CHAPTER 2: BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF QIGONG
Because of his abundant "zhong qi" or body energy, Grandmaster Wong can speak loudly without a microphone
(This chapter is selected from Wang Yan, Qigong External Qi Therapy, Science and Education Publications, Shanxi, China, 1986, published in Chinese)
Qi, or Energy
In ancient China, according to the philosophy of materialism, qi or energy is the basic material that makes up the whole Cosmos. All things in the world are made up of the transformation of qi, or energy.
Man is a product of nature. Naturally, man is also made up of qi. In “Simple Questions: Discussion of Whole Appearance of Precious Life“ of the Inner Classic of Medicine, it is mentioned that “Man is born of qi of heaven and earth. He is the result of four seasons. Qi is the material that makes up man, it is also the material that operates all movements of life.”
The Origin of Qi and its Functions
The qi of a person is made up from the pre-natal essence of energy of his parents, the nourishment from food and drinks, and the fresh energy from space, or air. These three components constitute the qi or vital energy of a person.
Because of the differences in the composition of vital energy, its amount and spread, and its functions, qi is called differently.
Yuan Qi or Original Energy
Sometimes it is called "real qi". It is the most basic, and the most important aspect of a person’s qi. It is the source of life. It is mainly stored in the kidneys. It is pre-natal qi, and it depends on post-natal qi from food and drinks. Thus, in “Spiritual Platform: Discussion of Good and Evil” of the Inner Classic, it is mentioned that “Real qi is derived from heaven, and is dependent on grain qi, and fills the whole person.”
Real qi is also called original qi. It flows through the whole person via the triple-warmer.
(Editorial Note: The triple-warmer consists of three warmers. The upper warmer is from the throat to the solar plexus, the middle warmer from the solar plexus to the navel, and the lower warmer from the navel to the anus.)
When original qi flows to a particular organ, it is called the qi of that organ. When original qi flows to a particular meridian, it is called the qi of that particular meridian. For example, when original qi flows to the lungs, it is called lung qi; when it flows to the stomach meridian, it is called stomach meridian qi.)
Hence, whether a particular organ, a particular meridian or any part of the person is vibrant or fatigued, depends on the abundance or lack of original qi.
The most important function of practicing qigong is to develop original qi, so that all parts of the person are full of this original qi to maintain good health and vitality. Hence, some people refer to qigong as the “method of circulating real energy”.
Zhong Qi or Body Energy
Zhong qi or body energy is the energy that is found in the main body. It is focused at the dan tian, or abdominal energy field, at a vital point called “qi hai” or “sea of energy” which is located about two or three inches below the navel.
(Editorial Note: An inch here is a biological inch. It is the space between the first and the second joint of the index finger.)
Body energy is the result of fresh energy breathed in through the lungs, and “water-grain energy” manufactured from drinks and food from the spleen and the stomach. The main functions of body energy are to maintain breathing, and to circulate energy and blood. The abundance or lack of body energy is shown in a person’s voice, breathing, the language he uses, his energy and blood circulation, the warmth and movements of his limbs, and his eyesight, hearing and feeling abilities.
Ying Qi or Nourishing Energy
Ying qi or nourishing energy is sometimes called “yong qi” or “glorious energy”. It is the energy flowing as blood inside blood vessels. It is produced from "water-grain energy", and enters the blood stream forming various components of the blood. It flows all over the body providing nourishment and self-defence.
“Spiritual Platform: Discussion on Evil” of the Inner Classic says that “glorious energy is in liquid form, flows in vessels, transform into blood, make glorious the limbs, and is contained in the five storage organs and six transformational organs.”
(Editorial Note: In traditional Chinese medical philosophy, the five storage organs are heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys. The six transformational organs are colon, intestines, stomach, gall bladder, urinary bladder and triple-warmer.)
Wei Qi or Protection Energy
Wei qi or protection energy is the energy that flows outside vessels. It is produced from “water-grain energy”. Its main functions are to protect the external body, warm and nourish internal organs, muscles, skin and hair, coordinate bodily movements, regulate bodily liquids, and harmonize bodily temperature.
Circulation of Energy and its Movement
The circulation of energy is described in traditional Chinese medical philosophy as “qi fa” or “transformation of energy”. It describes the processes of life, which means that if there is no energy, there will be no life.
The transformation of energy may be described in four main movements, namely rising, sinking, leaving and entering. In “Simple Questions: Great Discussion of Six Details” of the Inner Classic of Medicine, it is said that “if there is no leaving and entering of energy, there will be no processes of birth, growth, maturing and age. If there is no rising and sinking of energy, there will be no processes of birth, growth, changing, keeping and storing. Because of rising, sinking, leaving and entering of energy, all organs operate accordingly.’
