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The Power of Qi

 
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  • Chinese character for qi, resembling a steaming bowl of rice
    Chinese character for qi,
    resembling a steaming
    bowl of rice

    The Chinese philosophical notion of a cosmic qi or breath that permeates the universe dates from the Shang and Zhou periods. Qi is regarded as having created the cosmos and the Earth, and given rise to the complementary opposing negative and positive forces of yin and yang. Every physical change that occurs in the world is seen as a product of the working of qi. In the Daoist Daode Jing, qi is synonymous with Dao (“the Way”). The qi character (shown here) represents a bowl of rice with steam, where the rice’s power or qi is manifested, rising above. The concept of qi runs through all areas of Chinese thought: it is a guiding principle in both traditional science and the arts.

    Qigong, a practice entailing deep-breathing exercises, is based on the concept of qi. Daoists traditionally associated lengthening the breath with lengthening life. Today, qigong is used to enhance well-being.
    Qigong, a practice entailing deep-breathing
    exercises, is based on the concept of qi.
    Daoists traditionally associated lengthening
    the breath with lengthening life. Today,
    qigong is used to enhance well-being.

    Harnessing QI

    Qi informs multiple practical and applied fields. When Chinese medicine became formalized during the 2nd century BC, for example, qi was established as its central concept. It was seen as the vital substance of living things, circulating in the body through a network of channels or meridians (see Traditional Medicine).

    Martial arts emphasize the cultivation of qi. Through concentration, practitioners, such as monks of the Shaolin Monastery, perform extraordinary feats of fitness and endurance.
    Martial arts emphasize the cultivation of qi.
    Through concentration, practitioners,
    such as monks of the Shaolin Monastery,
    perform extraordinary feats of fitness
    and endurance.
    A feng shui practitioner sets up a bagua chart and other instruments to trace the flow of qi within an office building. Feng shui is popular in Hong Kong, where it is less frowned on as a superstitious practice.
    A feng shui practitioner sets up a bagua
    chart and other instruments to trace the
    flow of qi within an office building. Feng
    shui is popular in Hong Kong, where it is
    less frowned on as a superstitious practice.

    Feng shui

    Chinese geomancy, or feng shui (“wind and water”), is based on ideas of qi. Feng shui posits that the appropriate layout of a building or room, for example the position of doorways, affects the flow of qi and hence the inhabitants’ general well-being.

    Yijing

    The Chinese classic, the Yijing (I Ching), or Book of Changes, has been consulted as a divination guide book for thousands of years. In it the bagua are combined into 64 hexagrams of six yin or yang lines each. The hexagrams represent even more complex states of qi than the bagua.

    Divination sticks are often consulted nowadays to divine the future. Outside temples in Hong Kong, worshipers can be seen scattering the sticks on the ground. A practiced diviner reads the pattern by picking out bagua shapes.
    Divination sticks are often consultednowadays
    to divine the future. Outside temples in Hong
    Kong, worshipers can be seen scattering
    the sticks on the ground. A practiced diviner
    reads the pattern by picking out bagua shapes.

    Bagua chart

    Eight bagua, or trigrams, ranged around a yin-yang symbol make up the basic bagua chart, an attempt to codify the working of qi. Each trigram consists of three lines–yin (broken) or yang (unbroken). Together they make up all possible permutations of such sets of lines and describe potential movement between different qi states.






     

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