I. Experience of Li Hongzhi
Li Hongzhi wrote in a resume he fabricated in 1993: “I was born in Gongzhuling City, Jilin Province, on May 13, 1951. When I was a child, Buddhist Master Dajue gave me instructions for the initial approach to become a Buddhist believer. My mortification came to a satisfactory end when I was eight years old. At the age of 12, Taoist Master Baji Zhenren found me, and taught me Taoist practices”, “in 1972, I received Taoist instruction from Master Zhendaozi”, and “in 1974, I received training in Buddhist methods of mortification until I entered public life”.
The Introduction to Li Hongzhi compiled by the Falun Gong organization says, “At his age of 8, Li Hongzhi learned the essence of Buddhism and obtained supernatural powers, such as the ability to move objects, fix articles, control thinking and make himself invisible. He understands the truth of the universe and has insights into life and can see the past and future.” Such absurd “extraordinary abilities” have cheated many of his followers.
Then, who is Li Hongzhi?
Investigation shows Li Hongzhi was born in Gongzhuling City (former Gongzhuling Town), Jilin Province, on July 7, 1952. Between 1960-69, he studied in Changchun Zhujianglu Primary School, and finished his junior middle school studies in Changchun No. 4 and No. 48 middle schools. In the period 1970-78, he worked as a trumpet player at a PLA stud farm and Jilin Provincial Forest Armed Police Troop. In the following four years, he was an attendant at a guest house of the Forest Armed Police Troop. Li was discharged from military service in 1982, and went to work in the security department of the Changchun Cereals and Oil Co. In 1991, he quit the job and began practicing qigong. In May 1992, he began to propagate the ideas of Falun Gong.
According to a certificate issued by Luyuan Police Substation under the Changchun Public Security Bureau, on September 24, 1994, Li changed his date of birth from July 7, 1952 to May 13, 1951 and acquired a new ID card. The birth date of Li Hongzhi on other registration forms, including the “permanent resident registration” at public security stations, and the Security Cadre Registration Form and the Resume of Cadre kept by Li’s former work unit, has also been changed to May 13, 1951. But the birth date on the Forms for Rank Definition and Promotion of Workers, the Application Form for the Youth League, and the ID cards of Li Hongzhi issued on December 31, 1986 and March 31, 1991 respectively, was July 7, 1952.
Why did Li make this change? In the Chinese lunar calendar, the eighth day of the fourth lunar month is the birthday of Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, and May 13, 1951 happened to be the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. Thus, by changing his birthday, Li could pretend that he is “a reincarnation of Sakyamuni”.
However, Li’s former schoolmates, teachers and neighbors all say Li Hongzhi was an ordinary child with common marks in school. His only talent was an ability in playing the trumpet. To his fabricated story of “mortification”, their answers were “nonsense” or “impossible”, or “I have never seen or heard of that”. Li Hongzhi’s leaders and fellow servicemen at the stud farm and the forest police troop said he was a common solider and was introverted and conceited. The full schedule of rehearsals and performances, and strict military and work discipline would never have left him any spare time to practice his so-called qigong. His superiors and colleagues at the cereals and oil company all said that Li did not have any knowledge about “mortification” at all before he took part in the qigong training class in 1988.
When Li’s early followers asked him why he made up his story, Li answered that “no one would believe me if I do not exaggerate”. When asked to demonstrate his “four functions”, he became angry. “I don’t have any function at all, how can I demonstrate? Your request is designed to make me a laughing-stock. Are you making fool of me?”
II. The Emergence of Falun Gong
Influenced by the “qigong fever” among the mass, Li Hongzhi started to practice under a master named Li Weidong in 1988, with whom he studied a form known as Chanmi Gong. Li took part in two training courses, and then went on to study Jiugongbagua Gong from another master, Yu Guangsheng. Combining these two forms of qigong, along with some movements from Thai dance that he picked up on a visit to Thailand, he came up with Falun Gong. Li Jingchao and Liu Yuqing, early followers, have affirmed that the movements of Falun Gong were co-designed by Li Hongzhi and Li Jingchao and did not “take shape until one month before Li Hongzhi entered public life”. At the early training courses, Li Jingchao demonstrated the movements on the lecture platform, while Li Hongzhi provided the explanations. Another early collaborator of Li Hongzhi, Liu Fengcai, made more than 70 revisions of the teaching materials. The portrait of Li Hongzhi sitting in meditation on a lotus throne was made by another early follower, Song Bingchen, who pieced together Li’s photo with a paper cut of a lotus flower. The portrait was completed by the addition of the Buddhist aura in the background. The yellow clothes worn by Li, an opera costume, were bought in a shop.
