[Editor’s note] Popular superstitions have a long history in China. They were usually attached to the then mainstream culture. During the Qin (221BCE—206BCE) and Han (202BC—220BC) periods, popular superstitions were mainly attached to Chenwei, meaning, divination combined with mystical Confucianist belief. After the Sui (581—618) and Tang (618—907) dynasties, China’s traditional culture gradually evolved into a pattern with Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism at the core. So, most folk superstitions turned to these three religions. From the end of the Qing Dynasty (1912) to the Republic period, with the penetration of Western culture, folk religions often labeled themselves as a mix of the five official religions (Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam) and even adopted the cloak of science. But an in-depth probe into what they preached found that they merely borrowed the shell of the mainstream culture but their spiritual essence ran counter to it, with some being harmful to society.
In recent years, with social transition, the people’s sense of insecurity and fear of adversity have grown, with a daily growing desire to have a belief. At the same time, all kinds of popular superstitions, secret societies and popular superstitions with the characters of foreign emerging religions have rapidly emerged under all kinds of banners and spread quickly. They even use the Internet and other modern technical means to spread their ideas. The most typical is Li Hongzhi’s Falun Gong or Falun Dafa.
Buddhism calls its orthodox doctrines “neidao” (inside teachings of Buddhism) and all beliefs other than Buddhism “waidao” (Tirthaka) or heresy and calls “waidao” attached to Buddhism or stealing the name of Buddhism “heresy attached to Buddhism” or “heresy attached to Dharma”.
We oppose Falun Gong and other heresies because they have pirated the name of Buddhism and utilized Buddhism but also distorted and smeared Buddhism, making people mistake them as Buddhist, thus preventing people from getting an orthodox view of Buddhism. Thus they ruin the Dharmakaya, the true body of Buddha without knowing it, missing the valuable opportunities for cultivation, let alone attaining the benefit of Buddhism and freedom from sufferings. In addition, such folk religions often confuse people with frantic language, making their followers suffer in reality.
We should heed this fact. Li Hongzhi shows everywhere in his book a rudimental and mean understanding of Buddhism, which can be seen through with a little knowledge of Buddhism. But why is it that so many people follow him and even some senior intellectuals or lay Buddhists, who professed to learn Buddhism for years, have fallen into the trap? While criticizing Falun Gong, the Buddhist world should make profound reflection on its work of spreading Buddhism. Only when the Buddhist world has been strengthened and the believers have improved their qualities, is it possible for such heresies as Falun Gong to find no market and for more people to get the true benefit of Buddhism.
Since China began to open up and reform, the people have liberated their minds and there has been an upsurge of studying Western culture, represented by advanced science and technology, and the traditional culture, represented by Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. At the same time, there has emerged two study fevers with mass participation. One is the religious fever around temples and churches, fueled by the implementation of the policy of religious freedom. The other is the Qigong fever in parks, auditoriums and other public places, fueled by the study of extraordinary mystical powers and the fitness-for-all campaign. As Qigong has a natural relationship with religion and the two reinforce each other, they have brought about a revival of traditional culture. This is a good thing in building socialist spiritual civilization, but due to the low education of the people and their limited knowledge about religion and Qigong, the people blindly worship and follow them and it is, therefore, very easy for them to be taken in by the so-called religionists and Qigong masters with ulterior motives. They talked big to the people and amassed wealth. They were out to talk about Qigong in public or went in and out of temples to talk about religion. Under the given social environment, the two hidden currents have created confusion in the religious and Qigong circles and kindhearted people were taken in and led astray.
What merits particular attention is that since 1992, a whirlwind of Falun Gong swept the whole country. Li Hongzhi’s “Zhuan Falun” and other books were distributed widely and his audio-video recordings were broadcast everywhere. Coaching stations sprang up in all places. Li Hongzhi, spread religion in the name of Qigong and flaunted the banner of Buddhism to oppose Buddhism. He pushed the religionization of Qigong to the zenith, causing an extremely evil impact on the Buddhist world, thus arousing great concern among my colleagues of the Buddhist world. I have engaged in research in Buddhism and the work of Buddhism for dozens of years and started to come into contact with Falun Gong in 1994. I found it preposterous and it did not arouse my attention. I had never considered that it had developed to such a dimension. Recently I bought a set of books on Falun Gong and studied them. In the following text, I would like to analyze Falun Gong. I welcome bona fide criticisms of any erroneous views.
1. Falun Gong and Qigong
Li Hongzhi began to teach Falun Gong in May 1992. It was said that he changed the traditional way of exercise and his unique way attracted more and more Qigong fans and was accepted as a directly affiliated Qigong school by the China Qigong Science Society. As such, Falun Gong should have no doubt been a real Qigong movement. But it is far from being so simple. In order to help understand Falun Gong, it is necessary, first of all, to see what Qigong is and the background for the birth of Falun Gong and its relations with Qigong.
(1) Qigong, the Qigong fever and its impact
Qigong is an ancient way of character cultivation and keeping fit. It is divided into static and dynamic Qigong. Static Qigong includes meditation, relaxation, thought concentration and internal strength exercises. Dynastic Qigong includes Qi conducting, massaging, Tai-chi (shadow boxing) and hard Qigong. In terms of sources and application, it can also be divided into Taoist Qigong, Confucianist Qigong, Buddhist Qigong, Medical Qigong, folk Qigong and Wushu or martial art Qigong. Over the centuries, it has branched out into many schools. Generally speaking, Taoist Qigong stresses cultivation; Confucianist Qigong stresses taking care of oneself; Buddhist Qigong stresses comprehension; Medical Qigong stresses clinical treatment; folk Qigong stresses practicality and Wushu Qigong stresses skills in striking.
The term Qigong appeared in the Taoist classics in the early Tang Dynasty as a synonym of the art of health preservation of Taoist, Confucianist, Buddhist, Medical, Wushu and folk Qigong. But it did not attain popularity until after the 1950s. Before the 1980s, it was mainly confined to the medical and health care areas. It was in the 1980s that Qigong began to gain popularity. This was because China instituted reform and opening up and the minds of the people were emancipated. In addition, the phenomenon of extraordinary mystical powers appeared and people were not satisfied with the Qigong functions of merely keeping fit and eliminating diseases and hoped to use Qigong to develop the potential powers of human body and open up the spiritual world and cultivate their characters. So, over the past dozen years, Qigong circles have developed into many schools, creating one Qigong fever after another, pushing Qigong to develop in breadth and depth. However, the overheated Qigong brought about many drawbacks and revealed many problems. On the one hand, phony Qigong became prevalent, with some so-called Qigong masters seeking profits and gains, taking on crowds of disciples to amass wealth. They intentionally mystified Qigong, starting something new and over-exaggerated the functions of Qigong at will. At the same time, they looked down upon other schools of Qigong to deceive Qigong practitioners. Many people went mad about Qigong or lost their senses. Some lost their money and property but gained nothing. All these brought great harm to social conventions and interfered in the normal work and life of the people. On the other hand, some Qigong masters were not high in their own moral qualities and knowledge and yet they talked much about religion and theology to deceive people, resulting in the prevalence of superstitious activities. Some reactionary secret societies took the opportunities to borrow the name of Qigong to spread evil cults, creating much confusion in the Qigong and religious world and even the whole of society.
It was in such circumstances that Li Hongzhi began to come out with the religious ideas in the name of Qigong and his Falun Gong gained much inroad, bringing about a tide of religionization of Qigong.
(2) Falun Gong is, in fact, not Qigong
The history of Qigong is almost as long as the Chinese nation. It is like a long river and in its thousands of years of development, it has absorbed the essence of Taoism, Confucianism, Medicine and Buddhism. It used to closely relate itself with religion but in contemporary times it has spun off from religion and got the support of the Party and government and spread among the ordinary people. So Qigong and religion should be and may be basically defined. Generally, all that is associated with Qi, such as Dynamic Qigong, static Qigong, breathing exercises, Qi conducting, Fuqi, Lianqi and Tai-chi and general keep-fit techniques can be called Qigong. It employs the consciousness to regulate the internal Qi to reach the goal of calmness and eliminate diseases. For higher levels of cultivation and pursuing the power of understanding to gain magic powers and longevity or become Buddha belong to the religious category. It has special belief requirements, a certain theoretical system and strict commandments and rules. It is worlds apart from the modern Qigong. However, out of ulterior motives, some people in the Qigong world sold religious things as Qigong, thus confusing both the Qigong world and the world of religion. The people did not know what to do and the religious believers fell into great discontent. The country thus lost control of Qigong, especially Falun Gong. Strictly speaking, Falun Gong is not Qigong but a heresy in the name of Buddhism, tinged with the characteristics of folk religion. Now let us look what Li Hongzhi has said:
At the very beginning of his book, Li Hongzhi said:
“A few years ago there were many qigong masters who taught qigong. All of what they taught belonged to the level of healing and fitness. Of course, I am not saying that their ways of practice were not good. I am only pointing out that they did not teach anything at a higher level. I also know the qigong situation in the entire country. At present, I am the only person genuinely teaching qigong towards high levels at home and abroad. Why has no one done such a thing as teaching qigong towards high levels? It is because this relates to questions of major concerns, profound historical reasons, a wide range of issues, and very serious matters. It is not something that an everyday person can teach, for it involves the practices of many qigong schools.”
