My Birthday Present – A Visit to Artist Zhang Cuiying’s Stuttgart Exhibition

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For my birthday this year I received a particularly appealing gift. This day will remain in my memory for a long time to come, because I have seen paradise.

Stuttgart’s China Garden (Stuttgart is considered Germany’s “garden city;” translator) was the scene for, artist and Falun Dafa practitioner, Zhang Cuiying’s exhibition of her paintings. I had been so overwhelmed the past few weeks by deadlines, appointments and work loads that it seemed I was a machine. A visit to this beautiful garden was in itself a sharp contrast to my existence in today’s hectic world. To be able to leave all this behind and to have the opportunity to admire the creations of this Chinese painter was the “icing on the cake.” It took me a while, however, to discern what I would really experience that day.

My friends greeted me warmly. They waited for me and served the last serving of dinner that could be ordered, because I was the birthday celebrant. Someone even serenaded me by playing a song. It was an idyllic setting, this garden. Chen played our meditation music for me on his flute. Everyone listened devoutly. The atmosphere was so harmonious and serene – no screaming, no loud voices. Only the children were not deterred from their games. It was as if all of us were in the same dimension, where concepts of space and time ceased to exist, because no one was in a hurry.

Then I began to examine the paintings. They were stunningly beautiful. I cannot remember when I ever have looked at pictures before and I felt such a connection to the subject matter. The initial reason for my visit was the billing of this exhibit as a Falun Gong function. I was not particularly interested in the style of Chinese painting. On the contrary: I could not understand why so many practitioners are interested in Chinese culture when it is Falun Gong’s principles that stand above all. I had always considered the Western practitioners’ interest in Chinese culture as an attachment. Likewise did I not understand Teacher Li’s words, “Why have Chinese culture and civilization throughout history been so different from those of other places? The countries in all other regions have the concept of a country, and in all other regions their national leaders have taken the form of kings. Only in China’s history was there no such thing as a country – it took the form of dynasties, instead. [..] You know, a “dynasty’s emperor has that dynasty’s courtiers,” .. “a dynasty’s emperor has that dynasty’s courtiers,” there are also, “a dynasty’s sovereign being has that dynasty’s people,” “a dynasty’s culture…”, “a dynasty’s dress..” In the past, when the dynasty changed, the culture would immediately change, too..” [Lecture on the Fa at the Washington, D.C. International Conference, July 21, 2001].

I viewed paintings of flowers, rock gardens, women and Buddhas and recognized ever more a beauty and perfection which I had never noticed before. One picture in particular made me linger: an elegantly laid-out garden with a bench. On it reclined a person, resting the head on both arms. It appeared as if she was asleep. The caption read “Thinking.” I wish with all my being to be lying on a bench in a beautiful garden and think, or to play an instrument. I learned to play many instruments as a child, but since the persecution began I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror if I did not use every spare moment to assist my fellow practitioners in China.

I tried to imagine how one would paint a modern-day thinker. The scene would perhaps show a smoke-filled, disorderly office, a laptop computer and other technological aids. Considering the contrast between Mrs. Zhang’s paintings and the modern-day scene, I just described, brought it home to me once again how debased our society has become. Her paintings, with their clear, simple but elegant images and their purity portray a piece of heaven. With each successive painting I looked at, tears filled my eyes.

I did understand – I had seen a piece of heaven.

From a German Practitioner,
Retold for the Cultivators in China

October 27, 2001

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