Friday, June 02, 2006

The Falun Gong post...

A few years ago I was treated to a pitch by members of Falun Gong, and was accompanied by a (neutral) Chinese professor of Chinese studies at a local university, as well as my wife, who helped translate some of the more bizarre claims of the pitch. Li Hongzi represented himself as a successor to the Buddha and Boddhisattvas, claimed in effect only he could profit from the teaching of Falun Gong, claimed that his method was "the best" of the 84,000 doors of Buddhism, and in general did the "I'm the leader of the cult" thing in a Chinese paradigm. This I all had translated to me, by folks who didn't have an axe to grind, one way or the other.

I had later done a bit of background work on my own, and the claims that "Falun Gong is a superior form of Buddhism" is kind of like saying "Buddhism is a superior form of Islam." From one source:

Falun (Law Wheel) and Falun Gong

Q: What does the Falun consist of?

A: The Falun is an intelligent being consisting of high-energy substances. It transforms Gong (cultivation energy) automatically and it does not exist in our dimension.

Q: What does the Falun look like?

A: It can only be said that the color of a Falun is golden yellow. This color does not exist in our dimension. The background color of the inner circle is a very bright red. The background of the outer circle is orange. There are two red-and-black Taichi (Yin-Yang) symbols, which belong to the Tao School. There are also two other red-and-blue Taichi symbols, which belong to the Great Pre-Taoism School. These are two different schools. The swastika symbol "" is golden yellow. People with Tianmu (third eye) of a lower level see the Falun rotate similar to an electric fan. If one can see it clearly, it is very beautiful and can inspire the practitioner to cultivate even harder and strive forward vigorously.

Q: Where is Falun located initially? Where is it located later?

A: I really only gave you one Falun. It is located at the lower abdomen, the same location where the Dan (energy cluster) we talked about is cultivated and kept. Its position does not change. Some people can see many Falun spinning. Those are used externally by my Fashen (law body) to adjust your body.

Q: Can Falun be developed through practice and cultivation? How many of them can be developed? Is there any difference between these and the one given by master?

A: Falun can be developed through practice and cultivation. As your energy potency continues to strengthen, more and more Falun will be developed. All Falun are the same. The only thing is that the Falun located at the lower abdomen area does not move around, because it is the root.

Q: How can one feel and observe the presence and rotation of the Falun?

A: There is no need to feel or observe it. Some people are very sensitive, and will feel the rotation of Falun. During the initial period after Falun is installed, you may feel a little unused to it being in your body, you may have abdominal pain, or feel like something is moving and have the sense of warmth, etc. After you have adapted to it, you will not have any sensation. But, people with supernormal capabilities can see it. It is just the same with the stomach; you do not feel the movement of your stomach.

Q: The direction in which the Falun rotates on the Falun emblem is not the same as the one on the student pass (referring to the first and second seminars). The Falun printed on the student pass for the seminar rotates counterclockwise. Why?

A: The goal is to give you something good. Its outward emission of energy adjusts everyone’s body, so it does not rotate clockwise. You can see it rotating.

Q: At what time does master install the Falun in the students?

A: We want to discuss this with all of you here. We have some students who have practiced many different practices. The difficulty lies in the fact that we have to get rid of all the messy and disorderly things that exist in the body, keeping the good and throwing away the bad. Therefore, this is an additional step. After that, Falun may be installed. According to the level of his cultivation, the size of Falun installed varies. Some have never practiced Qigong before. Through readjustment and with good inborn quality, some people may have their sicknesses eliminated in my class, leaving the level of Qi and entering into the state of "Milky White Body". Under those circumstances, Falun can also be installed. Many people have poor health. They are undergoing adjustments continuously. How can Falun be installed before the adjustments are completed? This is only a minority. Do not worry. I have already installed the Qiji (energy mechanism) that can form the Falun.

Q: How is the Falun carried?

A: It is not carried. I send out the Falun and install it in your lower abdomen. It is not in our physical dimension, but in a different one. If it were in this dimension, with the intestines that are inside of your lower abdomen, what would happen if it started to spin? It exists in another dimension and is in no conflict with this one.

Q: Will you continue to give out Falun in your next class?

A: You will get only one. Some people sense the rotation of many Falun. These are for external use, only for the purpose of adjusting your body. The biggest feature of our exercise is when energy is emitted, a string of Falun are being released. Therefore before you start to practice, you already have many Falun spinning in your body, adjusting your body. The Falun that I truly give to you is the one located in the lower abdomen.

(Read the whole bit here. I'm sure Theravadins will be surprised to know they have "supernormal abilities.")


What this has to do with The Four Noble Truths, or The Eightfold Path, or relying on one's self, or anything that Buddhists would recognize is beyond me.


So it was with a bit of surprise that I came across a bit of pro-Falun Gong propaganda over at getreligion.org, which uncritically takes The Epoch Times as a reliable source. (Incidentally, it's likely The Epoch Times connection that leads most Chinese I know to suspect that the incident over the Bush/Hu Jintao press conference was staged; the Bush folks they say simply can't be so incompetent as to not know who they were letting in to that press conference. I'm not so sure -they're not very competent.)

While I'm against thuggery of course, and I don't think the governments should rely on brutality to deal with spiritual fraudsters, I also think that there ought to be a basic fidelity to what people actually express when they express themselves, and Falun Gong has as much in common with Mahayana Buddhism as say, Bahai'ism does with Judaism.

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