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Every thought shows one’s true colors

Yu Liangchen wished to become a scholar-bureaucrat, which was only achievable by passing the civil service exam. Here the exam candidates gather to see the exam results. A painting by Qiu Ying, circa1540. (Public Domain)

Ancient Chinese Stories: What’s Inside Counts


March 6, 2019 Updated: March 6, 2019

During the Ming Dynasty, Yu Liangchen and his peers created a community where members did good deeds and were forbidden to kill, visit prostitutes, curse, or talk behind others’ backs.

Yu ran this community for many years, yet he encountered misfortunes, one after another.

Yu took the imperial examinations seven times but never passed.

He and his wife had nine children—five boys and four girls—but four of the boys and three of the girls died early. The surviving boy was very smart and had two birthmarks on the sole of his left foot, and the couple loved him dearly. Sadly, at age 6, he disappeared while playing outside. Yu’s wife wept over the loss of her children and eventually became blind.

In addition, the family was by this time living in poverty.

Yu wondered why he was punished with such a horrible fate when he’d never committed any wrongdoing.

An Unexpected Visitor

One evening, when Yu was 47, he heard a knock at the door. An old man was outside. After Yu invited him inside, the elderly gentleman explained that he had come to visit because he knew Yu’s family was feeling low.

Yu noticed that the man’s manner of speaking was not that of an ordinary mortal, so he treated him with deep respect. He told his guest that he studied hard and did good deeds his entire life but still had a horrible life.

“I have known about your family for a long time,” said the guest. “You have too many evil thoughts, you complain and pursue fame, and you dishonored the Jade Emperor. I’m afraid even more punishment awaits you.”

Stunned, Yu asked, “I know that a person’s good and evil deeds are all recorded in detail. I vowed to do good for others and controlled my behavior. How have I been pursuing fame?”

“You say you don’t kill, but you constantly cook crabs and lobsters in your kitchen. You say you watch your words, but you’re always sarcastic, angering many gods. You say you don’t use prostitutes, but your heart moves when you see beautiful women,” answered the old man.

Ming Dynasty portrait of a Chinese official. (Public Domain)
Ming Dynasty portrait of a Chinese official. (Public Domain)

“It’s even worse that you claim you’re dedicated to doing good deeds. The Jade Emperor sent a messenger to check your records, and you’ve not done one single good deed in many years.

“On the contrary, your thoughts are filled with greed, lust, and jealousy. You elevate yourself through belittling others. You want revenge whenever you think of the past. With a mind this malicious, you can’t escape disaster. How dare you pray for blessings?” continued the guest.

“Master, you know all about me. You must be an immortal! Please save me!” cried Yu, panic-stricken.

The old man advised: “I hope you can abandon greed, lust, jealousy, and various desires. Don’t pursue fame and self-interest. Then you will be rewarded with goodness.” He then disappeared.

Rewarded With Goodness

The next day, Yu prayed to heaven and swore to change. Determined to eliminate all improper thoughts, he gave himself a Taoist name: “Empty Thought.”

From then on, he paid attention to every thought and action. He saw to it that all of his deeds, whether big or small, effectively benefited others. Whenever he had the chance, he told people about the principles of karmic retribution.

At age 50, Yu was hired to tutor the son of Zhang Juzheng, the prime minister of Emperor Wanli. Yu and his family moved to the capital, and Yu passed the imperial exams the following year.

One day Yu went to visit the eunuch Yang Gong and met Yang’s five adopted sons. One of them—a 16-year-old—looked familiar to Yu. Yu learned that he was born in Yu’s own hometown, Jiangling, but was separated from his family when he accidentally boarded a grain boat as a child.

Yu asked the boy to take off his left shoe. When he saw two birthmarks on the sole, Yu exclaimed, “You’re my son!”

The shocked eunuch was happy for them and immediately sent the boy to Yu’s residence. Yu rushed to tell his wife the good news. She cried so bitterly that her eyes bled. Her son held her face with his hands and kissed her eyes. Suddenly, her vision returned.

Yu was overcome with both grief and joy. He no longer wanted to be a high-ranking official and asked to return to his hometown. Admiring Yu’s moral character, Zhang approved his request and sent him a generous gift.

Back home, Yu worked even harder for others’ benefit. His son married and had seven children, who carried on their grandfather’s tradition. Influenced by them, people truly believed that karmic retribution is real.

Translated by Dora Li into English, this story is reprinted with permission from the book “Treasured Tales of China,” Vol. 1, available on Amazon.

Chinese Student Sentenced for Photographing US Military Base, Raising Questions About His Military Ties

Freshmen practice fighting skills during a military training at a university in Gaochun County in coastal China’s Jiangsu Province, on Sept. 25, 2008. (China Photos/Getty Images)


February 7, 2019 Updated: February 7, 2019

A Chinese exchange student who was recently sentenced for illegally photographing a U.S. naval facility in Florida hailed from a Chinese university with deep ties to China’s military.

Zhao Qianli, 21, a Chinese national from Shanxi Province, was sentenced to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to photographing defense installations at the U.S. Naval Air Station Key West, according to a Feb. 5 press release by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also must complete a year of supervised release.

Zhao was arrested on Sept. 26, 2018, after trespassing at the Navy base and using his cellphone and a digital camera to take pictures. He was found to have overstayed his visa after studying at a summer exchange program.

The program had ended in September, according to a Feb. 5 article by the Miami Herald; the U.S. school where Zhao was studying wasn’t disclosed.

