What is Falun Gong (Falun Dafa)?
Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline in the Buddhist tradition. Pronounced “Fah-loon Gong,” it consists of moral teachings, a meditation, and four gentle exercises that are a truly unique and highly effective way to improve your health and energy levels.
At the core of Falun Gong are the values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance (or in Chinese, Zhen 真, Shan 善, and Ren 忍). Falun Dafa teaches that these are the most fundamental qualities of the universe, and takes them to be a guide for daily life and practice.
In the words of Falun Gong’s founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, “assimilation to the highest qualities of the universe—Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance—is the foundation of practice. Practice is guided by these supreme qualities, and based on the very laws which underlie the development of the cosmos.”
Falun Gong is also commonly known as “Falun Dafa.”
By 1999, Falun Gong had 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 100 million people were practicing Falun Gong.
CULTIVATING ONESELF WITH FALUN GONG
In Asia, spiritual practices of this variety are often referred to as ways of “cultivation,” or “self-cultivation,” and form an integral part of classical 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 deeper workings of what might be called true health. Ultimately he or she approaches a state of spiritual attainment that in the Asian tradition is known as “enlightenment” or “attaining the Dao (Way).”
Unlike monastic paths of cultivation, Falun Gong is practiced in society, with students living regular lives that might include getting married, raising children, and/or pursuing a wide variety of careers. In other words, they live normal lives in society instead of living in a monastery or similar environment. As such, 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, or a more active member of society.
AWARDS IN CHINA AND BEYOND
Falun Gong has thus been the subject of many citations, awards, and proclamations, conferred by government officials and a variety of organizations. Many who practice Falun Gong have been the recipients of service awards in their communities and at their workplaces.
The practice’s founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, is a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and was nominated by the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize For Freedom of Thought. He is also the recipient of Freedom House’s International Religious Freedom Award.
Assimilation to the highest qualities of the universe—Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance—is the foundation of practice.
Eschewing the spotlight, Mr. Li guides the practice through his writings and occasional speeches, typically at Falun Gong conferences.
Mr. Li has always insisted that the practice be taught for free and available to all, and as such, all Falun Gong books, video recordings, and the like are available for free viewing online at www.FalunDafa.org.
Few people today are aware that Falun Gong and its practitioners 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 persecuted.
For example, in 1993, 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 [equivalent to the office of Vice President in the U.S. executive branch] is very happy about that.”
FALUN GONG AROUND THE WORLD
Today Falun Gong is practiced in more than 90 countries around the world, with clubs and associations existing in a range of cities, companies, universities, and other settings. The main text of Falun Gong, Zhuan Falun, has been translated into 40 languages.
There might very well be one coming soon to a park near you.
For details on how and where to learn Falun Gong, visit: www.falundafa.org
Falun Gong FAQ
What are Falun Gong’s teachings and beliefs?
At the core of Falun Gong are the values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance (or in Chinese, Zhen 真, Shan 善, and Ren 忍). Falun Dafa teaches that these are the most fundamental qualities of the universe. Practitioners strive to adopt these principles into their daily life through meditation, Tai-chi-like exercises, and the study of Buddhist-based moral principles.
Is Falun Gong a religion?
Qigong practices like Falun Gong are part of a broader tradition of “cultivation practice” that has existed throughout Asia for millennia. In the West, Falun Gong is classified as a religion on the basis of its theological and moral teachings, its focus on spiritual development as well as its extensive body of scripture.
Who practices Falun Gong?
Although Falun Gong was first made public in China in 1992 and became widely popular there, the practice has also been adopted by people around the world. Today, Falun Gong is practiced in over 80 countries across the globe. Falun Gong books have been translated into 40 languages.
How many people practice Falun Gong?
By early 1999, Chinese government officials and state-run media said there were 70-100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China, making it the fastest growing religion in the world at that time. Although the Chinese Communist Party launched a persecution campaign to “stamp out” Falun Gong, human rights organizations estimate that tens of millions continue to practice throughout China. Falun Gong practitioners are also found in 80 countries around the world, but because there is no membership, it is difficult to give precise numbers.
Who started Falun Gong?
Falun Gong was first made public by Mr. Li Hongzhi. A native of Changchun, China and now living in the U.S., Mr. Li is a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and was nominated by the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize For Freedom of Thought. He is also the recipient of Freedom House’s International Religious Freedom Award.
Why is Falun Gong banned in China?
Although widely popular and openly celebrated by the Chinese government throughout the 1990s, a few top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party launched a violent campaign against Falun Gong in 1999. They did so due to Falun Gong’s exploding popularity and because they felt Falun Gong’s emphasis on moral living and traditional Chinese culture were a threat to the atheist communist regime that largely ruled by fear. Many insiders also point out that China’s top leader at the time, Jiang Zemin, personally resented Falun Gong’s popularity, fearing it was stealing attention away from his efforts to build a lasting legacy for himself.
What’s the difference between Falun Gong and Falun Dafa?
“Falun Gong” is simply another name for “Falun Dafa.” They refer to the same thing — the Buddhist-based spiritual practice originating in China. “Falun Dafa” is the formal name of the practice, whereas “Falun Gong” is a more colloquial term made popular in China.