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Ancient Wisdom for Modern Predicaments: (Cont.)

4512

Vol. 3, No. 1, 2004

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Predicaments: (Cont.)

 - The Truth, Deceit, and Issues Surrounding Falun Gong

Langone used Hong Kong’s example to illustrate China’s relaxation of control to the former British colony. However, the recent protest by 500,000 Hong Kong citizens was precisely sparked by China’s extending its control and restriction of freedom to Hong Kong through Article 23 legislation. Human rights watchers have seen increases in China’s human rights violations, towards not only Falun Gong practitioners, but also other dissident groups, such as underground Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and democracy advocates (HRIC 2003).

 

Langone (2003) called for “examining the evidence critically and laboriously.” That is a part of the effort of what Falun Gong practitioners are doing in China. This includes their efforts in breaking the information blockade by the government and broadcasting video clips about the truth of the persecution, as well as sending those files to the outside world.

Contrary to what Langone speculated, Falun Gong, from its very beginning, was never intended to be a system for “improving and maintaining good health” (Langone 2003), but a practice that is “genuinely guiding people toward high levels” (Li 1999a, p.1), despite the fact that practicing Falun Gong does have a beneficial effect on a person’s health. It has never been the case that Falun Gong suddenly changed its direction midway. It was the government, or more precisely, the Jiang Zemin’s regime, that changed its stance from supporting Falun Gong, to neither supporting nor being against it, to being totally against this cultivation practice. The reasons for this about-face were previously addressed.

Langone (2003) inferred properly that for a group as large as Falun Gong, there are bound to be some incidences of mishaps that might be “associated” with Falun Gong,but not necessarily “caused” by Falun Gong. Because of that, the Chinese government “would not have to lie” in order to compile evidence of harm associated with practicing Falun Gong. But the Chinese government nonetheless did lie to strengthen their propaganda, such as in the case of Ms. Du Weiping (Clearwisdom 2002), among the 1400 cases of death. This reveals from another perspective how desperate the government was in incriminating Falun Gong and justifying their persecution.

Next we would like to answer the five questions Langone asked Falun Gong practitioners. Obviously we address them from our own perspectives, and don’t speak for any other practitioners or for Falun Gong as a whole. All practitioners havedifferent understandings regarding the teachings in Falun Gong.
On healing, taking medicine, and seeing doctors, etc. (Langone Questions 1&2)

First of all, there is no teaching on healing, per se, in the works of Falun Gong, for healing and keeping fit is not an objective of Falun Gong cultivation practice. Mr. Li Hongzhi has expounded on diseases, taking medicine, and cultivation. Never has he ever said that a practitioner should not take medicine. In fact, he has said the direct opposite. “Some people want to damage [Falun] Dafa, and say things about not taking medicine like, ‘We aren’t allowed to take medicine once we start practicing this.’ Actually, it’s not that I don’t allow you to take medicine... Nor have I said that the person absolutely can’t cultivate once he takes medicine” (Li 1997b). “We have not said that you should not take medicine when you are not feeling well. We have not” (Li 1997a). When being asked what to do in the situation of food poisoning, Mr.Li said, “If you really have food poisoning, you really have to go to a hospital”(Li 1994a).

Just like one who does not practice Falun Gong, a practitioner has his or her own judgment about when to go see a doctor. As far as we know, all the female practitioners have their babies delivered in the hospital and some of them choose to receive anesthesia for natural birth and some of them choose to have C-section delivery.

Since July 22, 1999, the state-controlled media in China first claimed that 700 people died as a result of practicing Falun Gong, and in the next week the number mysteriously became 1,400 and then this number was increased to 1,700. For casesthat Falun Gong practitioners were able to verify, none of them were caused by practicing Falun Gong. Besides the fact that these cases have never been investigated by an independent third party and that the Chinese government is notorious for its handling of statistics (as shown during the recent SARS epidemic), there are serious doubts about the Chinese government’s way of interpreting the data. Let us use for now the number of two million Falun Gong practitioners which was underreported by the state media in China since the start of the persecution (the actual estimate by Public Security Bureau was 70 million). Among two million practitioners, 1,700 of them supposedly died since July 22, 1999, which constitutes adeath rate of less than 0.03%. Yet this is much lower than the nation’s natural death rate of 0.65%. If, according to the Chinese government, “Falun Gong does not allow people to take medicine or go to the hospital,” these data suggest, to the government’s dismay, that Falun Gong is quite effective at healing disease and keeping fit, for it resulted in a death rate 20 times below the national average. If one keeps in mind the fact that a large portion of the practitioners were seniors and those with illnesses that could not be cured by hospitals, this healing effect is actually even more significant.

It is true that most Falun Gong practitioners do not take medicine, both of us included. This is because after practicing, we became healthy and therefore do not need to take medicine. In fact, before the persecution, the Chinese government lauded Falun Gong practitioners for saving the country’s medical expenses. In December 1993, at the Beijing Oriental Health Expo, Mr. Li received the highest honor of “The Cutting-Edge Science Award," a “Special Expo Golden Award," and a title of “The Most Popular Qi-gong Master” for the incredible healing power of the practice during the Expo.

