Falun Gong: Definition, History & Beliefs

Instructor: Margaret Moran
Falun Gong is a practice based on truth, compassion, and forbearance. This lesson goes into the evolution of this modern movement in China as well as some interesting facts about its history and beliefs.

What is Falun Gong?

Bettering yourself can be an amazing thing, and a modern movement focusing on morality and virtue has attracted a large following. Falun Gong is a modern Chinese spiritual practice that focuses on meditation and qigong exercises to align the chi (the body's life energy). A blend of Buddhist and Daoist traditions form its basis. Although the term Falun Gong is the normal name for this practice, it also goes by the name of Falun Dafa.

History of Falun Gong

Falun Gong is linked to the modern qigong movement, which emerged in the early 1950s in China. Qigong is a type of exercise that combines repetitive body movements, and is said to promote overall health and wellness as well as spiritual mindfulness. The 1950s in China was a time of great persecution of religious movements by the powerful Communist Party, so labeling this new movement as a health regimen was a strategic choice. Those who took up this early stage of qigong saw it not as religious, but as a branch of Chinese medicine.

In May of 1992, Li Hongzhi, who formatted the movement of Falun Gong, would give his first public seminar on Falun Gong. Li, who had learned under several Buddhist and Daoist masters, is said to have reorganized the concepts he had learned from these masters. Falun Gong is the product of writing down those teachings, teachings that Li would charge very little or nothing to pass on.

While many different disciplines of qigong have been taught, Falun Gong stands out among them for teaching a wide range of both spiritual and metaphysical topics. The focus on morality and virtue draws similarities with the Buddhist School Fojia, but it is also blended with concepts from Taoism and even Confucianism. Since it draws on a variety of sources, Falun Gong has sometimes been termed a syncretic faith. It motivates those who practice to break ties with material attachments, and to strive to achieve a spiritual enlightenment.

Unfortunately, modern day practitioners in China are still being persecuted, so the exact number of those who practice is hard to confirm. Some studies claim that between 70-80 million people just within China still practice these exercises, while others claim it's only about 2 or 3 million.

Beliefs of Falun Gong

In order to understand the interesting beliefs of this enlightening movement, you must first know what Falun Gong means. The term Falun refers to a ''law wheel,'' which is an intelligent entity made of high spiritual energy. A practitioner builds this Falun in their lower abdomen, and it rotates 24 hours a day. This energy comes to help the practitioner by absorbing energy from the universe and transforming that energy into energy for the body and spirit of the person. Gong refers to the spiritual oneness and enlightenment that can be achieved.

Falun Gong has eight guiding principles.

1. The Falun within is grown and nurtured; it is not an elixir.

2. Even when a person is not practicing the movements, the Falun is refining the person.

3. A practitioner's consciousness is cultivated, since it is that person the Gong energy goes to sustain.

4. A person's mind and body both are benefited by the Falun.

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