According to reports from Canberra, supporters of Falungong will join the ranks of pro-Tibetan separatists likely to try to disrupt the passage of the Olympic torch when it arrives in Australia on April 24 2008.
What is Falungong and what are its objectives?
Falungong is an anti-communist cult built around a version of the traditional Chinese practice of qi gong.
Qi gong is the art of using breathing exercises and meditation to develop the body’s qi, or energy field, from dantian, a spot located halfway between the navel and the pubic area. Once generated, the qi flows through channels in the body called meridiens and can even be transmitted from one person to another by a skilled practitioner. It is used in this way in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Variations in the methods used to generate qi have given rise to different schools of qi gong, each with its own recognised master.
The master of the Falungong school of qi gong is Li Hongzhi. He has resided in the US for years now following a series of provocations which challenged the Chinese Communist Party to accept Falungong as a religion recognised by the state – on a par with Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Christianity and others.
Not only was this demand unacceptable to the Chinese government, but further investigation of Falungong revealed that it was developing as a cult with adherents displaying blind loyalty to Li Hongzhi whose teachings were bizarre departures from any rational approach to qi gong. Self-inflicted damage, mental instability and suicide were being reported among its followers.
Falungong, gaining in notoriety through its provocations and subsequent banning as a cult, became a magnet for socially disaffected and alienated Chinese.
It has also become popular with some in the West who are attracted to Eastern philosophies and practices, and all too keen to believe that the Chinese Communist Party is authoritarian and repressive because, amongst other things, it has banned this organization.
To what extent then does Falungong share the characteristics of a cult, namely, that its members are able to be manipulated emotionally, that they are prone to fear and easy to control, by a leader whose authority is absolute?
In May 2001, Asiaweek magazine, a subsidiary of Time magazine (well-known for its own anti-communist line and its fear-mongering in relation to China) carried out an investigation into Falungong. Whilst not going so far as to endorse the Chinese judgement that Falungong was a cult, Asiaweek nevertheless reported findings that support the characteristics of cults.
Firstly, in relation to the absolute authority of Li Hongzhi, it said “Li instructs practitioners to go over his books again and again, without evaluation.” Moreover, “all the followers I interviewed recognise Li as the sole master. In fact many followers’ homes display a picture of him surrounded by a halo. They do not question his teaching that humanity is so rotten it is in danger of annihilation in our lifetime, and that only faithful adherents can be saved.”
Secondly, it gave evidence of the emotional manipulation of followers. It reported that adherents renounce medicines and doctors, believing that Li’s principles and exercises will heal them and prevent illness. Following a call by Li for “disciples to step forward in the face of life and death” five followers set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square in January 2001. Other instances were reported later.
Thirdly, it showed that followers were prone to fear from forces outside the cult: “For two hours we delved into a world of corrupted souls, prehistoric civilizations and looming alien possession…as we read each word aloud: ‘Anyone who uses a computer has already been coded by aliens. This is absolutely true. But our followers do not have this problem, because I’ve already cleared them’. (Said one follower) ‘Our master said the human body is perfect, and that’s why aliens want to conquer us’”.
Fourthly, the report showed the ease with which followers could be controlled: “Li clearly asserts his authority via a loose but highly effective organization.” “…contrary to its claims, the group is highly organised.”
The Chinese Government has amassed a huge amount of corroborating evidence which is available online, but I have drawn from the Asiaweek report because it cannot be dismissed as “Chinese propaganda”.
The last two cult characteristics I'll mention are taken directly from Li Hongzhi's own speech in new York on March 27, 1997 (see http://www.falundafa.org/book/eng/lectures/1997L.html )
Li Hongzhi insists on his own omnipotence in these terms: "...although you can’t see me in person, as long as you practice cultivation, I’m actually right by your side. And as long as you practice cultivation, I can be responsible for you all the way to the end; what’s more, I’m looking after you every single moment. (Applause) Whoever doesn’t do it this way is doing the same as teaching an evil practice, doing bad things, and casually leaking heaven’s secrets."