In December 2002, Professor Hu Yu-Whuei of National Taiwan University published a research report that showed that 72% of Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan used their health insurance card only once a year after practicing Falun Gong, a reduction in usage of almost 50% (Hu 2002). The report pointed out that Falun Gong had a remarkable effect on getting rid of many unhealthy habits, such as smoking (-81%), alcohol abuse (-77%), gambling (-85%), and chewing betel nuts (an addictive and unhealthy habit common in Asia, -85%). The data suggested that practicing Falun Gong indeed has positive and remarkable effects on improving the social environment (Hu 2002).

While Falun Gong is indifferent as to whether a practitioner takes medicine or not, it does encourage and discourage many other activities. For example, in cultivation one is encouraged to cultivate diligently, cultivate in only one way at a time, and to be truthful, benevolent, and tolerant all of the times. A practitioner is also discouraged from killing, smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, being jealous, committing adultery, and showing off.

On “internal dissent within the Falun Gong organization” (Langone Question3)

Does Falun Gong have any organization or membership?

When Langone (2003) welcomed the reform movement within ISKCON and believed that “dissent is an essential aspect of any organization that permits members to think for themselves," and then extended the same logic to Falun Gong, he had indeed made an assumption that Falun Gong had an organization and/or a membership.

In reality, Falun Gong does not have an organization. Local practitioners voluntarily gather to study, practice the exercises, and share experience in cultivation together. Mr. Li Hongzhi is the only teacher who passes down the teaching, and all practitioners are equal. “At the same time, you cannot call a practitioner (a disciple) who passes on Falun Dafa ‘Teacher’ or ‘Master,’ for there is only one master in Dafa. All practitioners are disciples, no matter when they began the practice” (Li 1999a, p.142). To “organize” such a large group of people would require substantial financial resources, human capital, and physical facilities, all of which Falun Gong simply does not have nor intends to have. Whatever organizational structures Langone (2003) had in mind, be it hierarchical, horizontal, vertical, or grass root, they really don’t apply to Falun Gong practitioners.

Falun Gong is a cultivation practice. And, “cultivation depends on one’s own efforts” (Li 1999a, P34), everyone must do it through upgrading his/her own “xinxing," the mind or heart nature including morality and tolerance, in order to succeed in cultivation. Having an organization does not help with this self-cultivation in any manner. This is rather similar to college students whose ultimate goal is to obtain their degrees, a goal that is utterly up to them to achieve individually, and not collectively. Neither does Falun Gong have any membership. Whoever happens to download the book and instruction video from the internet, free of charge, and starts practicing becomes a practitioner, and no one else may even know about his practicing.

After the persecution started in July 1999, Falun Gong practitioners worldwide have become “organized," or more accurately, coordinated, in a way only to do one thing and one thing only—call for an end to the persecution in China. Yet they are not organized to practice cultivation, for it remains an individual matter. Facing Jiang’s regime‘s organized crime using unlimited state power against Falun Gong, a coordinated effort is needed to expose and end the persecution. The Jiang regime’s persecution has utilized deceit, torture, brainwashing, forced-feeding, and even murder, while Falun Gong practitioners have responded with only truth clarification, great compassion, tremendous tolerance, and have never resorted to violence of any kind. These ad-hoc “organizations” are for purely practical reasons. For example, if the Chinese consulate has distributed slanderous material to all of the government officials, as they have done in the past, it is inconsiderate for practitioners to call senators and representatives over and over to ask them the same questions. On theother hand, had the persecution never happened, we would not have to have “organized” or coordinated ourselves. If the persecution stops tomorrow, we would not need to have these make-shift “organizations” anymore. Then, Falun Gong practitioners worldwide would be practicing their cultivation, just as Chinese practitioners did before 1999, in parks or in living rooms, quietly and peacefully.

Is there any “dissent” among Falun Gong practitioners?

In Mr. Li’s first lecture, he says: “The most fundamental characteristic of this universe, Zhen-Shan-Ren, is the highest manifestation of the Buddha Fa. It is the fundamental Buddha Fa” (Li 1999a, p15). Zhen-Shan-Ren, when translated into English, means Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. These are the highest teachings of Falun Gong and are always followed by true practitioners. There is no “dissent” among Falun Gong practitioners regarding this teaching, since a practitioner would not practice Falun Gong if he/she did not believe that the goal of cultivation is to assimilate oneself to Truth-Compassion-Forbearance.

Mr. Li also points out, “different levels have different Fa” (Li 1999a, p8). Therefore Falun Gong practitioners all have different understandings regarding Mr. Li’s specific teachings. In the process of cultivation, we always have lots of questions or even doubts. In fact, Mr. Li has always encouraged practitioners to think independently and to find our own answers through reading the books and from daily practice. When asked specific questions, Mr. Li frequently refuses to answer the specific issuesand instead speaks broadly. “If I explain all the questions in your life, what will be left for you to cultivate? You must practice cultivation and become enlightened on your own” (Li 1999a, p383).

