The Falun’s Design
The falun is the symbol of our Falun Dafa. People with special powers can see that the falun rotates, such as those on falun pins. Our practice is guided by the cosmic qualities of zhen, shan, ren. The scope of our practice is simply enormous, since it is based on the laws governing the changing universe. The falun as illustrated at the front of our book is, in a sense, a microcosm of the universe. Buddhist thought conceptualizes the universe as a group of worlds that exist in ten directions. There are the four sides and a total of eight directions.* Some people might have seen that there is a column of energy both atop and beneath the falun. So counting these two additional directions of above and below, we have a total of ten directions upon which are built worlds—the worlds that make up the universe. This is the Buddhist concept of the universe, in simple terms.
This universe has innumerable galaxies, of course, one of which is the Milky Way. The universe as a whole is in motion, as are all the galaxies within it. And this is why the tai-chi symbols and smaller srivatsa 卍 symbols inside the falun design rotate, as do the larger srivatsa 卍 in the center and the design as a whole. So in a certain sense, [the larger srivatsa 卍] represents the Milky Way galaxy; and this Buddhist symbol is at the center since ours is a Buddhist practice. That’s how to look at the face of it. Yet, in other dimensions everything has extraordinarily diverse and intricate forms of existence, and the process by which any given thing comes into being is similarly complex. So the falun design is a miniature representation of the universe. In all other dimensions it has forms of existence as well, along with processes through which it evolves, and so I consider it a world.
When the falun turns clockwise it automatically draws in energy from the universe, and when it turns counterclockwise it sends out energy. One feature of the falun is that it benefits the person it resides in when rotating inward (clockwise), and benefits those around him when rotating outward (counterclockwise). People have asked why there are tai-chi symbols in it when ours is a Buddhist practice and tai-chi are something Daoist. The reason these are included is that what we practice is immense, and equivalent to working with the entire universe. Just consider what would happen if either of the two major systems of practice in the universe—the Buddhist and Daoist—were excluded from the falun: it wouldn’t amount to a complete universe or be appropriate to call it that. So we include something Daoist. People have asked why Christianity, Confucianism, and other faiths aren’t represented in the falun, while the Daoist system is. What I can disclose to you is that Confucian practice is considered Daoist when it reaches a really advanced stage; and many Western religions are considered Buddhist, and part of its system, at advanced stages. There are just two systems that are major.
You might be curious why there are tai-chi with red and blue in them as well as red and black, when usually the tai-chi is thought of as consisting of black and white matter, or the energies of yin and yang. But the latter is a rudimentary understanding of it, since the tai-chi displays itself in different ways across dimensions, and at the highest planes it manifests in the colors that we are using here. Daoist practice as we know it does in fact have a tai-chi made of red and black. Let me illustrate the idea that’s at work here. Some of us whose inner eyes are open have found that what appears in this dimension to be red is green in another dimension next to ours. And what appears as golden yellow here may, in another dimension, appear to be purple. So there is variation in the colors that people see, and this owes to the fact that colors differ across dimensions. The tai-chi with red and blue in it belongs to the Great Way of the Prior Heavenly Realm, which includes the Mystical Ways. The small srivatsas 卍 on the four sides are Buddhist, and, like the one in the center, belong to the Buddhist system. The falun is vivid with these colors, and so we have made this design Falun Dafa’s symbol.
The falun that some of you see via your inner eye won’t necessarily be of the same color as our symbol. The color of the background may change, though the design will not. And when your inner eye perceives the turning falun that I place at your lower abdomen, the background color might be red, purple, green, or perhaps transparent. The color regularly changes among red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. So you might see a different color from the one that our symbol has. Neither the colors nor the layout of the srivatsas 卍 and tai-chi will change, however. We liked the look of the falun symbol with the background color that you now see, and so we settled on it. There are many things that people with higher powers can see in the falun beyond this dimension.
Some people comment that the srivatsa 卍 calls to mind Hitler’s emblem. But that shouldn’t be a concern, as the symbol isn’t by nature connected with any particular group of people. Another concern I’ve heard is that if it were tilted to the side, it would be the same as Hitler’s. But that’s a non-issue since ours spins, and in two directions. The symbol came to be widely known in the world some twenty-five hundred years ago, during the time of the Buddha. By contrast, it has only been a matter of decades since Hitler and World War II, and what’s more, he usurped it. Also, his was black, unlike ours, and was used standing on end, with the tip pointing upward. We’ll leave the discussion of the falun at that. Note that I’m limiting my remarks to just its outermost form.
You might be wondering what the srivatsa 卍 represents in the Buddhist system. Regular people think of it as symbolizing fortune and happiness, but that’s a rather worldly take on it. I can disclose to you that the srivatsa 卍 indicates the level of a Buddha’s attainment; only beings who have achieved the divine status of a Buddha have it. Lesser divinities such as bodhisattvas and arhats don’t, except for the Four Great Bodhisattvas. We have seen that these eminent bodhisattvas have far surpassed the attainments of a typical Buddha, and are even higher than tathagata Buddhas. There are countless Buddhas who have surpassed the level of tathagata, which has but one srivatsa 卍. Those who achieve a level of attainment above tathagata have more srivatsas 卍. A Buddha whose status is twice as high as tathagata will have two srivatsas 卍, while those still higher may have three, four, or five, and so on. They might be so many as to cover the body, including the head, shoulders, and even knees. And when no room is left they will even appear on places like the palms of the hands, the pads of the fingers, the arches of the feet, or the pads of the toes. The number of srivatsas 卍 will keep increasing in proportion to one’s level of attainment, without end. So the srivatsa 卍 represents a divine status, with the number increasing proportionally to one’s rank.
