What is Chi / Prana?
Chi or prana is also known as life energy, life force, ki, qi, bio-energy as well as found under many other names, depending on where where you hear it.
For millennia, prana / chi energy has been known to every single nation (big and small) and every culture in almost all parts of the world. It’s just that some of them explored it and some did not. Those who did discovered a whole new world, and those who did not ended up knowing next to nothing. Unfortunately, the latter is the case with us westerners.
But, it seems, it’s all changing now, primarily thanks to the growing interest in the subject, not only among the wider public but within the scientific community too. Advancement in science and technology in recent years has become another important contributing factor. At last we are able to deal with something so extraordinary and even though limitations are still huge and those first steps tiny and shaky, we are making some progress. Many phenomena once ignored, due to the inability of our science to tackle them, are back on the researching table.
East is meeting west in the best possible way and at the best possible time. There’s more freedom, more cultural exchange, dramatically increased speed of spreading information through the internet and digital multimedia to (and from) any part of the world, …
You don’t have to be a psychic any more to be able to see auras (i.e. chi energy / prana) around people. There are many devices that can do that, as well as some others that can detect chi energy / prana of acupuncture points and meridians. Some can measure chi energy / prana of other living organisms such as plants and insects (known as Kirlian’s photography). What is interesting here is that Kirlian photographs are showing full energy images not only when the whole plants were photographed but even when the shots of their individual parts - such as leaves or stems - were taken.
Apart from that, there is more and more insight into what chi energy / prana consists of* and it seems to vary greatly depending on its source. For example human chi energy / prana will be different to chi energy / prana of animals and plants but it will also be very different if coming from a person with a strong constitution as opposed to someone with a weak one, or say coming from a healthy person as opposed to a sick one, from a spiritually advanced person as opposed to someone neglecting that aspect of life, from somebody regularly practicing chi energy / prana (such as through Qigong) as opposed to someone who is not and so on.
Numerous experiments and studies done on chi energy / prana in the last thirty years in China almost without exception demonstrate the presence of a mixture of electromagnetic field, infrared light, ultraviolet light, even traces of visible light, alpha, beta or gamma rays etc. It is also noticed that the electrical resistance of the skin where acupuncture points are located (ie where chi energy / prana is exposed to the outside environment) is much lower than elsewhere on the skin.
So, apart from the obvious (ie anybody who is capable of thinking can see the difference between living organisms and dead bodies), there is plenty of scientific evidence of the existence of chi energy / prana. Yet, there are still many who wouldn’t change their convictions simply because they are faced with plethora of god damn facts.
And so, while some people still find the need to argue about the existence of chi energy / prana and theorize about it, in China, India and Tibet for more than 5,000 years chi energy / prana has been practically (and very successfully too, may we add) used to treat all sorts of diseases, prolong life and by fine tuning it to perfection (ie the so called ‘process of chi energy / prana purification’) even reach enlightenment as the ultimate goal of human existence.
As a matter of fact the chi energy / prana concept is so complex and deep that the whole system of traditional Chinese medicine, one of the oldest and most developed medical systems in the world, is entirely based on it (this is in relation to western medicine, which is based on anatomy and physiology, in other words on matter and its chemical reactions).
Despite Chinese turbulent history, full of wars and conflicts, destruction and killing even up until most recent years, amazingly enough, there are still hundreds of thousands of Chinese medical books around, somehow miraculously saved from extinction.
They survived countless uprisings, changes of dynasties, Mongolian rule, Manchurian rule, Japanese rule, civil wars, and revolutions, only to come out stronger than ever and they are rapidly spreading throughout the rest of the world.
I am the world's biggest skeptic
I lived in China for nine years, studied Mandarin for 3 years and was the first westerner ever to graduate from a six-year full-time course from China’s leading university of Chinese medicine - the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine - back in 1987. Since then I’ve been teaching and practicing it continuously for more than 20 years.**
Now it amuses me when I hear some ‘doubters’ questioning the existence of chi energy / prana (though, I must say, this happens less and less frequently). To me it is a bit like questioning the existence of the sun and even though it is so bright and impossible to ignore, they pretend not to see it and come up with all kind of theories denying its existance. And that’s fine. Everybody should be entitled to their own opinion and if they do not see the difference between say the planets with chi energy / prana on it, like Earth, and those without it, like Moon or Mars, they are still welcome to express their views.
I myself am the world’s biggest skeptic and I must say that it is thanks to my skepticism that I’m here where I am right now. And I am very grateful to it. You see, skepticism is not a bad thing. If there are more skeptics in the world there would be far less cheating and manipulating out there or, at least, on a much smaller scale. Of course, this applies to healthy skepticism only, not to the blind one (or the other one, false and with hidden agendas, to lure people into something dark or evil).