Having questions and/or doubts is an essential element in self-cultivation and an important checkpoint that ensures practitioners in the same school of cultivation follow the right path. A practitioner will not be able to advance him/herself if he/she does not have any questions. Practitioners are encouraged to share their different understandings at conferences or at our many forums of exchange and sharing, such as the Minghui.net (or ClearWisdom.net) as well as through means of personal communications. Practitioners are also encouraged to bring “outside” opinions into discussion. Langone had the concern that Falun Gong practitioners may be “only likely to hear that all is well within Falun Gong and all ‘bad’ events are due to negative ‘outside’ forces.” This is unnecessary, for the opposite is true. We completely understand that as practitioners, we make mistakes and stumble on the road of cultivation. That is how we make progress and advance. We pick up from where we fell and learn from our mistakes. We actively look for problems within ourselves and in practitioners around us, everyday. Our non-practitioner friends and families are often the best source to get direct and honest criticism of our attitude and behavior, and we take note of that and correct ourselves. Furthermore, as we are all doing this independently, the actions of one individual does not translate necessarily to the entire group.

Mr. Li has repeatedly told us that we should never attribute our problems to “outside forces," but rather that we need to seek inside ourselves. As far as self-cultivation isconcerned, Mr. Li told us, “You must cultivate your inner self and not pursue things externally” (Li 1999a, p28). “You should always look within whenever you run into problems - it''''s guaranteed that many of the problems are your problems” (Li 2001). Practitioners are encouraged to compassionately point out others’ mistakes. “Since every one of you is cultivating Zhen-Shan-Ren, you should be a good person in any circumstance. If you see his shortcomings and see when he can''''t move upward, why can''''t you point them out to him with a kind heart?” (Li 1999b)

On “what goes on inside practitioners’ mind during the exercises” (Langone Question 4)

Simply put it, there is “nothing” going on in practitioners’ mind when doing the five sets of exercises. “If you can’t think of good things, at least you should not think of bad things. It’s best if you don''''t think about anything” (Li 1999a, p194). “Our practice is unlike ordinary practice that makes one absent-minded, in trance, or infatuated. Our practice requires you to cultivate yourselves with full awareness…. We have said that your Main Consciousness must be conscious, because this practice cultivates your own self. You should make progress with a conscious mind…. How dowe practice meditation? We require of everyone that no matter how deeply you meditate, you must know that you are practicing here. You are absolutely forbidden to be in a state of trance wherein you know nothing” (Li 1999a, p339).

For that reason, there is no explicit or implied affinity with so-called “mind-emptying forms of meditation” Langone (2003) keenly worried about. Because we are fully in control of our mind, we are not letting anyone else attempt to control our thinking. Neither do we seek any alternate levels of consciousness or mental states but we try and become more “awake” and more sober-minded. Apparently Ching (2001) was not aware of the true meaning of qigong exercises. Qigong does not seek to “cease” human thinking; rather, it seeks to pause human’s thinking of bad things, such as greed, lust, ideas harmful to others, and thoughts that aim at personal gains at the expense of others. In doing so, the mind (main consciousness) is freed from these bad, tiring ideas and is fully rested during meditation. That is why people who practice meditation feel rejuvenated afterward. Numerous scientific studies have found that relaxation techniques associated with meditation have been shown to be healthy (e.g., Davidson 2003).

In fact, not only will Falun Gong not cause any “adverse psychological effects” (Langone 2003), but it can correct abnormal physical and psychological states. Mr. Li has discussed in great length some phenomena, mentalities, and behaviors in qigong practices that may cause harm, such as “cultivation insanity” (Li 1999a, p214). He pointed out how the perceptions were developed, the reasons and underlying causes for these phenomena, and most importantly, how to avoid these problems. In fact, some practitioners who were depressed, had social problems, or thought about leaving ordinary society and their families have fully recovered and have been living a very normal and healthy life (Dolnyckyj 2001).

On “Mr. Li Hongzhi and his relationship with his students” (Langone Questions 5)

First of all, nowhere in Mr. Li Hongzhi''''s books, lectures, speeches, or any published audio and video files has he ever claimed to be a god, a Buddha, or a deity.

Instead, he has instructed practitioners to treat him like a man. “So you should just regard me as a human being like you. What I’ve discussed isn’t alarmist talk—I’m only teaching the Fa and telling you the principles of the cosmos. Whether to believe it and whether you can cultivate are fully up to you, yourselves” (Li 1998a). He also discourages any kind of religious ritual. “We do not practice the ritual of kowtowing or bowing. That kind of formality serves little use, and it performs like a religion. We do not practice it” (Li 1999a, p93).

Practitioners at different levels will have different understandings and perceptions as they advance through their course of cultivation. Our personal relationships with Mr. Li are as follows:

[Frank]

Initially, when I first studied the book Zhuan Falun, I was, of course, a reader of the book and Mr. Li was the author. Later, I found this book to be an excellent book that explained many of the questions that had puzzled me for a long time, such as: Where are we from? Where are we in the universe? Why are we here? Is there a god or gods? Are there beings beyond what we can see? What is the meaning of life? Are Buddhism, Christianity, and Daoism real? One by one, the book Zhuan Falun provided answers to my questions. I then decided to practice the exercises, and therefore became a student of this cultivation practice, and Mr. Li became my teacher. As I continued my study and exercises and went through rote learning, comprehension, and “critical” thinking, there had been much improvement in my physical body, mental health, as well as my temperament, compassion, and level of tolerance. With all these incredible improvements spiritually and physically, consciously and clear-mindedly, I became a disciple in Falun Dafa cultivation, and Mr. Li became naturally my master in guiding my cultivation.

[Tracey]

I started my practice of Falun Gong in 1997 after reading Zhuan Falun. I never thought about my relationship with Mr. Li until the persecution started in July 1999 when various personal attacks on Mr. Li poured in from Jiang’s regime. Some of them, I knew by my heart that they were not true from my then two year experience of practicing Falun Gong. Some of them I was not sure about. I had to re-think why I chose to practice Falun Gong and how I should regard Mr. Li. I remembered that when I first started to practice, I did have many doubts in my mind regarding specific teachings in the book although I very much agreed with the principle of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. Nevertheless I decided to try cultivating myself according to the teachings. In the process of cultivation, I found many of my questions answered while many new questions emerged. However, it always turned out that it was me who failed to realize the meaning of the teaching rather than that the teaching having any problem. The improvement in my health and refinement of my mind has constantly been happening as Mr. Li promised in the book. I practice Falun Gong to my own benefit and not to that of Mr. Li. I consider him a sage or an enlightened person. I feel very fortunate and grateful to be his student. However, I never considered worshiping him.

[Frank]

In Zhuan Falun, Mr. Li systematically and thoroughly explained all the requirements of cultivation in Falun Dafa, the steps involved, the purification of the body, the extraordinary phenomena in the community of cultivators, etc. Personally,I have experienced the cleaning up of my body to an illness-free state, the celestial eye, and precognition & retro-cognition, all happened under my clear, conscious, andsentient state. I was fully aware of what was happening and clearly knew where I was, what I was doing, what I was thinking, and what I was experiencing. All of these happened according to the specifications described in Zhuan Falun. I have to rationally conclude that one would have to have gone through that whole process oneself in order to possibly describe, explain, and elucidate all these phenomena to the fullest extent. In other words, the person who has explained and explicated all these must have completed the process of cultivation successfully oneself. The ultimate goal of cultivation practices, when achieved, is enlightenment. This person who has completed the cultivation process is, then, an enlightened person in cultivation. An enlightened person through cultivation is, in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, a Buddha. So in my eyes, Mr. Li Hongzhi is a man; he is the author of a great book that has awakened the sleeping souls of millions of people; he is a teacher of some 100 million students studying Falun Dafa worldwide; he is a master for millions of true practitioners; and he is an enlightened person through Buddha Fa cultivation.

[Tracey]

When I heard that Falun Gong practitioners in China were beaten and tortured with electric batons and cruel slavery tools, female practitioners were stripped naked and thrown into male cells, babies were tortured as a way to subdue the parents, healthy practitioners were forcefully injected with neurotoxic drugs in mental hospitals, spouses were forced to divorce practitioners, families were so financially broken that they had to beg for food, and that the number of deaths as result of the persecution increased everyday, I had to think even harder what I would have done had I been in China. I could not understand why Jiang’s regime would utilize the whole nation’s resources to persecute a practice that is so beneficialto its citizens. What is wrong with following the principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance to become a better person? Then I realized that all the measures that it used were only for one thing – to force the practitioners to give up their belief. It is an ideological battle. Calling it “Spring wind transforming into rain," the Jiang’s regime has been using various brainwashing methods to “re-educate” and “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. A very vicious brainwashing method they are using is to take Mr. Li’s words out of context and distort his true meanings. Other methods include continuous propaganda attacks, sleep deprivation, and physical torture. If a practitioner has any uncertainties about his/her cultivation or blind trust for Mr. Li, he/she would not be able to endure even a fraction of this kind of persecution.
Willing to accept it or not, the persecution has become a part of our cultivation. Mr. Li has actually foreseen problems like this and taught us, “Your mind must be right” (Li 1999a, p245). I realized that as a practitioner of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance,I must truthfully and compassionately explain what I know about Falun Gong to people who have been deceived by the lies and help to end the persecution in China. In this process I must tolerate any prejudice or misunderstandings people may have and not use violence. Because of Mr. Li’s teaching, I have been able to achieve this. I felt that his wisdom, or his Fashen (Li 1999a, p200), has always beenwith me. I believe that his wisdom, or Fashen, is also with practitioners in China all the time, otherwise they would not be able to uphold their belief in this extremely difficult time. We have to attribute this extraordinary strength to the teaching of an enlightened being. But again, regardless of how we might personally think of him, Mr. Li has said, on numerous occasions, to just treat him like a man.

On other issues raised by Langone (2003)

As to the leader/leadership argument, there is no leadership versus membership relationship among cultivation practices, including Falun Gong. The mentality seems to derive from the cultic group presumption that a group must exist for the benefit ofits leader. But what if there is no “leader” but only a “teacher” in the group? What if the teacher does not seek anything in return for his teaching? All Langone’s assumption and subsequent analyses would fall apart under such conditions. For Falun Gong, that is exactly the case, as we have indicated earlier. The teaching is there, free, including the guiding principles and the practice exercises. When one practices by relying on the “Fa as the teacher," one really does not need anyone to “lead” him/her.

