By Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
Master Martial Arts Instructor
That the entire universe, including the human being, is made up of energy is a physical fact of physics. The Chinese and Japanese cultures, as well as other Asian cultures, have known this for centuries. Their traditional medical science (Traditional Oriental Medicine) is based on this fact. There are always people and businesses that will see the opportunities that are available at any point in time. On NHK, the Japanese national television station, there are many reports and interviews with people that find this is the perfect time to start and/or expand a new business. One businessman is taking this opportunity to expand his retail electronic sales business. He can find many large empty retail spaces available at bargain prices in this economy, which is saving him enough money to be put into products and hiring personnel. Also, because he is saving money, he can offer 10% below any competitorʼs price. He also trains his personnel to excel in unbelievable customer care. The floor sales person assists the customer at all stages of their inquiry and shopping; even escorts the customer all the way to the cash register, bowing over and over and saying thank you. Everybody is happy.
There is also something to be learned from watching the performance of many singers on the NHK song concerts. These are live performances in front of live audiences in the NHK hall in Tokyo. One singer was performing a song she was performing in the 1950ʼs. By performing, I mean she was dancing in her tux with a deep slit skirt (still in excellent shape in her mid 60ʼs). This song is one which truly depicts the constant spirit of the Japanese people. The song is, “Three steps forward, two back.” The dance routine is very lively, she, looking strong and exotic at the same time; male and female dancers in the background dressed as office workers. They stress the “gambaru” or “perseverance” spirit in dance and song with a hint of a marching-type dance. Part of the words state that “we will persevere and keep going like this everyday with a smile.” “This is a great life, and we will continue on,” is the underlying spirit and words in the lyrics.
You can be the singer and salesperson for America as you go about your daily life, helping yourself and all whom you come in contact with. Here are some lessons in how to do that.
There is a word in the Chinese language called “Qi” and in the Japanese language called ki. They are the same Chinese ideograph or character, just pronounced differently. The meaning of this word is very difficult to translate into English, because there is no equivalent. Behind words in any language, there is a cultural meaning that another culture may find difficult to grasp. We could say that “ki” is life-force energy. It is like vapor, but is made up of particles that are immeasurable by our current technological means. You may think of “ki” as “the force” as presented in the old Star Wars movie series. Everyone has the ability to sense other people’s energy, some people are more sensitive than others are, but humans are innately aware of this. Many people have let a cultural taboo of “listening to the heart and not to the head” impair their ability in this direction.
The ideograph for “ki” is made up of two sub characters meaning “steam” and “uncooked rice.” This character for “ki” indicates that it is something that is simultaneously material and immaterial. It also indicates that Ki is a subtle substance (vapor, or steam) deriving from a coarse one (rice), just as steam is produced by cooking rice. By looking at this character, one can see that steamed rice was looked at as a vital source for the creation of human vitality. Indeed, the source of their vitality. Ki is universal; it is everywhere and makes up everything.
The way that the word “ki” is translated depends on the particular viewpoint taken. Probably most modern physicists would agree that it might be termed “energy” since Ki expresses the continuum of matter and energy as it is now understood by modern particle physics.
Chinese philosophers and doctors saw the interrelationship between the universe and human beings and considered the human being’s Ki because of the interaction of the Ki of the Heaven and the Earth. Two aspects of Ki are especially relevant to Traditional Chinese Medicine:
1) Ki as an energy that manifests simultaneously on the physical and spiritual level.
2) Ki is in a constant state of flux and in varying states of aggregation. When Ki condenses, energy transforms and accumulates into physical shape.
According to the Chinese, there are many different “types” of human Ki, however, are all are ultimately one Ki, merely manifesting in different forms. Did you hear on National Public Radio news on March 15th (the Ides of March, the day Julius Caesar died), the scientist who stated that everyone of us is still breathing, inhaling and exhaling one of Julius Caesar’s molecules to this very day, every day? This was stated as a scientific fact. Stop and think about this and you realize how much everyone of us is interconnected. All the Ki in the world belongs to one Ki, but is manifested in different material forms. We are breathing in and out every day, each other’s molecules. We are all connected by a universal energy.
