Why Do We Say “Falun Dafa Is Good?”
(Minghui.org) I practice Falun Dafa. My husband does not. He recently asked me: “Why do you practitioners say Falun Dafa is good?”
I was a little unsure what he meant by that, so he clarified: “I mean, the word ‘good’ means that something is ok, but it’s just good, it’s not the best.”
“Well,” I replied, “in Chinese they say ‘Falun Dafa hao,’ which translates to ‘Falun Dafa is good.’”
“Ok, but why do you say it’s just good?”
“Hmmm… it’s just how it was originally translated. Hao means good. Falun Dafa hao. Falun Dafa is good.”
His comments, as he will be glad to hear, have spurred me on to write this article.
First, a little bit of background:
Falun Dafa was so popular in China in the 1990s that it was common to see hundreds of practitioners doing the exercises together in parks across the country every morning. The number of practitioners is believed to have exceeded 100 million, but since in Falun Dafa there are no memberships or organizational structures, this may be a conservative estimate. The practice was spread mainly by word of mouth, the published books were the cheapest of their kind, and the fees to attend Mr. Li Hongzhi’s lectures (the founder) were the absolute lowest in the country. The fact that the teachings were rooted in thousands of years of Chinese history made it resonate in the hearts of the Chinese, the same people whose rich spiritual traditions were nearly eradicated through decades of the communist regime’s bloody campaigns.
When the persecution started in July 1999, it came down hard. Across China, the police made mass arrests of practitioners, who were thrown into prisons like criminals. Their crime? They dared to believe that the divine is in charge of everything, that the underlying principles of the universe, Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, are the ultimate guide to a person’s behavior. Where is the crime in that, you may ask. Well, how can the state control such a person, then? Marxist ideology proclaims that there is no divinity, and here goes Falun Dafa stating the complete opposite. And millions of people love it, no less! The state’s response was brutal.
I am sure that in some shape or form, whether directly or indirectly, you have heard something about the persecution of Falun Dafa in China. You may have heard about the persecution or about the practice itself from practitioners who voluntarily organize information activities in your city, or from seeing a documentary on the topic. Maybe you have even seen media reports, some of which have unfortunately even broadcast, word for word, the CCP’s hateful “facts” on Falun Dafa. If you have never heard about any of this, then faluninfo.net is a good place to start your search.
The extent of the communist regime’s wrath exerted on Falun Dafa practitioners in China is horrifying, as numerous survivors have sworn to. In 2019 the China Tribunal concluded its independent inquiry to affirm that organ harvesting is indeed happening in China and that Falun Dafa practitioners are the main victims. Yet, practitioners persevere in upholding their beliefs. They still say, “Falun Dafa hao!”
In China, where people have lost their jobs, houses, family members, and lives to the persecution, in that setting, saying “Falun Dafa hao” is an act of courage, it is an assertion fueled by a strong conviction that Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance needs to be lived, breathed, and protected, whether your government agrees or not. In the environment of ongoing suppression, if both practitioners and non-practitioners choose to say, “No, Falun Dafa is not bad, it is GOOD!” how is it not an act of courage? More importantly, it is like a mirror of that person’s own inner world, the principles resonate with the core of their being, and they say it out loud—“Falun Dafa hao!”
So, just like my husband asked, why do we translate “Falun Dafa hao” as “Falun Dafa is good?”
I asked my Chinese friend about this, and he kindly explained that hao has many layers of meaning, as do most Chinese characters. Hao can be translated as good, great, grand, and magnificent, depending on the context.
When Chinese practitioners coined the phrase “Falun Dafa hao” in the environment of persecution in China, for them, the layers of meaning embedded in hao, especially in the environment of terror, were self-explanatory. Then, when Chinese practitioners helped to translate the term to English in the early days of the persecution, their word of choice was “good.” “Falun Dafa hao” was thus translated as “Falun Dafa is good.”
To me, as a Westerner and as a practitioner, I do feel we are missing a layer of meaning conveyed in the Chinese “Falun Dafa hao” when we translate it as “Falun Dafa is good.” Admittedly, this is just the nature of the art of translation. It is not easy to capture the nuances of the original word and achieve a perfect match, especially when there is so much contextual knowledge attached to a term. As I have shared with my husband: “Of course we think it is the best! We do mean to say, wholeheartedly, that Falun Dafa is grand! We do mean to say, ‘Falun Dafa is magnificent!’”
“Yes, yes, I get it. ‘Falun Dafa hao!’ You know I say that whenever I see practitioners,” he replied with a smile. I smiled with him then, and I smile now when thinking about it.
Whether we say hao, good, grand, or magnificent, the thought, the vibration, the intent is to affirm Falun Dafa. The core principles of the practice, which in Chinese are expressed as Zhen Shan Ren, also carry layers of meaning that cannot be simply translated word for word. In Zhuan Falun, the glossary offers the following explanation: Zhen translates as true and genuine; Shan as compassionate, good, and kind; and Ren as tolerant, composed, forbearing, and patient.
Falun Dafa’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance transcend national boundaries, race, culture, and age. We say “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good” because we want to affirm those qualities from the core of our being, where surface-level translation becomes irrelevant.
Why have people, even non-practitioners, experienced miraculous health benefits from saying these words? The mystery is yet to be explained. Some call them “the magic words.” Now, more than ever, we could all use some magic in our lives. The world needs Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Falun Dafa hao! Zhen Shan Ren hao!