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Ch’i Whiz

The Holy Spirit descending as a dove, from a 15th-century illumination

Sister Alma Rose Q & A

Q. Do you believe in ch’i?

A. Honey, everybody believes in ch’i except certain donkeys in the “medical community.” These misguided but well-meaning souls, whom Sister Alma Rose believes to be late-evolvers, yank up their snouts at anything they can’t bottle and peer at, which is to say, they disdain anything remotely metaphysical.

Human imagination and intuition have gotten ahead of science again, is all. Quantum physics is huffing and puffing to catch up, but most (by no means all) of the smarty scientists take a swift detour when they come up against the purported dead end of the Divine.

Ch’i is not necessarily a religious concept (nor is meditation necessarily a religious practice, although Sister Alma Rose figures nonreligious meditation is an oxymoron). Y’all can talk about a “life force” and in the same breath say you don’t believe in God. You can also say y’all don’t believe in elephants and then wander off to find the pachyderms.

A ch’i primer

Translations of ch’i or qi
(alternatively gi): Jyutping hei;
Japanese ki; Korean gi; also Common
Greek πνε.

Spelling and pronunciation: In
English, ch’i is pronounced CHEE,
hereinafter spelled CHI.

Sometimes used synonymously:
Natural energy of the universe
Subtle energy
Energy flow
Vitalism
Life breath

The idea of chi underlies most forms
of meditation, whether or not the
word chi is actually used.

Chi is believed to be the life force
or spiritual energy that sustains all
living things and permeates the
spaces in which they exist.

Chi is
usually considered an Asian
concept, but since the dawn of
history, chi has had its counterpart
in every culture—prana in the Yogic
tradition, for example, and, more loosely,
the Holy Spirit in Christianity.

The word chi and its cognates
in most languages derive from roots
that allude to air, breath, spirit, or
wind. The Chinese philosopher
Zhuang Zhou (Zhuang Zi or Master
Zhuang, 370-301 BCE) described
wind as “the qi of the earth.”

Chi is central to traditional Chinese
medicine; qigong, tai chi chuan, and
other martial arts; and feng shui
(pronounced FUNG SHWAY). In the
healthy human body, chi moves
smoothly through the meridian
channels, or energy centers. (There
is some similarity in concept to
energy flow through the seven
chakras. There are twelve standard
meridians, however, and they are
located on the arms and legs.)

Balancing chi and removing
blockages can restore harmony to
the body. The practices of
acupuncture, acupressure, reiki,
tong ren, and other nontraditional
healing techniques all seek to
balance chi and allow it to flow
freely. The same principle applies to
spaces—homes, gardens, offices—
and the goal of feng shui is to
arrange the environment in a way
that is harmonious and healthful. 

Sources, accessed 7/25/08: Wise Geek, Wikipedia, The Skeptic’s Dictionary

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