In addition to controlling followers ("cultivators") through his omnipotence, Li Hongzhi proclaims their uniqueness, their special quality that separates them from humans: "as a cultivator you can’t confuse yourself with an everyday person. To put it a bit seriously, you’re no longer human. As I just said, humans have various emotions and desires, and live for emotion (qing). During the course of cultivation you are gradually taking these things more lightly and gradually letting go of them until you completely discard them. Humans live for these things, but you don’t. Could you be the same as a human? You aren’t the same."
But Falungong is more than just a cult based around a leader who believes in aliens.
Falungong’s potential to serve the interests of US imperialism because of its mass following and its opposition to Chinese authorities was soon noted by conservative US politicians and State Department funding conduit, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). One blogger who has consistently exposed Falungong’s activities, Bobby Fletcher of Seattle, has recently provided links to sources that show that over 6 million US dollars has gone to Falungong over a five year period (see http://falungongpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/03/money-trail-between-us-government-and.html ).
This explains the movement’s ability to finance a newspaper, Epoch Times, as well as a TV station (New Tang Dynasty Television) and a radio station.
Epoch Times is a full colour broadsheet that purports to be a straight source of news, much of it taken from regular news agencies, and some from its own staff of writers. It is published in large quantities and is distributed free in Chinese, English and other languages. It can be found in any shopping centre or public library.
Epoch Times carries little advertising, much of it “in house” promotions for causes associated with it own agenda (art exhibitions, cultural extravaganzas and the like). That agenda is obvious in the slanted coverage of matters relating to China. Nowhere is the link between the paper and Falungong spelt out, so the distorted reportage on China is slipped in between ordinary stories of world events, much like my mother used to mix up aspirin (bad taste) with condensed milk (good taste) to spoonfeed me when I had a headache.
One of its main tasks is to publicise anti-communist activities and views. Regularly re-hashed in the paper is the so-called “Nine Commentaries” on the Chinese Communist Party, a fabricated and distorted account of murder, assassination, bullying, intimidation and anything else that would scare a three year old on a windy night.
It also regularly updates figures on the numbers of people who have denounced and withdrawn from the Chinese Communist Party. Here Falungong claims extraordinary success: withdrawals of membership went from 1 million in April 2005, to 2 million by the end of the year, to 8 million in February 2006, to a staggering 32.2 million by February 2008! By this time next year, and at that rate, the Party should have totally collapsed!
Epoch Times is also responsible for contemporary atrocity stories, one of which famously was featured as a TV documentary - the story of organ harvesting at Sunjiatun in Shenyang Province. The only problem was that this was a complete hoax. The analysis of the hoax, including denials of organ harvesting by US Congressional investigators, is told here (http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20060509_2.htm and http://sujiatunfactorhoax.blogspot.com/ ).
So it comes as no surprise that Epoch Times/Falungong reports on the violent riots by a handful of separatist elements in Lhasa in March should be subject to major misrepresentation. The separatist riots were violent and targeted ordinary civilians. Problem: the success of the separatist movement is dependent on it being headed by a self-proclaimed pacifist. Remedy: fabricate a story that the rioters were Chinese disguised as Tibetans who, because communists use such devious strategies, wanted to create grounds for a “brutal crackdown”!
Don’t believe it? Here’s the Epoch Times report: http://en.epochtimes.com/news/8-3-29/67906.html and a rebuttal http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20080330_1.htm. Epoch Times, however, still continues to publish stories that accuse the Chinese of being behind the riots for their own ulterior purposes!
My conclusion is pretty clear. Falungong is a US-financed cult led by a lunatic who is driven to oppose the Chinese government because it quite correctly banned his vehicle for domination of the gullible.
Of course, if you believe in the threat from aliens, are happy to be enslaved by a nut, if you’re prepared to swap time that could be spent serving the people for time spent trying to turn the swastika-shaped wheel below your belly button, then do so.
Capitalist countries guarantee that sort of freedom.
 See also http://thirstyghosts2.blogspot.com/2007/05/infiltrating-falun-gong.html for a Taiwanese writer’s account of nine days spent with Falun Dafa, and the Comments at the end of his post where there is an exchange about Li Hongzhi’s claim that the African country of Gabon is the location of a 2 billion year old nuclear reactor!