As an anti-cult volunteer, I have been exposed to a lot of Falun Gong practitioners and often hear them say something like, “I was cured of liver and stomach diseases by practicing Falun Gong. It is a miracle. My master purified my body and I am immune to diseases now. I feel grateful to my master and I will continue to follow him in practicing Falun Gong.” These practitioners share one common feature, they believe in the physical benefits generated by practicing Falun Gong. This type of practitioner takes up a large proportion of the total of Falun Gong followers. We need to make a comprehensive analysis of the common and individual aspects of such mentality and, in a friendly and patient way, make detailed and thorough explanation in a bid to help them get back on track in their thinking.
I. The mentality of Falun Gong addicts who believe in its physical benefits
i. Gratitude. Some of these practitioners suffer from innate or chronic diseases. Therefore, they have a strong aspiration for good health. At the same time, they are superstitious and lack knowledge in science. After practicing Falun Gong, they come under the illusion that their health condition is improved and they feel happier. As a result, they feel grateful to Li Hongzhi and have more trust in Falun Gong. They regard it as the best way to ward off diseases and retreat from the real world.
ii. Worship. Due to the“physical benefit”, coupled with the preaching by Li Hongzhi of “cultivation by yourself and awards for the master”, the practitioners who believe in the physical benefit of Falun Gong easily worship Li blindly and treat him as the master. They feel that they find warmth in the group and answers to the perplexing questions of life from the theories of Li Hongzhi. They no longer complain about bad fortune, but feel grateful that they are introduced to “Buddhist dharma”. It gives them a psychological balance by enabling them to retreat from reality. Thus practicing Falun Gong becomes the most important part of their life. In the process, they are firmly convinced of the theories of Karma and completeness preached by Li Hongzhi, and feel it a duty to help the master to reach “Saddhamma”. That’s why they participate in the illegal activities organized by Falun Gong.
iii. Retribution. The feeling of physical benefits mainly grow in the initial period. As time goes on, the feeling fades and is replaced by firm trust in Falun Gong. Immersed in the heretical ideas of Li for a long time, they really think that Li is a “god” and “main Buddha in the universe”. As long as they follow him in practicing Falun Gong, he will bless them, remove their Karma and even help them to attain enlightenment. Otherwise, if they doubt Falun Gong or the master, they will be condemned by this “god”. In daily communication with others, they are peaceful and nice, yet if someone speaks bad of Li, they will be irritated or even treat the person as a devil.
II. Thoughts Revealing the Lie of Physical Benefit for Falun Gong Practitioners
This type of practitioner separates the words and deeds of Li Hongzhi and believes firmly in his power. They dare not face reality, still less question Li Hongzhi or the vicious motives of Falun Gong. They are told that their life are bestowed upon them by Li, thus they rely heavily on the cult. In helping them, we should target individual characteristics while removing their common false ideas.
i. Objective evaluation of physical benefits. In China, there is a profound cultural tradition and popular support of Buddhism. The rationale for Buddhists to adjust their physiological functions lies in the belief that by getting rid of distracting thoughts, one can have better spiritual conditions. In this way, his or her diseases will be alleviated. Without mental burdens, he or she will feel relieved. Li Hongzhi stole the concept of Buddhism and disguised his heretical ideas with the name of Buddhism. He orders his followers to practice Falun Gong, which is actually Qigong. The practitioners, who have little schooling, are deceived by him and feel that the preaching of Falun Gong conforms to traditional culture. At the same time, Li tells them that setbacks or diseases are all Karma and that by overcoming them, Karma is removed, which is good for their cultivation. Guided by such theories, the practitioners come under self-deceiving “spiritual victory”. Though they gradually lose normal thinking, they are relieved spiritually and thus they feel that their physical conditions improve. They attribute it to Falun Gong. The reality is that it is all due to psychological effects.
ii. Carry out health education. In practice, these types of practitioners usually tell people how they magically recovered from diseases by practicing Falun Gong and cite many ill-informed examples to prove that it works for other as well. To reveal the truth, three steps need to be adopted. First, explain the causes of diseases, such as biological, genetic and immunity factors. Second, explain to them the pathology of diseases and tell them each disease has its own pathogenesis and treatment methods. Third, teach them how to keep fit, such as healthy diet, proper exercise and balanced state of mind. A lot of medical knowledge is involved. In the process, we shall consider the actual conditions (education, cognitive ability and occupation) of the targeted practitioners and use plain language in case we waste time without yielding any results.
iii. Counter the lies with facts. This type of Falun Gong addict tends to be narrow minded. Coupled with brainwashing by Falun Gong websites and fellow practitioners, they are ill-informed of many cases where people practicing the cult have delayed medical treatment until it was too late. In the process of helping them, we need to present cases where Falun Gong practitioners’ live are put at risk when they refuse medical treatment, and cases where obsession with Falun Gong causes psychiatric disorders or inflicts disasters on their families. We shall cite examples, from Xiao Xinli, to the deceased Lin Yiming, Wu Kailun, Li Dayong and Li Jiguang. We must let them know that Li Hongzhi received medical treatment in Changchun and was fined for speeding in the US. Especially, we need to compare the photos of Li Hongzhi over the past years to prove that he has grown old and reveal that fact to the practitioners.
In fact, the situation varies even among this type of practitioners. Therefore, the key is to change their thinking on the cult to pave the way for latter transformation.