Falun Gong: A Way of Cultivation Practice
I was nodding my head while reading Mr. Kenneth Cohen's article in Qi (Vol. 10, No. 2, 2000). I thought he had sufficient knowledge of Qigong and Eastern culture until I saw his personal opinion of Falun Gong. After I finished the article, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Cohen must not have a sufficient understanding of Falun Gong, not even superficially. I believe he took truncated sentences from a Falun Dafa web site and misinterpreted them at his own will. All his doubts are very reasonable. If I had not read all of Mr. Li Hongzhi's works many, many times... if I did not practice Falun Gong myself and had learned from self experience... or if I were ignorant about all the facts discovered in the scientific world... I would definitely agree with him.
This is a most fearsome thing. Because I could have been misled to believe that Falun Gong was a mish-mash of bizarre beliefs that was created by a psycho and therefore miss the most precious thing I could ever encounter in my life. Yet, I should not blame Mr. Cohen, since perhaps he did not read the principle book of Falun Gong--Zhuan Falun. This would explain why he could have such a deep misunderstanding. Did Mr. Cohen surf through a Falun Gong web site and read some pieces of Mr. Li's articles that were intended for Falun Gong practitioners? It is very easy for people to misinterpret these articles if they never read Zhuan Falun.
I would like to answer Mr. Cohen's questions with my personal experience. Hopefully this will help other readers have a more fair understanding about Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is the best thing that ever happened in my life. My earliest memory about Qigong was when I was 4 to 5 years old. My grandfather used to take me to a park near our home in Beijing every morning. He would be doing slow graceful movements while I was playing around. I really liked to watch him. He told me it was called t'ai chi (taijiquan). As I grew up, I was incessantly interested in learning different kinds of Qigong and always wanted to learn more about the mysterious human body. I knew that there must be a reason to why Qigong can cure diseases and there must be more things that a human body can do at its potential. As a consequence I studied biology and medicine. I explored different religions. Yet, I was disappointed and felt that I might never be able to find the answers to these questions during my lifetime.
One afternoon in December 1996, I received a book called Zhuan Falun that had been mailed to me by a friend. I had time to read it through continuously, finishing it that same day. It was a very good start for me as I later learnt most people could not stick with Falun Gong because of not being able to thoroughly finish reading Zhuan Falun to the end. Immediately, I knew I had encountered what I was searching for. Although at that time, my understanding of Falun Gong was still immensely shallow, I found the book had already answered many of my questions regarding diseases, mysteries of the human body, Qigong, religions, society, the origin of humans, and much more. This is why I wanted to learn Falun Gong.
Although I have been receiving the conventional science education for many years, I was still very open-minded to different things. I knew there must be more reasons than we could think of for something to exist. Millions of people have gone through the similar thinking process and have made their educated choice to practice Falun Gong. Even though I had doubts about many things in the book, just as Mr. Cohen had doubts about the articles, I made a fortunate decision to try it. During my years of Falun Gong practice, I have met and talked to hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners. For example, an elderly lady had gained her menses back after practicing Falun Gong (a sign of back-to-youth), a middle-aged lady who was hem dialysis dependant had regained her kidney function and returned to work, a young girl who had aseptic necrosis of femoral heads and was bed-ridden before practicing Falun Gong is now giving Falun Gong lessons... Stories are countless. Each practitioner can tell me a story about how Falun Gong changed his or her life in a very short period of time. I have also experienced changes: my skin became very smooth--this effect can't be achieved on me through drugs or skin care products. I also became very energetic; my inter-personal relationships with relatives and friends became much better. Falun Gong carried me through the tough residency training. During most of those months, I was on-call every fourth day when I had to work more than 30 hours continuously in the hospital. After a sleepless night, I would come to group practice--Falun Gong made me feel fresh again. When my work irritated me, Falun Gong's teaching reminded me about Ren (tolerance), so I could keep compassion for people around me. When my colleges asked for favors, I would try to follow the teachings about gain and loss; as a result I did not expect anything in return. All the things supposed to happen to a practitioner according to the book Zhuan Falun are happening either in me or to someone I know.
