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FALUN DAFA (also known as Falun Gong) is an ancient cultivation practice teaching people how to live their lives according to the universal principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to obtain genuine well-being of body, mind and spirit. It consists of two main parts - the principles and the exercises and, since it was first brought to public awareness in 1992, over 100 million people have learned and benefited from this spiritual discipline.
Although the teachings of Falun Dafa contain some phrases similar to those used in Buddhism and Taoism, it is not a branch of either the Buddhist or Taoist religion, just as Taichi is not a branch of the Taoist religion and Hatha Yoga is not a branch of Hinduism.
A religion has a rigid organizational structure, a collection plate where donations are accepted at every service, and fundraising activities. Falun Dafa has just a light association or loose network of volunteers. There is no membership fee or registration. People of different backgrounds and skills naturally form a flexible, coordinating structure for group activities. However, all are regarded as students and everyone is equal, no matter how long they have practiced. In Zhuan Falun, Master Li made it very clear, "When you promote it, you should not seek fame or profit. You should serve others voluntarily." Otherwise, "what you promote is not Falun Dafa." Master Li does not allow any donations, fundraising activities, or money to be accumulated in the name of Falun Dafa. If a person is inspired to show Master Li's lectures, demonstrate the exercises, or print an information package such as this, then they find the money to pay for it themselves. These are spontaneous, individual actions rather than an organizational decision or requirement. The emphasis is on personal development, not organizing events.
There is no religious ritual or worship in this cultivation system. It does not convert people to blind faith. Instead, it explains that the universal law of Truth-Compassion-Tolerance (Zhen-Shan-Ren) has different manifestations, and therefore different requirements for each level. To reach higher levels, people must assimilate to the requirements of those different levels. Although practitioners respect Master Li Hongzhi very much, he does not want anyone to worship him. He has always told us that he simply teaches the Law (principles) of the universe and we should "take the Law as the teacher". For example, in Zhuan Falun he says: "There is another principle in our universe that if you want or pursue something, others will not stop you. Here we teach you to take the right way and explain the Law (principles) thoroughly to you at the same time. You will have to understand it on your own. It is your business whether you want to learn it or not. The master shows you the entrance, and it is up to yourself to practice cultivation or not. Namely, no one will intervene in which path you will take, what you want, and what you try to attain, except offer a word of kind advice."
Last years' peaceful demonstration by about 10,000 practitioners in Beijing was a perfect example of self-discipline and self-restraint - qualities developed through the cultivation practice. It took place because the police in the nearby city of Tianjin used force to drive practitioners away from the offices of a youth magazine when they were calmly asking that an article containing false information be corrected. A number of people were arrested without any legal reason. The spontaneous, peaceful, and voluntary gathering in Beijing was to ask for a less-restricted environment in which to safely practice the virtuous and beneficial cultivation system of their choice, and to request the release of those who were arrested. It was not a criticism of the Chinese government and there were no signs, slogans, or political intentions. It had nothing to do with the Tiananmen Square incident 10 years ago, nor with any political party.
However, back in the land where it was introduced, the Chinese Communist Party deems all matters of the soul, spirit, or faith as superstitions because they lie outside of the Marxist ideologies of materialism and atheism. Three years ago, the Chinese government chose to ban Zhuan Falun, because of its "superstitious" content.
Despite their efforts against it however, the practice continued to gain in popularity. After an official investigation into the practice, the Chinese leadership was shocked to discover that by early 1999, an estimated 70 to 100 million people all over China were practicing Falun Dafa. Orders were immediately given to the police to start harassing practitioners, prevent them from practicing together, or threaten to lock people in jail if they didn't pay large sums of money. In one incident in Tianjin, police even took to beating and detaining practitioners who dared to come forward to express their views.
Practitioners around the country responded by asking their local government agencies to assist them - all to no avail. They were simply told that the orders had come from the central government. Thus, on April 25, about 10,000 people showed up outside the main government buildings in Beijing to present a request for a legal and non-hostile environment in which to practice. The gathering was peaceful, orderly, and lawful. After a few practitioners were able to meet with certain high-level government officials, everyone quietly went home.
What the Falun Dafa practitioners did not know at the time was that the Communist Party and the government were beginning to consider the practice a serious threat to their power. In July, the government branded Falun Gong a cult and outlawed the practice. Police started ransacking people's homes, confiscating books, and arresting hundreds of people whom they considered to be Falun Dafa "organizers". Since then, tens of thousands of practitioners have been arbitrarily detained and mistreated, some even tortured to death, simply because they are not willing to denounce their beliefs. Many of these people, ordinary citizens with ordinary jobs, are now awaiting trials while their access to lawyers is denied. Recently, the persecution escalated to such an extent that the Chinese government has denounced Falun Dafa as an "evil religion" and new laws were legislated to "punish without mercy" those who were labeled "cult". In addition to launching an intensive defamation campaign against the founder and force such propaganda into every community and workplace throughout the country, the Chinese government has also issued an arrest warrant and extradition request for Mr. Li, and also sent smear materials internationally.
For those of us in North America who practice Falun Dafa, the crackdown in China seems like a terrible misunderstanding. We look at the teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance and we see nothing that any government wouldn't be overjoyed to have its citizens practice. The practice is peaceful and has no political agenda. We hope that people outside of China will come to understand why so many people in the world feel blessed to have found Falun Dafa as their true spiritual path.
Attending the 9-day session of Master Li's video lectures is a good way to systematically learn Falun Dafa, about 2 hours every day including the 5 sets of exercise teaching. The local practitioners hold these 9-day seminars regularly.
Visit www.falundafa.ca for additional information, explanations and articles about Falun Dafa