Chi?

Discuss Qigong, its ideas, theories and practice. Please stay on topic.

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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:01 am

I am pretty physics ignorant, save it be mechanical physics.
I am brushing up on quantum theory, the concepts are pretty simple but the math is tough. One day I hope to have a better understanding.

Lets use the classic texts presented in Yang Jwing Mings book
Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Vol.1 Tai Chi Theory and Jing.
These can be found online, Dr Yang was kind enough to print both Chinese and translated versions in his text.

First is the Tai Chi Chuan treatise by Chang San-Feng is good.
But all of the texts in Dr. Yangs book deserve some attention and the chi they speak of does not always seem the same.

As an example I'll share a translation of some words from the Song of Comprehension and Application.
Tai chi chuan, thirteen postures, it's marvelous,(because there are) two Chi's, discriminated as Yin and Yang.

How many taiji teachers speak of more than one Chi?
They tend to say chi this and chi that, but in an singular sense and then they differentiate jing into Yin and Yang relationships.

In a mechanical sense this makes perfect sense, in the use of the term chi as energy all motion has two sides, the empty and the full. However if this is not talking about physical mechanics then we need to invoke two types of chi and explain how they are yin and yang. Compare this to chi circulation practice and see if you find that people practice circulating yin chi and yang chi. Not even Dr. Yangs translations explain this two chi aspect well, where in this book or in his Qigong books does he cover these two chi's? Not once in Chapter two of the aforementioned work, in a chapter titled Chi and Tai Chi Chuan, can I find mention of this.

In his explanation of the verse mentioning two chi's he says that the method and strategy of the art involve two chi's being related to substantial and insubstantial.

Please explain how there are two chi's when chi means bioelectric energy.

It is shame Dr. Yang does not have time to participate here and address this.
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Postby ErikMcBride » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:10 am

Josh Young wrote:Chi can be used to refer to the electricity in the wall, why then is it not claimed that when the taiji people wrote the classics they were talking about alternating current?


As I stated before, qi represents a lot of things. When people write about qi, you really have to infer their meaning from the context of the writing. You can't just point-blank one specific force and say, "Qi must always mean this." If you're going to do that, at least assign it the permanent meaning of "breath," which could be concluded the most universal across the board.

Defining time for you has, as of yet, eluded me. But I can explain space to you in reference to aether. As aether is the transmission medium, distance can be considered equal to the density of the aetheric field existing between two objects. If you are standing outside the field and you're watching a particle of light travel from one end of the field to the other, it will appear to slow down when it reaches a more dense section of aether. Likewise, it will appear to speed up when it reaches a less-dense area of aether. The actual rate of speed hasn't changed, just the amount of material in the area the particle must travel through.

If you knew how to affect the density of the aether, couldn't you see how to apply that knowledge to create the types of qi written of in the classics?

I've been meditating for decades to try and figure out how things work and how I can use them. Most of the time when I figure out something substantial in meditation, I look it up later and find that other people have said the same thing I saw in my meditations. Am I actually seeing how these things work, or am I simply somehow accessing other's thoughts on the matter? Is it pure coincidence? How am I supposed to know the difference? - That is qi.
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Postby ErikMcBride » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:52 am

It's my understanding that yin chi is "empty chi," referring to aether. Yang chi would be "full chi," referring to the forces that interact on the aetheric field. Hence why yang chi has a tendency to rise out the top of your head and is considered "hot", and yin chi tends to sink to your perineum.

The real problem with dealing with something like chi is you cannot simply debate your way into an understanding with it. The only way you can really understand it is by experiencing it. If Dr. Yang came in here and explained things to the best of his ability and you haven't actually experienced it, you may end up feeling like you know enough about it to not attempt to experience it. The evidence is always at best anecdotal to support it, so you have to experience it to actually understand it.

This is a major stumbling block I ran into with my first book on magic. I did a poor job of describing the theory in a way that people could understand enough to get them to practice more. They would do the basic meditations and aether manipulation exercises and have some success, then move on to the other areas I described and be completely lost. For some people it was too much explaining to make sense, and for other people it was too cryptic to make sense. Most of the people who had great success with the earlier exercises ended up giving up on it as impossible or too lofty a personal goal, or it being complete tripe. While I never write about anything that I have not personally seen to be true or tried and determined to be functional, other people couldn't see my experience and harness the understanding that comes from that experience. Chi, being the same thing, is exactly the same way. Faith is not enough to get you by, you have to have understanding based on experience.

I don't believe Dr. Yang would be willing to say much more on the subject than what he's already written. You should also keep in mind that he does not push a mystical system; he teaches traditional art forms in order to share and preserve his inherited culture with us. Coming here and discussing what will ultimately boil down into sheer metaphysical debate is contrary to those goals. There are really too many pretenders, and if he did know something sublime, I don't believe his paradigm would allow him to simply share that with the world because of the undermining effect it would have on the rest of his work.

