American forms of Qi Cultivation

Submitted by James Miller on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 13:03
James Miller's picture

In these clips, Solala Towler and Roger Jahnke discuss the experience of Qi--the foundation of Daoist cultivation and contrast this with other systems of knowledge and experience. They further discuss the notion of cultivating Qi that goes beyond healing and enters into a process of spiritual discovery.

Daoist tradition, unlike Buddhism or Christianity, only rarely developed systematic theologies or religious philosophies to explain this experience of cultivation. The first line of the traditional version of the Daode jing (Scripture of the Way and its Power) asserts that "The Dao that can be spoken is not the constant Dao," and philosophers ever since have questioned the ability of language or mental concepts to express the thoroughly physical and yet spiritual experience that Daoist practice aims to offer.

Daoism instead offers what might be termed a hermeneutics of the body. That is to say, the body--not just the mind--is the vehicle for constructing and interpreting experience.

When watching the following four clips on Qi cultivation, note down your answers to the following questions. Not every question will be applicable to each clip. Your answers to these questions will be used as the basis for discussion at the end of this section:

  • In what way is Qi a system of knowledge?
  • What does it mean to "cultivate" Qi?
  • How does the view of Daoist cultivation resonate with contemporary cultural attitudes and beliefs?
    • Start with to Roger Jahnke's view of Qigong cultivation.