Overview of Falun Gong


The Falun Gong sitting meditation exercise

The Falun Gong sitting meditation exercise

Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that is Buddhist in nature. It consists of moral teachings, a meditation, and four gentle exercises that resemble tai-chi and are known in Chinese culture as “qigong.” The latter are a truly unique, and very much enjoyable, way to improve the health and condition of one’s body.

At the core of Falun Gong are the values of truth, compassion, and forbearance (or in Chinese, Zhen, Shan, Ren). Falun Dafa teaches that these are the most fundamental qualities of the universe itself, and takes them to be a guide for daily life and practice. Falun Gong is also known as “Falun Dafa.”

By 1999 Falun Gong was reported to have grown to become the largest, and fastest growing, practice of the sort in Chinese if not world history. In just seven years since its 1992 introduction to the public, an estimated 70-100 million persons in China were by then making Falun Gong a part of their daily lives.

In Asia spiritual practices of this variety are often referred to as ways of “cultivation”, or “self-cultivation,” and form an important part of traditional Chinese culture. Various Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian practices fit this rubric.

Through consistent and dedicated practice, the student of Falun Gong comes to achieve a state of selflessness, greater insight and awareness, inner purity, and balance—the inner workings of what might be called true health. Ultimately he or she approaches what in the Asian tradition is known as “enlightenment” or “attaining the Dao” (or “Way”).

While Falun Gong aspires to inner transformation of the self, it nevertheless typically translates outwardly into positive change in the world, insofar as the practitioner becomes a more patient family member, a more conscientious employee, a more giving member of the community, and so on.

Falun Gong has thus been the subject of many citations, awards, and proclamations as conferred by government officials and a variety of organizations. Many who practice Falun Gong have been the recipients of service awards in their communities. The practice’s founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, is a four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and was nominated by the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize For Freedom of Thought.

Few people today are aware that the practice and its followers received much in the way of official recognition in China during the 1990s, prior to a dramatic, and violent, change in political winds in 1999 which saw the practice banned.

In 1993, Mr. Li Hongzhi was named the “Most Welcomed Qigong Master” in Beijing and bestowed by an official body with the Award for Advancing Frontier Science. That same year, The People’s Public Security News—the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Public Security—praised Mr. Li for his contributions “in promoting the traditional crime-fighting virtues of the Chinese people, in safeguarding social order and security, and in promoting rectitude in society.”

By 1999, Chinese officials went so far as to quantify Falun Gong’s benefits, such as when one official from China’s National Sports Commission, speaking with U.S. News & World Report, declared that Falun Dafa “can save each person 1,000 yuan in annual medical fees. If 100 million people are practicing it, that’s 100 billion yuan saved per year in medical fees.” The same official went on to note that, “Premier Zhu Rongji is very happy about that.”

Today Falun Gong is practiced freely in more than 70 countries around the world, with clubs and associations existing in a range of cities, companies, universities, and other settings. Regrettably in China, its country of origin, it is currently banned and the subject of gross human rights violations at the hands of communist rulers.


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