Although Li Hongzhi often kicks up a cloud of dust, what he said here is rather straight-forward. What he said about teaching anything at a higher level is, in fact, purly religious: to “deliver people” in society according to his unique bold creation of religion. This, of course, involves many problems and very sharp problems at that.
Just as Li Hongzhi tried to avoid being engaged in religion, he had to hold up the signboard of Qigong. But what was his Qigong is all about, after all? He said:
“According to the conventions of cultivation practice, there are three levels if qi is included. In genuine cultivation practice, however, there are altogether two major levels (excluding practicing qi). One is In-Triple-World-Fa6 (Shi-Jian-Fa) cultivation practice, while the other is Beyond-Triple-World-Fa (Chu-Shi-Jian-Fa) cultivation practice. The cultivation practices of In-Triple-World-Fa and Beyond-Triple-World-Fa are different from the “beyond-world” and the “in-world” in temples, which are theoretical terms. Ours is the genuine transformation of the human body through cultivation practice at two major levels. Because in the course of In-Triple-World-Fa cultivation practice one’s body will be constantly purified, it will be completely replaced by the highenergy matter when one reaches the highest form of In-Triple-World-Fa. The cultivation practice in Beyond-Triple-World-Fa is basically cultivation of a Buddhabody. That body is made of the high-energy matter, and all supernormal powers will be redeveloped.”
Here, Li Hongzhi has infinitely expanded what real Qigong means. He has also extended the history of Qigong and mystified it. He said:
“I made a careful investigation once and found that humankind has undergone complete annihilation eighty-one times. With a little remaining from the previous civilization, only a small number of people would survive and enter the next period, again living a primitive life. As the human population increased, civilization would eventually emerge again. Humanity has experienced such periodical changes eighty-one times, and yet I have not traced them to the end.”
He holds that Qigong is one of the civilizations left from prehistory:
“Sakyamuni once said that he succeeded in cultivation practice many hundred millions of kalpa19 (jie) ago. How many years are there in one kalpa? One kalpa is a number for hundreds of millions of years. Such a huge number is simply inconceivable. If true, doesn’t this agree with the history of humankind and the changes of the entire earth? …. If you ask me, it is certainly so, but they are seldom seen.”
He then went on to say:
“Since qigong has such a long history, what’s it for? Let me tell everyone that since we are of a great cultivation way in the Buddha School, we of course cultivate Buddhahood. In the Tao School, one of course cultivates the Tao to attain the Tao.”
Obviously, Li Hongzhi has equated Qigong to religious cultivation. With regard to the term Qigong, he said:
“It is, as a matter of fact, not called “Qigong.” What’s it called? It is called “cultivation practice,”…. “Qigong” is only a newly-crafted term that complies with modern people’s mindset.”
Li Hongzhi has thus directed Qigong from history, its contents and even name toward religion.
Not only so, the ways of cultivation of Falun Gong also reveal its religious features:
1. Five exercise routines with the name of each movement tinged with religious colors, with static and slow movements as the main body. The exercise is subordinate to Falun Gong.
2. “We do not practice qi here”. You do not need to practice such low-level things”. He said he will install “in your body a system of ready-made mechanisms necessary for laying a foundation at the low level.” In fact, he does not encourage people to practice Qigong.
3. No mind activities. “I do not teach mind activities here; there is no mind activity in our Falun Dafa, because the Buddha School required emptiness and the Tao School taught nothingness, as there is nothing.” This is not the practice of Qigong. Even for the Buddha school, it is not easy to attain the emptiness. It requires the mind activities for a long time to come. Nevertheless, the mind activities have the division of roughness and refined and there is the problem of how to apply them.
4. No time and place or directions are required. There are no closing exercises necessary. This is not the Qigong in the usual sense.
5. Stressing xinxing. “The Gong level is as high as the xinxing level”, including moral quality and the power of understanding. He stresses the necessity of not pursuing anything in the mind. He said: “To tell you the truth, the entire cultivation process for a practitioner is one of constantly giving up human attachments.” This is where many Qigong masters pay less attention. This is where Li Hongzhi is correct. But what he does is another matter. In fact, this belongs to the Buddha school category and is what Buddhism, including Zen, attaches much attention to.