Facts have proved that Li Hongzhi has perpetrated a monstrous lie in claiming the following: “I created a popular and simple method of cultivation for the masses in 1984, under the instruction of my masters, together with my years of mortification. After repeated deliberation, practice and evolution, the method was finally confirmed and approved by my masters for popularization, and it was named Falun Gong. After it was spread in 1992 with my entry into society, it was highly praised by the masters as a doctrine of high virtue.”
III. Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong Organizations
Li Hongzhi has repeatedly claimed that “Falun Gong has no organization, but loose management”. Some key members have also asserted that they do not have any organization, and they pass on the methods from person to person and from heart to heart.
But this was not the case. After founding Falun Gong in 1992, Li established the Research Society of Falun Dafa in Beijing, and became its president. Following that, he set up 39 Falun Gong teaching centers in various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China. Under these were more than 1,900 places of instruction and more than 28,000 group exercise venues. This represents a complete vertical organizational structure.
The Research Society of Falun Dafa manages all the affairs of the teaching centers and rules on the setup of Falun Gong organizations, with the power to appoint or remove major leaders. A series of rules and regulations have been created for Falun Gong activities, including Requirement on Falun Dafa Teaching Centers, Regulations on the Passing On of Falun Dafa, Standard for Falun Dafa Teachers, and Rules for Falun Dafa Practitioners.
As the most important figure in Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi issued many orders. On March 31 this year, for example, he wrote “agree, distribute quickly” on the Notice of Strictly Clearing Out the Circulation of Non-Falun Dafa Materials in Private, which was drafted by the Research Society of Falun Dafa. His order was implemented in all teaching centers and exercise venues. As the highest organization, the research society often sent various notices and proclamations to its subordinate organizations. Special persons were assigned to take charge of the liaison work. Modern communications facilities, such as the Internet, telephone and fax, were also used to transfer the orders of Li Hongzhi and the research society to coordinate the activities in various parts of the country. From May this year, Falun Gong practitioners in China received instructions from Li, then living abroad, in the form of “scriptures”. The quick transmission and extensive pernicious influences of these instructions are all due to the existence of an organizational system.
The Research Society of Falun Dafa and its instruction stations had organized large-scale activities to “spread the Falun doctrine” and “exchange experiences”, and held various “celebrations and commemorative ceremonies” on a regular and irregular basis. On several occasions, when they were dissatisfied with news reports and articles that exposed the dark secrets of Falun Gong or when government departments banned its books and audio-video products, members were organized to besiege news agencies, publishing houses, and Party and government departments, disrupting the normal work and social order and undermining hard-won social stability. In May 1998, the research society and some key members of its Beijing center incited more than 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners to besiege the Beijing TV Station. A major member of the Beijing center was relieved of his post for not showing enough enthusiasm for this action.
All these demonstrate that Falun Gong was an illegal organization with no official registration status, but with a tightly organized administrative system and complete functions headed by Li Hongzhi.
IV. Li Hongzhi Accumulated Wealth by Falun Gong
In spreading Falun Gong, Li set himself up as the “highest Buddha” who had transcended all secular desires. But in real life, he displayed enormous greed, acquiring immense wealth in a few short years.
Li’s early followers testified that, in the initial phase of spreading Falun Gong, Li attracted followers by supposedly “curing” their ailments and helping them improve their health. Although he asserted that he was giving free treatment, there was a special “donation box” at his home and he hinted to his assistants to tell every patient to donate at least 100 yuan for every visit.
Li also collected a large amount of money from training classes. From 1993 to 1994, he was reported to have earned 428,300 yuan in Changchun from teaching Falun Gong exercises and from book sales. Meanwhile, he earned another 789,000 yuan in other parts of China from classes. The admission fee to his class in Harbin was as high as 53 yuan, which made a net income of 200,000 yuan within a few days.
Afterward, Li Hongzhi said that “only by reading books, watching videos and listening to tapes can people learn Falun Gong well”. Thus, he published a large number of books, cassette tapes, video tapes, and video CDs with his teachings and sold them to Falun Gong practitioners for 300 yuan a set. He boasted that his “portrait” and the “Falun Gong badge” with his image had a “miraculous and inspirational effect” and encouraged people to buy them. In recent years, he came up with new Falun Gong products like special clothing and cushions for Falun Gong practitioners and published his books in “deluxe editions” at higher prices. He also advertised “no donation, no gain” and small input for big benefits, thus obtaining various “donations” from countless practitioners.
