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To start to understand the basics of qi, understanding the Dao is a must. The Dao, (also spelled Tao) is commonly translated into English as “the Way”. That is misleading. It is not way of doing something, it is not a path. I feel this is a misnomer because the Dao includes everything. Everything one can think of and still more. It is so large; words cannot describe what it is. One cannot point to something and say that it is the Dao. The Dao just is the Dao. The Dao is the thing that exists as what it is. In the Bible, God says, “I am who I am.” What the Dao is, and what God is, are two different ideas of explaining the unexplainable. The two are one in the same. When one says “God”, one may think of an organized religion such as of Judaism or Christianity. When one says “Dao”, one should think of Chinese philosophy.

This is going to seem very contradictory, strange or even laughable, but it is the basic understanding of the Dao: Dao is everything that is, and everything that isn’t. At first, you are just going to have to trust me. Think about it, how much is out there? How big is the universe? How did the universe start? How many dimensions are there? And other big questions we would like to know or understand. Science is trying to answer these questions. But can they ever be answered correctly? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? And in the long run, how important is it to know the answer to these questions? Will knowing make you sleep more peacefully tonight? Will knowing these answers create world peace? As long as we, as a human race, can respect what is bigger than life, try to understand a little, we will be ok.

To understand more, go to your local library or bookstore and find the book by Lao Zi (Lao Zhu) called “Dao De Jing” (Tao Te Ching). Lao Zi is the sage or Wiseman who is known as the founder of Daoism. This is the basic understanding of what the Dao is. It can be confusing, so don’t put the book in a box to fast. It might take several times of reading to understand some of what Lao Zi is getting at. To grasp more of the Dao, one can practice one of the many forms of qi gong.


Qi, as all things, comes from the Dao. Qi is in everything. It consists of 3 parts: Energy, matter, and information.Qi, with these three parts tells our senses (the five and the sixth) what is happening around us. We know what a table looks like because it is a physical thing, i.e. matter. We know this because that information is sent to our bodily senses by the table’s energy. Therefore we can understand the things that are. Where there is nothing, meaning emptiness, there is no qi. There is no qi there because there is no matter, information and energy. When something living dies, it looses its qi. However the remaining body has its own qi because it is still matter.

Those who have a good sense of the qi can actually feel it. But it takes years of training to distinguish what one is feeling. Everything has its own signature, its own qi. Each organ in the body or like each pebble found on a mountain all have qi, but its energy, matter, and information is all different.


The Tai Ji (tai chi symbol)

From the Dao, we have qi, which in turn can be divided into the yin/yang. The yin/yang are opposites. For example, without darkness (yin), how can there be light (yang)? There is always going to be up (yang), and there will always be its opposite, down (yin). Inside is yin, outside can only be yang. There is male/female positive/negative… the yin/yang only refers to things that are a part of nature. Ideals, philosophy, or religion do not apply. Therefore good and bad, as abstract concepts, are not included in yin and yang. Good and bad are personal judgments.

There are four distinct rules that describe the yin/yang. 1) Yin is never without yang and visa versa. 2) Within yang, there is yin and visa versa. They are infinitely divisible. 3) When yang becomes extreme, it will turn into yin, and visa versa. 4) Yin/yang are in a constant cycle.

A constant cycle means that when something goes to the extreme, it’s opposite starts to grow. Take a look, when the dark area reaches its extreme, the white area starts to grow. Because of this philosophy, this symbol is called “tai ji”, which directly translated means “too extreme”. This indicates the two ends of the spectrum. The Dao is everything and nothing, it embodies the two extremes. The dark extreme is absent of color because there is no light. At the other extreme are all the colors are combine to make white.

When you look at the design of the yin/yang, the two dots in the middle of the two extremes are representations of the winter and summer solstices. When the summer solstice occurs, the next day is a day closer to fall, and the day after the winter solstice is a day closer to spring. The summer is extreme yang. This means longer days and hotter days. And winter is the exact opposite. Winter is extreme yin. So the weather during spring and fall are in the middle.

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