What Is Falun Dafa?
This is one of the most common questions we get. You might have seen “Dafa” mentioned in a Shen Yun song. Or maybe you saw the dance story that talks about the persecution of people who practice Falun Dafa in China, and you wanted to find out more. Or maybe you even heard or read somewhere that Shen Yun’s performers practice Falun Dafa meditation together.
So, what is Falun Dafa?
Falun Dafa is also known as Falun Gong. It is a spiritual meditation discipline that includes five exercises that look like qi gong, and teachings that revolve around the three core principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Its principal text is Zhuan Falun.
Falun Dafa has ancient roots and comes from China’s long tradition of spiritual cultivation practices. But in its current form it was only introduced to the public in 1992 and swiftly gained popularity.
You may have heard that Falun Dafa practitioners are persecuted in China today. This started in 1999, when tens of millions of people practiced Falun Dafa meditation in parks throughout China. Fearful of its popularity as an independent ideology outside its control, the Chinese Communist Party launched a nationwide persecution campaign trying to wipe it out. Still, over two decades of torture, imprisonment, and mass murder later, these spiritual-seekers in China persevere in their faith and continue to resist through nonviolence.
Falun Dafa and Shen Yun
If you were to go backstage before a Shen Yun performance, you might see dancers meditating, alone or in a group, calming their minds and resting their bodies. Both China and the West have a history of artists integrating spirituality into their work. Shen Yun’s artists follow this tradition, drawing inspiration from Falun Dafa’s teachings, discipline, and guidance.
For our performers, practicing Falun Dafa is more than just meditation. It’s a state of mind that guides daily life, oriented toward self-betterment, taking responsibility, and putting others first.
To a number of Shen Yun artists, persecution in China is not a distant human rights issue, but something they've personally experienced. We have artists who lost a parent to torture, were imprisoned themselves, and—most commonly of all—were forced to leave their home and family behind to escape China and start a new life overseas.
Shen Yun’s artistic team is bringing to stage not only the story of how innocent people in China are brutally repressed, but also the courage of their conviction and the power of their faith. If you watch the audience interviews, you see that these based-on-true-events stories are often the most inspiring, powerful, and memorable.