By Stefan Stenudd
I'm a Swedish writer and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written several books about lifeforce concepts and East Asian traditions. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching 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.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Life Energy Beliefs P
Life Force Ideas Around the World
Paraelectricity (para is Greek for ‘beyond’) is a term used for polarization of objects in an electric field, but also a concept introduced in 1970 by the American Christian healers Olga and Ambrose Worrall, who used prayer in their healing and stated that human thought rules matter, for good and bad. According to them, prayer sends out a dynamic positive wish, and the working element in healing is the Holy Spirit (see this expression). But the Worrall couple has also described it as paraelectricity, an energy emanating from the healer’s hands, partially comparable to electricity but with a high intelligence that understands to spare healthy body tissue, and destroy the sick one.
Parapsychology (para is Greek for ‘beyond’) is the term for research into phenomena and capacities outside what is possible to explain by natural science, such as telepathy, psychokinesis, et cetera. The term was introduced in 1889 by the German philosopher Max Dessoir (1867-1947). See also psi and psychotronic energy.
Peak experience is a concept within pshychology, introduced in 1962 by the American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), for an inspiring sense of clarity, where life feels like a harmonious whole. Although it is usually short, the experience leads to a lasting sense of calm. It comes near many kinds of religious experiences, as well as the form of lightened spirit induced by qi exercises. Another similarity is the Zen concept satori, enlightenment, a moment of mental clarity that is not the goal of Zen, but a passing or returning kind of side effect. See also synergy.
Pémpte ousia see quintessence.
Perpetuum mobile see free energy.
Philosopher’s Stone see telesma.
Phlogiston (from the Greek phlogiston, flammable) was in 17th and 18th century chemistry an imagined material, without weight, color, smell, or taste, which was the substance disappearing in any burning material. The theory about this fire substance, which was introduced by the German alchemist Johann Joachim Becher (1635-82), was abandoned when oxygen (see this word) had been discovered in the 1770's.
Pneuma is the Greek word for air, breathing, spirit, and wind. Aristotle’s (384-322 BC) ideas about the quintessence (see this word), a fifth element, is often linked to this word, which is doubtful. But pneuma was central in the theories of the Greek physician Galen (Klaudios Galenos, 131-201 CE), which were the basics of medicine all the way to the 17th century. His thoughts on pneuma can be described as biological applications of Aristotle’s ideas about the quintessence. According to Galenos, pneuma entered through the lungs, and was in the liver transformed to natural spirit (pneuma physikon, in Latin spiritus naturalis), which entered the blood. He also talked about a vital spirit (pneuma zotikon, in Latin spiritus vitalis), which traveled through the heart and the blood, setting the body in motion, and a spirit of the psyche (pneuma psychikon, in Latin spiritus animalis), which traveled from the brain out to the nerves, for the senses to function. The Holy Spirit (see this word) of the Bible is Hagion pneuma in Greek, an expression used in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek.
Poha/puha see boha.
Po-wa-ha is a Pueblo Indian compound of the words ‘water-wind-breath’, which stands for a creative spirit that flows through all of nature.
Prana is the Indian word for breath, spirit, life energy. This energy is divided into five kinds: Prana (which means ‘forward flowing air’) is the basic life energy that also takes care of the basic bodily functions. Apana (‘off-flowing air’) takes care of what is disposed from the body. Udana (‘rising air’) takes care of, among other things, growing and posture. Samana (‘balancing air’) manages the body’s intake of nourishment and air. Vyana (‘outgoing air’) manages the blood circulation and other processes in the body. Each prana’s physical function has a psychic counterpart, also it moves within certain parts of the body, and in certain directions. There is some disagreement in the literature as to the directions given above. Prana is what in the kundalini should travel up the body’s main chakras (see these words). In essence, prana is identical with qi. The ideas about prana are found in the book Rigveda from around the 16th century BC, which is the oldest preserved book on an Indo-European language. In this book, Ayurveda (‘life knowledge’) is the medical teaching. In the 5th century CE, this teaching reached China, and in the 9th century CE it reached Arabia.
Prayer is a religious ritual, wich is quite the same within Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but the word is also used for similar practices in other religious systems, where higher powers are invoked verbally. The connection to practical use, the idea that the method brings concrete help from incorporeal forces, brings it close to the invocations used in practices of magic (see this word). The power that prayer is supposed to summon is sometimes similar to qi and such concepts, but what is often assumed is the direct intervention of some deity. A basic principle for an inner power awakened by spoken prayer, is the Indian concept mantra, where chanting or contemplating certain sounds is done to awaken kundalini and stimulate the flow of the life energy prana (see these words). When, instead, the prayer is directed at an external sacred being, the spirit of the prayer is none other than humbleness and gratitude toward this deity. Still, it may lead to an inner sense of peace and inspiration, similar to what kundalini exercises bring. People who have these experiences often describe them as being filled with a certain spirit or spiritual energy.
