People believe that the typical characteristic of cults is the mind control over its participants with the hierarch worship as the core. As a former victim of Falun Gong as well as a researcher on social science, I have carefully deliberated the issue before launching investigations. Basing on this, I published a book titled Secret of Mysterious Belief-Analysis on Sociology and Psychology in 2006.
It is a pity that with the in-depth investigation and study, we find some Falun Gong practitioners, who once swore to keep away from Falun Gong, have again fallen into the state of mind control. Upon careful study we know that the mind control that has deeply penetrated into people's subconscious level is the main reason why a lot of victims can't help resuming Falun Gong practice over and over again.
1. The definitions of cult spiritual control and hierarch worship
We are living in a society where mental influences from each other exist everywhere. Every party, group or individual expresses their ideas and spreads their theories with all accessible means including media. Nevertheless, the mind control of cults is always extreme, making it different from other ordinary mental influences.
Mental influence varies with its intension and sphere of impact. According to its strength of effect, the relationship between the "giver" and the "receiver" can be divided into three categories, namely parallel, gradient and vertical.
People sharing a parallel relationship are in an equal status with independent thinking, attitude and ability to enjoy the freedom, which provides the receiver with a barrier-fee way to analyze, question and estimate the giver.
In a gradient relationship, the receiver is apt to respect and accept the giver's thoughts while limiting his own thoughts, analyses and questions within a certain scope.
For those who are in the vertical relationship, the receiver almost accepts the ideas and speeches of the giver unconditionally and completely, seeing the giver as the supreme truth. The receiver has given up his own independent thinking and seems to be fully subordinated to the giver in behavior without protest.
The mind control is actually a process in which the cult hierarchs exert their influences on their followers by various means in order to make them abandon independent thinking and fully obey all orders in behaviors. The mind control brings about the hierarch worship which is displayed by the boundless mental worship for hierarchs, complete acception of their words and deeds, and always following the hierarch's advice.
2. The hierarch worship and sub-consciousness
2.1 How to help and save the followers before
When studying the mind control of Falun Gong, we usually pay much attention to the brainwash on the conscious level – the hierarchs always replace the followers' views of value, world and life with their ideologies. Therefore, the most important thing to save the Falun Gong practitioners is to root out the ideology of Falun Gong and help them understand the fraudulence, hypocrisy and harmfulness of Falun Gong.
The process of converting the cultists' ideologies depends on our presentation of facts and truths, so most workers involved believe it is a course of changing people's cognitive styles while some experts deem it as a cognitive correction. Thus it can be seen that people are laying a particular stress on the conscious conversion of the victims, which has really gained positive achievements.
As a former Falun Gong member, I have not only witnessed the Chinese social volunteers unremitting endeavor to help the victims, but also devoted myself to helping others. And the conversion assistance was the most difficult and complicated task.
With more ex-followers resuming Falun Gong practice as time goes by, we have been keeping a close eye on and finding out the principle inside, maybe a corer and profounder one.
2.2 The hierarch worship has been deeply rooted in the sub-consciousness of Falun Gong members
The term "sub-consciousness" refers to the psychological activities under the conscious level, including memory, emotion, sensibility, experience and cognition which are hardly perceptible.
Case I: At first, I would like to share my own experiences. One day in 2003, the year I had quit Falun Gong for nearly one year, when I was writing an article associated with Falun Gong, my computer was shut off suddenly for one of my legs touching the battery plug.
I felt depressed at first because I forgot to save the files. Then coming hot on heels was scare. I was wondering if it was Li Hongzhi coming to enlighten me, and whether I should write the files. The thought of SARS epidemic that had prevailed all over China and some foreign countries immediately brought a panic inside my heart, because Li Hongzhi once said that anyone who disapproved of or opposed Falun Gong would surely be phased out and eliminated, which was a terrible process that beyond words. And Li Hongzhi was the sovereign Buddha in the universe, who was so omnipotent that everything was under his control. Although my former understanding of Falun Gong had been eliminated in the recognizant and rational levels, its contents had already been unconsciously embedded in my mind due to years' practices.
I would like to have your attention that the panic came about "unconsciously". In other words, it was out of control of consciousness. This is just one of the typical characteristics of sub-consciousness.