The leadership-membership disagreement argument doesn’t apply since there is no leader-member relationship. In cultivation practices, there does not need to be disagreements. Instead, goal congruency is omnipresent because the teacher aims at bringing students to higher levels, and students aim at achieving higher levels andimproving themselves with the help of the teacher. One does not have to disagree, because one simply does not need to disagree. If one disagrees, one can simply stop practicing, join another way of cultivation, or give up cultivation altogether. If one has to argue for a resolution of a “disagreement," then there are indeed three ways to resolve it: stop (practicing in this method), seek (an alternative cultivation method), and stop (cultivations altogether). In the light of this, the crisis resolution methods of coercion, emotional manipulation, and ostracism all become irrelevant and meaningless. Besides, coercion, emotional manipulation, and ostracism are all directly against “benevolence and tolerance”—two of the three principles in Falun Gong, and are therefore never going to be considered by practitioners.

We can certainly understand how conventional thinking of ACM (anti-cult movement) personnel leads to their eagerness to link Falun Gong to a cult, or a group that is un-scientific, or something outright “paranormal.” There seems to be at least two reasons for that. One might be that it is easy to classify something inconceivable to something familiar, under the categorization theory. The second is that there might be some who do not believe in the existence of beings beyond our physical dimension. They would not believe it when it is derived from their own cultural heritage, let alone believe it when it is from afar, for the term cultivation and the process from cultivator to deity is totally foreign to them. We’ll address these issues further in section V.

V. Positivist Research on Qigong? A Caveat

Modern empiricist and positivist science stipulates that laws are in the form of a generalized conditional, having empirical content, possessing nomological universality, and being systematically integrated (Hunt 1991). That is, all laws are in the “if-then” form of relationship, empirically testable, the phenomena do not occur by “chance," and form an integrated whole with existing theories. One important aspect of the modern empiricism and positivism-guided research tradition is the requirement of “inter-subjective verifiability.”

It is meaningful that Langone (2003) also mentioned “empirical evidence” in his attempt to study Falun Gong. Those people who felt that what is in Zhuan Falun is inconceivable are probably not aware of the profoundness of qigong in general, and Falun Gong in particular. In this section, we explain some of the scientific experiments carried out by top scientists in China during the 1980s.

[Frank]

A caveat on research on qigong and cultivation practices needs to be given. In studying cultivation or qigong, because of the supernormal nature of the subject area, traditional empirical or positivist approaches may not always work. In answering Dr. Langone’s question in section IV, I described some extraordinary phenomenon that I have experienced, such as the third eye (Celestial eye). The ability of seeing things that do not exist in our physical world is not a unique phenomenon among Falun Gong practitioners. It is a relatively common
phenomenon among other qigong practitioners or even everyday people. There have been many discussions in science about “the third eye” or the pineal body located at the base of the brain. In 1999, Lucas et al. published an article in Science where they found that the pineal body can actually perceive light (Lucas 1999). It has the same photosensitive proteins and a whole optic transduction system. This research shed light on the mystery of the Celestial eye.

With regard to my experience with the third eye, how could I possibly prove this observation “empirically” to someone and anyone? How could this be inter-subjectively verified? Inter-subjective verifiability is something essential to positivist research and prevailed in virtually all subject areas of study in modern sciences, natural and social. In studying something supernatural like qigong, one would encounter numerous obstacles in using this approach. One is either led to not believe it happened, or one would have to admit that there are facts beyond what can be empirically tested in this dimension. As first a physical scientist and then a social scientist by training, I would be untruthful to deny what I actually experienced. Let me give another example regarding the profoundness of qigong.

I was a graduate student in science in China in the mid-1980s, during a time when the enthusiasm about qigong was at its peak. My advisor in my alma mater (Peking University) for my graduate studies was also very much involved in qigong research. Together with my advisor, I was in contact with some researchers on supernormal human capabilities associated with qigong exercises. One day in 1986, we went to see a documentary in a conference room of a government office building in Beijing. This internal documentary recorded, using high-speed cinematography, an experiment involving a then famous qigong master in Beijing, Baosheng Zhang. Under tight scrutiny, Zhang held a glass medicine bottle with both of his hands. The bottle''''s cap was sealed with wax and the seal had the signature of a researcher to ensure that the seal was not broken. He shook the bottle slightly, and the numberedpills inside the bottle fell to the tabletop in front of him. After all the pills were out, the seal, the cap, and the bottle were all examined and determined to be intact. Thewhole experiment was designed and executed by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science, Peking University, Chinese Navy Headquarters, and the Defense Science and Technology Commission of China, which oversees all military related research and development and is responsible for the recent launch of China’s manned space mission. Any and all possibilities of falsification and cheating were carefully eliminated by methods such as double-blind experiments. In one still picture from the high-speed cinematography, a medicine pill was, astonishingly, photographed stuck in the middle of the wall of the glass bottle, with half of the pill inside the bottle, and half outside.

Basically, this qigong master had some supernatural capabilities that he was not fullyaware of as to where they were from, what they were for, and why he had them while most other people did not. Scientists involved in this study were deeply puzzled because they could not explain what was going on, except that they knew something very extraordinary happened, and it was documented. Some ten years after I watched this experiment, in the book Zhuan Falun, I was able to get an answer. Indeed, qigong is profound and supernatural, just as Mr. Li indicated, “qigong was not invented by this human kind of ours…it was inherited through a quite remote age and it was also a type of prehistoric culture” (Li 1999a, p22).

