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1998年1月中国佛教协会“关于李洪志及其法轮功问题座谈会”纪要(中英对照)

最早揭露法轮功的人们(之十四)

发布日期:2006年09月08日   文章来源:凯风网   作者:陈星桥 整理
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  1998年1月,中国佛教协会高层为“法轮功问题”专门召开座谈会。这是一次极其重要的会议,是中国佛教界面对法轮功咄咄逼人的恶性膨胀作出的严肃回应,也是佛教界高度统一认识,再次进行与邪教法轮功斗争的动员和准备。与会者都是中国佛教界造诣深厚,德高望重的领袖人物,他们以认真严谨的理性态度,深刻剖析法轮功欺骗公众、危害社会、谤佛毁佛的种种恶行,并怀着深深的忧虑呼吁政府尽快制止法轮功的蔓延。这里公布的《中国佛教协会“关于李洪志及其法轮功问题座谈会”纪要》便是整个中国佛教界与法轮功“正邪不两立,水火不相容”的檄文和宣言。

  法轮功一向打着“佛法”的旗号欺世盗名,李洪志一向以“主佛”的名义招摇撞骗,因此对正宗和权威的中国佛教协会又恨又怕,妄图通过巧言诡辩和“走上层路线”压制佛教界对他们的揭露和批判。李洪志曾指使法轮功主要骨干联名写信上告中国佛教协会。可见中国佛教界曾经是法轮功最早的头号克星。

  1998年1月13日下午, 中国佛教协会召集本会有关领导、专家学者就如何认识和对待法轮功的问题进行了座谈。参加座谈会的有:中国佛协游骧副秘书长、中国佛教文化研究所吴立民所长、教务部副主任妙华法师、综合研究室徐玉成主任、《佛教文化》主编何云同志、《法音》杂志社副主任卢浔同志、哈尔滨市佛协副秘书长陈星桥居士。

  座谈会由游骧副秘书长主持。他说:近几年来,法轮功的发展已引起政府及社会各界的关注,各地佛教界对此也时有反映,《光明日报》、本会《研究动态》、浙江《台州佛教》等报刊上还先后发表了批判法轮功的文章。本会曾专门就法轮功问题给政府主管部门行过文。前几年法轮功出过好几本书,都是正规出版社出版的。后来国家新闻出版署认为这些书“内容宣扬迷信及伪科学”,行文要求予以收缴、封存。听说香港、悉尼、纽约等地均有法轮功书籍出版。

  鉴于法轮功既有借佛更有贬佛、谤佛的内容,严重地歪曲佛法为其所用,理所当然地激起佛教界的义愤,所以今天请各位来座谈一下,既发表个人的看法,也共同商研如何表明我们佛教协会对法轮功的态度。

  陈星桥:我先来介绍一下自己研究与了解到的法轮功的情况。早在1994年即有朋友劝我学法轮功,当时还在哈尔滨听过李洪志的讲座,发现他的讲演大受欢迎,但从明眼人来看实在是荒诞不经,便以为这只是一个暂时现象,一旦人们识破了其骗局,法轮功热就会消失,因而未予重视。没想到这几年发展得更加迅速,既歪曲、贬损佛教,严重伤害了佛教徒的感情,同时还动摇了一些信众的正信。于是我在1996年下半年专门购置了几本法轮功的书籍进行研究,并写出了《还法轮功的本来面目——一种新型的民间宗教》,发表于中国佛协《研究动态》1997年第2期上。 因此,我对法轮功是比较了解的,至今我仍认为它是一种具有民间宗教特点的附佛外道或邪教。近半年来又了解了一些有关法轮功的新情况,一是中国气功科学研究会写了一份《关于李洪志“法轮功”问题的情况反映》,并在1996年末年检中注销了“法轮功”。文中反映了李洪志及其法轮功的许多问题,且多处涉及佛教,如果我们不能与法轮功划清界限,就法轮功问题向有关部门表明佛教界的态度,那将十分不利。二是了解到尽管法轮功受到某些报刊的批判,其书被查禁,中国气功科学研究会会员资格被注销,李洪志也跑到国外去了,但法轮功研究会及各地辅导站的活动仍十分活跃,形成了地下网络,其中还有不少干部和高级知识分子信奉其说,可见问题比较严重,不是靠简单的批判与行政手段可以解决问题的。三是一些法轮功修炼者有病不治以致身亡等弊端时有所闻,佛教也蒙受了不白之冤,应引起有关部门的高度重视。所以我认为今天开这个座谈会非常必要和及时。

