Falun Gong differentiates itself from Buddhist monastic traditions in that it places great importance on participation in the secular world. Falun Gong adherents are required to maintain regular jobs and family lives, to observe the laws of their respective governments, and are instructed not to distance themselves from society. An exemption is made for Buddhist monks and nuns, who are permitted to continue a monastic lifestyle while practicing Falun Gong.
As part of its emphasis on ethical behavior, Falun Gong's teachings prescribe a strict personal morality for practitioners, which includes abstention from smoking, drugs, gambling, premarital or extramarital sex, and homosexuality. These behaviors are said to generate negative karma, and are therefore viewed as counterproductive to the goals of the practice.
Practitioners of Falun Gong are forbidden to kill living things—including animals for the purpose of obtaining food—though it does not require the adoption of a vegetarian diet. The practice teaches against the consumption of alcohol on the basis that it is a potentially addictive attachment that can interfere with the cultivation of the body and lead to "irrationality".
Falun Gong doctrine also counsels against participation in political or social issues. Excessive interest in politics is viewed as an attachment to worldly power and influence, and Falun Gong aims for transcendence of such pursuits. According to Hu Ping, "Falun Gong deals only with purifying the individual through exercise, and does not touch on social or national concerns. It has not suggested or even intimated a model for social change. Many religions ... pursue social reform to some extent ... but there is no such tendency evident in Falun Gong."
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