T Nation

Info Requested (Help)


#1

I'm in a place where information on this subject is...uhhh...not accessible in any way. I ask the residents here and I get different responses so I know that they have a damn clue.

FYI: I'm from the U.S. but am working in China..

If someone could post some information here about the group that the woman who caused the ruckus at the recent meeting b/t Bush and Hu Jintao belonged to, it would be appreciated.

Of course, no one here even knows it happened...it wasn't on the news of course.

I'm just curious why they are considered an illegal group here.

If someone could help out, please post the entire content, not the link as the link will probabally not work.

thanks


#2

I am not sure how China blocks access to information but I know they do.

Hopefully they don't catch this.

The woman was part of Falun Gong which is sort of a Buddhist cult as far as I can tell. I really don't know what they are all about but I know the Chinese government hates them.

Here is a story on her.

If it makes you feel any better the American media barely reported this story.

China's Hu draws Falun Gong, Tibet, Taiwan protests
Thursday 20 April 2006, 12:40pm EST

By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House on Thursday drew hundreds of protesters, from yellow-clad Falun Gong disciples to Taiwanese nationalists waving green flags and Tibetan youth groups.

As Hu was welcomed by President George W. Bush, a Chinese woman in the press section began shouting and was escorted away by a uniformed U.S. guard.

"President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong," she yelled, referring to the spiritual meditation movement that is banned in China.

Outside the White House, protesters denounced China's human rights record, its missile build-up near Taiwan and its 55-year-long rule over the Himalayan Buddhist region of Tibet.

"Communist Party = Tyranny + Lies," read a yellow banner, carried by female Falun Gong member, which China outlawed and brutally crushed in 1999. Several hundred followers chanted slogans calling for the party's overthrow.

"Taiwan is not a part of China," read a placard hoisted by one of around 300 Taiwan activists, who reject China's claim of sovereignty over the island. Tibetans, mostly U.S.-based students, called for independence for their homeland.

Falun Gong protesters shouted slogans late into Wednesday night near the house where the Chinese delegation was staying, prompting them to protest to the U.S. government, a U.S. official said.

Falun Gong, which thrives overseas despite being largely stamped out in China, alleges that government persecution of the group includes a vast system of concentration camps, where doctors harvest inmates' organs for transplants.

"China pays for jet planes with organs harvested from prisoners of conscience," read a Falun Gong banner, in a dig at Chinese purchases of U.S. aircraft ahead of Hu's visit.

China has vehemently denied the organ harvest allegations. However, a U.N. torture investigator said on March 30 he was looking into them.

"I hope President Bush can raise the issue of Falun Gong in front of Hu Jintao, ask him to stop persecuting Falun Gong and stop killing Falun Gong practitioners, because my husband is one of the victims," said Dai Zhizhen, who traveled to Washington from Australia to join the protest.

Dai said her husband, Chen Chengyong, was tortured to death by police in their native Guangzhou in July 2001 after he was arrested for protesting China's banning of the sect.

In remarks at Hu's arrival ceremony, Bush did not mention Falun Gong, but he said he would discuss human rights. He urged Hu to allow "the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely and to worship."


#3

got it. thx.

So, in essence, it's just some kind of spiritual movement? Do you know what the "basics" are of the group?


#4

I PM'd you the entire wikipedia entry.

It's really long so I didn't paste it here.


#5

Actually, I didn't get that PM yet. If it's not too much trouble, could you try again, please?

Also...the "how they block stuff" thing: Apparently they only have 4 MASSIVE servers that leave the country and they search (filter or something) for key words.

At least that is what I've heard from some quasi-reliable sources.


#6

Falun Gong (Traditional Chinese: 法輪功; Simplified Chinese: 法轮功; Pinyin: Fǎl?n Gōng; literally "Practice of the Wheel of Law") is also known as Falun Dafa (Traditional Chinese: 法輪大法; Simplified Chinese: 法轮大法; Pinyin: Fǎl?n d?fǎ; lit. "The Law Wheel Great Law") is a system of quasi-religious qigong introduced by Li Hongzhi in 1992. Central to Falun Gong are five sets of meditation exercises (four standing, and one sitting).) Li Hongzhi, in his books and lectures, claims that his methods are superior to those of any other qigong school.

Falun Gong has been the focus of international controversy since the government of the People's Republic of China began a nationwide suppression of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999 for its alleged illegal activities. Concerns were triggered especially when 10,000 practitioners assembled in a peaceful protest at the Central Appeal Office at Foyou street, outside Zhongnanhai. [citation needed]

There is no concept of membership in Falun Gong, therefore the actual number of practitioners in the world is unknown. After the crackdown began, the number of Falun Gong practitioners in China was estimated by the government at 2.1 million in 1999. [1] The membership claimed by the Falun Gong was much larger; it claimed to have 100 million followers worldwide with over 70 million in China. [2] The New York Times mentioned a figure of "at least 70 million" in two articles, both released on April 27, 1999. [3] [4]. According to the articles, this figure was the estimate of China's State Sports Administration.
Contents

Origins

Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) was introduced to the public by Li Hongzhi on May 13, 1992, as a Qigong exercise in Changchun, China. According to Li, Falun Gong is an advanced cultivation system in the "Buddha School" which, in the past, was handed down to chosen disciples and served as an intensive cultivation method that required practitioners with extremely high ?Xinxing? (mind-nature) or ?great inborn quality.? Li taught the practice for three years and since then the Falun Gong has been promoted by practitioners themselves voluntarily. Falun Gong quickly grew in popularity to become one of the most popular Qigong systems in China and since 1996, Li has introduced the practice to other Asian countries as well as western countries.

According to a report in a Chinese newspaper, Li?s neighbors, co-workers, brother in law and early followers credited Li?s success to lies [5]and his teachings to a mix of terms and ideas borrowed from Qigong, Buddhism, Taoism and even Christianity. At the beginning, Li introduced himself to the public as a master with the utmost supernatural powers and wisdom. In ?A Short Biography of Mr. Li Hongzhi? which appeared as an appendix in the early version of the group?s bible Zhuan Falun, Li claimed to have been trained by numerous Masters in Buddhism and Taoism since the age of four and acquired supernatural powers at age of eight. He could levitate off the ground and become invisible simply by thinking "Nobody can see me.? Two other supernatural powers were his ability to control people?s movements by thoughts and to move himself anywhere he wanted by thought alone. Li also presented himself as the very embodiment of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance and claimed to have discovered the truth of the universe?the origin of humankind and foresaw the development and future of the humankind.

Interviewed by Time magazine in May 1999, Li Hongzhi was asked to name his teachers. In response Li stated, "I do not wish to have their names known. I had masters in two schools." [6]

Financial and business aspects of the Falun Gong

According to the Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi has not financially benefited from his teachings. ?He is not accorded special treatment, nor does he accept money or donations from students of Falun Gong.? [7] Li stipulated that promoting the Falun Gong could never be done for fame and money, practitioners must not accept any fee, donation or gift in return of their voluntary promotion of the practice. Addressing his Falun Dafa assistants in 1994, Li made it clear that only his Falun Gong Research Society could get involved in managing the money aspect of Falun Gong and that they would always have to get his approval before making any financial decisions. [8] According to the Falun Gong, Li's insistence that the practice be offered free of charge caused a rift with the China Qigong Research Society, the state administrative body under which Falun Dafa was initially introduced, and Li withdrew from the organization. However, according to the statement issued by China Qigong Research Society on November 6, 1996, the Falun Gong was expelled because its ?publications and activities? seriously violated the regulations of the organization.