(The following cases are collected during my investigation. All names involved are aliases in order to respect their privacy)
Case II: A former Falun Gong practitioner Xiao Wang said after conversion:"I often shed tears when talking with the volunteers or staying alone. I was in awe of the Master Li that he not only gave us the best things, a wonderfulKingdom ofHeaven and other good stuff, but also shouldered all the sins for us followers. The thought of Li Hongzhi and his words made me weep unconsciously. I became angry with people who spoke ill of him, hoping they would be eliminated one day. However, when people asked me what would happen to my poor children if I achieved Consummation and ascended to the heaven, I wasn't being touched. I thought I was the most selfless person in the world since I could unremittingly follow the steps of Li Hongzhi and never be shaken by any personal affair."
Noticing the words "made me weep unconsciously" she said, we find it's also a sub-conscious response that out of control of consciousness. It is obvious that people's personal worship for Li Hongzhi has gone deep into the sub-consciousness.
Case III: An ex-Falun Gong member Meng Hua said:" I wrote a guarantee to promise never to practice Falun Gong again, however, it put me into a dilemma. I was worried about my Master. In my mind, the Master was equal to or even beyond my parents. Emotionally, I couldn't accept any betrayal of the Master as it was like the betrayal of my parents. At that time, I was so desperate that I would rather die or go to jail. So I resumed practicing Falun Gong for the first time on such an occasion. "
We should pay attention to the remarks "emotionally, I couldn't accept any betrayal…" The case shows that the practitioners can give up their own practice but have difficulty to cut out the worship of Li Hongzhi, which has been deeply rooted in the sub-consciousness for years. Once they are deprived of such belief fundamentally, they would rather die or go to jail to get the peace of soul.
2.3 Discovering the untreated affection, emotion and experience
Generally, the term "conversion" the social volunteers define refers to the change of mind from the practitioners and the promise in black and white to wash their hands of such activities.
According to our survey, after undergoing the "conversion", almost all people including myself, were in a "limbo" or "unstable condition". In other words, they have gradually come to realize the real face of Falun Gong in the cognition level, but in the sub-consciousness, there remains an abundance of untreated information like emotion, affection, experience and cognitive style.
The untreated information consists of the good feeling about the change of mind after learning Falun Gong, the worship of Li Hongzhi, the fear for the aftermath after giving up Falun Gong, the pain and depression caused by the ban of Falun Gong according to law, the one-sided and illiberal understanding of Falun Gong and etc.
Above cases – there are at least tens of thousands of such cases – have powerfully proved that the mind control of Falun Gong is beyond the surface of consciousness, but goes deep into the sub-conscious level that is hardly perceptible. Moreover, it will be activated at anytime or anywhere, resulting in the reappearance of Falun Gong thought. Once controlled by such thought, people are easy to go back to Falun Gong or join other harmful cults.
However, if his/her conversion becomes deeper and he/she is able to approach a problem more dialectically and comprehensively, a new flexible and open way of thinking will be formed. The information will be stored in the sub-conscious level during the whole process. It is a real conversion process from quantitative change to qualitative change, in other words, from the limbo state to a completed conversion.
2.4 How the hierarch worship goes deep into the sub-consciousness
People often call the Falun Gong practitioners "Falun Gong addicts". "Addict" means a person who is in super infatuated with something and unable to extricate themselves from it. The fact indicates that no Falun Gong addict is able to convert by themselves with their own independent thinking. Most of them are converted with the help from social volunteers or ex-members.
There must be a powerful "brainwashing" process behind some certain things or beliefs which can make people unable to extricate from it. No matter what causes people to join in Falun Gong, once he/she becomes a member, she/he is bound to learn the Fa, practice Falun Gong and participate in all kinds of activities, which become the most important things in their daily life. The more participation in those activities, the more earthshaking changes will appear unconsciously in all concepts of survival, including the views of value, world and life as well as lifestyle.
For primary practitioners, Falun Gong is a kind of Qigong that can help people keep away from diseases and keep healthy. However, they soon find that unlike other ordinary Qigong, Falun Gong lays much more stress on "learning the Fa" more than you can imagine.
"Learning the Fa" bears a special meaning in Falun Gong. The so-called "Fa" or "Falun Dafa" is Li Hongzhi's own theory. In 1996 inLecture in Sydney he said:" The principles that I have taught are the characteristics of the universe and the essence of the Buddha Fa…The Fa encompasses all the knowledge from the universe to ordinary human society." In 1998, he also said in Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe that " Behind the words there are countless, layers upon layers, of higher life-forms…You must put your mind to studying the Fa. Read the book and study the Fa. Read the book and study the Fa. Almost every time when I'm teaching the Fa I painstakingly tell you to read the book, read the book, and read the book. As long as you read the book you will attain things better than you'd expect." The importance of "learning the Fa" runs through all Li Hongzhi's speeches with a pretty high frequency. Perhaps, no one is clearer than Li Hongzhi himself on the importance of "learning the Fa" to impact as well as control his followers.
