Expense of the health system to many people and faltering mutual support networks, the positive effects of Qigong practice and the support networks resulting from membership will have been supportive for the spread of the Falun Gong. ” However, the Falun Dafa is taught as a path which is more than just the practice of Qigong; is seen a way of life. 1 Founder Li Hongzhi (a. k. a. Master Li) has said that, in the past, its secrets were passed only from master to student. Hongzhi made the movement public in China in 1992.
It is now available to anyone. It currently has branches hroughout the world. It claims a membership of 70 million on China and 30 million elsewhere in the world. Theirs is not a religious organization in the conventional sense of the term. They continually deny being a religion, cult or sect. They are mainly “a network for transmitting information and practices, in which people may dip on an incidental basis or more regularly. ” 1 Falun Dafa was registered with the Qugong Research Association of China in 1992.
However, it became obvious that Qugong’s emphasis on “healing illnesses and keeping fit, as well as displaying supernormal powers at xhibitions” did not match Falun Dafa’s emphasis on “genuinely guiding people to higher dimensions. ” So Li Hongzhi withdrew the movement from the Association. By this time, the Chinese government had become concerned about the popularity of the Falun Dafa. The number of Falun Dafa practitioners had exceeded the number of people in the Communist Party. In fact, Falun Dafa had included many part members. The government refused them permission to join any other association.
Thus they have remained without legal protection or status in China. Li Hongzhi left China in 1996, and now resides in New York state. He speaks at annual Experience-Sharing Conferences. About 10,000 Falun Dafa members engaged in a peaceful gathering outside the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing on 1999-APR-25. On 1999-MAY-9, three students were fired from a university in Dalian City, China for practicing Falun Gong. One student was expelled. In subsequent months, practitioners were harassed in various areas of the country, as they were performing group exercises.
Some practitioners were told that their phones were being monitored and that if they continued, their retirement pensions would be terminated. Police and other officials started to break into practitioner’s homes and confiscate Falun Gong material. Some followers have been arrested and have disappeared from sight. 12 Thousands of members demonstrated peacefully in about 30 Chinese cities. The group was outlawed on 1999-JUL-22. The government accused it of “spreading fallacies, hoodwinking people, inciting and creating disturbances and jeopardizing social stability. 9 On JUL-23, Master LI called on “all governments, international organizations, and people of goodwill worldwide to extend their support and assistance to us in order to esolve the current crisis in China. ” 11 On JUL-29, Chinese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Master Li. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing said sect founder Li Hongzhi “spread superstition and malicious fallacies to deceive people, resulting in the deaths of many practitioners. ” He is also accused of organizing demonstrations without first applying for permits.
In an apparent violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which China recently signed, the government has arrested hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners and is proceeding with show trials. Some have been sent directly to labor camps without trials. A spokesperson for the Falun Gong Practitioners in North America has stated that: “lawyers in China have already been told not to defend these innocent civilians unless they agree with the government propaganda. Also, no legal representation on behalf of them from the concerned international community is allowed to be present at the trial. The U. S. House and Senate unanimously passed resolutions on 1999-NOV-18 and 19 which criticized the Chinese government for its crackdown of the Falun Gong. Both resolutions urge the Chinese government to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it has signed, to stop arresting, detaining and persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, to release all detained dissidents, and to respect the basic human rights such as freedom of belief and freedom of speech. ” 13 Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi commented that Falun Gong is not a religious organization.
It is not simply a Qugong group. He sees it as a destructive cult that harms Chinese society and its people. He regards the resolutions as a gross infringement of China’s internal affairs. 5 In late 1999-NOV, over 700 Falun Gong practitioners went to Seattle WA during the World Trade organization (WTO) ministerial meetings. Their intent was to launch a global campaign that they hope will pressure the Chinese government into negotiating with them. Is Falun Dafa a cult? The question is unanswerable, because there are so many different meanings to the word “cult. Some are positive; some neutral. Most are negative: The counter-cult movement (CCM) generally regards any Christian faith group which holds non-traditional beliefs to be a cult. This often includes the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Roman Catholics. But the Falun Dafa is not a Christian group and thus does not meet their definition of a cult. Some Christian Fundamentalists regard all non-Christian faith groups to be a cult. Since the Falun Dafa does have some spiritual teachings, some would classify it as a cult, along with Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.
