H-ASIA: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture [H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU]
Nov. 15, 1999
From: Patsy Rahn [email@example.com]
Subject: Falun Gong and health
Daojiong Zha made a good point that "the collapse of the health care system and other social safety networks in China under reform" probably contributes to the popularity of Falun gong in China. Gerry Groot pointed out that the majority of FLG practitioners in China appear to be "both female and middle aged or elderly, i.e. likely to have health problems and be excluded...from the healthcare system..." While both of these points are part of the picture, there still remains the question, why Falun Gong? There is a plethora of qi gong groups in China and they all promise good health and healing. (It should be noted that Li Hong Zhi does not consider FLG a qi gong practice, but refers to it as a cultivation system). Why have these other qi gong practices not developed large followings of practitioners who are willing to die for their particular form of practice?
There are FLG practitioners in the US, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and France. The Falun Gong considers their practice to be "the fastest growing spiritual practice in the world" The FLG identity is not limited to its Chinese experience, it is a world-wide defined movement. In China you have the largest number of practitioners and they are in conflict with the government, creating a tense situation filled with intense emotion, creating a "cause" charged with affect.
One of the interesting aspects of the FLG movement is that it has moved outside of China. It's probably too early to understand the dynamics behind this movement, but I'd like to point out some elements in the "testimonials" of non-Chinese FLG practitioners, as found posted on the FLG website.
Most (non-Chinese) practitioners seem to be attracted to it, not as a health care system primarily, but as an answer to life's bigger questions, and something that will make their life better. There is often a sense of religious awe and an experience of epiphany: when one eight year old first listened to Li Hong Zhi on tape "tears couldn't stop running"; when a man named Jeremiah had first been introduced to FLG, within hours he had visions of lights and thousands of Buddha's; when a 43 year old woman named Lisa saw Li at an LA sharing conference and Li "demonstrated the Large Hand Sign, my body was overcome...it seems my inner being understood this high-level language, and I realized my destiny"; and when the woman who owns a public relations and marketing business and works for Li in New York, first saw Li, she says she "experienced an awesome light radiating from him...everything began to melt into this light, clouds of light and brightness shone all around me...I felt such an incredible unconditional love that I had never felt before...I knew the moment I saw him, this was the miracle that I had been searching for.."
It may be important to keep a fuller picture of the FLG movement in mind, even as we try to understand the implications for China.
The Falun Gong website lists websites in: Australia, Canada, US (62 sites), China (HK and Taiwan), "Europe", Denmark, U.K., Sweden, Austria and Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Russia.