Archive | February, 2011

Lloyd Lofthouse: The cult Falun Gong

15 Feb

Ⅰ. A Visit from the Falun Gong (1)
In December 2007, two members of the Falun Gong visited our home. It’s one thing to hear about the Falun Gong in the Western media that China is discriminating and/or abusing them. It is another thing to meet members of the cult and drink tea with them at your kitchen table.
In December 2007, two members of the Falun Gong visited our home. It’s one thing to hear about the Falun Gong in the Western media that China is discriminating and/or abusing them. It is another thing to meet members of the cult and drink tea with them at your kitchen table.
I’ve heard about the Falun Gong through the Western media for years but knew little about the cult except that they were a thorn in the throat of the Chinese government. In 2008, members or supporters of the Falun Gong may have fire bombed the entrance to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. The media mentioned it might have been Tibetan separatists. Who knows which group was responsible, since both are enemies of China’s government?

My wife knew someone who joined the Falun Gong years after they were friends. This friend also spent time in Chinese jails for her Falun Gong beliefs and activites. I’m going to call this friend Gao Fangpi (not her real name).  In 2007, Gao Fangpi was on tour with a Chinese group performing a musical to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
See The Millennium Cult

A Falun Gong member commented on this article “A Visit from the Falun Gong”, then Lloyd Lofthouse responsed to him thrice. 

1. Lloyd Lofthouse said on April 26, 2010 at 14:19: 
True, it appears strange that today’s government should react the way they do to this cult. Maybe, it has something to do with the Chinese mindset since Chinese governments have reacted to cults like the FLG like this for more than a thousand years. After all, China is not a culture where any religion has dominated the society and this one doesn’t even believe in one god but many dieties like the FLG and their followers react and act more like people who have been brainwashed ??????????

2. Lloyd Lofthouse said on April 26, 2010 at 14:26:

True, there’s no proof that Tibetan Separatists, Islamic Fundamentalists or members of Falun Gong fire bombed the Chinese Embasy in San Francisco, but no one can control all the followers in a poltical movement, cult or religion and there is no way to prove that a member of the Falun Gong, who didn’t follow the teachings of the group, didn’t do it since every religiion and cult tends to eventually have a radical element that would stoop to violence.
It is also easy to the peacefull members of any group to denounce members who may have joined and then turned violent. However, the message received may have been enough to trigger an emballanced person to act out in this way–like the fire bomb.
We also saw violent tendencies in the US from members of the Tea Bag People protesting the new health care bill that was voted into law. Spitting on people, calling others names and threatening violence.
Due to the violent nature of humans, this has happened in history before. No group is immune from insanity.

3. Lloyd Lofthouse said on April 26, 2010 at 14:30:
As for the Falun Gong being called a cult, I’m sure that no members of the FLG would call themselves a cult but many outsiders who do not belong may see the FLG that way. I have listened to members speaking about the FLG. They came to my house. And it is my “opinion”that the Falun Gong is a cult. Of course, any “opinion”may be wrong to someone else. I provded links to other Blogs where other individuals I do not know also believe the FLG is a cult so I am not alone in my opinion.
Don’t forget, I also attended that New Year celeberation in the Orphium theater. Again, from past experience with other “cults”, what I saw in the Orphium theater matched the same behavior. I was not alone in my observations that led to the opionions that I have.

Ⅱ. The Alleged CIA – Falun Gong Connection (2)

I cannot say that what Gao Fangpi said about the CIA supporting the Falun Gong was true.

However, take into account that in the 70s, the Dalai Lama admitted that the CIA funded his movement against China. So, why not fund the Falun Gong? After all, the CIA has supported Islamic militants in China’s northwest province and has supported the other Tibetan separatist groups (there are four). The CIA has a long and shady history of doing things like this in countries all over the world.

My wife and I saw the Falun Gong Chinese New Year show at the Orpheum and were disgusted (that’s being polite).  What Gao Fangpi didn’t tell us was that the show heavily promoted Falun Gong. Nothing I read or heard over the years prepared me for the truth.

Instead, the Western mainstream media has often criticized China for not allowing the Falun Gong the religious freedoms enjoyed in the United States where freedom of religion is a fundamental right.