This clearly states that qi or energy operates in all internal organs as well as operates the person as a holistic unity.
The rising, sinking, leaving and entering of energy have specific roles in a person. For example, fresh energy mainly rises, stale energy mainly sinks. The energy of the liver and spleen mainly rises, and the energy of the lungs and the stomach mainly sinks. Of course, rising, sinking, leaving and entering are described relatively. They are opposing yet complementary. Inside a person these different functions of energy must be in balance so as to maintain healthy living. If energy balance is distorted, it will result in illness.
Qigong practice, i.e. through cultivating the heart, cultivating intention, and cultivating postures, which are the three basic elements in qigong training, energy is trained to rise, sink, open and come together, to attain all physiological and psychological well being, thus overcoming illness and enhancing longevity.
Principles and Conclusion of Qi
Through qi training people have the following principles and conclusions:
- Universal, i.e. qi is found universally in the Cosmos. In the past people said, "Myriad things are made of qi. It extends to everything, and fills up everything in heaven and earth. Everything in heaven and earth is made of qi."
- Relationship, i.e. qi is related to life. It is said in the past, “Birth is the result of the qi of heaven and earth. Qi is the fundamental of life. Nourish energy, life exists. When qi is extinguished, life ceases.”
- Spread, i.e. qi can be developed, can be spread. It is said in the past that “qi can be naturally spread.”
- Immersion, i.e. qi and any material can be immersed in the same space. It is said in the past that “people are in qi, and qi is in people.”
- Intelligence, i.e, qi has intelligence and feeling. It is said in the past that “the Cosmos is pure, tranquil and infinite.”
- Active and Passive, i.e. qi is both creative and reactive. It is said in the past that ”qi can rush forward, but it can’t be contained, and it can’t be chased.”
- Controllable, i.e. one can control qi. It is said in the past that “the mechanism of qi can be expressed, but it is not advisable to control it, and also not easy to control it.”
- Flowing, i.e. qi is always circulating without end, its end is its beginning.
- Periodical, i.e. qi is predictable. If we know its cycle, we can predict its occurrence, like its meridian system, which may be compared to biological clock in modern science.
- Vital Force, i.e. qi is the original force that moves life. There are three main functions – to nourish the person, to protect the person, and spread all over the person so that it enables him to carry on living.
The Pathway of Energy Flow
According to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, the pathway of energy flow (which includes blood flow) is considered in the meridian system. The meridian system composes of two main divisions, namely “jing meridians” and “luo meridians”.
Jing meridians are the main pathways of energy flow. Luo meridians are the branches from the jing meridians and they go to all parts of the body.
The "Spiritual Platform: Discussion of Meridians" in the Inner Classic, mentions that "One may not see meridians, but their reality is seen in the source of energy." A person's five storage organs and six transformational organs can function naturally because the meridian system provides energy and blood to work the various organs.
The meridian system also connects the internal organs with the surface. The "Spiritual Platform: Sea of Discussion" of the Inner Classic, mentions that "the twelve main meridians of a person connect his internal organs with the outside world." On one hand the meridian system provides energy and blood, and on the other hand it connects all the five storage organs and six transformational organs into one holistic unity.
The meridian system can perform these functions well because it has a definite system of flow in a specific direction. In other words, each meridian through its definite flow connects its respective organ with all other organs and systems internally as well externally with the outside world.
The systematic flow is as follows:
Hand Major Yin Lung Meridian -- Hand Bright Yang Colon Meridian -- Leg Bright Yang Stomach Meridian -- Leg Major Yin Spleen Meridian -- Hand Minor Yin Heart Meridian -- Hand Major Yang Intestine Meridian -- Leg Major Yang Urinary Bladder Meridian -- Leg Minor Yin Kidney Meridian -- Hand Minor Yin Pericardium Meridian -- Hand Minor Yang Triple Warmer Meridian -- Minor Yang Gall Bladder Meridian -- Leg Minor Yin Liver Meridian -- Hand Major Yin Lung Meridian, and the circulation continues without end.
The meridians of the hand, leg, yin and yang flow in a definite direction. From the chest the three hand yin meridians flow down the arms, which continue at the finger tips with the three hand yang meridians which flow up the arms to the head. At the head, the three hand yang meridians continue as the three leg yang meridians which flow down from the head to the legs. At the toes, the three leg yang meridians continue as the three leg yin meridians to flow up the legs from the toes to the body. At the body the three leg yin meridians continue as the three hand yin meridian to flow down the arm. This circulation of energy continues flowing in this manner without end.
Practicing qigong and transmitting external qi should follow this mode of circulation.