My advice to you is to simply do your exercises and meditations and experience them for what they are, for you. You can't convince anyone but yourself that your experience was valid, and that's where the convincing should remain. If you want a greater scholarly understanding on what we're discussing here, there are tons of resources - there are even resources that you wouldn't logically conclude to be resources from which personal understanding can be gained. Ultimately, however, truth is relevant to personal perspective, and perspective is built by experience.
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:24 pm

Erik, Do you know what an Aspie is?
But that is a side topic.

There is no debate, it is a discussion.

I see you mentioned light as a particle. Very interesting.
I don't want to go into waves and time/space here though.
Your Aether concept is interesting to me, but I consider it a postulate, not a fact. Perhaps it has some basis in fact, but there are aspects of it that seem too subjective to test.

You mention that we can tell what the word chi means by the context of the text, I feel this is true but that this context does not match what is commonly thought of.

Never underestimate the knowledge of those you speak with.
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:00 pm

I've been meditating for decades to try and figure out how things work and how I can use them.
I've been meditating for moments, trying to figure out why I need to know how things work in order to use them.
I've been meditating for moments, trying to figure out why things are and why I should use them.
What do you think?
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Postby ErikMcBride » Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:38 pm

I think that you have to figure out for yourself what is right and what is not, and that it's unreasonable to assume that what is right for you is right for someone else.
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Postby ErikMcBride » Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:48 pm

Josh Young wrote:Erik, Do you know what an Aspie is?
But that is a side topic.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

How do you connect autism with a discussion of what is and is not qi? I'm highly curious as to your chain of thought on the matter. I also have a few conclusions as to how you find them relevant:

A. You are pointing out that you personally have some difficulties.
B. You are responding to a perceived slight on my end, by suggesting that I am autistic. I find this one rather unlikely, as claiming schizophrenia for me would probably be a better slight, considering I have insinuated (and published lengthy discords on the nature of why and how) that I came about this knowledge by a type of psychic vision.
C. You actually find some relevance between qi and psychological disorders, and are pointing out this one in particular as a way to anecdotally support your experience of what I term aether. I can relate to this, because I have seen the interaction between psychological states and aetheric response, and the psychological response to areas with a disturbed aetheric state.
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:29 pm

I am an aspie and you seem like one too, given your word patterns.
It has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
You reach conclusions very quickly, A B and C are all incorrect though.

How do you know the difference between what you know and what you think you know?

I think that you have to figure out for yourself what is right and what is not, and that it's unreasonable to assume that what is right for you is right for someone else.

Then why share at all?
If this is true then qi for the taiji masters is not the same as qi for me is not the same as qi for you.
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Postby ErikMcBride » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:55 pm

You're right; truth is relevant to perspective. Yet, I share my truth, which I deem to be my understanding of myself, in an effort to expand my own knowledge of my self. I also realize that sharing what I regard as truth will help people learn more about themselves, so it's a win-win situation to me.

I'm not an aspie. Also, according to the symptoms I've read, being long winded isn't necessarily a symptom. The real symptom in that is being long winded with an inability to see and respond to how whoever you're speaking with is feeling emotionally about what you're saying.

And, I think you qualifying yourself as an aspie is very relevant to this discussion, as it will affect how you sense and perceive qi. It also has an affect on the qi of other people around you, either resonant or dissonant.

You make a lot of sense with your "difference of qi" statement. I think that you're right because we all perceive things differently based on our experiences. On the same hand as us all calling different things qi, we could also be calling the same thing by different names. That's one of the major issues I've had with communication; it's very difficult to effectively describe something that you experienced unless other people have a similar frame of reference to compare to what you're describing.

I feel compelled at times to go to different places, or do something I normally don't do. That's what led me here to this forum. Maybe it was jodo that we had this conversation :P
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:45 pm

Being an aspie is more complicated than you might think.
First of all the communication aspect is largely interpersonal and in person, so many aspies are adept communicators in text online.
Likewise being long winded and speculative is a very common trait for us. Aspies tend to be of rather high intelligence and they tend to figure things out for themselves.

One thing about aspies, they cannot read the other person they are talking with well, but they often feel as if they can or feel as if they are excellent judges of character when they are not. They are schemers too.

But more on topic is that in the context of the classics chi is used in a few ways so as to suggest a physical kinetic component. To assert that this is not different from the metaphysical (I do not imply you assert this) is vacuous however.

If Chi was merely a matter of metaphysics then physical motion would not be required for internal martial arts.