In an interview in Sydney on May 2, 1999, Li revealed his financial status in the following statement: ?In mainland China I published so many books, but added together, they haven't exceeded twenty thousand Renminbi (equivalent to US $ 2,469). This is what the publishing company gave me. When publishing books in other countries of the world, you know there is a rule, which pays 5 or 6% royalties to the author, so each time I can only get a little bit, a few hundred, or a few thousand dollars.? [9]

Theoretical background

The content of Li Hongzhi's books include commentaries on questions that have been raised in China's qigong community. Falun Gong originally surfaced in the institutional field of alternative Chinese science, not religion. The debate between what can be called "naturalist" and "supernaturalist" schools of qigong theory has produced a considerable amount of literature. Xu Jian stated in The Journal of Asian Studies 58 (4 November 1999): "Situated both in scientific researches on qigong and in the prevailing nationalistic revival of traditional beliefs and values, this discursive struggle has articulated itself as an intellectual debate and enlisted on both sides a host of well-known writers and scientists ? so much so that a veritable corpus of literature on qigong resulted. In it, two conflicting discourses became identifiable. Taking ?discourse? in its contemporary sense as referring to forms of representation that generate specific cultural and historical fields of meaning, we can describe one such discourse as rational and scientific and the other as psychosomatic and metaphysical. Each strives to establish its own order of power and knowledge, its own ?truth? about the ?reality? of qigong, although they differ drastically in their explanation of many of its phenomena. The controversy centers on the question of whether and how qigong can induce ?supranormal abilities? (teyi gongneng). The psychosomatic discourse emphasizes the inexplicable power of qigong and relishes its occult workings, whereas the rational discourse strives to demystify many of its phenomena and to situate it strictly in the knowledge of modern science." The Chinese government has generally tried to encourage qigong as a science and discourage religious or supernatural elements. However, the category of science in China tends to include things that are generally not considered scientific in the West, including qigong and traditional Chinese medicine.

Theories about the cultivation of elixir (dan), "placement of the mysterious pass" (xuanguan shewei), among others, are also found in ancient Chinese texts such as The Book of Elixir (Dan Jing), Daoist Canon (Tao Zang) and Guide to Nature and Longevity (Xingming Guizhi). Falun Gong's teachings tap into a wide array of phenomena and cultural heritage that has been debated for ages. It is noteworthy that the definitions of many terms usually differ somewhat from Buddhist and Daoist traditions.

Li Hongzhi States in Falun Buddha Fa Lecture in Europe: "Since the time Dafa was made public, I have unveiled some inexplicable phenomena in qigong as well as things that hadn?t been explained in the qigong community. But this isn?t the reason why so many people are studying Dafa. It?s because our Fa can truly enable people to Consummate, truly save people, and allow you to truly ascend to high levels in the process of cultivation. Whether it?s your realm of mind or the physical quality of your body, the Fa truly enables you to reach the standards of different levels. It absolutely can assume this role."

Noah Porter (2003) quotes Andrew P. Kipnis (2001) and states: "Thus, to the Western layperson, qigong of all sorts may seem to be religious because it deals with spiritual matters. Because Li Hongzhi makes use of many concepts from Buddhism and Taoism in his writings, this may make Falun Gong seem even more like a religion to the outsider; Falun Gong grew initially into a space termed scientific [in China], but was insulated from the spaces formally acknowledged as institutionalized science in Western countries" ([10], p38-39)

Beliefs and teachings

Please see the main article: Falun Gong teachings

The foundation of Falun Dafa are teachings known in traditional Chinese culture as the "Fa" (Dharma), or "Dharma and principles" ? that are set forth in the book Zhuan Falun. Falun Gong teaches that what it calls the "Buddha Law" can be summarized in three words ? Zhen 真, Shan 善 and Ren 忍, which translate approximately as 'truthfulness, benevolence (or compassion), and forbearance'. The process of cultivation is thought of to be one in which the practitioner assimilates himself or herself to Zhen 真, Shan 善 and Ren 忍. The teachings and priciples of Falun Gong are captured in two main books written by Li Hongzhi: Falun Gong ( Law Wheel Qi Gong) and Zhuan Falun (Turning the Law Wheel). Falun Gong is an introductory book that discusses qigong, introduces the principles and provides illustrations and explanations of the exercises.

"Falun Buddha Fa is a great, high-level cultivation way of the Buddha School, in which assimilation to the supreme nature of the universe, Zhen-Shan-Ren, is the foundation of cultivation practice. Its cultivation is guided by this supreme nature, and based on the principles of the universe?s evolution. So what we cultivate is a Great Fa, or a Great Dao"

"Falun Buddha Fa also includes cultivation of the body, which is accomplished by performing the exercise movements of the Great Consummation Way?a great high-level practice of the Buddha School." -The Book Falun Gong

Zhuan Falun is considered the most comprehensive and essential work of Falun Gong, and has been translated into over 40 languages. Practitioners consider a thorough study of Zhuan Falun necessary for Falun Gong practice. Zhuan Falun is organized in the form of nine lectures, which are edited versions of the material taught by Li Hongzhi in mainland China from 1992 to 1994. During this time, he taught in series of nine or ten-day lectures in which he would lecture for about an hour and half each day. Each lecture in Zhuan Falun is an edited version of the material he taught in these lectures. Videos of the lectures from the nine-day seminar delivered in Guangzhou, 1994, are available for download from the Falun Dafa Website. On Zhuan Falun, Falun Buddha Fa Lecture in United States says :

"The inner meaning of Zhuan Falun is really enormous and rich. Since cultivation practice is divided into different levels and various realms, after one reading of the book you?ll find: ?Oh, this is a book that tells you how to be a good person.? But I can tell you that it?s not merely teaching you how to be a good person. If that were all there was to it, you wouldn?t be able to raise your level. If you want to elevate yourself, the book needs to contain principles of Fa that are at higher realms and that guide you beyond being a good person. So, this book must have inner meaning at those levels. When you practice cultivation towards even higher levels it will be able to guide your cultivation towards high, higher, and even higher levels. So this Fa has to have that ability, it has to have inner meaning at different levels to guide your cultivation. It will guide you all the way until you reach the goal of cultivation?the realm of Consummation. The higher the level you reach, therefore, the more things you?ll see in the book as you practice cultivation."

It is generally believed by practitioners that Falun Gong requires in-depth and repeated study of the books, especially Zhuan Falun, in order to gain a good understanding of its content. Practitioners point out that their own understanding keeps deepening with the repeated study of the books, and also comes from as well personally experiencing the "miraculous" effects of Falun Gong practice, including health benefits.

