2. There is No Mind Control in Falun Gong
In history, both religions and cults have had many followers. The difference between the two is that cults exercise mind control over their members, whereas an orthodox religion educates its followers spiritually. The intentions of the two are completely different.
The intention of a religion is to "save people," make them mature in wisdom and eventually become "enlightened beings," rather than easily manipulated robot-like spiritual slaves. This can only be achieved through spiritual education, not mind control.
Exactly to the contrary, the intention of a cult is to make its followers become tools controlled by its founder. Therefore the cult exercises mind control over its followers, and is unlikely to carry out spiritual education. In other words, with different intentions, the chosen methods are of course also different.
Falun Gong is not a religion, but is a way of cultivation, a self-improvement practice of body and mind. Similar in this aspect with the orthodox religions that developed over history, Falun Gong has no component of spiritual or mind control associated with it.
Yet Jiang's group, which masterminds the persecution of Falun Gong, accuses Falun Gong of "mind control" in attempts to justify its label of "evil cult," because only then could the nationwide campaign to crush Falun Gong ever make sense to the people of China. After all, in the years before the persecution started, the Chinese government praised Falun Gong for the great benefits it had brought to Chinese society. How could it suddenly be bad?
So to justify the persecution, Jiang's group had to come up with some reason, and hence the huge propaganda campaign contrived to demonize Falun Gong in the minds of the public. Step one in any such campaign is defamation, and one of the first lies created was that Falun Gong is guilty of "mind control" and was "therefore an evil scourge that has to be eliminated."
2. a) Falun Gong Teaches People to be Good
Falun Gong's unique teaching and guiding method simply advises people to think for themselves, to be good, and to try to become even better, which is completely the opposite of spiritual or mind control.
Falun Gong's founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, has traveled to many countries in the world and has taught classes to many people to disseminate the principles of Falun Dafa since it was first introduced in Changchun, China in 1992.
Although Mr. Li Hongzhi (respectfully referred to by students as "Teacher" or "Master") has repeatedly spoken of the precious nature of Falun Dafa, he has never forced anyone to accept his teachings. He has stated very clearly in Zhuan Falun (the primary text of the teachings of Falun Gong, a.k.a. Falun Dafa):
"There is another principle in our universe: If you pursue or want something, others are not willing to interfere. Here, we teach everyone to follow the righteous way, and at the same time explain the Fa to you thoroughly to let you become enlightened on your own. It is your own business whether you want to learn it. The master takes you through the entrance, and it is up to you to practice cultivation. Nobody will force you or make you practice cultivation. It is your own business whether you practice cultivation. In other words, no one will interfere with it in terms of which path you take, what you want, or what you try to get. We can only advise people to be good." (Zhuan Falun)
In addition, Mr. Li established a rule at the beginning of his teaching: there is no organization or hierarchy in Falun Dafa. People are free to come if they want to learn and are also free to leave if they do not want to learn. It is totally up to oneself whether to come or not and there is no formality or membership. Neither is there any giving of money involved in Falun Dafa. All teaching and all activities are free of charge. Practitioners may choose to pay for certain activities or flyers, etc. out of their own pockets, but there is no requirement or pressure to do so.
2. b) Falun Gong Encourages Independent Thinking
Mr. Li has given lectures one after another aimed at helping students overcome problems they face in their cultivation, though he has never forced practitioners to follow what he says. Mr. Li always encourages independent thinking.
The personal experiences of more than 100 million practitioners can prove that Falun Gong has never tried to make us give up or lose the ability of independent thinking, either through force or more subtle means. On the contrary, the practice of Falun Dafa always requires practitioners to think independently.
During the practice of Falun Dafa, independent thinking or "enlightenment" is required at every step of the way because there are no role models or ready-made answers to follow. In the closing part of Zhuan Falun, Mr. Li says,
"This Fa can only be taught to this level. It is up to your own cultivation to attain what is at high levels. The questions raised by some people have become more specific. If I explain all the questions in your life, what will be left for you to cultivate? You must practice cultivation and become enlightened on your own. If I tell you everything, nothing will remain for you to cultivate." (Zhuan Falun)
Mr. Li also stressed that, during the entire cultivation process, from the beginning to the end, there exist tests as to whether one truly believes. The Teacher allows the practitioners to distinguish truth from falsehood through their own independent thinking while facing such tests.
To illustrate this, since the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, Mr. Li has only written one letter to the central government of China. Thereafter, even as the Party-controlled media attacked him over and over again with deceitful propaganda contrived to turn public opinion against him, he did not say another word to them, or even to his practitioners for some time. It was only after more than one year later, when he came out and addressed a Falun Dafa experience sharing conference, saying:
"In some specific respects, the minds of some students initially fluctuated a lot amidst what happened from the April 25th event of last year through the July 20th event. That's normal, too, because only when you have ordinary human thoughts can you cultivate; only when you have ordinary human thoughts can you waver; and only when you have ordinary human thoughts can you determine the right path you should take amidst the wavering. This is cultivation. That's why at that time many of you were thinking: "Is this Fa I'm studying correct and righteous? What kind of person is Li Hongzhi? Is there truth to what's said by this evil force that lies to hurt the reputation of others?" Every student thought about these questions--you were thinking about them more or less. This was also to give you an opportunity for reflection. So it wasn't wrong. After you calmed down, you took the path you were supposed to."
("Teaching the Fa at the Great Lakes Fa Conference in North America ")
This is also a kind of enlightenment, the kind of enlightenment required when a cultivator faces tests of whether he or she firmly believes.
For the exact reason that enlightenment is a special form of independent thinking, Mr. Li stresses time and again that there are different Fa-principles at different levels:
"A cultivator's understanding of the Fa is his understanding of the Fa at his cultivation level. Different cultivators understand the Fa differently because they are at different levels."(From "Non-Omission" in Essentials for Further Advancement)
In actuality, Falun Gong practitioners are all enlightening, and what different practitioners enlighten to when faced with the same problem has never been exactly the same. There are differences in what various practitioners enlighten to, sometimes the differences are quite large. Doesn't this by itself show that they have not lost their ability of independent thinking? Doesn't it also demonstrate that Falun Gong encourages independent thinking?
If Mr. Li is really exercising mind control over his students as China's official propaganda claims, then logically every student's thinking should be exactly the same because each person is following the same teacher, studying the same principles and practicing the same exercises.
2. c) There is No Worship in Falun Gong
There is another common aspect to all cults. Not only do they institute mind-control, but they also encourage worshiping the leader. Falun Gong is completely against this.
(to be continued)
July 7, 2004