After serving his sentence, Zhao will be deported. If he’s allowed to reenter the United States by officials, he must report to a U.S. probation office within 72 hours of arriving.

The judge handed Zhao the statutory maximum term of one year, higher than the sentencing guidelines of zero to six months for his offense. The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami had submitted a memorandum requesting that Zhao be given a nine-month sentence, due to his atypical behaviors and to reflect the seriousness of the offense.

Zhao had claimed that he was just a tourist who got lost while visiting the area. But according to court documents, none of the photos and videos found on his cell phone and digital cameras were of any tourist attraction sites in Key West. There were only photos of the Navy base and an antenna field on the base.

Witnesses said they saw Zhao walk directly toward the restricted area where the antenna field was located and took photos—despite a sign clearly indicating the area was restricted.

Zhao wasn’t forthcoming about many details when questioned by U.S. officials. Regarding his education background in China, Zhao stated that he was in the fourth year of his music undergraduate study at the North University of China. Yet, his visa application showed that he began his studies there in 2017, according to court documents.

During questioning, Zhao admitted to having received military training as a university student in China—a fact he failed to disclose on his visa application.

U.S. officials also found photos on his phone of uniformed individuals, in what appears to be military training in China, as well as “documentation of a university engineering course curriculum.” When questioned, Zhao said he had no recollection of how those photos and documents got onto his phone.

Officials also confronted him with a police blouse and a belt buckle indicating it belonged to a Chinese government ministry; both were recovered at the Miami Beach hotel where he was staying.

Zhao claimed the items were given to him by his father so he could “have nice clothes” to wear while in the United States.

Chinese Military Ties

The North University of China, which Zhao attended, has deep ties to China’s military, going back more than 50 years to the founding of the Chinese regime.

According to the university’s official website, the school was founded by the Eighth Route Army, a division under the command of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The school was later renamed Taiyuan Institute of Machinery in 1958.

In 1963, the school was transferred to the administration of the National Defense, Technology, and Industry Committee, a central government agency. It became one of eight colleges considered key to China’s defense industry at the time.

Since 2011, the Shanxi provincial government and China’s State Administration for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) have had joint administration over the school. The latter is a central government agency tasked with drafting guidelines and policies that strengthen China’s military forces with more advanced equipment.

In June 2015, North University made headlines in Chinese media when the school hosted a ceremony to transfer its research results to the Chinese military: a new 125mm multi-purpose cannon with anti-aircraft and anti-tank capabilities. The school headed development of the new cannon, with support from more than 10 other Chinese defense technology research centers, according to the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece newspaper People’s Daily.

The school continues to enjoy close ties to the military. In October 2018, the school’s president, Shen Xingquan, signed agreements with China’s state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry (CASIC)—known for developing China’s missiles—to enhance the transfer of technological development to the military from academia, according to the school website.

The school also announced in December last year that two professors were awarded a total of 2.48 billion yuan (about $367 million) in funding by SASTIND for defense-technology related projects.

Beijing’s National Policies

North University also participates in Beijing’s current national development and recruitment policies, ”Made in China 2025” and the “Thousand Talents Plan.”

On Jan. 13, 2019, Shen, while giving a speech at the school about the establishment of a provincial association for scientists and entrepreneurs to foster artificial intelligence-enhanced manufacturing, said that it’s vital for the association to help implement the “Made in China 2025” policy.

He said he envisioned the association taking the lead in improving the time it takes to turn patented technologies into actual products, so that the province “would not lag in the progress of ‘Made in China 2025.’” According to the school’s website, Shen was appointed to be the association’s deputy chairman.

The “Made in China 2025” industrial policy was announced in 2015, with goals for China to achieve self-sufficiency in 10 tech-manufacturing sectors by 2025, including advanced information technology, robotics, and automated machine tools.

The plan, however, has been criticized by the U.S. administration for undermining fair competition in the global market, and abetting the theft of technology and trade secrets.

In December 2008, Beijing rolled out the “Thousand Talents Plan,” a state recruitment program to attract primarily Chinese science and technology talents who studied or lived abroad to work in China. Since then, the plan has recruited more than 7,000 people for employment at a university, research institute, or state-owned enterprise, according to the program’s website.

According to the official website of China’s Ministry of National Defense, two staff members were recruited under the plan to North University by July 2011.

In an April 2015 article, China’s state-run Shanxi News Net reported that Wang Wanjun, a professor at North University, was recruited by the talent program from Louisiana State University. Upon Wang’s return to China, North University established a lithography center, as well as a lithography company—after successfully obtaining 10 million yuan (about $1.48 million) in funding. Lithography is an important manufacturing step in the production of semiconductor chips.

In the Shanxi News article, Wang said the reason he decided to return to China was because the school provided him with the platform “to serve his country and start a business.”

According to Chinese news portal Baidu, Wang was recruited by the talent program in 2010.

The “Thousand Talents Plan” has since been flagged by U.S. officials as a means to transfer U.S. technology and intellectual properties to China.

Shen Yun Principal Dancer Kaidi Wu’s Ethereal Grace

Dancer Kaidi Wu is a lady of few words. She expresses herself through dance, a language she makes so vivid and beautiful that it moves audiences to tears. (Larry Dai/The Epoch Times)


January 28, 2019 Updated: January 28, 2019

In a bustling restaurant of excited chatter and shouting toddlers, Kaidi Wu is the opposite of her surroundings. Her voice is like a spring breeze—gentle and slow, serene and unhurried. She seems to emerge from a different world, a realm of tranquility and grace.

