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Cultivation-Exercise and Chinese Culture

Falun Gong - also known as Falun Dafa, the Great Way of Law-Wheel Cultivation-Exercise - is an ancient form of cultivation-exercise.

Mention China, and many people may think of Tai Chi, martial arts, acupuncture, I Ching, Confucius, or Daoism. Few may know that all of these have a common root: xiu-lian, or cultivation-exercise.

From its earliest establishment, the Chinese culture has embraced the concept of the "Oneness of Heaven and Man." The way to achieve the Oneness, or one's true self, is cultivation-exercise. Chinese literature is filled with legends of people achieving the status of deities, becoming enlightened, or obtaining the Tao through cultivation-exercise, and there have existed thousands of different schools of cultivation-exercise throughout the history of China. Cultivation-exercise, therefore, is a generic term for the practice of mind and body transcendence, with cultivation referring to the mental improvement and exercise referring to the physical refinement.

Cultivation-exercise has left its imprint on almost every aspect of Chinese culture. The teachings of Lao Zi and Confucius, for example, were originally for guiding the cultivation-exercises of their respective disciples. A great number of historical figures who contributed to shaping Chinese history were practitioners of cultivation-exercises. In fact, cultivation of moral character was a prerequisite for students of any serious study, and "cultivate oneself, put family in order, govern a state, and pacify the world" had been a motto for intellectuals for generations. As a result, the ethical values derived from teachings of cultivation-exercises have played an essential role in establishing and maintaining social morality.

Cultivation-exercise has also long been recognized for its effects on physical health and supernormal abilities. The health benefits of Tai Chi and martial arts exercises, for example, are known worldwide. All the famous doctors and physicians throughout Chinese history were practitioners of cultivation-exercises and had developed supernormal abilities to detect and cure diseases. In fact, they were entirely responsible for establishing the theory and practice of Chinese medicine.

The Upsurge of Qigong

The Chinese Communist Party's ruling of the mainland brought an abrupt end to the rich tradition of cultivation-exercise in China. The Party's atheist ideology and totalitarian power precluded any other ideas. Cultivation-exercise was branded as "superstition" and brutally persecuted. In the first two years of communist rule, an estimated two million people were executed in the movement of "suppressing counter-revolutionary superstitious sects and secret societies." For the next four decades, no one dared to mention cultivation-exercise in public.

Political repression cannot suppress illness, however, and poor government has led to an unprecedented crisis in the nation's health. In the early 1970's, to meet citizens' need for healing and fitness, some unique exercises were quietly introduced to the public under a novel name - qigong - and gained instant popularity for their remarkable health benefits. Some people also developed supernormal capabilities through qigong exercises, such as seeing through human bodies, reading with ears, and clairvoyance.

The popularity and supernormal capabilities of qigong did not escape the attention of some Party officials. In the late 1970's, these Party vanguards tried to stifle qigong practices, claiming that any leniency would amount to the defeat of Marxism and science by superstition and pseudoscience. Fortunately, some open-minded high-ranking officials had experienced and benefited from qigong practices, and they helped to mediate a truce. On April 20, 1982, the Party adopted a policy regarding qigong: "don't promote, don't dispute, and don't criticize." Nonetheless, the National Qigong Sciences Research Association was established to oversee the development of qigong in China.

The policy of "three don'ts" temporarily shielded qigong from political stereotyping, and an upsurge of qigong followed. In the next decade, over 2,000 schools of qigong exercises emerged in society. Enthusiasts also began to introduce qigong to the world as ancient Chinese breathing exercises, although the term qigong had never existed before, and most qigong exercises did not regulate breath. What really was qigong? Why did it have such a mystical power of healing diseases? What is the scientific basis of supernormal abilities? No one has a handle on these questions. Many sham qigong masters took advantage of the confusion, and misled and extracted profits from unwitting followers. Two decades after its inception, qigong began to lose its appeal to the public.

The Introduction of Falun Gong to the Public

Awards given to Mr. Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong in the 1992 and 1993 Oriental Health Expos in Beijing. To help promote qigong and alternative healing, Mr. Li and his students participated in the 1992 and 1993 Oriental Health Expos in Beijing. In both events, Falun Gong received several awards:
Top Left: Certificate of Honor to Mr. Li Hongzhi for Outstanding Contribution at the 1992 Oriental Health Expo;
Top Right: Award for New Science Advancement to Mr. Li Hongzhi at the 1993 Oriental Health Expo;
Bottom left: Certificate of Honor to Mr. Li Hongzhi for Outstanding Contribution at the 1993 Oriental Health Expo;
Bottom right: Award of "Most Acclaimed Qigong Master Award" awarded to Mr. Li Hongzhi at the 1993 Oriental Health Expo.