The Mystical Ways
Alongside the Buddhist and Daoist practices there is another type known as the Mystical Ways (chi-men)—or “Mystical Practices,” to use their own term for it. It’s usually held, and has been since ancient times in China, that the Buddhist and Daoist approaches to spiritual practice are orthodox, or “proper.” The Mystical Ways, by contrast, have never been made public and their existence is known to few. At most, people may have come across them in fictional works.
This might lead some to wonder whether the Mystical Ways really do exist, when in fact, they do. During my own journey of spiritual practice—in the later years, to be specific—I encountered three accomplished members of the Mystical Ways who transmitted to me the best parts of their disciplines; what they imparted was exceptionally unique and good. And because what they have is so unique, the things gained from their practice are quite peculiar. Most people wouldn’t be able to make sense of them. Mystical Ways have been described as neither Buddhist nor Daoist, since their practice doesn’t fall into either category. And that led to their being labeled as “alternative” or “unorthodox,” while they prefer to call themselves Mystical Ways. While it might seem derogatory to call them alternative or unorthodox, it definitely doesn’t mean that people are opposed to them. People aren’t saying they are evil. Those terms don’t imply anything nefarious. Historically in China both Buddhist and Daoist practices have been called true, or central, spiritual disciplines, and so when practices such as the Mystical ones are misunderstood, they end up getting called alternative—as opposed to being completely proper or mainstream. And as for the “unorthodox” label, it was just meant to suggest “a clumsy approach.” It often had this sense in classical Chinese. So hopefully this sheds some light on the label.
There is nothing malevolent about the Mystical Ways, as they are morally strict and align their practice with the qualities of the universe. They don’t violate the features or norms of the universe, nor do anything wrong. So their practices shouldn’t be thought of as deviant. And Buddhist and Daoist practices shouldn’t be considered virtuous on account of the universe’s qualities aligning with them, but rather, vice versa: they are virtuous because they align their practice with the qualities of the universe. The Mystical Ways certainly aren’t evil if they do the same, and deserve to be called virtuous as well. What is good or evil, or virtuous or wicked, must be measured against the qualities of the universe. The Mystical Ways are virtuous and true practices in that they abide by these. The only difference is that they require different things of their adherents than do Buddhist or Daoist practices. They don’t offer their teachings to many students, and prefer to keep the scale of instruction small. Daoist practices are similar in that they will only pass on the true teachings to one student, even if many are trained. Buddhist practices, by contrast, believe in benefiting all lives and welcome whoever is willing and able to practice.
The Mystical Ways pass their teachings down to just one recipient; over a long stretch of time only one person is selected for the transmission. And for this reason what they do has never been revealed to regular people. When chi-gong was in its heyday a few years back, I observed that, naturally enough, a few people from these practices came out to teach. But their attempts to teach the public were repeatedly unsuccessful, for there were certain things that their masters strictly forbade them from divulging. When teaching to the general public, one cannot pick and choose students, and those who come to learn will include people of both good and poor character. People with all sorts of preconceived notions will come, and so it’s not possible to be selective. For this reason the Mystical Ways aren’t suitable for a wider audience. Their unique approaches would likely put students at risk if they were taught publicly.
If Buddhists aspire to become enlightened and Daoists to become perfected beings, what about those in the Mystical Ways? They will become boundless immortals who are not tied to any one specific domain in the universe, as would happen with a heavenly paradise. As you may know, the Buddha, Shakyamuni, presides over the Saha Paradise, Buddha Amitabha over the Paradise of Ultimate Bliss, and Medicine Buddha over the Lapis Lazuli Paradise, with each divine figure like these having a paradise of his or her own. Each great divinity has a heavenly kingdom of his or her own making, where many followers reside. Successful adherents of the Mystical Ways, by contrast, have no set domain in the universe and will be boundless immortals with no specific post in heaven.
Practicing an Evil Way
Practicing an evil way can assume any of several different forms. Some individuals practice evil means exclusively, and what they practice goes back for generations. What motivates them to do so is the lure of worldly things such as status, material gain, and wealth. Of course, these are people of poor character and they will not be developing higher energy. What they will get, however, is karma. One feature of karma is that if enough of it is amassed, it forms into a type of energy; yet this type of energy is nothing to speak of, and no match for the energy of practitioners. But it will be able to exercise power over regular people, since it is a form of energy and can strengthen the powers of the body if its density grows high. This is why people have passed these practices down through the ages. Adherents claim that they can develop energy by doing bad deeds and verbally abusing people. But they can’t. What they are doing is increasing the density of their black matter, or karma, through wrongful things. So they can, in effect, strengthen and develop the lesser powers of the body by way of karma, but those powers don’t amount to much. So they’re mistaken in thinking that they can develop true energy by doing wrongful things.
