Jason Pomerleau grew up in New England, in a small town in central Maine. Like other American boys, baseball, Nintendo games, rock concerts, and TV filled his life, along with school activities, community service, and summer jobs. Also like many young people of his time, Jason had to deal with the problems of disobedience, alcohol and drugs
While in college, Jason became interested in martial arts and Eastern philosophy. During the summer of 1998, just before entering his senior year, he came across a flyer advertising a free seminar for Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, a spiritual self-improvement system that originated in China. This caught his interest, so he went to check it out. Little did he know at the time that this moment would lead to a big turning point in his life and in his family¡¯s as well.
[Jason] When I first came to learn, my first impression was it was something very special. It was also just what I had been looking for. And it was very real. The people I first met were very nice and I felt a very strong connection with them.
The seminar ran for 9 days. Although many of the terms and concepts were foreign to Jason and he had many questions, he felt that this was something different from anything he¡¯d heard before. He noticed that whenever he went home with a question, it was usually answered in the next day¡¯s lecture. This kept him returning for the entire 9 days. By the end of the seminar, Jason knew he had come across something very precious. He decided to start practicing Falun Dafa.
[Jason] The first thing I did was concentrating on doing my job well. At the time, since I was a student, I decided I should study well. So I just concentrated on being a good student. . I would usually sleep in, until the last moment before my classes. I never made breakfast. I don¡¯t think most of my friends did. But, after I started to practice, I start to wake up very early in the morning.
[Jason] Every morning I would go (to practice) before class, and then come back, eat breakfast, go to class, and have energy all day long. So, that, combined with having really clear direction, really positive direction, definitely made me more and more confident in the practice.
Jason started to improve himself according to the principles of Falun Dafa -- ¡°Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forebearance.¡± When he went home during a school break, his family noticed the change.
[Daniel] As I noticed in Jason, he was more respectful for my parents. He cut his hair.
[Jason] I don¡¯t want to offend people with long hair. Before I practiced, for a couple of years, I had been looking for¡ I was just trying to improve myself, but I was following some path that I don¡¯t think was for me. And I didn¡¯t have good direction and one of the things I decided to do was let my hair grow longer, just simply for the reason ¡°why not¡±. And also I didn¡¯t wash it that well so it was knotted and messy. For me, it was fine. And¡For me, the way I dressed and smelled and everything was fine with me¡ But for my family, it was kind of disturbing.¡±
[Aunt] Well, he had the hair. Wasn¡¯t just his hair¡ªhe had grown a little bit of fuzz on his chin as well. It was real scraggly looking.
Jason decided to cut his hair after practicing Falun Gong for only a few weeks.
[Daniel] he came home and it was short. And he looked normal like he used to. It¡¯s just his whole countenance about how to conduct himself changed.
After about a month of practice, Jason experienced great benefits ¨C he saw his own improvements. So, he decided to share what he had learned with his family. Coincidentally, his mother called him one weekend and expressed her concern for his brother Daniel, who had fallen ill.
[Jason] ¡°She sounded sincerely concerned for his well being. I guess he had come down with a ¡ physically sick. And she was concerned that he had lime disease. And his mood hadn¡¯t been very positive prior to that time period¡ So, it was another added thing. And She wanted me to maybe come home. She wanted my advice about what to do. At that point I realized that the best thing I could do for him was to send him a copy of Zhuan Falun.
A couple of weeks later, Daniel called Jason and wanted to talk more about the book Zhuan Falun and about Falun Gong.
[Jason] he was very excited and he wanted me to teach him the exercise, then, that was really nice. And I took the next possible opportunity to go home, bringing him the exercise tapes and teaching him the first and the second exercises.
[Daniel] I think as I began to practice, I began to understand deeper truth about what life is, what¡¯s the purpose of life. In Falun Gong, it says that the purpose of one¡¯s life is to return to one¡¯s true self, which is an innate truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. So when I begin to look at things in that light, my interests about what I wanted to do for hobbies, or what I would say, or how I reacted to people changed.
