Editor’s note: Wang Jindong used to be an obsessed follower of Falun Gong. On the eve of Chinese New Year on January 23, 2001, he participated in the self-immolation incident in the Tiananmen Square, and was the first self-immolator. On August 17, 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing Municipality with political rights suspended for three years. In May 2003, he wrote this article in prison, recalling the years of being obsessed by Falun Gong, recollecting the "1.23" self-immolation incident and surveying the process of waking up after the incident. This article reveals facts about the self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001.
I am Wang Jindong, 51-year-old, a former driver working for Maodun Group Corporation in Kaifeng City, Henan Province. My home address is No. 33, Fayuan Street, Kaifeng City, Henan Province. My wife is He Haihua, a laid-off worker of Kaifeng Underwear Factory. My daughter is Juanjuan, 23-year-old. She is unemployed at present. I attended the self-immolation incident on the afternoon of January 23, 2001, and was the first self-immolator. On August 17, 2001, I was convicted of intentional homicide and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with political rights suspended for three years. I am now serving the sentence in Zhengzhou Prison in Henan Province.
On the eve of Chinese New Year on January 23, 2001, when Chinese people were expecting and preparing for the first lunar New Year in the new century and the new millennium, I, as an obsessed follower of Falun Gong, attended a self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square. This world-shocking incident gave rise to much discussion. However, Falun Gong movement and Li Hongzhi who had already fled to the United States denied that I was a Falun Gong follower and practitioner, though I stepped out to defend Falun Gong by setting myself on fire.
Some people said that I was not a follower of Falun Dafa because my meditation position bore no resemblance to Falun Gong when I set myself on fire. Some other people said self-immolators got astray in practicing and the self-immolation was personal behavior having nothing to do with Falun Dafa. Some others said that the family of Wang Jindong was not a real family, and that they were laid-off workers bought over by the government. Some even said that Wang Jindong’s burning injury was made up.
But actions speak louder than words. Now I would like to recall what I have experienced over the past four years since I began practicing Falun Gong, including how my mind has changed before and after the “1.23” incident. I realized all these events have witnessed my course of being blind, surviving the death and heading for a new life.
My hometown is Jiaohu Village, Jiaohu Town, Hua County, Henan Province, which is a well-known market town. My home was in a yard at the eastern end of the Nanjie in the town. I was born in the yard on January 8, 1951. One day in the autumn of 1957, my father took me to Kaifeng City because I reached school age.
I was previously known as Wang Xiudong. My fellow villagers in my hometown used to call me Dongniu. When I graduated from primary school, I changed my name to Wang Jindong.
In the primary school, I cared nothing but play, and got poor marks since my fourth grade. My father was so angry with me that he often beat me for my poor academic performance. I did not mean to upset him, but I really did not like to study. Sometimes I felt guilty for my lack of ambition. But I forgot all these things when I was playing. After graduation from primary school, I went to a local public secondary school, which had a work-study program. I went to class one day and learn locksmithing the other day
At that time, there were seven people in my family. My father was the only bread-winner in the family. We were living in straitened circumstances. But my father refused to take subsidy from his employer, so I had to drop out of school to find something to do. I could not find a job at first. My father asked me to do locksmithing free of charge in his workplace.
My father was the most respectable man to me. He had been a workshop director in the factory. He was responsible and hardworking. During the natural disaster from 1960 to 1961, my father often biked to suburban areas with me to dig wild herbs. I began to know the hardship of life. Because of overtiredness and malnutrition, my father had edema, which resulted in hepatitis. One day in 1965, my father was hospitalized for a spleen removal surgery. Even when he was bothered by great sufferings, he was very polite to doctors and nurses, often with a smile on his face. He did not even groan in huge pains. During the days I accompanied my father in hospital, I was moved by his strong will. I made up my mind to take him as my role model no matter what kind of the hardship and misfortune I have to get through in the future. I made a commitment to my father in his last days, “ You can rest assured that I will take very good care of my mother and my younger siblings. ”
In April 1976, I began to work in Kaifeng Daily-use Commodities Factory (also known as Maodun Group Corporation) as a driver. I loved this job, so I worked hard and got along well with my colleagues. In 1992, my wife was laid off. She rented a booth in a new market east to Wuchaomen to sell travel goods. Although we felt a bit embarrassed at the beginning, we gradually got used to the new business. On December 31, 1993, we rented a house with an area of 45 square meters near Tieta Park to start a shop named Jubaozhai (shop of treasures). As our business flourished, it was really hard for my wife to run the shop alone. So I retired in 1998 and began operating the shop with my wife.
