May 2007 >
Mistranslation of Chi
Mistranslation of Chi
The ancient Chinese once thought that Chi was the micro-substance that makes up
all the matter in the universe. Thus, the term Chi has a great influence in
Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM). The term Chi has many meanings depending on
the context in which itís being used. For example, Chi by itself means air.
However, in Chi Kung, we are involved in breathing methods. Therefore, Chi means
breathing in this context. Thus, Chi Kung is an ultimate breathing method.
In TCM, the term Chi is used very loosely. In my native acupuncture book, Chi is
described as the following: Chi is the functional activities of the internal
organs. In order for our body to be in the state of homeostasis, the organs must
interact with each other. One organ produces a product and itís passed on to
another. For example, the liver converts glycogen into glucose and it is carried
by the blood throughout the body. Because the liver is performing its function,
it is considered that its Chi is flowing properly. If the liver stops
functioning properly by not converting glucose efficiently, the Chi is
considered clogged and not flowing properly.
The TCM practitioner might say that the Chi is weak in oneís body. It simply
means that the some of the organs are not functioning properly. This is how Chi
is expressed in the Chinese society. Among the Chinese people, they just know
the term Chi, but cannot explain it explicitly.
There is an old Chinese proverb says: If something is not named correctly, then
it cannot be described properly. In the case of Chi, it is usually translated as
Energy. The original meaning has been changed completely. As we can see, Energy
does not match the meanings as described above. Unfortunately, scientists have
tried to conduct experiments on this imaginary Energy theory and still have not
come to any conclusions. Why? It is due to the mistranslation of the term Chi as
Energy. We are abided by the limited definition of Energy and, hence, and we go
off the wrong track.
If we treated Chi as Chi, then we may find a way to prove it as Energy. If we
cannot prove it as Energy, then we still have Chi to work with. In fact, Chi is
not Energy; it has to be something else. Now, Chi is still an open item to be
investigated. In the other words, if we insist that Chi is Energy, this will
lead us to a dead end.
In conclusion, the mistranslation of Chi as Energy is due to the language
barrier between two cultures. Chi was never meant as a form of Energy in Chinese
society. Calling Chi as Energy is totally mistranslated. Mistranslation will
cause misinterpretations and misleading. The imaginary Energy is causing
scientific investigation come to a cul-de-sac. That is why, up until now, modern
science still cannot come up with a scientific explanation. So, people lets wake
up, stop trying to catch the shadow of the wind. Chi is not Energy. Letís break
this language barrier.