Chi is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy. Like many fundamental Chinese philosophical terms no translation captures its full meaning. In fact, translations often obscure and conceal the rich structure of meaning in the concept of Chi, Yin and Yang and Wu-Xing.
Chi at a simple level is energy. The font itself implies the steam that rises from a grain of cooked rice. In the human body, in cold weather the breath appears as steam in the same way. Chi encompasses all organic life-energy and the energy of nature in various forms. Hence nothing in the human body is not Chi, and nothing in nature is not Chi. Chi is universal, it transforms, and is indeterminate.
Chi however demonstrates an order within its apparent chaos. The basic order inherent in Chi is exhibited within the concept of Yin and Yang; the ordering force of balance, control, cohesion, sustenance and evolution. Hence Chi is not to be perceived as an arbitrary, random power, it is to be perceived as leading to seasoned and proportionate evolution and sustenance of life.
Yin and Yang refer to two aspects of Chi as a whole, yet in a process of change and transformation one aspect could become dominating and outstanding, as such this aspect of the Chi becomes perceptible and experienced. Yet, at the same time the other aspect exists and subsists.
Yin and Yang originally refer to the sunny side (Yang) and the shaded side (Yin) of the valley. Which side is which, will change throughout the course of the day, demonstrating the transitional and impermanent nature of the concept. Both the shaded and the bright have the light as the central subject, similarly Yin and Yang have Chi as their central subject.
Yin and Yang represent the dualistic qualities inherent in the natural world. Whether Creative or destructive, aggressive or passive, form or energy, all express the universal concept of Yin /Yang. Yin or Yang cannot exist independently of one another, they have a co-dependent relationship. They are opposite but complimentary to one another. They are relative to one another; therefore something can be Yin in relation to one thing, but Yang in relation to another. When Yin and Yang are in harmony they are equally balanced, however they are in a constant state of flux. However infinitely big one becomes, the other will simply become infinitely small – nothing is absolutely Yin or absolutely Yang. Yin and Yang is the fundamental concept behind the Chinese classic, ‘I Ching’ (Book of Changes).
With chi as the basic
substance process of all things in the world, we have the yin and yang
activities of chi providing both a structure and a process of creative
transformation among all things in the world. Then with regard to things in
the context of the yin and yang interchange; we have to introduce a further
structured distinction in the activities of the chi based on yin and yang.
This is the distinction of Wu-Xing.
Wood is growing
The significance of the ‘Yinyang-Wu-Xing’ theory is that we can consider the opposite and complementary relations among chi structures in the human body or between the human body and external environment not only in relations of creation and destruction but in the primary order relations of differentiation, unification, balancing and harmonization of the yin and yang.
The ‘Wu-Xing’ and some of their main correlations:
The Wu-Xing Shou (five ways of hand), is one of the most
important hand forms in the ‘Shen Zhao Pai He Quan’ system.
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