While it’s been said that “evil is more powerful than good,” that is a harmful secular view. The Devil’s powers will never surpass those of the Way. Some background is in order. The universe known to man is but one small universe among countless ones, and we just call it “the universe” for simplicity’s sake. Each time this universe has passed through a great number of ages, a cataclysm of cosmic proportions has visited it and destroyed everything in its wake, including planets and all life. The motion of the universe follows a set pattern, and in this current cycle more than just humanity has turned bad. Many lives have now observed that it has been a long time since the last explosion occurred in this dimension of the universe. Astronomers today can’t observe the last explosion because what’s seen with the most powerful telescopes today are events that are one hundred and fifty thousand light years removed. Not until an equal number of light years are spanned will the changes currently happening in the universe be visible here.
The entire universe has undergone immense changes as of now. Past changes of this scale have always spelled complete destruction for all life throughout the universe. In each instance, all of the universe’s traits and material elements were to be obliterated by explosion, with nothing remaining and lives across the board perishing. However, in each instance the explosion has not been total. So whenever divine ones of an extraordinarily high realm have constructed the universe anew, there have always been certain beings that were present in the universe already, as a vestige from the past. Yet the new universe that the divine ones were remaking would be done according to their own traits and criteria, which were different from those of the past.
The beings that didn’t perish in these explosions would bring with them into the new universe the traits and ways of operating that they knew from the last. However, the newly formed universe would be governed by the traits and laws of the new universe. And so the beings that carried over from before would serve as evil that hindered the operations of the new universe. Such beings are not outright evil, however, since it’s simply that they embody the traits of the previous universe. They have been known as dark forces. They don’t pose a threat to regular people and certainly wouldn’t harm them; the issue is simply that they hold fast to the old ways of doing things. This is something that ordinary people were previously forbidden to know. I would say that those entities are nothing really, and pale in comparison to the many divine beings in the heavens far above, beyond the tathagata level. Aging, sickness, and death are also kinds of dark beings, though they exist in order to uphold the nature of the universe.
Buddhist teachings on the transmigration of souls mention what are called asura. Asura are really just creatures of another dimension that don’t have the innate nature man does. They are exceedingly low in level and powerless in the eyes of the greater divine beings, but to ordinary people would seem terrifying. They carry a certain amount of energy and consider humans to be beasts, and so they delight in feeding upon them. In recent years some have come out to teach energy practices. But they are nothing, and don’t even have a human appearance. They look frightening. When a person learns their things he inevitably crosses over to where they are and becomes one of them. When some people do energy practices their thoughts aren’t right, and those entities might, if the thoughts agree with them, come over to teach these individuals. But as it’s said, “Good is a far greater force than evil.” No one will tamper with you unless you have bad motives. But if you do harbor bad intentions they will come to assist you, and you may end up heading toward the dark side.
Another phenomenon is what’s known as unknowingly practicing evil, and it refers to instances of people practicing in an evil manner without realizing it. This is something extremely common and far too widespread. It relates to what I said the other day about many people having inappropriate thoughts in mind while practicing. You might see someone who by all appearances is practicing hard, holding some special posture, arms and legs shaking from fatigue, but his mind might be elsewhere. That person might be anxiously thinking about needing to make some purchase or other before prices go up, for example. Or he might be worried about getting passed over for housing, which his company is allotting, due to the person in charge having personal grievances with him. And he will only get more worked up as he dwells on it further, thinking it’ll surely go wrong, and he might even start calculating how to challenge the person on it. The mind could go anywhere, from family matters to national concerns, with some things even triggering anger.
Virtue has to be a priority with any energy practice. If you aren’t having good thoughts as you practice, at least you shouldn’t have bad thoughts. Having no thoughts at all is best, because certain foundations have to be laid in the beginning stages of practice and will play a critical role later on, and one’s mind does exert a certain effect. If you are mixing things into your energy as you practice, could what you’re developing be good? Wouldn’t it be dark? Yet few people are free of this problem. Most never stop to consider why they don’t enjoy good health even after practicing at length. In other cases people might not be thinking bad thoughts as they practice, but they are always wanting to gain psychic powers or other things as they practice, with strong longings and inappropriate mindsets. That in fact amounts to practicing evil unknowingly. But they won’t want to hear it if you point it out since they are convinced that all’s well since they learned from some master or other. But he might have told them the importance of being virtuous, which they didn’t take to heart. So, little good will come of their practice if they are always adding in bad thoughts. It would amount to practicing evil unknowingly. This is something quite common.