[Aunt] Daniel¡¯s whole persona changed. You know¡Even his posture, the way he carries himself changed.
[Daniel] I used to party a lot, drink a lot, and got involved in doing some drugs. And for a couple of years, that had been going on. As I began to practice, my interests changed. I began to think about things like life, what¡¯s life about, not just having fun and indulging in certain things, desires. So over the course of a couple of months, those things kind of faded away.
[Aunt]You know¡ I have to say that there was a change in Jason but I noticed more of a drastic change in Daniel -- the attitude, and just his whole being. He didn¡¯t seem like the kid with an attitude, cocky, almost arrogant, sassy maybe. Not anymore. Very patient.
[Aunt] So calm, and ... he doesn¡¯t get wild about things. He seems to have the patience of a saint, It¡¯s just ¡ that¡¯s a big difference.
Daniel had developed a wild reputation during his early years in high school. But when he returned to school as a senior, his teachers were amazed at the changes they saw in him.
[Dan¡¯s art Teacher]¡ And the change I noticed in you from that year to the next year when you came into my class after you had began the practice, which I wasn¡¯t aware of. A very mature, kind, compassionate young man came into my class room that year. You weren¡¯t very selfish. You didn¡¯t care much about yourself as you did for other people. It just continued to grow. I noticed the kindness; it was just so evident. And then next year, it had even grown. It¡¯s like¡. mushrooming.
[Dan¡¯s basketball Coach] A few of the captains asked me, ¡°If I have a problem, do I go to you or do I go to Dan?¡± They really looked up to Dan.
[Aunt] I started to do substitute teaching at the school he was going to and also driving a school bus there. Once the teachers found out that he was my nephew, they all came up to me and said, ¡°My god, what a difference in this kid. What a big change. He is such a pleasure to have. He is so helpful. He gives incentives to the other kids to better themselves.¡± And they were just amazed and could not believe the transformation in this kid.
[Mom] Well, I really saw changes in Daniel because Jason was not home. But it was Daniel, there was a big, big change in him. I think I noticed it when I saw that instead of answering back, especially with his father -- he used to loose his temper with his father -- he was really calm. When Michael got upset, he¡¯d say ¡°Dad, why are you yelling. Why are you getting mad?¡± I was like ¡°Wow!¡± So that¡¯s when I took notice, ¡°Boy, he is changing!¡± It was definitely evident that this was working, that this was really working.
As people around Daniel and Jason witness the brothers¡¯ transformation, they became truly convinced that Falun Dafa was something very positive and good.
[Aunt] Well, there must be something to it, obviously. Because it certainly changed Daniel and Jason.
[Dan¡¯s English Teacher] When I look at the 10 or 12 people I know who have been drawn to IT, okay, I know them to be people of conscience, people who think about things before they do them, and people who are not automatically jumping on the bandwagon, followers, following kinds of people.
People tend to be skeptical when they are introduced to
something new. And like many parents, when Jason and Daniel¡¯s parents first
heard about Falun Gong, they had some doubts and suspicions.
[Mom] Once Daniel got this and read it and stuff, I read it, I read the book to see what they were up to and what this was. And really, I said, ¡°Okay, what is this.¡± And so I read it and Michael had read a lot about it and stuff, just to make sure this was not something¡ like a cult¡ Well, reading it and then seeing the changes in Daniel, and talking to both Daniel and Jason, then I was convinced that it was not ¡a cult.
Some of Jason and Daniel¡¯s friends also expressed their skepticism.
[Daniel] I remember the first time when I started the practice. One of my good friends said -- he knew I had been doing something cus I was changing. I told him I was practicing cultivation called Falun Dafa and He said, ¡°Cultivation? That has the word cult in it.¡± And so he was like,¡°Woo, what is that?¡± cus that¡¯s not a common word in the West.
