right “ Ki” is regarded as the fundamental life force in the universe. Sometimes associated with Confucianism and Taoism, it is harnessed in Japan by acupuncturists to cure patients, by monks to achieve oneness with nature and businessmen to achieve success.

In China ki is known as “ qi” (or “chi” ). It is a mystical material force described using terms like “cosmic energy,” “life force,” "vital energy," "the Breath of Heaven," and "the Breath of Nature." Said to be generated by yin and yang, it is regarded as the fundamental life force in the universe, and the force that gives life to living things. It is said ki is a force possessed by every individual but some people take the time to master it and cultivate and use its special powers.

There are two kinds of qi: "hard" ki, which is associated with martial arts like kung fu and karate, and "soft" ki, which is associated with meditation, health and concentration. One qi gong instructor told the Korea Times, qi gong "is very systematic and even scientific. Step by step, you can learn how to absorb the ki scattered around, and you not only become healthy but also achieve a wholeness with the universe, the source of the unlimited energy or ki."


Good Websites and Sources: Ki and Qi Gong Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Classical text sources ; Qi Gong Institute ; Qi Gong association of America ; Skeptic’s Dictionary on Qi Gong Feng shui Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Feng Shui Crazy ; Feng Shui Ulimate Source ; Feng Shui Society ;Skeptic’s Dictionary on Feng Shui ; Osorezan is the home of Itako Shaman. It regarded as one of three holiest mountains in Japan along with Mt. Koya and. Mt. Hiei. Japan Guide Japan-Guide ; Japan Times itako article Japan Times ; Wikitravel Wikitravel

Qi Gong

left “ Qi gong” (pronounced chee-GONG) is an ancient Chinese healing art, philosophy and spiritual belief that combines gentle movements, deep breathing, self-massage, mediation and variety of other practices. Qi means "vital energy" and gong means "cultivate."

Qi gong forms the basis of traditional Chinese medicine, several martial arts, and unexplained powers. The force behind qi gong is qi. In China qi gong is considered a “national treasure” and is supported by the government. It is sometimes thought of as a kind of faith healing.

Qi gong has many supernatural associations. Qi gong masters perform healing massages without touching the body, ignite fires with forces generated by their hands and claim they can fill entire lecture halls with uplifting positive energy particles. There is a story of ku fu master in the early 1900s who was harassed by a foreigner on a horse and killed the horse by laying his hands on the animal and disrupting its internal organs with qi.

Qi gong has been credited with improving scores and university entrance exams and locating victims under collapsed buildings. Some qi gong masters attribute their powers to black holes, gamma rays and antimatter.

Qi gong practitioners are taught to control ki by controlling their breathing, their mind and their body and learn how to harmonize these three things to live long, healthy lives and heighten their mental and spiritual powers. They are also taught to perform exercises that focus qi to different parts of the body. In one series of movements called the Bear, intended to stimulate the kidneys and lower back, practitioners stand upright, hold their palms upwards near their ears and twist their bodies back and forth at the waist. In the old days, some people believed that lelching and farting caused people to lose qi, hastening death. For this reason qi gong believers don't eat root food that makes them fart and belch.

Book: The Way of Qigong by Kenneth Cohen (Ballantine Books).

Ki Masters at Work

right Practitioners of Qi gong, who often don't touch anything directly, harness the power of ki to throw people against walls without lifting a finger, repel assaults by people attacking with all their strength, heal and cure patients, bend metal and lift objects without touching them, produce fires through spontaneous combustion, help people loose weight, and drive nails through boards without a hammer or any other tool. In Japan ki masters are sought out sort of like chiropractors or acupuncturists to offer relief from various kinds of pains and ailments.

Describing what happened to a man who was touched the hand of a Japanese ki master, Andrew Pollack of the New York Times wrote, "Almost instantly, as if propelled by some invisible force, the person reels backward and crashes into a padded wall." Other people who touch the master "then collapse to the ground, screaming and writhing until two...assistants jump on them to calm them down."

Sima Nan, a self-appointed "cult buster," has made a living of exposing fraudulent claims by qi gong masters. In 1986, the Amazing Randi, a former magician who makes a living snuffing out quacks and fakes, made a visit to China. He found that psychic healers who purportedly made women go into convulsion were actually reacting to the patient not visa versa. He also discovered that children, who supposedly put together broken matches inside a sealed box, had actually opened the box and replaced with the broken match with an unbroken one.

Ki and Business in Japan

Ki masters and consultants have been hired by companies like Sony, Sega, Honda and NEC to help their employees relax, focus, think positively and improve their golf swing.

Ki masters teach things like "breathing through the soles of your feet" to 10,000 people a year and sell videos which reportedly help cure the sick. One businessman with a petroleum exploration company who used their techniques told the New York Times, "I have become dramatically healthier."

Describing the techniques of Yukio Funai, the head of a firm that gives advise to companies about mysticism, Pollack wrote, "Mr. Funai asked a visitor to touch his toes without bending his knees. After the visitor could not do it, Mr. Funai waved his hand in the air and snapped his hand toward the visitor, as if to shoot rays out of his fingers. After receiving this infusion of ki, the visitor was able to touch his toes."

Sony's Ki and Paranormal Research Laboratory

Sony has a four-member "ESPER" (ESP and excitation research) laboratory, which is involved in trying to prove the existence and measure paranormal phenomena by doing things like measuring the skin temperatures of ki masters when they use the life force. So far the group has come up with no conclusive results.

The head of the group told the New York Times, "Our ultimate goal is to discover the mind or consciousness that all humanity, and the whole of creation, must possess — to pursue the spirit or soul that exists in our universe."

There is also a foundation, supported by 16 companies and affiliated with the Japanese government’s Ministry of Trade, that is try to artificially produce ki and use to heal the sick.

Feng Shui

Geomacy (feng shui) is widely recognized and practiced in Japan but is generally thought of as a more Chinese thing. Some Japanese go out of their way to avoid occupying a house with a door that faces the north or northwest. On restauranteur interviewed by the New York Times decided to open his business in the slow season because the date was auspicious and to relocate his kitchen because rooms with fire should face south.

Feng shui is the practice of bringing about good fortune among the living, the dead and the spiritual world by making sure objects placed in a landscape or space are in harmony with the universe in such a way that they optimally draw on sources of qi. Also known as geomancy, it is often expressed in terms of Chinese and Taoist cosmology and is said to be over 3,500 years old.

Feng shui (pronounced feng shway) has been practiced in various forms by a number of culture throughout history. Believers regard it not as a religion or superstition but as a science whose goal is to create balance and harmony among the five elements of nature — water, fire, wind, wood and earth. One Feng Shui master told Reuters, "Feng shui is a Chinese ancient art of living in harmony with the environment. Feng shui is not a miracle. Feng shui is not magic. Feng shui is like a catalyst.”

Feng shui literally means "wind-water." It can be influenced by the location, shape, size and color of an object. Objects that allow qi to flow freely are said to have good feng shui, which is said to bring prosperity and success. In the old days only the Chinese emperor was allowed to use it.

Feng shui observations has traditionally been carried out by feng shui masters who have traditionally come from families of feng shui masters. Cities, skyscrapers, office buildings, homes, gardens, rooms, beds, desks, chairs, windows and graves are all laid out under guidance provided by a feng shui master, who often tell fortunes by consulting geometric figures and check houses for evil spirits on the side. When choosing the right spot feng shui masters often walk around with a special compass.

Image Sources: 1) Feng shui images, Univrsity of Washington, 2) Qi Qong, Fighting, 3) Itako shaman, Wikipedia and UNESCO

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated January 2013

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