  卢浔:李洪志在境外成立了“法轮国际”组织,在英特网上建立了“法轮修炼大法”主页,国内外一些站点还有“法轮修炼大法”的宣传,还有人给法音杂志社发Email询问法轮功,国内一些高级知识分子还义务将李洪志的著述译成英、法文。法音杂志社还收到几篇宣传法轮功的来稿和为李洪志辩护的文章。去年我们本来准备刊发一些批驳法轮功的文章,后来考虑到法轮功的信众大多数人是好的,只是由于辨不清法轮功与正信佛教的区别,受到蒙蔽,如果一开始就大加挞伐,效果未必好,因而从去年起《法音》连续刊发了几篇介绍佛教禅定和“气功”的文章,希望从正面进行引导。从最近反映的情况看,法轮功在各地影响很大,佛教界也一直希望《法音》表态,澄清信众的认识,因而我们拟在今年《法音》上刊发一些有理有据、平心静气地客观评论法轮功的文章。

  何云:因为办《佛教文化》刊物的缘故,我很早即从读者的来电、来稿以及同社会各界朋友的接触中了解了一些法轮功。陈星桥的文章我也看过,觉得基本可取,但比较平心静气,力度似不够。我认为,法轮功是一种相当高级的民间造神运动,是一种在精神领域带有理性色彩的现代迷信。从北京到地方,有相当一批高层次的人信奉法轮功之说并为其鸣锣开道、摇旗呐喊。这些人分为三部分,一是自然科学工作者;二是大学教授;三是离退休干部。像这种不断发展的现代迷信,在近代的确少见。其次,赵朴老曾说过:“凡事贵在反求诸己”。对于李洪志,我可以用八个字来概括:“聪明绝顶,胆大包天”。李洪志的法轮功理论不在于体系上有多么博大精深,而在于简捷、有力,敢说敢干敢骗,以致一些学历很高的人都信从其说。我曾对大学里的法轮功信众说:“我为你们迷倒于法轮功而痛心疾首。你们的教主席卷了多少信众的钱财到美国办理了绿卡,你们知道吗?”然而却得到平心静气的回答:“这没有什么,美国有着许多迷途的‘羔羊’正等待着他去度化呢!”对此我简直无话可说,感到包括陈星桥的文章在内,一切的理性讨论与争辩在他们面前显得是那么苍白,无济于事。所以我认为:法轮功是一种由民间迷信形式发展到了最高阶段的现代迷信。

  妙华:法轮功如仅从其只言片语上看,不无闪光的东西,但在总体上缺乏成体系的思想构架。我曾同王雷泉和陈兵先生探讨过这个问题,我们可以给它下个定义,叫“相似佛法、附佛外道”,如将它定义为民间宗教那是抬高了它。其实李洪志不过是运用了一些佛教名词,是一种线型的说教,不可能导人于正道和觉悟,只会增加人们思想观念的混乱。

  法轮功为什么会发展得如此迅速,一些老百姓为什么不接受真正的佛法却信从李洪志的伪说? 我看有以下几个方面的原因:

  1.长期以来,祖国传统文化受到了不应有的漠视与破坏;包括许多高级知识分子在内,在佛法知识方面都是“法盲”,在精神领域表现出饥不择食的倾向;

  2.佛教界在弘法观念、弘法机制与弘法方式上比较保守,滞后于社会的发展;

  3.人民群众在气功热中已不满足于或动或静、一招一式的功法,亟于寻求功法后面的理念。

  客观地讲,法轮功给佛教信众的思想带来了很大的冲击,使佛教蒙受了不白之冤。我们应反求诸己,并着重划清与法轮功的界限。有些官司打不清,其他事情做多了并不一定好。

  卢浔:谈到给法轮功如何定性与佛教界如何对待,我觉得要考虑更深层的问题。世界宗教在近现代发生了许多变化,各国也有不同的宗教政策。比如谈到中韩日三国佛教黄金纽带,与我国佛教界保持友好关系的日本立正佼成会、创价学会等都属新兴宗教,日本佛教的日莲系,如从传统佛教的眼光来看也是异端。中国佛协应考虑如何与这些新兴宗教打交道的原则和策略。几十年来人们比较关注五大宗教的问题,而民间宗教和信仰在中国一直有其传统,因此我们也应考虑相应的对策,如一味从降魔卫道的角度出发似不甚妥。其实法轮功与一些新兴宗教创教之初的情形很相似,因此处理上应慎重。我认为正如妙华法师所说,目前在宣传上划清与它的界线,区分它是不是佛教即可,或者将其定为附法外道。

