The practice of Falun Gong is adaptable to each person practicing it. Some people may only do the exercises in order to maintain their health, whilst others may practice in order to transform and reach a higher spiritual level.Intellectuals andjournalists have used varying phrases and words to describe the practice of Falun Gong. Within the context of China it would be described as a type of qigong or a method of ‘cultivation practice’. This is a Chinese saying to describe a person wanting to attain spiritual growth, using physical and mental methods. There are different types of cultivation practices across China including Buddhist and Daoist traditions through the ages. Cultivation methods have long been in use in China for over two thousand years. The practice of qigong can also be described as part of the cultivation tradition.
It is described rather differently by Western people who believe it to be more of a religion due to the nature of its teachings. The teachings of Falun Gong talk about transformation and spirituality with a clear moral code of practice. Some human rights organizations believe that Falun Gong suppresses the people who practice it and that it violates religious freedom. In 2001 Falun Gong received an international religious freedom award that they have somewhat rejected. This is because within China a religion is based upon long stating institutions and traditions such as Buddhism, Islam and Catholicism.Falon Gong has no temples, no places to worship and no hierarchy in place. Even so, it has long been described as a form of Chinese religion and will most likely continue to do so. Some journalists have described Falun Gong as being a sect, something which branches off from an established belief system. Whilst Falun Gong uses both Buddhist and Daoist beliefs yet it denies any direct relationship with either religion. Many sects are very exclusive and closely monitor who is allowed to join them, and also have very clear guidelines and boundaries. Falun Gong does not have strict boundaries and anyone can practice it. Other differences include the fact that those practicing Falun Gong remain part of their community and do not exclude themselves. There is no clear defined structure, it is tolerant of other belief systems and anyone is free to take part. It focuses on each individual’s personal journey and worship rather than mass worship like that of a sect or religion.