A spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition, combining meditation and exercises with a philosophy of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that emerged from China in 1992. Founded by Li Hongzhi, it combines meditation and gentle exercises with a moral philosophy. The practice has attracted millions of followers worldwide, but it has also been the subject of controversy and persecution, particularly in China.
Origins and Development
Falun Gong is rooted in the Buddhist tradition, and its foundations can be traced back thousands of years. It was introduced to the public by Li Hongzhi in China in 1992, emerging from qigong, a discipline that integrates traditional medical and self-cultivation practices. The practice quickly gained popularity, with Li Hongzhi recognized as a Master of Qigong by the state-run China Qigong Scientific Research Society.
Teachings and Practices
The core teachings of Falun Gong are encapsulated in the book “Zhuan Falun,” published by Li Hongzhi. The practice revolves around the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance, which are seen as fundamental to the universe’s nature. Followers aim to align their lives with these principles, seeking to improve their moral character and abandon negative thoughts and behaviors.
Falun Gong consists of five exercises, including meditation, believed to aid in spiritual development. The elevation of moral character (xinxing) is central, involving the cultivation of virtue and the abandonment of negative behaviors and desires.
Controversy and Persecution
Falun Gong’s rapid growth in China and its spiritual teachings, which include elements critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and modern science, led to tensions with the Chinese government. In 1999, the Chinese government implemented a ban on Falun Gong, categorizing it as an “illegal organization” and initiating a campaign of suppression and persecution. This crackdown led to widespread reports of human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture, and allegations of forced organ harvesting.
International Presence and Media Involvement
Falun Gong has established a significant presence internationally, with practitioners in over 80 countries. The practice’s teachings have been translated into over 40 languages. Falun Gong also operates the Epoch Media Group, which includes subsidiaries like New Tang Dynasty Television and The Epoch Times newspaper. The Epoch Times has been noted for its far-right political stance and promotion of conspiracy theories in the United States and Europe.