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Ⅲ. The Falun Gong and Costco (3)

Before going into the Orpheum Theater that night, I thought Falun Gong was a Christian sect. After all, there are more than forty Christian sects. But during the performance, I discovered that Falun Gong was not Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish. Falun Gong promoted individual peace and harmony through belief in several gods.

If you are curious, you may find a few members of Falun Gong outside the Chinese embassy in San Francisco. They are almost always there when we go to pick up visas before traveling to China. You may even see the pictures they have set up showing victims of torture.

Falun Gong protesting outside Chinese embassy in San Francisco

A year later, while shopping at Costco, I discovered a table and display for a Chinese musical. The people at that table were dressed in Ming or Tang Dynasty costumes, and I was intrigued to say the least.

Then my wife whispered in my ear, “That’s Falun Gong.” I had no idea these costumed people were selling tickets to the same production we’d already seen at the Orpheum. I quickly left.

Share this: This entry was posted on Sunday, April 25th, 2010 at 12:00 and is filed under China, Chinese Culture, Chinese history, cults, politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

About Lloyd Lofthouse

He lives in the belly of a Chinese family, and he earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. While working days as an English teacher at a high school in California, he enjoyed a second job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub.

He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China.  Lloyd has traveled to China often since his first trip in 1999.  He has also spent a decade researching China, and his first two novels are about China.

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Falun Gong: oppressed movement or just plain wacky?

15 Feb

As the Summer Olympic Games draw near, much attention remains focused on China’s human rights offenses. Often, in the same sentence, one can read about abuses in Tibet and against Falun Gong, a spiritual and health movement banned in China.

Although Falun Gong gets positive press in the West — with reporters playing out a David-versus-Goliath theme and Falun Gong’s guiding principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance contrasted with big, bad China — no one seems to mention how truly bizarre this movement is.

Now, I don’t endorse censorship and torture. You can condemn China for any number of wrongdoings. And you might champion the right of people to follow any bizarre spiritual movement they please.

But before becoming enamored by Falun Gong because it is mystical and resembles tai chi or merely because China’s government is against it, you should understand what the movement and exercises are about.

As ancient as 1992

Unlike Tibet’s centuries-old struggle against China, Falun Gong’s dates back only about 15 years. It was invented by a Chinese man named Hongzhi Li, now reportedly living in exile somewhere in Queens. That is, as a spiritual movement and exercise regimen, Falun Gong is younger than Scientology and step aerobics.

Falun Gong practitioners number in the millions, mostly in China, although tens of thousands of people practice this in the United States. A group gathers each weekend on the Washington Mall, performing a watered-down version of tai chi.

Practitioners say these exercises, in conjunction with the aforementioned principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, have cured diseases no doctor could cure and have brought back long-lost vitality etc.

The master’s words

Here’s how Falun Gong allegedly works, an explanation documented in Li’s books but strangely absent from academic and journalistic discourse on Falun Gong:

Through a set of light stretching exercises a practitioner cultivates an intelligent golden-colored entity called the falun, which resides in one’s gut in a different dimension and spins continuously, absorbing energy from remote regions of parallel universes to make the body invincible to disease. “There are people today who are hundreds of years old walking on the streets, only you can’t tell who they are,” explains Li in his book “Falun Gong” (Longseller, 2005).

Li also maintains in this book that David Copperfield is no mere magician but instead possesses some serious falun that enables him to walk through walls.

How does one get the falun? “I personally install it for practitioners in class,” Li says in his book “Zhuan Falun” (Libris, 2004). “The majority of people can feel it … Elderly women will regain their menstrual period.”

Eeek, how can I get rid of it? “Falun is a miniature of the universe that possesses all of the universe’s capabilities … It will forever rotate in your lower abdominal area. Once it is installed in your body, year-in and year-out it will not stop.”

The movement’s movements

Falun Gong is purposefully different from qigong, the 5,000-year-old healing art that includes tai chi and acupuncture (which the Chinese government sanctions). Li explains in his writings how qigong masters have lost their way and how he set out to develop an advanced method of the traditional system, which, he claims, helped many a Chinese monk live hundreds of years.

Expectedly, most tai chi instructors see Falun Gong as useless and a bit daft.

