A recent SD column discussed the Chinese concept of “chi” or “qi” in the context of feng shui. In that discussion, the word appears to mean, more than anything else, a kind of esthetic and functional harmony.
But I’ve sometimes heard alternative-health gurus talk about chi as if it were something very different – not a metaphor, not an abstact concept, but a real physical force in the universe, just like gravity and electromagnetism. Acupuncture is based on the theory that chi flows through your body, along meridian lines just below the skin, and needles can be inserted to change its flow. Martial artists appear to believe something similar – the art is all about controlling and harnessing your chi for use in combat. Chiropractors don’t use the word, but their theory about “vital energy” flowing along your spine and nervous system to your extremities seems very similar. (So far as I know, what flows along your nervous system is only information, not energy – energy comes from the food and oxygen in the blood.) And while Cecil’s column mentioned that the Hindu-Yoga equivalent of chi is “prana” (breath), it is tempting to equate it, rather, with the “kundalini” or “fiery force” energy which is supposed to flow up the spine, by way of the seven “chakras”.
So: Is there anything to any of this? Or is it all total nonsense? So far as any of you know, is there ANY hard scientific evidence that chi or qi or kundalini exists? Has it ever been detected in a laboratory? Has a physician ever dissected a corpse and found something that might be identified as a yogic chakra or an acupuncture meridian?