Chi is a primal substance that animates the universe in Taoism, a mysterious force introduced to us by ancient Chinese myths and legends that have also told us about the Tai Chi and about Tao. Chi is the force that sets the world and everything in it into motion. Chi is also the force that sustains all things once they are created.
The Idea of Chi
The Taoist concept of chi is not easily accepted by Westerners. It is not a concept that appears in our mainstream religions or philosophies. Neither do our medical and scientific traditions acknowledge chi or even have any place for it in their theories.
In China and the Orient, however, the Taoist concept of chi is very familiar, even commonplace. Everyone, from politicians to school children, understands it. The notion of chi and its applications are as much a part of Chinese life and outlook as are the ideas of muscle tone and physical fitness in Western life.
Easterners believe chi to be the life energy contained within matter. In experiments conducted in the 1960s, nuclear physicists in China came to accept the notion that chi is actually a low-frequency, highly concentrated form of infrared radiation.
In the last decade, experiments in China have been conducted on this special type of energy. Some researchers have come to believe, just as the legends tell us, that certain people may be able to learn to emit this form of energy from their bodies. Known as chi kung masters, these highly trained individuals often devote their lives to developing this subtle energy.
As the Taoist concept of chi crossed over into the West in recent years, a Western word was coined to describe it. Since chi has a number of properties that seem similar to those of electrical energy, it is sometimes called bio-energy.
This describes the living energy that is native to life rather than to the inanimate forces of nature such as water power or lightning. Knowledge related to bio-energy is called bio-information.
Learn more about chi as the life force and its appearance in Western ideas on the next page.