  何云:我认为不能将法轮功与日本日莲宗等新兴宗教派别作简单对比。因为那些新兴宗教家有强烈而真诚的宗教情感与动力,而李洪志就像张献忠似的人物,是利用宗教以追求财富、势力的最大化,没有多少宗教感可言。

  游骧:下面我讲一点,看对大家能否有所启发。对法轮功我只是翻阅了它的几本书,同时也接触了一些学法轮功的人,包括我的一些亲戚朋友。我以为,法轮功贬低、歪曲佛法,引起佛教界的义愤、批判,理所当然。研究法轮功问题,自然是仁者见仁,智者见智。

  何云:妙华讲的对我很有启发。法轮功对于自然科学家、学者教授都未能解决的一些问题却作了深入浅出、“直指人心”的解答,当然他的那些说法是没有实证检验,也无法去证实。世上最难的是解答有关人自身的问题,特别是心理、精神问题。法轮功对现代社会出现的一些道德问题作了直接的规劝,如讲真善忍,讲修德,认为德是一种白色物质,随着人的行为的善恶而增减。他利用佛法,却歪曲、贬低佛法以抬高自己,说自己是最高的佛法,以它的方式来满足人们面对各种精神界问题的需要,如解决各种烦恼、信仰危机、精神寄托等的需要,这是它得以迅速传播的一大原因。佛法博大精深,但许多人不懂,却从李洪志那里找到了解答。人们有超现实的追求,这是个复杂的问题,一些人转而从李洪志那里得到了精神寄托。没有李洪志,便会有张洪志,这是不以人们的善愿为转移的事。

  法轮功确有无知及歪曲、贬低佛教、把佛教信众拉去的一面,但另一方面却使一些本不懂佛法的人也开始认为佛法了不起。所以我们从佛教角度考虑,首先要将其与佛法划清界限,又要注意不因批判、处理的不当,伤害相当多的法轮功弟子的感情,使他们在情绪上产生与佛教界的对立。当然如果国家有关部门给其定性,作出处理,那是另一回事,我们当然坚决拥护。我们要做的是与法轮功划清界限,有针对性地弘扬正法,使法轮功弟子在佛法上分清邪正。

  妙华:问题是,不是佛教界伤害了法轮功信众的感情,而是李洪志首先伤害了广大佛教徒的感情。

  徐玉成:法轮功对佛教伤害很大,我早有所闻。1996年10月,我到哈尔滨时听说陈星桥居士写了一篇评论法轮功的文章,于是让他整理出来给我。为慎重起见,我将该文报赵朴老审阅,赵朴老批示同意在《研究动态》上发表。后来朴老听说有许多高层人士学法轮功,于是指示请吴立民先生看一下。吴老看后亦表示可以发表,于是我便将陈文刊于1997年《研究动态》第2期,文章刊出后反映很好,有许多人纷纷来索取。例如,北京一位在某科研单位工作的女士,信了法轮功后,多次来找我们辩论,说法轮功好。 后来我把《研究动态》第2期陈星桥的文章给她看,她改变了看法,也不来辩论了。证明这篇文章的社会效果是很显著的。

  我认为,法轮功与国外的新兴宗教不一样,因为国外的各种宗教的理念、教义和宗教活动、宗教信息直接进入社会生活和大众媒体,人们对各种宗教有一个基本的常识性认识,因此对各种新兴宗教有一个基本的判断、辨别能力,那种没有宗教感的迷信思想,很难风靡一时。但是在我国,从佛教界来说,虽办有25种刊物,但总发行量加在一起不足12万份,而且基本上限于寺院和部分佛教徒内重叠发行,对社会基本上没有造成影响。不少群众,包括一些高级知识分子,对什么是佛教,什么是佛教的基本教义一无所知,缺少对诽佛谤佛各种邪说的鉴别力和免疫力,一旦类似法轮功这样的伪佛法,以某种救人、度人的面目出现,又有公开传播的场所和渠道,很多人很快就被折服了,因此可以说法轮功是在“法盲”或“宗教盲”普遍存在的情况下发展起来的,应该说是一种很不正常的现象。

  一些人因此被导入地下和旁门左道,产生了种种迷信充斥、失控的现象。法轮功利用了人们的“法盲”,是一种有组织有理论的迷信,对国家对佛教都有着极大的危害,对它不容妥协。法轮功不仅谤佛,而且糟塌一切传统文化,李洪志把自己吹的比孔子、老子还高,是现代无所不能的神人,完全是一种现代个人造神运动,而这种造神运动竟然得到一些有知识、有身份的人的垂青和认可,岂不是个极大讽刺!从这点来说,法轮功是“假气功谤文化,真迷信非宗教”的现代迷信。因此,对法轮功与佛教的关系问题,要写出一些有理有据的文章加以廓清是十分必要的。法轮功是骂佛、谤佛,对信教群众造成极大伤害,问题十分严重。