I don't hold to the claims of relativism in any absolute way, thus what I believe may be wrong or right regardless of how subjective it is, so for me there is no truth that is good enough for one and not another, however individual contexts vary. In this sense what chi is cannot be something each person self defines, because then there would be no structure to the martial systems. There is a clear method and this implies that the reality of chi or chi(s) is objective, even if it is subjective in the sense that the Yi leads the Chi and Yi is subjective.
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:46 pm

what is jodo?
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Postby ErikMcBride » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:13 pm

Josh Young wrote:If Chi was merely a matter of metaphysics then physical motion would not be required for internal martial arts.


Chi is much more than metaphysics. While I won't go into full detail here (as it's fairly lengthy and I need to work on my book since I finally got my kids to go to sleep), I will publish my findings on telekinesis. To simplify it, I've found that you can't just create motion from nothing - the energy has to come from somewhere even if you're transmitting it across a vacuum. Also, it takes practice to combine touch and transmission TK with physical motions.

Jodo is "the will of heaven."
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:22 pm

I have some experience with what people call telepathy, translating as 'communication at a distance'. But it is not a general thing, it requires that the involved people "tune" into each other and connect, and thus connected they receive signals. However this is not a chi thing so far as I can tell and it is too subjective to prove in an objective sense.

as off topic as this is allow me to share two observations that i find to be self evident, time and distance are subjective illusions and there is no such thing as a particle, just a set of criteria that when observed become labeled as a particle. This is a fundamental aspect of modern quantum theory.


I believe in several types of chi, however I have high standards about evidences and have seen no demonstrative evidence that the chi of taiji is non-physical. I have however seen evidence it is not li-chi.
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Postby Dvivid » Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:37 am

Hi, great discussion as always. Let's not get off the topic of this thread (though I realize that Qi is a broad subject).

Some points:
1. Dr. Yang did already discuss this "to the best of his ability", by writing several books and DVDs that contain his knowledge, shared openly. If you haven't read/viewed them, then don't disparage his sharing of info. He is much busier than most people and simply does not have time to address forum threads. That's why a few of us are here to moderate his forum. Dr. Yang discusses yin and yang Qi at great length. A quick glance at any acupuncture chart will also show you yin and yang meridians. Similarly, TCM discusses different qualities of Qi, such as Liver (wood) Qi, Kidney (water) Qi. Answers to all these debates can be readily found in the materials I mentioned:

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing/dvd/qigong

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing/books/qigong

I highly recommend:
http://www.ymaa.com/publishing/dvd/qigo ... igong_DVD1

2. The chinese word 'Qi' is not open for debate. It has a single definition:

Qi means energy. The character for Qi is comprised of two other characters "air + rice". So, while the breath relates to Qi, Qi is not only 'breath'.

The air we breathe plus the food we eat (and fat we burn) is metabolized into energy = qi.

What is energy? Particle? No. Wave? No. String theory? Membrane? Read all you want to about it and you'll find there is no consensus. So, energy in general is both mundane and highly mystical, depending upon your insight.

How does energy travel in the body? Meridians and Vessels? Intercellular circulation through sodium and potassium channels? Through the fascia? Yes yes and yes. Does one discount the other? No. They are different ways of speaking of the same fundamental thing, Qi.

Energy manifests as light, heat, magnetic field, etc. Is it one? No, its two. Is it two? No, its one. The fundamental nature of all energy in the universe is transformation. The "atoms" in your body may once have been in the center of a star. No, really.

http://www.physicscentral.com/poster-stardust.cfm


3. Qi is physical. Qi is real. It is not a metaphor. In Taiji, and all Internal arts, or soft-hard martial styles, you use Qi-Li: muscles supported by increased Qi circulation. I think few people today cultivate their qi to the point of using it against an opponent with no muscular force, as in the stories from ancient times of old masters shocking their opponent. Is that possible? I think yes. Consider an electric eel. Until you feel your Qi, you only have a mental concept of what it is based on what you've read, and unfortunately that has led to a lot of people speculating wildly.

This new "Qi-free" Taiji movement is an example of well-intentioned people who want to preserve the martial aspects of taijiquan, but who have not followed the traditional path of learning from a master who understands the concept of an 'Internal' art. Some of them also have a Christian-revisionist agenda against Taoism.


4. Everything to do with the 100 trillion living cells of the human body pertains to Qi. Including telepathy. A brain-wave-length is a measurement of electrical activity in the brain. Qi activity. As your Qi cultivation increases, so does the amplitude of brainwaves. Such things as telepathy, seeing through objects, levitation, etc. are considered "branches and flowers" - these naturally occurring phenomena are normal and healthy, but it is recommended that one does not focus on them, and get distracted from the real goal of cultivating Qi.

The more you focus on being present in the moment and preserving your Qi (samadhi), the more such things will happen.


