The Essence of Vitality around the World
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.
Maybe life energy could simply be explained as a symbolic way of celebrating the joy of being alive: the breath of life, without which we quickly perish.
Although life energy beliefs have existed for ages, modern biology is yet to prove or disprove it. So, how has the life energy emerged in human thought? What does it describe and what does it say about how we perceive life? I speculate on the possible answers to those questions here (click the header to read it).
There are countless examples of life energy ideas in the many cultures of the world, from the dawn of human civilization to the present. I've gathered all these concepts and similar ones (it took a few years), listing them in a little Life Energy Encyclopedia.
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).
The most common life energy concept, the breath of life - qi/chi
, etc. - can be stimulated to increase. Thereby the life energy rises to something far more than the mere consumption of oxygen, and extends way beyond the reach of our bodies. You will definitely feel the difference.
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).
My Other Websites
The ancient Chinese life energy qi
) explained and how to exercise it.
Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.
What the Greek philosophers believed about the cosmos, their religion and their gods.
Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosophy of life explained. Also, the complete Tao Te Ching online.
My Life Energy Books
Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The life energy qi
) explained, with several very easy exercises to awaken, increase, and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
My Other Books
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 Taoist classic, translated and extensively commented chapter by chapter. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
I'm a Swedish author and historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. I've also written books about Taoism, the Tarot, and life force concepts around the world. Click the image to get to my personal website.