August 14, 1999
From: David Cowhig
Subject: Talking with Falun Gong Members at July DC Demo; Websites
While visiting Washington, DC this Summer, I talked with Falun Gong members for two hours on Saturday, July 24, on the Mall where about 400 people were having a meditation-demonstration in front of the Air and Space Museum. I met several Chinese graduate students and Chinese now working for U.S. companies.
One MBA student from near Washington, DC who had been in the USA for a year told me that she had joined the Falun Gong three months earlier. She said that she had been impressed by the moral message of the group and how their respect for Li Hongzhi was not a cult of personality since "cult of the personality of the leader has led to great disasters for China over the past few decades". She said she realizes now that her education had been distorted by the Communist Party. In particular how for Communism the central value is the party while the Falun Gong stresses the innate worth of the individual. She said that Falun Gong members have an obligation to teach others who are interested in the Falun Gong but there is nothing like a priest or hierarchy.
A Chinese who had come from a midwestern city for the demonstration who works for a biotechnology company told me that he had joined Falun Gong a year ago. He said that one of the attractive things about the Falun Gong is that people read some texts and think about it and decide for themselves what they believe. He said that people doing good works is central to the Falun Gong philosophy. He said that illness is caused by black things [or black spots] (heidian) that emerge and can be eliminated through meditation. Taking medicine actually drives the black things deeper. He said that people who are ill or mentally imbalanced are not good prospects for the Falun Gong and are not actively recruited. He said that many physicians in China have become Falun Gong members. Many Chinese graduate students in the USA are attracted to the Falun Gong because they feel a moral vacuum in Chinese society. Falun Gong teaches, he said, that people are linked by a kind of karma (yuan) so that one is affected not only by one's own actions but also by the action of those to whom one is linked (not necessarily relatives).
One Chinese who had been in the USA for five years and not a Falun Gong member said that the vehement response of the Party to the Falun Gong is another sign -- along with the slowing of the Chinese economy and the U.S. attack on the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia -- of just how incompetent the Chinese government is. He said that the Communists will be gone within five years.
A Chinese scientist visiting relatives in the USA told me that he had come to the meditation-demo to see what Falun Gong was all about since 16 people in his work unit are Falun Gong members.
A Falun Gong demonstrator who had come from Canada told me that there are many Falun Gong websites but those in China had been closed down. He said that some Falun Gong members in the U.S. had received computer viruses in their emails, probably from Chinese security. He said that one of the hidden strengths of the group is that many members of the police are reluctant to crack down on the group, even under orders, for fear that it will bring bad karma consequences to them.
[Note: The seeming Protestant attitude in the Falun Gong approach to learning the scriptures ("every man his own Pope") is intriguing. The 400 or so meditator-demonstrators on the mall were sitting in very well-aligned rows which seemed in itself almost a sign of underlying organization. When I asked one demonstrator asked how they came, he said that it was spontaneous and everyone shared the expenses. There was no one leader to their group.]
Some Falun texts can be found on these sites:
- http://www.stanford.edu/group/falun http://falundafa.ca
This site has multimedia presentations including lectures by Li Hongzhi in Real Audio. Also Falun Gong material in many different languages. You can download up to 14 hours of Li Hongzhi lectures from this site. The material is also available as streaming Real Audio, but I wasn't able to get it, perhaps because of the slow speed of my connection from China. A download worked fine though.
You can find many, many of today's Chinese news articles about the Falun Gong at Newshoo, which now has a special listing of articles on the Falun Gong. Maybe twenty or thirty every day appear on Newshoo, which collects about 5000 articles daily from dozens of Chinese language newspaper websites in the PRC and other countries. It has been interesting to see how many of the reports are from Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province.
The People's Daily also carries excerpts of Chinese broadcast media reports on the Falun Gong suppression campaign. This collection of Chinese-language audio clips is called "Exposing the Falun Gong".