At the core of Falun Gong are the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance (or in Chinese, Zhen 真, Shan 善, and Ren 忍). Falun Gong teaches that these are the most fundamental qualities of the universe. Practitioners strive to adopt these qualities in their daily life through meditation, Qigong-like exercises, and the study of moral principles.
Qigong practices like Falun Gong are part of a broader tradition of “cultivation practice” that has existed throughout Asia for millennia. In the West, Falun Gong is often classified as a religion on the basis of its theological and moral teachings. However, Falun Gong differs greatly from religions in the conventional sense in that it does not involve worship, rituals, or the collection of money. People are free to come and go and everyone is welcome regardless of background.
Falun—The Symbol of Falun Dafa
The emblem of Falun Dafa is called the “Falun,” a Chinese term that translates loosely as “Wheel of Law.” It is composed of two primary elements: yin-yang symbols, which are Taoist in nature, and srivatsa, which are Buddhist. The srivasta, or swastika as it is known in English, is commonly seen in Asian Buddhism.
In Asian culture, the negative connotations of the swastika attributed to Hitler and the Nazis are relatively unknown. In fact, the swastika has a history going back thousands of years in many cultures and is widely considered a symbol of good fortune.
Falun Gong is open to everyone. Although it originated in China, it is practised by people around the world. Today, millions of people from different ethnic, cultural, and racial backgrounds and from all walks of life practise Falun Gong. It is taught by volunteers in over 130 countries across the globe. Falun Gong books have been translated into 40 languages and are available free online.
In early 1999, Chinese government officials and state-run media estimated that 70–100 million people were practising Falun Gong in China, making it the fastest-growing spiritual teaching in the world at that time. Today, although people who practise Falun Gong are found in over 130 countries around the world, it is difficult to give precise numbers because the practice has no concept of membership.
Falun Gong was first made public by Mr. Li Hongzhi, a native of Changchun, China. Now living in the United States, Mr. Li is a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and was nominated by the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. He is also the recipient of U.S.-based Freedom House’s International Religious Freedom Award.
Falun Gong was widely popular across China throughout the 1990s and highly praised and awarded by the Chinese government at the time. However, a few top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party launched a violent campaign against the practice in 1999, due to Falun Gong’s growing popularity and because they felt Falun Gong’s emphasis on moral living and traditional Chinese culture was a threat to the atheist communist regime, which largely rules by control and fear.
Many insiders also point out that China’s top leader at the time, Jiang Zemin, personally resented Falun Gong’s popularity, fearing it was stealing attention away from his efforts to build a lasting legacy for himself.
Governments around the world and human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the Chinese Communist Party to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. They have condemned the persecution as an illegal attack by a paranoid regime against believers of a peaceful faith.
“Falun Dafa” and “Falun Gong” refer to the same practice. “Falun Dafa” is the formal name, whereas “Falun Gong” is a more colloquial term made popular in China.
In English, “Falun Dafa” translates to “Law Wheel of The Great Law.”