Third Party Commentary: My View on Falun Gong
I used to be a pious Buddhist when I was in China. Then I came into contact with Christianity and other western religions when I went to Western countries. It is safe to say that I'm not an atheist. But I have not yet chosen my path and have been wandering around among different religions. When the incidents that surrounded Falun Gong developed, I inevitably wanted to learn more. I've been reading their websites, so I'm someone who understands quite a bit about Falun Gong. Due to the issue of enlightenment quality, I have not been able to join their practice. Today, I would like to talk about my view on Falun Gong, and I hope that this can be of some help to you.
Below I would like to talk about Falun Gong from two perspectives.
First, let's discuss it from the perspective of theism. After I read the core work of Falun Gong, Zhuan Falun, my feeling is that it is not talking about something in our material world; instead, it is talking about something very profound. Although a lot people say that it took things from Buddhism and Taoism, I disagree. Therefore, in my previous posting I told other people who surfed the web that, just like we don't look at other religions from the perspective of scientific notions, the same is true for Falun Gong--we shouldn't look at Falun Gong from the perspective of our own scientific notions. In the book Zhuan Falun, Mr. Li Hongzhi's required moral standard for his disciples (or "practitioners" as they say) is very high, and as for any other religions, there is just no comparison regarding this aspect. Mr. Li Hongzhi's requirements for Falun Gong cultivation practice are very strict. If you do not follow his requirements, you are not considered a Falun Gong practitioner. It is explicitly addressed in Zhuan Falun that the level of moral standard reflects the level of cultivation. This is not specifically addressed in any other religions and this is why I don't think that he has taken things from other religions. Other religions only ask you to improve your moral standard, but they don't tell you its relationship with cultivation. Of course, there is no such notion as cultivation in Western religions. All they require is that you believe in God and pray, and that you be a good person. However, in my experience in dealing with some Christians, I found out that there is also meditation in Christianity, which makes me more convinced that Christianity is also a kind of cultivation practice. I didn't say this to tell readers on the web that they shouldn't hold different opinions about Falun Gong. I just want to tell you that we should look at Falun Gong from a different perspective. A lot of readers (including myself) probably have a hard time understanding why Falun Gong followers regard their Teacher as the most sacred and greatest Buddha. However, if we look back at the histories of religions, we find that back when Jesus was around, he appeared as the son of a carpenter. When he told people that he was the son of God, people couldn't believe his words. So they crucified a great enlightened being like him to a cross. When Sakyamuni appeared as a prince to save people from the cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death, he was also received negatively and Brahmanism persecuted his disciples. In this chaotic world of ours and during the Dharma-ending period referred to by Buddhism, we are bound to have a great enlightened being come to this world to offer salvation to people. Christianity talks about the return of Jesus to the world to make the final judgment. Buddhism talks about the future Buddha, Buddha Maitreya, coming to the world--people in all religions believe in God's return to the human world. I have a hard time figuring out who is the true, future Buddha, but I believe in the existence of Gods, which enables me to maintain a good heart when dealing with people. Another very important point is that theists think that everything has a karmic relationship. Then such a big issue as Falun Gong is absolutely not something that is accidental. The same is true for Falun Gong practitioners' being persecuted. I think that such a reality of cruel persecution is actually a test for people's consciences. It is the most useful evidence for history's judgment regardless of your religious background, since Gods only look at your heart.
Next, I would like to talk about Falun Gong from the perspective of an atheist. When talking about democracy and rule of law, people believe that they are the magic potions for solving society's problems, but I don't think so. Improving the moral standard is the key to solving society's problems. Looking at the development of human society, we can see that systems of law were a product of society's moral decline. There was no system of law in a primitive society; instead the binding condition that allowed people to get along harmoniously was their moral standard. It was after people lost the moral standard for self-control that people thought about making rules to discipline themselves. There was not that many different laws at the beginning either. Perhaps some readers think that laws are becoming more impeccable. I personally think that this is a sign of the further decline of the human moral standard. Let me make an analogy: nobody will steal if everyone thinks that stealing is an immoral action, therefore we will not think about making rules to restrict people from stealing. (In fact, when I was little, it was very common in my hometown for people to not pick up what others had left on the roadside.) It was after people had lost the binding of the moral standard and after the act of stealing had appeared that people thought about making laws to punish theft. I personally think that the reason that Western societies have played a leading role in society's development in modern history is that their people have been maintaining a very high moral standard. Such a moral standard has in turn facilitated further perfection of their society's systems. I think people who come to the Western world can feel Westerners' kindness, honesty and their sense of responsibility toward society. The fact that Falun Gong requires its practitioners to have a higher moral standard creates so much good for our society and does not pose any danger. Some readers worry that the founder of Falun Gong will use his followers to do something. I personally think that they worry too much. If his disciples can be like what he requires of them and improve their moral standard to such a high level, nobody is ever going to be able to use these people to do anything that will endanger society.
I have digressed too far away from the subject. Let us go back and talk about the persecution against Falun Gong. First, the persecution against Falun Gong is completely illegal. Even after the Chinese communist government had the National People's Congress set up new legislation to make it legal, it is still incredibly ridiculous. Can laws be like this? Let me crack down on you first, and then I'll make up new legislation to substantiate my legal ground for the crackdown! I don't want to say too much here. I still want to go back to this issue of the damage to China this persecution has produced. This persecution is relying on a foundation of lies to continue, one example is the staged-immolation, and so on. The satellite-interruption incident that happened recently is obviously trying to incite people's hatred toward Falun Gong. Can the media report news this way? Just because some experts claimed that the source of the interruption came from Taiwan and the pictures were Falun Gong pictures, can you be sure that Falun Gong was responsible for this? The fact is, according to my friend in Mainland China, the pictures were exposing Jiang's selling out the country and had nothing to do with Falun Gong. Taiwan also denies that the source of the interruption came from Taiwan. A direct consequence of a country's doing this is encouraging its people to lie. Because if you don't lie about it, you'll then be implicated. After a while, the whole country will be full of lies. People's integrity will be on the brink of collapse. People's belief system will be completely destroyed. The persecution of Falun Gong fully reflects this point. Knowing full well that Falun Gong practitioners are good people, the police torture good people in order to get them to stop being Falun Gong practitioners and in order to get a promotion or make more money. It is a publicly-known, international law that the diagnosis of a mental patient cannot be based on his or her belief or religion. Disregarding medical ethics, doctors in China send Falun Gong practitioners to mental institutions and torture them, based on the excuse that Falun Gong practitioners have gone insane as a result of practicing Falun Gong. Schools proceed to brainwash junior high and elementary school students who still lack independent thinking. All of this accomplishes nothing but the destruction of the people's moral fiber.