Kaidi first saw Shen Yun Performing Arts after she had immigrated from China to Toronto, Canada. Like many in the audience, she thought to herself, “Oh, how I wish I could become one of them!”

Now, Kaidi is a principal dancer with the performing arts company that inspired her dream, and she has come to embody the ethereal beauty that had mesmerized her when she first saw Shen Yun.

as Chang’e, the goddess of the moon, in New Tang Dynasty Television’s 2016 International Classical Chinese Dance Competition. (Larry Dai/The Epoch Times)

Inner Beauty

Dressed in a flowing white gown adorned with yellow and blue, Kaidi flurries a pink silk cloth and floats across the stage as if carried by a cloud in New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television’s 2012 International Classical Chinese Dance Competition. There’s a twinkle in her eyes, a smile on her lips. Immersed in Kaidi’s self-choreographed piece, audiences can almost see the rippling waters in a turquoise lake, feel the gentle breeze of a balmy morning, and hear the chirping swallows in a secluded valley.

How does a dancer capture such beauty, we wonder. “This kind of beauty should be the natural reflection of your inner self,” Kaidi tells us. It’s not about outward appearances, but instead about the channeling of inner virtues. Thus, classical Chinese dance cannot be separated from the cultivation of a kind and virtuous character.
Kaidi Wu performs as Ban Zhao, the first known female Chinese historian, in New Tang Dynasty Television’s 2014 International Classical Chinese Dance Competition. (Larry Dai/The Epoch Times)

This past September, in NTD Television’s recent competition, Kaidi chose to perform the role of Wang Baochuan. From an aristocratic family, Wang Baochuan had fallen in love with the commoner Xue Rengui because he was a kind man of excellent character. After they married, he rose up the ranks to become a Tang Dynasty general and was away on the battlefield for many years.

Living alone in a crude cave dwelling, Wang Baochuan “had to overcome all kinds of hardships. But she was not fearful, and she simply persisted in waiting,” Kaidi says. Eighteen years later, she was finally rewarded when she reunited with her beloved husband, who had returned triumphantly from the battlefield. Kaidi says that in Wang Baochuan, she saw loyalty, perseverance, and selflessness—all characteristics she admires.

As part of Shen Yun Performing Arts, Kaidi is not only reviving traditional Chinese dance but also showcasing the values of the ancients. Back then, the paragon of a Chinese woman epitomized refinement, grace, and virtue, things swept under by the tides of modernity.

Kaidi Wu performs in the technical portion of New Tang Dynasty Television’s 2016 International Classical Chinese Dance Competition. (Larry Dai/The Epoch Times)

A Tranquil Mind

When speaking about the challenges of learning classical Chinese dance, Kaidi reveals that her biggest challenge was mental, not physical. A teacher once told her that she was not steady enough as a dancer, as if holding her breath on the surface. She was like a leaf that drifted about at the whims of the breeze. “I easily became nervous,” Kaidi says.

Over time, she realized the source of the problem. “I worried about how others would view me. If I thought about myself, I would become more nervous.” She thus had to learn to calm her mind and dispel the insecurities that distracted her.

For Kaidi, handkerchief dances have always been especially challenging. One of the most impressive parts of the dance is when a dancer twirls her handkerchief into the air, performs a front aerial, and then successfully catches the handkerchief before it falls to the ground. As she worried about potentially failing to catch the handkerchief, she would do poorly. “When we perform, we shouldn’t think about ourselves. Just think about what you should do with a steady, unwavering heart,” Kaidi says.

Beginning in 2012, Kaidi was given lead roles in dances in Shen Yun’s world tours. Her new roles brought on more responsibility, and it became more important for her to maintain a steady mindset. “You can’t stand out by yourself,” Kaidi says. Instead, she strives to assimilate to the larger body, to perfect the performance as a whole.

“We are all doing the same thing. One person’s strength cannot match what the group has as a whole,” Kaidi says. Over time, she learned to focus less on herself and to adapt to those around her, putting their needs above her own. Only then could her performances truly move audiences.

Fulfilling Her Purpose

As a dancer, Kaidi evokes not only the grace of celestial fairies and imperial palace maidens but also the dignity of modern-day heroes. In Shen Yun’s 2017 world tour, in the piece titled “A Child’s Choice,” she played an orphaned girl who later discovers the truth behind her parents’ deaths. As practitioners of the Chinese spiritual discipline Falun Dafa, they had been brutally killed by the Chinese communist regime for their faith.

The dance’s storyline draws from real events occurring in China. The spiritual practice of Falun Dafa once had an estimated 100 million adherents in China. But in 1999, the Chinese Communist Party ordered a nationwide persecution, beginning 19 years of brutality and inhumanity that continue to this day.

Instead of succumbing to the pressure of the persecution, Kaidi’s character continues her parents’ legacy, standing up for what is right. At the end of the piece, she resolutely unfurls a banner with the Chinese characters for truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—the central tenets of Falun Dafa. Her determination and fearlessness move audiences to tears.

Growing up in a family of Falun Dafa practitioners, Kaidi had personally experienced the far-reaching claws of the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution. When she was living in China with her grandparents (her parents had immigrated to Canada first), their home was raided by police because they practiced Falun Dafa. At elementary school, Kaidi was discriminated against, forcibly held back one year, and sometimes bullied by her classmates, who once hit her with a water bottle. At the time, young Kaidi was simply bewildered. It wasn’t until she was about to leave China that she came to realize she had been treated unfairly because of her family’s faith.