6. Cultivation of the mind and body. “The cultivation practice in temples only deals with mind cultivation, so it does not teach exercises or cultivate the body. It requires nirvana.” Taoism stresses the cultivation of the mind. Li Hongzhi has combined Buddhism with Taoism, stressing both cultivation of the mind and the body. Unlike Buddhism that regards the body as emptiness, phony and unclean object but stresses the cultivation to purify them, transforming them into high energy matters, cultivating and intensifying them into magic yuanking, body of law and other life bodies that belong to themselves. Obviously, it is not the Qigong in the general sense.
The above analysis shows that Falun Gong is not Qigong. In reality, Li Hongzhi was forced to hold up the Qigong signboard. In his “Interpretation of Fa to coaches of Falun Dafa in Changchun”, he said:
“As is known by all, When I began to run classes in Changchun, I talked something high. But I had to mention Qigong very frequently. But today, we are passing on Gong at a higher level and it is not necessary to talk about Qigong. This is a gradual process of knowledge.”
After that, he came to Beijing and told a conference of Falun Gong coaches that “I am talking about cultivation issue at a high level. In the future, we shall no longer term it as Qigong.” This shows that Li Hongzhi does nothing but to confuse the people, the government and finally many of his disciples by exploiting Qigong. So he had to set thing right internally. But externally, the signboard of Qigong is still hanging there.
If we make a general review of the book “Zhuan Falun”, it is not difficult to see that what Li Hongzhi is concerned about is almost all about religion and he seldom talks about the “low level” Qigong. On Falun Gong being phony Qigong, General Zhang Zhenhuan, the former minister of Science and Technology for National defense, said to a lay Buddhist: “All Qigong cannot escape from Buddhism. There are many phony Qigong under the banner of Buddhism to deceive people and seek fame and gain. In Buddhist teachings, it is a must to remember kharma. But the country will not tolerate such superstition.” What General Zhang said hit the nail on the head, reflecting the voices of the people of insight.
2. Falun Gong and Buddhism
Li Hongzhi said: “Our base point falls on Buddhism in terms of both theory and characteristics. But this Fa exceed the Fo and the Tao.” Although there are many Qigong exercises and schools, they mostly make Buddhist theories and the cultivation realms as their perfection. Li Hongzhi knows too well about this. But he will never give up the sacred banner of Buddhism or Buddhist doctrines. However, he does not want himself to be confined to Buddhism or to be attached with the name of Buddhism, so he said: “Our Falun Dafa is also one of the eighty-four thousand cultivation ways in the Buddha School, and it has nothing to do with the original Buddhism or Buddhism in the Dharma-ending Period; neither is it related to modern religions.” He has separated Dharma from Buddhism and declared what he spreads is Dharma and Falun Dafa that transcend the Fo (Buddhism) and the Tao. So we have to probe into the relation between Buddhist school or Buddhism.
(1) The main theories and features of Falun Gong do not belong to the Buddhist school
Li Hongzhi and his audience all have a realistic cultural background and it is impossible for them to deviate from Buddhism, the great historical social being. Although Li Hongzhi wanted to do so, it is impossible for him to do it. The Buddhist school here should refer to the most basic doctrines and advocacies. By studying the main works of Li Hongzhi, we have found that Falun Dafa is, out and out, a hotchpotch of all kinds of religions, folk legends and evil cults. It does not belong to the Buddhist school. This manifests itself in the following:
1. The basic theories of the Buddhist school are catursatya (Four Noble Truths), pratitya-samutpada (Twelve Links in the Chain of Causation), ti-lakkhana (three marks of existence), the eight righteous paths, which are the same in all scriptures that all Buddhists in the world share. However, the universally applicable theories cannot be seen in Li Hongzhi’s book “Zhuan Falun”. This shows that he is making false advertising, deceiving the people who wish to learn Buddhism but lack an understanding of it.
2. As seen from ontology and world outlook, Li Hongzhi recognizes the coexistence of material and spirit, saying that “any matter in the universe, including all maters in the whole universe have their soul and thought, which are the existence at different levels of the rule of the Universe.” Strictly speaking, this is not the Buddhist doctrine. It is nothing but the copied edition of the Shamanism in North China. The Buddhist school holds that everything (including materials) is seen from the heart and it is precarious and changing. Although Buddhist doctrine holds that all people have the nature of Buddhism, not all things have a soul and thoughts. What Li Hongzhi said has violated the Buddhist doctrine, science and reality. Li Hongzhi has not made it clear what he said about the universal rule and why the world is so varied. He is intentionally mystifying to cover up his ignorance.
3. On life, Li Hongzhi has said:
“We see that in this universe a human life is not created in ordinary human society; the creation of one’s actual life is in the space of the universe. Because there is a lot of matter of various kinds in this universe, such matter can, through its interactions, produce life. In other words, a person’s earliest life comes from the universe.”
