8.3. Is Falun Gong a religion? 法轮功是一个宗教吗?

If asked if they follow a religion, most FLG believers will say "no", and Li Hongzhi (李洪志, LHZ, Falun Gong prophet) explicitly says that in Canonical Falun Gong texts (法轮功的经典著作), e.g. https://falundafa.org/eng/eng/jjyz52.htm:

Falun Dafa is not a religion, but future generations will regard it as one.

E.g. they call themselves "practitioners" or "students" (学员) or "disciples of the Great Law" (大法弟子, or mare accurately, of Li Hongzhi (李洪志, LHZ, Falun Gong prophet)'s Law) instead of "believers", and their peers "practitioner colleagues" (同修). Non believers call them derogatorily "轮子"("little wheels"), or in friendly terms "轮友" (wheel friend).

And if you say you don’t believe in their FLG metaphysics bullshit, they will often reply "he does not understand".

To them, it is not about belief, the truth is clear, and you just don’t see it yet.

To this you should reply: "and you don’t understand that Li Hongzhi is a master manipulator dude who deceived you and millions of others".

But Ciro Santilli (三西猴, anti-CCP fanatic, 反中共狂热, stupid cunt, 傻屄, CIA agent, CIA特工, 肏你妈的) strongly believes that this is just a language barrier/FLG propaganda question (see also Different levels of truth (Orange Papers, 不同层次的真相, 橙色文件)), and that 99.9999% of people in the West would classify FLG as a religion just like Christianity (基督教) if they are told about FLG’s beliefs:

  • absolute truth comes from an enlightened prophet, who is perfect and has superhuman abilities

  • weekly in-person meetings (学法 "study the Fa", or more verbosely "study the law (of the universe (of Li Hongzhi (李洪志, LHZ, Falun Gong prophet)))")or daily online meetings where they read from a sacred book, either written by the prophet, or transcribed from his presentations to disciples, including the disciples questions, much like traditional Chinese texts like Analects (论语, c. 475-200 BC), just like Christians read from the Bible over and over again.

    In both cases, some believers claim that sometimes even reading the same text again gives them new insight.

  • prescribed daily meditation exercise hours, somewhat like Muslim Salah (礼拜) prayers which they call 发正念 (fa1 zheng4 nian4), which means "send righteous thoughts". They seem to believe that this meditation helps external good magic things happen, so it is half meditation half prayer.

    Also both Salah and Falun Gong have an element physical repetitive exercise component.

    And for those that are often online on the Falun Gong voice forums, some nice music is played before prayer times, just like Muslim Muezzins (a type of priest) will do the Adhan (sang call to prayer, ideally from the minarets of a mosque)

  • longer "less mandatory" Qigong-like (气功) exercises (lian4 gong1, 练功) followed by a meditation (打坐) and which they collectively call 修炼 "practice austerities". note that this term is borrowed from Taoism but possibly with different precise meaning. There are exactly 5 exercises (meditation being the fifth) some with a fun supernatural name, on Canonical Falun Gong texts (法轮功的经典著作) https://www.falundafa.org/book/eng/flg_2006_4.htm "The Falun Gong Practice System":

    • Buddha Stretching a Thousand Arms

    • Falun Standing Stance

    • Penetrating the Cosmic Extremes

    • Falun Cosmic Orbit

  • memorization of the Canonical Falun Gong texts (法轮功的经典著作), notably Zhuan Falun (转法轮), just like Hafiz (哈菲兹) in Islam

  • higher intelligent beings ("Buddhas")

  • some believers who practice really well can also get some "supernatural powers"

    • other dimensions, which some select people with vision superpowers can see, this being one of the supernatural powers that may be developed, the "Celestial Eye" https://falundafa.org/eng/eng/zfl_21.htm:

      A cultivator of a particular attainment level can only see the scenes on that level. He cannot see or believe the truth beyond that level. Therefore, he only believes what he has seen on his own level. When he has not gone up to such a high level of cultivation, he would think those things do not exist and are incredible.

      and the "Supernormal Capability of Remote Sight" is a closely related ability: https://falundafa.org/eng/eng/zfl_22.htm:

      A supernormal capability directly connected with the Celestial Eye is called the Remote Sight. Someone says that he can see scenes in Beijing, in America or scenes on the other side of the earth while sitting here.

      And finally there is also the past-future vision ability "Supernormal Capability of Total Recall" https://falundafa.org/eng/eng/zfl_23.htm:

      There is another supernormal capability which has a direct relation with the Celestial Eye. It is called Total Recall. Now there are six supernormal capabilities which are generally recognized in the world. They include the Celestial Eye, Remote Sight, and Total Recall. What is Total Recall? It is a supernormal capability with which one can know a person's future and past; if the ability is great, one can know the rise and decline of a society; if the ability is even greater, one can see the Law of the change of the whole celestial body.
  • aliens that look like humans are amongst us, they gave us part of our modern technology, some are evil, others not so evil. E.g. https://falundafa.org/eng/eng/lectures/19980530L.html:

    Science, however, is not something gods imparted to humans. Instead, it was passed down to humans by alien beings inside the Three Realms, and for the purpose of controlling humankind. People’s belief in it has surpassed everything. But I tell you that precisely because of its shallowness, this science has caused the degeneration of morality in human society.

