To people who are familiar with Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine is quite abstract. Is not the Galaxy like a gigantic revolving wheel? Are not all the planets revolving around the Sun and turning simultaneously each on its own axis?
Again, let’s take a look at our Earth. It’s very hot on earth in summer. But, if you fetch a bucket of water from a well, you’ll find that the water of the well is quite cool. In winter it is very cold on earth. The water in the well may have frozen, but miners working in a coal mine feel very hot. In spring, plants grow and blossom, but in autumn, trees generally shed leaves. Don’t such phenomena of Nature seem to show as if there were two kinds of energy on earth which are circulating and transforming into each other?
I invited you to observe the universe and the earth not for the purpose of inducing you to learn astronomy, but in order to show you that since the circulatory motions within the human body are invisible to the naked human eye traditional Chinese medicine can only resort to analogy with the universe to enable you to conceive and comprehend the internal workings of the human body.
By observation of the great Nature, ancient Chinese came to realize that man, being a part of Nature, must obey the laws of Nature, and so they put forward the view of “correspondence between human beings and the natural environment”, of which the simplest example is that a person generally enjoys good health if he/she gets up to work when the sun rises and stops working to rest when the sun sets.
By making such observations, ancient Chinese people came to understand that man is a product of Nature and there are circulatory motions within the human body akin to those of the heavenly bodies in the universe; that such motions require energy, which is of two types: yin and yang according to the direction of flow of the energy and that the human body tends to be in good health if the two types of energy which transform into each other in circulatory motions are equivalent and that the human body will suffer from various diseases if such equivalence is lacking.
What after all is “qi” of traditional Chinese medicine?
Let’s again make observations of the universe. Air is invisible, but don’t you feel its power whenever there is a typhoon raging? From observations, ancient Chinese realized that in air there must be matter which carries energy. They came to the conclusion that since man depends on food, water and inhaled air for the energy required by the human body the energy is produced by all the three of them. This energy is what traditional Chinese medicine calls “qi and blood”. The circulatory motions within the human body for the maintenance of equivalence between yin and yang need to depend not only on the energy of the tangible blood for propulsion but also on the invisible energy qi, which may also be represented as the functional activities of viscera such as the kidneys, expressed traditionally as the “kidney qi”. The term qi denotes additionally man’s vital energy, which is the life-power.