THE BEAUTY AND WONDERS OF CHI
When I was small, I read about some fantastic feats of Kungfu masters: they could break brick and marble with their seemingly gentle hands, withstand punches or even knife attacks on their bodies without sustaining injuries, and cure illness without using any medicine and not even touching the patients! These certainly sound like something from fairy tales; but I know they are true, because I have performed these feats myself.
The secret of the above feats is chi (spelt as "qi" in romanized Chinese, but pronounced like the English /c'hi/). Chi is the Chinese word for energy, the vital force that sustains and enables all of life's movements. And the beauty and wonders of chi, of course, transient martial arts; chi concerns everything -- ranging from the infinitesimal atom to the infinite universe!
In practice, there are three major areas where Chi Kung -- the art of developing chi -- is particularly useful, namely in curing illness and maintaining health, in developing internal force for martial arts as well as for daily living, and in training the mind, or spiritual cultivation.
Practising Chi Kung is a very effective way for curing illness, especially chronic, organic diseases like hypertension, diabetics, asthma, rheumatism, kidney failure and gastritis -- those diseases that conventional medicine erroneously regards as "incurable". I have literally helped a few hundred people relieved of these diseases; and at present I am committed to spreading this information and this wonderful art.
Actually our body is capable of curing all these and other illnesses; Chi Kung enhances this natural ability. For example, at all time in everyone of us without a single exception, fat is being deposited in our blood vessels, sugar is being discharged into our body system, pollutants are clogging our lung sacs, toxins are lodging in our body cells, various poisons are being filtered through our kidneys, and acids are being secreted inside our stomach.
Yet we do not become sick, if our body is functioning well, because the excess fat, sugar, pollutants, toxins, poisons and acids are neutralized or disposed off by various natural body processes. But if our functions fail, such as the vessel walls not producing enough chemicals to dissolve the fat, or the stomach not knowing when to stop acid production, then illness occurs.
Chi Kung helps our body to maintain proper, healthy functions in two main ways: by clearing the body of toxic wastes, and by promoting harmonious energy flow, which, besides other things, improves the functioning of our nervous system and restores the excellent communication within as well as with the outside of our body. (Mental impulses that transmit vital information to and from every cell of our body are in the form of electric energy.) Hence, chi enhances the beauty and wonders of our body.
If we develop chi correctly, we can acquire a power that is different from, and far surpasses outward, mechanical strength. A rough but useful analogy of flowing chi is flowing water. If we can harness flowing water, we can produce enough energy to light up a whole city. In a smaller scale, flowing water can enable an otherwise limp firehose to be so hard that it can break a brick easily, or can withstand external stress. In a similar way, a chi expert can channel chi to his palm to break a brick, or around his body to protect against punches and kicks.
The beauty of chi, of course, is not just for taking punches or breaking bricks. If we can, through proper breathing exercises, circulate chi round our body in a never-ending flow, then we can have an ever-flowing supply of energy. Kungfu experts in the past used this method to derive strength and stamina for long, continuous fighting. In our modern law-abiding society, we can use this method for our daily long, continuous work, yet return home with bouncing energy for our family.
The highest and most beautiful aspect of chi is for mind training. In the past when the art of Chi Kung was kept highly secretive (and also in the present when there are so many attractive distractions to deter serious, devoted training) not many people, nevertheless, had the opportunity (nor have the patience) to experience this highest, most beautiful level. But those very few masters who have persevered and achieved such high attainment, can perform what laymen would call miracles, such as being able to see into the future, to control the clouds and rain, to heal from a great distance, or to project their mind to wherever they wish. It is certainly difficult for the uninitiated to believe that these can be true. But if we really understand what chi is, then it would not be so surprising.
More than two thousands years ago, Nei Ching, the Classic of Internal Medicine, mentioned that
"The root of the way of life, of birth and change is chi; the myriad things of heaven and earth all obey this law. Thus chi in the periphery envelops heaven and earth. Chi in the interior activates them. The source wherefrom the sun, moon, and stars derive their light; the thunder, rain, wind and cloud their being; the four seasons and the myriad things their birth, growth, storing and gathering: all this is brought about by chi. Man's possession of life is completely dependent upon this chi."
Quoted from Dr. Stephen Chang, Chinese Yoga
Much earlier, but still many hundred years ago, the great philosopher of the Sung Dynasty, Zhang Tai, said
"The cosmos is a body of chi. Chi has yin and yang. When it disperses it permeates all things; when it unites it becomes nebulous. When this settles into form it becomes matter. When it disintegrates it returns to its original state."
Translated from the Chinese, Cheng Yi Shan, Ancient Chinese Thinking on Chi
The Chinese are not the only people who have this deep knowledge and experience of chi. The wonders and beauty of chi, called by various names like pranna and pneuma, have been known to many great peoples of different times and places, the notable of whom are the Indians, the ancient Greeks and the Egyptians.
The Indians, for example, believe that the universe is an illusion: it is a projection of Brahman. The Bhagavad-Gita, the Indian Song of God, says
"Brahman is that which is immutable, and independent of any cause but Itself. When we consider Brahman as lodged within the individual being, we call Him Atman. The creative energy of Brahman is that which causes all existences to come into being."
Quoted from a translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood
Many people reading the above quotations, may think them crazy, even ridiculous. But when we learn about the latest discoveries in physics, we become amazed by their beauty and wonders.
The findings of modern physics, the most exact of the sciences, led by such great minds as Einstein, Max Planck, Bohr and Heisenberg, are really mind-boggling. Repeatedly confirmed by massive experimental data, the new worldview of physicists (excellently described by Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics; and Gary Zukav, the Dancing Wu Li Master) is as follows:
The whole cosmos is a dynamic dance of particles, which are not objective "things", but are subjective interactions of energy, where there is neither space nor time. What we regard as matter is constantly being created, annihilated and created again, and these instantaneous creations and annihilations are the result of continual interactions between energy fields.
The universe is energy -- an undifferentiated, intimate, organic unity. The separate parts of the universe are not real; what we conceive as material is actually concentrations of energy, which is constantly vibrating and changing.
There is no such thing as objective observation, because no one can observe anything without changing it! What we regard as external reality is actually an illusion, an interpretation of our mind.
Physicists are now not only saying the same thing said by the philosophers and the great masters of chi; they are also using the same language! And they all describe the beauty and wonders of chi.
30th May 1991, Sungai Petani