With qigong, all movement is precise. Tai chi is deliberately slow and methodic to maximize the flow of qi, or chi, loosely defined as vital energy, the core concept of qigong. Whether you buy that or not, studies demonstrate how tai chi can help senior citizens gained more strength and balance.

Falun Gong practitioners don’t worry about precision. The stretching is not meant to be strenuous to cultivate qi; rather, it cultivates universal energy, spinning the falun in the clockwise position. (Counter-clockwise is bad, very bad.)

On a positive note, Falun Gong doesn’t seem to be a cult and requires no money. People just gather, do the exercises, socialize a bit and leave. This is certainly healthier than watching TV. Those on the Washington Mall strolling or playing Frisbee, though, were getting a healthier workout.

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Don’t fall for it!

15 Feb

Editor’s note: Falun Gong promotes Shen Yun performance using false advertisements. Many net friends all over the world express their feelings on the net of Yelp after watching the performance. They say the performance is advocating Falun Gong in the guise of traditional Chinese arts and warn people not be duped.


(Rocklin, CA)david h.:

Not for the money…

Saw it in Sactoe, seemed lazy…

I’d really hoped to see something better, and although the dancers were excellent (truly. Reviewers who are down on them don’t appreciate the difficulty of their maneuvers) with difficult choreography that looked good, the costumes were boring, only two of the soloists impressed (and they certainly did), and the pit was S***.

Some ringers held ensemble together a bit.

There were some good “beauty of china” pieces throughout, and some decent traditional ethnic pieces(stylistically, not literally), however the WESTERN influence was WAY too strong, and the propaganda piece through everyone off. The lyrics of the soloists had the poetry of a 4 year old with a crayon up it’s nose in some places. PROPAGANDA.

With Tiananmen sq as a backdrop they expressed religious persecution which does exist, however, one good thing about the CHINESE GOVT is that they would not have allowed THAT PIECE to be performed. That piece ruined the show.

The rest of the show didn’t make sense to me, but if you consider the organization, then perhaps it does. The pro-religious anti-atheist sentiment didn’t strike me much, at least no more than “The Messiah”, so I was not offended. China has a rich heritage of creating successful art which is also propaganda, so that was the part that disappointed me the most… the poeticism.

I’m mad to have wasted the money, and I got the cheapest seats in the place. Would have been worth 15$ tickets in a decent section. Replace the bad propaganda with some good propaganda and you’ve got a show. Also GET SOME REAL MUSICIANS!

(Berkeley, CA)Yushan K.:

Warning by buying tickets to this show, you are supporting a political group, Falun Dafa.  Just thought you’d like to know.

I fully embrace and love all cultures, religions, and beliefs. As long as you don’t try to evangelize me, I am perfectly willing to accept just about anything to learn about and appreciate diversity. But that ends when you have a graphic and violent dance number depicting evil communist soldiers beating a mother in front of a little kid daughter. And it looks worse than it sounds. If that isn’t enough to convince you this is not a family show, I don’t know what is. We should be teaching our children acceptance and coexistence, not fear of what is strange or different. Yes, China is a communist country, get over it. Communism does not equate to evilness. The China of today is a beautifully evolving, changing, and growing nation, and no one can deny its many problems. But seriously, propaganda like this just makes my head hurt. Maybe I’m just overdue for a visit with Gandhi and Mandela, but my initial what-would-i-do-if-i-were-part-of-an-oppressed-group gut says: doesn’t it make sense to fight oppression with truth, rather than more propaganda?

As a citizen of the world, I am deeply offended by the delivery of the message of this show.  Saying this show represents “classical Chinese dance and music” is a bit like having Jack Kevorkian do standup comedy while representing the American Medical Association.  Whether the figurehead in question is right or wrong is up to your personal core beliefs, but don’t let the pretty lady on the posters deceive you – this show is rife with unabashed religious and political statements.

As an American citizen, I am all for the First Amendment, so who am I to say that this show shouldn’t be allowed to run.  All I ask is that there should be a big fat disclaimer on those pretty posters stating exactly what you’re in for: a show about Falun Dafa, not about Chinese culture.  This is deceptive advertising at its worst.  Someone who is close to me took me to this show, and we were both duped.  By the second half of the show, I was cringing in my seat.  Six months later, I am still offended and angry that we weren’t told what it was about until way too late.

