in Reporting Guidelines
Why Falun Gong is not a "Sect."
It is more accurate, fair, and illuminating
to use such terms as "meditation practice" or "spiritual
group" to describe Falun Gong, rather than the shorthand
"sect." Falun Gong does not fit into the dictionary
definitions of "sect," nor do the negative connotations
of the word help the reader understand it.
When asked to define Falun Gong, Ian Johnson of the Wall Street
Journal, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Falun Gong
in China, said, "... I think a sect is usually considered
a splinter group of an existing religion. But Falun Gong is not
Falun Gong is indeed not an off-shoot or subdivision of any religion.
It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years
before being made public in 1992. It does spring from traditional
Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices
of China, including the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Some
terminology is shared with these religions, but Falun Gong developed
independent of them.
Many Christians in the West would feel uncomfortable, perhaps
even insulted, to be told that they belong to "a Lutheran
sect," "a Baptist sect," or "the Roman Catholic
sect." Yet this is a more precise use of the word, according
to one of the word's denotations.
It is worth noting that "sect" is a strongly objectionable
term in other Western languages, such as French and German.
The connotations of the word "sect" often serve to
put psychological distance between the reader and a group so designated.
The word marginalizes or trivializes a group. If a sect is not
outright odd or weird, it's at least on the fringes of society,
not quite respectable or to be taken seriously.
Falun Gong is practiced by millions today in more than 50 countries,
people of all races, ages, and socioeconomic levels. In China
it grew to include a large number of people in all segments of
society. A Chinese government survey estimated that more than
70 million people practiced Falun Gong in early 1999, a number
larger than the Communist Party membership. Falun Gong was not
a fringe movement in China then, nor does it now deserve the negative
label of "sect" as it takes its place internationally.
Describing Falun Gong
FALUN GONG (also called Falun Dafa) is an ancient form of 'qigong,'
the practice of refining the body and mind through slow-moving
exercises and meditation. Many have come to call qigong, "Chinese
Yet Falun Dafa is different from most other qigong practices
in that it goes beyond the pursuit of health and fitness. At the
heart of the practice are three principles: Truthfulness, Compassion,
and Forbearance. Through a combination of studying the books of
Falun Dafa and performing the exercises, practitioners strive
to become better people by embodying these principles in everything
Falun Gong is not "Breathing
The art of 'qigong,' sometimes referred to as 'Chinese Yoga,'
has long been a tradition in Eastern culture. During the early
morning hours in Chinas city parks nationwide, one can find
people performing various types of qigong exercises. Many of these
practices employ various forms of breathing techniques.
Falun Gong grew out of this qigong tradition, and is considered
an advanced form of qigong. However, while practicing Falun Gong
exercises one neither employs breathing nor any other bodily techniques.
Breathing proceeds naturally.
Unlike qigong, however, the practice of Falun Gong goes beyond
the goal of healing and fitness. The foundation of Falun Gong
are the three principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.
Students of Falun Dafa consider these virtues to be the nature
of the universe, and it is these that they strive to perfect in
themselves. While cultivating these virtues in themselves and
improving from a gradual understanding of Falun Gong, people learn
to fundamentally abandon damaging behaviors such as selfishness,
jealousy, and greed. In this process, one becomes more connected
with their original, pure and altruistic nature. Thus, Falun Dafa
is not only a path to better health and well-being, it is a path
to ones true self.
To categorize or label Falun Gong as "breathing exercises"
is not only technically inaccurate, but also trivializes the nature
of the practice.