Tantric Union Practices
There are methods of Tantric practice that are referred to as “union practices.” You may have seen Tibetan Buddhist statues or paintings depicting a male and female figure conjoining as a means of practice. In some cases the male figure has the look of a Buddha and will be embracing a woman who is unclothed; in others the figures are transformations of Buddhas, such as warrior deities with oxen or horse heads, which are similarly embracing an unclothed female figure. If we’re to make sense of this we have to delve into a few things first. Centuries ago in the ancient past, humanity’s moral values were more or less the same throughout the world; the conservative values seen in China weren’t simply the result of Confucian influence. This suggests that the practices of Tantric union didn’t in fact originate here on this earth, but came from another planet. The method can indeed serve as a component of spiritual practice, however. When the method was transmitted to China at one time, people weren’t receptive to it on account of its having men and women conjoined in practice, as well as its having secretive components. And so it was abolished by the emperor during the Hui Chang era of the Tang Dynasty. It was forbidden from being taught in the interior of China. At that time it was referred to as Tang Esoterica. But it has been passed down ever since in the unique setting of Tibet. Then how does it serve a spiritual purpose, you might be wondering? Tantric union practices strive to achieve a balance of yin and yang by gathering yin to supplement yang and vice versa, through mutual supplementation and refinement.
As you might know, both Buddhist and Daoist thought hold that the human body innately has both yin and yang; this is especially apparent in the Daoist concept of yin-yang. And it is the presence of both yin and yang in the body that makes it possible for you to develop higher powers, an angelic body, cherubs, spiritual bodies, and other supernatural beings. Yin and yang are what make these possible with spiritual practice; this holds true for the male as well as the female body. These supernatural beings can be generated in the energy center of either gender’s body. So the Buddhist and Daoist views on yin and yang in the body make plenty of sense. Daoist practice often regards the upper half of the body as yang and lower as yin; some regard the back of the body as yang and front as yin; and others regard the left side of the body as yang and right as yin. So this is where the Chinese saying about “man left, woman right” comes from, and there is merit to it. Because the human body naturally has both yin and yang, the body can, through the interplay of yin and yang, achieve a state of yin-yang balance and generate an abundance of supernatural beings.
This tells us, then, that we can progress to great spiritual heights without adopting Tantric union practices. What’s more, using them runs the risk of falling prey to evil and lapsing into a dark practice, if it’s not handled well. These practices are normally used by a monk or lama only at a very advanced stage of Esoteric Buddhist practice, and so he will be spiritually accomplished; and he will be guided through the practice by a master. And because this individual’s mind will be virtuous, he will be solid and able to handle it well, and not succumb to evil. By contrast, someone who is not very spiritually developed has no business using it, as he would surely fall prey to evil. His character wouldn’t suffice. He would still have worldly, covetous thoughts along with sexual desire, and that would be the plane on which he dwelled. So it would be sure to turn out evil. This is why I believe it’s devious to teach such things to those who are still not very far along in their practice.
A number of teachers of energy practices have been teaching Tantric union in recent years. And oddly, it’s seen in Daoist practice too; and this isn’t just a recent development, but goes back many centuries to the Tang Dynasty. Yet it makes no sense for Daoist practice to go in for Tantric union. The Daoist theory of tai-chi holds that the body is a microcosm of the universe and naturally endowed with both yin and yang. Any true spiritual teaching that has been authentically transmitted will have been passed down from a distant age. Any casual alteration or anything that’s arbitrarily introduced into it will compromise its practice and make the goal of spiritual perfection no longer attainable. So under no circumstance should you do Tantric union practices if they aren’t part of the discipline you follow. Doing so would take you astray and lead to problems. This very much applies to anyone who does Falun Dafa. We don’t have Tantric union practices or anything like them. So now you know our take on this.
Practice for Both Mind and Body
Practice for both mind and body is something I’ve touched upon. It occurs when the spiritual practice that you do works on both your mind as well as your physical body, such that your body changes from its core. With this process your cells will be gradually replaced by high-energy matter, and the aging process slowed. Your body will show signs of changing and reverting to a more youthful state, incrementally, until in the end the material of your body will have been replaced entirely by high-energy matter, and your body will no longer consist of the same material it once did. It will be the kind of body I was describing earlier, which has transcended and been freed of the five elements. It will be a body that is truly immortal.
The practice done in Buddhist monastic settings deals solely with the mind and doesn’t make use of physical techniques or work on the body. Instead, the focal point is an approach taught by the Buddha, called nirvana. His practice was profound, in fact, and he was fully capable of transforming his innate body into high-energy matter and taking it with him after death. But as an example to others, he opted instead to enter into nirvana, wherein the body is left here. He decided upon this approach in order to help people abandon attachments to the utmost extent, giving up everything—including even their own bodies, ultimately. All attachments were to go. So he opted for nirvana in order to help his followers become as detached as possible, and so successive generations of monks have gone the same route. With nirvana, the monk’s physical body is cast off with his passing while his soul ascends and carries forth his energy.
In Daoist practice the emphasis is on developing the body. They are selective about students and don’t try to save all lives, so those whom they deal with are excellent and outstanding persons, and can be taught magical skills and how to spiritually transform the body. In Buddhist practice, by contrast, those approaches generally can’t be taught. This is especially so for religious Buddhism. Not all Buddhist practices shun such methods, though. There are a number of profound, great Buddhist practices that do use them. Our discipline is one example. In Falun Dafa the innate body and angelic body, which are two different things, are both desirable. The latter is also a physical body, one composed of high-energy matter, though it’s not something that can be freely revealed in this dimension. It’s necessary to have an innate body, as we do, if you are to maintain a normal human appearance in this dimension. So you will still look about the same as a regular person after your innate body has changed, since your body’s molecular configuration will be the same; it’s only that your cells will have been replaced by high-energy matter. But your body will be different from a regular person’s, as yours will be able to cross over into other dimensions.