  妙华:法轮功骂佛、谤佛,前提是“用佛”。

  游骧:我们要掌握两个区分:第一、我们之所以要着力澄清、批判,是因为它滥用、歪曲、贬低乃至丑化佛教与佛法,而不是在佛教刊物上以佛法为标准去批判不符合佛法的思想、观点和主张,去批判在佛教看来的“外道”,因为它恣意污染,我们才必须澄清,划清界限。

  第二、在定性问题上,个人意见可以充分发表,作为中国佛教协会的表态必须慎重。作为中国佛教协会的表态,作为会刊上发表的文章,均不宜出自我们的口率先定它为“邪教”。因为“邪教”的定性,是政府部门的事情,不是佛教团体的权限。“邪教”不只是一个批判性的概念,还是一个政治、法律概念。佛教徒当然要弘扬、维护正法,但不能以佛教的正与邪来判定其为“邪教”。根据政府有关部门的意见,邪教至少具有三个特征,一是打着宗教旗号,即以宗教组织面目出现;二是秘密结社;三是有反动政治图谋和大量的违法犯罪活动。据此,法轮功是否定为“邪教”,应由政府有关部门调研确定。总之,在划清佛教与法轮功的界线上,我们要有高度责任感,不能含糊,要为人先;在对其定性上,我们不为人先,不做超前越权的事。

  吴立民:大家谈得很好。去年郑颂英居士给我写信,要求批判法轮功,还寄来了他作了批注的法轮功的书籍,我转给了《法音》编辑部。徐玉成等同志也找我探讨过法轮功问题,这的确是个大问题。法轮功歪曲、利用佛教,当然是邪教。它是利用气功界的混乱发展而形成的。历史上的白莲教等民间宗教都有一个贡高我慢的特点,即贪嗔痴慢疑的“慢”,慢到了极点。它好像是“佛慢”,但并不是真正的“佛慢”。李洪志利用了中国禅宗中的狂禅,也讲破执著,符合了一些人的心态,发展起来挺厉害的。“慢”发展至极必然自是非他,贬低排斥他教。对这些民间宗教或新兴宗教如果不予以足够的关注,采取适当对策,后果将十分严重。另一方面,“文革”对传统文化造成了极大的破坏,人们的认识与心态比较混乱,而正当的宗教得不到有效的宣传,从而使法轮功能歪曲佛法,似是而非、以假乱真。

  对正法弘扬不够,佛教自身应负责任;另一方面有关行政部门也有责任。信仰市场若被邪教势力操纵,发展起来对国家将构成一种潜在的危险。

  我们平时与广大信众接触较多,深知信众追求解决精神信仰方面的问题的心情是非常强烈的。我们学习十五大报告,怎样才能高举邓小平建设有中国特色的社会主义的旗帜呢?研究、解决好宗教问题是一个很重要的方面。我想对待法轮功问题,佛教界应反求诸己,政府有关部门也要反求诸己。反思历史都要反思自己,才能起到反思的作用和效果。

Memorandum of 'Symposium on Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong Issue'

Editor's notes:

In January 1998, the Buddhist Association of China held a high level symposium on Falun Gong issue. This was a very important meeting, which the Chinese Buddhist circle  made a serious  response to the aggressive challenge of  Falun Gong expansion, and was once again mobilized and prepared to take concerted action against Falun Gong cult. Participants of the symposium were all accomplished and highly respected leaders of the Chinese Buddhist circle. They thoroughly analyzed the various vicious activities of Falun Gong in cheating the public, harming the society and slandering Buddhism with a rational attitude of care and precision, and called on the government to stop the growing of Falun Gong immediately with deep concern. The memorandum of  "Symposium on Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong Issue" Held by the Buddhist Association of China published here is virtually the formal call to arms and declaration of the entire Chinese Buddhist circle to be at daggers drawn with Falun Gong.

Falun Gong had always been trying to win popularity by hoodwinking the public in the disguise of "Buddha dharma", and Li Hongzhi had always been cheating and grabbing money in the name of "Master Buddha". Therefore, they both hated and feared the orthodoxy and authoritative Buddhist Association of China, attempting to resisting the exposure and criticism from the Buddhist circle by beguiling words and sophistry as well as by "taking the route of higher level". Li Hongzhi used to instigate his backbone members to jointly writing letters of accusation of the Buddhist Association of China. Apparently, the Chinese Buddhist circle used to be the No. 1 conqueror over Falun Gong.