Kaidi speaks of these past circumstances lightly, and she laughs as she recalls how clueless she was back then. Although her own suffering was relatively minor, she feels for her fellow Falun Dafa practitioners in China who have lost their freedoms, their careers, and even their lives as a result of the persecution. She thus cherishes opportunities to portray these stories on stage. “Many people say they cannot believe this is happening in China. Many people also say they were moved to tears,” Kaidi says. At these moments, she feels in her heart, “We didn’t do this for nothing. Everything we do is worth it.”

Kaidi pulls off challenging dance techniques with poise and confidence, the hallmarks of a seasoned performer. (Larry Dai/The Epoch Times)

As our interview concluded, we set off for a photo shoot in a nearby park. At our last stop on the sandy beach of a lake, we asked Kaidi to perform a few dance poses and leaps. She found a nearby wooden pole to lean on as she stretched, and she pressed on it two or three times to check its sturdiness. In the next second, she had kicked her leg effortlessly behind her head to form a straight line pointing to the heavens.

As she took off her sneakers for the photo shoot, we saw that her toes and heels were covered in scars, the battle wounds of a professional dancer. But she seemed not to notice the existence of these wounds. Wearing an unadorned black shirt, she leapt into the air with the brilliant colors of sunset as her backdrop, blossoming in time that seemed to stop. Her silhouette was like an imprint of her many years on stage, a decade of stirring splendor. Through it all, we see the warm smile on her face, gentle and sincere, accompanied by the radiant hues of twilight.

Published with permission from Elite Lifestyle Magazine.

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2019: The Year of the Pig


January 29, 2019 Updated: January 30, 2019

The Chinese New Year is celebrated on Feb. 5, marking the beginning of the year of the Pig in the Chinese zodiac.

It is a time for reflection, for resolutions, and new hope in the year to come. Some believe the year of the Pig will bring wealth and prosperity.

According to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.

The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. According to legend, the calendar dates back to 2600 B.C., when the mythical Yellow Emperor started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac and named an animal to represent each year in the 12-year cycle.

The 12 animal signs are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

A pig lantern displayed at the Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai, China to mark the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Pig, which starts on February 5. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sign of the Pig

The Pig is the twelfth sign in the Chinese zodiac. If you were born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019 your Chinese zodiac sign is likely the pig. It is important, though, to consider the day of your birth in January or February in regard to the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Pig is perhaps the most complex symbol, since it has both positive and negative elements. The positive elements are wealth (symbolized by the piggy bank), good fortune, friendship, patience, popularity and peace.

Pigs are associated with stupidity in both Eastern and Western cultures. In English, the word “Pigheaded” means stupid or stubborn. In Chinese, the word “pig head” is used when scolding at someone who is stupid. The Pig represents negative personality traits such as being stubborn, careless, absent-minded, disorganized and mischievous.

New Year Wishes: A Year to Expect Wealth

The Chinese people believe the year of the Pig will bring wealth and prosperity. Besides having a stable income, they hope to make more money, and some believe it is an auspicious time to make new financial investments.

The year of the Pig is expected to bring joy, friendship and love for all the zodiac signs as the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.

Happy Chinese New Year! (過年好! guò nián hǎo)

The Golden Pig brings you good fortune! (金豬報福! Jīn zhū bào fú)

Lucky and joyful year of the Pig! (福豬頌春! Fú zhū sòng chūn)

Peace and good health in the year of the Pig! (豬年安康! zhū nián ān kāng)

The year of the Pig arrives and good fortune comes! (豬年到 好運到! zhū nián dào, hǎo yùn dào)

Year of the Pig brings luck and joy. (Catherine Chang/The Epoch Times)

New Year Traditions

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese festivals. The celebration usually lasts 15 days, from New Year’s Day to the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

There are many traditions and customs associated with the Chinese New Year. Families thoroughly clean their homes in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with delicate red paper cutouts and poetic couplets—pairs of corresponding lines of poetry that express people’s joy and hope for the New Year.

Fireworks, firecrackers, red packages, the lion dance, the dragon dance, and lanterns with riddles are other common customs and traditions observed during the Chinese New Year period.

Friends dine on a feast to celebrate Chinese New Year during a community activity in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China on Jan. 14, 2006. (China Photos/Getty Images)

Many families gather for a big family reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese people also visit their relatives as part of the New Year celebration.

Children learn traditional paper cutting with festive red paper, the Year of the Pig, in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China on Jan. 30, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Lion dancers perform at a Chinese New Year celebration in a small community in upstate New York, U.S. on Jan. 31, 2016. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Celebration with Couplet Verses

Couplet Verses or Chinese New Year Couplets, Chūn Lián (春聯) in Chinese, are an important part of the New Year celebration. Also known as antithetical couplet, it is often in traditional style and reflects hope, peace and prosperity for the year to come.

Chinese couplets are usually a pair of successive lines of verse, especially a pair that rhyme, and the number of characters in each line is the same. The structure is very strict and well-defined.

The first line is the “head” and the second line is the “tail.” In a couplet, a balance must be found between head and tail, between each character in one and the usually contrasting character in the same position in the other, and in tone, rhyme, and meaning.

A horizontal streamer (橫披, hénɡ pī), which normally has four characters, is added above the entrance and between the two vertical streamers to indicate the theme of the couplets.