Cultivation of Truthfulness, Compassion and Endurance

Central to Falun Gong is the traditional concept of "cultivation practice" (xiulian) in which the practitioner constantly strives to improve his ?xinxing? (mind-nature) by gradually letting go of attachments such as selfishness, hatred, jealousy, greed and all bad thoughts.

Falun Gong teaches simultaneous cultivation of Truthfulness, Compassion and Endurance. The process of cultivation is said to be one in which the practitioner constanly assimilates to the nature of the Universe - Zhen, Shan, Ren ( Truthfulness, Compassion, Endurance). The following is excerpted from the book Falun Gong:

"Our cultivation way cultivates Zhen, Shan, and Ren simultaneously. ?Zhen? is about telling the truth, doing truthful things, returning to one?s origin and true self, and ultimately becoming a true person. ?Shan? is about developing great compassion, doing good things, and saving people. We particularly emphasize the ability of Ren. Only with Ren can one cultivate to become a person with great virtue. Ren is a very powerful thing and transcends Zhen and Shan. Throughout the entire cultivation process you are asked to forbear, to watch your xinxing, and to exercise self-control."

"It?s not easy to forbear when confronted with problems. Some say, ?If you don?t hit back when beaten, don?t talk back when slandered, or if you forbear even when you lose face in front of your family, relatives, and good friends, haven?t you turned into Ah Q( A foolish character in a well-known Chinese novel)?!" ?I say that if you act normal in all regards, if your intelligence is no less than that of others, and if it?s only that you have taken lightly the matter of personal gain, no one is going to say you are foolish. Being able to forbear is not weakness, and neither is it being like Ah Q. It is a display of strong will and self-restraint... There is a saying in China: ?With one step back, you will discover a boundless sea and sky.? Take a step back when you are confronted with troubles, and you will find a whole different scenario."

"A practitioner should not only show forbearance towards the people with whom he has conflicts and those who embarrass him directly, but should also adopt a generous attitude and even thank them. How could you improve your xinxing if it weren?t for your difficulties with them?"

Falun Dafa, emphasizes cultivation of "xinxing". The Chinese term xinxing translates, approximately, to heart-nature or mind-nature.

Zhuan Falun says:

?To truly practice cultivation, you must cultivate your mind. This is called xinxing cultivation...?

?What is xinxing? It includes de (a type of matter), tolerance, enlightenment quality, sacrifice, giving up ordinary people?s different desires and attachments, being able to suffer hardships, and so on. It encompasses various things. Every aspect of xinxing must be upgraded for you to make real progress?

?As a practitioner, the first thing you should be able to do is to not fight back when you are beaten or sworn at?you must be tolerant. Otherwise, what kind of practitioner will you be??. . .?If you can tolerate it and yet it preys on your mind, it is still not good enough.?

The book Falun Gong says :

?Xinxing encompasses how to deal with the two matters of gain and loss. ?Gain? is to gain conformity to the nature of the universe. The nature that comprises the universe is Zhen-Shan-Ren(Truthfulness( or truth)-Compassion(or benevolence)-Endurance (or Tolerance). A cultivator?s degree of conformity to the nature of the universe is reflected in the amount of his or her virtue. ?Loss? is to abandon negative thoughts and behaviors??

?One?s compassion emerges quickly in our Falun Gong..." "This is actually the heart of great compassion that emerges. Your nature, your genuine self, will start to connect with the nature of the universe: Zhen-Shan-Ren(Truthfulness-Compassion-Endurance). When your compassionate nature emerges, you will do things with much kindness. From your inner heart to your outer appearance, everyone will be able to see that you are really kind. At that point no one will mistreat you anymore. If someone were to treat you unfairly then, your heart of great compassion would be at play and you wouldn?t do the same to him in return. This is a type of power, a power that makes you different from everyday people.?

The central place of Practice

Central to Falun Gong is the traditional concept of "cultivation practice" (xiulian) in which the practitioner's goal is said to be elevating their mind nature (xinxing) and gradually letting go of attachments such as selfishness, jealousy, pursuit, lust, zealotry and greed.

Qigong and Gong
One of the Slow Moving Hand Gestures of [[ http://www.falundafa.org/eng/exercises.htm#EX5 The Fifth Exercise of Falun Gong]]
Enlarge
One of the Slow Moving Hand Gestures of [[ http://www.falundafa.org/eng/exercises.htm#EX5 The Fifth Exercise of Falun Gong]]

Li Hongzhi states that the term "qigong" is of recent origin; originally, such disciplines had names like "The Dhyana of Vajra", "Ninefold Immortality Elixir method", "Dafa of Cultivating Dao", "Dafa of Cultivating Buddha", et cetera, and that the lowest level things of some cultivation practices, the things for healing and fitness, were brought out to the general public under the name "qigong" to better suit the modern mindset and the ultra-leftist (Maoist) thinking of this time period. According to the QiJournal, it wasn't until 1953, when Liu Guizheng published a paper entitled "Practice On Qigong Therapy", that the term qigong (ch'i kung) was adopted as the popular name for this type of exercise system. Prior to that date, there were many terms given to such exercise, such as Daoyin, Xingqi, Liandan, Xuangong, Jinggong, Dinggong, Xinggong, Neigong, Xiudao, Zhoshan, Neiyangong, Yangshengong, etc. (needs reference)

Falun Gong practitioners believe that through the gradual improvement of their xinxing they develop 功, gōng, which they use to mean "cultivation energy" (this is an unconventional use of the word, which in Mandarin Chinese means "merit" or "achievement" and by extension is part of compound terms describing a disciplined regimen. In Zhuan Falun, Li states: ?Cultivation practice depends upon an individual himself while the transformation of gong is up to the master. The master gives you the gong that develops your gong, which will be at work. It can transform the substance of de outside of your body into gong.? [11]

Buddha Fa (Buddha Dharma)

Buddhism considers the Buddha Fa to be a precise description of reality, enlightened-to through cultivation practice and precisely taught, rather than speculative philosophy( See Dharma ). Falun Gong teaches that the Buddha Fa, in its highest manifestation, can be summarized in three words ? Zhen 真, Shan 善 and Ren 忍, which translate approximately as 'Truthfulness (or Truth), Benevolence (or Compassion), and Forbearance (or Endurance)'. The process of cultivation is thought of to be one in which the practitioner assimilates himself or herself to Zhen 真, Shan 善 and Ren 忍.

"The Buddha Fa is broad, immense, and profound. The Fa we?re teaching today goes beyond conventional understandings of the Buddha Fa. We are teaching the Fa of the entire cosmos?the nature of the entire cosmos. Yet within this immense cosmos, each of its levels has its cosmic nature, that is, the principles of the Fa manifested from Zhen- Shan-Ren at each realm. And the Fa?s principles at each level are really enormous and complex. If you wanted to explain the principles at one particular level, you might not be able to explain them fully even if you took a whole lifetime?that?s how immense and complex they are. Today, I?m only using human language?the simplest human language of today?to tell you about the general situation of this entire vast and profound cosmos. If you can truly and thoroughly understand this Fa, and can practice cultivation in this Fa, the height and depth of what you?ll experience and enlighten to will be beyond description. As long as you practice cultivation, you?ll gradually experience and enlighten to more and more. The more you read Zhuan Falun, the more you?ll understand from it. Even if your inborn quality is really good, there?s more than enough for you to cultivate in this Dafa. However high you want to cultivate to, this Fa is immense enough to accommodate that?this Fa is just incredibly broad and immense."