From research in modern science, scientists believe that the meridian system is closely connected with the nervous system and the blood system. The direction and speed of energy flow is also closely related with bodily liquids. The following are some of the conclusions from modern scientific research.
Energy Circulation and Relationship with the Nervous System
It has been discovered that the nervous system follows closely with the meridian system. It has been noticed that at energy points there are concentrations of nerve endings.
Within 5 mm of energy points there are more than 90% of nerves going through. In a research carried out by the Shanghai Chinese Medical Hospital, in 309 cases where surgical operations involving energy points, surgeons cut onto nerves 152 times.
Irrespective of whether it concerns practical experience of the meridian system or theoretical discussion on the meridian system, it has been confirmed that the nervous system represents the material structure of the meridian system.
Energy Circulation and Relationship with Blood Circulation
Past masters believed that the meridian system is closely connected with the circulation systems of blood and lymphatic liquids. Modern scientific research has confirmed this belief.
The meridian system is the pathway of energy and blood flow. Shanghai Chinese Medical College discovered that in 309 surgical operations on energy points, arteries occur on 24 energy points, and close to 262 energy points there are arteries and veins. This shows the close relationship between the meridian system and the circulation system.
Modern research has confirmed that the speeds of nervous transmissions are as follows: skin feeling is 80-30 meters per second, muscular movement is 55-15 meters per second, pain or warmth is 3-6 meters per second. The speed of blood circulation in arteries is 20-50 mini meters per second, in veins is 15-20 mini meters per second, in minute blood vessels is 0.05-0.1 mini meters per second.
The speeds of sensations passed on by energy flow are as follows. In the stomach meridian the speed is 12.2 mini meters per second, in the heart meridian it is 12.6 mini meters per second, and in the governing meridian it is 8.5 mini meters per second.
The way of flow in nerves is in one direction, but the way of flow in the meridian system is in two directions.
The data shows that there is close relationship between the speed of flow in the meridian system and the blood system, but far from the speed of the nervous system.
Relationship between Energy and Blood
Energy and blood are closely related. The two are different but are close together. So they are often discussed together. They are yin and yang, and are essential components for life.
Energy is the "master” of blood. Energy may generate blood and circulate blood.
Blood is a function of nourishing energy, absorbed by the spleen and stomach, transformed from the “water-grain energy”, combined with lung energy to form blood. After it has been formed, blood and energy circulate round the body.
Blood is focused at the heart, is stored at the liver, and controlled by the spleen. It is also the result of the manifestation of energy in the internal organs. It can be seen that in the processes of its formation and circulation, blood cannot be separated from energy.
Following this philosophy, it can be said that in qigong training, when intention arrives, qi arrives, and when qi arrives, blood will arrive. When qi is abundant, blood is plentiful. When qi is lacking, blood is little. When qi stagnates, blood is blocked. This is practical and meaningful.
Blood is the “mother” of energy. When a person can carry out various physiological and psychological activities, it is because blood can supply the necessary nutrients to the various parts of the body. Hence, it is said that blood is the “mother” of energy.
Blood supplies nutrients to energy, enabling energy to perform various functions. Energy enables blood to circulate. Both depends on each other.
Energy and blood are mutually dependent, and both function for each other. Whether a person’s physiological functions and metabolic processes are healthy depends on whether energy and blood are flowing harmoniously. If energy stagnates, blood will be clotted. If blood is clotted, energy flow will stagnate. If energy is not flowing smoothly, there will be pain. If blood is not flowing smoothly, there will be swelling.
It is said in the past that “if energy and blood flow is blocked, illness will occur. When energy and blood flow harmoniously, illness will naturally be overcome. If energy or blood is not harmonious, the body will be out of balance, and hundreds of sickness will be born. When energy is flowing harmoniousluy, and blood is flowing smoothly, all parts of a person’s body and mind will function naturally, and hundreds of sickness will not occur.”
The above description explains that energy and blood are mutually dependent. Energy and blood are both essential materials of the body. They are both useful and circulate throughout the body endlessly, enabling a person to grow and develop, promote metabolism, and maintain all movements of life. Thus, qigong training advocate that “real qi circulates, clear all meridians, harmonize all organs and systems to maintain balance.”
Although blood is born of energy, and follows the flow of energy, energy must depend on blood supply so that it can manifest its movements and functions. Both are mutually dependent, mutually promote each other, thus achieving the growth of yang and the development of yin.
If energy and blood are off-balance, yin-yang disharmony occurs. This may result in erratic flow of energy and blood. They may not be mutually dependent, and go their separate ways. If such disharmony of “solidness” or “appearance” happens, various types of illness will occur. Hence, energy and blood must mutually cooperate and mutually harmonize to attain holistic unity.
Practicing qigong will give us good health