May the 4th be with You

Girl performing qigong or taijiquan exercises in the evening. Woman practicing Tai Chi. Ancient chinese healthcare practice. Flat style. Vector illustration.

On this day that makes us think of Star Wars, and the “Force,” I think it’s a great opportunity to reflect on Qi (or, chi), which is the equivalent to the Force in many ways. Traditional Chinese medicine revolves around the concept of Qi, as do many indigenous healing arts. After thousands of years, and despite amazing breakthroughs in Western medicine, the ancient healing modalities are still practiced around the world. You might even say there has been a resurgence of practices like Qigong, Tai-Chi, Meditation and Yoga. And, what’s very interesting, is that the forms of these practices have changed very little over the hundreds – or thousands – of years they’ve been in existence. For example, the Qigong form of The Eight Pieces of the Eight Brocade, is practiced the same way today as it was 2,000 years ago. What is to explain this? A good place to start is to look at the human brain.

In his book, “The Perennial Philosophy,” Aldous Huxley discusses research that shows the human brain has changed very little over the last 20,000 years. Huxley refers to the research to make the point that human beings have changed very little over a long period of history; but our external world has changed very rapidly with the development of technology. I mention this because it adds to the validity of ancient healing practices, based on the concept of Qi, when you understand that human beings were just as smart back then as we are now; we might have been even smarter in some ways!

It’s not so much about whether we are smarter or not, but how we use our brain. Huxley speaks of the human will, and that throughout history, humanity has been able to will many spectacular things into existence. He sites examples that are good and bad, such as the Taj Mahal or the hydrogen bomb. Thousands of years ago, the human will was directed toward the advancement of healing arts such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, and others. Rather than thinking these modalities are “old,” or “outdated,” I think it’s more accurate to say they are “advanced healing technologies,” the potential of which we may still not know (or have forgotten) to this day.

I believe it is an important challenge for humanity, in our time, to explore the potential of the ancient healing arts. I say it’s a challenge because it’s not easy. With the development of technology, and humanity’s apparent mastery over (and often an obsession with) the material world, how can it be easy for us to direct our collective will back to the non-material, and to the inner-world? In ancient times, when material technology was not so developed, the environment was ripe for the alternative technologies that cultivate the human mind, and enhance awareness of Tao, God, or what Huxley refers to as, the divine ground. In our current time we’re bombarded with noise and distraction (I don’t think I need to elaborate much on these – we all know them: cell phones, television, etc.). These distractions pull us away from the innate technologies of the mind and body that can bring us so much greater happiness and fulfillment than any material advancement.

So I encourage you all to celebrate Qi today, or the Force, or energy, spirit – whatever you want to call it. And send a shout out, via your mind, to the ancient masters that help enlighten humanity to healing modalities that are still relevant (and perhaps more important than ever) today. I invite you to explore the potential of Qi!

And, of course, “May the 4th be with You!”

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