A woman walking past a wall decorated with new year couplets at a traditional market on Di Hua street to mark the coming Lunar New Year—the Year of the Pig—in Taipei on Jan. 25, 2019. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)

The founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368–1644), Zhu Yuangzhang, issued an order before the New Year’s Eve requiring every householder to write couplets on red paper and post them on entry door frames to welcome the New Year.

In the morning of the New Year, the emperor dressed himself in plain clothes and went door-to-door reading the couplets. Whenever he saw well-written scrolls, he was very happy and praised the writers’ talent.

With the emperor’s advocacy, the tradition of writing New Year couplets became a custom that has been continued to the present day.

Couplet Verses for the Year of the Pig:

The Pig is the most valued among the six farm animals [pig, cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog] (六畜豬為首 liù chù zhū wéi shǒu)

Spring takes the lead among the four seasons (一年春佔先 yī nián chūn zhàn xiān)

The Dog keeps guard for a peaceful 2018 (狗守太平歲 gǒu shǒu tài píng suì)

The Pig ushers in a prosperous 2019 (牽富裕年 zhū qiān fù yù nián)

Although the Pig is the last (Chinese) zodiac sign (雖屬生肖後 suī shǔ sheng xiào hòu)

The Pig is ranked first among the six farm animals [pig, cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog] (卻居六畜先(què jū liù chù xiān)

This Doctor Says 2 Little-Known Brain Chemicals Cause Anxiety, and Big Pharma Doesn’t Like It

Ronald Hoffman, MD, has been practicing for over 30 years in New York City and is an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine.

January 20, 2019


“When I was prescribing anti-anxiety medication, a few of my patients seemed to benefit, but most didn’t. I never questioned the effectiveness of the drugs, but when I took a peek behind the curtain, I realized I was wrong,” says Ronald Hoffman, MD, who has been practicing for over 30 years in New York City and is an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine. He is one member of a new group of doctors questioning how effective anxiety medications actually are.

More anxiety medications are being prescribed than ever before, and yet, the anxiety epidemic has only gotten worse. Something didn’t feel right to Dr. Hoffman. That’s why he decided to investigate the clinical research published by major pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Hoffman’s fears were confirmed when a recent body of research published in the PLoS Medicine journal called into question the efficacy of these drugs and their associated side effects. The results were startling. Only 44% of patients reported any improvement. Even more disturbing, in a 2008 study published by the American Medical Association, researchers concluded that anxiety left untreated can impair key areas of the brain and cause the very symptoms patients are trying to avoid

The difference in brain activity is shown for a subject that is calm (left) and a subject that is stressed (right).

This data led him to break with traditional thinking in Western medicine and a decision to explore the possibility of an alternative natural solution. His efforts produced something more effective than he would have ever imagined.

Dr. Hoffman felt particularly empathetic toward his patients struggling with anxiety who expressed intense feelings of hopelessness and negative self talk, trapping them in a vicious cycle. He explains, “A single anxious thought can lead to intense physical symptoms. This then leads to avoidance behavior, which makes the patient feel even worse and results in even more negative thought patterns.”

According to Dr. Hoffman, “The ineffectiveness of these drugs is contributing to the growing mental health problem we are currently facing. These people badly need treatment, but they are not getting it because these drugs don’t work. Anxiety left untreated can have far-reaching consequences to your mental health beyond just your mood. It can also adversely impact your memory, attention, and focus.”

Dr. Hoffman agrees with the prevailing medical opinion that GABA and serotonin are the primary neurotransmitters responsible for regulating levels of anxiety. However, when he investigated the mechanism of action for the three primary anti-anxiety medication classes (SSRIs, SNRIs, and benzodiazepines), he realized that each class of medication was only addressing one half of the equation.

He asserts that prescription medications create an imbalance between GABA and serotonin, producing an overabundance of one neurotransmitter while neglecting the other. By overmedicating one half of the problem, patients typically experience brief initial symptom relief. However, symptoms typically worsen over time, and harmful side effects can develop, including dependency.

He believes there is a stark difference between chemical alteration and a body’s natural production of GABA and serotonin. When your body generates GABA and serotonin, it is a comprehensive, balanced approach to both neurotransmitters. To achieve this natural balance and break the cycle of negative behavior, Dr. Hoffman enlisted the help of a group of New England researchers to determine the 5 most potent herbs to promote balanced levels of GABA and serotonin.

Over the last 18 months, these researchers have been perfecting his formula in a GMP certified facility in NY. They named the formulation RediCalm and chose 5 natural ingredients that work together to aid your body’s natural production of GABA and serotonin.* 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Ashwagandha, Passion Flower, and Lemon Balm have been clinically proven to boost GABA and serotonin levels in the human body.

The results of RediCalm’s placebo-controlled clinical study.

Early feedback was overwhelmingly positive from focus groups and a small scale proof-of-concept study. However, Dr. Hoffman insisted on a full-scale placebo-controlled trial to prove RediCalm’s effectiveness based on two essential variables: immediate relief and long-term effectiveness. The results significantly exceeded his expectations.

More than 2 out of 3 study participants felt immediate relief from anxiety within 30 minutes. In addition, over 95% felt relief within 30 days. And none of the participants reported any negative side effects. The results were statistically significant when compared with placebo.

At this point, Dr. Hoffman decided to partner with an American manufacturer and release the product to the public. RediCalm is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free, and is made in a GMP-certified facility in New York to ensure the highest standards of safety.

30 day trials are temporarily available online until January 24th. Click the link below to visit the company website and decide if RediCalm is right for you.