5. Cultivating Qi to a truly higher, abundant capacity is long term process that takes kung fu: time and effort, to accumulate. I have been at it for ten years and I highly recommend that anyone truly interested in Qi and health practice diligently, and enjoy the surprising benefits of qigong. As Da Mo said "Time is precious, don't waste your life!"


http://www.ymaa.com/articles/basic-conc ... and-qigong

http://www.ymaa.com/articles/basic-conc ... gong-part2

http://www.ymaa.com/articles/qigong-med ... -breathing

Hope this helps,
David Silver
YMAA Qigong Instructor
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing
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Postby ErikMcBride » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:12 am

Dvivid wrote:I think few people today cultivate their qi to the point of using it against an opponent with no muscular force, as in the stories from ancient times of old masters shocking their opponent. Is that possible? I think yes.


It is possible, I've done it unintentionally while explaining the techniques I use to gather and refine energy. I used to rest my hand against their arm or chest and pass my energy into them, but I found that this would frequently leave bruising or a days-lasting red mark in the shape of my palm. Since that started happening with unnerving frequency, I had to figure out a different way of demonstrating that there is an actual physical sensation that goes with storing aether.

I don't think I could use it intentionally in combat, however. I'm not a martial artist. I just want to know everything.
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Postby joeblast » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:35 am

Huahujing - Forty six

the tao gives birth to one
one gives birth to yin and yang
yin and yang give birth to all things
now forget this

the complete whole is the complete whole
so also is any part the complete whole
forget this, too

pain and happiness are simply conditions of the ego
forget the ego

time and space are changing and dissolving, not fixed and real
they can be thought of as accessories, but don't think of them

supernatural beings without form extend their life force throughout the universe
to support beings both formed and unformed
but nevermind this; the supernatural is just a part of nature, like the natural
the subtle truth emphasizes neither and includes both

all truth is in taiji: to cultivate the mind, body, or spirit, simply balance the polarities
if people understood this, world peace and universal harmony would naturally arise

but forget about understanding and harmonizing and making all things one
the universe is already a harmonious oneness, just realize it

if you scramble about in search of inner peace, you will lose your inner peace
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Postby ErikMcBride » Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:14 pm

joeblast wrote:all truth is in taiji: to cultivate the mind, body, or spirit, simply balance the polarities
if people understood this, world peace and universal harmony would naturally arise


Yes. A curious thing about power is the more you gain, the less desire you have to actually use it.

I re-read some of the articles linked in this thread tonight relating to qigong. If the main goal of martial and religious qigong are to open the 3rd eye so as to gain supreme enlightenment, what is enlightenment? How can you tell when you've met someone who's achieved this?
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Postby Josh Young » Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:24 am

I have no interest in enlightenment from a martial arts point of view.

However I would offer that if you met someone who was enlightened, there would be no way to tell.


It is said in China there is a gate there (3rd eye) that the spirit can pass through if it is opened, and in so doing death is achieved wherein the body does not harden or rot.
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Postby Dvivid » Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:33 am

The word enlightenment is thrown around far too loosely in the new age West. The definition of true enlightenment by ancient standard is omniscience. You have NOT met someone enlightened.

The topic of this thread is Qi. Let's not stray too far.
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

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Postby ErikMcBride » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:40 pm

Ahh, enlightenment is relative to the discussion of qi, because cultivating qi is a fundamental aspect of achieving enlightenment in Ch'an, and achieving immortality in Daoism.

Hence, the question. Both schools prescribe similar (or identical) methods of energetic cultivation, in order to reach a similar state. "Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism" says that the ultimate state is different according to different schools of thought, based on their conception of what should be regarded as the highest aim or ideal.

You speak of the psychic abilities as "branches and flowers" of qi practice, but isn't the health and longevity aspect also "branches and flowers?" Some will practice for health, some will practice for magic, some will practice for self understanding. For a health practitioner, the ultimate aim would be never falling ill and being physically immortal. For a magic practitioner, the aim would be to be all-powerful and all knowing. For someone who pursues fully knowing who they are, the ultimate goal would be to know where you came from, where you're going, and the effect you have on others.

I've seen much on here about raising your bio-energy to change the conductive state of bone in your forehead, and thus open your third eye to gain enlightenment, as a function of the physical energy created internally by combining air and rice. Yet, the Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an told Hui-neng, "What I can tell you is not esoteric. If you turn your light inward, you will find what is esoteric within your own mind."

I had initially begun practicing qigong and meditative techniques in order to gain mystical powers. Yet, I discovered as I went along that the more power I gained, the less I wanted to use it. There are things that I have done when obligated by my personal code of conduct, but for the most part, I don't have a desire to change anything. I just want to experience it as it is. I've noticed since that fundamental change in myself, by turning my inner sight towards anything, I can discover its purpose, function, and meaning to others and myself.

If omniscience is the pinnacle of cultivating qi, is omniscience an academic knowledge of everything as an observer, or is it an experiential knowledge of everything that comes from having existed as everything?
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