By Stefan Stenudd
I'm a Swedish writer and instructor of the peaceful martial art aikido. I've written several books about qi and other lifeforce concepts. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. 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, by Stefan Stenudd. 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.
Addicted to Inspiration
That which gives energy to life
Since childhood, I have been addicted to inspiration. It is one of those things that make life worth living. Contrary to many reports of the opposite, I have always found inspiration easy to induce, for example by listening to music, looking at master paintings, or reading a really good novel - but mostly by simply rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on something that demands inspiration, again usually something artistic.
When inspiration flows, it feels as tangible within my body as a liquid, like the blood pumping through my veins, or an ether, like the air I inhale and exhale. Although inspiration is a state of mind, it feels no less real than my body and the world that surrounds me.
As an adolescent, I happened to come across the peaceful martial art aikido (see the image), and started to practice it passionately. Thereby, I was introduced to ki, the Eastern idea of a life force (from Chinese usually transcribed qi or chi). It felt like inspiration, too, but with an expression of power. Ki was more for physical action, such as throwing fellow aikido practitioners around. The energy by which to get things done. An ether, just like inspiration, but one of intention. Still, they felt essentially the same.
I continued with aikido, and with some artistic expressions. Well, aikido is also an art. Let's call everything that inspires us art.
During my adult years, I have also studied the history of ideas - those of art, science, religion, philosophy, politics, and so on. What continues to fascinate me is to discover again and again the marvel of the human mind - already at times so ancient that we know precious little about them. Long before the very first book was written, clever minds had pondered the world and how it might work, and they came up with some brilliant explanations, impressive even when later proven wrong.
Wisdom is not dependent on truth. The latter is so much a question of perspective and interpretation, whereas the former is evident to all, through time and any change of civilization. The history of mankind is generous with examples of such wisdom.
And the wise have always speculated about the essence of life. What is it to be alive, and what makes it worthwhile? It can be of no surprise that some of the most inspired thoughts have dealt with the subject of inspiration, and with bewildering enigmas of that kind.
Well, the subject has definitely been treated with some striking folly, as well. Genius and folly are each other's prerequisite. The one cannot exist without the other. You have to dare to be a fool for your thoughts to go beyond the already known. Any great discovery begins as an absurdity, and every revelation is born in confusion. As for the arts, their realm is lunacy and every artist is obsessed.
Life is a mystery that might only be grasped through folly, speculation, inspiration, and intuition. Its very nature is not a thing to understand as much as to experience. This Life Energy Encyclopedia contains a number of speculations - sometimes foolish, often inspired - based on human experience. Whether right or wrong, they say a lot about the nature of this experience.
As long as there are new experiences made, there will be new speculations. That's the only truth.
BooksI have written two books on the subject of life energy: Qi: Increase your Life energy and Life Energy Encyclopedia. This website has material from the latter. Here are the two books: