Twentieth-Century Spiritual Expression



Falun gong

For 13 hours on April 25, 1999, 15,000 members of the Falun Gong qigong sect, five or six rows deep, stretching for more than a mile along the Avenue of Everlasting Peace in central Beijing, China, protested their negative treatment in the state media and demanded official recognition for their sect and the freedom to publish their texts. The protest managed to get the State Council of China to agree to negotiate with the Falun Gong. However, in July 1999, Chinese officials branded the Falun Gong an evil cult, claiming that it had caused the deaths of 1,500 of its members. The Chinese government banned the practice of the cult and sent more than 50,000 adherents to prisons, labor camps, and mental hospitals.

Falun Gong means the "Practice of the Wheel of the Dharma." (Dharma is a complex Hindu and Buddhist concept that translates in

Twitchell from Eckankar standing before the Stardust Hotel podium in Las Vegas. (ARCHIVES OF BRAD STEIGER)
Twitchell from Eckankar standing before the Stardust Hotel podium in Las Vegas. (
ARCHIVES OF BRAD STEIGER
)
a broad sense to "law," especially to the natural order of personal ethics and principles of conduct, equivalent to what is commonly referred to as "religion.") The founder of the movement, Li Hongzhi, a former Chinese government grain clerk now residing in the United States, claims to have been born on May 13, 1951, the supposed birthday of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha (c. 563–c. 483 B.C.E.), but government records list his birthday as July 7, 1952. Hongzhi also claims that Falun Gong has 100 million members worldwide, 80 million of whom are in China. The Chinese government says the number in their country is closer to two million.

Founded in 1992, the movement prescribes five daily exercises are to activate the higher abilities of mind, body, and spirit, and contribute to an individual's self-examination and self-knowledge. If practiced properly, Hongzhi promises, Falun Gong will enable one to attain enlightenment and to master many supernatural powers, including levitation, psychokinesis, and telepathy.

Hongzhi has often stated that he believes that Earth has been quietly invaded by evil aliens from extraterrestrial worlds who have come to undermine humans' spirituality by contributing to the rapid expansion of technology. In his opinion, humankind would be much better off without computers and all

A group of Falun Gong followers perform meditation exercises. (AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS)
A group of Falun Gong followers perform meditation exercises. (
AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS
)
other machines that seek to replicate human activity and to supplant human productivity.




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