The Western and Eastern History of Spiritual Energy
To understand how we come to know spiritual energy, we look at its beginnings.
Why is energy so misunderstood and why the west is so skeptical of its existence?
What can energy do and how can we use it to better our lives and others?
I have been interested in seeing how energy is used in the West and the East, comparing its notes, determining its methods and understanding the mechanics behind it.
We look at both the Western and Eastern history of spiritual energy to get a bigger picture and, hopefully, raise our consciousness on spiritual energy.
Not only will you know the difference between Western and Eastern research of spiritual energy, but also the various properties of spiritual energy.
Western History of Energy
Franz Anton Mesmer (18th century)
There’s a man named Franz Anton Mesmer. He was a German Physician with an interest in astronomy.
When Mesmer gained international attention in the 18th century, the Western world was just beginning to learn about magnetism, electricity, and gravity.
Mesmer saw the whole universe as one living unity.
And he said that to maintain health was to balance the forces of the living universe.
This universal force can be transmitted from one person to another.
The transfer of this force is through “Magnetism”.
Mesmer would use a bar magnet which he claimed have healing abilities because of this universal force.
Soon he and his followers realized that humans can also transmit magnetism from their body and so they termed this force “Animal Magnetism”.
His attention in the medical community, unfortunately, earned himself envy for his practices because of his successes.
Dr. James Braid investigated Mesmer’s technique and propose a new term, “hypnosis”, as the underlying source and the Nancy School put forth the theory of suggestion, discrediting the whole mesmerism theory in the process.
However, some were still quietly continuing Mesmer’s work.
Baron Carl von Reichenbach (1845)
One of them is Baron Carl von Reichenbach, a chemist, geologist, metallurgist, naturalist, industrialist, and a scientific legend.
He established, in 1845, his research the existence of a force that underlies all natural forces – The Odic Force or ‘Od’ – named by the Norse god Odin.
Reichenbach conducted many years of research determining the characteristics of odic energy.
This new force has ties with electricity, magnetism, light, and heat.
He believed this force was radiated by everything and permeates all plants, animals and humans.
His scientific experiments use “sensitive” people to see in total darkness this force which appears like a “flame” surrounding living things, crystals, and magnets.
But Reichenbach could not see it himself and so he had to use people who were sensitive enough to see it.
Only about 1/3 of the population could observe it.
He found similar descriptions reported by sensitives, including being able to tell Reichenbach whether the electricity was turned off or on in pitch black.
He also found that the human body also radiates this odic flame.
Author Sydney Billing claimed to have witnessed it, as well as colleagues who were medical doctors in England who viewed it through experimentation, but scientists soon abandoned the work.
Sigmund Freud (1900’s)
Upon the rise of the new field of psychology in 1900’s, Sigmund Freud and C.G. Jung became two men who stand out as pioneers.
Both Freud and Jung understood that there is a driving force behind every animal and human being.
This is known as the “libido energy”.
The libido energy is the basic urge that manifests as “sex drive”.
This libido energy exists in the “Id” portion of the psychological makeup of humans, which is demonstrated through the analogy of the iceberg.
In the Iceberg, the ego is the conscious part of our waking life and most of the libido energy/basic urges are entirely unconscious.
But since their work is focused on the psychological impact, there is little to be known about libido energy.
Wilheim Reich (1930’s)
Wilheim Reich, a psychiatrist, worked on Freud’s theory of the libido energy and developed “Orgone Energy” in the 1930’s.
Orgone Energy is a universal life force similar to Mesmer’s animal magnetism and Reichenbach’s Odic Force.
Orgone was seen as a mass-less and omnipresent substance.
The properties Reich deduce orgone energy were:
- It’s mass free
- It’s present everywhere
- It’s a medium for electromagnetism and gravity
- It’s in constant motion
- It contradicts law of “entropy”
- Matter is created from it
- It’s responsible for life
- It can be manipulated and controlled
- It is the source of atmosphere and cosmic forces – atom, planet, stars, galaxy
- It can be attracted, blend, or transferred
Reich designed special “orgone accumulators”—devices collecting and storing orgone energy from the environment—for improvement of general health.
