A Chinese so-called cult that incorporates taiji/tai chi, qigong/chi kung, and Buddhist teachings, in order to promote self-cultivation. Somewhat wacky (they claim you can levitate, see auras, and so on), but mostly harmless. Nonetheless, the Chinese government has outlawed it and is relentlessly persecuting its practitioners, who are frequently women and the elderly. Led by a mystic who has since relocated to the USA.

Falun Gong gained a lot of attention from the shock value seeking liberal media in America recently. Americans gasped at the evil Chinese commie government "persecuting" the poor Falun Gong members for no reason and beating them and hauling them off to prison. While the leader of the cult pulled a Dalai Lama-like sympathy tour, living in comfort in America, the cult members continued to force the authorities to take action by deliberately breaking the law and gain yet more sympathy from the disbelieving American public, fueled by vastly exagerated reports and false claims.

The Falun Gong cult bears a great similarity to the Japanese death cult Aum Shinri Kyo, led by a shady mystic who is basically a quack. The reason why most of the cult's following are the elderly and women is because the elderly are easily deceived by his mystic mumbo jumbo, and pay exorbitant amounts of money to him for his pseudo-medicine. I also believe this quack has made claims of fertility and sex appeal enhancement treatments, hence the women following. Just like the Japanese cult Aum, they spread the word through out-of-the-world wacky shit that appeals to the gullible, such as self-levitation, encounters with the third kind, auras, and by attempting to portray their leader as a "saint". Again, all this serves as to pull in the gullible elderly to believe the good "doctor", and entice them to pay lots and lots of money to be "enlightened". They got fabulously rich ripping off the elderly and women.

In any case, the government go sick of the whole scam, which is illegal by the way, since the government frowns on the malpractice of medicine (the fool claims to be practicing medicine). So the government started telling them to stop spreading their useless snake oil, but since the people insisted on continuing their illegal sales of pseudo-cures, and the government has just had enough of those scamming conmen, and started arresting the leaders.

The followers of the wacky cult decided to throw a display to capture Western attention, which always works, since the press there is always looking for a story of "Chinese oppression", and by mixing claims of suppression with the desire for democracy, the American liberal media started publishing false reports of mass tortures and beatings of arrested cult members. No, the bad government goons did not go door-to-door searching for common cultists. They only arrested those openly selling their "medicine" and the leaders of the scam. Since the media loves a good story that makes America feel better about themselves by making the rest of the world look bad, Falun Gong got betrayed as the good guys, the underdog, and the press conveniently ignored the nature of the cult, the source of its revenues, and its common practice.

The Custodian: Actually, two days ago the cult members held an anniversary "demonstration" in Tiananmen Square. The square was declared off-limits, they didn't have a permit, but they went anyways. The police, well aware of the foreign press (which they hate), cajoled them for a few hours while the idiots posed for the CNN cameras.

After a while, the cops got sick of this and rushed in to drag them off. Let me tell you, they put up good fight. They weren't harmless old ladies. They resisted mightily, and as I recall, resisting arrest is a crime in both China and America.

They aren't after the whole cult. Just the ringleaders. They would leave you alone if you didn't go around, obnoxiously preaching the Falun Gong nonsense (that is illegal), vying for foreign coverage. They know the power of the Western media, and are exploiting it well. They know what they are doing is against the law, but they are going the sympathy road, which isn't going to get them anywhere, IMHO. China has proven to be hard to persuade, especially by the sensationalist American media.

Hmm. DMan, I wouldn't argue with you over what happened in your presence; nor would I claim to have better information on the actual activities of the FG. However, a best friend of mine - one whom I trust - was in Beijing for a year; his account of one mass arrest was that those being arrested were in fact the hordes of gullible old women you describe, who were actually at a park exercising (the T'ai Chi, no doubt) and not selling anything to anyone.

I never said "they" went door to door. They did take the Falun Gong from public spaces where, according to the reports I have had (in at least one instance) they weren't bothering anyone.

I just wanted to post this because I don't think a vehement denial of my assertion should be allowed to stand alone...regardless of its pedigree. There are always two sides to every story. In any case,given that what you say is so, why not get the leaders? Why pursue the entire membership of the alleged cult?

Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is an old form of Qigong: a way of cultivating body and mind by exercise and meditation. Most forms of Qigong are geared towards staying fit and healing diseases and are comprised almost exclusively of physical exercises that can be compared with Tai Chi or yoga. Falun Gong does not concentrate on physical wellbeing but aims toward wisdom and enlightenment.

In Falun Gong the mind is cultivated by increasing Xingxing. Xingxing has similarities to what in English are called virtues, but it entails more than just virtues. Xingxing is increased by attuning oneself to the characteristic of the universe, Zhen-Shan-Ren. Zhen stands for truth and truthfulness, Shan for compassion and Ren for tolerance and perseverance. How to increase your Xingxing is explained in the books China Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun, written by the founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi. These books can be downloaded from the internet (for free!). Zhuan Falun teaches, among other things, that people who practise Falun Gong should always be friendly and compassionate, and should think of others before doing something. They should look inside themselves for the causes of any problem they encounter.

The cultivation of the body in Falun Gong is geared towards purification and transformation. There are five exercises to achieve this, four standing exercises and one sitting exercise. Cultivation of the body can only be truly and lastingly effective if one pays attention to the increase of Xingxing. The cultivation of the mind is thus the most important.

The practice of Falun Gong entails following the principles of Thruth, Compassion and Tolerance in everything one does, and regularly doing the exercises.

The information above comes from an information leaflet handed out to me by some Dutch Falun Gong members, so it reflects what they wish to say about themselves. I don't know anything about what DMan says above- it might be true, it might not. For more information you can try www.falundafa.org or www.faluninfo.net.

I have read Zhuan Falun and Falun Gong, being mostly a condensed version of the former.

It has a moral code like most cults, pertaining mostly of Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truth, Compassion, Tolerance) and improving Xinxing (mind-nature). Most of the cultivation practise consists of improving Xinxing, mostly by giving up attachments, and not physical exercises. The exercises are included in Falun Gong, but not in Zhuan Falun.

The book condemns taking money for healing, and I have not seen any evidence of any commercial activity anywhere on the website: http://www.falundafa.org

Although the books do make some wacky claims, even by my standards, I do understand that such cultivation practises will have a positive effect on health.

I wonder where DMan did get his information from. All sources I have observed say that innocent FG members have been beaten just for performing the physical exercises.

I find it important to note that in a communist society, everyone is equal. This means that ideally, everyone has the same beliefs, the same religion. In a communist society where the people in power are quasi-fascist, deviants will be persecuted.

Anyways, there are five exercises: Fozhan Qianshou Fa (Buddha Showing A Thousand Hands Exercise); Falun Zhuang Fa (The Falun Standing Stance Exercise); Guantong Liang Ji Fa (Penetrating the Two Cosmic Extremes Exercises); Falun Zhou Tian Fa (Falun Heavenly Circulation Exercise); and Shen Tong Jia Chi Fa (Strengthening Divine Powers Exercise).

The exercises don't take very long to do, and one will probably take under half an hour - longer for experts, as some exercises involve holding the hands in positions for as long they can be held. I considered the thought that this was because Li Hongzhi was lazy and didn't want to create more interesting, fluid actions like those of Tai Chi Chuan.

In the books, the pupils are sometimes encouraged to chant the name of their Master Li to protect them while they practise. Hongzhi claims to have many "fashen", which are servitors composed mainly of Buddha-nature that will protect.

I hung out with some Falun Gong "practitioners," as they like to be called, for a few months while in college, and even went to a couple of their closed-door study groups, feeling much like some sort of investigative journalist. Anyway, they were, indeed, harmless people. Being from The South, I was used to the wholesale acceptance of evangelical religious figures, just not Zen Daoists.

Li Hongzhi, the personality cult behind Falun Gong, is a riot. The more I hung out with Falun Gong people, the more I realized that Master Li is to Falun Gong as Kim Il Sung was to North Korea. People worship him because they really think he's a divine figure: some of the practitioners claimed to have had visions of him bleeding or in pain when they narrowly escaped death or injury. If that doesn't put Christian images into your head, consider this: he even indirectly compared himself to Jesus in the Zhuan Falun book by saying that both he and Jesus were manipulators of the same forces of life (I don't have the book now, so I can't give you the exact terminology).

The followers of Falun Gong are nice, if fanatic, people... again, much like born-again Christians. So maybe Li Hongzhi is to China as Jesus was to Rome? Who knows.

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