Even though healing and curing diseases are not a goal in Falun Gong cultivation, Falun Gong has, nonetheless, surprising healing capabilities. I have been very healthy most of my life. The only ailment I had in the past thirty some years was a hernia that started in my high school years and worsened during my college years.
This problem, which recurred every couple of months and continued on and off for decades, suddenly disappeared soon after I started practicing Falun Gong. This phenomenon, which can’t be explained by modern medicine, is actually nothing compared to the healing stories of other practitioners, where there have been reports of healing of chronic, serious, and even life-threatening illnesses.

Some of the modern empiricist research has actually touched upon the profound nature of qigong and meditation. Using brain topography, Wisconsin neuro-psychologist Richard Davidson published a study in Psychosomatic Medicine which showed that meditation makes one’s attitude better. In addition, researchers at University of California San Francisco studied the heartbeats and blood pressure of the participants, and found that sitting in meditation improved psychological states of the participants (Davidson 2003).

[Tracey]

My last visit to Beijing, my home city, was from September to October in 1998. When I was there, a health survey was conducted among Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing. Hundreds of practitioners at the site, where I did my morning exercises, were given survey forms with detailed questions about their health information. I did not participate since I was just visiting. As it turned out, a total of 12,731 valid forms were collected. The data showed that 93.4% of those 12,731 practitioners suffered from chronic illness, with 48.9% having had at least three diseases before they started their practice. Through cultivation and exercises in Falun Gong, the overwhelming majority of them (99.1%) reported improved health.. For those who suffered from diseases of any kind, a healing rate of 58.5% was reported. The category of people belonging to "extremely energetic and healthy" changed from 3.5% in the sample population before cultivation to 55.3% after cultivation. A total of 96.5% of the practitioners experienced enhanced energy and health level (Clearwisdom 1998). Another survey conducted in Taiwan in 2002 gave similar results (Hu 2002).

I once saw the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) reports of a patient who had liver cancer with metastasis to his omentum. After three month of practicing Falun Gong, the repeated MRI showed disappearance of the omentum mass and shrinking of his two original liver tumors. Many senior women who practiced Falun Gong experienced regaining of their menses – the same effect as hormone replacement therapy and a sign of rejuvenation. Many people who had thyroids removed came off of their thyroxin and were tested as having normal thyroid functions. All these can be researched and verified by independent medical examiners. The human body has the most complicated system. If Falun Gong can make things out of “nothing," as in the case of thyroidectomy patients, and turn gene-alternated cancer cells into normal ones, would it be such a surprise that it could do other things as well?

We believe that body, mind, and sprit are one entity. If even plants have the ability to adapt to human wishes and to communicate with man, respond to music, and possess curative powers (Tompkins and Bird 1996), would one still be laughing at various extraordinary capabilities in humans, the most intelligent beings on earth? Ifeven water has memories (Benveniste 1988) and can distinguish between good and bad (Emoto 1999), shouldn’t we humans, the most capable beings on earth, be moreconscious about our choices?
Before the microscope was discovered, people thought that the first person who suggested that diseases were caused by microbes was crazy. Now everyone agrees that bacteria and viruses are associated with the majority of diseases. Ancient Chinese doctors with extraordinary capabilities have seen the operations of meridians or energy channels in the other dimension of human body and developed Chinese Traditional Medicine and acupuncture. Qigong practice works at transforming materials in a more microscopic level than where bacteria and viruses are in other dimensions. Although no one knows how it works at the present time, it does not mean that science will not advance to be able to measure it one day and we may actually see it making miracles. In order to hasten this day, we need to firstadmit that these phenomena are not just some crazy people’s illusions and that these facts are not just fabricated stories. Only then, can we adopt a humble attitude and truly devote some effort to investigate the underlying causes. This is actually how true science should advance itself.
“What today’s scientific and technological community has discovered is sufficient to change our present textbooks. Once human kind’s conventional mentalities form a systematic way of working and thinking, new ideas are very difficult to accept” (Li 1999a, p20). We encourage psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals to put down their preconceived notions about Falun Gong, qigong, and cultivation, and examine, carefully and completely, the potential benefits of Falun Gong to your patients, customers, friends and families, and even yourselves.


VI. Closing Remarks

Contrary to the slander of Jiang Zemin’s regime, Falun Gong is an ancient cultivation practice based on the principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance, and is characterized by its open, non-discriminatory, peaceful, and non-violent nature. Practitioners from over 60 countries worldwide have benefited from its ability to upgrade one’s physical health and morality. We explored the “reasons” behind the persecution, which is centered on Jiang’s prejudice, jealousy, and narrow-mindedness. No matter what the reasons for the persecution, this prolonged, brutal persecution, initiated and led by Jiang, is illegal, immoral, against freedom of belief, and against universal human rights It must be stopped immediately.