On the afternoon of January 13, 1998, the Buddhist Association of China summoned its leaders as well as experts and scholars to discuss the question of how to understand and deal with Falun Gong. The participants included You Xiang, vice secretary-general of the Buddhist Association of China; Wu Limin, head of China Research Institute of Buddhist Culture (CRIBC); Master Miao Hua, vice director of the academic department of CRIBC; Xu Yucheng, director of the multi-research department of CRIBC; He Yun, editor-in-chief of Buddhist Culture magazine; Lu Xun, vice director of the Voice of Dharma magazine; and Kulapati Chen Xingqiao, vice secretary-general of the Buddhist Association of Harbin.

The symposium was chaired by the vice secretary-general You Xiang. He said in recent years, the development of Falun Gong has caused the attention of the government and all walks of life, and the local Buddhist circles have responded to it as well. Articles criticizing Falun Gong were published on Guangming Daily, "Research Update" of the Buddhist Association of China, "Taizhou Buddhism" of Zhejiang Province, etc. And our Association used to refer to the problems of Falun Gong specifically to the government departments concerned . Some years ago, several books on Falun Gong were published by regular publishing houses. Later, those books were regarded as "promoting superstition and pseudo-science" by the General Administration of Press and Publication of China and were ordered to be taken over and sealed up. It is said that Falun Gong books are published in other places such as Hong Kong, Sydney, and New York.

Since Falun Gong not only borrows Buddhist terms but also belittles and slanders Buddhism, severely distorting Buddhadharma for its own purposes, it has inevitably aroused the indignation in the Buddhist circle. Therefore, we are here today both to express personal views as well as to discuss the way of making known the position of our Buddhist Association towards Falun Gong.

Chen Xingqiao: I will say something first about what I know about Falun Gong and the research I did on it. As early as in 1994, some friends of mine tried to persuade me into practicing Falun Gong. I listened to a speech of Li Hongzhi in Harbin at the time, and found out that though his speech was much welcomed, it sounded ridiculous to anyone clear-minded. So I thought it might be something temporary. As soon as people see through his tricks, the fever over Falun Gong would disappear. That's why I didn't pay much attention to it. Unfortunately, it develops even more rapidly these years, not only distorting and slandering Buddhism, greatly hurting the feelings of the Buddhists, but also wavering the orthodoxy belief of some followers. So I specially bought a number of Falun Gong books in the second half of 1996 for study, and wrote an article entitled Discovering the True Colors of "Falun Gong" - a New Folk Religion, which was published in the 2nd issue of 1997 of Research Update of the Buddhist Association of China. Therefore, I know quite much about Falun Gong, and to this day I still think it is a kind of heathendom or a cult attaching to Buddhism with the characteristics of folk religion. In the recent half year, I've gotten to know some new information about Falun Gong. Firstly, the Research Institute of Qigong Science of China wrote a report on the Falun Gong issue of Li Hongzhi and nullified the registration of "Falun Gong" by the end of 1996 in the annual examination. The report revealed many problems with Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong, many of which related to Buddhism. If we do not make a clear distinction from Falun Gong and state clearly our attitude towards Falun Gong to the pertinent departments, we shall be in a very disadvantageous position. Secondly, I find out that although Falun Gong has been criticized by some newspapers and publications and its books have been banned, its membership with the Research Institute of Qigong Science of China having been cancelled, and Li Hongzhi himself having gone abroad, Falun Gong research societies and local instruction centers are still very active, establishing an underground network. There are also many officials and advanced intellectuals that believe in it. So the problem is rather serious. I'm afraid that it is not to be solved by simple criticism and administrative means. Thirdly, we can hear such news now and then as some Falun Gong practitioners die as a result of refusing to treat their diseases, in which Buddhism is also wrongly accused of. This should also be noted by relevant departments. That's why I think today's symposium is very necessary and timely.

Lu Xun: Li Hongzhi established a "Falun International" organization abroad, and set up a homepage of "Practicing Falun Dafa" on the Internet. Some websites home and abroad propagandize it. Some people sent emails to the Voice of Dharma magazine asking about Falun Gong. Some advanced intellectuals in China even voluntarily translated the books of Li Hongzhi into English and French. The Voice of Dharma magazine has received some articles propagandizing Falun Gong and defending Li Hongzhi. Last year, we once thought of publishing some articles criticizing Falun Gong. On second thought, we think that most of the Falun Gong practitioners are good. They are just taken in and cannot tell Falun Gong from orthodox Buddhism. If we start a large-scale criticism from the very beginning, the effect may not be satisfactory. Therefore, since last year, we published several articles introducing Buddhist meditation and "qigong" in succession in the Voice of Dharma for the purpose of a positive guide. The recent situation shows that Falun Gong has big influence in many places, and the Buddhist circle has always been expecting the Voice of Dharma to make known its position and clarify the mind of the followers. So we are planning to publish some articles commenting on Falun Gong with good arguments and detachment in the Voice of Dharma this year.

He Yun: As editor of Buddhist Culture, I have known something about Falun Gong from telephone calls and articles and letters from the readers as well as from the acquaintance with friends in all walks of life quite long ago. I've also read the article written by Chen Xingqiao, I think it basically acceptable but quite detached and lacking sufficient strength. In my opinion, Falun Gong is a quite advanced god-creating folk movement as well as a kind of modern superstition with some conceptual color in the spiritual field. From the capital to other places in China, quite a number of high-ranking people believed in Falun Gong, clearing the way and cheering for it. These people can be divided into three groups: one is natural science workers; another is university professors; and the third is retired officials. Such a kind of developing modern superstition is rather rare in modern times. Moreover, Master Zhao Puchu once said, "It is important to check on oneself. As for Li Hongzhi, I can summarize in one sentence that the cleverest is the most daring. It is not that the Falun Gong theory of Li Hongzhi is how profound systematically, but is that it is short-cut, powerful, daring to say anything and do anything and tell any lies, so even many well-educated people would believe in it. I once said to Falun Gong practitioners in universities "I hate so much that you are so obsessed with Falun Gong. Do you know how much money has your hierarch grabbed from the followers and got a green card in the United States" However, what I heard was a calm reply "it's alright. There are many lost 'lambs' in the United States waiting for his salvage." What else can I say! All rational discussions and contentions, including the article of Chen Xingqiao, seem so pale and powerless in front of them. So it is my view that Falun Gong is a most advanced modern superstition evolved from folk superstition.

Miao Hua: Some fragments of Falun Gong may be reasonable, but it lacks a systematic framework of thoughts on the whole. I used to discuss this issue with Mr. Wang Leiquan and Mr. Chen Bing, and we might define it as "imitation of Buddhadharma, heathendom attaching to Buddhism". Indeed, defining it as a folk religion is an elevation of it. Actually, Li Hongzhi only borrows some of the Buddhist terms, and his preaching is kind of linear, which is impossible to guide people onto the right way or enlighten them; rather, it can only add to the confusion in people's mind.

Why is Falun Gong developing so quickly And why  people don't accept true Buddhadharma but believe in the fake theory of Li Hongzhi? I think the following aspects are to be taken into account:

1. For a long time, the traditional culture of our country has been undergone undue disregard and destruction. People, including many advanced intellectuals, are so ignorant of Buddhadharma that they show a tendency of being willing to accept anything in the spiritual field.

2. The Buddhist circle is rather conservative in the idea, system, as well as means of promoting and upholding the teaching of Buddha, failing to keep up with social development.

3. In the fever for qigong, people are no longer satisfied with simple bodily movements or meditation but are eager to discover the ideas behind them.

Objectively speaking, Falun Gong gives a great shock on the mind of Buddhist followers and makes Buddhism suffering injustice. We should check on ourselves and focus on making a clear distinction from Falun Gong. Some cases are difficult to judge, and some actions may not be helpful to take.

Lu Xun: As for the questions of how to define Falun Gong and how should the Buddhist circle treat Falun Gong, I think that further thinking might be necessary. In modern times, religions in the world have changed a lot, and different countries have different religious policies. For instance, when we talk about the "golden link" of Buddhism among China, Japan, and South Korea, the Rissho-Kosei-kai and Soka Gakkai of Japan which keep a friendly relationship with the Buddhist circle of China are both newly developed religions, and the school of Nichiren in Japanese Buddhism is also a heresy from the viewpoint of traditional Buddhism. The Buddhist Association of China should consider the principles and tactics in dealing with these newly developed religions. For decades, people have paid more attention to the five major religions, but folk religions and beliefs have deep-rooted traditions in China, so we should consider relevant measures as well. It seems not too appropriate to stress beating the evil and guarding the orthodox only. Actually, Falun Gong is rather similar to the situation of the early stage of some newly developed religions, so we should be more prudent in dealing with it. I think that just as what Master Miao Hua said, at present, it is enough to make a clear distinction from it and make sure whether it is Buddhism or not, or define it as heathendom attaching to the Dharma.