But the FDA shut down Reich’s work and destroyed all orgone-related materials, saying that Reich was making false and misleading claims.
No one could prove it existed and the orgone accumulators were found to have done nothing.
And so Reich’s work is made pseudoscience.
The Scientific Ether (1881 – 1943)
“Ether” in Greek is defined as:
“hypothetical medium, supposed to fill space, by means of vibrations in which light and other forms of radiation are transmitted”.
This was once a scientific fact up to the latter part of the 19th century until The Michelson-Morley experiment concluded that there is no Earth motion relative to the ether in 1881 (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol 8, p. 98).
Since then, this experiment has discredited ether theory and scientists unquestionably favored the approach that space is a vacuum, air is only oxygen and nitrogen, and light has no medium to travel.
Few scientists took up the work of an ether energy, unrelated to orgone energy. Some are Nikola Tesla, John Worrel Keely, etc.
They found that the reason there is no motion relative to Earth is that it IS the driving force where the motion of planets and stars can move through the ether, like how a log is being moved by the flowing of the river.
Ether Energy works in Vortex. Etheric energy moves in a “vortex pattern” because vortex provides the least resistance.
Physical matter, which is condensed etheric energy, also follows in a vortex pattern.
Water, air, blood, and even sap in plants also move in a vortex pattern.
Etheric energy is essentially a broad spectrum of frequencies.
These frequencies, once accumulated, can be transferred onto other objects by way of resonance.
Resonance is defined: “vibrant, amplified effect produced by sound causing sympathetic vibration in surrounding bodies.”
If a radio receiver is tuned to a particular transmitted frequency, it will resonate.
This is also similar to having rapport one another.
Unfortunately, Teslas work for free energy was diminished by political and business authorities and he died poor and penniless.
Conclusion of Western Energy
This “animal magnetism” or “odic force” is an actual force that radiates from humans and animals.
It is also capable of being consciously developed and intensified.
And it is this directed and intensified force which is the basis of all energy manipulation.
It is helpful to know that “magnetism” is not the same term used by physics even though it functions nearly the same.
Thus, it is not only magnetic but also fluid. We shall call it “Magnetic Fluid.”
It is magnetic because it can magnetically attract, repel, and conduct other things.
It is fluid because there are extremely small particles always moving around like fluid.
This “magnetic fluid” can be directed and controlled by “The Will” (intention) and “Thought” of the person.
It can be stored or absorbed to an object which will act as an insulator.
This “magnetic fluid” tends to reproduce in the object the “vibration or note” of the person by sympathy or “rapport”.
By sympathy or “rapport” with the object or the person, he will project his vibration onto the object.
The magnetic power of this force can also be used for healing, charging or “magnetizing”, and many other things.
“Magnetic Fluid” is neutral and will take the shape of the user who uses it.
It is manipulated by the subconscious mind.
And since the subconscious mind responds to images, energy manipulation uses imagination and will of the person.
The Western is dominated with discrediting work of energy and, therefore, has no further practical development for it.
Eastern History of Energy
Yoga (40,000 B.C.)
In India, “yoga” means ‘union’ and it encompasses spiritual beliefs, traditions, and practices for purification of the mind, body, and soul with the attainment of liberation from the Self/Ego.
This practice predates history and was passed down orally.
Yoga includes the practice of harnessing Qi energy or spiritual energy.
Some may associate Yoga with Hinduism, but Yoga goes back far to the Egyptian era.
Yoga is from Egypt and not Hinduism because the people of Africa migrated to India.
We get pranayama (breath control) in yoga philosophy along with other practices like meditation, mantra, AUM, and mudra.
“Prana” means life force and is often described as the vital principle in the Vedanta and Upanishads.
