About Falun Dafa:
Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, is a Chinese spiritual practice with some similarities to Buddhism and Taoism. It consists of five exercises, including meditation, as well as moral principles. Based on teachings passed down privately for generations, Falun Dafa was made public in China on May 13, 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi.
Falun Dafa teaches that practitioners should, in their everyday lives, follow the principles of Truthfulness (真), Compassion (善), and Forbearance (忍, also translated as Tolerance). These are considered the fundamental principles of the universe.
Unlike some religions or self-cultivation methods that require practitioners to enter monasteries or practice in seclusion, Falun Dafa’s teachings encourage practitioners to live and work in society amidst normal conditions. Often practitioners will gather in parks or public spaces to exercise together. There is no membership, worship, or fees.
Mr. Li Hongzhi writes in Zhuan Falun: “As a Falun Dafa practitioner, when you spread the practice in the future, we have two requirements for you. The first one is that you cannot collect a fee…The second requirement is that you should not add personal things to Dafa…Only by doing so can we ensure that the original things in our Falun Dafa remain unchanged.”
By the end of 1998, the Chinese government estimated that 70–100 million people were practicing Falun Dafa in China.
On July 20, 1999, Communist Party head Jiang Zemin launched a brutal crackdown on the practice, arresting a large number of practitioners who coordinated group exercise sites. On July 22, he launched a state-run media propaganda campaign to demonize Falun Dafa, labeling it a banned organization. Like many of the more subtle campaigns Jiang had used since 1996 to suppress Falun Dafa, the ban is illegal according to Chinese law.
The suppression continues today. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, tens of thousands of practitioners have been killed or tortured as a result.
“Falun Dafa” and “Falun Gong” refer to the same practice. The term Falun Gong (sometimes transliterated as Falungong) has been more commonly used in Western media, whereas the term Falun Dafa is more common among people familiar with its teachings. There are many qigong practices that contain the character gong (功) in their names.