Chi Qi

Chi (Qi) is the most profound and fundamental concept in both ancient chigongs and Traditional Chinese Medicine. With regard to chi, it is easy to refer to the breath and to that which we breathe; thus some have translated chigong as "Breathing Exercise", which is not truly accurate. Although breath control occupies a vital position in many schools of chigong, the chi referred to in chigong is entirely different from simply that which we breathe.

In the theoretical view of classic Chinese cultures and traditional chigongs, the concept of chi embraces at least the following three implications:

a. The Life-force (Chi) in the world of nature (external or exogenous universal force, the original Primordial Life-force, or the most basic source matter in the universe).

Chi is the finest, most elemental and most rarefied source-substance constituting both the universe and all things within it. Chi is formless and invisible. Ordinary people can neither see it nor feel it, yet it nonetheless exists and fills the entire universe. "if is too vast to arrive beyond, yet too fine to penetrate into."

It was originally termed chi (qi) or Oneness (yuan), or undivided chi (yuan qi), Tao chi, Taiji or Great Oneness. The ancient Chinese believed that this invisible and formless chi was the source of all visible and physical phenomena.

In other words, all varied, complex and ceaselessly changing phenomena are the manifestations of dynamically converted chi. The birth, growth, decline, and dissolution of every existent thing is the result of the infinite transmutations of chi, and man is no exception. Wang Chong (an ancient sage) said, "Water condenses into ice, chi condenses into man."

In Zhineng Qigong science, this energy-substance is referred to as the original Hunyuan chi (the Primordial Life-force, the most basic source matter). It is very fine, homogeneous and even. It fills the entire universe and permeates all things. It is a unity and cannot be divided. It exists with neither beginning nor end. It nourishes all things in the universe and especially benefits those who are open and selfless, nature-loving, warmhearted and indifferent to either fame or gain.

b. Life-force within the human body (internal physical chi).

This is a special and invisible substance which maintains the normal functioning of the human life processes. Chi is the very basis of the human life processes. Zhang Jingyue (an ancient sage in the Ming Dynasty) said, "The life of man relies completely upon this chiIn traditional Chinese medical theory, it can be variously classified as true chi (zhen qi), vital chi (yuan qi), chi flowing in the main and collateral chi channels (jingluo qi), chi within the internal organs (zangfu qi), prenatal, inborn or innate chi (xiantian qi), postnatal chi (houtian qi), and so on, according to its distribution throughout and functioning within the human body.

In Zhineng Qigong science, the highest level of primordial energy (Hunyuan chi) in the universe, is called unity-of-consciousness chi or human brain Hunyuan chi (the chi of unified human consciousness). Some of its characteristics are similar to those of original Hunyuan chi, but it is much more complex in its composition.

In addition, the chi of unified human consciousness is volitional, that is to say, it has subjective initiative, and it can cause both original Hunyuan chi and other levels of Hunyuan chi to change and transmute themselves in various ways. One of the goals of Zhineng Qigong practice is to heighten the ability to gather and condense, and to disperse and to dissolve all levels of Hunyuan chi.

c. The interaction and transmutation between natural chi and human chi.

According to the theories of chigong, the process of human life is the process of unceasing interaction and transmutation between human chi and universal chi. If one can successfully absorb the universal chi in order to nourish the body and mind, one will appear sound and healthy; if this is not the case, then one is either in a state of illness or the process of dying. This is so because man is a part of the universal chi.

The aim of chigong practice is to strengthen this process so that man can live a better life. It can be inferred from this then that the chi in chigong refers both to the chi of the natural world and the chi of the human body.

As a specific philosophically defined category, the notion of chi is usually affirmed and defined as one of "simple materialism". It is also willingly accepted as a vague but key element at work within the human life process.

However, does chi objectively exist? Is it a substance? People may feel that presenting positive replies to these questions is neither a reliable nor credible endeavor.

Usually, the notion of chi is equally looked upon existing in the same category of such principles as the Five Elements, Yin and Yang in ancient Chinese culture, or the "Four Great Elements" (earth, water, fire, wind) in classic Indian philosophy.

These principles are regarded as the result of a simplistic process of abstraction of the objective world on the part of ancient cultures limited by incomplete knowledge, rather than as elements having real and independent existence. This is because no homologue or corresponding conceptual structure for chi can be found within the framework of modern science.

However, in reality this is not the case. Since 1978, in China, a series of experiments has been in the process of being carried out verifying the physical and biological effects of chigong external chi.

These experiments have proved that external chi not only acted upon various instruments and specimens (both organic and non-organic), but that it also caused changes in them. These visible changes were observed, but were incapable of being explained by modern scientific theories.

As we know, in the universe, only the interaction between various manifestations of a substance can cause changes in its dynamic state. Because of this, in view of genuine materialism, the existing experiments on the physical and biological effects of the external chi of chigong, while they have not been able to reveal the mystery of just what chi is, can yet convincingly prove the objective existence of chi, and also prove that chi is a kind of superfine matter. This concept is of vital importance to the present development of chigong science.

Generally speaking, the chi of chigong stems from the Chi Theory of classic Chinese philosophy. A complete and correct knowledge can be obtained only by studying chigong against the background and over the entire historical span of classic Chinese cultures.

Modern scientific experiments have proved that chi does exist, and that it is a new, subtle and primal form of matter, but this new form of matter has not yet been objectively brought to light by modern science. These two ideas are the cornerstones of Zhineng Qigong science and of all chigongs.

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