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Tai Chi
Gong Qi and Qi Gong

19 Dec 2008
My gong is alive. Pardon this play on words, but it is so. A few months ago I acquired an ancient Chinese gong with excellent timbre. The more softly you strike it, the more subtly transcendent the sound. Recently I discovered I do not need to strike it at all. It lives!

I discovered this during Hurricane Ike. Although sheltered from worst of the winds, my humble abode was soundly buffeted. The wind vibrated the windows, which in turn disturbed the air inside, which was sufficient to breathe life into the gong.

Apparently only the slightest of air perturbations are required to enliven the instrument, setting off a very low level, metallic sound like a cymbal threatening but never realizing a crescendo. Any number of similar low-level events can have similar effects  a book slapping shut, a cough or sneeze, or hands clapping. It is more fun than The Clapper.

So if my gong has qi, is that qi gong?

Traditional Taoist thought holds that qi (chi), is energy contained in everything in the universe. Qi connects us all. Thus we practice exercises that help us pull qi into our bodies from the earth, the sky, the sun, the moon, and the stars. But we think of qi as a life force that animates us; without it, we are dead. What, then, are we to make of the idea that qi inhabitates inanimate objects as well?

If this seems contradictory, do not accept it as merely another zen-style paradox. The truth is that qi exists in more than one form. We give it animation when we draw it from the outer cosmos into our inner cosmos, just as the wind animates my gong. When you can use this understanding to connect to your personal reality, you have taken an important step. As always, this connection will come not because you made it happen, but because you allowed it to happen.

You may also like this related article: Cheer Up! (110)
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