Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Great Comments In Chi Discussion

I am constantly amazed at the depth of thought and knowledge in our global community of Dojo Rats out there. In our Past discussion of Chi HERE and HERE, we had many great comments, but this one from "Glairy" was too good to leave buried in the comment section:
glairy said...
DR- What people experience and feel is always theirs, no argument there. And the blog rocks!
I think our discussion revolves around definitions. A sound definition of chi is I think the single biggest problem to discussing chi.
"Anywhere there is movement and energy there is an expression of chi." Energy is the ability to do work (potential energy). Movement IS work (kinetic energy). Are we using different words for the same thing?
So to those here discussing, is it correct to say that for some, energy equates to chi and for others, energy equates to the ability to do work?
Is it correct to say that for some, the shape of DNA is a manifestation of chi, and for others, the shape of DNA is the result of covalent bonds, bond lengths, angles, etc., steric interactions and electrostatic forces?
It seems that we have a debate over semantics, not over the fact that something is happening or that something exists.
The distinct advantage the more specific and exacting definitions (the "sciencey words" ;-) ) have is that one can communicate concepts concretely. The things mentioned can be measured, categorized, compared. I do this for a living, and went to school way too long to understand how to. But that is also a distinct disadvantage- I can see how that approach, if applied wrongly, can suck the very life out of life. I have felt that, and have questioned things.
I do science for a living, and I also teach tai chi. Some people find these two things almost mutually exclusive. I feel that analysis of what I do only enhances it.
So, is it semantics, or is something else being debated?
March 10, 2009 11:27:00 AM PDT

(D.R.) Wow...
Well, as far as potential energy as opposed to kinetic energy and their relation to Chi, I would guess both exibit Chi.
As the classics say Yi (intent, potential energy) leads the Chi to the resulting Jing (movement, power, kinetic energy).
So, the origin must be in potential energy, but manifests itself through the entire process.
Bless my DNA, I may be talking myself into a circular argument. Any help from the Peanut Gallery would be appreciated, and thanks Glairy, for the thoughtful comments!

One last thought, from "Chi Gong" by Dong and Esser:
"As Xu Hong-zhang and Zhao Yong-jie from the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing put it:
"The Chi is considered today somewhat like radiation in modern physics, but there is a difference in that the Chi concept emphasizes not only an energy aspect, but also an information aspect. Thus it is empaisized that Chi makes it possible for seperated bodies to transmit information as well as energy to one another."


Eric Zielke said...

D.R. & "Glairy",
"So, is it semantics, or is something else being debated?"
It may very well be that something else is being debated. That thing getting in the way of the debate often times is what the subject is willing to commit to ontologically. (Big word for the philosophical commitment one has to "what there is") Most scientists, and laypeople, are Realists, that is they believe that what they study (experience)directly corresponds to items existing in the world. Some are Nominalists, and as such are not willing to commit that the empirical data we compile with the help of our senses commit us to there being a concrete reality. Scientific theories for them may be viewed as just pragmatic tools to help us manipulate and navigate our "reality". (Please note this is grossly simplifying things, and painting with a painfully wide brush.) In the interplay between these two views, semantics coupled with commitment about "what there is" plays havoc in conversation.
Two people, experiencing the same phenomena will look for different explanations based upon their assumptions about the world. Even with the Realist, who commits to the true existence of things, the conversation can go off track. Are they willing to commit to a materialistic view of Chi as existing only in the biochemical interaction of the systems of the body? Or are they willing the claim that there is a -spiritual- aspect to Chi like many of the old masters teach?
The modern notion of the body as a machine, vs. mind-body dualism provides most of the ground for this conversation. In the end, each person will settle on the definition that they see best fits with their perception of reality.
For those who are Chi "evangelists" the question I put forth is, -Should there be only one definition of Chi?- If so, what should be included in that definition, what should be left out?-

Dojo Rat said...

I'll have to chew on this for a while.
I had a training session with my Tai Chi Chuan instructor last weekend, and he gave me a copy of "Wellspring", which he said was the best explanation of Chi he ever read. I'm on it now, and will post a review in the near future...

glairy said...

Thank you for the insightful comments, Eric! I am not sure what the answer is, but having good discussion on the subject with no degenerating into nonsense and name-calling is wonderful.

And DR- you flatter me with your recent post!