G.K. Chesterton once said, "When people abandon the truth, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything." Modern China is a case in point.
When the People's Republic of China was formed in 1949, the Chinese placed their faith in the Communist Party and its demigod, Mao Zedong. For three decades they suffered incessant economic, political, and social turmoil. Under Deng Xiaopeng's leadership in the Eighties and Nineties, the people shifted their faith from communist ideology to capitalist materialism. Today people are placing their faith in something else, and Falun Gong's popularity reveals their spiritual hunger.
What is Falun Gong, or "Law Wheel Cultivation?" It is a combination of qigong (physical exercises and meditation) and syncretic Buddhist teachings, concocted and taught by Master Li Hong Zhi. Salvation is achieved through self-cultivation and good works. If you diligently practice your qigong and apply the principles of Falun Dafa (Great Law of the Wheel), you can become a Buddha.
Is Falun Gong a cult? It depends on how one defines "cult." Most Christians would consider it a cult because Li Hong Zhi claims he is a deity "superior to Jesus and Buddha Sakyamuni." In contrast, commentators in the Western media typically reserve this label only for those who "preach doomsday and exert mind control through deceptive practices." They perceive Falun Gong as mystical, not dangerous. Yet, China's leaders declared it an "evil cult and a threat to social stability." Could Falun Gong be a wolf in sheep's clothing?
Professor Maria Hsia Chang investigates these questions in her fourth book on Sino politics, Falun Gong: The End of Days. It is a scholarly account of the rise and struggle of the spiritual sect against its ...1
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