One day in October 1996, my friend Xue Hongjun gave me the book Zhuan Falun, which was written by Li Hongzhi. Xue told me that as long as I practice as directed in the book, I would eventually get enlightened and achieve consummation. I finished the book quickly. Both my wife and our daughter also read the book. Since then, we began to practice Falun Gong. We not only read the book, but also tried to be a good person, to improve our mentality as required by the book.
We took learning Falun Dafa as the top priority in our life. We sometimes closed the shop only to watch the video of lectures given by our master. As a result, our business went down. But we were not worried about it because we thought learning Falun Dafa was much more important than making money. Once I lost my newly bought motorcycle valued at more than RMB10, 000. But it did not upset me very much, because I remembered my master’s teachings, “You are destined to lose it.”I thought if I had learned Falun Dafa, I would have been upset for the loss for a fairly long time.
With the help of my friends, I used my savings to buy a two-story house with an area of 128 square meters (with a yard covering an area of more than 40 square meters). From the second half of 1998, however, our business was deteriorating because of strong competition. Burdened by overstocking of goods, we could not repay the debt. So I sold the house to repay loans and debts.
We intended to practice Falun Gong at home and never thought of practicing outside. But the instructions published on Falun Gong websites clearly required all disciples to go out to extend its influence.
On the next day, we joined a practicing group in front of Fanlou building at Yujie street, where we got acquainted with many practitioners of Falun Gong. Since my shop located at Yujie Street, it was very convenient for other practitioners to contact me. We often held discussions, comparing our practice with instructions in the book Zhuan Falun and lectures, as well as teachings downloaded from Internet. Because I practiced and studied hard, it did not take me a long time to join discussions with a few fellow practitioners who were complimented “highly enlightened”. They had a great influence on me. They confirmed my deepening understandings of Falun Gong teachings, which made me more attached to the master and the book Zhuan Falun.
What bothered me the most was the“thought karma”. I did not know why I often felt an impulse to insult the master. My master explained that it was the “thought karma” that prevented me from getting enlightened. I was extremely painful. In order to eliminate the “thought karma”, I read the chapter on this subject in the book Zhuan Falun for over and over again. But it did not work out at all. I burned incense in front of the portrait of my master, pouring out my sufferings in tears and begging my master to help me get rid of the karma. I respected my master more than my parents. Under my influence, my wife and my daughter and our relatives began to practice Falun Gong. I bought them books and invited them to watch videos.
On April 25, 1999, more than 10, 000 followers of Falun Dafa went to Zhongnanhai for collective protest. When I heard the news, I felt regretful for missing this opportunity. I made up my mind to devote everything I have to Falun Dafa. I reminded myself to seize every chance in the future.
During the following days, I downloaded teachings from Internet and learned Falun Dafa with my fellow practitioners. I also spent my money printing a large number of teachings and other documents for wide distribution.
In August 2000, I downloaded the article To Get Rid of the Last attachment, which said, “It is time to get rid of the last attachment. As a practitioner, you have already learned and been able to let go of all worldly attachments, including the attachment to your life. But the attachment to consummation is another kind of attachment. Do you think the Buddha would be attached to consummation?” My master said in the article, “I know well about your sufferings. In fact, I cherish you more than yourselves.”This article made me more determined to devote myself to my master and to Falun Dafa.
Liu Yunfang was well known for his good understanding of Falun Gong. He often explained the article to me and other practitioners who were in close contact with him. He said practicing Falun Gong was like growing a lotus in fire, which meant that we were facing austere test. He claimed he had set himself on fire in Tiananmen Square to defend Falun Gong when he was in meditation. He also elaborated specific details about his self-immolation. So I thought it was time for me to stand up to defend Falun Dafa in the form of giving up my life.
After the self-immolation incident, when I was lying in hospital bed, I learned from news reports that Zhang Erping, the spokesman for Falun Gong Headquarters, denied the self-immolators were Falun Gong followers. I should like to ask him what kind of people may be regarded as Falun Dafa disciples, and what features Falun Dafa disciples may have.
As to the self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on January 23, some people said the self-immolators got astray in practicing Falun Dafa and the self-immolation was personal behavior having nothing to do with Falun Dafa. I responded to them at that time that those who said I got astray could not understand my behavior because they did not reach my level. Just as what the master had said, it was impossible for those at lower levels to understand those at higher levels. It was a common circumstance that the practitioners were reluctant to discuss with those at lower levels. The master had promised that Falun Gong practitioners would never get astray during the cultivation. Even now Falun Gong websites still published articles advocating the followers to eliminate attachment. We have already let go of everything as directed by Li Hongzhi, though in a different way. What was wrong with our following teachings of Li Hongzhi? Those who criticized us were at lower levels than us, so they could not understand what we did. But now I know that all the teachings, no matter at higher or lower levels, are fallacies.