Traveling throughout the world spreading love, peace and conscience, and protesting when our sacred land was unjustly auctioned off, were two sides of the same testimony.
by Joyce Huang*
*A paper presented at the session “Tai Ji Men’s Journey: A Fight for Conscience and Justice” of the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago, August 15, 2023.
I am currently a sophomore majoring in Digital Technology Design at the National Taipei University of Education. In addition to my studies, I am also a Tai Ji Men dizi.
As information technology students, we are constantly reminded of the ever-advancing era of digital technology. This serves as a crucial reminder that embracing emerging ideas and fostering active curiosity and inquisitiveness are essential to staying relevant and avoiding obsolescence in this rapidly changing landscape.
In my role as a dizi in an ancient qigong and martial arts menpai (similar to a “school”), my Shifu (Grand Master) has taught me valuable lessons. I have learned to grow internally, develop self-awareness, and care for the world around me.
I feel fortunate to experience the growth and enlightenment that Shifu has imparted to his dizi. I have also become aware of the challenges that spiritual communities face regarding freedom of religion, belief, and thought.
Freedom of religion, thought, and belief is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of modern democratic societies. These freedoms grant individuals the right to freely choose, practice, and express their religious and philosophical beliefs. Safeguarding and respecting these rights are crucial for creating an open, tolerant, and diverse society.
The presence and practice of these freedoms foster peace, mutual understanding, respect, and harmonious social interactions.
I grew up in Tai Ji Men since I was young, and it feels like my second home. Tai Ji Men brothers and sisters are like my family, always showing care for my well-being, making sure I am well-fed and clothed. I deeply understand that Tai Ji Men is a wonderful place to learn happiness, positive thinking, to exercise the body, and achieve spiritual growth.
My Shifu serves as a role model, guiding me in life through both words and deeds—teaching me to approach challenges with wisdom and courage, and empowering me to overcome difficulties.
In my second year of junior high, I participated in a youth forum advocating for government tax reforms. To my surprise, the video of my speech quickly went viral, reaching three million views within a week. The sudden fame left me feeling overwhelmed and even scared, with all eyes on me at school and facing various discussions behind my back.
At that time, my Shifu’s encouragement and wise words helped me find courage and see it as an honorable achievement. He assured me of his support. I am grateful for the words my Shifu said, as they calmed my heart and gave me the confidence to share my thoughts with teachers and classmates.
I remember how in June 2022, I went to Türkiye with my Shifu and Tai Ji Men brothers and sisters to promote the values of love, peace, and conscience. We participated in the 25th Eurasian Economic Summit. One memorable moment was when we gathered in the square outside the Topkapı Palace.
We began singing our Love and Peace song, and gradually, our passion touched the hearts of those around us, and they joined in. Together, we formed a large circle, holding hands, singing, and dancing to the music. The atmosphere was filled with joy and positivity, leaving a profound impact on everyone present.
During that moment, I felt not only the love we gave to them, but also the two-way, warm love we were exchanging with each other. I learned from my Shifu that the concept of spreading love and peace is not limited by language, culture, race, and skin color. A sincere smile and simple words are all that’s needed to feel the warmth and unity among people. Love knows no boundaries.
After witnessing our performance, Dr. Akkan Suver, the founder of the Eurasian Economic Summit and President of the Marmara Group Foundation for Strategic and Social Studies, was deeply touched. He remarked on the way we looked at everyone with genuine and sincere eyes. This is something our Shifu has taught us—that a truly kind and sincere heart can touch others, and a loving gaze can tell a story without words.
Tai Ji Men Shifu, brothers, and sisters have traveled to five continents, visited more than 100 countries, and participated in more than 3,000 domestic and international cultural performances, promoting love, peace, and conscience, and bringing Taiwan to the world. As you have heard in this session, despite these positive contributions, Tai Ji Men has faced ongoing oppression and persecution from the National Taxation Bureau, leading to the unjust confiscation and auctioning off of our sacred land in 2020. I will add a few words about my personal experience of the auction.
During the auction, I was present and felt enraged. Tai Ji Men brothers and sisters held banners and placards, and the younger ones used microphones to demand the government to return our land. However, officials in red vests, using their own microphones, claimed they had legally acquired Tai Ji Men’s land in Miaoli. I could not accept this claim as “legal” because it seemed grossly unjust. For over a month, we stood in front of the Enforcement Agency of the Ministry of Justice, reminding them daily that we regarded their actions as illegal and amounting to an unlawful expropriation. We pleaded with them to halt the execution, but for more than forty days, we received no direct response from officials. Despite enduring scorching sun and heavy rain, we persevered and never gave up. I was puzzled by how government officials could disregard the people’s demands in such a manner.
During the auction, we raised our voices, demanding that the police bring out senior officials to answer our questions, but they did not show up. Professor Chen Chih-Lung, a former law professor at National Taiwan University, openly criticized the auction, stating that what happened on August 21, 2020, was evidence of the Enforcement Agency of Ministry of Justice’s incompetence. He condemned the auction of Tai Ji Men’s land, alleging it was an illegal, corrupt, and oppressive action. According to him, it was a premeditated act involving a collusion between the Enforcement Agency of Ministry of Justice and the National Taxation Bureau of the Ministry of Finance to forcefully seize private property, revealing a flagrant abuse of power.
This situation left me bewildered and distressed about how a few unscrupulous officials can manipulate an entire government so brazenly.
I believe that any sane individual would share my feeling. I thought that “These bureaucrats are not just selling Tai Ji Men’s land; they are selling off Taiwan’s democracy, rule of law, and national dignity!” My Shifu instilled in me the values of being a principled individual and handling situations with integrity. They taught me to discern right from wrong, follow my conscience, and act with clarity and honesty. Despite facing government persecution, Tai Ji Men practitioners remain steadfast in their pursuit of justice, human rights, love, and conscience.
It is disheartening to witness in Taiwan, a country that we love and is generally known for upholding freedom and democracy, government actions that defy court rulings and infringe upon people’s rights related to taxation and freedom of religion or belief. I would like to ask the relevant officials in the government, where is your sense of conscience?
Ultimately, I hope that moral education will become deeply ingrained in all people’s hearts, guiding them to find solutions to challenges and foster a world of love and harmony. The Tai Ji Men case will thus also be solved.