Archive for Vessel

C is for Chi

Posted in All, Health, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by marushiadark

“You guys can do all this awesome Bending stuff … I’m just the guy in the group who’s regular.” ~ Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender

When I was young, around nine-years old, my dad decided to enroll me and my younger siblings in martial arts.  My father was a black belt.  The sensei of the school he enrolled us in studied under the same master as him.  From time to time, my dad would show us techniques well in advance of what most of the other students were learning.  I don’t really consider my father to be the best of teachers.  I feel he lacks the patience to go through things in a step-by-step, kinesthetic, ground-up manner.  When I first learned to drive, he started me on my mom’s SUV, which to this day I still get nervous driving.  However, regardless of how I may feel about him, there’s one thing I owe him my gratitude for and that’s introducing me to the concept of chi.

I don’t remember exactly how I old I was at the time, maybe somewhere around fourteen years of age.  But I remember my father sitting me down in the living room.  He didn’t really go into too much detail; he just explained that there was a sort of energy inside us and that we could learn to use it with practice.  He told me to hold out my hand, which I did.  Then he held his own up around mine without touching it and asked what I felt.  I remember feeling a sort of warm energy when he did this.  That’s chi, he said.

So ended the lesson.  It wasn’t much of anything, really.  All I had to go by was that experience, that feeling, and a vague idea that it had something to do with breathing.  But fortunately, that was enough to get me started.

It’s truly a revelatory experience your first time.  I remember my eyes went wide when I first felt it.  Over the years, I had to figure a lot of stuff out for myself and my progress was very slow.  Having someone there to guide you through your exploration of internal energy is a very beneficial thing.  Joining a Tai Chi or Chi Kung or Yoga class, or even just working with a partner who knows something about it, is a lot better than trying to figure it all out all on your own.

“To train the mind, one must first train the body.” ~ Izumi Curtis, Full Metal Alchemist

In my house, we have a lot of old Shaw Brothers kung fu films.  The first one I ever saw was The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.  It’s the story of a young man named San Te who enters Shaolin Temple and learns kung fu.  At first, San Te’s eager to the point of foolishness and wants to start with the highest art, so he’s taken to the 35th Chamber where a bunch of old and senior monks are reciting Buddhist sutras.  The master of the chamber tells the San Te to leave because San Te clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing.  When he refuses, the master raises his arms and the man falls back on his ass.

The monk never touched him, but was sitting at least ten feet away.  You can imagine the look on San Te’s face and how afraid and confused he was.  That was his first experience with chi.

While that may have been a movie, the idea of chi has basis in reality.  The other day, I was watching Stan Lee’s Superhumans, which is a documentary series about real life superhuman abilities.  Among the ones I saw in the episode was a Shaolin monk named Shi Yan Ming who used chi in martial arts.  The premise of the show is to try and determine the scientific basis of such superhuman feats.  A collision scientist was brought in with equipment that revealed results unlike anything the woman had ever seen before.  Shi Yan Ming’s punches delivered damage greater than that of a 30 MPH car crash.  That was just one of several feats performed that would appear impossible given his size and muscular build, so clearly chi has an affect here.

Many martial artists have spent years developing their chi power through training of the body and getting a feel for their own energy.  Unfortunately, few of them spend as much time studying the nature of reality, science, healing, philosophy, and metaphysics, so their ability to use chi is limited mostly to its connection with their physical bodies.

“Teacher, what is this?  This isn’t kung fu!”

“That’s the highest form you’ll ever see, the final form.  You don’t understand.” ~ 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

So what exactly is chi?

In its most basic sense, chi is a type of energy that exists within your body.  It originates from your soul and is the essential life force that powers your mind and body like electricity flowing through your computer.

Your body has many different systems of organs, such as the nervous system, the circulatory system, the skeletal system, the digestive system, etc.  There is also an energy system.  You may have seen diagrams of energy meridians which map out the locations of this system for use in acupuncture, reiki, and other healing arts.  If the meridians are the blood vessels, the chi is the blood that flows through them.

Through mental training and practice, you can learn how to use and manipulate your own chi for a variety of purposes.  If you’ve never worked with it before, it’s essential that you experience it for yourself.  I can’t think of a better way to start you off than to say find someone who knows about it and get them to show you, just like how my dad first showed me.  It will jump start your awareness.

The nearest I can describe it in words is that it’s like an electromagnetic effect.  If you were to hold two magnets of the same polarity in your hands and try to bring them together, you’ll feel a well of magnetism between your hands as if there were an invisible ball there.  That’s basically the same effect that you are creating here.

It’s likely that chi is electromagnetic energy, but I us the word “chi” out of tradition and because it just sounds cooler.  Recall that everything in the universe is made of energy, most of which, if not all of which, is electromagnetic in nature.

The human body is indeed capable of generating electrical charge, which creates magnetism.  The effect of putting your hands out acts like two opposing capacitor plates.  Through focus, you can turn the current on or off and control the flow of electromagnetism between your hands.  I’ve heard of people that can actually shoot sparks across their fingertips like a van de graaff generator.  That’s probably what allows the Sith and Firebenders to manipulate lightning, at least in theory.

Over the years, I’ve been able to do a lot of things with my chi.  I can generate it, manipulate it into different shapes, alter its “mass,” and use it for healing purposes.  I haven’t been able to use it for telekinesis yet, bu

Realistically, I’ve found that, for the amount of time and focus you’d need to gather the energy necessary to flip off a light switch from across the room, it’d be a hell of a lot easier to just summon the discipline and energy to get up and turn it off manually.  So that scene with Anakin Skywalker feeding Padme with the Force … not likely to happen.

