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Thread: Is Chi electromagnetic energy?

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    Is Chi electromagnetic energy?

    Dear all interested

    I decided to start this thread, because Sifu Stier and myself differ in opinion on just what chi is. Please refer to Michael Durkin's thread on 'The benefits of internal force' to see how we started.
    I do NOT want this thread to turn into an ego-driven argument. I simply want to discuss what evidence there is on both sides of the issue. I'm not even going out to try and prove Sifu Stier wrong. I just think it is a good subject to present our differing views on, so others can make up their own mind on what they think chi is.
    Here is a brief synopsis and introduction to what has gone before:
    In Michael's thread, Sifu Stier said
    Quote Originally Posted by SifuStier
    Chi/Qi energy is the electro-magnetic energy or force which courses through all living beings and all parts of every living body
    This statement comes from SifuStier's theoretical knowledge AND direct experience.
    I say that Chi is not electromagnetic energy, and cannot be described in Western terms. My comments come from theoretical knowledge (I am doing a Physics degree) and direct experience also, although my experience is far less than Sifu Stier's.

    Quote Originally Posted by SifuStier
    You would only need to feel the 'electrical' energy or chi discharged from my middle fingertip or thumb one time to become a believer in the presence of this electro-magnet energy! This same chi energy can be used to 'magetize' with 'sticking' energy.
    I am already a believer in Chi. And personally, I would not like to be on the receiving end of a chi-charged fingertip just to prove it exists.

    Has anyone here ever put a 9V battery on their tongue? It tingles, right? And that is because the electrical current travels through your tongue. I have had a similar experience in Chi kung, feeling this tingling feeling in my hands, especially during Pushing Mountains. This does not mean it is electrical energy flowing through my hands though. Electrical energy can take the form of an electric field, or can be transmitted by electrons. Electric fields cannot harm humans (and hence no 'discharge' to make me a believer), so it must be electrons that produce this 'electrical' energy. However, if you have electrons running through your meridians, then that is as good as an electric shock, damaging all your internal organs! This is quite the opposite of what chi does, in making them healthy.

    Onto the 'magnetize' and 'sticking', just because one thing is attracted to another it does not mean it is magnetic. Magnets and indeed electrical energy attract each other. So does gravity. And so do the strong and weak nuclear forces in an atom. And so does Dark Matter, a form of matter not explained by science, but has overwhelming evidence for it's existence.

    Quote Originally Posted by SifuStier
    Western Medicine has touched upon this energetic presence to some degree with the use of EKG's, EEG's, and MRI's for example
    This is true. EKG's are used to measure the electrical voltage in the heart. This electrical voltage comes from the heart muscles contracting and electrical signals from the brain. The electrical charge does not flow around the body as chi does. It is localised. EEG is used to detect electrical activity in the brain and is, again, localised. MRI simply turns the water in your body to 'face' in a particular direction, and uses the inherent magnetic field in atoms. Again, this does not flow around the body as chi does.
    On a side note, MRI was devloped at my university by Sir Peter Mansfield, who won last year's Nobel prize in medicine. This has no relevance to the discussion, and I'm just bragging now

    What I do believe, however, is that chi can manifest as electrical or magnetic energy. I do not believe it to be electrical, nor magnetic, at it's fundamental level.

    Quote Originally Posted by SifuStier
    Perhaps continued kung-fu training will clarify the entire issue for you over time!
    I sure hope so. I aspire to reach it.
    I invite Sifu Stier to put his thoughts forward, and indeed anyone else who has any comments.

    Thank you for taking the time to read, it has taken long enough to write!

    Warm regards to all
    Alex

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexstedman
    Has anyone here ever put a 9V battery on their tongue? It tingles, right? And that is because the electrical current travels through your tongue. I have had a similar experience in Chi kung, feeling this tingling feeling in my hands, especially during Pushing Mountains. This does not mean it is electrical energy flowing through my hands though. Electrical energy can take the form of an electric field, or can be transmitted by electrons. Electric fields cannot harm humans (and hence no 'discharge' to make me a believer), so it must be electrons that produce this 'electrical' energy. However, if you have electrons running through your meridians, then that is as good as an electric shock, damaging all your internal organs! This is quite the opposite of what chi does, in making them healthy.
    The charge carriers that comprise electric current do not have to be electrons; they can be positive ions, such as sodium and potassium ions.
    It's not true that there's no current flowing in the body - minute current pulses travel all the time throughout the body along nerves.

    My personal take is that electromagnetic energy is definitely part of chi, but not all of it. Since the Chinese paradigm in which chi is defined is different from the scientific paradigm, it is likely that chi isn’t just one thing but would possibly include placebo/psychological effects, hormonal/chemical messengers and other unknown aspects.