By doing a practice for both mind and body, you will gain a youthful appearance and look much younger than your years. I was once approached by a practitioner who asked me to guess her age. I would have thought she was in her forties, when it turned out she was almost seventy. With no wrinkles, a glowing complexion, and a rosiness to her skin, she hardly looked like someone approaching seventy. Changes like that are likely to happen when you practice Falun Dafa. If I’m allowed to tease a little, I’d say that young women will naturally achieve the beautiful skin tone they’re always after, provided they sincerely do mind-body practice—and without needing to go to the lengths they once did. I’ll leave it at that. People used to consider me young since it was mostly older people who made up China’s workforce. Things are better now, with more younger professionals out there. And I’m not young anymore myself, in fact. I am now forty-three and quickly approaching fifty.
Have you ever wondered why it is that some religious images seem to radiate energy? Few people can explain it. Some offer that it stems from monks having chanted scriptures before these images, or in other words, from their having engaged in spiritual practice facing them. But when a monk or anyone else practices, the energy that’s emitted is dispersed rather than directed at one spot. There should be even and equal amounts of energy over the floor, ceiling, and walls of the place of worship. So it doesn’t explain why only the images give off such strong energy. Much less does it shed light on why many religious statues found deep in the mountains, in certain caves, or carved into natural edifices exude energy. Many interpretations have been offered as to why this is, yet none have hit the mark. The real reason for the energy on those statues is the presence of a divine being’s spiritual body (fa-shen). The statues have energy because a spiritual body is present.
We can begin to understand how spiritual bodies come into being if we stop and consider that well-known divinities [who have these], such as the Buddha or Guan Yin, must have once upon a time been regular practitioners themselves. They would have formed them, as people do, when their spiritual development reached a certain height beyond the human realm. Spiritual bodies are generated in the body’s energy center and are formed from the Way as well as from higher energy. They materialize in other dimensions. A spiritual body is endowed with the original person’s considerable powers, yet its consciousness or thoughts will be dictated by the person’s main body. That said, a spiritual body is in fact a complete, independent, fully bona fide life in its own right, and so it can do anything on its own. Its actions will be consistent with, and even identical to, whatever the person’s conscious mind would want done. The spiritual bodies will do things however the person himself would if he were to do them. So this is what we refer to as a spiritual body. Whatever I wish to have done—such as mending the bodies of sincere practitioners—will be carried out by my spiritual bodies. Bodies like these have to materialize in other dimensions since they aren’t equipped with a regular human body. These supernatural beings are not fixed and unchanging, but can expand and contract. In some instances one of them might become so large that not even all of its head is visible, while at other times it might become so small as to be tinier than a cell.
The Blessing of Sacred Images
A religious statue fresh out of the factory is merely a piece of art. And so sacred images are often formally blessed in order to invite the spiritual body of the divine one they represent to reside on them. And thereafter the statues can serve as tangible representations of that being for people to worship. The spiritual body will provide sincere believers who worship these statues with protection and look after them as they go about their practice. This is what the blessing of images is meant to accomplish. But the ritual that’s involved will only achieve its intent if the person doing it has virtuous thoughts; if divine ones of higher planes are involved; or if it’s done by someone who is spiritually accomplished and has the powers for it.
In Buddhist temples it’s commonly held that Buddha statues will have no power if they don’t first go through this kind of procedure, which is referred to as “image consecration” in Asia. There are few monks still alive today in temples who have a mastery of the Buddhist teachings. In the wake of China’s Cultural Revolution and its destruction, junior monks who were never fully initiated into the teachings have since become abbots. Much of what was once transmitted has been lost. If you ask them what consecration is for, they will say that the statue has power afterwards, but they can’t really explain what that means in concrete terms. So they are merely holding a ceremony in that case, and what they call consecration only amounts to placing a small piece of paper with scripture on it inside of a statue, sealing it up with paper, and then chanting to it. But does it serve the purpose that consecration is meant to? It depends on how they do the chanting. The Buddha taught about “right mindfulness” and that recitation of scriptures must be done with a focused mind, free of distraction, and only then will one’s words have resonance in the paradise connected to one’s practice. And that’s what it takes to summon a divine being. Unless one of his or her spiritual bodies engages the image, the objective of consecration won’t be met.
It happens that some monastics or religious figures may be preoccupied as they recite scripture at a consecration ceremony, thinking about how much they will be paid for it afterwards. Or they might be mulling over how someone has wronged them, since now there’s even infighting in monastic settings. There is no denying that these things are happening now, in these latter days. My point here isn’t to criticize religions, but to say that certain religious settings simply aren’t pure in this age. And as you might imagine, a consecration ceremony won’t achieve its purpose if the minds of those involved are preoccupied with worldly and inappropriate thoughts, and these are what they’re projecting; the ceremony will fail to summon a divine being. But that said, there are still some monasteries and religious settings that are good, even if they are rare.