This passage is nothing but nonsense. Any person with a little common knowledge can say that. The problem is how life comes about, after all? Li Hongzhi’s explanation is that the mud used by gods to create man is not ordinary mud but a special matter in another space. This shows that he agrees with the notion that God creates man. On life and death, Li Hongzhi said:
“The community of cultivators holds that one’s Primordial Spirit does not become extinct.” “if one does not have any de, both one’s body and soul will become extinct.” “One’s Primordial Spirit will be exterminated, and upon death one will be completely dead with nothing left.”
He holds that the the lives of the whole mankind dropped from a higher level:
“Upon dropping to this level, they should be completely destroyed. Out of benevolence and compassion, however, those great enlightened people decided to give humankind another opportunity in the most painful environment; they thus created such a dimension.”
What Li Hongzhi advocates is, in essence, the viewpoint of the “Bible”, which is strongly opposed by Buddhism. Buddhism holds that there is not an eternal I or the existence of a primordial spirit and it never holds that after death, both the body and soul will become extinct. This is nothing but the views of lokayatika and atheists. Buddhism holds that all the people will incarnate in rokudou mukuro (the six worlds of existence, the world of heaven, the world of humans, the world of asuras, the world of hungry spirits, the world of animals and the world of hell.) according to his merits and the rules of causation chain. While talking about incarnation, Li Hongzhi spreads the fallacy of destruction by combining the theory of destined calamity of Buddhism, Dharma-ending period theory and the “end of the world” theory of Christianity. He said that “now is the Dharma-ending period and the current social development is frightening.” You see, all kinds of false, evil and what-not have appeared. He borrows the “big bang” theories to fabricate that the earth would soon be destroyed, saying that the life-span of the earth is determined by him and his masters. “The time of this explosion is determined by me. But the time is fixed too rigid. I tried my best to postpone the time of explosion by 30 years.” He spread a directive to the government to “let general secretary, and premier not to do anything else. Their task is to postpone the time of earth explosion, the later, the better.” This is nothing but rubbish, and yet some people believe him. I remember that in 1994 a disciple of Li Hongzhi tried to persuade me to learn Falun Gong, saying that there will be a huge calamity in two or three years and only those who learn Falun Gong can survive. Li Hongzhi and most folk religion ring leaders stress the end of the world. By spreading such fallacies they induce the people to join their religions.
4. As seen from the moral perspective, Li Hongzhi said:
“The most fundamental characteristic of this universe, Zhen-Shan-Ren, is the highest manifestation of the Buddha Fa.” “This characteristic, Zhen-Shan-Ren, is the criterion for measuring good and bad in the universe.” “This characteristic, Zhen-Shan- Ren, is in the microscopic particles of air, rock, wood, soil, iron and steel, the human body, as well as in all matter.”
He denies there is De in the contemporary humankind, saying that “every time calamity occurs is the time when the human De is non-existent and that is the manifestation of the Dharma-ending period.” All religions stress Zhen Shan Ren (truthfulness, benevolence and tolerance) but people are widely divided as to what Zhen Shan Ren is. Li Hongzhi can only borrow from the views at different levels and cannot make it clear. Such Zhen Shan Ren is at most an abstract concept, a slogan, having no bearing on the people in reality. Falun Gong itself abuses the name of Buddhism and Qigong but does not have any substance of Buddhism and Qigong. It even distorts, denigrates and excludes Buddhism and other forms of Qigong. It mystifies itself to deceive people. It has thus nothing to talk about Zhen Shan Ren. In fact, his Zhen Shan Ren is nothing new. It is only what is in vogue in society and it borrows from there. Buddhism has very specific and profound exposition of Shen Shan Ren, but Li Hongzhi shies from talking about it. We can only say that he does not have the fundamental knowledge or the qualification to talk about Buddhist doctrines.
