President of Stoic School Institute Finds ‘Divine Truth’ in Essay ‘How Humankind Came To Be’

Kelly Kinkade, a Stoic who believes in acquiring virtue and embracing difficulties in life as a means to personal growth, found many similarities between his moral philosophy and the teachings of the spiritual practice Falun Gong.

Truth, compassion, and tolerance—the core tenets of Falun Gong—are akin to Stoic virtue and its four facets—justice, temperance, wisdom, and courage—stated Kinkade, president of the Stoic School Institute, a Michigan-based nonprofit, in a recent interview with NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.

“They benefit the individual; they make a happy individual … a better citizen. They go beyond individual benefit. When we practice these things, we are benefiting society as a whole,” Kinkade said.

Such insight came upon reading “How Humankind Came To Be,” an article Falun Gong founder Mr. Li Hongzhi published in The Epoch Times last month.

“Being a Stoic, I was pleasantly surprised by the article’s emphasis on acquiring virtue,” wrote Kinkade in a letter to the newspaper.

“I came away from the article feeling richer … Being exposed to the well-thought worldview of this person is worth a great deal to me,” he added.

Kinkade further explained that while his belief system might differ from Falun Gong in some respects, the end result is what they have in common.

“The East meeting West from different perspectives was very encouraging to me because we are getting the same result … —elevating people individually and [as a] civilization,” he stated.

Suffering as a Tool for Improvement

In Mr. Li’s article, he postulates the idea that pain and trouble exist for people to cultivate their moral character. But seeing suffering as a means to improve oneself, is a concept present in Stoicism as well, according to Kinkade.

“The way we deal with painful situations in our life can result in a better condition for us than if we had never gone through that suffering,” said Kinkade, author of the book “On Virtue.”

“That’s a very powerful doctrine to have in any worldview,” he said.

Difficulties are inevitable, he stated, but “suffering does not mean you are doing something wrong; it can mean that you are everything right in your life.”

He highlighted that Mr. Li’s article gave him a diverse viewpoint on how to cope with life’s difficulties, which is something “invaluable” to him.

Empathy Towards Persecuted Adherents

Mr. Li introduced Falun Gong to the public in China back in 1992. The practice gained popularity, with estimates putting the number of adherents at 70 million to 100 million. The communist regime, fearing the number of practitioners posed a threat to its authoritarian control, initiated a sweeping campaign aimed at eradicating the practice starting on July 20, 1999, a program that continues today.

Kinkade expressed gratitude to Mr. Li for letting him in on the insights of Falun Gong, which helped him develop more empathy towards persecuted adherents in China.

“This article personalized to me the dear individuals who are persecuted for practicing Falun Gong. Previously, I only knew these persons by a name and description of their torture. The article explained intimate beliefs many of them hold,” wrote Kinkade in his letter to the newspaper.

“So, the article made the people more real to me and made the reports stir in me even more indignation at the injustice suffered by these poor souls,” he added.

He went on to say that the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong is an “attack on the belief in the divine”, thus “an attack on the divine itself.”

“That’s why it’s so shocking to the civilized world, because we are all related in one family, and it’s an assault on human society itself. The world deserves to know about this extreme persecution,” he said in the interview.

“The article demonstrates how demented any government would be to persecute or feel threatened by the practice of Falun Gong,” he concluded.

United by a Divine Connection

Kinkade, during the interview with NTD, also expressed appreciation for Mr. Li’s readiness to speak about divine matters and a common set of values that unites humanity.

“The idea that there is a higher purpose to life than [brief happiness] struck a deep chord with my Stoic training,” he wrote.

Linking Mr. Li’s words with his beliefs, he mentioned the Stoic concept of cosmopolitanism, which teaches that all humankind is related physically and morally in a “horizontal kinship”.

“But we also have that divine connection that unites us in a vertical kinship with the divine,” he said.

“This experience [of reading the article] was a deep ‘East meets West’ point of unity among two world views that only comes from divine truth,” he wrote to the newspaper.

“It is valuable to me to hear such profound thinking from such an important person as Falun Gong’s leader. … Mr. Li Hongzhi has influenced more people for more good than any politician I know,” he added.

He went on to thank the Epoch Times for letting him come in contact with Mr. Li’s article and congratulated the newspaper for not being afraid to discuss divine subjects.

“Many organizations shy away from divine topics, although these topics are the most important subjects in an excellent life. Those organizations which report on divine subjects gain my support”, wrote Kinkade.

“Articles like this one make The Epoch Times even more credible, trusted, and interesting to my mind and heart,” he added.

“To see an organization that not only cherishes religious freedom but also demonstrates it by writing articles like this one, reminds me that the light is more powerful than the darkness.”

From The Epoch Times