In one city I observed a Buddhist monk doing a consecration procedure whose hands were as dark as coal. He would stuff a scripture into the hollow interior of the statue, seal it up, mutter a few words, and then pronounce the consecration complete. He would then grab the next statue, mutter for a moment or two, and make forty more dollars for another consecration. And monks now even treat it as a kind of enterprise, gaining wealth by consecrating images. But I could tell at a glance that the procedure hadn’t achieved what it should have, as the monk involved really didn’t have the powers needed. Yet monks are now going in for such things. I have seen other surprising things as well. At one Buddhist temple I observed a man who looked like a lay follower. He claimed that he was doing consecration for the Buddha statue there. He had a mirror in hand and was angling it to reflect the sun’s light upon the body of the image. And he claimed that by doing so, he was performing a consecration.* So it has reached the point of absurdity. Yet things like this are quite widespread, with Buddhism being what it is today.
There is a giant bronze Buddha statue installed on Lantau Island, in Hong Kong, that was made in Nanjing city. It’s an enormous statue. At the time of its inauguration a large number of monks assembled from around the world to partake in its consecration. Someone there was holding up a mirror angled toward the sun, trying to reflect its light onto the statue’s face, thinking that this would consecrate it. To see something like that transpire at such a sacred gathering, on such a solemn occasion, was really tragic. But the Buddha did say that it would be hard for even monks to ensure their own salvation in the latter days, let alone save others. Things are in turmoil now, with many monks interpreting the scriptures in light of their own, limited perspectives, and with non-Buddhist scriptures having made their way into the temples. It should be noted, of course, that there are monks who are sincere about spiritual practice and quite good. So consecration is ultimately about inviting a divine being’s spiritual body to reside on a religious image, and when that happens it is successful.
A religious statue that hasn’t been successfully consecrated or blessed should not be worshipped, as doing so can have serious consequences. Recent scientific research can help us to understand why. Researchers have found that a person’s thoughts, or the ideas in his brain, can generate something material. And we do find thoughts to have material form when we look upon them from higher planes, though the form we’re referring to shouldn’t be mistaken for the “brain waves” that research has uncovered; rather, this material assumes the form of a complete human brain. Normally, any brain-shaped material that a regular person emanates while thinking will dissipate before long, since his or her thoughts don’t have energy behind them. But the material will last much longer in the case of practitioners, owing to their energy. So bringing this back to the topic of religious statues, we shouldn’t expect them to have the faculty of thought at the time of their production. A statue won’t if it hasn’t gone through the procedure of consecration, and been through a successful one, at that—even if it took place in a religious setting. And if the procedure was done by a false master or someone involved in the dark arts, then it’s worse [than nothing being done at all], and dangerous, since a fox or a weasel might get on the statue.
This means that significant danger is posed by venerating unconsecrated images. I’ll give you a sense for just how dangerous it is. I have indicated that humanity has been declining in every regard in recent times, and everything about this world as well as the universe has been declining in turn. People are reaping what they have sown. True, virtuous teachings or practices are hard to find. Obstacles of every sort await those who try to find them. And even simply praying to one’s god might go wrong, since people have no idea whether what’s on the statue or icon they’re praying to is the entity they intend. So things are really complicated now. I can explain why, for anyone in doubt. Things go downhill quickly when people start praying to an unconsecrated statue, since few today do so for the salvation of their souls. Most pray in hopes of lessening the adversity in their lives or making out better financially. But there is no scriptural basis for prayers and longings like those.
When someone seeks financial help and bows before an image of the Buddha, his god, or a holy being, and prays for monetary support, lo and behold, a complete thought forms and issues forth. And it will land right on the statue, since it was directed toward it. The form of the statue in other dimensions can expand or shrink. So after the person’s thought rests on the statue, the statue will come to have a brain and the ability to think, though not yet a body. The prayers from others that follow provide it with a certain amount of energy. And if it is practitioners doing this, the danger is all the greater, for the statue will receive their energy right from the outset, and it will form into a tangible body in another dimension. That body will reside in another realm and know the workings of the universe to some extent. And so it will have the power to do things that help people, and it can develop some amount of energy. But whatever it does for people comes with conditions attached, or at a price. It moves about freely in another dimension and can readily control ordinary people. But its appearance will be identical to the statue from which it arose. So although you might have a vision of what appears to be a holy being, and it might look just like the image you prayed to, it would be a false entity and the product of worship or prayers. The minds of false entities like these will be terrible and think only of money. Yet they won’t attempt to do anything gravely wrong, since they were born in another dimension, have the faculty of thought, and know to some extent how the laws of the universe work. They will, however, venture to do bad things of a lesser degree. And sometimes they will help people, for if they didn’t make such gestures they would be purely evil and be slain. But just consider what kind of “help” they offer. Suppose someone prays before a sacred image, asking for an ailing family member to be healed. Very well, then—that bad entity will lend a hand. It will have you put money into the donation tray beside it, since money is what’s on its mind. And the more money you offer, the faster it will make your family member recover. From another dimension it can impact an ordinary person using the energy that it has. The stakes are even greater if someone with higher energy prays to that entity. Of course, it should go without saying that someone dedicated to spiritual practice has no business praying to get things, let alone asking for money. And yet some do. Even just praying for your family’s well-being is considered an emotional attachment to them. As much as you might want to positively influence someone’s life, you have to understand that everyone has his or her own fate. If you pray to a false entity and ask for financial blessings, it will respond by helping you. It is all too eager to see you asking for more money. It can take more from you in exchange, in that case. And it’s a fair trade. So it will let you have some of the money that people put into the donation tray, since there is plenty there. It might play out as your stumbling upon a wallet or handbag as you walk down the street, or getting a bonus at work. It will try all avenues to get you money. But it comes at a cost. Nothing is to be had for free, after all. And so it will snatch a portion of your energy cluster, if that’s what your practice generates, or your energy, since it lacks these and wants them.