(2) Li Hongzhi denying the authorities of Buddha-dharma-sangha aims at taking its place
In Buddhism, Buddha is the awaken one. It is not the general awaken one. Only those who have awakened from the sleep of ignorance and see things as they really are and are completely free from all faults and mental obstructions can be called Buddhas. Buddha has ten honored titles, such as Tathagata, arhat, samyak-sa, vidya-carana-sampanna, Sugata, lokavidu, Anuttara, Purusa-damya-sarathi, Sastadevamanusyanam and Bhagavat. Their positions are supreme. In the saha world, the birth of Buddha is few and far between. Maitreya appeared only 800 years after the nirvana of Sakyamuni. Of course, there are many other Buddhas in the other worlds, such as Medicine Buddha in the Vaidūryanirbhāsā and Amitabha in the Western Paradise. All these Buddhas are equals and all are awakened ones who know everything. There is not a division of levels. They are different only in their desire of power in different places. In the eyes of all living creatures, they are different only in Karma Returns. But Li Hongzhi does not know this, throwing wanton carping comments about. He has gone so far as to regard Tathagata as a certain stage, a certain level in cultivation. He said:
“We have found that these Senior Bodhisattvas have far surpassed the level of ordinary Buddhas, and they are even higher than a Tathagata.” “By his later years, Sakyamuni had already reached the Tathagata level. Why did he say that he had not taught any Dharma? What issue did he actually raise? He was stating, ‘Even at my level of Tathagata, I’ve seen neither the ultimate truth of the universe nor what the ultimate Dharma is.’ Thus, he asked people later on not to take his words as the absolute or the unchangeable truth. Otherwise, it would later limit people at or below the Tathagata level, and they would be unable to make breakthroughs toward high levels.”
Both Buddhism and the secular world all say to teach according to circumstances and remove bondages. In terms of paramartha-satya, there are both no Dharma preaching and no audience to the Dharma preaching and the Dharma they talk about. This is the so-called San Lun Ti Kong or emptiness of the three wheels. That is why the Buddha said he has preached Dharma for 49 years, but did not say a word. The purpose is to break the dharma-graha so as to understand the truth. This is exactly the understanding of the ultimate truth of the universe through dialectics. Only the great awakened ones can say that. Li Hongzhi has distorted and denigrated Sakyamuni at will in the mindset of an ordinary person in that he wants to destroy the orthodox Dharma of Buddhism and spread his fake Buddha and phony Dharma. He said:
“On tripitaka, and sutra, vinaya and abhidharma, apart from sutra, vinaya and abhidharma are no comparison with sutra, especially those abhidharma, which talk about Dharma at will and deprive of the original Dharma. Now to interpret what Sakyamuni said, they used the manifestation of the universe that they saw at their levels and the situations and principles that they understood. That is, some monks interpreted Sakyamuni’s Dharma one way or another. Instead of using Sakyamuni’s original words, some monks also preached what they understood as Sakyamuni’s words; this made the Buddhist Dharma distorted beyond recognition, and it was no longer the Dharma taught by Sakyamuni.”
Li Hongzhi even regards sutra as of a low level and it is no longer applicable, saying:
“The Dharma that Sakyamuni professed two thousand five hundred years ago was only for everyday people at a very low level; it was taught to those who just evolved from a primitive society and still possessed very simple minds. Today is the Dharma-ending Period to which he referred. Now people can no longer practice cultivation with that Dharma.”
According to him, the ancients were slower in mind than the present-day people and the time-honored worldwide religion created by ancient people and worshipped by one or two billion people should be eliminated. If the ancient Buddha lagged behind, naturally it should yield to the new one. Since Buddha and Dharma no longer work, the monks are not worth being depended upon. He said:
“Sakyamuni stated that by the Dharma-ending time monks in temples would have a difficult time saving themselves, not to mention those lay Buddhists who are being looked after by no one. Though you have a “master,” that so-called master is also a practitioner. If the master does not truly practice cultivation, it is useless. Without cultivating the heart, no one can make it. Conversion is a formality of everyday people. Are you a member of the Buddha School after conversion? Will Buddha then take care of you? There is no such thing. Even if you kowtow everyday until your head bleeds, or even if you burn bundles of incense, it is still useless. You must truly cultivate your heart to make it work. By the Dharma-ending time, the universe has gone through very big changes. Even religious places of worship are no longer good.”
According to Li Hongzhi, the Buddha, Dharma and monks sincerely trusted by millions of Buddhist believers in the world are no long believable. All the awakened ones could not take care of themselves. He said:
“In the Dharma-ending Period, even very high levels are also in the End of Havoc. Nobody is taking care of everyday people… The Dharma-ending Period does not only pertain to Buddhism, but also the corruption of many dimensions beneath a very high-level dimension. “Dharma-ending” does not only refer to Buddhism; it also means that in human society there is no sense of spiritual obligation that maintains morality.” “Buddha says humans should be pitied and that is said by the Buddha closest to the people. Jesus is also at the Tathagata level and so is Lao Zi. Despite at such high level, they do not care about human matters. When people call them, they would not hear. When people call them by their names, they take it as cursing them.”
It seems that all the religions do not work. The awakened ones do not care about matters in the human world. The people have only to rely on themselves to save themselves. But Li Hongzhi said that bodhidharma is but an arhat and he does not have his own heavenly kingdom, unable to salvage people.