    If you believe that there are only four fundamental forces, electromagnetic, weak & strong nuclear, and gravity, then chi effects would probably fall under the realm of the electromagnetic as the others don't seem as appropriate. For example, it seems unlikely that qigong masters can affect gravity, nuclear decay, and fusion/fission.

    From a reductionist perspective, chi seems to be electromagnetic, biological, and psychological in nature. But there probably are deeper elements involved (depending on how broadly you define electromagnetism and biological effects).

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    All Charged Up!

    Frogular:

    I liked your post alot. It got me all charged up again! I believe that chi is electro-magnetic in nature, positive (+) polarity Yang and negative (-) polarity Yin, capable of both 'projecting' outward (issuing) and 'attracting' inward (sticking); primarily physical in medium of expression; mental/psychological in regards to intentional manner and intensity of expression. I understand that it is difficult for those who have yet to fully develop and refine their chi to understand the true nature and function of this energy, but such lack of experiential understanding does not in any way discount or discredit same!

    This energy only damages one's internal system when impeded or blocked in its natural and normally healthy movement. My 'discharge' wouldn't harm you unless I intended it to, and of course depending on which part of your body or which 'energy point' (tien-hsieh) I 'discharged' it onto, but it would definitely give you a new perspective on that which you now only hypothesize intellectually, rather than truly understand experientially!

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    Dear Frogular,

    I too liked your post. And I realise I was wrong about the current being just electrons!! I learnt something about those +ve ions a long time back, and it escaped my memory, but you have re-instated it firmly back into my brain

    Quote Originally Posted by Frogular
    It's not true that there's no current flowing in the body - minute current pulses travel all the time throughout the body along nerves.
    which is probably why I took physics instead of biology again, apologies for my ignorance

    Quote Originally Posted by SifuStier
    I believe that chi is electro-magnetic in nature, positive (+) polarity Yang and negative (-) polarity Yin, capable of both 'projecting' outward (issuing) and 'attracting' inward (sticking)
    Could you please elaborate on this Sifu Stier? I am intruiged. I had heard of yin and yang meridians being -ve and +ve, but I thought that the sign terms referred to a particular 'way' the chi was flowing (eg either up the body or down the body). I would be very interested to hear more about it.

    Thanks so far!
    Warm regards
    Alex

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    The Scientific Method

    Quote Originally Posted by alexstedman
    I do NOT want this thread to turn into an ego-driven argument.


    Alex - you ask interesting questions...

    I think its also important not to fall into a typical example of false dualistic thinking to set "scientific" and "traditional" understandings against each other - or, as many people do, flatly reject one or t'other.

    Anyway I think the principal point here is that you appear to have the scientific method backwards! - ie arguing from 'simple' theory and a small scattering of facts to conclusion. Of course the scientific method is often taken backwards so you are not alone (eg and esp by 'western' doctors - many of whom define 'unscientific' as meaning "it wasn't in my textbooks when I learned medicine" lol).

    So in terms of evidence you don't really refer to papers, or SQUID measurements of fields etc etc (nor for that matter as you admit do you have the depth of 'traditional' experience on the other side). There is a (surprising) amount of pukkha research and scientific papers on these issues (and basically biological organisms are far more complex than physicists allow - at the tiniest level they are comprised of hugely non-linear elements).

    As I posted previously anyone with an interest (and reasonable scientific understanding) in how one reconciles 'scientific' (experimental data) with 'traditional' (experimental data) needs to read:

    Oschman

    If you consult the above I believe you will find what you are looking for (which (and I'm glad you have no ego over this ) is close to Frogular and SifuStiers wise words). Although just in addition to too much reductionism one also needs to look at the information content in any field (eg esp re EM there is a lot of evidence that the bioimpact comes not from the energy level but the informational content (="intent"?)).

    I also think that (as a scientist) you will rather (aka considerably) weaken your attachment to the view that 'qi cannot be explained in western terms' (after all thats kind of an unscientific wimp-out hehe (ie a good scientist whould surely say there is only one universe out there and whilst I don't know all its rules (yet) I can try and find them)). Leaving to oneside the fact that 'qi' as a word might have been used by different authorities to describe different things at different levels (eg as per an excellent recent Q&A by Sifu) its very clear that a lot of the effects of it can be.

    As an example of the latter if you have a failed re-healing of a bone fracture you will be (in hospital) given EM stimulation (of certain nature) to restart the healing process. It has been shown that those fields are precisely the fields that a qigong healer would emit when asked to do the same task!