These false entities can be quite dangerous. Many who are involved in spiritual practice and whose inner eyes have been opened believe that they have seen higher beings. Some have claimed that groups of them have come to their temples, with one named something-or-other leading the groups. And they described how they were visited frequently by them, with one group coming one day and then another the next, and so on. So what was going on? These belong to the category I’ve been describing. They were not true holy beings, but false ones. A considerable number fall into this category.
What I’ve described is all the more dangerous if it unfolds in a religious community, as that entity will take charge of the monks who venerate it. And it would have grounds for doing so, since they would clearly be praying to it. And so it would watch over them and direct their practice. But where would these monks go even if they did manage to complete their spiritual journey under it? No deities above would welcome them, since they would have been under this lower entity’s guidance and would belong to it. So the monks’ efforts would be for naught. It is terribly hard now for people to gain true divine standing through spiritual practice. The phenomenon I just described is quite common. While many people have thought that they saw a divine light or presence in well-known mountains and river valleys, the majority of it came from these false entities, since they have energy and can cause apparitions. True divine beings, by contrast, would not reveal themselves so readily.
At one time there were fewer of these false entities, whereas now there are many. Any wrongful acts that they commit will result in their being slain by those above. But they may manage to elude the retribution by taking refuge on a religious image. Higher divinities won’t generally intervene in the affairs of the world without good reason. The higher a being’s realm, the less likely it is to disrupt the affairs of the secular world, and it will try to avoid any intrusions altogether. So they generally wouldn’t do anything radical like destroying the statue that harbors such an entity with a lightning bolt, and so it’s ignored. And those entities know to flee when their execution is imminent. This means that there is no telling whether the apparition that someone sees is real.
This might raise for many of you the question of what to do with any religious statues or images that might be in your homes. A number of you may have thought of asking me for help. I want to help anyone learning our practice, so you can handle it as follows. While holding my book (since it contains my photo) or a photo of me, hold the statue or image and form the mudra known as greater lotus. Then, just as if I were really present, you can simply request that I bless or consecrate it for you, and it will be done in a matter of seconds. But I should add that this only works for our practitioners. Trying to do this on behalf of your friends or family won’t work, for I only look after our practitioners. Some people claim that you can ward off evil for friends or family by placing my picture in their homes, but I am not going to do so for non-practitioners. Your doing that is about the most disrespectful thing you could do to your teacher.
Having talked about false apparitions, there is something else to address. Many people in ancient China did spiritual practice deep in the mountains or woods, though it seems that few still do. But that’s not the case. Rather, it’s that they keep from being seen by regular people; their numbers haven’t dwindled at all. They have higher powers at their disposal that can keep them veiled. It’s not that they are no longer around. They are still there. There are thousands in the world today, with China having relatively more. Their population is greater in the famous mountains and valleys there, and they can be found on some of the higher peaks as well. They use their powers to seal up the entrances to their caves so that no one can see them. Their practice is rather slow and their methods somewhat inefficient, since they haven’t understood the keys to spiritual development. By contrast, we focus directly on the mind and base our practice on the highest qualities, or way, of the universe. So our energy naturally develops quite fast. The methods of spiritual practice can be thought of as having a pyramid-like shape, with only the center axis being the main avenue. Those practicing on the side paths, or in lesser ways, might have all of their powers released even though their character isn’t necessarily that elevated or their spiritual progress that advanced. But such approaches are far inferior to the main path of true practice.
The teachers of the lesser ways also pass down their teachings and have disciples. There are limits to how far one can progress in those disciplines or to what extent they can change one’s character, so the spiritual development of their followers is necessarily limited. The further from the main path that a lesser, worldly practice is, the more elaborate its theories will be and the more complicated its methods, since it hasn’t understood the keys to spiritual progress. They haven’t grasped that the mind is what matters most in spiritual practice, and instead believe that progress can be made just by enduring hardships. So it takes them years of prolonged practice, even hundreds or thousands, to gain even just a little bit of higher energy. But the fruits of their practice are not in fact the result of hardships. Rather, they stem from the wearing away of attachments over all those strenuous years, similar to how the passions of youth naturally fade with age and the passing of one’s dreams. So while followers of lesser paths may find that they can develop higher energy via meditation, concentration, and hardship as they make strides in their practice, what they don’t realize is that it comes from the removal of their attachments. And this is something that’s happening only slowly, by wearing them out over the course of many long and grueling years.