There seems to be some unfriendliness, antagonism, and even hostility among cult critics towards qigong, meditation, and cultivation, as evidenced in their adoption of terms such as “irrational and strange ideas” (Rahn 2000), “paranormal” (Rahn 2002), “cease human thinking” (Ching 2001), “mind-emptying forms of meditation” (Langone 2003), and “the risk of adverse psychological effects” (Langone 2003). In Rahn''''s (2002) vocabulary on her writing about Falun Gong, internet blockage and censoring by the Chinese government had become "internet restrictions.” There really need not be such hostility, if one is able to look at meditation and cultivation from a new, objective perspective, as truth and scientific discoveries are often derived from inconceivable, “strange” ideas. Cultivation is profound, extraordinary, and oftentimes regarded as “inconceivable.” But “if human beings are able to take a fresh look at themselves as well as the universe and change their rigid mentalities, humankind will make a leap forward” (Li 1999a, Lunyu).

It also appears to be the case that some cult critics might have pre-judged Falun Gong as a cult. Subsequent study then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where all succeeding “evidences” that support this notion are accepted, while those refuting it are rejected. As we have mentioned above, the teachings in Falun Gong contradict the core definition of a cult. Moreover, in the eleven years since Falun Gong has been practiced worldwide, in over 60 countries, there has never been a single, credible case of Falun Gong causing any practitioner any harm whatsoever. The onlyso-called examples of these concerns have come from Chinese state-controlled media and a handful of anecdotal cases that were one-sided and not peer-evaluated (e.g., Luo 2003). In actuality, our own investigation of Luo’s two subjects revealed starkly different responses. Some cult researchers claimed to have surveyed family members of Falun Gong practitioners, but they had not directly surveyed the Falun Gong practitioners themselves, or heard the practitioners'''' side of the story.

A fair and unbiased evaluation of Falun Gong by non-practitioners is not often seen in Western media and academics, with the notable exception of Schechter (2000). The major obstacle in scholarly research and evaluation of Falun Gong and its practitioners seems to be that the beliefs of researchers and people who are concerned about this cultivation practice are in opposition to the beliefs held by Falun Gong practitioners. Therefore, based on their own beliefs, notions, and previous experience with cults, and fearing that Falun Gong practitioners might indeed do harm to themselves or others in the society as the Chinese government has described, they would come to the conclusion that Falun Gong is probably a “harmful cult," or has the “tendency” to become one, regardless of a lack of concrete evidence. If unfamiliar, “strange," and “inconceivable” ideas were all that were needed to label something a cult, wouldn’t the story of God commanding Abraham tokill his son and feeding thousands with five loaves of bread and two fish make Christianity and Judaism cults as well?

Some cult critics believe that what is happening in China is a standoff between a government that might have done something wrong or too harsh and a group that has also done something wrong, and therefore a “reconciliation," or “backing off” by both sides is needed (Rosedale, personal communications, 2003). This is not the case. The so-called “misconduct” of Falun Gong took place after the persecution started and are a result of the persecution, not a cause. On one side of this standoff is the police power of an authoritarian regime with unlimited use of state resources, on the other side are defenseless civilians, many of them women and retirees. On one side is a government that controls all the propaganda machines of TV, newspapers, radios, and the Internet; on the other side are civilians who could not openly defend their views with a single word in newspapers or a single voice on radioor TV, and who are lucky if their truth clarification video clips could be inserted in TV signals for a few minutes. On one side is a regime that is notoriously known for lying and has all the motivation to lie in this case; On the other side is a group of people who hold “truthfulness” as one of their basic principles. To “back off” from this standoff they were forced into, Falun Gong practitioners would have no choice but to give up their beliefs and practices, for they are already against the wall. They have been deprived of their right to defend themselves, in public or in court. They have been forced to work in labor camps. They have been brainwashed in “re-education” centers using sleep deprivation and torture. They cannot sit quietly in lotus position anywhere in the 960,000 square kilometers of Chinese soil, when all they need is an area no larger than a page of a newspaper. And, they cannot even open a blue-covered book to read in the privacy of their homes.
For Falun Gong practitioners, to “back off” from this standoff would mean to give up a cultivation practice that is peaceful, benign, and beneficial to the practitioners and to the society. Asking practitioners to “back off” is tantamount to asking them to give up their beliefs, which is precisely what the goal of the repressing regime in this persecution against Falun Gong is. It is a persecution against a belief, simply and straightforwardly.

Looking back at history, we all know and understand the persecution against Christianity and the hardships Christians endured hundreds of years ago. It wasn''''t until hundreds of years after Jesus Christ was crucified and his followers persecuted that people started to see the value of what they believed. Now, a persecution against a righteous belief is happening again, and on a much larger scale—the entire world. How long does it have to take the people of today''''s world to see through the misinformation, regardless of the intended malice, and know that Falun Gong is goodand its practitioners should not be persecuted?

As history turns the pages, we believe that people in the future will realize that Falun Gong practitioners have been following the principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. Now at this very moment of persecution when history is being written, what is one’s conscientious choice and where does one stand? That is a question all of us on earth will have to answer.

