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Falun Gong is a set of 5 exercises (4 standing, 1 in lotus position) that bears some similarities to qigong. It is a cultivation practice, which means the goal is to return to one’s original self with the main precepts being Zhen-Shan-Ren (truthfulness, compassion, forbearance). It is not a religion; there is no worship, no formalities, no hierarchy of any kind, practitioners are absolutely forbidden to receive any money for passing on the practice, and all the teachings are free on the website. I think there’s around 80 million practitioners worldwide.
The practice is very straightforward and easy to learn, but that won’t get you anywhere, you have to also cultivate yourself to a higher standard of living through giving up one’s attachments and raising your xinxing (mind-heart nature), and the way to do that is through Zhen-Shan-Ren (truthfulness, compassion, forbearance) in all aspects of your daily life. The 5 “exercises” are simply a reinforcement mechanism, if you will. Whoever doesn't adhere to these requirements, is not a practitioner. Furthermore, if you just practice the 5 exercises without living to a higher standard, you won't raise towards higher understanding or cultivation.
Thus far, it is the absolute best thing that’s ever happened to me, and there are many more people who can attest to that, however my experiences are a very limited source and they can’t be applied to other people, as I only understand this according to my level of cultivation. Therefore, your experiences and reactions will differ than mine. I really think that people should make their own conclusions about this kind of stuff, regardless of the outcome:
I was downtown Toronto this summer, and passed by some people handing out papers about this. They were really focusing on the downpression by the Chinese government. Hundreds and thousands are prosecuted, leaving many children orphaned. Pretty sick.
-------------------- You're unique. Just like everyone else.
Indeed, it is probably one of the worst spiritual persecutions in the history of mankind -- its like their entire government/media is crushing down on them. Falun Gong practitioners aren't not allowed to get involved in politics and there is no hierarchy of any kind, every person follows their own path. However, we still have the right to inform people that our fellow practitioners are being persecuted at this level. I will admit that some practitoners don't always uphold the principles of Zhen-Shan-Ren and their ways of informing may seem unorthodox, but they are almost all peaceful protests. If they aren't peaceful, then they aren't true practitioners. If all of your friends and family were being dragged away into labor camps and killed, I'm sure many would stand up and speak out about it too.
We had a bunch of people from China come into our Asian Religous Philo class a few semesters ago who had first-hand experience w/ the torture over there. Very fucked up stuff. I was pretty sickened....
-------------------- After one comes, through contact with it's administrators, no longer to cherish greatly the law as a remedy in abuses, then the bottle becomes a sovereign means of direct action. If you cannot throw it at least you can always drink out of it. - Ernest Hemingway
If it is life that you feel you are missing I can tell you where to find it. In the law courts, in business, in government. There is nothing occurring in the streets. Nothing but a dumbshow composed of the helpless and the impotent. -Cormac MacCarthy
He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus