Basic Beliefs of the Practitioners
The three basic moral principles of Falun Gong are Zhen, Shan, Ren, which translate approximately as ‘Truthfulness, Benevolence or Compassion, and Forbearance or Tolerance.’ It is through focusing on these qualities that a Falun Gong practitioner is able to develop their xinxing (moral character) which then gives them a greater potential to develop high levels of Gong (energy), which is actually said to be essentialy different from Qi (potency).
As well as a set of moral beliefs, there are five sets of exercises central to the Falun Gong system which are supposed to enhance the circulation of energy in the body. The final exercise, a sitting meditation, also helps to create a tranquil mind and, according to the teachings, strengthens the ‘divine powers’ of the individual. All exercises are taught free of charge by other Falun Gong practitioners and are detailed in Li’s books.
Along with the its basic spiritual principles, Falun Gong boasts a number of unconventional beliefs. In his dissertation, Zhuan Falun, Li writes that he can personally heal disease and that a Falun (a turning wheel of gong) resides in the bellies of all true practitioners. These practitioners can see this Falun turn in their bellies provided the celestial eye in their forehead is not blocked. In addition, he writes that practitioners truly adhering to the Zhen-Shan-Ren principle of the universe won’t be hurt as much when hit by speeding cars as they otherwise would.
Background to Falun Gong
In 1992 Falun Gong emerged as one among many Chinese practices of self-cultivation, loosely known as Qi Gong (pr. chee gung), which translates generally as ‘energy work’. In 1992 and 1993, Falun Gong received special mention at the Beijing Oriental Health Expo, where its founder, Master Li Hongzhi, was credited with perfoming miracle cures in public. By 1996, some Chinese authorites were condemning Falun Gong as ‘superstition and false science’ (largely because of claims Master Li made about himself) and calling for it to be banned. On public television in Shanghai in 1998, government officials credited it with having between 70 and 100 million followers, without showing undue concern.
However, trouble really began for Falun Gong in 1999, when a group of practitioners were arrested and beaten by police in Tianjin, a coastal city about 150 kilometres southeast of Beijing. On 25 April, 1999, a massive silent protest involving over 10,000 Falun Gong was organised in Beijing. The protesters sat in total silence for twenty-four hours surrounding the government enclave of Zhongnanhai on Tiananmen Square. They sent representatives to meet with the authorities, and requested the release of the Tianjin prisoners. At the end of the demonstration they picked up their litter and quietly dispersed.
On 22 July, 1999, Falun Gong was declared an ‘evil cult’ by the Beijing authorities, and totally banned, meriting ‘a serious ideological and political struggle that would have a bearing on the future of the Communist Party and the State’. Since then, the Chinese state has waged a war of merciless persecution against Falun Gong and its adherents. According to Amnesty International, the use of torture, imprisonment without trial, and ‘re-education-through-labour camps’, or laogai has increased significantly in the last four years of the anti-Falun Gong campaign. The most conservative estimates suggest that over 800 Falun Gong followers have been beaten or tortured to death in custody since 1999, but the real figures are reckoned at over 2000. There are reports that the internal organs of some victims had been removed before their bodies were returned to their families
Article from BBC about Falun Gong
- Falun Gong about spiritual practise of Falun Dafa
- Falun Gong at religious movements homepage.