“When I practice qi gong or t’ai qi, I do not trouble myself with whether or not the qi is “real.” Qi gong is an art. I practice it in a beautiful way. Like Japanese cuisine, it works best when it looks good. To do a thing in a beautiful way, to move gracefully, is to experience qi. Is beauty a real thing? Yes. But there will never be a Beauty-o-Meter®.”
“In the course of the history of our species, we have often cooked up ideas that elegantly but non-literally described a collection of natural phenomena. I believe the Chinese were superb observers of human health, and came up with all kinds of rather beautiful ways of describing what they could not possibly understand. Qi was an attempt to make sense of it — a label for the collective je ne sais quoi of human health and vitality.”
I agreed whole-heartedly with this article. I think it is possible to appreciate many “traditional” or “alternative” healing arts metaphorically, rather than believing in them literally. There is still something beautiful about one human being’s attempt to heal another, whether that is through the placing of acupuncture needles, or in the laying on of hands, as in Reiki. I think these treatments can still be beneficial, whether or not the things their practitioners say about the flow of energy are actually turn out to be true.
As the article points out, we are made of energy, and science has not yet been able to fully measure how it flows throughout our bodies. Ingraham writes,
“…maybe, someday, we’ll find out there is something like an energy-type qi going on in our bodies. I doubt it, but I’m not completely closing my mind to the possibility — I’m a qi-as-stuff agnostic.
Meanwhile, I am quite happy with qi-as-poetry. And if that is all it ever turns out to be, how can I be disappointed?”
My thoughts exactly. I suppose there is a remote possibility that someday, science will confirm that there is a flow of energy throughout our bodies that was previously undetected. It is possible. I remain open to the possibility, but until then, it is still possible to value and respect different healing traditions while interpreting them metaphorically.
Such a good article. Your thoughts?