In recent years, Chinese scientists have become fascinated with the phenomenon of Qi (chi) which achieved masters have known about for thousands of years.
In an article Qi and Life I have already attempted to explain the concept of Qi from a medical energetics perspective. Here we can look at the biomedical and practical aspects as it relates to the function of Qi pertinent to the healing profession. Qi is the energy of nature that also exists in the human body. A practitioner of chi gong, which is the study and mastery of chi, learns to use the mind to guide the chi to accomplish specific goals such as improved health. This mental guidance or imagery is carried by the chi to different locations in the body. For example, when a chi gong expert treats a patient, he can cause a change in the body’s chemistry and make a paralyzed leg move. This can happen regardless of whether or not the patient believes that it can work. Is it possible then that the chi emitted by the practitioner causes not just physical but an intelligent response from the recipient’s body?
Recently in China, trained researchers and physicists have been doing a lot of research in the area of chi. “What is chi?” is the question they are trying to answer. The emission of chi by chi gong experts has been measured and documented. Numerous experiments were conducted which demonstrated that chi, as measured from a person’s hands, consists of various frequencies of near infrared radiation, electromagnetic fields, heat, light and micro-particles. The chi was measured while being emitted and projected from accomplished chi masters. When measured on an instrument, they found that this emission differed slightly in wave patterns from one master to another.
While attempting to identify and detect chi, scientists have concluded that this it contains two aspects:
1) An informational message.
2) The substance/carrier of this information.
An example is easily illustrated by the transmission of images or data over telephone lines, where on the receiving end, an instrument interprets signals that are merely different impulses or waves back into data and images. So the carrier is the electrical or light impulse and waves and the information is the variation of these impulses and waves that were purposely programmed at the beginning of transmission.
The scientific speculation that chi is composed of these two aspects and that it circulates through the human body is a different way of explaining the ancient concept of energy circulation and its effects on specific organs and parts of the body. Those of you who are trying to intellectualize and understand the composition of chi may find this helpful.
In the West, recent works by pioneers in the field of psychobiological science have led to the postulation that emotion can be stored in different parts of bodily tissues, muscles and fat. Thus when considering the concept of chi, it can be understood that when a person loses pounds of fat, he or she might start re-experiencing some trauma experienced in the past. Also, specialized body work such as deep tissue massage can elicit an emotional response such as sadness or fear, or placing acupuncture needles on certain points can bring recall of a scene from a dramatic situation, for example a childhood trauma 30 years ago.
Chi is All-Encompassing
Let me explain the concept of chi. I do not want you to limit your mind to thinking about chi as only being present in chi gong exercises, Eight Treasures and other internal arts. Thought is a manifestation of chi, emotion is chi and action is chi. The cultivation of chi is very broad and should not be conceptually limited to physical health practices.
This broader concept of chi is very exciting. What you are cultivating is something that not only benefits you in terms of health but will also benefit you at much deeper levels of your psyche and spirit. Practitioners of the Integral Way seek to eventually achieve oneness with universal being. This can be accomplished by changing yourself internally if you have the ability to maintain the flow of chi.
Have you ever wondered how people can be healed by chi gong healing, acupuncture treatments or laying-on of hands? Acupuncture needles are consciously applied to reorganize the chi of a patient’s body, or a healer’s hands can emit chi. In either case, the physiological chi brings healing to the diseased or unbalanced person through a conscious programmed message from the practitioner.
In our daily lives, we witness the power of our own minds to make things happen by affecting chi. One example is changing our body functions, as in biofeedback. So then, if you are well versed and disciplined in the mastery of chi, would it not be conceivable that you can begin to work on naturally changing this energy? It is not only possible, it has been done by the developed ones in the high mountains of China.
What does “maintain the flow of chi” mean? It metaphorically describes internal energy circulation. It means being connected and in synchrony with all elements inside your being and with all things outside of your being. It takes you to a state of oneness. Oneness or integralness of life is a hard concept to grasp; it means “not separate,” or “to become the universe.” In time, through spiritual evolution, you become aware that you can go on in continual, never-ending life, just like the perpetual motion of the universe. Your body, which consists of chi, shen (spirit) and jing3 (essence), will continue to function naturally so you can become one with the universe, as the ancient developed ones described.
Have you wondered how ancient masters could know what was happening in the world without leaving their mountain retreat? From a modern scientific point of view, this is impossible because of the lack of physical communication. Yet in ancient times, achieved masters who practiced special cultivation could know who was going to appear at their door and what was happening in the world.
Chi, shen and jing are interrelated. The function of the shen is to guide one’s life. Without shen, the chi will lose all sense of direction. Chi can be developed from the jing, and the refinement of chi also supports shen.
Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Chi
Each person needs both pre-natal and post-natal chi (energy) to survive. We are born with pre-natal or ancestral chi, which is sometimes called pre-Heaven chi, or xian tien zhi chi in Chinese. Pre-natal chi encompasses jing, matter, and potential. Jing is the substantive essence that you inherit that determines your intellectual and physical potential. From the western point of view, jing could be equated with genetics. Pre-natal chi originates through the union of the sperm and egg; it comes from our parents and from heavenly and earthly energies. From the ancient point of view, how much reproductive potential and essence you have depends upon how much jing you have. Jing is stored energy in the body; specifically, it is stored in the kidneys.
The common view holds that jing cannot be replenished if it becomes lost or weakened. The masters, however, believe that jing can be replenished as well as refined through the internal arts of cultivation. Such activity slows the aging process and results in longevity. Our interest in practicing the Eight Treasures is to change and refine jing.
For example, if you are bald due to a genetic tendency, you were genetically programmed to be bald. However, according to ancient masters, certain genetic programming can be changed by refining your pre-natal chi. Different levels of attainment require different levels of dedication and practice. There were many instances in history where practitioners over 70 years of age replaced an old set of teeth with new teeth by cultivation. You may wonder how long you would have to practice the Eight Treasures every day before you could start to change your genetic destiny. No general estimate is available; however, with persistence, anything is possible as long as the environment supports the change. This is a personal challenge.
The Eight Treasures does not claim to cure baldness or grow new teeth, but it will improve your health and longevity. The Eight Treasures can serve as stepping stones to any level of attainment to which you aspire. The purpose of cultivation is not only longevity, but to be able to live life to the fullest and fulfill our divine nature. Post-natal chi is also called after-Heaven chi or acquired chi. It is derived from digestion and absorption, mainly when the stomach and spleen-pancreas transform food into nutritive chi. Post-natal chi is much easier to manage by the mind. To obtain nutritive chi, you must have good digestion and eat nutritious food.
Post-natal chi also comes from air. In the body, nutrients from high quality foods combined with good air produce precious post-natal chi. Good digestion and respiration are essential for this process. The Eight Treasures can help you develop and practice good respiration and help stimulate digestion.
Chi and Your Genetic Potential
Modern science has brought many benefits to human life. However, it has also brought up questions of an ethical nature, particularly new advancements in genetic engineering. Almost every day when I read the paper, I see another advancement, such as scientists mapping out a gene that causes alcoholism, a gene that causes colon cancer, and even a gene that may relate to longevity. The genetic information within each individual collectively makes up our genetic destination. Such genetic information might determine how long you are going to live, what illnesses you will develop or become susceptible to, and your physical and intellectual capabilities. Modern science might use this understanding to manipulate the quality or information contained within specific genes. Thus it is conceivable that some day you can go to a lab and tell your physician or scientist that you want to live hundreds of years, and they will then change your genes to program you so you can do that. This is an interesting thought.
But what are the ethical consequences of someone who uses their energy negatively to harm others, living to be 150 years old? Have we explored our genetic benefit or disbenefit to ourselves, each individual person? Are we prepared to live beyond our genetic destination? There are physical, psychological and spiritual considerations. If a person is miserable or lives without purpose, would an extra 50 years improve the quality of their present existence, or would it simply add more confusion and suffering? Think about it. Altering our human genetic destiny is a new possibility that we have no idea how to deal with at a conventional level.
Earlier we talked about the Eight Treasures and its effects when working on and refining the pre-natal aspect of your being. Pre-natal chi is stored in the eight extraordinary channels, and by refining the chi within them, you can change a pre-destined pre-natal plan. This may also be an attempt of humankind to have control over nature. The approach of the scientific community is an interesting one; however, changing one thing out of context is partial and limited, because unanticipated imbalances will occur. Rather than relying on scientific advances for salvation, I suggest you achieve mastery of yourself, through your own sincerity, discipline and correct motivation.
The ancient achieved ones had a similar idea about changing their genetic destiny, but instead of opening and dissecting bodies to find a gene and change it, they adopted a natural way that caused very little disturbance to society at large or to themselves individually. The ancient developed ones aspired to live forever, but their immortality was not limited to either the physical or the spiritual realm. It has been known in China that there were great masters who physically lived to be 800 years old. Peng Zhu, for example, was such a person. Such people appeared generation after generation and could be seen in physical form interacting with people.
When healing modalities of Chinese medicine are used on people who are not self-motivated in cultivation, it is impossible for their jing to be changed. In other words, for many people, jing can never be replenished. But for those who take an active role in their own cultivation, a change can definitely happen. Earlier I quoted the example of developed ones who experienced a new set of teeth at age 70; they also restored their whole head of black hair, and had the ability to procreate. All these are reversals of genetic coding.