What do I mean by that? Well, it is very simple. I am, and always was, a great skeptic. An open-minded one though. In other words, you can tell me anything you want or I can be exposed to any ideology in the world but, unless you prove your claims to me, I am not going to believe a single word you say.
And that is exactly what happened when I was first introduced to Chinese medicine and their concept of chi energy. I heard it all and while many others just shook their heads and left I stayed – just to prove that there was no such thing as chi energy / prana.
Well, it took me almost ten years but, instead, they proved me wrong. So, what was my reaction? Well, to me, the only logical one. OK, I am convinced, I said, from now on I am not a prana / chi energy skeptic any longer. For a lot of other things still yes, but for this one, not any more. But here is a “but” part to it too: in the midst of all that, I never really cared about what other people say, what they argued about or who’s right, who’s wrong. I was doing it purely for myself. Nowdays, when I hear the same old argument once again, and if I’m being asked for my own opinion, I simply point to the following facts that can put things into perspective and speak for themselves:
Science the Greatest
Many people do not realise that, despite many great discoveries and huge advancement in recent years, science is still very limited and unable to explain many phenomena in almost every field it researches, and the more new things scientists are discovering, the more they realise how little they really know. Not to mention that, like anything else in this world, the science itself has often been manipulated and abused to act in the interest of various powerful groups and individuals. You can say with great certainty that not only now, but throughout the long history of human development, scientists were always being employed by the 'non-scientists'. And in the dark ages even being tortured and killed for their, now widely accepted, views. When it comes to the research of chi energy / prana, science is still in the dark ages.
Science has never stopped evolving. The so called Half Life of Scientific Knowledge in medicine, at present, is only about 6 years. In other words, half of what we have been taught in medicine, within that tiny period of only 6 years, is found to be wrong. It used to be much longer but, as the time passes by, it is getting shorter and shorter. When it comes to the research of prana / chi energy, it is still in its infancy and there is a lot to be discovered, learned and unlearned before it evolves to the level of say explaining why Chinese medicine works or where do amazing powers of Qigong masters come from?
For example, many masters of Qigong can not only see chi energy / prana, popularly known as auras, its different colours and layers, but have also developed X-ray vision (ie are able to see the inner organs, bone structure, presence of tumours or lumps, can detect pregnancies etc), microscopic vision (as the name suggests, the ability to see objects of microscopic size by magnifying them somehow without the use of the microscope or similar devices), telescopic vision (seeing objects at a distance far away from them) and can manipulate their own prana / chi energy in many different ways – say making their aura shrink, or expand to enormous proportions, change its shape, colour,… Plus, they can see acupuncture points and the pathways of acupuncture meridians on the human body, how they are connected with each other and with the inner organs, where the blockage of prana / chi energy is present and so on.
They can voluntarily increase their body temperature (or the temperature of any part of their body) to the point of producing smoke and causing burns; hold red hot metal objects with their bare hands or even touch it with their tongues without being burned; literally play with live wires (eg holding a live wire in one hand and a light globe in the other making it produce strong light; voluntarily increase or decrease the voltage of the wire they’re holding from say 240V up to 400V and then down to zero; make anybody in their presence do the same not causing any harm to anybody, but then again being able to electrocute anybody if they wish to, which by the way, unless in great danger of that person themselves, they would never do) and many other miraculous phenomena. For more on that just check any medium level Qigong masters’ abilities or witness Shaolin monks’ demonstrations. Or simply click here.
Many studies in China demonstrated that even ordinary people, who were never involved in any prana / chi energy practices in their life, were able to increase the temperature of the palms of their hands by up to one or more degrees centigrade by simply focusing their mind onto their palms for several minutes. However, they would have difficulties to do the same when trying to similarly focus on other parts of their body (which requires lot more training and perseverance), such as say on their ear or shoulder. On the other hand, Qigong masters who happened to take part in such experiments, could not only do the same with other parts of their body, they demonstrated that they were able to even project their prana / chi energy from those parts to any desired direction(s).
* Prana / chi energy is actually a completely different kind of matter to all the ones that we know of so it would probably be more appropriate to say that all the research, so far, is showing that the mixture of the above mentioned fields and rays only signifies the presence of chi energy / prana but what it really is, is still a mystery.
** John Dolic, BTCM Beijing
***JOURNAL of the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (JAMA) Vol 284, No 4, July 26th 2000
Further reading:How Chinese Medicine Changed my Life
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