Also known as Falun Dafa this practice originating in China is a collection of five meditation exercises and philosophies related to Buddhism. The practice promotes living a virtuous existence where consideration of others is a high priority. The guide to what constitutes good behavior according to Falun Gong is the “Unchanging characteristic of the Universe: Zhen-Shan-Ren (Truthfulness, Benevolence and Forbearance)” if that seems a little vague luckily the movement’s founder Li Hongzhi has stepped in to interpret and relay this characteristic of the Universe for us.

Coming as it does from the traditions of China it recognizes the existence of Qi and it’s alleged importance in wellness. It also teaches that illness comes from entities in other dimensions and that through cultivation and manipulation of the body’s Qi force we can fly, see through walls, use telekinesis, heal disease, perform alchemy and even time travel. Unfortunately a true qigong master is forbidden to demonstrate their powers so don’t be expecting any aerobatic displays at a Falun Gong gathering. Typing the preceding made me think of the similarities in these claims of superpowers with Scientology, although as far as I’m aware Falun Dafa won’t send you bankrupt while on your path to Superhero status.

As with many other belief systems that I have chronicled here this one is superficially harmless. So what if people hang out and meditate and try to be better individuals? I’m all for that, even if I don’t have the patience for meditation myself. The danger comes though when people put these ideas of the mystical origins of, and cures for, disease into practice. I would be very uncomfortable supporting the use of Qi as a diagnostic aid (oh did I mention they can use it like doing a CAT scan?) and medical supplement. I have nothing against trying to improve our lot in this life but care must be taken that what seems harmless truly is so.

Resources

http://www.religioustolerance.org/falungong1.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/library/review/043000falun-gong-review.html

http://falundafa.org/book/eng/flg_2001_1.htm#5