Apologies for the long post, but this is not an easy matter. It is apparent to many of us who work with 'energy' on a regular basis that it is either a quality of or directly linked to consciousness, the very ground in which not only the sciences grow, but the place where all human endeavour and experience takes place. It is strange, mysterious, and I know of no one who has yet been able to give a full account of it. Never mind the scientists failing to define it and understand it, not even the poets, the greatest of practiced imaginers and dreamers, have managed to find words suficient to describe it, and they have no conceptual restraints what so ever. So what I've written here is inevitably limited.
We cant talk of energy without first talking of consciousness. While consciousness is the only real constant we can ever claim to know, our modern understanding of it is drastically inconsistent. Traditionally, we have only observed it either from the perspective of its physical effects (neurons firing, fluctuations in electro magnetism, chemical influence), or from the perspective of it's psychological dynamics. The vast majority of us still have no grasp of its actual condition or nature as we experience it. As far as our specialised knowledge of it goes, having so many experts in a field doesnt mean they can tell you how big the field is or how exhaustive their investigation of it has been, for all they know they may very well be looking at the gate. That is also obviously true for the rest of us.
Budhism is as good a starting point as any to begin, as it considers consciousness as energy and vice versa. A revealing fact is that the teaching the Budha gave as a remedy for all suffering, the meditation known as Vipassana, is essentially a way of dissolving the conscious energy that accumulates in and around the body. The dissolution of energy, which is inseperable from all of one's past experiences, reactions and present sense of self, also dissolves the calsified constructs of the mind, and at root, the ego. Budhism, possibly the oldest teaching regarding the mind, at heart does not separate consciousness from energy, but treats them as the same thing. It's theory of mind, especially the Tibetan, may be the most fully developed science of consciousness we have, having come to the conclusion many thousands of years ago that only through direct observation of the self can we hope to perceive the truth of our existence. The ego is only a small crease in a larger fabric, and the Budha, in his generous wisdom, taught how to iron out the creases. In a ver real way, consciousness is not restricted to the location of the individual. What the individual experiences as the self is a 'bunching' or compressing of the universal fabric of conscious energy. That localised consciousness easily becomes blind to its own nature because it is caught up in its own 'folds'.
Any attempt to directly experience energy therefore requires a loosening of the fabric, a relaxing of the conscious energy that we are. No awareness can be brought to energy if the mind is too tightly bundled, folded and compressed; that is, caught in its own self-determined, self-fulfilling structures. On the other hand, all people have the deep, instinctive link to their own energy (that's what they fundamentaly are after all!) whether they acknowledge it or not, and many people have no problem being able to bring it into their awareness in some small way or another, to loosen the mind enough to allow it experience itself as a wider phenomenon than just the restricted, individual mind. The deep habitual constructs of the individual consciousness are the main barriers to a personal experience of energy. That is why most spiritual traditions based on this understanding set out to shake those psychological structures loose, to undo the tight folds in the fabric of consciousness.
Clearly, not much of what I've written here will be proof for many of you, as what we know of energy clearly doesn't mach up to the practice of science, which needs to negate the influence of the observing consciousness to validate it's method. The problem being the observing consciousness is actually what needs to be studied here.
There are concepts and models which we can use to discuss energy, regardless of it's ambiguity. Almost all native spiritual traditions have at least the remnants of concepts which can be useful while trying to discuss these things. Although I would be careful with a term such as nwyfre, for example, and to bare in mind that you are altering it's meaning if you use it to describe what we are attempting to conceive of here as 'energy'. Awen is also a different concept, as should be clear. These two are more like conditions of energy, not the energy itself. Not that there's anything wrong with adopting new meanings for old words, just that you understand they mean different things when expressed in Welsh, today and historically.
The two main traditions of energy arts that we in the West are familiar with are the Yogic and the Taoist, both of which have clear links and overlaps with Budhism, but these certainly are not the only ones. The Yogic chakras are very familiar, especially to the hermetic or occult movements of Europe, but the Taoist practices maybe the most refined. The Taoist tradition has many concepts which have chimed strongly with different practicioners all over the world. I have had many discussions with oriental teachers and masters of t'ai chi, bagua zhang and the other internal martial arts. In these conversations they have used chi and energy almost interchangeably. The Taoists have a very sophisticated and complex science of energy, the main metaphysical description of which is what informs the derivative arts of acupuncture, TCM, feng shui, I Ching, chi kung, as well as the above mentioned martial arts. What we find within all of these disciplines is the consistency of approach based on quite stable concepts.
An important concept within the Taoist arts is that energy follows the mind, not a million miles away from the Budhist conception. It is also true to to say that energy is conditioned by the mind. That means that not only is the overt direction and aplication of energy determind in large part by the focus of the mind, but its quality and nature are also influenced by the conditions of the mind engaging with it. As an example, in the early stages of Taoist meditation, practicioners are traditionally taught how to smile into their own body's energy, filling the space within the body with the sensations of a golden, over flowing smile. By bringing a smiling attention to the inside of the body, they learn how to condition their energy with a simple attitude of the mind.
The process of learning to focus and condition energy in the Taoist traiditon is a lifetime's work. It is no easy feat to learn this skill of overt manipulation of chi or energy. It takes a long time to develop the necessary skill and many masters study for decades, after which they can manifest energy as a physical force, able to push or strike martial opponents with it. Some masters even teach their students by subtly guiding their students movements by manipulating their energy. There is a traditional tendency for oriental teachers to avoid discussing chi with younger or newer students for the first few years of training as it can be a distraction and lead to false assumptions or conceptual blockages leading to stunted development in later practice. The Budhist teachings also try to shift focus away from energy as an overt practice in itself as it can be a distraction from the ultimate goal of enlightenment.
The modern Taoist schools are also the main proponents of scientific research into chi or energy. Many papers have been published over the last few decades. I've been told that the two referenced below are amongst the most recent, the first being peer reviewed in the Chinese Nature journal, the second being a study made by research students in the California Institute of Human Science. Note that neither experiment claims to measure chi energy, but shows it's physical effects. As yet, there is no method of measuring the energy itself, probably as there is no method of measuring consciousness in its actual state.http://www.scientificexploration.org/jo ... _3_yan.pdfhttp://www.cihs.edu/whatsnew/Non-Touch% ... -v20n2.pdf
I'm away for a while now so wont be posting for a few weeks.
There will be no further admissions to the work this cycle. Thank you. CT