- 1Part I: Historical setting of cultivation practice and qigong
- 2Part II: The growth of Falun Gong in China
- 3Part III: The run-up to the persecution of Falun Gong
- 4Part IV: The persecution of Falun Gong
- 5Part V: Together for justice
Part II: The growth of Falun Gong in China
The introduction of Falun Gong to the public
On May 13th, 1992, Mr Li Hongzhi gave his first public lecture on Falun Gong in his hometown of Changchun City, Jilin Province. Those who attended the class immediately realised that the qigong Mr Li taught was drastically different from other qigong. For the first time, they learned that qigong was only the physical aspect of cultivation-exercise, that the word qigong had been coined to avoid political persecution, and that to obtain the full benefit of cultivation-exercise one must pay attention to its mental aspect – cultivation.
In one quiet benevolent act, Mr Li Hongzhi brought thousands years of cultivation-exercise tradition back to the Chinese people.
No one recognised the significance of that event at the time. Eight years later, Falun Gong practitioners around the world named May 13th as "Falun Dafa Day" to commemorate the historical date of the public inception of Falun Gong.
One participant at that lecture recalled her experience in 1999, in a TV programme in Jilin Province in China: "I was carried to the lecture on a stretcher. Teacher Li asked others to carry me to the stage. After just a few seconds, Teacher told me to sit up, and I was able to sit up. Teacher then told me to get down from the stretcher and stand up. I thought to myself, I had been paralysed for years; could I really stand up? But I really was able to stand up. Teacher then told me, you are already cured¡"
After giving two successful classes in Changchun, in June 1992, Mr Li travelled to Beijing to visit the National Qigong Sciences Research Association. Deeply impressed by Mr Li's teaching, the Research Association decided to endorse Falun Gong as an affiliated qigong school and to sponsor the promotion of Falun Gong in China. From then to the end of 1994, Mr Li gave fifty-four ten-day lecture series in China, all of which were sponsored and organised by the Research Association. Tens of thousands of people attended those lectures. Falun Gong, however, spread far beyond those who learned directly from Mr Li.
The health benefits of Falun Gong
What fascinated people early on was the miraculous healing power of Falun Gong.
In December 1992 and December 1993, Mr Li and his disciples were invited to participate in the Oriental Health Expos in Beijing. During the Expos, Mr Li and his disciples cured numerous difficult cases of illness. Many people were carried in on stretchers but walked out by themselves, and many saw tumour lumps shrink right before their eyes. For his contributions, the Expos honoured Mr Li with many awards, including the "Most Acclaimed Qigong Master Award" and the "Award for New Science Advancement." Professor Jiang Xueguei, chief adviser of the 1992 Expo, praised: "As the general adviser of the Fair, I am duty-bound to recommend Falun Dafa to you all."
One staff member of the 1993 Expo recalled her experiences: "One day, at around 5:30 p.m., when the Expo was already closed for the day, one man in his 40s hurried in towards Master Li. Following him at a distance was another man helping an old lady who appeared to be the mother of the two men. The old lady had a very severe hunchback, with her back bending forward almost at a ninety-degree angle, raising her head up with great difficulty. Upon seeing them, Master Li told the first man not to worry, then turned to the old lady and told her to walk behind him. As he walked in front of her, Master Li said to her, 'Relax, relax, walk up, walk up.' After a few steps, the old lady walked with her back straight! Seeing this, the two men choked up, could not say a word, and just knelt down to Master Li¡"
"Falun Gong is miraculous!" The word got around.
Not everyone was easily convinced at the beginning. They would exhaust other conventional treatments before trying Falun Gong. General Li Qihua was a typical example. General Li was born in 1918, joined the Red Army in 1931, and has been a Communist Party member since he was 18 years old. He became an army physician in 1937, and served his entire career in the military medical system. Before his retirement in 1984, he was the president of the PLA General Hospital (the 301 Hospital), the most prodigious hospital in China, and the president of the Second Medical School of the Army. The 301 Hospital is responsible for the medical treatment of China's national leaders, and has access to the most advanced medical technologies. All these could not help General Li's wife, however. In an article in 1998, General Li wrote:
"My wife developed quite a few illnesses, such as coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia, glaucoma, and hepatitis. Although she had the luxury of access to the best medical care, her illnesses had never been cured and her health deteriorated so she was completely dependent on medicine and sometimes oxygen. We kept two oxygen tanks in our house, one upstairs and one downstairs, to provide immediate relief whenever it was needed. At the time, she would even become short of breath just by going upstairs and often needed a break along the way.