The anti-cult movement (ACM) targets new religious movements that engage in psychological manipulation, deceptive recruiting practices, or simply expect a great deal of commitment from their membership. Probably the largest ACM group is the AFF. They have some brief notes on the Falun Dafa. But they top their list with a disclaimer: “A listing on AFF’s web site does not mean that AFF perceives any group to be a cult, practices coercive or destructive tactics, or is in violation of any law. ” They have a brief review of the book “The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power. They also have excerpts from the Cult Observer magazine: “Coping with trance states” and “Understanding Eastern Groups. ” None mention the Falun Dafa. All three appear to be totally unrelated to the movement. The only information that appears to be related to he Falun Dafa on the AFF site are five news items about the Chinese government oppression of the group. 7 Rick Ross, an “expert consultant and intervention specialist” with new religious movements.
He has an extensive collection of Falun Gong information derived from worldwide news reports of varying objectivity. 4 The Chinese government has relentlessly suppressed religious groups since achieving power in 1949. The rest of the world is most familiar with its oppression of non-registered Christian groups. However, the government has also persecuted many types of new religious and spiritual groups, including the Falun Gong. In fact, its suppression extends beyond such groups to include organizations that teach only simple meditation and gymnastic techniques. The government appears to fear any national group that is capable of organizing its followers into direct action.
In suppressing the Falun Dafa, the Chinese government has adopted much of the terminology of the Western anti-cult movement. The official Xinhua News Agency issued a report on “cults” in the United States. 17 It quoted Berkley psychology professor Mararet Singer, one of the few psychologists who supports the claims of the anti-cult movement. The report discusses “spiritual poisoning. ” Cults are said to “not obey the law, they upset social order, and they create a menace to freedom of religion and social stability. Under the pretense of religion, kindness, and being non-political, they participate in political activities.
Some of them even practice criminal activities such as tax evasion, fraud, drug dealing, smuggling, assassination, and kidnapping. ” The Chinese government has described the Falun Dafa as a dangerous “cult. ” Some of their claims sound quite outrageous: The group brainwashes its members. Members, called practitioners, worship Mr. Li They had turned Communist officials into cult members in order to learn state secrets. They suggest that their followers should not take any medication. Some members have become paranoid, suffered from hallucination, or committed suicide, killed relatives and friends.
The government has only been able to find a handful of such cases from among the tens of millions of practitioners in the country. The government appears to regard the Falun Dafa as the most serious threat to the government since the 1989 student uprising. The government has historical reasons for their fear. China has had a history of religious and spiritual prisings that had catastrophic effects on the country. “In the late 1770s, the White Lotus rebellion against the Qing dynasty was led by Wang Lun, a master of martial arts and herbal medicine. 9 Perhaps the most serious was the Taiping rebellion of 1845-1864 which was led by a leader who viewed himself as the Son of God. Some 20 million died in that revolt. 9 Symbol The Falun Dafa symbol is circular and is composed of a central, counterclockwise-pointing swastika, a symbol of the Buddha School. It is surrounded by: four smaller swastikas two red/blue Yin-Yang symbols two red/black Yin-Yang symbols. It is viewed as a miniature model of the universe. Some advanced practitioners are believed to see the symbol revolving. “When Falun rotates clockwise, it can automatically absorb energy from the universe.
While rotating counter clockwise, it can give off energy. An internal clockwise rotation offers salvation to oneself while an external rotation offers salvation to others. ” 5 The swastika symbol has been used for many millennia throughout the world by various civilizations, including ancient Indian society, Chinese society, Germanic tribes, native Americans and ancient Israelites. It is only in the 20th entury, after a tilted swastika was adopted by the Nazis as their prime symbol, that the swastika has been seen as representing evil.
Important texts Li Hongzhi, “Zhuan Falun (Revolving the Law Wheel). ” (1994) An English translation is available online at: http://www. falundafa. org/book/eng/zflus. html Li Hongzhi, “China Falun Gong. ” An English translation is available online at: http://www. falundafa. org/book/eng/flg. htm Beliefs and practices According to spokesperson Caroline Lam in Sydney Australia: “Falun Dafa is not a cult and not a religion and not a sect. There is no leader, there is no form of worship or rituals. Falun Dafa is not involved with politics or against any government. 10 Falun Gong consists of a set of five exercises that promote one’s cultivation. “Three of the exercises involve physical movements and maneuvers while the other two exercises require remaining still for extended periods of time. ” 6 Membership is open to all. People are free to come and go. There are no prerequisites to learning Falun Dafa; there are no dues. Information is freely available on the Internet, without charge. There is no paid staff or clergy. All work is done by volunteers. They do not maintain a list of members’ names and other data.