"A cultivator can only know the specific manifestation of Buddha Law at the level he has cultivated to, and that?s his cultivation Fruition, his level. If you spell it out in detail, the Law is huge. But when you reach its highest point, then it?s simple, because the Law stacks up in a pyramid-like shape. Up at an extremely high level you can summarize it in just three words: True, Good, Endure. But as it manifests at each different level it gets extremely complicated."

Buddha School QiGong

"Many people think of a matter as soon as we mention Buddha School qigong: Since the goal of the Buddha School is to cultivate Buddhahood, they start to relate it to the things of Buddhism. I hereby solemnly clarify that Falun Gong is qigong of the Buddha School. It is a righteous, great cultivation way and has nothing to do with Buddhism. Buddha School qigong is Buddha School qigong, while Buddhism is Buddhism. They take different paths, even though they have the same goal in cultivation. They are different schools of practice with different requirements." -The Book Falun Gong

Other Teachings

In the lectures, several concepts ranging from Independent time-spaces, Third-Eye and Root Cause of Illness to Higher Dimensional Realities and Structure of Cosmic Bodies are discussed.

Regarding Structure of Cosmic Bodies, The United States Lecture Says:

"And this universe has a shell, or boundary. So this is the universe we usually refer to. But beyond this universe there are other universes at farther places. Within a certain expanse there are another three thousand universes like this. Yet there?s a shell outside of these three thousand universes, and a second-level universe is constituted. Beyond this second-level universe there are about three thousand universes the size of this second-level universe. There is a shell outside of them, and they constitute a third-level universe. It?s just like how small particles comprise atomic nuclei, atomic nuclei comprise atoms, and atoms comprise molecules?it?s just like how microscopic particles comprise larger particles in a system. The universe that I?ve been describing is only the way things are within this one system. There?s no way this language can describe it; human language isn?t able to express it...This is the situation in this one state. But there are many, many systems?as numerous as the innumerable atoms that comprise molecules?spread all over the cosmos in the same way."

"...This was only a discussion of this one system, of a system like this. Just as small particles comprise larger particles and larger particles comprise even larger particles, this is within one system. But there are more than just this one system of particles. Numerous particles at different levels are spread all over the cosmic body.?

"What I described just now were worlds composed of large particles of different sizes. There are actually more than these. Even within the most immediate dimension of molecules there are many, many dimensions invisible to humans. As I just said, the largest particles made up of molecules are the matter that composes the outermost surface where we humans beings are?steel, iron, wood, the human body, plastic, stone, soil, and even paper, and so on. All of these things that humankind sees are composed of the layer of the largest particles, which is made up of the layer of the largest molecules. These can be seen. You can?t even see the dimension of particles made up of the molecules that are slightly smaller than those in the layer of the largest particles. Then, these molecules can form a dimension of even smaller particles. Between the smallest particles and the largest particles at the surface, all of which are made up of molecules, exist many, many levels of dimensions. In other words, molecules make up different-sized particles, forming these extremely complex and different molecular dimensions."

;; "Today, I?m only using human language?the simplest human language of today?to tell you about the general situation of this entire vast and profound cosmos. If you can truly and thoroughly understand this Fa, and can practice cultivation in this Fa, the height and depth of what you?ll experience and enlighten to will be beyond description. As long as you practice cultivation, you?ll gradually experience and enlighten to more and more. The more you read Zhuan Falun, the more you?ll understand from it."

The root cause of Illness and suffering are discussed in several Lectures, including in Zhuan Falun, Falun Buddha Fa Lectures in Europe and Falun Buddha Fa Lectures in Sydney. REgarding the realtionship between Karma and Sickness,The 1996 Lecture in United States, says:

"Just now I said that it is the karma accrued lifetime after lifetime that causes sickness. What is that karma? The smaller the particles of the karma that exists in other dimensions?the smaller its grain?the more power it has. When it seeps into our dimension, it?s a microorganism, the most microscopic virus. So would you say that sickness is accidental? It can?t be understood by modern medicine or modern science, which can only understand the kind of phenomena that manifest in this surface dimension composed of the layer of the largest particles, which are formed by molecules. So it?s considered a sickness, a tumor, an infection somewhere, or something else; but today?s science can?t see the fundamental cause of people becoming sick, and it always explains with the limited reasons that can be understood by everyday people. Of course, when someone gets sick, it usually conforms to the principles at the level of this world, and there?s usually an external factor in this world that induces the sickness to manifest. Then it appears to really conform to the principles of this world. In fact, it?s just an external factor that makes it in conformity with the principles of this world or the state of this world. But the fundamental cause and the sickness don?t originate in this dimension. So when you take medicine now you?re killing this sickness or the virus at the surface. Medicine can truly kill viruses at the surface?When an everyday person gets sick he definitely needs medical treatment.?

Also seen is the concept of Fa-Recitification. Practitioners point out that a good understanding of [Zhuan Falun] is necessary to understand the concept of Fa-Rectification. Put approximately, "Fa-Rectification" refers to the period of time when the cosmos is being returned to the most original, purest state of being. Unlike some have suggested, this concept surfaced even before the persecution: "The purpose of my doing this is Fa-rectification. All of the cosmos? beings have strayed from the Fa, so they have to be rectified with Fa", stated Li in Switzerland (1998). This process is said to affect all sentient beings (as well as matter) in the universe: they are being repositioned according to their moral goodness or xinxing. Those who have taken the side of the Chinese Communist Party in persecuting the Buddha Law are said to perish by the natural force of this process "when the Fa rectifies the human world", meaning, when this process breaks through from the microcosm, while all others will be provided benevolent resolutions.

?In the Fa-rectification, Master is actually saving all beings, not just the good ones; evil ones are of course included as well. I have often said that during the Fa-rectification I don't hold the past faults of any sentient being against him, and that I look only at a sentient being's attitude toward Dafa during the Fa-rectification. In other words, no matter which beings they are or how huge the mistakes and sins they committed in history, as long as they do not play a negative role with regard to the Fa-rectification, I can give them benevolent solutions and eliminate their sins and karma.?