Crusading Hong Kong Cardinal Receives US Award for Pro-Religious Freedom, Anti-Chinese Communist, Activism

Cardinal Joseph Zen, recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom during the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s ceremony in his honor, at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)


January 29, 2019 Updated: January 29, 2019

WASHINGTON—Honoring years of campaigning against Chinese Communist repression of religious freedom, the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation presented Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun with a prestigious award for his heroic activism.

The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong received the foundation’s highest honor, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, at a Capitol Hill ceremony Jan. 28.

The medal is bestowed annually on “those individuals and institutions that have demonstrated a life-long commitment to freedom and democracy and opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny,” according to the foundation, an educational and human-rights nonprofit organization. The late pope, Saint John Paul II, whose bold stand against world communism helped to topple the Soviet Union, was a past recipient of the medal.

Marion Smith, the foundation’s executive director, said Zen has “given voice to those denied religious liberty and has opposed the collusion of the Vatican and Chinese Communist Party on the matter of ecclesiastical appointments.”

Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese civil rights activist and lawyer (R), greets Cardinal Joseph Zen, recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Hong Kong Autonomy

The 87-year-old cleric said he was worried about the future of Hong Kong because the autonomy that Beijing promised to protect is slipping away.

Although “true” Marxism no longer exists in mainland China, “the atheist persecutor dictatorship remains,” and is cracking down on religion throughout the country, including in Hong Kong, whose preexisting rights and freedoms Beijing vowed to respect for at least 50 years in 1997, when the United Kingdom ceded the territory to China.

“Of the promised high degree of autonomy, very little remains,” Zen said. “We are soon to become just one of the cities in China.”

“I want to remember many of those heroes who are suffering at this moment in China or Hong Kong for voicing their claim for respect of their dignity, for freedom, and for democracy—those well-known and those anonymous heroes.”

Cardinal Joseph Zen, recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom speaks at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s ceremony in his honor, at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Religious Repression

Beijing seeks to subordinate all churches to Communist Party control and employs officials whose job is to oversee those religious institutions. The Chinese regime openly interferes in the affairs of that nation’s estimated 12 million Catholics and has arrested and persecuted church officials. Zen has been a leading critic of this policy.

In the fall, the Vatican and the ruling Communist Party reportedly signed a provisional deal allowing Beijing to effectively appoint a limited number of bishops, a move that has been criticized by that nation’s Christians, who warn that it will only encourage more officially-sanctioned religious repression.

In September last year, Zen described the pact as “a complete surrender” by the Vatican, as well as an “incredible betrayal” of the Catholic faith.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the co-chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in December 2018 that China’s Communist Party is now engaged in “the most comprehensive attempt to manipulate and control—or destroy—religious communities since Chairman Mao Zedong made the eradication of religion a goal of his disastrous Cultural Revolution half a century ago.”

Zen told reporters Jan. 28 that he’s wary of the agreement, which suggests the Catholic Church in Hong Kong “will need a blessing from Beijing” to name bishops. “This suggests Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ principle is about to disappear,” he said.

“I hope the Vatican will stand their ground and appoint a bishop who can truly lead our diocese and protect our religious life.”

Zen said he is praying for Pope Francis, whom he met with at the Vatican earlier this month, to do the right thing. The Holy See hasn’t answered his letters, in which he objected to the pact about appointing bishops, he said.

“They’re making their own judgment on matters that I disagree with,” he said. “We Catholics are praying for [the pope]. With God’s blessings, we pray he won’t make mistakes.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) speaks at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom award ceremony, honoring the retired Cardinal of Hong Kong Joseph Zen at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

‘Tremendous Leader’

In an interview with The Epoch Times at the awards ceremony, Rep. Smith explained why the cardinal deserved to be honored.

“Cardinal Zen, for years, even before he became the bishop of Hong Kong, has been a tremendous leader for all faiths believing that religious freedom is a fundamentally recognized human right, which China has agreed to. He has spoken out on behalf of everyone, not just Catholics, and I think that makes a difference. We are all in this together.

“The repression that has been unleashed … has crushed so many people’s lives, not just through murder and through torture and long jail sentences, but their hopes and aspirations are thwarted because of this dictatorship.

“I think Cardinal Zen inspires all of us, people inside of China, as well as outside, to do more on behalf of religious freedom.”

A representative of the Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) spiritual practice, which Zen has defended, said the cardinal deserves the award.

“Cardinal Zen is known to be a very righteous and outspoken figure in Hong Kong,” said Kan Hung-cheung of the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa.

Kan recalled how Zen spoke up when the Chinese regime began its persecution of Falun Gong in mainland China in 1999. The regime’s propaganda initially had an effect on Hong Kong’s population, and Falun Gong practitioners faced a hostile environment. Nonetheless, Zen defended them.

“When [the Chinese Communist Party] started the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, the then-Bishop Zen came up to defend the universal values of truthfulness-compassion-forbearance [the core principles of Falun Gong] and the freedom of religion of Falun Gong, and strongly objected to and criticized the Hong Kong government on the intended suppression.”

Zen has helped to ameliorate the repression suffered by Falun Gong practitioners. “We very much appreciate his support of us in so many years,” Kan said.

Zen said that receiving the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom will give his fellow Chinese Catholics hope.

Zen was asked by The Epoch Times if his receipt of the award would have an impact on religious freedom in China and Hong Kong.