Praying hands, by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).
Preanimism see animatism.
Pre-physical energy is an expression introduced in 1967 by the English engineer George de la Warr (1904-1969), who also used the term biomagnetism (see this word). During World War II, he experienced the machine Homo Vibra Ray Instrument (see homogeneity vibration), which seemed to cure pneumonia, and was constructed according to the theory of radionics (see this word). Warr started to research this, initially by using the machine on plants. He discovered that his own conscious thoughts had the same effect as the machine. He also found that a drop of blood from a human had the same force-field as the whole person. He claimed that this force-field was outside the physical and the spatial. It was an organizing force-field, according to which the body was constructed. He founded a research institute to continue his studies. The image shows a radionic camera that he patented in 1955. Compare primary perception.
Prima materia (Latin for ‘the first matter’) is a term for the basic and primary. To the alchemists, it was the material out of which precious metals could be formed. See also quintessence and vril.
Prime mover (in Latin primus motor) is the expression for a theory from the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) that everything that moves must be moved by something else, except for a first mover, which is unmoved. To Aristotle, this is god, the first cause. See also quintessence.
Primary perception is a theory from 1966 by the American polygraph (lie detector) expert Cleve Backster (1924-), about the ability of plants to perceive human thoughts and react emotionally to them. He used a polygraph to examine potted plants. His findings were made famous by the book Secret life of plants, 1973, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. Later on, Backster expanded his theories to claim that also human cells, removed from the body, have the same ability – toward the person of their origin. He chose the term primary perception, because he saw it as a basic form of perception from very early in evolution, and not a later refinement. It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, but is closer to telepathy, mind reading (see psi).
Pseudomagnetism is a force that appears when elementary particles are put into spin. It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, which is doubtful.
Psi is the overall term for supernatural psychic power or ability, used within the field of parapsychology. It was introduced in the 1940's by the English psychologists Robert Henry Thouless (1894-1984) and Bertold Paul Wiesner (1901-?). The word psi is formed out of letters in the word ‘parapsychological’ but is also the 23rd letter in the Greek alphabet, which is often used for the concept. To psi belongs for example psychokinesis, the ability to move objects without touching them, extrasensory perception (ESP), to perceive things outside of what the five senses can register, telepathy, mind reading, precognition, to sense events ahead of time, and clairvoyance, to see things outside of the reach of the eyes. An early division of psi was into psi kappa for active manifestations, such as psychokinesis, and psi gamma for passive manifestations, like telepathy (kappa and gamma are also Greek letters). There are many theories about what psi can be, but little agreement within parapsychological research – even less so outside of it. Psi is hard to compare to the life energy qi, since the former is a much wider concept than a universal force or energy, but within parapsychology qi would definitely be categorized as a form of psi. The word is used in many expressions linked to theories about its nature, such as psi plasma and psionics (see these words).
Psionics see radionics.
Psi plasma is an expression introduced in 1962 by the American neurophysiologist Andrija Puharich (1918-1995), for a future state of the Earth as an enlightened world in perfect harmony. This plan, called Matrix, is to be realized through technological as well as spiritual religion. The theory has also been developed by the American philosopher of science Oliver Leslie Reiser (1895-1974), who in 1965 introduced the concept cosmic humanism, and compared it to the world brain, from a book by H. G. Wells (1866-1946). The Earth is seen as an egg, with an embryo fed by all mankind, animals, and plants on it. Psi plasma is described as a state of matter, when it is in psychic contact with other matter. Puharich also introduced the concept inergy (see this word). See also world soul.
Psyche see soul.
Psychic energy is a general expression for mental power, used for example by the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung. See libido.
Psychotronic energy (psychotronics) is an expression used by the Czech inventor Robert Pavlita (1911?-1991) for a biological energy that he started to construct generators for in the middle of the 20th century. He claimed that there are at least 68 centers for this biological energy in humans, and that the energy is neither electromagnetic nor electrostatic. The word psychotronics was suggested in the 1960's by Czech parapsychologists to replace the term parapsychology (see this word). They described psychotronics as the bionics (technical problems that are given biological solutions) of humans, and claimed that the psychotronic energy is a force that emanates from all living things.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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: