What is Falun Gong?


  • What is Falun Gong or Falun Dafa?
  • The History of Falun Gong
  • Falun Gong Teachings and Beliefs
  • What Does it Mean to Cultivate in Falun Gong?
  • The Five Falun Gong Exercises
  • Health Benefits
  • Awards and Recognition
  • Falun Gong Around the World

What is Falun Gong or Falun Dafa?

Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) is a spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition.

Falun Gong combines meditation and gentle exercises (similar to tai chi) with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance (or in Chinese, Zhen 真, Shan 善, Ren 忍). Falun Gong practitioners aspire to live by these principles in their daily lives.

In traditional Chinese culture, the process of perfecting and refining mind and body is called ‘cultivation’. Our modern language uses the word qigong to describe it.

What differentiates Falun Gong from other forms of qigong, is its emphasis on one’s morality and the cultivation of virtue.

The History of Falun Gong

Read: The Story of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong represents a direct and authentic connection to genuine traditional Chinese culture, with a lineage reaching back thousands of years. The teachings of Falun Gong were passed down from teacher to student, generation after generation, until May 1992, when Mr. Li Hongzhi introduced the practice to the public under the name: Falun Gong.

The health benefits reported by people taking up Falun Gong are often immediate and many times dramatic, with some patients even recovering from severe illnesses. This sparked a wave of excitement about the practice in China during the 1990s, and the practice grew rapidly across the country.

By 1998, just six years after its first introduction to the public, official Chinese records estimated 70-100 million had taken up the practice, making Falun Gong the fastest growing, and most popular form of qigong in Chinese history.

However, upon gaining a better understanding of the practice via a thorough study of its teachings and applying these teachings to daily life, it became apparent to practitioners that Falun Gong was not just another qigong practice to improve health and wellness. Instead, the practice represented a rediscovery of the “old, good things of ancient China,” as one grandfather and former Chinese official put it. The virtues of Falun Gong’s teachings rekindled the values of China’s traditional past; the strength and honesty of Taoism, the compassion and goodness from Buddhism, and the wisdom to deal with people and social settings with righteousness and tolerance from Confucianism.

In Falun Gong people experienced a renaissance of traditional Chinese wisdom and values, and this resonated deeply with people all across China.

Falun Gong Teachings and Beliefs

Read: The Story of Falun Gong.

At the core of Falun Gong’s teachings are the values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.

Three main tenets of falun dafa


Being True,
Being Honest,
Truth, Real, Truthfulness


Being Kind
and Benevolent,
Having Compassion, Being Good, Goodness


and Patience,
Enduring Hardship, Being Forgiving
and Tolerant

Ancient Chinese schools of thought emphasized that seeking ‘harmony between heaven, nature and men’ can bring stability and prosperity to society. Similarly, for a person on a spiritual path, aligning with the guiding principles of the universe (the Tao, or the Way), and assimilating to its qualities, can bring greater mental and physical health, blessings and different levels of spiritual awakening.

Falun Gong teaches that the most fundamental characteristic of the universe can be summarized in just three words: Zhen, Shen, Ren — translated as being true, kind, and forbearing.

These three principles serve as a guide for Falun Gong practitioners in their daily life. That is, each day they work to cultivate these principles in their own character, becoming more true, kind, and forbearing people.

What does it mean to practice Falun Gong?

Practicing Falun Gong includes a conscious effort to strengthen one’s mind and reason, and weaken desires for fame, personal gain, and negative thoughts. It is a process of ennobling ones heart and mind with truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.

When encountering difficulties or conflicts, Falun Gong teaches not to fight back or blame others, but rather to search within oneself for one’s short-coming or cause, and improve oneself in the process.

Other forms of qigong talk about different levels of achievement. In Falun Gong, persons progress is tied strictly to improvement of one’s character.

The process of self-cultivation, supplemented with a set of energy exercises and meditation, can lead to improved health, inner peace, increased wisdom, and, in advance stages, to various levels of spiritual awakening (or enlightenment).

Falun Gong teachings consider one’s original nature as being good, and thus cultivation is sometimes referred to as returning to ones original, true, good self.

The Five Exercises of Falun Gong

Qigong is a science of the human body that is not commonly explored or well understood in the West yet. Many practices of the East, on the other hand, including Chinese medicine, have acknowledged and studied the conscious energy, and its circulation through energy channels of the body for thousands of years. Understanding of the energy channels and how they can be unblocked, opened, widened for health benefit of ones body, is the foundation of traditional healing systems of the east.

Similarly, qigong practices teach how to work with the life-energy of the body, how to improve its circulation inside the body, and at advanced levels it even talks about transforming the life-energy of the body into more potent energy, called gong. (Western science could describe it as something as bio-energy transformation at a sub-molecular level.)

Qigong exercises are often very slow-moving, sometimes even completely motionless. The practice of Falun Gong offers four standing exercises that include stretching movements, holding still positions, and slow movements that lead the energy through the body. It also includes sitting meditation.

Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, corrects the movements of a practitioner during a group practice session in Chicago.

Falun Gong’s Health Benefits

Several health studies (conducted in China, Russia, & Australia), including clinically controlled, peer-reviewed research at leading medical facilities, have begun to explore and confirm the positive, and sometimes dramatic, health benefits that so many persons attribute to the practice.

Typical benefits that people describe include increased amounts of energy and reduced fatigue; better health; greater resistance to disease; better sleep; emotional balance; a sense of calm; a positive outlook; improved relationships; greater self-awareness; a deeper sense of meaning; and spiritual growth.

Awards and Recognitions from Around the World

Falun Gong has 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.

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. Mr. Li gave over 50 lecture series around China upon invitation from local governments and associations, (as well as Chinese embassies around the world).

Front covers of health, qigong science magazines, Recognitions by the Chinese Ministry in its media as…   At Beijing’s 1993 Oriental Health Expo, Mr. Li was the most-awarded qigong master, including the highest awards for . 

Falun Gong Around the World

Paris, France
Washington DC, USA
Northern Italy
Taipei, Taiwan
Sydney, Australia
Ottawa, Canada
Moscow, Russia
Hiroshima, Japan
Brooklyn, New York
Berlin, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic
Athens, Greece
New South Wales, Australia
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In 1996, Mr. Li began giving free public seminars in North America, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Over the course of the next six years, Mr. Li and the practice of Falun Dafa received over 600 awards and proclamations from government officials across North America, as practice sites were established in 50+ countries by volunteers

Today, people practice Falun Gong in over 80 countries around the world.

May 13th is celebrated as World Falun Dafa Day

Falun Gong FAQ