Although its use is for spiritual purposes, the gradual introduction of yoga in the West has made it into a lifestyle fitness program.
Pre-Han Dynasty (before 1122 – 206 B.C.)
China has already been practicing energy cultivation for over 7000 years.
It is known as Qi/Chi/Ki and it is first introduced in the Yi Jing (The Book of Changes).
The book described 3 natural energy of power: Tian (Heaven), Di (Earth), and Ren (Man).
During Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1154 B.C.), people have been using acupuncture reflexes to help with Qi disturbances.
During the Zhou Dynasty (1122 – 934 B.C.), the classic Dao De Jing mentioned breathing techniques to obtain health.
Written in the Yi Jing is translated by Helmut Wilheim:
“The breath should be held and it will be gathered. If it is gathered, it becomes magic. If it becomes magic, it descends. If it descends, it quiets down. If it quiets down, it solidifies. If it is solidified, then it germinates. If it germinates, it grows. If it grows, it is attracted upward. If it is attracted upward, it reaches toward the heaven. In heaven, it ascends upward still. At the lower end, it descends still. Those who follow this will live, those who act contrary will die.”
Although historical evidence was scarce, most of Qi circulation was practiced through Daoist and Confucian scholars for health and medical purposes only.
Huna (Pre-History – 325 A.D.)
Hawaiian cultures only have remnants of cultivating energy but may have started thousands of years before 325 A.D.
They call this universal life force energy “Mana” through their teachings “Ho’oMana”.
This is literally translated as “To make mana” but is used to mean “empowerment”.
Huna predates before the Hawaii wave hit in 750 – 1250 A.D.
Like Wicca in the Western World, there were attempts to wipe out the practices of Huna.
Because Hawaii was isolated, Western Europe dominated the land and wiped out its teachings while the native Americans were sent to Western schools.
Han Dynasty to Liang Dynasty (206 B.C. – 502 A.D.)
Because the Han emperors were wise, the Han Dynasty was a peaceful period.
It was during this time when Buddhism and their meditation were imported to China from India.
Buddhism became widespread and soon became a part of Chinese culture and the cultivation of Qi.
Along with Qi practices, they also practice Zen meditation or Still meditation.
Soon Daoist Zhang Daoling combined Buddhism with Daoist principles and created the religion of Dao Jiao (Taoism), combining meditation and Qi Gong practices.
The Chinese Qi Gong compared their notes with the Buddhist Qi Gong.
While The Chinese aimed at improving and maintaining health, the religious Buddhist aimed much higher – The Buddhahood.
They found that the Buddhist cultivation of Qi was much deeper because they work on the internal functions of the body, control of the body, mind and spirit with the goal of enlightenment.
Then Daoist Jun Qian used the movements of animals to create Wu Qin Xi (Five Animal Sports). He aims to increase qi circulation through specific movements.
This sets for the system of Qi Gong – movements for Qi circulation.
Liang Dynasty to Qing Dynasty (502 A.D. – 1911 A.D.)
One day, the emperor invited a Buddhist monk to preach Buddhism but he did not like his theory.
So the monk returned to the Shaolin temple and found the priests weak and sickly in meditation.
Seeing this, he spent 9 years in seclusion and came back with 2 solutions:
- Yi Jin Jing (Muscle/Tendons Changing)
- Xi Sui Jing (Marrow/Brain Washing)
These complex techniques taught the priests how to use Qi to strengthen their bone marrows, blood, and immune system as well as how to energize themselves and achieve enlightenment.
The priests found that not only did this increased their health but also made them physically stronger!
Thus, it was then that Qi is integrated into martial art forms to increase their effectiveness.
Martial arts were copied from watching how animals fight. The Shaolin Priests developed the Five Animal Form of GongFu (Kungfu) which includes tiger, leopard, dragon, snake, and crane.
Few centuries afterward, Qi Gong became public and is used for herbal therapies and healing purposes.
During Qing Dynasty, Tibetan meditation and martial arts became widespread in China thanks to the Manchurian emperor.