A bizarre philosophy or a true science?
During my 5-years of research experience at Yale, I learned that if important facts do not perfectly fit the mainstream, conventional science has a tendency to exclude them. We do not hear about these facts in school. For example, an NBC series called The Mysterious Origins of Man (1) has already overturned Darwin's theory of evolution with numerous excavated archaeological evidences. There have been case reports about reincarnation(2). Brian Weiss M.D. vividly described a genuine reincarnation experience of his patient who had changed his concept about life(3). His patient conveyed the messages from higher-level beings to him while she was in the between-life stages. He wrote that: "there are many dimensions", "each" plane "is a level of higher consciousness", "people are not all created equal", "we all must learn certain attitudes while we're in the physical state", "the reward is in doing...doing unselfishly", etc. All these raised questions--Who am I? Where did I come from?
Last year, a paper published in Science revealed that the pineal concealed in the skull could respond to light(4). The pineal gland has been found to have the same photoreceptors as the eye (5,6) as well as a complete system for optical signal transudation7,8. Could this explain the fact that some Qigong practitioners can see things that ordinary people can't? Experiments showed that plants can think and might even possess a more advanced thinking process than humans.9 Various different ideas constantly appear in our minds, where exactly are they coming from?
Why does medicine sometimes work and other times not? Why can Qigong heal diseases? What is the true source of diseases? Chinese traditional medicine holds that "a clean heart and few desires" is the key to health. Why is that and how could anyone achieve that state? What did the words of the founders of all different religions really mean?
Falun Gong answered all these questions and much more. Pieces of puzzles were put together in front of me and became a map--a multidimensional map of the universe. To me, Falun Gong is an extraordinary science that enables me to explore the truth of the universe. Doubts and disbelieves often pop to my mind while I am reading Zhuan Falun. Sometimes I thought there were contradictions in the book. When I read it again, however, I often found that it was my conventional mentality preventing me from understanding the true meaning of the words. When I follow the law, my mind nature changes followed by body changes. I have read it over and over again and each time I found that my previous understanding was shallow and wrong. I think Falun Gong is the most amazing science.
What is Falun Gong
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, differentiates itself from most other Qigong practices because it goes beyond the pursuit of health and fitness to the goal of greater wisdom and enlightenment. The practice of Falun Dafa has two components: self-improvement through the study of the principles of the universe: Zhen (Truthfulness), Shan (Compassion), Ren (Tolerance), through Mr. Li's teachings (as articulated in two books, Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun) and doing Falun Gong's five gentle exercises. Beginners should start with Falun Gong.
Falun Gong's exercises are simple, graceful, and easy to learn. It is suitable for all ages. Yet it is very powerful. For example, three out of four Falun standing stances are high position (that is, the center of palms is higher than the shoulders) whereas none of the other Qigong Schools begin with a high position. This is because practicing like this can raise blood pressure and is therefore dangerous to high blood pressure patients. However, many people's hypertension was cured after practicing Falun Gong and they are off medicine now. Falun Gong's sitting meditation requires the full-lotus position (with two legs crossed and overlapping each other) whereas other schools only practice a sitting meditation after reaching a high level. The starting point of Falun Gong is at a very high level. Falun Gong's disease-healing effects are undeniable; yet, these are just Falun Gong's side effects. "The exercises are auxiliary means of achieving perfection in cultivation."(10) One who just practices the exercises is not a genuine Falun Gong practitioner.
Mr. Li revealed that Falun Gong's goal is to genuinely bring people to higher levels. He pointed out that Qigong is a prehistoric culture made for cultivation practice--the way to achieve enlightenment. There are two reasons why many people have practiced Qigong for many years but fail to increase their Gong (cultivation energy). The two reasons are that without knowing the law (Fa or Tao) at higher levels one will not be able to practice cultivation and without cultivating one's inner self and one's Xinxing, one will not increase cultivation energy. He explains: "What is Xinxing? It includes De (virtues; a form of matter), tolerance, enlightenment quality, loss, the abandonment of ordinary people's various desires and attachments, as well as being able to suffer hardships, etc. It includes things from many aspects. Every aspect of Xinxing must be upgraded so that you can make genuine advancement."(11)
Zhuan Falun systemically elicits the law at higher levels. It explains the original meaning of words that had been passed on for generations among the community of cultivators, revealing many secrets that were not allowed to be publicized before and unveiling the root of all various cultivation practices (including in different religions) throughout history. Examples are: the third eye, heavenly circuit, and demonic interference. With simple language, the principles for how to be a good person to how to make advancement in cultivation are layed out in the book and can guide a practitioner every step of the way.
Lao Zi said: "Tao is the way that can be followed, but it is not an ordinary way." (tao ke tao, fei chang tao) Falun Gong is for cultivation practice. Just doing the exercises can't do it. It has to be done by following the law and improving one's Xinxing. Is Falun Gong capable of achieving its goal?
Answering Mr. Cohen
I would like to answer this question by responding to Mr. Cohen's comment on "errors" in Falun Gong.
Falun is a unique feature of Falun Gong. It is formed in the Dantian (below the umbilicus) area, but it is not Dan. It consists of high-energy matter and is a miniature of the universe. Like the earth rotating automatically on its own and around the sun, like the galaxies rotating, Falun is constantly rotating. It is this kind of a rotating mechanism. The movements of Falun Gong are just for enhancing this mechanism. The function of Falun is to evolve Gong (high-energy matter), to purify the body, and rectify any abnormal state (like illness) for the practitioner. However, this does not mean that Falun Gong is an effortless practice. You can think of Falun as a factory that can produce Gong. It needs raw material and rules to operate. This material is called De (virtue, a matter) and the rule is the Xinxing standard. Falun Gong is a cultivation practice. "No cultivation way is easy."(11)Falun Gong has high Xinxing requirements.
Recently, I stayed in a hotel for two days for my medical board exam. I meditated and had 6.5 hours of sleep every day while my physician roommate took 4 sleeping pills and still had insomnia for two days. The reason for people to get irritated in a traffic jam or tax day is because they have attachments--the attachments for personal benefits. Yea, right, you would say, "who can be clean of ordinary human desires?" A genuine Falun Gong practitioner can. All Falun Gong activities are always free of charge. Falun Gong practitioners devote their own time and money to hold these activities. All books can be downloaded free from the Internet. I think Falun Gong is the easiest yet the hardest Qigong to practice.
Where did humans come from? All the existing scientific evidence suggests the theory of evolution to be wrong, because there were prehistoric civilizations, and humans can reincarnate. Many religions also provided some answers. Buddhism regards human life as an endless bitter sea (ku hai wu bian), and asks man to turn around for the land (hui tou shi an). Jesus said: "man has sins." Lao Zi said: "The origin of the human has benevolent nature (ren zhi chu, xing ben shan)." We believe that the human body contains a soul (main consciousness, or Yuanshen) that originally came from a different higher dimension. The human body can die, but its soul will not. Our souls came to the earth because they had deviated from the characteristic of the universe (Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance). The plane of earth was created by high-level beings. It is a unique dimension because lives here can't see other dimensions, and can't see the truth of the universe. Man has to suffer pain from illness, tribulations, and even from love. Through suffering, man pays back sin. The purpose of a human being is not to live an ordinary persons life, but for the soul to awaken to the truth--man needs to cultivate in order to go back to the original self. When a soul fails to realize this, as a result, it may continue to conduct wrong deeds. Then it will go through endless reincarnations, accumulate karma, and eventually be destroyed.
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