Falun Gong: A health practice or religious belief? (Part 1)


Part 1: A Chinese-originated movement
Raising from China, Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, has spread to many countries including Vietnam. But there is still a lot of questions around this movement. What is it? Religion, belief or just an exercise. Why is it forbidden in China? Is it bad or good? 
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. It was established in the early 90s by Li Hongzhi. 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 eliminate attachments, and ultimately to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
As a matter of doctrinal significance, Falun Gong is intended to be "formless," having little to no material or formal organization. Practitioners of Falun Gong cannot collect money or charge fees, conduct healings, or teach or interpret doctrine for others. There are no administrators or officials within the practice, no system of membership, and no churches or physical places of worship. In the absence of membership or initiation rituals, Falun Gong practitioners can be anyone who chooses to identify themselves as such. Students are free to participate in the practice and follow its teachings as much or as little as they like, and practitioners do not instruct others on what to believe or how to behave.
Spiritual authority is vested exclusively in the teachings of founder Li Hongzhi. But organizationally Falun Gong is decentralized, and local branches and assistants are afforded no special privileges, authority, or titles. Volunteer "assistants" or "contact persons" do not hold authority over other practitioners, regardless of how long they have practiced Falun Gong. Li's spiritual authority within the practice is absolute, yet the organization of Falun Gong works against totalistic control, and Li does not intervene in the personal lives of practitioners. Falun Gong practitioners have little to no contact with Li, except through the study of his teachings. There is no hierarchy in Falun Gong to enforce orthodoxy, and little or no emphasis is given on dogmatic discipline; the only thing emphasized is the need for strict moral behavior, according to Craig Burgdoff, a professor of religious studies. To the extent that organization is achieved in Falun Gong, it is accomplished through a global, networked, and largely virtual online community. In particular, electronic communications, email lists and a collection of websites are the primary means of coordinating activities and disseminating Li Hongzhi's teachings.
Outside Mainland China, a network of volunteer 'contact persons', regional Falun Dafa Associations and university clubs exist in approximately 80 countries. Li Hongzhi's teachings are principally spread through the Internet. In most mid- to large-sized cities, Falun Gong practitioners organize regular group meditation or study sessions in which they practice Falun Gong exercises and read Li Hongzhi's writings. The exercise and meditation sessions are described as informal groups of practitioners who gather in public parks—usually in the morning—for one to two hours. Group study sessions typically take place in the evenings in private residences or university or high school classrooms, and are described by David Ownby as "the closest thing to a regular 'congregational experience'" that Falun Gong offers. Individuals who are too busy, isolated, or who simply prefer solitude may elect to practice privately. 
          Some sources have estimated the Falun Gong population in China to have peaked between 10 and 70 million practitioners. The number of Falun Gong practitioners still practicing in China today is difficult to confirm, though some sources estimate that tens of millions continue to practice privately. Falun Gong is practiced by tens, and possibly hundreds of thousands outside China, with the largest communities found in Taiwan and North American cities with large Chinese populations, such as New York and Toronto./. (to be continued)
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All comments [ 11 ]

yobro yobro 10/9/16 09:52

Falun Gong is practiced by tens, and possibly hundreds of thousands outside China,[11] with the largest communities found in Taiwan and North American cities with large Chinese populations.

Only Solidar 10/9/16 09:54

their point of view, "Falun Dafa is knowledge rather than religion, a new form of science rather than faith.."

Love Peace 10/9/16 09:59

We should see this kind of practice as an exercise than religion.

Jane smartnic 10/9/16 10:02

It has claimed Falun Gong is a menace to society - a superstitious, foreign-driven, tightly organised, dangerous group of meditators.

Pack Cassiopian 10/9/16 10:04

The Western media do not usually describe Falun Gong as a cult, because of pressure from Falun Gong, and members tell the media they are just an exercise group.

John Smith 10/9/16 10:08

I don't understand why these people so immersed with this practice.

Deck Hero14 10/9/16 10:09

By his own account Li is the exclusive saviour of the world. He teaches that members are superior to ordinary people, and they must relinquish “affection for kinsfolk, love between a man and a woman, an affection for parents, feelings, [and] friendship”.

LawrenceSamuels 10/9/16 10:13

They wanted to attract poor and weak old men, so in that small town, they mainly said that Li Hongzhi, their leader, was nearly a God, or a messenger from God, and a great doctor, a saviour or whatever.

MaskOf Zero 10/9/16 10:15

I admit that Chinese government try to control religions, but Falun Gong is not a religion. At the very beginning, it was created because the creator Li Hongzhi wanted to make money.

Gentle Moon 10/9/16 10:18

There is plenty of evidence to prove that Falun Gong is no ordinary illegal organization, but a cult. No government can turn a blind eye to the cult's illegal deeds in threatening people's lives and social stability.

Pack Cassiopian 10/9/16 10:21

I can tell you a true story. An old man, who was a friend of my grandfather, was greatly attracted to Falun Gong. He went to practice every day, and gave much of his savings to the leaders there. His relationship with his children became terrible, because they thought Falun Gong was useless and preferred to send him to hospital to examine his chronic illness. He became unaffectionate and very stubborn. Once when he felt uncomfortable, he took the "medicine" from Falun Gong group, and in a short time he began to suffer from uncontrolled diarrhea. The diarrhea lasted for more than 10 hours. He refused to go to hospital, and his children, who were busy and uneducated, thought that diarrhea was not a serious problem at all (the thought of common small-town residents, even until now). Finally, the old man passed away. I think Falun Gong is at least partially responsible.

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