For frequently asked questions, see http://www.clearharmony.net/articles/200410/22692.html.
In short, Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, can be described as a spiritual practice that takes the universal qualities of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance as its guidance. More specifically, Falun Dafa is a form of Qigong practice. Qigong practices are a traditional way of improving mental, spiritual and physical well-being through slow, gentle, meditative movements, practised by countless people for generations throughout China and Asia. Originally called “cultivation practices” these many forms of Qigong originally included not only a set of exercises but also clear principles and teachings, based around the cultivation of virtue and morality. For example, the various forms of Yoga and Tai Chi that we are more familiar with here in the west originate from various cultivation practices. With the passing of time, the inner, spiritual content and guidance behind these practices has become less and less prominent and now often only the physical exercises are taught.
Falun Dafa is a complete cultivation practice system that places a strong emphasis on the improvement of one's inner self according to the universal qualities of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. Falun Dafa also has a set of five simple exercises including a meditation, which look similar to the slow and gentle exercises of Tai Chi, or Yoga, or other forms of Qigong. Falun Dafa is an integrated system for improving mind, body and spirit - the exercises and the inner cultivation go hand in hand, and when practised together can bring about wonderful changes in mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
Falun Dafa was first made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi, often referred to as Master Li. (Master is a traditional term of respect for the teachers of such practices.) Growing rapidly in popularity, its virtues spread by word of mouth throughout China. Not only did Falun Dafa bring great benefits in terms of physical health, but also those who practised it found that the teachings behind the practice, based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, brought them peace of mind, meaning to their lives, harmony to their families, and a profound spiritual path to follow. In 1996, the main book of Falun Dafa, Zhuan Falun, became a best-seller in China. The health improvements were nothing short of miraculous, and as more and more people came to learn of the powerful effect of the practice, more and more people came to practise. Falun Dafa was initially applauded by the Chinese Government for its benefits to health and to society. By 1999, an estimated 100 million people were practising Falun Dafa in China.
In the meantime, Falun Dafa had begun to find its way to the west. Although not practised on such a large scale as in China, Falun Dafa has spread throughout the world and is now practised in over 60 countries by people from almost every walk of life.
Practitioners of Falun Dafa have found in the practice a wonderful way to improve their realm of mind and to gain a healthy body. The practice is open for all to learn, free of charge, has no membership, no form of religious rituals and is completely informal. Practitioners are encouraged to live their lives just as anyone else in society, to have jobs, to be responsible to their family and friends, and to be responsible to the society. The only outward difference is that every day they spend some of their time practising the exercises and studying the books and principles of Falun Dafa. Inwardly, practitioners are constantly striving to conduct themselves according to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, to think of others before themselves, and to take their own personal gain and interest more and more lightly.
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