the last year, she says, one of her close friends in China disappeared after being caught by a policeman holding a Falun Gong text. The woman’s family still has no idea of her whereabouts.In the face of this adversary, Ivie insists that practitioners have only been fighting back through the legal system, however unsuccessfully. She’ll be reviewing this aspect of Falun Gong through a video at the workshop that shows the other side of the story. She’ll also be explaining the practice and demonstrating the exercises. Fogarty is currently organizing his own workshop in Summit County.”I was grateful to find someone else Leejun in the area who practices,” explains Fogarty, who insists he simply wants to pass along what has been so beneficial to him.”Falun Gong is beautiful that way,” he says. “If it’s for you, fine. If it’s not, that’s also fine.”Call Leejun Ivie at (970) 949-6547 or Jim Fogarty at (970) 389-1910 for more information.