QI is a Kind of Integration of Force and Substance
In my previous paper Qigong ---- A Special Knowledge Possessing Material and Spiritual Characteristics, I explained in detail the dual nature ---- material and spiritual characteristics of qi in qigong and qi in human life. Their material characteristics manifests itself in three aspects ---- 1. Particles in gaseous state (molecular movement); 2. Energy; 3. Field. And spiritual characteristics mean the very active power of conscious behavior and extra-sensory actions. To be more exact, "qi" is a kind of integration of force and substance.
This paper is set out to demonstrate the nature and role of "qi" in human bodies with certain important views from modern science and traditional medicine, together with my personal experience and the understanding of many excellent students who are doing exercise in Qigong and nursing many people with diseases.
Modern science has already explored the three matters, substance, force and energy. The theory of: "substance is the carrier of force" is of far-reaching meaning in facilitating our understanding of the nature and role of "qi". Modern medical science has also acquired profound knowledge about human bodies. We understand that all organs are composed of different substantial elements in proportion. Of course, their integration is performed by life force (all kinds of physiological functions). Life force is a unique force different from mechanical or other forces which are generally acknowledged. So we are not able to synthesize a live human being with all kinds of material elements, even not a lifeless human body). To understand human life force is therefore a key to complete knowledge of human physiological structures.
According to my long-time special experience I come to understand that life force together with other forces exists in invisible form and manifests itself through actions (a sharp contrast to the fact that all substances indicate their existence in certain space) on certain substances as carriers so that people can only have indirect knowledge about it. Take gravity of the earth as an example. As compared with other forces, however, life force always demonstrates a distinctive and unique role -- being able to renew matters ceaselessly and incorporate in a planned way what is not thing-in-itself into matter-in-itself. And in turn the force turns step by step things-in-itself into wastes to keep the body structural elements in balance. If a human body, by analogy, is compared to a fully-automatic machine, the various human organs are machinery components. Life force acts as original driving force moving this machine with different parts. If such motive force is diminishing, dysfunction will take place in relevant organs, and organ functions will cease if such original force is gone.
In fact, any kind of physiological deterioration and dysfunction will inevitably lead to organ problems (diseases). This is the fundamental cause of illness, aging and death. Modern science discovers that human immunity power can resist harmful external intrusion and constitutes internal healing capability. Therefore a person of sound immunity is not apt to get ill and vise versa. This phenomenon shows that causes of diseases are closely related to one's internal physiological capability and immunity power. Our knowledge about this point helps explain the fact that in the same objective environment some people get ill and others do not. Life force in human body is the original driving force to keep the body and substantial structures in balance and to move all the organs made of different elements. Despite the passive role it plays, substance is, after all, the target on which life force acts and the basis of human body. Substances are indispensable things. If an organ or a part of the body is short of necessary elements or added with those harmful substances to the structure, problems would arise up from that organ or part of the body. This is the second reason why people fall ill. This reason is closer to objective factors as compared with the first reason and easier to be understood. Therefore most people pay more attention to diet and environmental hygiene and medicine.
In fact, comparatively speaking, the first reason is more important than the second one. For example, when one's digestion capacity is weak, even when one takes in more nutritious foods, one cannot efficiently digest the foods; but when one's digestion functions normally, even if one takes very simple foods, one can stay fit.
Though invisible, life force can be traced. For example, soreness of waist and lumbago and frequent urination can be early signs of deteriorating kidney function. At this point, however, it is not yet organic changes. Therefore, physical test at hospital for organic changes may not necessarily detect any problems. Nevertheless, if it is not addressed and when one feels at times lumbago, tiredness, low spirit and drowsy, it is very likely that one is suffering from severe nephritis or failure of kidney function.
I believe through practice that knowledge about life force mainly comes from physical experience instead of eye observation. In other words, a qigong practitioner can perceive through his perception capability life force performance in different parts of his body. Generally speaking, if one stays calm and relaxes from top to toe, one can effectively feel all internal physiological functions. Feeling comfortable and harmonious and refreshed shows sound performance of life force. When one suddenly feels uncomfortable or painful in a certain part, it is a sign of abnormal function. One should pay attention to the principle and the sudden sensitive when he's nursing a patient with his perception capability.
What is perception capability? It is the ability of qigong practitioner to perceive conditions of corresponding organs of a sick person. For example, when a qigong practitioner emits qi to a patient, he or she would feel similar pain in his/her stomach if the patient has problems with his stomach. If there is something wrong with one's immunity, another one of strong perception capability can feel a sort of disorder flowing of heat in his own body (similar to that when one has caught flu). In essence, the phenomenon of body perception is the interaction between forces. Expounded in terms of current science, it is a demonstration of human's biological field emission and recovery. This is the same as making a diagnosis through psychic reading, different only in patterns of performance.
To discriminate life force and immunity by psychic diagnosis, there is a process of careful observation and analysis based on color body organ pictures emerged in optic nerve of the psychic. For example, if the psychic "sees" blood pumping from the heart more slowly than usual and turning dark red while the heart shows no pathological changes, there may be a symptom of insufficient cardiac blood-supply. Another example is that if bone marrow shows pale color, it is likely that hematopoietic capability is not strong. This kind of inference can be more accurate if the perception of the patient's body is put in perspective.