Demons

Falun Gong teaches that among the beings in the universe there exist demons and that these demons will create hardship for people who undermine Dafa. For example, a practitioner who plagiarizes Dafa is said to put his or her life at risk. In The Essentials Li Hongzhi states:

?Did you know that in recent years some students suddenly died?...Once you are reduced to the level of an everyday person, no one will protect you and demons will also take your life. It?s even useless to seek protection from other Buddhas, Daos, and Gods, as they won?t protect someone who undermines the Fa. What?s more, your karma will also be returned to your body.? [12]

The concept of a demon in Falun Gong can be quite broad, as indicated in the following from Zhuan Falun: "Old age, illness, and death are also forms of demons, but they are created to maintain the characteristic of the universe."[13] Demons are described in different ways and forms within the practice, however, all are similar in that they are considered to be negative or maleveolant beings. It is believed that even within a person himself, one posseses both Demon-nature and Buddha-nature, but that "cultivating Buddhahood is to eliminate your demon-nature and strengthen and increase your Buddha-nature."[14]. The concept of demons exists hand in hand with that of Buddhas and is considered a product of the principle of "mutual generation and mutual inhibition", as addressed in the following quote from Essentials for Further Advancement.

"Through mutual-generation and mutual-inhibition there appear kindness and wickedness, right and wrong, and good and evil. Then, as to living beings, if there are Buddhas, there are demons; if there are humans, there are ghosts?this is more obvious and complicated in the society of everyday people. Where there are good people, there are bad ones; where there are selfless people, there are selfish ones; where there are open-minded people, there are narrow-minded ones. As to cultivation, where there are people who believe in it, there are people who do not; where there are people who can be enlightened, there are people who cannot; where there are people for it, there are people against it?this is human society. If everyone could practice cultivation, be enlightened to it, and believe in it, human society would turn into a society of gods. Human society is just a society of human beings, and it is not allowed to cease to exist. Human society will continue to exist forever. Therefore, it is normal that there are people who oppose it. It would be abnormal if instead no one objected. Without ghosts, how could humans reincarnate as humans? Without the existence of demons, one would not be able to cultivate Buddhahood. Without bitterness, there could not be sweetness."

Within Falun Gong practice it is taught that one will recieve interference from demons in the course of one's cultivation. Such interferences are considered tests in one's cultivation and can manifest in different ways. In Zhuan Falun it is written:

"Someone has asked me: ?Teacher, why don?t you eliminate this problem?? Think about it, everyone: If we clear all obstacles in your path of cultivation practice, how will you practice cultivation? It is under the circumstance of demonic interference that you can demonstrate whether you can continue your cultivation, be really enlightened to the Tao, be unaffected by interference, and be sure-footed in this school of practice."

Enlightenment

If practitioners follow the requirements of the Fa and can meet the moral standard of higher realms, which, by definition, are more assimilated to Zhen-Shan-Ren, they're said to attain Consummation (or Enlightenment). In Li Hongzhi's earlier teachings the focus was on an individual practitioner reaching Consummation. In 1999, Li Hongzhi stated that "The vows of Gods in history are being fulfilled. The Dafa is judging all beings.? Underlying this prediction is the teaching that the entire cosmos is undergoing a process called ?Fa-rectification? ? a kind of renewal of the cosmos into the most original, purest state of being. Unlike some have suggested, this concept surfaced even before the persecution: "The purpose of my doing this is Fa-rectification. All of the cosmos? beings have strayed from the Fa, so they have to be rectified with Fa", stated Li in Switzerland (1998). This process is said to affect all sentient beings (as well as matter) in the universe: they are being repositioned according to their moral goodness or xinxing. Those who have taken the side of the Chinese Communist Party in persecuting the Buddha Law are said to perish by the natural force of this process "when the Fa rectifies the human world", meaning, when this process breaks through from the microcosm, while all others will be provided benevolent resolutions. In 2001 [15] Li Hongzhi made clear that this Fa-rectification would target people based on their moral qualities:

?Moreover, when an Enlightened Being descends to the world, it is usually at a time when people?s morals are declining day by day, when people?s sins and karma are enormous, or when people?s morality is degenerate. Once the saved ones have attained the Fa and left, the dregs of humanity and the degenerate world that are left behind will be weeded out.?

There is controversy over what Li means by the "dregs of humanity and the degenerate world", but in his more recent lectures and writing he has generally referred to people who have given up their human nature in perpetrating the persecution against Falun Gong:

?In the Fa-rectification, Master is actually saving all beings, not just the good ones; evil ones are of course included as well. I have often said that during the Fa-rectification I don't hold the past faults of any sentient being against him, and that I look only at a sentient being's attitude toward Dafa during the Fa-rectification. In other words, no matter which beings they are or how huge the mistakes and sins they committed in history, as long as they do not play a negative role with regard to the Fa-rectification, I can give them benevolent solutions and eliminate their sins and karma.?

In Philadelphia (2002), Li said:

"What I wanted was to have no sentient being interfere with the Fa-rectification, or even participate in it. With the Fa-rectification, when it proceeds from the most basic point, from the lowest point, and goes all the way up, for all beings, no matter how bad you are or how much you may have sinned in history, I don?t hold your past faults against you, and I purify you from the most microcosmic point to the surface of your being, and this even includes any thoughts a being may have. I rectify from the bottom up, all the way through. That would have been the best kind of benevolent solution, and not a single being would have fallen, not a single being would have sinned against Dafa and this Fa-rectification. Wouldn?t that have been wonderful? But no, they insisted on doing this, and it?s brought on this disaster in human society."

Critics and Controversial Teachings

Difference between Falun Gong and Qi Gong

Critics of Falun Gong point out that while using established Qi Gong terms for cultivation practice, Li?s version applies new meanings to the traditional terms. Deng and Fang (2000) state that Falung Gong differs from all other Qi Gong practices ?by rendering a drastically different interpretation of ?gong? (energy) and it?s causality.? In Falun Gong, a practitioner is able to accumulate De (德, d?, virtue) through his or her own cultivation efforts, but needs the direct intervention of the master in order to evolve the De into cultivation energy. In Zhuan Falun, Li states: ?Cultivation practice depends upon an individual himself while the transformation of Gong is up to the master. The master gives you the Gong that develops your Gong, which will be at work. It can transform the substance of De outside of your body into Gong.? [16] Because of the unique cultivation mechanism of the Falun Gong -- involving the accumulation of De (virtue) and the master?s intervention to transform it to Gong ?some critics consider Falun Gong to be ineligible for the label Qi Gong. Using an analogy to modern aircraft, Deng and Fang describe the mechanism of Falun Gong cultivation:

The disciples through cultivation, tests and tribulations, and defending the Fa accumulate de. To give a simple analogy, the disciple gathers fuel and raw materials such as aluminum and alloys to build a plane according to the Master blueprint. The Master watches in every step and intervenes as necessary. He also machines the materials into useful parts and assembles the plane. When it flies, the Master also becomes the pilot or navigator with the disciple as the passenger. In order to complete this process, one has only to submit to the sole authority. [17]

Li as a savior or supernatural entity

Another feature of Falun Dafa is promotion of Li?s role as the exclusive savior of mankind in this ?Dharma ending? period; In Zhuan Falun [18] he states ?If I cannot save you, nobody else can do it.? If a Falun Gong practitioner were only to do the exercises, but fail to follow the requirements of the Fa, that person would not be considered a Dafa disciple. Falun Gong practitioners are promised the possibility of becoming "Gods" as long as they safeguard and uphold the Dafa. In 2003, Li Hongzhi said: [19]

"I have truly borne for you the sins you committed over hundreds and thousands of years. And it doesn't stop at just that. Because of this, I will also save you and turn you into Gods. I have spared no effort for you in this process. Along with this, since you'll become Gods at levels that high, I have to give you the honors of Gods at levels that high and all the blessings that you need to have at levels that high."