“Sure,” Zen replied, “because I got everybody to promise to pray for us and I hope you get informed and always be concerned. That’s important for us, because we need the support of everyone.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) (R) speaks with former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom award ceremony honoring the retired Cardinal of Hong Kong Joseph Zen at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Traditional African-American Gospel Songs Deliver Message of Hope and Freedom

(L: Wikipedia | Dave Brinkman (ANEFO), R: Illustration)


January 17, 2019 Updated: January 17, 2019

African-American spirituals are a valuable part of American history. Born out of an oral tradition that reveals Christian values while describing the hardships of slavery from the period of 1600 to 1870, the music and melodies of these songs are still being performed and appreciated today.

The negro spirituals are usually sung as part of Black History Month, which is observed during February each year.

Mahalia Jackson (©Wikipedia | Dave Brinkman (ANEFO))

African cultural traditions, which include drumming and dance, were brought with them from West Africa.

As their music was forbidden by European masters, the slaves took to the hills and valleys, singing and playing their instruments by rivers and secret worship houses.

Lyrics are accompanied by plaintive melodies, and are created in a “call and response” format.

Themes of love, forgiveness, compassion, judgment, death, and eternal life weave a ribbon of faith throughout the music, and furthermore call upon slaves to “walk with God.”

Harriet Tubman (©Wikimedia | Horatio Seymour Squyer)

The songs were born from pain and a yearning for justice and freedom. Interestingly, secret code words in the songs’ lyrics were used strategically for the very purpose of obtaining freedom.

For example, the song “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” was used by Harriet Tubman, an American abolitionist and political activist, to warn slaves of danger or to tell them that it was safe to come out of hiding.

Tubman herself was an escaped slave and made around 13 missions to rescue family and friends using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

Another example is the song “Wade in the Water,” which too was to warn escaping slaves to leave the trail and get into the water to deter the dogs of slave catchers.

To the slaves, “Crossing the River Jordan” meant crossing the Ohio River, going North, and gaining freedom.

Dvořák (©Wikipedia)

When classical Czech composer Antonin Dvorak was touring the United States in 1893, he conducted research on Negro melodies.

“In the Negro melodies of America I find all that is needed for a great and noble school of music,” he told the New York Herald.

“They are pathetic, tender, passionate, melancholy, bold, merry, gay, or what you will. There is nothing in the whole range of composition which cannot be supplied from this source…I am satisfied that the future music of this country must be founded on what is called the Negro melodies.”

On another occasion, Dvorak added that they were “as great a melody as any Beethoven wrote.”

John Hurt (©Wikipedia)

Many African-American spirituals have a melody and rhythm intended to be heard and felt.

Due to limited education, the lyrics are mostly repetitious and written in a slave dialect. Nevertheless, the message and charm are undeniable, such as songs like, “Is Massa Gonna’ Sell Us Tomorrow?” and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

American spirituals are a captivating American art form and have been performed by musicians such as Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Mississippi John Hurt, Pete Seeger, Bessie Smith, Marvin Gaye, and many, many more.

Moreover, this unique genre of music radiates healing and comfort to the brokenhearted, and delivers a message of hope and freedom to the oppressed.

If You See a Black Mark Like This on Your Fingernails, Call Your Doctor Immediately

A photo showing linear melanonychia. (Facebook | Lisa Harrison Williams)


January 15, 2019 Updated: January 16, 2019

When a woman walked into a nail salon and asked the nail technician to cover up a strange black mark on her nail, the technician immediately knew something was wrong. Days later, she found out that the woman had a serious health issue.

One day, Lisa Harrison Williams, a nail technician, had a walk-in client who made a special request: to use a dark color to cover up a “straight dark vertical stripe down her nail.”

In a post on her Facebook page, Williams shared that the client had gone to many other nail salons where the staff “diagnosed” her “a few different ways.” “Some said it was a lack of calcium. Some said it was hereditary. At least one had told her it was a blood blister,” the post read.

However, Williams knew something was wrong. “I did not want to frighten her but I told her she needed to see her doctor immediately!” Williams recalled.

Illustration – Shutterstock | foto ARts

The client took Williams’s advice, and on Aug. 14, 2017, the woman called Williams to tell her that she had been diagnosed with cancer, and “it was a very aggressive melanoma that has already spread to her lymph nodes.” Williams then added that the woman’s prognosis was not good.

The NHS website describes similar abnormalities of the fingernail:

Dark stripes running down the nails (linear melanonychia) are fairly common in black people over 20 years of age, and in most cases it’s perfectly normal.

However, dark stripes shouldn’t be ignored because it can sometimes be a form of skin cancer that affects the nail bed, called subungual melanoma. It’s important that your doctor checks it to rule out melanoma.

Subungual melanoma usually only affects one nail. It will also cause the stripe to change in appearance—for example, it may become wider or darker over time and the pigmentation may also affect the surrounding skin (the nail fold).

Illustration – Shutterstock | Chinnapong

By sharing this woman’s experience, Williams urges everyone to pay attention to abnormalities on their nail beds.

In her Facebook post, she shared:

Odd changes in your nails can very likely be nothing to worry about! But sometimes it is an indication of a very serious disease. And please keep an eye on the nail beds—toes and fingers—of your elderly loved ones and your loved ones that aren’t physically able to notice changes in the nail beds! Early diagnosis can make all the difference in the world!!!

Chinese Moves to Organize Via WeChat Worry Local Communist Authorities

Using the internet and social media for mass organization, especially at the local level, is worrying for the authorities. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)


January 16, 2019 Updated: January 16, 2019

Officials in Muchuan County, in southwestern China, are telling local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organizations to prevent people from organizing through WeChat, a popular Chinese social-media site.