“This indicates that Zen Buddhism has reached the dead end of the bull’s horn, and there is no longer anything to teach. Even Boddhidarma stated that his teaching could be passed down to only six generations.” “The Zen’s Dharma is no long existent in the human world. In fact, there is not Dharma left at the Dharma-ending period, not only the Dharma of Zen.”
The absurd statements by Li Hongzhi show that the people of the whole world, people who do not believe in religion aside, who believe in Buddhism, Christianity and Taoism have all become abandoned children without anyone to turn to, lambs left astray, facing the danger of calamities in the Dharma-ending period. What’s to be done? Not to worry, there appeared a master Li Hongzhi in the orient, who is teaching a kind of supreme Buddhist doctrine – Falun Gong. Li Hongzhi said:
“At present, I am the only person in the world teaching a righteous way in public. I have done something unprecedented. I have furthermore opened this door so widely in the Dharma-ending time. In fact, this opportunity does not come along in one thousand years or ten thousand years. But whether one can be saved—in other words, whether one can practice cultivation—still depends upon oneself. What I am telling you is a principle of the enormous universe.”
From the above, we can see that, although Li Hongzhi has pirated the doctrines of Buddhism and other religions, he has tried his utmost to denigrate Buddhism and other religions in an attempt to elevate himself and take their positions. He has tried to induce people to learn his Falun Gong. But he is extremely unwise and even mean to do so. He could succeed for the time being but he cannot deceive people forever. If, like what he said, “in the Dharma-ending Period, even very high levels are also in the End of Havoc and nobody is taking care of everyday people and many orthodox religions are unable to salvage people,” why has Li Hongzhi come out to pass on what is called Falun Dafa? In the Dharma-ending period, evil cults prevail and how does one know that Li Hongzhi is not one of the demon leaders? During the southern Song period in China, there appeared many weird people who came out to found religious schools in the name of upcoming calamities. But it is rare such frantic persons like Li Hongzhi, flaunting the banner of Buddhism, override even Sakyamuni and try their best to denigrate and sabotage Buddhism.
(3) Li Hongzhi, who knows nothing about Buddhist doctrines, wantonly talks about them
Li Hongzhi originally wanted to avoid Buddhism so as not to be labeled as a religion, not to be restrained by Buddhism and to cover up his ignorance about Buddhism. But he has to uphold the banner of Buddhism and denigrate it and therefore has to talk about Buddhism or Buddhist doctrines. In the following, I try to cite a few examples for analysis to see what Buddhist doctrines he has.
1. In Buddhism, only those wise people who have a thorough understanding of the principles of the universe and life of people can be called Buddhas. There are a dozen honored titles, such as such as Tathagata, arhat, samyak-sa, vidya-carana-sampanna, Sugata, lokavidu, Anuttara, Purusa-damya-sarathi, Sastadevamanusyanam and Bhagavat. They represent supremacy from different angles. Tathagata, for instance, means the true reality within man or who has become awakened through reality. But Li Hongzhi has gone so far as to distort it as a name at two different levels and by this says that Sakyamuni did not exhaust the study of the ultimate principle of the Universe. He has even put Jesus and Laozi on a par with Sakyamuni, who he said all belong to the Tathagata level. People who have even the slightest knowledge of Buddhist doctrines and religions would laugh their teeth off to hear it.
2. Dharma and Buddhism cannot be separated. Generally speaking, Dharma is the core of Buddhism and is passed on, expressed and carried forward through Buddhism (including principles and doctrines, religious organizations, commandments and rituals). Buddha says there are 84,000 ways of cultivation, all hidden in the Tripitaka. But Li Hongzhi has intentionally separated Dharma from Buddhism, saying that Dharma is only a small part of Buddhism and at a low level and that”
“Buddhism, however, includes only over ten cultivation ways, such as Zen Buddhism, Pure Land, Tiantai, Huayan, and Tantrism; these cannot represent all of the Buddha Fa. Sakyamuni himself did not articulate all of his Dharma; he only taught the portion of it befitting people’s ability of comprehension at that time.”
Li Hongzhi regards the religious schools formed in China as one way of cultivation. In fact, 84,000 is but a rough figure and the ways of cultivation are not expressed in religious schools. According his statement, it is impossible or necessary to form 84,000 religious schools. It can be seen that Li Hongzhi has confused the concept to fool his audience.
3. The three worlds in Buddhism are komaloka or the world of desire, kamaloka or the world of Mara and rupaloka or the celestial world of ‘form’. But Li Hongzhi says that the three worlds are the world of sky, the world of earth and the world of humans: a doctrine of Shamanism in North China (Taoism calls them three talents). It is not known whether Li Hongzhi is ignorant or a Shaman disciple.
