Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, translates to Dharma Wheel Practice. It is based on the teachings of Li Hongzhi, a former musician who is regarded by followers as a master of qigong, a form of Chinese meditation and exercise used for healing and for increasing human potential, centered around Truthfulness, Tolerance, and Compassion.
In this faith, it is believed that certain exercises will transform the body and reveal a person’s place in the universe, and is a fundamental tool for liberation and awakening. Li draws on popular Buddhism and Taoism, and he relates health to karma, in which actions in one’s past lives affect one’s current life. Karma is a black substance inside the body, which, through suffering or practice alongside moral living, can be made white. Followers should read Li’s writings, get rid of their personal attachments, and follow the exercises that he prescribes. Practitioners then may develop paranormal powers, and Li claims to have a greater understanding of the universe than can be known by science. This includes the knowledge that aliens exist, and that the world has been destroyed and recreated a number of times and is about to undergo this process again. In fact, this idea of world cycles - destruction and rebirth, is fundamental to Falun Gong. A sign that this is about to occur is the repression that followers have experienced in China since 1999; Li says those who suffer or die for their belief will receive instant enlightenment. When it first began in the 90’s, there were over 100 million people meditating in public together, crime rates were going down, and nationwide morale was going up. To the Chinese Government, Falun Gong is regarded as a ‘Heretical cult” that exploits members, causes deaths, and is a threat to society, despite no evidence of any such activity taking place. On 20 July 1999, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. Many Practitioners were detained and sent to labor camps, and then many reports came to light regarding the harvesting of organs Falun Gong practitioners, are being executed "on demand" in order to provide organs to recipients The harvesting of organs is said to be taking place both as a result of the Chinese Communist Party's persecution of Falun Gong and because of the financial incentives available to the institutions and individuals involved in the trade. In 2001, Li was awarded a prize by Freedom House, a prominent American human rights organization, as a ‘defender of religious rights’. Still living today, Li has lived in the United States since 1996, observing and supporting the movements growth. In China, tens of millions still practice publicly, despite their persecution from the government, which has made it taboo to talk about publicly.