Popular Qigong and transnational Falun Gong inside and outside post-Mao China

Authored by: Scott Dalby

Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415635035
eBook ISBN: 9781315758534
Adobe ISBN: 9781317636465


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This chapter concerns Qigong and Falun Gong inside and outside post-Mao China. Qigong can be translated most basically as ‘energy exercises’. In most Western societies Qigong is primarily known within the confines of alternative health, martial arts and New-Age spirituality. However, in the People’s Republic of China Qigong was a popular national phenomenon regulated within the confines of health and science by the Chinese communist state. When one particular form of Qigong, called Falun Gong – a term meaning ‘Practice of the Dharma/Buddha Law’, 2 became a massively popular practice and subversive movement that could not be confined within the Chinese state classificatory and regulatory order it was interpreted as dangerous, violently suppressed and labelled an ‘evil cult’. The movement has now established a new headquarters in New York global city from where Falun Gong is globally contested as an authentic Chinese cultivation practice (or ‘spiritual discipline’) and a persecuted religion and human-rights issue.

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