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On killing: “For practitioners, we have set the strict requirement that they cannot kill lives. Whether it is of the Buddha School, the Tao School, or the Qimen School, regardless of which school or practice it is, as long as it is an upright cultivation practice, it will consider this issue very absolute and prohibit killing—this is for sure.”
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Appendix: A Personal Statement from Mr. Gang Chen
(Presented at AFF conference on October 18, 2003 in Hartford, Connecticut)
Ladies and gentlemen:
My name is Gang Chen and I am from Marlton NJ. I came to U.S. three months ago from Beijing. I used to be the logistics manager at the Beijing branch company of Carlsberg int’l Corp. I would like to share my personal experience as a Falun Gong practitioner in China. In June 2000, I was sent to Beijing Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp for 1-year detention without trial, simply because I practice Falun Gong.
In the labor camp, the police guards used a whole set of brainwash methods to force me giving up Falun Gong. The methods they used included threats, lying, propaganda, physical and mental tortures. On one day of September, 2000 I saw police beating and shocking another Falun Gong practitioner named Tiantong Sun with about 10 electric batons simultaneously, because he refused to attend the convention condemning Falun Gong. During my detention I was always forced to read or watch the “brainwashing” materials. Some of them were filled with personal attacks of Mr. Li, some of them were distortions of Mr. Li’s teachings by taking his words out of context or by making up lies, and some of them were fabricated accusations of Falun Gong practitioners including many bloody scenes. For example, I had to watch the photographs over and over, in which a mad man cut himself open and exposed his bloody abdominal content. One thing that I would like to bring your attention to is that in the labor camp I have seen Chinese state media articles claiming that a certain American anti-cult organization supported the persecution of Falun Gong.
When I was in labor camp, I was only allowed to sleep for less than four hours a day.In September 2000, they did not allow me to sleep for fifteen consecutive days while
doing intense labor work, or enduring physical torture during the day. On one day of October, 2000, a policeman whose last name is Shi shocked me continuously with anelectric baton to such a degree that large areas of my arms, neck, head and back skin were burned.
On one day in February 2001, because I refused to slander Falun Gong, the police mobilized a dozen inmates who had given up their Falun Gong practice under pressure to beat me up ruthlessly. Some of them were fellow practitioners whom I knew before. They beat me until my body was full of wounds and my face became deformed. They then taped my mouth and tied me up with my arms behind, forced my body bend forward and tied my head and my legs together. At that moment I was almost suffocated and I felt the excruciating pain in my low back. I almost fainted and felt on the edge of death. This painful torture exceeded my limit of endurance. I collapsed and gave in against my will. I was unable to walk during the next two weeks. Another practitioner named Lu Changjun who suffered the same torture became paralyzed and was never able to stand up again. I would never forget the horrible scene: I lay on my bed, in tears, like a dead fish because of the injuries, hearing the horrible screams from practitioners being tortured! I felt like being in hell! But the most painful wound was in my heart!
Since the persecution, I lost my job and was taken away from my happy family. All I received was humiliation and torture. In addition to physical tortures, these police guards destroyed my confidence and dignity. They forced me to become a person that I despise, tarnished my soul and destroyed my hope. I fell into deep depression.I felt as if a crowd of malicious monsters were making fun of me while torturing me, saying: “you deserve living in Hell! You deserve being humiliated and there will never be an end to it!”
I once promised to follow the principle of “truth, compassion and tolerance," but I betrayed my consciousness under extreme pressure! I could not imagine how to facemy family, friends, and people I know. I did not want them to know that I was a coward. I was suddenly overwhelmed by anxiety, depression and helplessness. I even thought about committing suicide. I have eye-witnessed many former Falun Gong practitioners, after having given up Falun Gong under pressure, beating and cursing others in order to show that they were truly “transformed”. Their behavior manifested the true nature of this persecution - turning good and kind people into violent and cruel perpetrators! I said to myself, “I cannot become one of them. I want to be a good person! Regardless of what happened, I will still follow the principles of “truth, compassion and tolerance”! This thought to some extent smoothed my painful heart and carried me through the darkest period of my life.
In contrast, some people who were brainwashed by these malicious lies have lost their identities totally and became mentally ill due to tremendous pressure. I witnessed six such cases including my friend Zhu Zhiliang, an engineer with a Masterdegree. He became delirious and could not recognize his parents and wife, and talked nonsense after he came out of the brainwashing labor camp in Feb 2003.
After I was released in December, 2001, the nightmare of my labor camp experience constantly haunted me. I felt dizzy, exhausted, depressed, scared, guilty and helpless. I developed palpitations and insomnia.
Because I became so guilty that I gave into the brainwashing, I was frustrated in my cultivation. I felt shame whenever I thought about Falun Gong. I tried many other ways, such as traveling, sports, reading, etc. to get away from the bad feelings, but I failed. I had even developed hostility against the society. The reason was that I had lost respect and hope for myself. Finally, it was Falun Gong that helped me to regain my confidence and self worth. I take comfort in realizing that I have come
back to a peaceful and righteous way of life.
After my release from the labor camp, I was very fortunate to have received an offer for a position with a U.S. company, because of my specialty in import-export related business. That is how I got an H-1 visa and came to the U.S., where I can now talk freely about my experiences. Other practitioners in China are not so fortunate.
I understand that AFF’s job is to help victims of brainwashing. It is indeed a meaningful thing. I believe that all of you treasure lives and protect human rights and justice. I hope that you could help those people who are being mind-controlled by CCP.

Please help us stop this persecution.

Sincerely yours,

Chen, Gang
Marlton, NJ
Oct 15th 2003
_________________________________________________________^
csr2003.02X/CSR Vol. 02, No. 03, 2003AFFCSR article Electronic Request from AFF

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