Spectacular Pageant Introducing a Buddhist Message

One of the more prominent, conservative news sources has taken on the sponsorship of the Shen Yun performing arts pageant. The performance is billed as a magnificent window into the culture of pre-communist China. It is also viewed as a powerful counter to the Chinese Communist regime since it does have segments dealing with Chinese violation of human rights such as China’s organ harvesting.

The pageant is an expression of the Falun Gong, a Buddhist sect that has come under severe persecution in China. But like with the Bible believers there, the persecution is only driving increasing membership. Falun Gong was introduced into China in the early 1990s and now has an estimated 100 million people practicing it.

Shen Yun is getting wide exposure in the Western World and soul winners need to be aware of the unbiblical roots of this highly acclaimed performance. It also provides a valuable opportunity to witness to someone who has been carried away with the beauty of the pageant and not aware of the connections to oriental religions.

As part of the support for the Shen Yun’s performance, the newspaper also gave a platform to the founder of Falun Gong, a Mr. Li, who explains the theology of the performance. In a lengthy article entitled How Humankind Came to Be, Mr. Li launches immediately into a dire warning that the cosmos is due for a reset, according to his view of the universe.

He is aware of this by a special “higher, closely guarded secret,” which he is about to share with everyone “to give people another chance at salvation.”

Mr. Li goes on to describe a complex cosmology involving cycles of formation and destruction, layers of “realms” populated by human beings and divine beings capped off by a Creator with a capital “C.” Part of his “secret” seems to be a prediction that we are near the end of the destruction phase of the cycle evidenced by all of the evil emerging in the world.

Somewhere in the mixture there appears to be a heaven to be gained, ostensibly by proper behavior. Here we learn a little bit more about salvation: “Salvation is a process of ascending from low to high, and so one has to start from the bottom,” which appears to be in this natural world with all of its hardships.

This is where “karma,” the Buddhist system of merit and virtue, is introduced. So, how does karma go up or down?

“Anyone who manages to stay good-natured amidst painful situations and interpersonal troubles is going to build up merit and virtue and, as a result, will achieve the elevation of his or her soul,” writes Li.

We now live in a universe that is destined for destruction because of the increase in “karma and sins.” He compares this to the Christian doctrine of original sin.

It is all summarized in the concept of reincarnation:

“Everything that happens in one’s life—whether it seems warranted or not—is, in reality, the karmic consequence of what one did in one’s past lives, for better or for worse… The reason some people lead happy lives and others do not all comes down to rewards and retribution for past deeds.”

As you can see from this small sampling, the roots of Falun Gong are firmly attached to classic Buddhism. Many are being enthralled by the Shen Yun spectacular. But if you have family members or friends that are captivated by it in a spiritual way, you need to brief yourself on Buddhism and be prepared to help them refuse the subtle spiritual influence.

At the moment, Chick Publications does not have any literature on Buddhism in stock. We have one tract called The Tycoon, but interest in the subject has been so low that we have not reprinted it recently.