Our practice has a well-defined focus. It really makes your attachments evident and sees to it that they are removed. This accelerates your spiritual development. While traveling I have often run into people like I was describing, who have practiced for many years. They would tell me that nobody has realized that they are there, and that they wouldn’t intervene in or try to disrupt what I’m doing. They could be considered relatively good.
There have been bad ones as well, however, and these we have had to deal with. One example stems from when I went to Guizhou province to teach the practice for the first time. Someone approached me right in the middle of my class, stating that he was the student of someone who studies under such-and-such master, and that this master had practiced for a great many years and wanted to see me. I looked and saw that this person carried awful yin energy, which gave him a sallow complexion. I declined his request by saying that I didn’t have time to meet with the master. This made the master upset, and so he started to meddle with me, making trouble day after day. I don’t have any interest in contesting with others, and there was no need to. So whenever he sent bad things my way I would simply clear them out and go back to giving my teaching.
Back a few centuries ago, during the Ming Dynasty, there was a person who became possessed by a snake during his time practicing. He eventually passed away without succeeding at his practice. At that point the snake took over his body and assumed a human form. And this “master” who wanted to see me was none other than that snake-in-human-form. As he was still the same creature essentially, he changed back into a large snake and began meddling with me. It really went too far, so I clasped it in my hand and used an extremely powerful type of energy, called “dissolving energy,” to dissolve the lower part of its body and reduce it to water. After that its upper body slithered back home.
One day, the female volunteer who ran the Falun Dafa center in Guizhou was also sought out by someone whose teacher studied with that snake, claiming that their master wished to see her. And so she went. Everything was pitch black when she entered the cave where their master resided. She could only make out a silhouette sitting inside, with green light emanating from a pair of eyes. The cave would light up when the eyes opened and go dark when they closed. The shadowy figure said in a local dialect, “Li Hongzhi will be returning. Next time none of us will do those things that we did. That was wrong. Li Hongzhi has come to save people.” His student’s follower interjected, “Grandmaster, are you able to stand? What’s happened to your legs?” He responded, “I can no longer stand because my legs were injured.” He was asked what had happened to them, and so he recounted how he had made trouble for us and the consequences that followed. But then the following year, in 1993 at the Asian Health Expo in Beijing, he again started trouble with me. At that point I destroyed the snake completely since it was always doing evil and trying to disrupt my teaching of Dafa. After I did so, people from the same discipline, old and young alike, male as well as female, wanted to take action against me. I then said a few words to them that startled and frightened them. They abandoned their plans for revenge upon learning what had happened. Some of them were no different from worldly, ordinary people, even after having practiced for so long. So this is just to share a few incidents while on the topic of consecration.
Occult healing is something that many spiritual teachers instruct their students in, since they regard it as a spiritual art. But it shouldn’t be seen as part of spiritual practice. It is more akin to a kind of secret trick, incantation, or technique that’s passed on. The forms it assumes, such as making talismans, burning incense, burning paper effigies, or chanting spells, do have the ability to heal, and its approach to healing is rather unique. Consider how a boil on the face might be treated, for example. A practitioner of these arts will dip a brush in cinnabar ink and draw a circle on the ground, which he then makes an “X” inside of. The person with the boil will be asked to stand in the middle of the circle while the practitioner begins to chant a spell. Then he dips the brush in the cinnabar ink again, and this time draws a circle on the person’s face. He chants a spell while drawing, and keeps going like this until he finally makes a dot on the boil. At that point he will be finished chanting, and will declare that the boil is healed. When the person touches his face to check, he will indeed find that it has shrunk and no longer hurts. So it worked. Minor ailments can be treated, though not major ones. Another example might be a treatment for an aching arm. The occult practitioner will begin chanting a spell and ask that the person extend her arm. He will then blow a puff of air into the Union Valley acupoint of the hand that’s extended, and have it exit the person’s body via the same point of her other hand. She will feel a breeze go through her, and then find that her arm is no longer sore to the touch like it was before. Other methods include burning paper effigies, making talismans, and putting up protective charms.
The lesser Daoist practices of the secular world don’t teach about the spiritual development of the body. They just concern themselves with things like fortune-telling, feng-shui, warding off evil, and healing. Occult healing is common to them. While occult techniques can heal, the methods used are not by any means good. But I am not going to spell out exactly how it is that they heal. Followers of Falun Dafa shouldn’t use those techniques, for the energy involved is both low and bad. In ancient China healing methods were categorized into different divisions, such as bone setting, acupuncture, massage, naprapathy, acupressure, energy healing, herbal medicine, and so on, with many categories. Each method of healing was referred to as a “division.” The occult healing that we’ve discussed here was categorized as the thirteenth division, and so its full designation was “occult healing, the thirteenth division.” Occult healing doesn’t belong in our spiritual practice. Its powers don’t come from the energy born of spiritual practice, but rather, by way of magical arts.