The approach of a qigong practitioner makes diagnosis by his own body or hand perception and psychic reading is a kind of human induction ability similar to the feeling pulse with hand in traditional Chinese medicine. The diagnosis in western medicine based on analysis on data gathered by check-up devices belongs to the area of using material means. Comparatively speaking, the western medical means is more accurate in making diagnosis on pathological changes of organic nature and less accurate in dealing with physiological dysfunction and immunity problems( particularly in the early stage and not yet in physiorganic changes). Of course, no matter using which means of diagnosis, the one who makes diagnosis still has to rely on his ability and expertise. For example a very competent and experienced psychic reader may also make accurate diagnosis of physiorganic changes.
When we understand the aforesaid principles, we may have clear knowledge of human body relationship between force and substance, and the nature and role of "qi" in qigong and human life force.
In fact, the Chinese in ancient times pointed out: "Qi is substances of particles." "Qi is just life," "Qi governs blood and blood mothers qi," "Flowing of blood is interdependent on qi." Those expressions imply that "qi" consists of particles, above all, life force! One cannot but associate this with "the dual similarities of particles" in quantum mechanics. In blood circulation system, "qi" is mainly referred to as blood-supply capability, which can cause the flow of blood and qi movement in parallel with blood.
Based on various knowledge, particularly by my own long-time and unique practice, I believe that "qi" in human body is something taking living force as its main form supported by particles (smaller than molecule). That living force constitutes human life force. It mainly functions to drive the movement of all body organs, to conduct metabolism and to transform energies.
Life force is a general concept. All human instinct and dynamic forces come under life force. To be specific, life force can be divided into physiological functions of all organs and systems, immunity, physical strength and power of thinking. (The power of thinking controls one's conscious behavior and represents a hallmark of human being different from other life forms. This means a great deal to one's life, but not so great to the body metabolism and energy transformation as compared with other physiological functions.)
Human physiological functions appear to be independent and irrelevant to each other. But in essence they have dinctive features and supplement each other and remain as close as lips and teeth. It is jingluo, body meridians and collateral proposed by traditional Chinese medicine, that maintain the close links between those physiological functions.
The body meridians provide channels for life force, including qi, and acupoints are points where all physiological functions converge. Meridians as channels for life force is similar to blood vessels as channels for blood, except for different forms. Blood is a flowing liquid substance. It can only move along a close vessel made of solid material (The principle of other circulating systems are basically the same). Life force is an invisible force. In common with many other invisible forces, life force can pass through both objects (be transmitted by visible materials) and space (be transmitted by space). By analogy, it is similar to the earth gravity, which can be transmitted through the earth substances or on to an airplane through space. In other words, the movement and transmission of force do not necessarily rely on channels made of visible substances. That is why anatomy fails to indicate human body meridians.
In order to control and regulate the workings of all body physiological functions so that they can be supplemented to one another, life force chooses the most effective way to flow. This is the reason why body meridians take shape. (This phenomenon is somewhat similar to fixed directional movement of magnetic force.)
Qigong is a Chinese special knowledge with a long history. Its existence manifests the hand but careful personal experience of the competent practitioners in old times. They help us a lot to understand the working of human body. We should honestly and objectively do more research to qigong in order to make better use of it.
It is a fact that some people, when entering into certain special qigong state, can "see" through a network of light and dense tiny black spots in one's living body. And that network is identical with the body meridian chart of the traditional Chinese medicine. This is a meaningful proof. Some of my excellent students are capable of this kind of perception. My explanation is that in a special qigong state and under proper conditions, life force can be partially transferred into light energy, hence a light network and black spots. This demonstrates that human body is comprised of two systems, a visible and physical system and invisible force system. The systems are both separate and overlapping, and being separate is to be better overlapping.
Those two systems in human body correspond with the force and material systems in the universe. The human digestive and respiratory systems represent the major channels for exchanges between man's body and its external material world. Some of the materials assimilated have been transformed into cells while others have been turned into energy, hence materials play a dominant role and energy supplements to materials.
To practice qigong is an effective approach to human interaction with the universal force and energy systems. On the basis of qigong, assimilation of force, energy and materials (trace elements) takes place in the process of "energy playing a dominant role and materials a supplementary one." Qigong joins the movement of life force and immunity and regulates and replenishes the constantly diminishing physiological functions and immunity power. This is the fundamental reason why qigong practice can cure diseases and build up health. It is a telling fact that Pan Gu Shen Qigong can help patients recover from lupus erythromelalgia, rheumatics and hypoadrenalism.
With all my experience, I believe that an integration of western and traditional Chinese medicine and qigong may be the best therapy! To pay attention to personal hygiene and to keep practicing qigong may be the most realistic and effective way to good health.
Note: Published in the "Thesis Collection of the Fourth International Qigong Academic Conference" and the "Thesis Collection of the Fourth World Conference of Medical Qigong."
Updated January 26, 2006 by