"... in April 1993 she enrolled in Master Li's class. At that time I was sceptical about it. I thought that if I wasn't able to cure her diseases with the best possible therapeutic measures available, how could she recover from such severe diseases by just attending a qigong class? However, soon after she started practising Falun Gong, her body and spirit experienced tremendous changes ... Along with her progress in Falun Dafa cultivation all her illnesses disappeared. She has been without any medication for more than five years.
"The changes that happened to my wife were shocking to me! Finally I decided to try it myself, and so I stepped onto the road of Falun Dafa cultivation.
"As a Communist Party member, a Revolutionary Army comrade, and a medical doctor for over 60 years, I earnestly advise those who have illnesses to put down that attachment, sincerely read the book "Zhuan Falun", and practise the five sets of exercises. No matter what kind of illness you have you will get unexpected results. This has been proven from the experiences of countless cultivators."
As General Li was a most trusted medical advisor for China's senior national and military leaders, his recommendation played an important role in making Falun Gong popular among high-ranking officials and in the military.
Stories like that of General Li's family were numerous. Through Falun Gong exercise, countless people had their lifelong illnesses cured, countless people recovered from terminal diseases, countless bedridden people were able to work again, and countless people with disabilities were able to walk, talk, see, hear, or speak again. Almost every Falun Gong practitioner has a story to tell. Before 1999, testimonies of the supreme health benefits of the Falun Gong exercises frequented newspapers and magazines in China.
As remarkable as the physical health benefits of the Falun Gong exercises are, ultimately it is the internal peace and spiritual growth that people experience from Falun Gong cultivation that make them genuine practitioners.
Among all contemporary qigong teachings in China, Falun Gong is the only one that emphasises the importance of cultivation. In his lectures and works, Mr Li expounds that to make progress in cultivation-exercise one must assimilate to the essential characteristic of the universe, Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance. A practitioner should first of all be a good person with higher moral standards. One should make an honest living and give up vile and indecent thoughts. In the case of conflict, one should consider others first, search within oneself to find one's own deficiencies, let go of attachments to fame, wealth, and lust, and never harm others for one's own gain. Through continuous improvement of one's xinxing – or mental and moral quality – one becomes a better and nobler person, and eventually enlightens to and achieves a higher realm of mind.
At the time when Falun Gong was introduced to the public, Chinese society was going through the worst destruction of morality and values. The government had lost any legitimate claim to morality after the Tiananmen massacre in June 1989; officials were engrossed in rampant corruption; the continuous suppression of dissenting voices for social justice had left the people with no hope and no values to hold onto except materialism and fanatic nationalism. The moral bankruptcy has caused severe social problems, such as an extreme disparity between the rich and the poor, an AIDS epidemic, mafia, prostitution, drug use, and a high suicide rate. Never in the history of China has such a destruction of humanity been seen.
Like a long-awaited call during troubled times, Mr Li's teaching revived numerous people's innate yearning. They awakened to a new sense of life, a life of cultivation. They experienced a peace from within. They let go of previous grudges without feeling a loss. They gave up attachments to material gains and stopped worrying about being taken advantage of. Officials resisted corruption and rejected bribes. Businessmen shunned cheating and abided by honest practices. Gangsters, drug addicts, prostitutes, and thieves alike turned over a new leaf and led new lives. Countless people thanked Falun Gong for giving them a second life or saving their families.
Recognition and support of Falun Gong
While Falun Gong emphasises individual cultivation, its wide spreading has had a positive impact on society, and this has been well recognised by the public as well as by various levels of the Chinese government. In fact, the authorities' positive regard facilitated the spread of Falun Gong in the early 1990s. State-controlled media, including national and local newspapers, TV, and radio stations, frequently covered the activities and benefits of Falun Gong practice.
National Sports Commission: The Overall Efficiency of Healing and Keeping Fit by Falun Gong Is 97.9%
The People's Public Security News reported Falun Gong's Remarkable Effect in Health Recovery
The People's Public Security, published by the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, carried a report on September 21st, 1993, about the free health recovery treatment given by Mr Li Hongzhi and his students to representatives attending the Third National Outstanding JianyiYongwei [voluntarily combating criminal activities] Individuals Honouring Conference:
"On August 30th, Mr Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, paid a visit to the Conference venue along with some of his students and offered free consultation and treatment to the outstanding JianyiYongwei individuals. Attending the Conference were nearly 100 representatives from 30 provinces and cities across the country, most of whom were injured or disabled from fighting against criminals. After the treatment, they unanimously agreed that remarkable improvements had been achieved. Prior to the treatment, some people were suffering from ailments left over from knife and gunshot injuries. After the treatment, they were relieved of such symptoms as pain, numbness, and chronic weakness. Those suffering from brain injuries from their illnesses recovered their sober minds after the treatment and were relieved of symptoms such as headaches and dizziness. Some people were cleared of tumours right on the spot. Some excreted gallstones within 24 hours of receiving the treatment. Some people suffered from stomach diseases, heart diseases, or arthritis. After the treatment, all of them were relieved of their symptoms right on the spot. Among the nearly 100 people receiving treatment, only one person claimed no obvious effects. All others felt obvious improvements of various degrees!"
