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Fairness 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 that…."

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 Yoga."

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 they do.

Falun Gong is not "Breathing Exercises."

The art of 'qigong,' sometimes referred to as 'Chinese Yoga,' has long been a tradition in Eastern culture. During the early morning hours in China’s 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 one’s true self.

To categorize or label Falun Gong as "breathing exercises" is not only technically inaccurate, but also trivializes the nature of the practice.


   

Australian Falun Dafa Information Centre
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