Also found is the idea that Master Li has numerous Fashen (spiritual Law bodies) which protect practitioners from harm. These Law bodies ?exercise great supernatural power." They surround practitioners at all times and know everything that is on their minds. Li Hongzhi states in the Zhuan Falun [20] : ?If you can really cultivate in the right way, nobody dares to touch you rashly. What?s more, you are under the protection of my Law bodies, so you will never be in any danger.?

While protecting practitioners, the Master?s Law bodies also cure the illnesses for those who practice at the Falun Gong exercise sites. However practitioners are warned that if they fail to follow the requirements of the Fa, bad consequences will result. In Zhuan Falun [21] Li Hongzhi states that if a practitioner does not follow the requirments of the Fa, his "body will be reset to the level of everyday people and the bad things will be returned to you.?

In addition to providing disease-curing benefits, it is believed that cultivation practice will actually prolong one?s life. But there is danger for those who might not live up to the Fa?s requirements. In Zhuan Falun [22] Li Hongzhi states that when a practitioner continually practices cultivation, his life will be prolonged. However, there is a criterion "that the life prolonged beyond your predestined time to live is completely reserved for your practice. If your mind goes wrong a little bit, your life will be in danger because your lifetime should have long been over", referring to old people whom he claims should have died already, according to his conception of their predestined life span.

Claims to historical influence

In 2002, Li claimed that after spreading Falun Gong for ten years, some of humanity's predestinations had been averted, including a "comet catastrophe" and "the third world war." [23]

In Zhuan Falun, Li explains that catastrophes ?which destroy everything in the universe? are recurring events in the history of our universe. He claims he ?made a careful investigation once and found out that mankind has been through the state of complete annihilation eighty one times.? [24]

In a speech in Boston in 2002, Li reported that scientists have discovered that the observable universe ?is expanding faster and faster, and the speed of the expansion keeps accelerating.? Explaining that ?something only expands before it explodes,? Li told his audience that he and the immense force of Fa-rectification have so far been able to avert an explosion:

Although the universe is expanding, I?m doing things at an extremely fast speed,and I can definitely catch up with it. If I don?t catch up with it, I can tell you, the final disintegration would make everything in the surface dimension cease to exist. If I do catch up with, everything is resolved. Not only will I catch up with it, but I will also surpass it, and that's when the Fa rectifies the human world [25]

Deng and Fang (2000), suggest that Li?s teachings on cosmic explosions and the existence of advanced pre-historical civilizations were ?borrowed from Western catastrophists and pseudo-archaeologists? whose ideas were commonly reported in Chinese media as ?scientific facts.? They report that early in the history of Falun Gong scientists ?criticized Li and his followers for creating a deceptive science by misusing scientific terms and theories.? [26]

Questionable significance of Falun Gong awards and recognitions

There is some controversy about how meaningful Falun Gong?s many municipal awards and recognitions are and how they are used to promote the Falun Gong. Falun Gong expert Patsy Rahn (2000), states they ?are documents routinely obtained by groups from public officials in the US for public relations purposes? and may be used to mislead people in China into believing ?that the American government supports Master Li and his Falun Gong practitioners.? [27] Noah Porter (2003) argues that these awards are not always easy to get, citing one example from Tampa, Florida. [28]

In 2006, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution which was subsequently misrepresented on an official Falun Gong website. Given San Francisco?s long tradition of tolerance and the Falun Gong?s teachings on homosexuality, there was controversy about the exact wording of the resolution. As reported in the Sing Tao Daily ( 2/1/2006), four of the supervisors, when asked about the resolution, stated ?that they either don?t understand the Falun Gong belief system or do not support it; in addition, they feel uncomfortable about the Falun Gong?s homophobic positions.? The Chinese supervisor who had co-sponsored the resolution and worked to amend it in committee, was quoted in the Bay Area Reporter [29] :

"I am concerned about these homophobic teachings. It is a good thing these were called out. I don't think people understand the Falun Gong. So to the extent it is educating the community, it is a good thing."

Aware of these teachings, the sponsors of the resolution amended the original draft language to include a disclaimer. As a result, the Board passed Resolution 66-06 [30], condemning the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, while also stating that ?the views expressed by Falun Gong practitioners are not officially sanctioned by the City and County of San Francisco? and that the resolution ?in no way encourages the practice of any particular faith, philosophy, religion or belief system, including but not limited to Falun Gong.? Shortly thereafter, the Clearwisdom website published an altered version of the resolution which omitted the disclaimer language. Bowing to pressure, the editors of Clearwisdom eventually deleted the entire text of San Francisco?s Resolution 66-06 from their website.

There are also reports of politicians being manipulated into commending Li Hongzhi without knowing all the facts about his teachings. According to a San Jose Mercury News article, American politicians have been caught in the middle in the battle between the Chinese government and the Falun Gong. In January, 2001 four US representatives from northern California?Representatives Tom Lantos, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren and Pete Start?signed a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize praising Li Hongzhi for promoting the ?highest humanitarian values.? When asked whether they knew about Li?s teachings on homosexuals and race before they signed that letter, three of the representatives said no. Representative Anna Eshoo, who subsequently rescinded her nomination, stated: ?Obviously I wouldn?t recommend to the Nobel Institute someone who?s anti-gay, because that?s a human right.? [31]

Cultivation of mind and body

Falun Gong has five sets of basic exercises (including meditation, four standing, and one sitting). The exercises are said to strengthen energy mechanisms that continually transform one?s ?benti? (a term referring to "one?s physical body and the bodies in other dimensions").

Theory of disease

The true cause of disease is considered karmic, Li doesn't claim that viruses and bacteria are not behind people's illnesses, but he professes that they are not the root cause. Karma is thought to be of material existence in higher (more microcosmic) dimensions and is said to be intertwined with previous misdeeds as well as bad emotions and attachments like jealousy, greed, anger and hatred - all kinds of things that are not in tune with Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, the so-called "characteristic of the universe." Thus, according to Li, only by letting go of these attachments and bearing hardships can one eliminate karma and have the root of their illnesses removed.

Theory of healing

Master Li claims to possess the supernatural power to heal illnesses. Most notable were his treatments at the Asian Health Fair in 1992 and 1993, which were performed to "promote Falun Gong." According to Li, the purpose of cultivation practice is not to heal illness, and people should not hold such attachments if they decide to cultivate Falun Gong. However, Li also states that the illnesses of "true practitioners" are directly cured by him. ?Your illnesses will be cured directly by me. Those who practice at exercise sites will have my fashen to cure their illnesses. Those who study Dafa by reading the book on their own will also have my fashen to cure their illnesses.? [32] Explained by Li, these law bodies are born or come into existence when one reaches a very high level in cultivation practice.