(Torrance, CA)alvin h.:

We saw the one in Los Angeles, and was very disappointed with what we experienced.  This show is not very exciting at all, Dancers looked like they were straight from China, costumes were ok…

Both my parents and myself and my family and sister watched this show.  We all agreed that it was definitely not worth the amount of money we paid to see it.

The show also included political scenes which to me, is not considered quality entertainment.  Many of the people sitting around me, mostly Caucasians, left at the intermission; which was probably a good idea.

Yikes is all I have to say.

(San Jose, CA)Linda T.:

CAUTION: The Shen Yun Performing Arts is a Falun Dafa/Falun Gong propaganda show. We were tricked into thinking this was wholesome family entertainment. Throughout the entire show, my family and I were assaulted by highly inappropriate political imagery and religious songs. One dance in particular featured a mother being beaten to death in front of her daughter. I’m all for human rights in China, but this was completely unexpected and unwarranted.

The dancing itself was mediocre and under all the pretty makeup and dresses I noticed more than a few dancers had balance issues. Surprising since, according to the program, most of them had won numerous championships and awards on NTDTV. I later found out that NTDTV and The Epoch Times (where many of the rave reviews were cited) are owned by the Falun Gong organization. The only redeeming parts of the show was the Xiaochun Qi (erhu) and Hong Ming (tenor) performance. Both were technically on point and their performances were awe inspiring. In spite of this, the show’s low production value and high ticket prices ($70~) are a deal breaker. And I agree with whoever said that the dancers were completely stiff and robotic. Creepy, creepy stuff.

(Oakland, CA) Elana K.:

The quality of dancing, skill of the performers and choreographers, and the costume designers definitely deserve 5 stars. However, the fact that this show is simply propaganda for Falun Dafa/Falun Gong deserves 1 star.

The show started out with some beautiful dance sequences and an opera piece with religious lyrics. I’m thinking, ok, a little out of place but the dancing is pretty…

..But then the bilingual announcers/MCs came on stage and introduced a dance piece that represented how Falun Dafa-practicing Chinese are being abused in present-day China, replete with the khaki-wearing “good” Chinese praying, and then being stun-gunned in a dance move by the black and red hammer and sickle motorcycle-jacket wearing “bad” Chinese. Not kidding. Ridiculous, but somehow actually kind of entertaining.

As we walked out of the theater I asked my husband if we had just gone through a religious conversion ceremony.

If you’re not averse to outright religious propaganda, then definitely go for the pretty costumes and beautiful dancing.

(San Jose, CA ) Sam L.:

You know, the performance was okay, the price for a ticket was expensive, about $70 bucks. The thing that gets me, that irritates me to point of violation is that I feel tricked/duped. Yes this show has historical Chinese dance, some acrobats, but no where did I sign up to listen to 4 hours of Falun Gong propaganda – anti commie stuff.

Its not that I agree or disagree with the message, its the fact that I bought these tickets expecting classical / folk Chinese performance only to get a political message with creepy graphics and costumes. I feel gypped, as if my money went to supporting a cult or something.

(Santa Clara, CA) Cyn L.:

The marketing and charging for the show borders FRAUD!!  The set may look OK in the marketing pictures but it is a low budget projection and looks horrible in reality.  The quality of the entire production was terrible.  This is an attempt to push their political and religious propaganda.

NO money back even if you walk out of the show!!!

Dancing  F
Overall performance F
Choreography F
Costumes  F
Set Design  F
Propaganda for the Falun Dafa/Falun Gong deserves an A+

(Mountain View, CA) tex t.:

The dancers and choreography were mediocre. More significantly, the show has a strong religious and political agenda in support of Falun Gong. The ads are misleading to say the show is about traditional dance, since the music is westernized and there is a political agenda.

It was very expensive for what they provided and I am very angry that my cash went to a religious and political organization and that I had to suffer through their propaganda in the name of performing arts.

(San Francisco, CA) Matsuo U.:

Yup it was bad. Very very corny (sp?) and political and amateurish…. to the point it was almost funny. Didn’t pay to see a comedy, but that is what it turned out to be … just a bad joke.