On December 27th, 1993, the China JianYiYongWei Foundation, under the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, conferred a certificate of honour to Mr Li Hongzhi.
Beijing Youth Daily: 'Zhuan Falun One of the Top Ten Best Sellers in Beijing'
In January 1995, Falun Gong's major book, Zhuan Falun, written by Mr Li Hongzhi, was published by China Broadcasting and Television Publishing House, which was affiliated with the Department of Broadcast and Television of the State Department. On January 4th, 1995, the first printing ceremony was held in the auditorium of the University of Public Security. Since the publishing of Zhuan Falun, the demand for the book has always exceeded the supply. In January 1996, Zhuan Falun was listed in the Beijing Youth Daily as one of the top ten best sellers.
Dalian Daily: 'Old Man Contributes Quietly'
Where Falun Gong is practised, people's hearts are becoming more compassionate and morality improves. Dalian Daily reported on March 17th, 1997, in the article "Old Man Contributes Quietly", that Sheng Lijian, a man in his seventies, quietly built four roads in one year – a total of more than 1,100 meters – for his fellow villagers. When people asked what company he worked for and how much he was paid, he said: "I am a Falun Gong practitioner, I don't want any reward for this. I just want to do something good for everyone."
Yangcheng Evening News: 'The Old and the Young All Practise Falun Gong' (Yangcheng Evening News, Tuesday, November 10th, 1998)
"On the morning of the 8th, officials from the Guandong Province Physical Culture Commission Martial Arts Association went to Guangzhou City Martyrs' Cemetery Park and watched 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners' large-scale morning exercises. The practitioners come from all walks of life; the oldest is 93 years old (bottom-left picture) and the youngest is only two years old (upper picture)."
According to information, currently about 250,000 people in Guangdong Province practise Falun Gong. At the practice site, the officials inquired several people who have benefited from Falun Gong. Their stories are very touching. Ms Lin Chanying, an accountant in Guangzhou Diwei Leather Co., said she used to suffer from top digit paralysis. Seventy per cent of her body was numb and without sensation, and she had incontinence of faeces and urine. Soon after she started to practise Falun Gong she could stand up, and later she could walk by herself. Now Ms Lin's face glows with health. Her limbs move nimbly and freely."
China Economic Times: 'I Can Stand Up Now'
On July 10th, 1998, China Economic Times published an article entitled "I Can Stand Up Now!", which reported the story of a woman in Handan, Hebei Province who had been paralysed due to a spinal injury for 16 years. Starting from July 1st, 1996, her husband took her in a wheelchair to a Falun Gong practice site to do the Falun Gong exercises. She followed the principles explained in Zhuan Falun in her daily life. Months later, all her illnesses were gone and she could walk by herself. It is Falun Gong that made a patient who had been paralysed for 16 years able to stand up.
Statistics of the Chinese National Sports Commission
"The Overall Efficiency of Healing and Keeping Fit by Falun Gong Is 97.9%"
In September 1998, the National Sports Commission organised a team of physicians and medical professors with different specialties and did a questionnaire survey on the physical and mental health of 12,553 Falun Gong practitioners in the cities of Guangdong Province, including Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhaoqin, Shantou, Meizhou, Chaozhou, Jieyang, Qingyuan, and Shaoguan. This survey sampled 12,553 people, 27.9% male, 72.1% female, 48.4% under 50 years old, and 51.6% over 50. Among them, 10,475 practitioners were suffering from more than one illness, which is 83.4% of the total surveyed. While the length of time they had practised varied from 2-3 months to 2-3 years, the health situations of sick practitioners greatly improved and the healing effects are very remarkable. The ratio of recovery and basic healing is 77.5%, and the number of practitioners on the mend is 20.4%. The National Sports Commission concluded that the overall efficiency of Falun Gong's healing and keeping fit was 97.9%.
In the same survey, 7,170 practitioners provided the amount of yearly savings in medical expenses. They saved about a total of 12,650,000 Yuan in medical expenses per year. Each person saved average over 1,700 Yuan per year.