Qi is the Chinese word for the energy that flows through all things and powers life. The study of qi is known as qi gong is the modern era. Within the 4 Ascendant Sphere Tradition, qi is the 3rd Sphere. Taoists across sects have developed many thousands of systems of qi gong over Taoist history. This extensive work on qi was likely motivated by 5 forces.
First: Qi Gong was practiced in the form of Shamanistic dancing in the early roots of Taoism.
The gestures of the dance that provided extra ability or power were isolated from the dances and refined into qi gong. The early qi gong were based on 3 concepts:
One, the absorption of massive amounts of qi;
Two, the building of the Shen (a internal control structure for qi) to outrageous levels;
Three, the generation of stable, external, qi fields.
Ancient qi gong had the disadvantage of risking tremendous health imbalance or of warping the mind of the practitioner. Because of the risks, shamanistic practitioners generally selected only those candidates most likely to survive the training.
Second: Taoism is driven by the desire to tap the full human potential.
Much of human potential is dependent on having the qi to energize human capabilities to their maximum, much like having the battery power to run all the apps on a phone.
Third: The control and direction of qi is a natural act.
Humans were meant to control the qi within their body. Such control is a natural process, and should develop like one similarly develops muscular strength–through repetition, proper practice, and support.
Fourth: Enlightenment has not always been the goal of Taoist practice.
The extension of life, the acquisition of great of power and the acquisition of spiritual knowledge (Te) were the early goals. Enlightenment came about as a result of pursuing these early goals.
Fifth: Enlightenment requires large amounts of qi flowing properly within the system.
Why is Qi Gong Important to Taoist Enlightenment? Because enlightenment is a high energy state.
The Social Mind, the mind that is given to you by the world and the mind that you are unless you are enlightened, is designed to bleed qi off and to function at low energy. In fact, instability emerges in the Social Mind at higher energy states.
Enlightenment is a high energy state, because the thoughts, behaviors, choices, and perceptions of the enlightened mind are not possible with low energy.
You can see examples of this in your own experience. Let`s say you have a flash of insight, an “aha” moment. You perceive something fundamental to you, and you feel a small shift in yourself. Everything changes for you, but only for a moment. Why only for a moment? Why do you lose it? The qi necessary to form the insight is used when the mental connection is made. As your reserve of qi diminishes, so does the effect of the insight. If you have more qi, then you are able to enter into a state of insight for long periods of time.
There are two ways of taking care of this energy problem, you can lower the energetic cost or you can raise your energetic resources.
Master Mikel Steenrod
Keeper of the Gate of Man and Heaven
(Lineage Holder of the 4 Ascendant Spheres Purity Adept School of the Tao)