After Jim Smith read “How Humankind Came To Be” by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the English translation of which is now published on The Epoch Times’ website, he had what felt like “a semi-conscious dream.”
In it, he was grabbing onto a “lifeline” to heaven.
“If you do something wrong, or you sin, you lose your grip,” Mr. Smith described. The lifeline would become slippery, and he could start to slip off. “But if you hold the faith, and maintain the faith, and live the faith, and act the faith and the beliefs, it’s not like any effort to hold onto the line to heaven. And it’s like constantly pulling you up to heaven, and eventually, you get there. But if you mess up, you dropped the ball, you sin or do something from, something bad, then you start to slip off. You can slip off the lifeline to heaven or you can maintain your right faith, and people just ride on into everlasting life.”
“The article, it was so good, and it was telling you how to progress to the point of salvation,” Mr. Smith said. “It enhanced my beliefs, it fortifies them, or builds them, it is just so good. When I read the article, I just read it like three times, and then I shared it with three or four other people.”
The article’s author, Mr. Li Hongzhi, is the founder of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that teaches the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Since its introduction to the public in the 1990s, it has spread to more than 100 countries, and “Zhuan Falun,” its main text, has been translated into 40 languages.
Mr. Smith is a lifelong Christian, raised Southern Baptist; he and his wife converted to Catholicism early in their marriage and have been strong in their faith all these years.
Catholicism isn’t practiced where you pick and choose which parts to believe, Mr. Smith said, and “you either believe it or you don’t.” So the couple believes and follows all the tenets of their faith, but when they met, they also realized the possibility of reincarnation.
Life After Life
At a New Year’s Eve party in 1974, Mr. Smith met Mrs. Smith.
“You’ve heard before, I’m sure, that when you meet the right person, the bells ring. And that’s absolutely what happened,” he said. “I asked her to dance, and it was like we had danced a hundred times before.”
“From that moment on, we just knew that we had known each other, and then we confirmed those beliefs over the next year,” Mr. Smith said. The couple was married by the end of 1975.
Both had felt that they knew each other in a life prior to the current one, and they had been together in perhaps more than one, he said. There had been many moments of what felt like déjà vu. Their 45 years together have included many deep conversations on life and faith.
“When I read the article, there were just so many things in there that made sense, and it reflected our beliefs, she read the article too, and we talked about it, we just agreed with it so much, and it felt like, that is as close to the true feelings that we have that you can get,” he said.
The purpose of being reborn on earth wasn’t random, in Mr. Smith’s view. He believed it was for human beings to have another opportunity, and when he read about the idea of accountability in the article, everything lined up.
“We [my wife and I] talked about people who seem to be getting to the point where they’re more pure, more Christian, more believers, more ready to go. God gives us the opportunity to come back and correct our wrongs, and purify ourselves, to practice what He teaches, what He’d like for us to do, and what He’d like us to be, to a point where you’re there. You have gone through a transformation, been godly, and ready for heaven,” he said.
“We are strong in our faith, belief in God, and we also believe, almost just right along with the article, that we are here on earth to live our lives becoming better people, do good things, until we earn our way into heaven,” Mr. Smith said. “If you’re not ready, you’re not going, and you’re going to have to come back. In the article, it says you’re going to have to be accountable for your wrong, and we’ve done some things we have to be accountable for, and we’ve gone through that.”
Good Begets Good
Early in their marriage, Mr. Smith said they witnessed a miracle that strengthened their faith.
Before the military, he was the proud owner of an eight-court racquetball club in Alabama. A young couple with a toddler had been members of the club, and one day the little girl got into the locker room’s whirlpool and when he and her parents found her, she was purple and pulseless.
“Oh, it was just horrible,” Mr. Smith said, remembering the girl’s father had gone “just berserk” at the realization. Mr. Smith had started CPR right away, and he had never been so relieved when she threw up in his mouth.
The doctors were flabbergasted, he recounted, because normally when one had been under chemically treated water as long as she had, there would be brain and lung damage, and she had neither, nor any other symptoms. Later, he learned his wife had been praying on the stairs when it happened, and a calm feeling had come over her, as if to let her know everything would be alright. And it was.
But for other reasons, the club didn’t last. The thing about the Southeast, Mr. Smith said, is that summers are about eight months long, and people are out swimming and golfing and playing tennis, rather than racquetball indoors.
“So eventually we had to hand the keys back to the bank with the property, with everything, and declare bankruptcy. And that’s about as low as you can get, but with your mind right, with your attitude right, you can use it as a blessing,” he said. “Within a year we were back on our feet, within three years, we were back financially and everything. We had recovered. And that was a blessing that we knew we were doing right and had atoned for our wrongs and had overcome what we had to, and God had a hand in it and he blessed us.”
Mr. Smith has lived his life with the thought that he is always trying to improve. Life is made of choices, between right and wrong, good and evil, he said, just as the article points out. He recounted the time he enlisted, and how he was disappointed to miss a promotion early in his career. But as he continued on, focusing on improvement, the promotions came, often to his surprise.
“I never thought I’d make Captain. But I made Captain, and then Major. But no way I was going to make Lieutenant Colonel—but I did, and commanded a battalion. And never ever did I think I’d make full Colonel. Well, I did,” he said. “I was blessed all the way through that, and that’s been a real Godsend.”