The word ¡°cultivation¡± and ¡°cultivator¡± have always existed in Chinese culture. Traditionally, Buddhist monks are considered to be cultivators; so are Taoists and some Kung-fu masters. Cultivators were respected and esteemed throughout China¡¯s history. Although it is not a common word in the West, the meaning of it is easy to grasp.
[Daniel] To me, practicing cultivation is to get rid of the bad things in your mind, bad habits or bad notions or bad desires -- things that hurt other people, that aren¡¯t compassionate to other people, that aren¡¯t being truthful from your heart, that are not tolerating, tolerating things when you face them.
Instead of searching for external things to fill their lives, Jason and Daniel have now learned, from Falun Dafa, how to cultivate and improve themselves from within. What they gave up were bad habits; what they obtained is inner strength and wisdom. In dealing with difficult situations, they¡¯ve become more tolerant and compassionate.
Seeing the obvious changes in her sons, Mrs. Pomerleau came to really appreciate the benefits that Falun Dafa brought to her family.
[Mom] Because Daniel now, if he is asked to do something he just does it, sometimes dad is taking advantage of that, because he knows Daniel is going to do it and Daniel is not going to argue back. You just know he is going to do it. Ya¡And I sometime come down on Michael like that, ¡°Don¡¯t take advantage of him that way.¡±
And Then, one night in the family kitchen, as mother and son were talking about the practice:
[Daniel] She was finishing doing the dishes and I was doing some homework, and
we had gone on the topic of Falun Gong.
She didn¡¯t really know too much about the exercises. And I just said, ¡°I
can teach you some of the exercises right now.¡± She said, ¡°okay.¡± So we started
to go through some of the movements.
It was funny¡ she found it humorous ¡®cus her coordination wasn¡¯t so good.
[Mom] He just started to show me the first exercise.. and I said,.. oh.. I was in hysterics because I was saying ¡°I¡¯ll never get this.¡± He was trying to get behind the arm movements and things like that. I was like ¡°Oh, man.¡± That¡¯s when I started to take an interest in it.
A few months later, Mrs. Pomerleau attended the Boston Falun Dafa 2000 experience-sharing conference with Daniel. It was this event that helped solidify her feelings about Falun Dafa.
[Daniel] That was the first conference she went to. Just being there for two days, she felt such a positive energy field. The people were so good. She kept saying to me that she could tell these were genuinely good people. They were practicing what they were learning. They put it into practice. They were being sincere.
After coming back from the conference, Mrs. Pomerleau called her son Jason.
[Jason] What she told me on the phone after coming back from that was something I¡¯ll never forget. Her voice was different, and she said, ¡°You remember during the summer when I came up to your room and asked you if you were really happy,¡± At that time I said even though I wasn¡¯t feeling that great that day, I was in bed late, I looked at her and said, ¡°Honestly, I¡¯m in the happiest place I¡¯ve ever been in my life.¡± So when I was talking to her on the phone in China, she said, ¡°remember that time when I came to your room and remember what you told me?¡± She said ¡°Now I¡¯m in the happiest place I¡¯ve ever been in my life,¡± which really struck me.
The Pomerleaus¡¯ story is just one of many stories of how Falun Dafa has been spread from person to person, family to family, around the world. In China alone, the number of practitioners estimated in 1998 was between 70 to 100 million. Outside China, Falun Dafa has spread to over 40 countries. All of this has happened through word-of-mouth. It is stories like this one that have touched people¡¯s hearts. People everywhere are discovering and embracing the meaning of ¡°Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance.¡±
[Mom] I think it can bring back the moral value in this country. With these kids and everything, they just have no direction, anything goes. You know, we¡¯ve lost that here.
[Daniel] I think today, in this day and age, it¡¯s really a gemstone in the world. For people to come into contact with it, it¡¯s a very precious gift. It can really allow you to make tremendous improvements in your heart, in your mind and become a much better person. So, if you want to practice it, go for it.
[Mom] It could change the world, to so much of a better, peaceful place. If everyone practiced and really practiced, it¡¯ll be a very, very peaceful place.