On Jan. 10, the CCP committee in Muchuan, which is located in Leshan City of Sichuan Province, alerted its organizations in all of the county’s townships and villages, requesting that committees exert control the people’s ideological thought, maintain control over social media, and lead public opinion.

The alert, aimed at preventing local residents from mobilizing in protest, comes as part of the communist regime’s attempts to win on “the battlefield of public opinion.” The recent economic downturn in China has exacerbated social conflicts under the CCP’s authoritarian and corruption-ridden rule.

Residents of Muchuan’s 195 villages had set up chat groups on WeChat for each community, which sparked the alert. The local government became wary of the chat groups’ existence and ordered all villagers to leave them, citing the danger of fraud.

Using the internet and social media for mass mobilization, especially at the local level, is troubling to the authorities. The CCP is extremely wary of the threat posed by local organizing in reaction to cases of corruption, environmental damage, and other causes of unrest. In China, tens of thousands of civil disturbances are registered every year, with some involving tens of thousands of people.

“The battlefield of public opinion” is a concept created by Mao Zedong, the founding leader of communist China. In nearly 70 years of governance, the CCP has taken “victory” on that battlefield to be of utmost importance for its propaganda agencies and censorship of discussion.

The CCP controls which films, TV programs, radio, newspaper, books, magazines, and the websites people are allowed to access; the internet has become a new “battlefield” of public discourse. Millions of internet police monitor the regime’s “Great Firewall” to ensure that netizens don’t post politically sensitive content or visit banned websites.

On Jan. 10, China’s Cyberspace Administration announced regulations to manage blockchain technology, requiring registration of real names and identification. After the rules come into effect on Feb. 15, violations will be punishable by fines or prison.

In November 2016, Chinese authorities published the Internet Security Law, which was implemented starting June 1, 2017. That May, authorities announced their Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Services, which was implemented the same day as the Internet Security Law.

In January 2011, CCP updated its Administration of Internet Information Services Procedures, which was first published in September 2000.

On Jan. 8, the Cyberspace Administration published an article asking all its officials and clerks “to defend the battlefield of public opinion” by use of all available technology, including capturing video by drone, making short videos, virtual reality, HTML5, and other methods.

The article said “the battlefield” should combine radio, television, newspaper, internnet, Weibo, WeChat, and computing clients.

Bao Xuan’s Magical Encounter

Image depicting the current-day Chinese saying which describes a united young couple who live happily even in poverty with the term “riding together in a carriage driven by deer”. (Internet photo)


January 7, 2019 Updated: January 7, 2019

Bao Xuan came from an impoverished family during the Western Han Dynasty, 2,000 years ago. His mentor appreciated his high morals and let his daughter Shaojun marry Bao, endowing them with a gorgeous dowry.

An Excellent Wife

Bao said to his bride: “You were born into a wealthy family and are used to luxurious ornaments. But I am poor, I could not accept such rich gifts.”

His bride answered: “My father saw that you paid attention to cultivating good conduct and virtue, leading a simple, thrifty life, thus he let me marry you so that I could serve you. As I’m your wife now, I will obey you.”

Bao Xuan laughed happily: “If you could think this way that is my wish.”

Shaojun put away all her luxurious dresses and ornaments and switched to simple attire, riding back to the village with Bao in a carriage drawn by deer.

After greeting her mother-in-law, Shaojun immediately started household chores, carrying out the duty of a daughter-in-law. As an excellent wife, together with her husband, Shaojun’s name was also recorded in the history book of the Han Dynasty.

People nowadays in China describe a united young couple who live happily even in poverty with the term “riding together in a carriage driven by deer”.

A Magical Encounter

Bao Xuan was later recommended to become a government officer.

Once on his way to the capital, Bao met a scholar who was hurrying alone on the road. The scholar suddenly had a heart attack. Bao tried to help him but could not save the man who died quickly.

Bao did not know the name of the scholar but saw that he carried a book of scrolls made of white silk together with ten pieces of silver. Bao used one piece of silver to arrange the burial of the scholar, placed the rest of the silver underneath his head, and the book of silk scrolls on his belly.

After saying prayers, Bao Xuan spoke into the scholar’s tomb: “If your soul can still work, you should let your family know that you are buried here. I now have other duties to attend to, I cannot stay here longer.” He bade farewell and carried on with his journey.

Upon arriving at the capital, Bao Xuan noticed a white horse following him. The horse would not allow anybody but Bao get close to it. It would not let anyone else feed it. So Bao adopted the horse.

After Bao completed his mission in the capital, he rode this white horse home but got lost on the way. He saw the residence of a marquis. As it was getting dark, he went forward to ask for lodging. He presented his name card to the master of the family.

The servant who saw the horse with Bao at the door reported to the Marquis: “This guest stole our horse”.

The Marquis said: “Bao Xuan is a man of good reputation. There must be reason for this. Do not say unfounded things.”

The Marquis asked Bao: “How did you get this horse? He used to be ours and we do not know why he disappeared.”

Bao told in detail his experience with the scholar and his heart attack. The Marquis was shocked: “That scholar, it was my son!”

The Marquis retrieved the coffin of his son. When he opened it, he saw the silver and the white silk scroll, all laying there as Bao described.

Sources: “Biographies of Exemplary Women” in “Book of the Later Han” or “History of the Later Han” a Chinese court document covering the years from 6 to 189 A.D.

“Lie Yi Zhuan,” a novel written by Cao Pi, the Emperor of Cao Wei.
Edited by Damian Robin