He Yun: I think that we cannot simply compare Falun Gong with the Nichiren school of Japan and other newly developed religions, for those new religionists have strong and sincere religious emotions and motives, but Li Hongzhi is only working for his own interests, pursuing the maximum of wealth and power in the disguise of religion. There is little religious feeling in him.

You Xiang: There is still one thing that I want to point out. See if it can give you some illumination. I have read some of the Falun Gong books, and have known some people practicing Falun Gong, including some of my relatives and friends. I think that as Falun Gong belittles and distorts Buddhism, it is natural that the Buddhist circle would criticize it with indignation. The research on Falun Gong remains open to question.

He Yun: I'm inspired by what Miao Hua said. Falun Gong explains many questions that natural scientists and scholars and professors could not answer with simplicity and straightness. Of course, his theory is not tested, and cannot be tested. The most difficult questions to answer in the world are questions about man himself, the psychological and spiritual ones in particular. Falun Gong gives people straightforward advice with regard to the moral problems in the modern society, such as focusing on "truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance", on moral training, saying that morality is a kind of white substance that would increase or decrease as a result of one's good or evil behavior. He utilizes Buddhadharma, distorting and derogating it to elevate himself, posing himself as the highest Buddhadharma and satisfying people's needs with his own ways when people are faced with various problems related to the spiritual field, such as various worries, belief crisis, inner resources, etc. This is an important reason for the quick spread of Falun Gong. Buddhadharma is so profound, but many people don't understand it. Instead, they find answers from Li Hongzhi. People all have surreal pursuits. It is complex. Some people just turn to Li Hongzhi and find some spiritual sustenance. So there will always be Li Hongzhi or Zhang Hongzhi or the like. This is not something to be changed at our kind wishes.

Indeed, Falun Gong is ignorant about Buddhism, and it distorts and derogates Buddhism and takes over many Buddhist followers; however, on the other hand, some people who were ignorant about Buddhadharma before also start to regard Buddhadharma as something great. So from the point of view of Buddhism, while making a clear distinction between Falun Gong and Buddhadharma, we should also be careful not to hurt the feelings of most of the Falun Gong practitioners as a result of improper criticism and disposition which would cause opposing feelings in them toward the Buddhist circle. Of course, if relevant government departments would determine its nature and dispose of it, that would be a different matter, and we should definitely support that. Our responsibility is to make a clear distinction from Falun Gong and uphold the orthodoxy Buddhism with a clear objective, thus enabling the Falun Gong practitioners to tell right from evil in the sense of Buddhadharma.

Miao Hua: The question is, it is not that the Buddhist circle hurts the feelings of Falun Gong practitioners; rather, it is Li Hongzhi who hurts the feelings of our Buddhists in the first place.

Xu Yucheng: I've heard long before that Falun Gong has done great harm to Buddhism. In October 1996, when I was in Harbin, I heard that Kulapati Chen Xingqiao wrote an article commenting on Falun Gong, so I asked him to give me a ready copy. In order to be more careful, I reported this article to Master Zhao Puchu first for his review, who agreed to publish it on the Research Update. Later, when Master Zhao heard that many people of high position practiced Falun Gong, he instructed to give the article to Wu Limin for review. Master Wu also agreed to publish it. So I published Chen's article on the 2nd issue of Research Update in 1997, after which there came in very good feedbacks, and many people came to ask for the article. For example, a lady working at a science research institute in Beijing came and argued with us many times before when she started practicing Falun Gong, giving Falun Gong much praise. Later, I asked her to read the article of Chen Xingqiao in the 2nd issue of Research Update. After that, she changed her views, and never came to argue with us again. So the article has been proved to have remarkable social effect.

In my view, Falun Gong is different from those newly developed religions abroad. In foreign countries, ideas, doctrines, activities, and information of various religions enter social life and mass media directly. People usually have a general idea about the basic knowledge of different religions, so they are able to make a basic judgment about various newly developed religions. Superstitious ideas without religious feelings are hard to popularize. However, in our country, in the Buddhist circle alone, although there are 25 publications, their total circulations are not more than 120,000 copies, overlapping with each other within the scope of temples and part of the Buddhists, exerting little influence on the society. Many people, including some advanced intellectuals, know nothing about the doctrines and basic concepts of Buddhism, thus lacking the immunity or the discriminating ability against the evil theories derogating Buddhism. As soon as pseudo Buddhadharma like Falun Gong appears in a manner of saving people and spreads in public places and through public channels, many people would be easily taken in. So we can say that Falun Gong develops under the circumstance that there are too many "Dharma illiterates" or "religion illiterates", which is a very abnormal phenomenon.

Some people, as a result, were guided onto the wrong way, and the development of superstitions began to lose control. Falun Gong takes advantage of people's ignorance of Dharma and is a superstition with organization and theory, seriously jeopardizing the country and Buddhism. So compromise is not to be tolerated. Falun Gong not only derogates Buddhism, but also slanders all traditional culture. Posing himself higher than Confucius and Laotze, Li Hongzhi appears like an all-mighty god of the modern time. This is entirely modern individual god-creating movement. Isn't it ironic that such a god-creating movement should ever been welcomed and recognized by those who are well educated or with high social ranks? In this sense, Falun Gong is a modern superstition that slandering human culture in the name of qigong. It is no religion, but true superstition. Therefore, considering the relationship between Falun Gong and Buddhism, it is very necessary to write some articles with sound arguments to make a clear distinction. Falun Gong abuses and derogates Buddhism, greatly hurting the religious public. So the problem is very serious.

Miao Hua: The premise of Falun Gong in abusing and derogating Buddhism is "utilizing Buddhism".

You Xiang: We should handle with care in the following two questions. First, the reason why we would focus on clarifying and criticizing is that Falun Gong abuses, distorts, slanders, and even defames Buddhism and Buddhadharma. We should not criticize ideas, opinions, and assertions that do not comply with Buddhadharma in Buddhist publications or criticize "heathendom" as against Buddhism. We clarify and draw a clear distinction only because it terribly contaminates Buddhism.

Second, on the question of defining its nature, personal ideas may be expressed freely, but the Buddhist Association of China should be cautious in showing its attitude. Neither in declaring the position of the Buddhist Association of China nor in the articles published on the association journal should we first define it as a "cult", for the power of determining a "cult" is with government departments, not Buddhist organizations. "Cult" is not only a concept used in criticism, but is also a political as well as legal term. Of course, Buddhists should uphold and safeguard orthodox, but we cannot judge a "cult" by the standard of orthodox and evil in Buddhism. According to opinions of certain government departments, at least the following three characteristics are common in cults 1. appearing in the disguise of religious group, or in a religious name; 2. establishing secret organization; 3. having reactionary political plots and carrying out tremendous illegal and criminal activities. So whether Falun Gong is a "cult" should be determined by government departments after investigation. To summarize, we should have a great sense of responsibility in making a clear distinction between Buddhism and Falun Gong, daring to take the lead and showing no ambiguity. When it comes to the question of defining its nature, however, we should not stand out or do anything beyond our power.

Wu Limin: Today's discussion is great. Last year, Kulapati Zheng Songying wrote to me and sent me Falun Gong books on which he put comments, asking for criticism on Falun Gong. I turned them to the editors of the Voice of Dharma. Xu Yucheng and some other people used to discuss the question of Falun Gong with me too. This is really a big issue. Falun Gong distorts and utilizes Buddhism. Of course it is a cult. It takes advantage of the confusion in the qigong circle and develops itself. Folk religions like the White Lotus in the history all had one characteristic in common posing itself on a higher place than others and derogating others, the same as "conceit" in "desire, anger, ignorance, conceit, and doubt". That's really top conceit. It seems to be "Buddha conceit", but not true "Buddha conceit". Li Hongzhi utilizes the "arrogant Zen" in the Zen school and talks about breaking attachment, coinciding with some people's state of mind. That's why its development can be so nasty. The peak of "conceit" is inevitably affirming oneself and negating others, derogating and rejecting other religions. If these folk religions or newly developed religions are not given enough attention, or if no proper measures are taken, the results could be very serious. On the other hand, the "Cultural Revolution" terribly devastated the traditional culture. People's understanding and state of mind are quite in a mess, but orthodoxy religions are not propagandized effectively. That's why Falun Gong could succeed in distorting Buddhism with his seemingly right nonsense and take the place of truth with lies.

The Buddhist circle should be responsible for the lacking of effort in upholding the orthodoxy Buddhism, while some administrative departments are responsible too. If the field of belief were dominated by the evil power, its development would be a potential risk for the country.

We have much contact with the followers and are very clear about the eagerness of them to solve the problem of religious beliefs. We have studied the Report of the 15th National Congress of the CPC, so how can we uphold high the banner of building socialism with Chinese characteristics? Serious study and satisfactory solution of the question of religion is a very important aspect. I think that for the question of Falun Gong, not only the Buddhist circle should check on itself, but the relevant government departments should also check on themselves too. For the purpose of effective recollection, when we think back to the history, we should all think back to ourselves.

(Kaiwind, January 1998)

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