Mindfuck #3: I Am

Posted in All, Psychology, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by marushiadark

“No matter what ya calls me, I am what I am an’ tha’s all I yam.” ~ Popeye

Very little thought is given to the way in which we use words, especially in reference to ourselves.  Often times, we place a great deal of our identity into things that are not us.  We equate who we really are with an object or concept that is not who we are, but rather something that we have.

For instance, people often say things like, “I am black” or “I am Christian” or “I am a redhead.”  Oh really?  That’s what you are?  Are you sure you don’t simply “have black skin” and “have Christian beliefs” and “have red hair”?

Such behavior is not inherited; it is learned.  We aren’t born identifying with things around us.  That line of thinking is socially conditioned into us.

Would you say that you are your car?  No, that’s ridiculous.  You’re very clearly not your car.  You have a car, but you are not your car.  A car is simply a vessel that you move around in.  You just attach yourself to the vehicle temporarily for the purposes of travel, carrying heavy loads, and doing other such tasks that you wouldn’t be able to do without it.

How about when you play a video game?  We often refer to the character as ourselves.  We say “I did this,” “I moved that,” “I shot the enemy,” and so forth.  But we are not the character.  The character is simply an avatar – a vessel – that we attach ourselves to by way of the controller in order to move about the digital world and do things like fly, shoot lasers, etc.  If you’ve ever been on a forum, you know that the little icon to the left of your post is also called your avatar.  It’s not you, either.  It’s merely a temporary representation of you that may not have anything to do with who you really are.

So what about your body?  Do you identify with that?  Your body is just a collection of cells that grouped together to form a collective unit.  It has more in common with a pixelated video game character than anything else, and your mind would then be the controller.  If you lose a few cells, do you necessarily stop being you?  If you lose an arm, a leg, or a kidney, do you stop being you?  No.  At least, you don’t have to stop being you.  It’s your choice whether or not you let such physical changes affect who you are.  Ultimately, all that really changes is what you can do with your body, but that doesn’t change who you are.  Even if you die, who you are will continue to live on in some form (even if it’s just a memory).

You are no more your body than you are your car or a character in a video game.  Who you are is the person in the driver’s seat, pushing the controls that make the body run, and your mind is the steering console.

“I think, therefore I am.” ~ René Descartes

During the early 17th century, a French philosopher by the name of René Descartes speculated on the basic principles of existence.  He wanted to know what was actually real, or at least what could be proven to be real.

There are two basic ways in which something can be known: empirically or logically.  Empiricism has to do with observation through the senses, while logic has to do with mental reasoning.  Descartes began with the simple observation that there are times when the senses appear to fail to accurately depict the world around us.  For instance, you see something out of the corner of your eye, but it isn’t actually there when you go to check on it with your full vision.  It is a mistake in observation.

Descartes reasoned that, due to the inaccuracies of the senses, it is suspect as to whether or not they can be trusted at all, so he rejects them entirely.

This establishes the notion that any and all physical things observed are potentially nothing more than mere illusions, fabrications of the mind.  It also leaves Descartes with nothing but logical reasoning, and all of that is just a fiction in the mind.  There are no perfectly straight lines in nature, no perfectly three-sided objects, no perfectly round objects; such things are mental short-hands of our own invention.  They do not actually exist.  They are illusions as well.

So then what does that leave?  Nothing, really.  Or does it?

If everything is merely an illusion, then there must be something that is being disillusioned.  There must be some observer of the trick.  Descartes himself referred to these illusions as the act of some demon.  But if there was a demon, the demon must have a victim to play his tricks on, even if that victim is simply himself.

Descartes’ method does not really give us much detail as to the qualities of the observer, just that there is one and that we can be 100% certain of this.  For all anyone knows, the world could be completely accurate as we observe it, or we could be a free-floating consciousness in a void without a body; but it can never be proven one way or the other what the actual nature of reality is.  So everything besides “I am” or “I exist” must be taken on faith.

This tends to piss off a lot of empiricists and scientists that rely heavily or even exclusively on their empirical observations.  Such a conclusion would pull the carpet out from under their feet by establishing the fickle nature of even their most basic assumptions.

“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’  And he said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’ … This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations. ” ~ Exodus 3:14-15

Scientists aren’t the only ones pissed off by this conclusion.

Among those that believe in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, there is much time spent worrying and debating over pedantic little details like “Is God’s name YHWH or YHVH?  Jehovah or Allah?” “Is Jesus, Yeshu, or Yeshua the correct name of Christ?”  “What color was Jesus’ skin?”  “Is it sinful for me to take only the bread and not the wine during communion?” “If I eat meat on a Friday, am I going to hell for it?”  “If I forgot to say PBUH after Mohammad’s name, will God hate me?”  “Do I need to wash my hands before prayer?”  “If I have a cheeseburger, is God going to punish me for not staying Kosher?”

If your focus is on minor details like that, then I’m sorry to say that you have missed the forest for the trees.  Without seeing the bigger picture, these little things are rather irrelevant.  If your car doesn’t even have wheels, what does it matter if the dashboard lights aren’t working?  Even if the engine worked perfectly, you’re not really getting anywhere, now are you?

All three faiths respect and defer to Exodus and to Moses.  So if you claim to be a believer of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, there’s really no excuse for not knowing and understanding this particular passage.  God spells out rather clearly here as to who and what he is.

God is.  It’s as simple as that.  Most everything else is just minor details.

You are.  I am.  That’s as much as anyone can ever truly know for sure.  If it turns out that there is no God and we’re just a consciousness in a void; then by definition, you are God because you are the creator of the whole universe, since you are the one creating the illusion.  You call the shots, so why would you cast yourself, or anyone else, into eternal torment?  Why would you make yourself perform rituals and subjugating acts of worship?  You are the God of your own universe.