The different meanings of Qi
October 9, 2008
Since the core competency of a Feng Shui practitioner is to read and analyze Qi and to work with Qi, we need to know the different meanings of Qi used by the Chinese in different context. There are at least four ways of looking at the meaning of Qi (courtesy: Gyda Anders):
1) “Qi” seen as a “concrete thing” – a definite object in contrast to the Dao, which has neither spatial restriction nor physical form, that which is manifested. For example, the weather (Tian Qi) or our breath (Qi) are forms of manifested qi.
2) “Qi” seen as a “subtle, incipient, actuating force” which is not yet visible – that which is hidden. For example, the term “Xing Qi” in Feng Shui where ‘Xing’ is refer to the physical form of an object and “Qi” is its formless quality hidden behind the form.
3) “Qi” seen as a “material force” that has both matter and energy, as opposed to the concept of “Li” or Principle. For example, in TCM, Qi denotes the psycho-physiological power associated with blood and breath – Vital Qi that keeps us alive.
4) “Qi” seen as a “concept of synergy” – a “field” of different things that are not related but finally connected together. So when we say this house has “Sheng Qi” it means a certain set of conditons is being satisfied to make the place come alive.
The Chinese often add an extra character to the character Qi to give it a more precise meaning. For example, the ones I mentioned: “Sheng Qi”, “Vital Qi”, “Xing Qi” and “Tian Qi”. One has to be careful in what context or situation the word Qi is used, for example, the term “sheng qi” mentioned ealier, it could mean being angry when you are having an argument with your girlfriend or it could mean a field of life enhancing qi when you are doing a Feng Shui consultation.