Each person carries a certain universal energy within their own universe (their body). Some people’s ki seems to be more positive than others are. For you to be a healthy, satisfied, and happy little being while you are on this planet, it is important that you receive and give enough positive energy or positive “ki” and do not let too much negative ki enter your energy field. Too much negative ki can lead to sickness and unhappiness.
Developing and maintaining positive ki requires the right lifestyle and the right choices in life for you. Many people let the forces of others dictate their own path and let the negative ki of other people and other forces guide their life. Also letting the material and superficial forces guide a person’s life can lead to misfortune and unhappiness. You really do get what you think, and “reap what you sow”
Let us learn some lessons once again from Ekiken Kaibara, (1630-1714) the great scholar of the Edo period in Japan. Ekken Kaibara says there are twelve moderations. Moderation is a principle of health preservation. Very simply said, very profound in its meaning and practice. He says that moderation means never going to excesses and having only few and lukewarm desires. Desires are the craving likes of the ears, eyes, mouth, and body, such as fondness for food and wine and sex. If deep desires grow in number, one goes the way of self-destruction and death. by having few and undemanding desires, one is able to preserve one’s health and extend one’s hold on life. The twelve moderations are food, drink, the five tastes, sex, and talk, matters of concern, anger, worry, sadness, pensiveness, desires and sleep. Such moderation in everything saves the decline of one’s vitality. What does moderation in all these activities have to do with developing positive Ki? Everything. You must have physical vitality to have positive thinking. There is no way to divide the two.
1) Food: Keep your food simple. People are unable to taste and appreciate the true beauty of whole foods as they are presented in nature because they have destroyed their taste buds with too much sugar, too much spice, too much oil, and too many chemicals. Keep your meals simple but very fresh. Fresh vegetables are not vegetables that have been sitting in a salad bar in a restaurant with preservatives on them to make them look crispy. Fresh vegetables are those that are organically grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, not picked green and are still in their whole form. They are not frozen or canned. By eating foods which are organically grown, you will notice that they are a taste all their own. Chew well and enjoy their taste, not the taste of over-powering sauces and spices. Eat moderate portions. Think when you chew about their flavor, put your mind into your taste buds.
2) Drink: Do not drink too much of anything, including water. Drink pure water when you are thirsty and simple teas. Avoid strong teas and coffee or sugary, caffeinated drinks.
3) The five tastes: Do not use too much spice. Use each of the five flavors of sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and pungent in moderation.
4) Sex: Overindulgence leads to weak kidneys. In ancient China, it was well known that too much sex would lead to a short life.
5) Talk: Too much talking depletes the vital energy. Do not talk so much. Quite is good. Many people in our modern society wear themselves and
others out by talking too much. You do not always have to be talking to be social.
6) Matters of concern: Do not get too involved in critical matters. Take care of them as they should be. Do not think too much or make more out of things than they are.
7) Anger: Too much anger makes for a short life and damages the liver.
8) Worry: Too much worry makes for a weakened spleen and digestive system.
9) Pensiveness: Too much thinking also damages the spleen and the heart and leads to a depressed spirit.
10) Sadness: Accept times of sadness and then move on. Too much sadness damages the lungs.
11) Sleep: Keep sleep at a minimum. Too much sleep leads to Ki stagnation, blood stagnation and a depressed spirit. Ekken Kaibara recommended four hours of sleep. He always preached about people sleeping, eating and drinking too much. Perhaps you need to retrain your mind that you may not need that recommended eight hours of sleep. Everyone is different and four hours of good sound sleep may be as good as eight hours of not so sound, sleep. People worry too much about not sleeping.
12) Deep desires: If deep desires of anything or anyone grow too much, it is damaging to one’s vitality. Learn not to desire so much and to just live. Cultivate positive thinking by the way you walk, talk (or do not talk), by exercise and appreciating the moment. Do not let negative energies of all the “what ifs” of the naysayers enter your spirit. Create your own positive energy. If you find that certain people’s energy makes you negative or depressed, stay away from them until you are able to counteract their negative energy with your own positive. Breathe, look at nature, put on a smile and walk tall, and do not talk too much! Enjoy your path.