Mikao Usui (1865 – 1926)
Buddhist Dr. Mikao Usui studied in Western countries and China where he meditated and fasted for 21 days on Mount Kurama for healing.
On the 21st day, he gained heightened awareness or inspiration and discovered Reiki – the hands on healings practice.
In April 1922, he opened his first school/clinic in Harajuku Tokyo.
Reiki has 2 components: Rei and Ki.
Rei comes from “REI” meaning God which comes from the Egyptian God RA. Ki means energy.
Thus, Reiki means “God energy”.
However, Reiki’s methods are not the same as Qi cultivation.
It is passed on from teacher to student and is similar to Christianity’s hands-on healing technique.
Instead of cultivating Qi or Chi, the person becomes the medium of Ki energy and the universal flow does the healing through the client.
The “New China” (1940’s)
Up until the 1900’s, China did not have any influence from outside world.
In fact, Qi cultivation almost disappeared following the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949.
As a 1986 LA Times reported:
“At that time, It (Qi cultivation) was witchcraft, so I chanted Maoist slogans like everyone else.”
But the Western World began making their influence and opened up perspectives in the Eastern World.
Secret documents were published and Qi Gong is taught openly to everyone.
In addition, practitioners are now comparing notes from China to India, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East.
With the breakthrough of quantum physics in the West, there is a fascination in studying the cultivation of Qi.
Conclusion of Eastern Energy
Qi/Mana/Ki/Chi is inseparable from religious or spiritual traditions even though it has nothing to do with spirituality.
Unlike the West, the East embraced a universal principle of life energy and practiced it for healing and medicinal purposes as well as for enlightenment.
Because there are much secrecy and vagueness, as well as scarce documents, there is no clear definition of what Qi is, except that it is a universal energy.
Breath becomes the primary way to manipulate energy and different breathing techniques will affect different outcomes.
Through association, one can perform Qi Gong — movements + breathing + qi cultivation — to develop Qi in their body.
Because the Chinese compared notes with various countries, we have vast amounts of knowledge of how Qi circulates the body and what the practices will do.
Yet, much of its documents are only focused on health and inner awareness.
As seen with Reiki and Western cultivation of energy, there is much more one can do with Qi.
The History Continues
There’s a trend of western attempts to wipe out the practices of energy cultivation.
Whether it is due to insufficient evidence, witchcraft, or lost effort or reputation, spiritual energy is nearly nonexistent in the West.
However, there is an abundant collection of Qi cultivation for health, physical strength, and enlightenment over thousands of years in the East.
By sharing and comparing notes, Qi becomes a source for medical and martial arts application.
The question remains: why does the East have a lot of documents for Qi cultivation than the West?
Because of the Scientific Revolution, the West, having divorced from the Church’s stronghold, has disregarded anything that is associated with religion and the “supernatural”, the two things that can’t be put into a scientific experiment.
But the Eastern work of Qi cultivation has irrevocable ties with religion and mystical practices even though it is used only for health purposes in early history.
If we look closely, the East focuses on internal work and internal energy cultivation.
This is why most Qi Gong and acupuncture texts have detailed knowledge of the body and the energy meridians which flows throughout the body.
We know that spiritual energy can do much more than health, martial art, and enlightenment (internal cultivation).
The East focuses on the internal; the West focuses on the external.
Most of what we hear in the West are about “psychic” and “supernatural forces”.
Throughout the centuries, Alchemy and Occult Schools have hidden underground from the mainstream for fear of persecution.
Practices include “magick”, “sorcery”, “alchemy”, and “science”.
*During the Church rule, those practicing science which has contradicted the will of the Church were persecuted. Threats of being hanged silenced many scientists.
It is for this reason that such practices been hidden in secret orders and under symbols and metaphors.
These are all forms of Qi or energy cultivation for external purposes.
But even though the West and East are using the same universal force, the methods are entirely different and so are their purposes.