dimanche 27 janvier 2013

About Qi (second part)

As seen in the first part of this article, it seems that the notion of "vital breath" or "energy" (Qi) has a strong bound with Taoist Alchemy. We can find this relationship down to the graph of it : The oldest character representing the vital breath comes from the western Zhou (11th Century BC - 256 BC). It is written with the air element on top and the fire element on its base. As the ancient Zhou civilization and its shamanic rites have crossed the age through the Taoism, the taoist alchemy takes its roots directly in the culture of the chinese Zhou ancestors.

 scripture on turtle shell, the origin of the chinese characters

Many centuries later comes a variation of this character showing the same idea. During the Song dynasty, this character is starting to be used to represent the pre-heaven Qi (pre-natal Qi / xiantianqi), in opposition to the post-heaven Qi (post-natal Qi / houtianqi). The first of these two character represent the air or the breath on the fire (炁), the second one represent the air or the steam and the seed or germ materialized by a rice grain (氣)

In her book "yiliao tiyu huibian, hunyuan jianshen fa" (Collection of medical and sport texts, method of the primordial chaos for body strengthening), the master Wang yufang explains us : 

 "Some people say that the Qi of Qigong is, in fact, simply the air that we breath  (Nowadays, the Qi character is the same as the Air character as the rice element disappeared in its simplified form). Of course, it is not true. 
In the ancient writings talking about Qi, the one we talk about in Qigong, the graph is . So it is definitely not only air (气)."

In the same book, Madam Wang yufang says :

"Zhanzhuanggong is the yangsheng training of Yiquan (vital breath nourishment) as found in the Xingyiquan. Yiquan is so a form of qigong. The standing postures exercises for nourishing the vital breath is a mix of martial art and Qi practice. It comes from our ancestors culture and is thousands years old... 
...The knowledge we have today on the usages of these ancestors is very small as few people are able to understand the meaning of the writing we got from them." 

If we want a better understanding of this thousands of years old notion, we can check in the Taoism and its conception of human being :

For taoists, man can only be because of the two complementary entities that are above and under him : the sky and the ground. The sky is Yang, warm, it represents the spiritual and creative force and it is related to the fire element. The ground is Yin, cold, it represents the physical and material potential. It is related to the water element.

The man is, so, always torn between those two elements which compose its nature. The Taoist alchemy propose, in a certain manner, a way of harmony for the human being.
By putting "Fire under Water" (taking control of the body with the mind), it is possible to "humidify the fire to control its excess" and, at the same time, to "warm up gently the water" to make it boil. By boiling the water, "something" happens that is similar to transformation of water into steam, Qi.

Tripod cauldron, symbol of alchemy, between sky and earth

Qi is, then, "what does appear when fire is placed under the water" (the Zhou graph of Qi : fire under steam !).
In this process, breathing is very important and this is probably the reason why the second most ancient graph for Qi is represented by the fire under the breath (炁).

Master Wang xiangzhai said : "When zhanzhuang is practiced correctly, there is no more "fire syndrome".

The "Fire syndrome" ( (huohou / 火候 ) is a taoist way of speech for the nature of the 
mind and its characteristics : difficult to dominate, voluble, it can burn everything on its 
way if not controlled. To suppress this "fire syndrome" means to "control the mind", which is the first step to make this "something", that is Qi, to appear...