Red Flags about Falun Gong/Falun Dafa

11 Aug

Some “red flags” went up for me recently about Falun Gong/Falun Dafa: 

The first was when I heard a woman say “I can’t come to yoga classes at the senior center anymore because I am doing Falun Gong and they said I can’t do both.” I have concerns whenever I hear of a group that informs its participants that they need to do that group’s practices exclusively. I know that there are times when it is valuable to focus on only one thing and yet …. 

My second concern was about a full-page ad in the “Senior Times” October 2000 issue about Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa) offering a “Free” program for a “worthy and enjoyable investment of their time towards health, happiness and meaningful living.” I recalled a gut feeling that I had over a year ago when I saw the Falun Gong booth at an International Fair. I was reminded of the feeling I had years ago on street corners when approached with a “free flower” by the “Moonies,” (followers of ‘Rev. Moon,’) or the “free books and invitations to dinner” by the Hare Krishnas. 

My concern grew when I saw their free newsletter, “Boundless.” When I was recently asked if I knew anything about Falun Gong by a Program Director at a senior center, who had been approached to have the center offer their free programs, I decided to find out what I could about it. 

I immediately thought of checking the freedomofmind website and found that the 2 articles about Falun Gong seemed to corroborate my concerns. I have been checking out the Falun Dafa website, as well as reading their “Boundless” Newsletter. 

In the newsletter, they say that “millions of people all over the world have chosen to make Falun Dafa a part of their daily lives,” and that it has grown mostly by word of mouth. If that is true, I wonder why there now seems to be such emphasis on advertising and recruitment, rather than just attraction. 

I believe that the “5 exercises” that they offer may have benefits, and that their teachings about “Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance” may have merit. I agree that the “mass arrests and police brutality” by the Chinese Government of Falun Gong practitioners is a clear violation of human rights and is not to be tolerated. However, I wonder if that is now being featured as a way of gaining sympathy. 

I have some major questions about any group that proclaims their leader (be it with a title of “Guru” or “Master”) as “expounding the true Law,” as is stated in their newsletter. I also have some major questions about what I see as inconsistencies on their own webpage. 

In their “Brief introduction,” they state “Also essential to the practice are the five gentle exercises, including a seated meditation, which you can learn quickly and easily at any of the thousands of practice locations around the world.” 

In describing “Exercise 5,” they state “Principles: Strengthening Divine Powers is a tranquil cultivation exercise. It is a multi-purpose exercise that strengthens divine powers (including supernormal abilities) and gong potency by turning the Falun using Buddha hand signs. This exercise is above the intermediate level and was originally a secret exercise. Performing this exercise requires sitting with both legs crossed. Single-leg crossing is acceptable at the initial stage, when double-leg crossing cannot be done. One is eventually required to sit with both legs crossed….” 

From those two paragraphs, I gather that in order to reap the full benefits of what they offer, one would be “required to sit with both legs crossed.” In their newsletter they state that “Falun Gong is a complete cultivation practice of the body, mind and spirit.” Maybe we need to be wary of such “cult”ivation.
 About Steffi Lewin Shapiro

As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years of experience, and a yoga teacher with over 30 years of experience, I encourage people to find their own inner truth, to listen to their own gut feelings, to “not do anything that doesn’t feel right.” I believe that we each do know what we need for our own highest good, yet are often swayed by our desires or aversions, which are often fed to us by others in our society. I believe that being open to a diversity of opinions or traditions is useful for us to find what’s best for each of us. I once heard someone say that “the truth is whatever it is, and then someone puts a colander over it, and each person/group claims their own little hole as The Truth.”

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