On May 13, 1992, Mr. Li Hongzhi gave his first public lecture on Falun Gong in his hometown of Changchun City, Jilin Province. Those who attended the class immediately realized that the qigong Mr. Li taught was drastically different from other qigong. For the first time, they learned that qigong was only the physical aspect of cultivation-exercise, that the word qigong had been coined to avoid political persecution, and that to obtain the full benefit of cultivation-exercise one must pay attention to its mental aspect - cultivation.

In one quiet benevolent act, Mr. Li Hongzhi brought thousands years of cultivation-exercise tradition back to the Chinese people.

No one recognized the significance of that event at the time. Eight years later, Falun Gong practitioners around the world named May 13 as "Falun Dafa Day" to commemorate the historical date of the public inception of Falun Gong.

One participant at that lecture recalled her experience in 1999, in a TV program in Jilin Province in China: "I was carried to the lecture on a stretcher. Teacher Li asked others to carry me to the stage. After just a few seconds, Teacher told me to sit up, and I was able to sit up. Teacher then told me to get down from the stretcher and stand up. I thought to myself, I had been paralyzed for years; could I really stand up? But I really was able to stand up. Teacher then told me, you are already curedˇ­"

After giving two successful classes in Changchun, in June 1992, Mr. Li traveled to Beijing to visit the National Qigong Sciences Research Association. Deeply impressed by Mr. Li's teaching, the Research Association decided to endorse Falun Gong as an affiliated qigong school and to sponsor the promotion of Falun Gong in China. From then to the end of 1994, Mr. Li gave fifty-four ten-day lecture series in China, all of which were sponsored and organized by the Research Association. Tens of thousand people attended those lectures. Falun Gong, however, spread far beyond those who learned directly from Mr. Li.

The Health Benefits of Falun Gong

What fascinated people early on was the miraculous healing power of Falun Gong.

In December 1992 and December 1993, Mr. Li and his disciples were invited to participate in the Oriental Health Expos in Beijing. During the Expos, Mr. Li and his disciples cured numerous difficult cases of illness. Many people were carried in on stretchers but walked out by themselves, and many saw tumor lumps shrink right before their eyes. For his contributions, the Expos honored Mr. Li with many awards, including the "Most Acclaimed Qigong Master Award" and the "Award for New Science Advancement." Professor Jiang Xueguei, chief adviser of the 1992 Expo, praised: "As the general adviser of the Fair, I am duty-bound to recommend Falun Dafa to you all."

During the 1993 Oriental Health Expo in Beijing, Mr. Li Hongzhi introduced Falun Gong to the public and cured numerous difficult cases of illness. Falun Gong received three awards.
One staff member of the 1993 Expo recalled her experiences: "One day, at around 5:30 p.m., when the Expo was already closed for the day, one man in his 40's hurried in towards Master Li. Following him at a distance was another man helping an old lady who appeared to be the mother of the two men. The old lady had a very severe hunchback, with her back bending forward almost at a ninety-degree angle, raising her head up with great difficulty. Upon seeing them, Master Li told the first man not to worry, then turned to the old lady and told her to walk behind him. As he walked in front of her, Master Li said to her, 'Relax, relax, walk up, walk up.' After a few steps, the old lady walked with her back straight! Seeing this, the two men choked up, could not say a word, and just knelt down to Master Liˇ­"

"Falun Gong is miraculous!" The word got around.

Not everyone was easily convinced at the beginning. They would exhaust other conventional treatments before trying Falun Gong. General Li Qihua was a typical example. General Li was born in 1918, joined the Red Army in 1931, and has been a Communist Party member since he was 18 years old. He became an army physician in 1937, and served his entire career in the military medical system. Before his retirement in 1984, he was the president of the PLA General Hospital (the 301 Hospital), the most prodigious hospital in China, and the president of the Second Medical School of the Army. The 301 Hospital is responsible for the medical treatment of China's national leaders, and has access to the most advanced medical technologies. All these could not help General Li's wife, however. In an article in 1998, General Li wrote:

"My wife developed quite a few illnesses, such as coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia, glaucoma, and hepatitis. Although she had the luxury of access to the best medical care, her illnesses had never been cured and her health deterioratedˇ­ she was completely dependent on medicine and sometimes oxygen. We kept two oxygen tanks in our house, one upstairs and one downstairs, to provide immediate relief whenever it was needed. At the time, she would even become short of breath just by going upstairs and often needed a break along the way.

"... in April 1993 she enrolled in Master Li's class. At that time I was skeptical about it. I thought that if I wasn't able to cure her diseases with the best possible therapeutic measures available, how could she recover from such severe diseases by just attending a qigong class? However, soon after she started practicing Falun Gong, her body and spirit experienced tremendous changes... Along with her progress in Falun Dafa cultivation all her illnesses disappeared. She has been without any medication for more than five years.

Mr. Li Hongzhi was interviewed by the Chinese Central TV station on July 30, 1993.
"The changes that happened to my wife were shocking to meˇ­ finally I decided to try it myself, and so I stepped onto the road of Falun Dafa cultivation.

"As a Communist Party member, a Revolutionary Army comrade, and a medical doctor for over 60 years, I earnestly advise those who have illnesses to put down that attachment, sincerely read the book Zhuan Falun, and practice the five sets of exercises. No matter what kind of illness you have you will get unexpected results. This has been proven from the experiences of countless cultivators."

As General Li was a most trusted medical advisor for China's senior national and military leaders, his recommendation played an important role in making Falun Gong popular among high-ranking officials and in the military.

Stories like that of General Li's family were numerous. Through Falun Gong exercise, countless people had their lifelong illnesses cured, countless people recovered from terminal diseases, countless bed-ridden people were able to work again, and countless people with disabilities were able to walk, talk, see, hear, or speak again. Almost every Falun Gong practitioner has a story to tell. Before 1999, testimonies of the supreme health benefits of the Falun Gong exercises frequented newspapers and magazines in China.

Cultivating Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance

As remarkable as the physical health benefits of the Falun Gong exercises are, ultimately it is the internal peace and spiritual growth that people experience from Falun Gong cultivation that make them genuine practitioners.

Mr. Li Hongzhi was on a radio talk show in the Tianjin People's Radio Station on March 18, 1994.
Among all contemporary qigong teachings in China, Falun Gong is the only one that emphasizes the importance of cultivation. In his lectures and works, Mr. Li expounds that to make progress in cultivation-exercise one must assimilate to the essential characteristic of the universe, Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance. A practitioner should first of all be a good person with higher moral standards. One should make an honest living and give up vile and indecent thoughts. In case of conflict, one should consider others first, search within oneself to find one's own deficiencies, let go attachments to fame, wealth, and lust, and never harm others for one's own gain. Through continuous improvement of one's xinxing - or mental and moral quality - one becomes a better and nobler person, and eventually enlightens to and achieves a higher realm of mind.

Just before the persecution began on July 20, 1999, thirty thousand practitioners practiced the exercises in the Harbin Sports Arena, Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province.
At the time when Falun Gong was introduced to the public, Chinese society was going through the worst destruction of morality and values. The government had lost any legitimate claim to morality after the Tiananmen massacre in June 1989; officials were engrossed in rampant corruption; the continuous suppression of dissenting voices for social justice had left the people with no hope and no values to hold onto except materialism and fanatic nationalism. The moral bankruptcy has caused severe social problems, such as an extreme disparity between the rich and the poor, an AIDS epidemic, mafia, prostitution, drug use, and a high suicide rate. Never in the history of China has such a destruction of humanity been seen.

Like a long-awaited call during troubled times, Mr. Li's teaching revived numerous people's innate yearning. They enlightened to a new sense of life, a life of cultivation. They experienced a peace from within. They let go of previous grudges without feeling a loss. They gave up attachments to material gains and stopped worrying about being taken advantage of. Officials resisted corruption and rejected bribes. Businessmen shunned cheating and abided by honest practices. Gangsters, drug addicts, prostitutes, and thieves alike turned over a new leaf and led new lives. Countless people thanked Falun Gong for giving them a second life or saving their families.

Recognition and Support of Falun Gong

While Falun Gong emphasizes individual cultivation, its wide spreading has had a positive impact on society, and this has been well recognized by the people as well as by various levels of the Chinese government. In fact, the authorities' positive regard facilitated the spread of Falun Gong in the early 1990's. State-controlled media, including national and local newspapers, TV, and radio stations, frequently covered the activities and benefits of Falun Gong practice.

National Sports Commission: The Overall Efficiency of Healing and Keeping Fit by Falun Gong Is 97.9%

The People's Public Security News reported Falun Gong's Remarkable Effect in Health Recovery

The People's Public Security News, published by the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, carried a report on September 21, 1993 about the free health recovery treatment given by Mr. Li Hongzhi and his students to representatives attending the Third National Outstanding JianyiYongwei [voluntarily combating criminal activities] Individuals Honoring Conference.

"On August 30, Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, paid a visit to the Conference venue along with some of his students and offered free consultation and treatment to the outstanding JianyiYongwei individuals. Attending the Conference were nearly 100 representatives from 30 provinces and cities across the country, most of whom got injured or disabled from fighting against criminals.