    Despite this however, Falun Gong benefits from information technology enormously. For example, many (most?) believers use the Internet daily to study the Fa, and to organize their media outlets.

  • meetings in which people tell their religious testimonies ("experience sharing" TODO Chinese name, possibly just "分享修炼的美好", e.g. source): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testimony#Religion

    As Jesus put it in Matthew 18:20:

    For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them

    which highlights the critical believer mass effect of reinforced beliefs.

  • an impending final judgment-like event, which will happen "very soon" (unspecified date), and in which the just will be rewarded

    Ciro predict that when Li Hongzhi (李洪志, LHZ, Falun Gong prophet) dies, the claim will be that he went to another dimension so save us all, therefore putting this final judgment on hold, a bit like Jesus.

  • non-believers are fundamentally different from believers. Although non-followers who do good things are actually doing FLG without knowing it.

    FLG has a specific terminology for non-believers, which is translated in English as "ordinary people" (常人), as opposed to Falun Gong Believers, which Li calls Falun Gong disciples (大法弟子).

    Non-FLG people should therefore logically call Falun Gong believers abnormal people (异常人) in return, much like Ciro likes to call the Chinese who call him 老外 as "老内".

    Like other aspects of FLG however, this appears in other religions, e.g. my mother mentioned the funny term used by her Protestant’s group term but Ciro forgot it, and you can see it in Harry Potter as well: The Muggles.

  • You can support FLG by doing X and Y, it is not mandatory, but why wouldn’t you since you are saving other people?. Explaining that Falun Gong is good contrary to CCP propaganda also known as "Fa-rectification" in the English translation jargon.

  • alternate dimensions

  • pre-civilization: civilization is actually much older than what we believe, and was super advanced, but societal collapse events led us to forget about it, a bit like atlantis.

    Notably, this also implies that the theory of evolution is wrong, since there existed modern humans hundred of millions of years ago (the current scientific estimates for anatomically modern humans is 500,000 years): https://falundafa.org/eng/eng/zfl_14.htm

    Archaeologists have found in the world a kind of organism called "three-leaves insect", which came into being between 600 million and 260 million years ago, and became extinct thereafter. An American scientist found a fossil of "three-leaves insect", on which there was also a human footprint, left by a shoe he was wearing, and clearly printed on the fossil. Aren’t they joking with the historians? How could there possibly have been human beings 260 million years ago according to Darwin’s theory of evolution?

  • Maybe FLG will make you healthier, but no promises, but it will make you a better person, and that’s why you should do it, but if you really really believe, you get healthier. But people who seemed to be believers also die, because deep within their hearts, there was a belief problem.

  • Falun Gong believes that the CCP is literally a manifestation of real devils (法轮功认为中共是真正恶魔的化身)

From this, it is obvious that Falun Gong is just a New Age (新纪元运动) syncretic (综摄) religion combining:

and whatever other crazy things Li Hongzhi (李洪志, LHZ, Falun Gong prophet) believes in.

Synchronism is of course the easiest way to start a new religion, because it attempts to divert the irrational belief of people in some unprovable bullshit into a new unprovable bullshit, but that resonates more with the current political situation. This is exactly what Jesus did with Judaism. And it is then exactly what the Islam did to Christianity.

Or you could call Falun Gong a cult, which is nothing but a new/small religion with negative connotation, and thus meaningless.

FLG is very similar to Scientology in Ciro’s view: a new religion that mixes elements of both old and new. And just like any other religion, their practice must be allowed.

But consider this: how to classify what a religion is?

Some would answer: science is what every one can perceive with their own senses.

But FLG followers claim to feel FLG energies when doing the exercises, and a few of them have the power of seeing the other dimensions.

On the other hand, how many of your friends have experienced the laws of quantum field theory or general relativity in a very direct way?

And aren’t pro-democracy believers also taking actions based solely on a shared belief, possibly organized by a pro-democracy leader?

From a purely strategic point of view, the "religion" denomination would be:

  • bad to FLG because the concept of freedom of religion carries considerable weight in the West. And if you are not a religion, you are more likely to be a cult, which carries a black mark instead.

  • good for FLG because people who already have a religion would be less likely to try it out and start believing

    Falun Gong’s recruitment strategy is to focus on the exercises first, and in particular its health benefits and then as some people start to feel things, they start introducing the metaphysics.

    Other new religions have also taken this "I’m not a religion approach", see e.g.: Baha’i https://youtu.be/9qDN0COSvds?t=287.

See also: