The “End of Days”?

Are the teachings of Falun Gong filled with dark, ominous “doomsday prophecies,” as claimed by Chinese state-run media? Is there an apocalyptic bent to the practice, as a few journalists have suggested?

Certainly not, and not really.

Falun Gong’s teacher, Mr. Li Hongzhi, has been rather explicit about the idea. At the first national-scale gathering of Falun Gong practitioners in the North America, in 1998, he spoke about the issue directly, stating that the notion that the world was coming to an end was simply not accurate.

Chinese state media have ignored this fact and sought to exploit the Western public’s unfamiliarity with Falun Gong. The Party-state has banked on its ability to brand the group a “cult” and, thereby, associate it with a range of nefarious traits that the term might conjure.

What Mr. Li has described elsewhere, and might be a point of confusion for Western journalists, is the likelihood of natural disasters or plagues visiting the earth. That notion, as explained by Mr. Li, is consistent with Buddhist thought, which views the universe as a cyclical entity that passes through periods of formation, stasis, decline, and renewal.

Other writings have suggested that there will come a time when those involved in persecuting Falun Gong, or those similarly aligned with China’s communist party, will be held accountable by a higher, perhaps cosmic, authority.

Any reading of such passages needs to be contextualized, of course. Alongside these can just as readily, if not more so, be found descriptions of cosmic renewal believed to be underway.

The writings of Falun Gong believers are likewise filled with ebullient accounts of personal transformation and the promise of tomorrow. Many such persons are actively involved in new cultural explorations, and see the present as a time of artistic ferment and new beginnings.

Others buy houses, start families, aspire to new jobs, and invest their savings just as would anyone else who looked forward to the years ahead.

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