Li Hongzhi introduced the Teachings of Falun Gong to the public in Changchun, China in 1992. The teachings cover a wide range of topics ranging from spiritual, scientific andmoral to metaphysical. Since its inception, Falun Gong has been one of the fastest growing qigong (Pinyin: qìgōng) schools in Chinese history.
The teachings of Falun Gong are based on the principles of zhēn 眞, shàn 善 and rěn 忍 (which translate approximately as truthfulness, benevolence, and forbearance)articulated in the two main books Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun. Falun Gong is an introductory book that discusses qigong, introduces the aforementioned principles, and provides illustrations and explanations of exercises for meditation. Zhuan Falun is considered the central and most comprehensive exposition on the teachings of Falun Gong.
According to the book Falun Gong, “Fǎlún” (Buddha Fǎ) is a great, high-level cultivation way of the Buddha School (different from Buddhism), in which assimilation to the supreme nature of the universe, Zhen-Shan-Ren, is the foundation of cultivation practice.” In this concept, “cultivation” refers to upgrading one’s xīnxìng (mind-nature) through abandoning negative attachments and assimilating oneself to “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance”. “Practice” refers to the five meditative exercises that are said to purify and transform one’s body. Cultivation is considered essential, and the exercises are said to supplement the process of improving oneself.
Some aspects of Falun Gong’s teachings are considered implausible and peculiar by observers, and Falun Gong’s conservative and moralistic views on subjects such as sexuality have attracted controversy.
Falun Gong or Falun Dafa (literally, “Dharma Wheel Practice” or “Law Wheel Practice”) is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance(Chinese: 真、善、忍). The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to better health and, ultimately, spiritual enlightenment.
Falun Gong was first taught publicly in Northeast China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. It emerged toward the end of China’s “qigongboom”—a period which saw the proliferation of similar practices of meditation, slow-moving exercises and regulated breathing. It differs from other qigong schools in its absence of fees or formal membership, lack of daily rituals of worship, its greater emphasis on morality, and the theological nature of its teachings. Western academics have described Falun Gong as a qigong discipline, a “spiritual movement”, a “cultivation system” in the tradition of Chinese antiquity, or as a form of Chinese religion.
Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, by the mid- to late-1990s, the Communist Partyand public security organizations increasingly viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat due to its size, independence from the state, and spiritual teachings. By 1999, government estimates placed the number of Falun Gong practitioners at 70 million. Tensions culminated in April 1999, when over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered peacefully near the central government compound in Beijing to request legal recognition and freedom from state interference. This demonstration is widely seen as catalyzing the persecution that followed.
On 20 July 1999, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. It blocked Internet access to websites that mention Falun Gong, and in October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” that threatened social stability. Human rights groups report that Falun Gong practitioners in China are subject to a wide range of human rights abuses: hundreds of thousands are estimated to have been imprisoned extrajudicially, and practitioners in detention are subject to forced labor, psychiatric abuse, torture, and other coercive methods of thought reform at the hands of Chinese authorities. As of 2009 at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had died as a result of abuse in custody.Some observers put the number much higher, and report that tens of thousands may have been killed to supply China’s organ transplant industry. In the years since the persecution began, Falun Gong practitioners have become active in advocating for greater human rights in China.
Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi has lived in the United States since 1996, and Falun Gong has a sizable global constituency. Inside China, some sources estimate that tens of millions continue to practice Falun Gong in spite of the persecution. Hundreds of thousands are estimated to practice Falun Gong outside China in over 70 countries worldwide.
Uploaded on May 22, 2011