According to critics, Li also collected fees for treating patients from 1992 to 1994. A report titled ?Expos? of the swindler Li Hongzhi? done by eight of Li?s first students in 1994 states that Li treated patients at home and collected money by using a donation box where patients would put in any where from ten to hundreds of Chinese dollars at a time. Zhao Jiemin, one of the authors, claims to have paid Li forty Chinese dollars to treat his daughter-in-law?s high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. [33] At the time, the monthly salary for a Chinese worker was about 300 Chinese dollars which equals US$36.58. The Falun Gong responded with a report called ?Reveal the Scheme of the Very Few People from Changchun." According to this report the authors of the Expos? were deliberately denigrating Li and Falun Gong. The report suggests that Li's insistence that practitioners not be allowed to provide treatment caused a rift with Zhao and others who wanted to make money by treating patients. [34]

Li Hongzhi teaches that though the purpose of cultivation practice is not healing and fitness, an illness free state can manifest even from the beginning stages of cultivation practice of mind and body, and that this has directly to do with him. At the beginning of Zhuan Falun, Li states ?We will push you beyond it, making your body reach a state free of any illness.? [35]

Li Hongzhi states that he installs a falun in the elixir field of the lower abdomen (dantian) of practioners. Falun means "Wheel of Law" in the Chinese language, which appears similar to the Dharma wheel or Chakra. The falun in Falun Gong is depicted as a wheel consisting of five srivatsas and four taijitu, as illustrated on the top right-hand corner of this page. The Falun is said to be a miniature of the universe, and once it is installed into the abdomen, it turns continuously. When the Falun turns clockwise, it absorbs energy from the universe into the body; when it turns counter-clockwise it eliminates waste from the body. Li Hongzhi also points out that the falun in Falun Gong is different from the falun or chakras cultivated in Tantric Tibetan Buddhism.

Attitude toward mainstream healthcare

In Zhuan Falun, Li states: "Can hospitals heal illnesses? Of course they can. If hospitals could not heal illnesses, why would people believe in them and go there for treatments? Hospitals are still able to heal illnesses, but their means of treatment belong to the level of everyday people while illnesses are supernatural. Some illnesses are quite serious, and so hospitals require early treatment if one has such an illness. If it becomes too serious, hospitals will be helpless, as overdoses of medicine can poison a person. Present medical treatments are at the same level as our science and technology ? they are all at the level of everyday people. Thus, they only have such healing efficacy. One issue that should be clarified is that average qigong treatments and hospital treatments only defer to the remaining half of life or later those tribulations that are the fundamental cause of illnesses. The karma is not removed at all." [36]

Research into health claims

Surveys conducted on practitioners show improvements in health, the most extensive being a Falun Gong health survey [37] conducted on 12,731 Beijing practitioners in 1998. The survey states: "Our results show that Falun Gong's disease healing rate is 99.1% with a cure rate of 58.5%; Improvement rate is 80.3% in physical health and 96.5% in mental health. The survey indicates that Falun Gong has a significant effect in disease healing and health promotion". However, some claim that the accuracy of the survey suffers from methodological problems, as it relied on self-reported rather than medically-verified improvement. In addition, the questionnaire used an inadequate range of answer options, reflecting possible bias. ([38], p174)

Dr. Lili Feng, a Falun Gong practitioner and Associate Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, published findings that Falun Gong exercises boost the immune system and significantly increase cell lifetime expectancy. Her paper concludes: "Our studies suggest that Falun Gong practice alters immunity, cell death, and protein metabolic rate in a systemic fashion. Our findings further suggest that a new paradigm is urgently needed to understand the holistic link between human mind, body and spirit." Professor Feng also cites independent health surveys by five medical institutions in China. The results remain inconclusive and call for further research.

In 2003, Feng gave the following statement: ?If over 100 million Falun Gong practitioners had been allowed to practice Falun Gong, they would have been able to resist the SARS virus, stop the SARS virus from being transmitted through them, and form a large immunity shield, which could protect more vulnerable people in China. This is the saddest thing for me and brings me to something I must emphasize. What I want to say is this: persecuting Falun Gong is the most evil and foolish act. While this plague prevails over China, what we need most are those people with resistance to the SARS virus.?[39]

Further reading

All Falun Gong exercises are taught free of charge by practitioners and are also detailed in Li Hongzhi's books, lectures and exercise instruction videos which may be found free of charge on Falun Dafa Websites.

Ethics

Falun Gong lays emphasis on its interpretation of good moral nature. Practitioners are required to emphasize virtue (de), be a good person in all environments, and always think of others before doing things.

According to Li Hongzhi, the sole criterion that distinguishes good people from bad people is the unchanging characteristic of the universe: Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness, Benevolence and Forbearance). In Zhuan Falun, Li states:

?As a practitioner, one must follow this characteristic of the universe to conduct himself instead of the standard of ordinary people?.As a human being, if you can follow this universe?s characteristic of Zhen-Shan-Ren, you are a good person.? [40]

In discussing principles of moral conduct, Li Hongzhi often criticizes the state of modern society?s supposed moral degeneration. Critics of the Falun Gong have pointed out that aspects of Li?s system of morality can be considered elitist and intolerant.

Critics who see the Falun Gong as elitist point to what they see as a strong ?us versus them? ethos in Falun Gong teachings. All non-practitioners are called ?ordinary people? and according to Zhuan Falun these people ?cannot detect the existence of the characteristic of Zhen-Shan-Ren in the universe because all ordinary people are at the same level. When you reach beyond the level of ordinary people, you will be able to detect its existence.? One of the potential effects of a strong ?us versus them? distinction, according to Rahn (2000) ?is the possibility of isolating practitioners from family and friends as well as non-practitioners in general. It can also help create a feedback loop system where practitioners only relate to other practitioners, thereby mutually reinforcing belief in the teachings, identification with the group, and eradication of any conflicting or alternative views.? [41]

In a speech in Los Angeles (2006), Li Hongzhi spoke for the first time about what he sees as a big problem?cultivators not accepting criticism well. He also suggested that practitioners may be too focused on making judgments about others:

"If you always reject reproaches and criticism, always point your fingers at others, and always refute others' disapproval and criticism, is that cultivating? How is that cultivating? You have grown used to focusing on other people's shortcomings, and never take examining your own self seriously." [42]

Falun Gong also believes in the act of retribution, and all good and evil deeds will be paid in return in the due time. Because of this, they see the Chinese government crackdown as an act of "evil", and some pro-Falun Gong groups have reported claims of a number of people dying or suffering spontaneously after their alleged involvement in the crackdown of Falun Gong

Li Hongzhi points out that according to Buddhism, this is the ?Dharma Ending Period"; that during this period mankind has undergone great moral degradation and that this has to do with vast cosmic changes. The book Zhuan Falun says "Nobody should blame others for it, as everyone has added fuel to the flame.? The taking of any life is said to have negative karmic consequences.

