Sadly, very few of us will be fortunate enough to avoid any major health issues during our time on Earth. But by 1996, 30-something Chinese woman Fengying Mao had spent more than half her life suffering from serious illnesses, having been plagued by various ailments for close to 20 years. However, a chance meeting made her aware of a controversial “miracle” cure which rapidly brought Mao back from the brink of death, and gave her a new lease on life. Unfortunately, the Chinese authorities took a dim view of the spiritual cure in question, but Mao is determined to spread the word about her radical alternative remedy.
Mao is now resident with her family in Toronto, Canada, but in the 1990s she worked as a surgical nurse in Lanzhou Medical College No. 1 Affiliated Hospital in north-west China. Having grown up in the region, Mao was just a schoolgirl when she was infected by the liver-damaging virus hepatitis C back in 1978. By the time she took up nursing, her potentially cancer-causing disease had been chronic for years. Because of her position in a teaching hospital, Mao maintains that she had access to the best medical care that China could offer but, nevertheless, her condition did not improve. Indeed, things only got worse…
While there is no cure for chronic hepatitis C, the disease can be managed with certain medications. In Mao’s case, however, her drug treatments had failed to ease the persistent pain she felt in her spleen and liver. Additionally, the young woman also suffered with attendant abdominal swelling, insomnia, nausea and fatigue. But her problems did not end there.
Following more than a decade of treatment, Mao had developed some other grave inflammatory illnesses. These included the kidney ailments pyelitis and nephritis, and the stomach-lining complaint atrophic gastritis. During that period, Mao had been hospitalized on numerous occasions, with one visit in particular lasting several months. More happily, she had married a trainee at the hospital called Ye Tonggui and, despite her sickness, they had produced a daughter, Yin. However, in 1996, having been forced to give up nursing due to her ill-health, Mao received another dread diagnosis.
Unfortunately, victims of chronic hepatitis C are at severe risk of developing cirrhosis. This scarring of the liver tissue is caused by diseases and disorders affecting that organ. And Mao, after battling hepatitis C for some 18 years, was now told she had succumbed to cirrhosis somewhere along the line. As a nurse, she will have been well aware that the condition can lead to liver failure and then death.
Mao has said that as a staff member and patient at the Lanzhou Medical College, she had been tended to by the best doctors in China – alas, to no avail. After almost 20 years of treatment and continual pain, Mao decided to seek out some alternative methods. These included traditional Chinese medicine, incense burning, prayer and qigong. This last practice is an integrated attempt to grow and balance the life force – or chi – through co-ordinated breathing, body poses and movement, and meditation.
Nevertheless, those alternative treatments unfortunately did little to help Mao in the face of her cirrhosis diagnosis. With her condition worsening, she stayed at home with her octogenarian father and nine-year-old Yin, who also suffered with liver problems. By this time husband Ye had travelled to the States to study for a Ph.D. which could only have added to Mao’s misery. She knew that she was in desperate trouble, but soon the seriousness of her situation was put in very stark terms indeed .
Fearing for her long-term prognosis, the mom decided to put her affairs in order. She looked back on this anxious time in a blog she posted on lifestyle website Uplift in 2017. Apparently, Mao asked her doctor, “How much time do you think I still have? I want to be mentally prepared and make some arrangements.” The physician replied, “I think at least one more year.” Devastated, Mao started to lose her grip on her emotions, lashing out at her dad and daughter in deep despair. However, on July 22, 1996, everything changed.
Indeed, Mao recalled that momentous day in her blog. “That morning I ran into an old lady who used to live in my neighborhood,” she wrote. “Seeing my poor health condition, she suggested that I should practice Falun Gong. She also told me that she had been free from all diseases since she had begun her practice.”
Falun Gong – also known as Falun Dafa – was founded by Chinese spiritual leader Li Hongzhi back in 1992. On the surface, it was a variation of qigong, but with some fundamental differences. The highly moralistic Falun Gong practice eschewed the esoteric nature of many qigong practices. It prioritized wide accessibility and focused on self-fulfillment to achieve a purification of the body.
Curious, Mao traveled to a local Falun Gong center with her daughter the following morning, and bought Li’s teaching guide to the practice, Zhuan Falun. “I opened the book at home, trying to find ways to heal my illnesses in it,” she recalled in her Uplift blog. “The first thing I saw was Master Li’s photo and I felt that he looked so kind and familiar.”
After browsing through the book, Mao felt compelled to read it from the start, picking up on one important paragraph. “I do not talk about healing illnesses here, nor will we heal illnesses,” Li’s passage read. “However, as a genuine practitioner, you cannot practice cultivation with an ill body.”
The quote continued by promising, “I shall purify your body.” However, there was a stipulation, “The body purification will be done only to those who come to genuinely study… [Falun] Dafa. We emphasize one point – that if you cannot give up the attachment or that illness, we cannot do anything and will be helpless to you.”
With this in mind, Mao carried on reading the guide, but there was no way she could have predicted her amazing reaction to the text. “As this instant thought flashed, I noticed that the pain in my liver was alleviated immediately,” she recalled in her blog. “My mouth, which had been dry for a long time, became watery.”
Mao went on to reveal, “Every word in the book attracted me. I couldn’t put it down and had forgotten everything about curing my diseases. The more I read it, the better I felt.” Indeed, just a few weeks after she and Jin had started practicing Falun Gong, the pair received some incredible news.
About a month after she had started reading Zhuan Falun, Mao and her daughter went to the doctor for a routine general check up. But what the doctors found was quite extraordinary. As Mao recalled, “The result was that all the tests became normal. Those illnesses we suffered for years disappeared. What a miracle!” In fact, by October 1996, their health had recovered sufficiently that both were well enough to travel to the U.S. to join Ye.
Mao and her family eventually moved to Toronto, Canada the following year, where her story took another remarkable turn. As a consequence of her continuing ill-health, the mom had been unable to conceive a second child. However, after recovering from those issues, Mao managed to get pregnant again, delivering a healthy baby boy called Kevin in 1997.
Nonetheless, there were some cynical naysayers who viewed the family addition with suspicion. “When the news reached my hometown, none of my relatives could believe it,” Mao revealed in her blog. “Even now, they still think I adopted the boy.” Indeed, her relations were not the only ones wary of Li Hongzhi’s practices. Distrustful of the by-now widespread popularity of the philosophy, Falun Gong was banned by China in July 1999. This crackdown came along just after the student demonstrations which led to the infamous military showdown in Tiananmen Square. And the heavy-handed hardline government subsequently sent Falun Gong followers to labor camps for re-education.
In the eyes of the ruthless Chinese Communist Party, Falun Gong was a superstitious danger to the stability of society. Indeed, Li’s spiritual followers were eventually branded an “evil cult.” After almost two decades, the ban remains in place. Nevertheless, despite the controversy in her homeland, Mao has made quite the name for herself in North America. Nowadays, she advocates for the virtues of Falun Gong through her writings and public appearances.
Ultimately, the now 50-something Mao has one major ambition left. She wants to travel back to China to spread the word about Falun Gong and her remarkable recovery. Indeed, going from just having a year to live to a complete cure is quite a tale to tell. To some, the role of Falun Gong in Mao’s story remains a mystery, but to others it is a miracle.