Detailed investigations are going on. Preliminary findings show that Li has several luxury houses in Beijing and Changchun listed in his relatives’ names, in addition to limousines. Through Falun Gong, he has amassed enormous wealth, on which he has evaded huge amount of taxes.
V. Li Hongzhi and the April 25 Illegal Gathering Incident
On April 25, 1999, more than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside Zhongnanhai, seat of the Central Government in Beijing, which seriously disrupted public order and the residents’ normal life, and caused a malignant effect at home and abroad.
On May 2, Li Hongzhi was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Sydney Morning Herald and Agence France Presse. He told the foreign correspondents, “I knew nothing in advance about the incident in Beijing when I was on the way from the United States to Australia.” He added that “I didn’t learn about it until I was in Brisbane”, thus trying to evade any responsibility for the incident. In late April, when Li was interviewed by telephone by the Shanghai correspondent of the Asian Wall Street Journal, he also denied that he was a wire-puller of the Zhongnanhai incident, insisting he knew nothing about it.
But this was not true. There is considerable, ironclad evidence that Li Hongzhi was in Beijing the day before the incident. And, he was never on the way from the United States to Australia when the Falun Gong practitioners were gathering around Zhongnanhai on April 25.
On April 19, Teenager Science-Technology Outlook, a Tianjin Normal University journal, contained an article entitled I’m Opposed to Qigong Practice by Teenagers written by Prof. He Zuoxiu with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Some Falun Gong practitioners in Tianjin took offense at the article and staged a silent protest at the university. By April 22, the number exceeded 3,000, which seriously affected the normal life and teaching order on the campus.
Just at that time, Li Hongzhi sudden flew back to China as a businessman via Flight 087 of American Northwest Airlines, reaching Beijing at 5:35 p.m. on April 22. Then, after a stay of 44 hours, he left in a hurry for Hong Kong at 1:30 p.m. on April 24 by Air China Flight CA109. Both the entry and exit forms were filled in by Li Hongzhi himself.
On April 23, the second day after he entered China, the gathering of Falun Gong practitioners at Tianjin Normal University escalated, and the number of practitioners swelled to more than 6,300. By the morning of April 24, while Li was still in Beijing, Falun Gong group exercise venues in Beijing had received notices that practitioners should go to Zhongnanhai for a “group exercise” on April 25.
When more than 10,000 people showed up around Zhongnanhai on April 25, Li was in Hong Kong. He didn’t leave there for Brisbane until 10:15 p.m. on April 27 by Dragonair Flight CX103.
Thus, it can be concluded that when Li Hongzhi alleged he “knew nothing” about the illegal gathering, he was lying.
VI. Harms of Li Hongzhi’s Fallacies
In his books, including Zhuan Falun (Turn the Dharma Wheel), and in several of his “sermons”, Li claimed that there existed a kind of white material, called “de” (morality), along with a mirror image that was dark, called “ye” (evil). He said that he “put the falun (Dharma Wheel) in the bellies of practitioners while teaching”, and “when the wheel runs forward, it will absorb energy from the universe and supply it to your body, which means saving yourself from sin; when it runs backward, it will discharge energy to benefit all others beside you, that is, to save others from sin”.
By practicing Falun Gong, he said, people could be helped by Falun. They could improve their “de” and reduce the “ye” force, purify their bodies and achieve final “enlightenment and immortality”. Practitioners could ultimately attain salvation and reach the “heavenly kingdom” or paradise. Li also spoke of karma, or predestination, and said that “illness and other sufferings were retribution for evil deeds one has done in the past or in a past life, and by enduring this suffering one can repay his or her evil debt”. He said that “taking medicine while practicing means one does not believe that practicing can cure the illness” and “anyone who believes in and practices Falun Gong need not take medicine to cure disease”. Li called people who tried to persuade others not to practice Falun Gong “demons”, saying that they have harmed the Falun Dafa and have prevented people from attaining “salvation”.
As a result of Li’s malicious fallacies and deceptive behavior, many Falun Gong practitioners refused to go to hospital or take medicine for their diseases, and some lost their lives because of delay in treatment. Some committed suicide or lost their sanity after practicing Falun Gong. Some even became homicidal. Li Hongzhi has not been bringing salvation to his followers, but leading them to a disastrous and miserable end. Falun Gong has done enormous harm to both the mental and physical health of people. Take the cases in Beijing’s two mental hospitals. In 1996, nine patients were admitted with severe psychological problems after practicing Falun Gong. The number rose to 10 in 1997, and 22 in 1998. There were 16 in the first half of 1999 alone.