Li Hongzhi?s teachings on the importance of racial purity have provoked considerable controversy. Critics opine that Li is intolerant of racial differences, while supporters argue that he does not hold mixed-race parents or their children to blame. In one of his lectures, Li states that the mixing of races is a chaotic phenomenon that has manifest only in the ?Dharma Ending Period? and that different races bear the image of the gods that created them; that each race of people on earth have their own cosmic paradises but people of mixed race lose this connection. In 1996, he said that ?Mixed races have lost their roots, as if nobody in the paradise will take care of them. They belong to nowhere, and no places would accept them.? [43] In 1997 Li Hongzhi further explained, "People of the yellow race have people of the yellow race up there, and people of the white race have people of the white race up there. He?s lost this thread.? [44]

Speaking in Sydney in 1996, Li Hongzhi said:

"If you are an interracial child, it is, of course, neither your fault nor your parents' fault. Anyway, it is just such a chaotic situation brought about by mankind, in which such a phenomenon has appeared. The yellow people, the white people, and the black people have the corresponding races in heaven. Then, if one is not from his race or does not belong to his people, he will not take care of him?.. All interracial children were born in the Dharma-ending period. People are not to be blamed for it, because everyone is drifting in the tide, and nobody knows the truth. This is the way they have come through. If you want to practice cultivation, I can help. As for which paradise you will go to, we will need to look at your situation. I will assimilate more of whichever portion that is better preserved. Anyway, you should concentrate on your cultivation and should not concern yourself with these things."

Critics have also questioned whether Li Hongzhi himself lives up to the principles of benevolence and forbearance when it comes to dealing with his critics. Maria Chang (2004) comments: ?Despite its professed commitment to tolerance and forbearance, Falun Gong has displayed a disturbing penchant for bullying its critics and for vindictiveness.? Using the example of Chinese journalist and cult-critic Sima Nan, Chang reports that for his efforts to expose religious frauds Sima was viciously denounced by the Falun Gong and cursed by its founder. As reported by Christopher Hitchens in The Nation, Sima claims that Li predicted that he would be ?punished by lameness and blindness? and have a law wheel secretly inserted in his abdomen ?that revolves in the wrong direction.? [45] The origin of such statements are dubious: they aren't found from any of Li's lectures or interviews. In addition, Li teaches that the law wheel revolves in both directions, meaning that there is no "wrong direction".

Falun Gong and sexual orientation

As in many traditional practices, lust is thought of as something that hinders a person's progress in cultivation. Though not central to the beliefs, homosexuality is regarded as not meeting the standard of being human [46]. Considered to be an act that brings bad karma upon oneself, Li states in Volume II of Zhuan Falun that "The disgusting homosexuality reflects the dirty mental abnormality that has lost ability to reason at this time."

Also taught is the idea that if it were not for Li?s ?upright Fa to keep human beings in check? homosexuals could expect to be singled out for punishment by the Gods. Speaking in Switzerland in 1998, Li suggested that by renouncing their sexual behavior (and presumably living a celibate life) homosexuals might experience a different outcome. When asked why homosexuals are considered "bad people" Li responded:[47]

When gods created man they prescribed standards for human behavior and living. When human beings overstep those boundaries, they are no longer called human beings, though they still assume the outer appearance of a human. So gods can?t tolerate their existence and will destroy them.

According to Li, events such as ?wars, epidemics and natural and man-made disasters? happen in order to remove karma. While stating that people who are degenerated will be destroyed, Li describes a special kind of suffering for homosexuals. Not only will the ?fundamental elements of their existence? be destroyed, they will also be made to undergo a particularly slow and painful process:

That person is annihilated layer after layer at a rate that seems pretty rapid to us, but in fact it?s extremely slow in that time field. Over and over again, one is annihilated in an extremely painful way. It?s terribly frightening. [48]

In Frankfurt (1998) Li stated that homosexuals could still practice cultivation, provided they give up their bad behavior: "You are wantonly indulging your thoughts. Your thoughts, like the ones I just mentioned, are not actually you. The mentality that makes you homosexual was driven by postnatally-formed bad things. But you yourself were numbed by them and went along with them and wallowed in the mud. You need to find yourself again and stop doing those filthy things. Gods view them as filthy."

Li lists "homosexuality, licentious desires" as one category in his poem The World?s Ten Evils (a direct translation from Chinese):

Humans without kind thoughts / Human against human as enemy.
Destroying traditions / Culture turning decadent.
Homosexuality, licentious desires / Dark heart, turning demonic.
Gambling popular, drugs popular / Following whims and desires.
Lifting restrictions, promiscuity / Leading to evil and wickedness.
Sinister gangs. treacherous factions, / Politicians and bandits, all one family.
Acting on one?s own decisions, deranging the masses / Against heaven, betraying Dao.
Blindly believing in science / Mutant mankind.
Publicizing and revering violence / Fond of audaciousness, competing at ruthlessness.
Religions turned evil / Money seekers, politicians

        July 7, 1998 [49]

Deng and Fang (2000) state that ?the theories and behaviors of the Falungong Master and some disciples reflect a deep-seated belief of elitism (superiority of the chosen), racism (against biracial at least), and bigotry (condemning homosexuals to the harshest punishment).? [50] While observing that homosexuals are singled out for the harshest of punishments, these commentators also argue that Li Hongzhi uses a variety of fear tactics to indoctrinate and control all of his disciples. Among those fears are demonic interference, ?evil forces,? alien invasions and an approaching apocalypse. These fears are supported by practitioners? beliefs that humans have been abandoned by the Gods, they're in the period of the Last Havoc (a kind of apocalypse), and only Li Hongzhi can save them. According to Deng and Fang, when practitioners accept Li?s starkly negative valuation system, they take ?a step toward removing human confidence and dignity.? [51]

Major Publications

Falun Gong orginazition runs Epoch Times, a free newspaper in over 10 languages, and also as a online publication house with several websites with different domains. Many citations in this article are from these publications.

Government crackdown
Arrest of Falun Gong Practitioners in Beijing
Enlarge
Arrest of Falun Gong Practitioners in Beijing

For the first few years after introducing Falun Gong to the world, Li Hongzhi was granted several awards by Chinese governmental organizations to encourage him to continue promoting what was then considered by them to be a wholesome practice. From 1992 to 1994 Li lectured regularly all over the country in front of large audiences. The practice was popularized in mainland China for seven years, mainly by word of mouth and through the Internet.

At the end of May 1998, a Chinese physicist from the Chinese Academy of Science, He Zuoxiu, denounced Falun Gong in an interview on Beijing Television. The program, after showing a video of one of the practice sites, called it a "feudalistic superstition". Falun Gong practitioners have affirmed that the people seen in the video were not actually practitioners. The TV station was swamped by protest letters from Falun Gong practitioners, and practitioners were also protesting in front of its offices.

On April 11, 1999, He Zuoxiu published an article in the Tianjin College of Education?s Youth Reader magazine titled "I Do Not Agree with Youth Practicing Qigong". From April 18 to April 24, Falun Gong practitioners went to Tianjin College of Education, which published the magazine, and related governmental agencies and held peaceful protests.

Some practitioners were arrested and were, according to reports, beaten by the police. Several days later, for 12 hours on April 25, about 10,000 people gather