    Amusingly for you one of Oschman's (a cell biologist) targets is physicists who take a far too simplistic view of the biological organism! It is very easy to lose the importance of the scale (and hence complexity) issue when when switching from 'physics' to 'biology'.

    Thus whilst it is of course correct (in so far as it goes - lets keep it uncontentious and say 'at a physical level' (don't wish to get diverted down a mystical track here)) that physics can (or will) provide an underlying set of laws the feeling then of physicists that they can then sit back in their deckchairs and leave the easy stuff to the other disciplines is unfortunately not correct.

    To give a metaphor for this - starting with a 'complete' physicists' knowledge of the laws of the universe how can one explain why third slip dropped an easy catch (or in baseball terms some fielder)

    Get my point? - the hugely exponential increase in complexity once one moves out of the physicists domain (and I would say biology is say 'half-way' up this curve) - means that even a Grand Universal Theory of everything is actually fairly useless

    Anyway if none of this makes any sense read the book 'cos that does and if you are really interested in this area you will find it brilliant (and will have a statue of me commissioned to which you will bow down daily for pointing you in the right direction).

    Good - glad we kept ego out of this

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike B; 6th March 2005 at 11:29 AM.
    "If you realised how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought." Peace Pilgrim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frogular
    pulses travel all the time throughout the body along nerves.
    Also called as Action Potential:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_potential

    Nice topic
    Best wishes,
    Panu

    Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. (John Dewey)

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    Wow, MikeB thanks for a great post!! You make a lot of very good points, and I'm almost feeling as though my view is changing!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike B
    I think its also important not to fall into a typical example of false dualistic thinking to set "scientific" and "traditional" understandings against each other - or, as many people do, flatly reject one or t'other.
    I think this is THE most important point. I'm trying not to make it seems as though I am taking sides. If anything, I'm on both the 'traditional' and 'scientific' sides. I have experienced and felt the benefits of chi, and I'm also a a physicist. However, I do not think physics is the be-all and end-all. It just does a pretty good job at explaining (a lot of, but not all) things.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike B
    So in terms of evidence you don't really refer to papers
    When I first read this, I thought 'Hang on, I didn't mention anything about evidence'. Then I went back to my first post, and lo and behold, there I am saying I want to discuss the evidence on both sides! Doh!
    I got myself in a twist at this point. Just what was I trying to say? As I'm not out to dis-prove anyone, I didn't want to bring any scientific papers into the discussion. I felt if I did this, it would look like me going 'HAH! you see you're wrong and I can prove it!' which I definately don't want to do So when I say 'evidence' what I really meant was 'with the knowledge that I have'. Curse my defiled mind
    I will purchase the book you recommend. It sounds like a really good read, and I look forward to finding out some more amazing things!
    One thing that really stood out in your post for me, was that of using EM to heal faulty bone re-healing. I never knew about this technique, and I am pleasantly surprised to hear about it! Remarkable indeed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike B
    starting with a 'complete' physicists' knowledge of the laws of the universe how can one explain why third slip dropped an easy catch (or in baseball terms some fielder)
    Ya know, that is precisely one of the reasons why I think physics will need a pardigm shift to become 'complete'. You may all have heard about String Theory, and how it's the big contender for the 'Theory of Everything'. Yet it can't explain consciousness (can it?). Maybe it would be better suited as a Theory of not-quite-everything

    Thanks for all who have posted, I will read all the links when I get a chance.
    Warm regards
    Alex

  9. #9
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    barrys is offline Sifu Barry Smale - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam England
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    Alex,

    Given the notion of staring at the moon rather than the finger I would suggest you save your money on the statue to Mike as you will be wasting your time watching it (you might as well send it to me instead). Anyway his fingernails will be very dirty considering all the time he spent in the undergrowth in Ireland.

    Barry

  10. #10
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    barrys is offline Sifu Barry Smale - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam England
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    Actually, as I have just re-read Mike's post it got me thinking about some of the strange sensations I sometimes have. Mike mentioned the idea of using EM to heal fractures. When I was a kid I broke both my nose and my jaw quite badly. When I was 17 I was involved in a car crash and again got fairly serious head injuries (yes, yes I know it if fairly obvious once I start talking).

    Anyway the point is my nose, jaw and skull is where I feel the most "force". With my nose it is like someone is pushing from both sides and from the inside. My jaw feels like it is "full" both near my chin and at the jaw hinge. At times my head feels like it is being squeezed while at others expanding. Could this be anything to do with qi acting to repair these sites of damage? This is a rhetorical question but I would be interested to hear what people think.

    Barry

    Barry

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