Falon Gong has no real form or rigid organization. Those practicing Falun Gong may not charge money, perform healings, collect money or teach the practice to others. There is no physical place, no buildings where one can worship; there are no officials or administrators and no membership system or requirements. There are no initiation services so anyone who wants to can practice Falun Gong. People can chose to follow as little or as much of the teachings as they like and they do not pass judgment or dictate to others how to behave or what they should believe.
The only central element of Falun Gong is the founder himself, Li Hongzhi and his teachings. Branches of Falun Gong are found all over the word, andassistants volunteer their services but are afforded no special powers and cannot tell other practitioners what to do. This means that the only central part of Falun Gong is the founder Li’s spiritual and moral authority, although he does not interfere with the private lives of those practicing Falun Gong. Practitioners of Falun Gong follow Li’s teachings but they have very little or no contact with him as a person. The only practice that Falun Gong insists on is the importance of strict morality.
There is a certain amount of organization within the practice but this mainly a global network of people who largely keep in touch online. Emailing is the main communication amongst practitioners and there are large lists of websites where activities are coordinated and Li’s teachings are discussed. Outside of China there are volunteers who can be contacted, regional associations and university clubs in over seventy different countries. The teachings of Falun Gong are mainly done so online. In many cities group meditations or study groups are set up, they can exercise, meditate and study Li’s teachings together. The groups are informal and they can meet in parks or other public areas, generally in the morning for a few hours. Group study sessions normally take place in the evening and can take place in classrooms, Universities or private homes. There are those who prefer to
practice Falun Gong on their own and which is perfectly acceptable. Ifexpenses are incurred when organizing group activities the people themselves are expected to pay or certain richer people in the community may pay.
The Falun Dafa research society became a member of the China Qigong Research society in the early nineties. The CQRS oversaw the administration of China’s qigong schools and also sponsored a range of activities and lectures. Part of the rules required it to be a member of the society, which meant that Falun Gong had to have ‘branches’ across the country giving it more structure, like the CQRS itself. In the branches or centers volunteers would teach the practices of Falun Gong, would hold events and read any new literature provided by Li Hongzhi. The Falun Dafa Research Society would offer advice to practitioners on the teachings of Falun Gong such as meditation and exercises across the country. Falun Gong parted ways with the CQRS society in 1996 and because of this it came under new attack from the authorities. Their response was to create a less structured practice that was less centralized. The Falun Dafa Society disbanded in 1997, as did the local branches and centres. Those practicing Falun Gong would organize local events themselves using online communication and arrange for groups to met and exercise together.The government of China and Falun Gong themselves believe that there were nearly 2,000 ‘guidance stations’ and almost 30,000 exercise areas by 1999.
Due to the suppression Falun Gong faced in 1999 it became an underground practice and the structure became even less formal within China. Internet communication became even more vital between practitioners. During this time the authorities in China portrayed Falun Gong as being a rich organization, which was hierarchical in structure. The Chinese government wanted to show Falun Gong in this way so that their propaganda against them made sense. If they were shown to be highly organized and well funded then repressing them was well justified in order to maintain social order. There was no evidence that any of this was true, despite scrutiny and arrests made.