It is Sunday morning, 2:25 A.M. and I am, as usual at every weekend, at the Rhein-Main-Airport in Frankfurt, working. It was during one of those nights in 1997, it must have been the end of September/beginning of October, when I was sitting at work, I was leafing through a magazine to read a so-called testimonial article of a Qigong Master.
A few pages further on I found words dealing with a new type of qigong; Falun Gong. At that moment it did not occur to me how this article would later influence my future. I want to mention briefly that at most I had only bought this type of magazine twice in my life and have not bought it since.
I, Peter Recknagel, was born on October 25th, 1971 in the town of Suhl, Thuringia in Germany. Since my earliest childhood I was always interested in combat-type sports. Where this interest originated is not clear to me, but I can remember that sometimes I went to the forest by myself, to practice kick boxing on the trees. There was never any literature available that showed instructions, nor was there a teacher for any kind of combative sports. The then communist-ruled area of Germany where I grew up offered only one kind of combative sport wrestling. In the beginning I had a hard time convincing my father that he ought to permit me this kind of training. The reasons probably stemmed from the fact that I was not the best of students in my school and I was slight of stature and weak, not attributes desirable in a wrestler. Later however, through rigorous training, I developed good physical conditioning. Due to skeletal developmental problems in my back I, unfortunately, had to give up this training after a few years. I still dreamed of eventually being able to do real combative sports. But at that time, this possibility did not become reality. After the reunification of the former East Germany with the West, I moved to Frankfurt. My first notion there was, as soon as possible, to become a student in a school specializing in sports, to make my long-standing dream a reality. Observing my fellow trainees, I realized later that, judging by the injuries that people sustained that karate could not be the answer either. I found out about qigong. I was fascinated with the art of the Shaolin monks who attribute their skills to the practice of qigong and was very much drawn to this practice. There were months in my life where I was drawn to live my life in such a temple. It was my training partner who practised all kinds of qigong, acrobatics and combative sports who gave me the tip to buy this magazine I mentioned above. He advised me to read that specific article about the Qigong Master, which led me to read the article about Falun Gong.
Everything new everything strange everything curious. With these words I can describe my first impressions of Falun Gong. No longer thousands of different exercises, opaque explanations and instructions; instead, five sets of exercises; and the 5th one, to my fascination, in the lotus position. When I looked at the picture of the young Chinese sailor, sitting on the ships deck in the lotus position I realized immediately THAT IS IT! But I must admit that during the first few weeks I had serious doubts whether I would ever be able to succeed in sitting in the full lotus position.
Since my curiosity had been aroused, I attended the video lecture sessions, which were offered in Frankfurt. I could not stay for the whole nine days, since I have to work the night shift at weekends, just as I am doing right now. I still could not gauge at that time how profoundly and well this would all affect me. Even the words Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance) were new to me. I had never heard of them before. During the video sessions I met a young, Chinese-looking gentleman who was actually a Swedish citizen, studying in Germany. I asked him what these three words meant. He asked me whether I had heard of Zhen, Shan, Ren before. With my rudimentary knowledge of Chinese I answered him, Of course: Zhenshan is a shirt, - a vocabulary word I had learned at that time. After he had regained his composure he told me of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, words that would markedly influence my future. Something else struck me as odd: they are presenting a video lecture here, but no one is collecting any admission fee. In the beginning, that fact created as much doubt as it did elation. Could it be that there is still something in this world being spread and promoted where peoples goals are not trying to make a fortune or bind attendees to a contract? As it turned out, it does exist and it is called FALUN GONG. Later on I got my first copy of Zhuan Falun, which I read several times and which fascinates me. With the understanding of one problem, multiple questions arose
At the same time I experienced a conflict in my thought processes; to have to give up everything that I had practiced before and stick to only this cultivation way. I had a strong inner push to relinquish all I had practiced before, but it took me a few weeks before I had the courage to confront my acquaintance, the one who had urged me to buy the magazine. I had to let him know that I did not want to do all the old things any longer; I had found something new. I did not want to hurt my friends feelings. We did meet several more times to talk, but I knew that I had found something very good and intended to make that the focus of my life.
In time, another problem raised its head. It so happened that from time to time I became the butt of jokes for other people. From time to time people asked me when I will become a normal person again. Could they possibly mean the person who used to anxiously watch the stock market returns on a daily basis, who from time to time succumbed to alcohol and who was eagerly watching movies about murder, mayhem, sex and glorified criminal behavior? I am of the opinion that one has no reason to be proud of such behavior and I am far from wanting to return to that state.
A xinxing (heart and mind nature) test was to happen at a managers banquet. I spent three days of my China vacation in Shanghai where I met many high- placed, influential individuals who were affiliated with the company for which I work. I had applied for a post in China, to perfect my Chinese language skills. Those people could influence persons in a decision-making capacity in that regard. During dinner I was urged to drink an alcoholic toast with a Chinese manager. I had set a goal to give up alcohol before and had not had a drink for the past four months. He tried energetically to persuade me to have at least a little nip. The conflict between my decision to stick to my ideals and my realization that I must not make him lose face in front of the others became stronger and stronger and more difficult. In the end, I drank a glass of mineral water, which they made me drink in one go. That would repeat itself several more times that evening!
Since 1997, I have begun to understand what matters in life. I have understood that a grand works has been placed into my hands, one that can answer all ones questions and help in ones development, to go back to ones origin.
By Peter Recknagel, Germany
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