Case IV: Yufang, who always can't help dozing off when reading the books of Falun Gong, hangs a small amount of her hair up and stabs herself on the legs with a toothpick or needle to keep her awake. As a consequence, her legs are covered with black needle eyes, big or small. In this way, she can read through the book Zhuan Falun with more than 300 pages each day.
Our investigation shows that quite a few people have gone through all books and videos of Li Hongzhi hundreds of times in only a few years. In order to have more time to read or copy the books, some have squeezed time from their routine, including eating and sleeping, giving up all their hobbies such as watching TV. Apart from self-study, the "Fa meeting", a gathering for Falun Gong members to exchange experiences and study collectively, is another way to further reinforce the study. Such meeting will be arranged every week by the instruction centers in different districts. You will never imagine how frequently and intensively the meetings are arranged.
Then an unusual phenomenon in today's society appears: people are squeezing every second of their life and then devoting all into the study of a theory self-claimed as the most supreme truth in the world day after day and year after year.
A saying goes that:" When a lie is repeated a thousand times it becomes the truth." The words, theories and concepts of Falun Gong will always come into the mind of Falun Gong followers automatically after undergoing intensive and powerful brainwashing, as if all the information has been typed in mind.
Whatever "being typed in mind" or "coming into the mind automatically", the information has vividly showed on both the conscious and sub-conscious levels that the theories and speeches of Falun Gong have been profoundly imprinted on the minds of its followers, and nothing is more profound than that Li Hongzhi is the most sovereign Buddha in the world, and his Falun Dafa is the supreme and absolute truth. The spiritual world of Falun Gong addicts has been filled with the admiration of Li Hongzhi.
3. The methods to clean up the impact of the hierarch worship
The reason that Li Hongzhi has the ability to exert a powerful influence on his followers mentally and ultimately put their minds under control must lies on his grasp of some certain rules which are in accordance with some things, especially the psychological activity of human being. So, by following the rules of science we can achieve a good result in the course of eliminating the mental influence of Falun Gong. We have studied on it in both theory and practice. Now, let's take "Beloved Homeland" inNanjing, easternChina'sJiangshuProvincefor example to illustrate this point.
"Beloved Homeland" is a non-governmental anti-cult group whose most volunteers are former Falun Gong victims. The group was established in the hope of helping the Falun Gong members who are in a limbo after being converted. The limbo state is a kind of unbalanced condition. People in this state are suffering the pains of loss, aimlessness, depression, emptiness, insignificance, rage, sadness, self-distrust, floating and illusion, the sense of being strung, hurt or fooled. Some will alienate from the society and their families, close their hearts to the public, lose confidence in the society and always fear for being manipulated, be scared that the cults' curses will be realized one day, be unable to re-accept the secular world and others will have nightmare.
Moreover, the vocational and family problems will make them unconfident and become highly sensitive to the past. The worship of Li Hongzhi and belief in his theories still remain on the sub-conscious level. If they fail to cope with all above problems, they are easy to return to Falun Gong again.
Even some volunteers of the "Beloved Homeland" would sometimes blurt out the words of Li Hongzhi and feel uneasy when mentioning Li's name despite that they have extricated from it for years. It shows that their inner fears and worries have not yet been completely cleaned up. The thoughts of Falun Gong will be always looming in the minds of Falun Gong followers who have just been mentally converted. Many of them resumed learning Falun Gong more than one time.
We have suggested that the "Beloved Homeland" should firstly serve as a psychological rehabilitation centre for the former Falun Gong members, then a salvation center for current victims.
We have also put forward that all activities of the "Beloved Homeland" should be carried out to meet the needs of all participants as the core, involving offering them the senses of security, self-respectability, belongingness, worth, achievement, and being understood. Besides, it is a place for them to pour out their troubles and achieve the inner growth of their mind.
Under the instruction of the government, the "Beloved Homeland" obeys the principle of "people first" and tries its best to meet various needs of ex-members or participants, enabling them to experience life in a safe and cozy environment, to understand the truth in abundant activities and grow up through discussion and exchange.
It is a process to help them regain the mental balance rationally, cognitively, emotionally and in practice. Then, it will gradually infiltrate into the sub-consciousness, and eliminate the mind control of Falun Gong's hierarch worship, especially those serious problems that are unperceivable, thus completing the whole process of psychological rehabilitation, thorough change and returning to the society.
The facts for these three years have proved that the exploration of the "Beloved Homeland" is feasible and effective.