On August 25, 1993, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry Propaganda cosponsored the Third Conference of the National Foundation for Heroes. Qigong Research Society, the Foundation invited Mr. Li Hongzhi to give free treatment to those who were injured or disabled in the line of duty.
After the treatment, they unanimously agreed that remarkable improvements had been achieved. Prior to the treatment, some people were suffering from ailments left over from knife and gunshot injuries. After the treatment, they were relieved of such symptoms as pain, numbness, and chronic weakness. Those suffering from brain injuries from their illnesses recovered their sober minds after the treatment and were relieved of such symptoms as headaches and dizziness. Some people were ridded of tumors right on the spot. Some excreted gallstones within 24 hours of receiving the treatment. Some people suffered from stomach diseases, heart diseases, or arthritis. After the treatment, all of them were relieved of symptoms right on the spot. Among the nearly 100 people receiving treatment, only one person claimed no obvious effects. All others felt obvious improvements of various degreesˇ­"

On December 27 1993, the China JianYiYongWei Foundation, under the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, conferred a certificate of honor to Mr. Li Hongzhi.

Beijing Youth Daily: Zhuan Falun One of the Top Ten Best Sellers in Beijing

In January 1995, Falun Gong's major book, Zhuan Falun, written by Mr. Li Hongzhi, was published by China Broadcasting and Television Publishing House, which was affiliated with the Department of Broadcast and Television of the State Department. On January 4, 1995, the first printing ceremony was held in the auditorium of the University of Public Security. Since the publishing of Zhuan Falun, the demand for the book has always exceeded the supply. In January 1996, Zhuan Falun was listed in the Beijing Youth Daily as one of the top ten best sellers.

Dalian Daily: Old Man Contributes Quietly

Where Falun Gong is practiced, people's hearts are becoming more compassionate and morality improved. Dalian Daily reported on March 17, 1997, in the article "Old Man Contributes Quietly," that Sheng Lijian, a man in his seventies, quietly built four roads in one year - a total of more than 1,100 meters - for his fellow villagers. When people asked what company he worked for and how much he was paid, he said: "I am a Falun Gong practitioner, I don't want any reward for this. I just want to do something good for everyone."

Yangcheng Evening News (Tuesday November 10, 1998) published article on Falun Gong's positive health benefits.
Yangcheng Evening News: The Old and the Young All Practice Falun Gong
(Yangcheng Evening News, Tuesday, November 10, 1998)

"On the morning of the 8th, officials from the Guandong Province Physical Culture Commission Martial Arts Association went to Guangzhou City Martyrs' Cemetery Park and watched 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners' large-scale morning exercises. The practitioners come from all walks of life; the oldest is 93 years old (bottom-left picture) and the youngest is only two years old (upper picture).

Falun Gong emphasizes free teaching - no fees accepted.

A practice site in Guangzhou City.
According to information, currently about 250 thousand people in Guangdong Province practice Falun Gong. At the practice site, the officials inquired several people who have benefited from Falun Gong. Their stories are very touching. Ms. Lin Chanying, an accountant in Guangzhou Diwei Leather Co., said she used to suffer from top digit paralysis. Seventy percent of her body was numb and without sensation, and she had incontinence of feces and urine. Soon after she started to practice Falun Gong she could stand up, and later she could walk by herself. Now Ms. Lin's face glows with health. Her limbs move nimbly and freely."

China Economic Times: I Can Stand Up Now

On July 10, 1998, China Economic Times published an article entitled "I Can Stand Up Now!", which reported the story of a woman in Handan, Hebei Province who had been paralyzed due to a spinal injury for 16 years. Starting from July 1, 1996, her husband took her in a wheelchair to a Falun Gong practice site to do the Falun Gong exercises. She followed the principles explained in Zhuan Falun in her daily life. Months later, all her illnesses were gone and she could walk by herself. It is Falun Dafa that made a patient who had been paralyzed for 16 years able to stand up.

National Sports Commission: The Overall Efficiency of Healing and Keeping Fit by Falun Gong Is 97.9%

In September 1998, the National Sports Commission organized a team of physicians and medical professors with different specialties and did a questionnaire sampling survey on the physical and mental health of 12,553 Falun Gong practitioners in the cities of Guangdong Province, including Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhaoqin, Shantou, Meizhou, Chaozhou, Jieyang, Qingyuan, and Shaoguan. This survey sampled 12,553 people, 27.9% male, 72.1% female, 48.4% under 50 years old, and 51.6% over 50. Among them, 10,475 practitioners were suffering from more than one illness, which is 83.4% of the total surveyed. While the length of time they had practiced varied from 2-3 months to 2-3 years, the health situations of sick practitioners greatly improved and the healing effects are very remarkable. The ratio of recovery and basic healing is 77.5%, and the number of practitioners on the mend is 20.4%. The National Sports Commission concluded that the overall efficiency of Falun Gong's healing and keeping fit was 97.9%.

In the same survey, 7,170 practitioners provided the amount of yearly savings in medical expenses. They saved about a total of 12,650,000 Yuan in medical expenses per year. Each person saved average over 1,700 Yuan per year.

Statistics of survey in 1998 by the National Sports Commission.

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