2X $ 95, all of the 1 & 2 Star reviews were my experience as well.

Probably they have moved on to their next victim city by now.

(North Vancouver, BC Canada) NOrthshoreMama M.:

This is by far one of the most disappointing shows I have seen in a LONG time.  Went to this as it was billed as a brilliant, inspiring show, a “cirque du soleil” type experience.  It was nothing of the sort.  It neither had the inspiration, artistry nor talent that Cirque du Soleil has.  The stage direction was god awful.  Every act (appx 5 minutes) the curtain closed for a stage reset (there were no sets, so not sure what they were setting).  And two overly animated and poorly trained actors came out on stage to introduce the next act.  They mugged, and cracked bad and tired jokes in an effort to get some energy out of the crowd.

Each act was the same dancing, the same moves, to different music and different costumes.  Interspersed were a few opera singers who sang religious songs, denigrating atheists and glorifying “believers”.

The whole show felt like a feeble attempt to wrap up some half baked religious messages into a circus show that fell short on all levels.  I felt utterly sorry for the people who came with their children… most of whom were screaming out of boredom after 10 minutes.

(San Francisco, CA) Paul C.:

This was an interesting experience, to be sure.  But not one I’ll ever repeat, and not one that I would ever suggest someone cough up $60 to have.

First off, this is part of a propaganda campaign by the Falun Gong, but there is no mention of this made anywhere in the advertising.  Once the show begins, you’ll know because they pretty much beat you over the head with the message for the next 3 hours.  Yes, 3 hours.  And for the truly obtuse, the message is displayed in 10 foot titles on the bizarre technicolor screen at one point towards the end of the show, “Falun Dafa is Good!”

The dancing was pretty cool, the music was OK.  Costumes were nice, the animated screen was totally bizarre.  The emcees were equally bizarre – sort of robotic and stiff.  And, again, three hours. Ouch.

Of course, it is horrible that the Falun Gong is persecuted in China, even if they are a cult, as some claim.  But, as with anything political or religious, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to be fooled into donating or into sitting through 3 hours of proselytization.

(San Francisco, CA)chelsey g.:

Yikes! It was like a weird creepy cult dance. I thought it was going to be some awesome acrobatic, chinese dance and drum show. The opera singers were horrible. The sets and the lighting were poor, and I just felt weird. I was so let down. ): We left after 45 minutes.

(Sunnyvale, CA)Peter R.:

Avoid this ‘show’ like the plague, and save your money!  Don’t believe what the brochure claims…they are FALSE!  This ‘show’ claims to be entertainment, but it’s NOTHING of the sort.  It’s merely a propaganda put on by the cult Falun Gong (http://en.wikipedia.or…).  Honestly, I don’t care what people practices, but I don’t appreciate having another person’s cultish ‘religion’ pushed on me for 2 hours!!!  This ‘show’ masks its brain-washing agendas with a few badly performed so called traditional Chinese dances.  Again, avoid at all cost.  I would have given it zero stars, but unfortunately, Yelp does not support that. 

What an evil show!  I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

(Hercules, CA)Tiffany W.:

Definitely don’t recommend this show.  The dancing/choreography wasn’t impressive, and the religious and political propaganda totally ruined the show.  The only good thing about it was the music.  Way too much money, way too long, and way too boring.

(San Francisco, CA)Mark H.:

The main event is to sell Falun Gong and I guess this is what these folks are about: deception. I paid $85x 2 expecting a real show and got this thrown in my face. I am sorry for the performers who put together a bunch of nice routines, but then, I figure they were in on this mass deception. Once bit, twice shy. Commercial religion. I hear that the secret backers of this religion are really corporations who want to get their way against the current government in China. I guess I got caught in the cross fire.

(Redwood City, CA)Jerry B.:

I have a different take on the performance. We were given tickets and went to the show today. I have to say the costumes, colors, singing, and dancing were very good. Unfortunately they were all geared to their religious agenda. If I want a sermon I’ll go to church. Their brand of propaganda was much too intrusive and could not be separated from nearly every dance or song. If I had known this was their agenda I would never have gone.

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