Associate Professor Zhang Tianbao made a bow… “I fully guarantee the reliability of the experiment. But the results are too terrifying for me to take responsibility.”
— Lu Zuyin, Scientific Qigong Exploration (1994). p. 184We know about fear standing in the way; here you have it. The problem was not that the results were unreliable, it was that they were reliable. For years, physics professor Lu Zuyin had been successfully measuring ch’i emitted by Dr. Yan Xin, a qigong master of the fever period, on a variety of targets and meterings. He hit on the idea of seeing whether Yan could affect the decay of atomic nuclei. He could.
The uproar was immense as this was known to be impossible. The vaunted ‘Laws of Physics’ were the legislators here. Yan broke their decrees with aplomb and it was not a one-time thing. The experiments continued over a period of fourteen months with ever more stringent protocols. As the above quote shows, even when no-one could believe it they had to. The effect of Yan’s ch’i was always strongly significant and could speed or slow the emission of α particles, at will. Half-life was shown to have been changed. Yan could happily achieve this whilst emitting with precise targeting from 1,900 km away. As Woodroffe put it, “Impossible. Yet it was so.”
How? What is this “ch’i” stuff anyhow? Some people today are still talking as if it were “mostly electromagnetic” — others like the term “bio-energy” — but this is far from the whole ench’ilada. Sure, ch’i does very importantly connect with electromagnetism in the human body, as anyone with kundalini arousal who hasn’t figured out how to stop blowing light bulbs yet will know, but Lu and others showed far more was going on.
At the time (the 80s) the Chinese scene was constantly absorbing news from labs. Infrasound pressure at around 10 Hz was detected in ch’i emission, increasing with practitioner experience up to 70 dB, so perhaps ch’i was infrasound. Same thing with infrared of qigong practitioners, or the magnetic field sometimes rated at 10,000 to 100,000 times normal.But Lu and Yan began throwing out less straightforward results. Yan’s emission would fade colour in bromine + n-Hexane mixtures, something only ultraviolet light would do at room temperature. Ch’i wasn’t UV light, as the test tubes were covered. UV light could not have reached the liquid. What the ch’i had done was to behave like UV light, to have the same effect as UV light, without being UV light.
It seemed ch’i could do many things physical energies could do, but was not essentially one of them. Lu proved this in the spring of 1987, by asking Yan to emit ch’i at multiple kinds of target simultaneously: bromine + n-hexane mix, liposome, and DNA material. To change each would require different radiations — UV for the bromine + n-Hexane, heat for the DNA. For the liposome, no-one knows.
Yan was 9 km away at the time he successfully emitted the ch’i — he always said distance gave greater leverage, like winding up for a punch. All the substances were incontrovertibly altered in different ways by the same energy. No single physical energy could have done it. And no physical energy could change the half-life of radioactive elements. (Some preferred to suspect Yan was monkeying with the equipment telekinetically rather than contemplate it. Lu controlled for that later.)
Ch’i was a sort of Swiss army knife energy, an effect for every occasion. Lu began to call this ‘target adaptability’. (This may remind some of the wave-particle duality of light.) It acted as if it were high heat even when the thermometer didn’t move. You could record the presence of neutrons and γ-rays in it even when they certainly weren’t actually there.
What is measured is not what ch’i “is”. That won’t surprise those who use it regularly who know it carries ‘information’, which to we humans means feelings, images, sometimes facts and ‘extraordinary knowings’ which no machine could follow. (What Robert Monroe used to call ‘rote’.) It is a gateway to a world some love, others run from. “It seems to scare the living shit out of most people,” says Rob Williams. Qigong, says Lu himself, is “more advanced than science” (p. 246.) Frankly, that is what some people don’t like. Physical experiment yields invaluable information and validation, but will never completely penetrate Mystery.
I’m reminded of the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone, which turns lead into gold, ameliorates the conditions of all substances it touches, and in some cases immortalises the physical human frame. Clearly a form of target adaptability. It crosses cultures too. Materialists have branded alchemy a fumbling and childish physical chemistry manqué, just as they have done their best to kill off soul of any other kind. Even if they are doing the metering themselves, their hands shake like Professor Zhang’s: “The results are too terrifying for me to take responsibility.” If they knew this stuff carried feelings too they might keel over. Science isn’t that good on feelings anyhow, let alone ones carried by strange energies. I have a few ways cooking to relate all this to the Humanistic psychology stuff, because research has gone on — but even there, mostly against the grain of that scientistic desire for a neat mechanical solution to everything.
Still, when the truth is allowed to speak it does so clearly. Ch’i is the movement in our world, in all worlds, of a universal creative power, with which humans have carefully learned to work over the millennia. The establishment of target adaptability as a fact proves ch’i can change myriad states and conditions of matter, mind and soul. These vary with person and practice. Ch’i is not simple.
And since it can certainly change the composition of organic tissues and DNA, no doubt it can change yours. No-one is simplistically fixed by any mindless physical mechanism, no matter what the fearful may say. No-one’s soul and personality is left out of their life either, nose pressed to the window in a Cartesian split.
Putting this kind of creative power into anyone’s hands is what the qigong movement has been about. That’s a fairly interesting thing to happen in itself. Next week more on how it came about (a story which may surprise you) via an intro to the life of one lynchpin figure in qigong history.