Richard G. Petty, MD

Qi, Prana and Pneuma

I often hear people expressing concern over words like qi (chi), believing that it has something to do with primitive or pagan cultures. In actual fact qi is based upon observations by a culture that looked at the world very differently from that developed in the Western world. It is often mistranslated as “energy” which is not quite accurate.

Some experts now refer to the “subtle systems” of the body, and they appear to be of many types. In China these systems were thought to be the highways of the animating force of the body. In Japan it s known as ki, in India it is prana, the Greeks called it “Pneuma” or in the West were called the etheric or the fifth element, after earth, fire, air and water. There are at least 97 cultures around the world that have claimed the existence of some form of “energy.” We use the term subtle “systems”, to be a little more precise than saying “energies”, for these subtle systems are composed of the inseparable twins:
1. Subtle energies and
2. The subtle fields that carry them.
Without energy, the fields could not actualize, and without the fields, there would be nothing to carry the energy.

Let’s look at something else.

I have been interested to see whether these different concepts map onto each other. I just found an interesting discussion here, that adds some interesting material, all of which I have been able to confirm.

According to my dictionary the word prana does indeed come from the root “Ãpraa” that expresses the idea of “breathing” or “blowing of the wind.” Prana means “breath” and also “life” and “living being”. In Genesis God formed us out of dust from the soil, He blew into his nostrils the breath of life and the human became a living being.

Jung is one of the people who said that the Indian prana corresponds to the Greek pneuma. Pneuma means “air in motion” as in breath and wind, and it is connected with the idea of life. There is a further correlation: prana is related to the mind and rendered as “spirit,” and pneuma has the same meaning.

The trouble with qi has arisen because the Chinese have never had any interest in discussing the meaning of a concept. So they do not speculate on the nature of qi, but instead perceive it functionally: by what it does. Qi, chi, ki has a similar meaning to prana and pneuma: it is translated as breath, vapor, and energy.

This is different from the New Age idea that everything “has” prana or qi. Only living beings do.

“Jesus answered and said unto him,
Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man born be born again,
He cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him,
How can a man be born again when he is old?
Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered: Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man born of water and the Spirit,
He cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is spirit,
Marvel not that I said unto thee: Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof,
But cannot tell whence it comes and where it goeth:
So is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

The Bible John 3:3-8

“The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah (Rûach), which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God’s breath, the divine Spirit.”

J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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