Beliefnet
A Pagan's Blog

A couple of days
ago I came across two Youtube videos of Qigong masters using chi to perform
extraordinary feats.  One, in which
I have enormous confidence, is from China,  and was linked to by a man I worked
with for many years while doing a lot of healing work, Larry Wong.

The other was
next to it in YouTube, and showed an American with (possibly) even more impressive
powers
, if they are real.  Real or
not, when he and his students attempted to perform similar workings on others,
they failed.  


The Fox News
team took their failure as evidence chi did not really exist.  Having worked with it for over 20 years, and
been knocked out of a room by it, I beg to differ.  But what, then, did the Fox News team really demonstrate?

We have two
interesting phenomena to investigate:

1. People who
work with chi have long-term personal experience that it is genuine and very
powerful.

2. People who do
not work with chi very often or at all find they do not feel it, even when “masters” use it on
them. For them it either does not exist, or is very weak, and the strong effects seem staged or deluded.

I will assume
both kinds of reports are accurate because while I have no way of judging the accuracy of the second video, and the guys seems amazingly powerful, I do know there are lots of people who feel nothing when encountering someone directing chi.  

I will suggest a possible explanation.  My hypothesis has been  seconded by someone far
better at using chi than me, but is based on things I have personally experienced.  The clue that led me to this suspicion is that the more one
works with chi, the stronger its effects become.  

Someone could argue that this phenomena is simply the power of
suggestion, that we begin to feel what we are expected to feel.  And I am sure that the power of suggestion is enormous.  

But that is not how sensitivity to chi often develops.  Suggestible people do not suddenly become sensitive, and ‘breakthroughs’ in perception can be sudden and completely unexpected.  They can occur in contexts completely unrelated to working with or being around people who work with chi.  They can seem to come “out of the blue” and only later be understood and developed.  That was certainly the case in my experience.  

After my first “opening,” in a context utterly unconnected to any thing explicitly or implicitly about chi/energy/prana, I had such stuff surging through me that I could not hold my athame steady in ritual.  (At times my coven mates were very worried that I’d slash them. Only later did I develop the ability to control it, but happily slashed no one along the way.)  It was only when I began working in a Brazilian healing circle in Berkeley that this began to come under control.  

The context within which we worked was Afro’Brazilian, superficially the opposite of Chinese practice, but it was here that I first met Larry Wong, who is now a recognized tai chi/Qigong teacher.  Prior to that, but after my earlier precipitating event on a vision quest it had manifested in a Wiccan circle and even occasionally when I was driving my car.  This all suggests it is  hardly the product of ‘suggestion.’

What appears to be happening is that with, with or without an unexpected precipitating event, with continued exposure and focus, we open up to its effects.  Channels for receiving and moving chi are
cleared out and enlarged, the analogy I was taught was it was like a garden hose with kinks and blockages gradually getting cleaned out so that water could flow smoothly.  In the
process we end up feeling phenomena other people do not.  

Sensitivity to
chi improves with focus and over time.  As we become more sensitive we both can
do things we could not do before and we also have to be careful in ways we did
not before.  Safety issues grow
with the amount of chi we can focus and move.  But those who are relatively ‘closed’ to it cannot channel enough for it to manifest in significant ways.  

This does not make them better or worse as people, or really more spiritual or less spiritual, in my opinion.  But it closes them off to one energetic dimension of the world in which we live.  In that closure are both benefits and losses.  This the case whenever we close ourselves off to anything, I think.  We get some benefit, and some loss. The same is true for societies and even families that close themselves off, essentially hypno-socializing their members to not experience some things.  In my opinion the closing is more loss than gain, but that may well vary with people and their situations.

I believe that what the Chinese call chi is the energy we raise in our circles for healing and other purposes.  But I believe there is much that we do not know about the possibilities in our work.  We are working in traditions that are for the most part very recent.  Even the witches Gerald Gardner learned from only had a fragmentary and incomplete awareness of the roots of their traditions. The Chinese, by contrast, have been studying this for thousands of years. We can learn a lot from them.

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