By Stefan Stenudd
I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written several books about life force concepts and East Asian traditions. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. My personal website: stenudd.com
The life energy exists in many traditions, such as qi (chi) in China, prana in India, pneuma in Ancient Greece, spiritus in Latin, and vitalism in philosophy. Here they are all explained.
Books by Stefan Stenudd:
The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Chinese classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The ancient Chinese life energy qi (chi) explained and how to exercise it. Click the image to visit.
Taoism, the old Chinese philosophy of life, based on Tao, the Way. Click the image to visit.
Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal. Click the image to visit.
A Worldwide Principle of the Essence of Vitality
The idea of a life energy is present in many of the world's cultures and ancient traditions. It's often linked to breath - as in the Chinese concept qi, the Indian prana, the Greek pneuma, the Hebrew ruach, and our word spirit, from the Latin spiritus - also used in the word inspiration.
There are indeed many near-synonyms to the life energy concept, as we know it from the Latin spiritus, the Greek pneuma, the Indian prana, the Chinese qi (or chi), and so on. But here are also many concepts that have been regarded as examples of a life energy, although at closer examination it's clear that they are not. Beliefs from distant times and cultures are not that easy to comprehend, so we frequently fall into the trap of expecting them to be exact counterparts to old ideas of ours. That's far from always the case.
Those concepts that are indeed examples of a life energy, though, show several similarities - but still some significant differences, which help us to understand the life energy idea in the mind of man.
Here is my little encyclopedia of all those examples of life energy and similar ideas, as well as the concepts erroneously regarded as belonging to this category (click the header to get there).
You don't have to believe in the life energy to try it. Keep an open but also critical mind, and make your decision afterwards. Life is a wondrous mystery. What brightens it up is precious, whether it can be seen in a microscope or not. So, give it a chance if you're the least bit curious about what has kept the idea of a life energy present in human minds through thousands of years.
Here's my website about the Chinese life energy concept qi and how to exercise it (click the header).
Life Energy BooksI have written two books on the subject of life energy: