Ch’i kung (qigong) has become enormously popular in China. The Los Angeles Times article reprinted in this issue of T’AI CHI says that “at least 60 million people practice it.”
In Western nations, it is hardly known and may develop quite differently from China, where to some extent, it is a way of recovering the traditions of Taoism and Buddhism that have been off limits since 1949.
In a way, the West has a slight advantage in that Taoism and Buddhism and similar disciplines such as Yoga were transplanted here and developed considerable followings in the 1960s and 1970s.
These Eastern disciplines involve various kinds of meditation. And meditation is ch’i kung.
I can remember doing Zen meditation over 30 years ago, putting the mind in the tan t’ien, or the hara, and having the sense of what 10 years later I would know as ch’i when I studied T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
As people now become more and more aware of the diverse kinds of ch’i and ch’i practices, we will have to sort out the many different varieties and teachers and know what is good for us as individuals.
There will be a supermarket of ch’i kung practices to choose from but not at supermarket prices.
Because, at its highest level, ch’i kung is very powerful, we should be careful not to see it as magical or miraculous activity. As the Times article says, it is primarily a “science” and an approach to life.
We should require that any system that we embrace enhance our wisdom and way of life. Our practice should serve us and our contemporaries not just the trainer or the system.