4. On the three lokadhatu, the Buddha says the catur-dvipa in the same day and month is a small world and one thousand small worlds form a sahasraw cudihah. One thousand sahasraw cudihah form the dvi-sahasra-madhyamaloka-dhatu, and one thousand dvi-sahasra-madhyama-loka-dhatu form the trisaahasra-mahaasaahasera-lokadhaatu. Therefore, three thousand trisaahasra-mahaasaahasera-lokadhaatu is in fact one billion small worlds. Li Hongzhi said:
“Sakyamuni also spoke of the theory of three thousand worlds. He stated that, in our universe and our Milky Way, there are three thousand planets with living beings that have physical bodies like our human race.”
One billion and three thousand are worlds apart. In reading Buddhist scriptures, Li Hongzhi interprets it without real understanding.
5. “One and the only one way”. In Buddhism, it refers to the true way of all cultivation by reflection and discarding all material thoughts to reach the state of perfection. The so-called “there is no other ways to return to, but there are convenient ways.” Li Hongzhi again and again distorted the original meaning, saying that cultivation requires concentrating on one way and people practicing Falun Gong should not read other books and turn to other ways of cultivation. How shallow it is. How absurd it is. As a result, his disciples have become all alone, knowing nothing about the outside world, losing their abilities of self-judgment and stubbornly follow him. His disciples who do not fit practicing Falun Gong have lost the convenient ways, walking into blind alleys.
Arhats refer to people who have attained freedom from life and death through cultivation and will never incarnate and return to sufferings. As to the grand Bodhisattva, let alone Buddhas, male is male and female is female before Nirvana. But after Nirvana, they are like bodhisattva and Buddha, there is no distinction between male and female. But Bodhisattvas often assume the appearance of females in order to facilitate delivering living creatures. This is the basic knowledge about Buddhist ways of cultivation. But Li Hongzhi said that arhats usually appear as male and Bodhisattvas are all females. After becoming a Buddha, males become male Buddha and females become female Buddha. He also said that Arhats, Bodhisattva and Buddha can also drop to a lower level. This is counter to traditional Buddhism that has been passing on for 2,500 years. Isn’t it clear who has confused the ways of cultivation and sabotaged Buddhism?
Besides, Li Hongzhi has also distorted such Buddhist terms as law body, law wheel, no fixed ways of cultivation and pabca-parivyaya. Thus he has fully revealed his ignorance and his ulterior motives. On the concepts of the wheel of law and the body of law, I will discuss them in the next part of the article. For other terms, I will not go into them one by one. From the above, we can see clearly the relations between Li Hongzhi and his Falun Gong and Buddhism or the Buddhist ways of cultivation. The Surangama Sutra says:
These demons all have their groups of disciples. Each claims that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way. After my Nirvana, in the Dharma-ending Age, these hordes of demons will abound, spreading like wildfire as they openly practice greed and lust, while claiming to be Good Knowing Advisors. They will cause beings to fall into the pit of love and views and lose the way to Bodhi."
This shows that Sakyamuni has long ago discerned such demons like Li Hongzhi.
What is interesting is that Li Hongzhi has also used such expressions:
[D]uring the Dharma-ending period, many demons incarnated into human beings, who become monks and disrupt Dharma in temples. In Taiwan, in particular, there are many famous monks and lay Buddhists who are in fact demons, who profess themselves as religious leaders. They themselves do not know that they are demons. Before they came, they had arranged their whole lives for incarnation and followed the path of life according to what they have come to sabotage.
What he said is really about himself. Since the birth of Falun Gong, many lay Buddhists who had chanted Buddhism no longer believe in Buddhism. People who have just begun to learn Buddhism have no longer read Buddhist scriptures and removed the Buddhist statues and scripture books from their homes in order to express their piety to Falun Gong. Very soon, the huge photo of Li Hongzhi replaced Buddhist images and Li Hongzhi’s voice replaced the Namo Amitabha… What is worse is that Falun Gong disciples have been lobbying everywhere to induce people and persuade them to give up Buddhism and learn Falun Gong instead. Very much pleased, Li Hongzhi predicted that some monks would give up Buddhism and resume a secular life and come to learn Falun Gong, let alone those who have learned other forms of Qigong. This shows that it is exactly Li Hongzhi himself that has become the culprit that has tried to sabotage and eliminate Buddhism.
Just as in the present-day commodity society is filled with forged, counterfeit, inferior and false goods and all the people hate these things and everybody cries “kill them”, the Qigong circles and the Buddhist world are also plagued with forged, fake, inferior and false things, the most typical being Li Hongzhi’s Falun Gong, and the people hate these things and everybody cries: “Kill them” once the people have seen through them.