Qi (pronounced che as in cheese) gong is a general term for the process of manipulating neutral powers in the air to one’s advantage. (These powers are not neutral. This is merely what the Chinese believe.) The philosophy is rooted in Daoism and Buddhism and is believed by Chinese practitioners to be magic because it cannot be explained. Qi gong is used comprehensively in Chinese food and tea cultures, physical exercise, arts, medicine and martial arts as well as the scheduling of important events. The greater the skill in using qi gong, the greater one’s skill in his area of interest – calligraphy, healing, situating building sites, choosing auspicious days for important events. Tai ji or shadow boxing is a form of qi gong as is acupuncture, acupressure, and certain types of massage including reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine, and feng shui.
China was in the midst of a qi gong revival during the time that I was injured. I took papers to be graded out to the grounds where my students practiced various kinds of martial arts every afternoon. There I sat on a low stone wall watching and listening. The students were eager to explain what they were doing, the rules of courtesy in martial arts, the various styles of intricate movements and their historic philosophies. One young man told me that he had become very powerful and easily got into fights because nobody could beat him. Once he got into such a fierce battle that he nearly killed a fellow villager and his parents begged him to stop practicing. So he did until he was out from under their control and could start again. Only the most skillful practiced in pairs because each player was to be the mirror image of his partner. Players’ backs would be to each other requiring split-second mind reading in anticipation of each other’s moves.
A Qi Gong Meeting
A young lady invited me to a qi gong healing meeting where a video was played and a local practitioner was present to help “seekers.” The video lecturer warned people not to leave once the session started or bad qi would follow them. For example, a man left early and was struck by a car.
A few people in the rather large crowd were transported into a trance where they sounded like grunting pigs and made other earthy sounds. A dirty smell wafted through the hall. No supernatural events took place, however, much to my student’s disappointment. The local practitioner was under an “anointing.” evidenced by a power circle around his body that those in the audience were eager to step into, and he had hot, trembling hands. The video lecturer explained these manifestations to the audience as the practitioner staggered across the front of the large auditorium. Under the power, he directed qi toward individuals with his hands using throwing motions.
Sometimes these meetings would go on for three or four hours, but after awhile I leaned over to tell my student that I needed to use the toilet. She wanted to go with me, so we slipped out as quietly as possible. She asked what I thought of the meeting and expressed disappointment that it wasn’t more interesting.
“Aren’t you afraid to leave early?” she asked apprehensively.
“No,” I responded. “First of all, I forbade any evil spirits to manifest, including any that might try to punish us for leaving early. Besides, God is Creator and Master of all and He is my God. Why should I be afraid of any lesser gods?”
On the public bus returning to the university campus the student was uneasy so I kept talking about God’s character of love and peace and purity.
I was astonished at the similarities between Daoism and charismatic Christianity and began asking more questions of the young men who practiced every afternoon. I have witnessed feats such as practitioners biting nails in two and breaking and grinding glass to powder with their bare fingers. Fortune telling is common and counterfeits the spiritual gifts in Christianity of prophesy, wisdom, knowledge, healings and miracles. Magic has always been a part of Asian mysticism. Daoists believe that everything good comes from the gods and that man’s basic nature is good.
A Descendent of the Shaolin Masters
One of my students was a descendant of the famous Shaolin monks. This is a group of Daoists who, centuries ago, dedicated their lives to the philosophy of self-effacement, classical Daoist courtesy, and supernatural abilities. Huang was greatly admired and respected by his classmates and colleagues for his integrity, respect for authority, and incredible creativity in the lab. He was a qi gong master and I have seen him leap into the air from a prone position, both from his front and from his back. There were no hidden ropes or wires to help him – he didn’t need any! He said he practiced in his room at night because when he tried to practice during daylight hours a crowd would soon gather. The disadvantage of practicing in his room, however, was that various personal objects would be transported to other locations, usually outdoors. Once we were out walking and came across his comb lying in the grass behind his apartment building. Consistent with claims, this young man was nationally published in calligraphy. It seemed that everything he set his hand to was done excellently.
During one of my summer visits back home I met a Christian man who told me of having a severe back problem. After only three visits to an acupuncture practitioner he was cured. The man was offended when I pointed out the all-encompassing claims of qi gong. The Bible says there will be counterfeit miracles and healings. Demonstrations of the power of qi gong are thrilling but by nature they call attention to the one performing the feat. It so mimics Christianity that there is a measure of satisfaction in its practice, but it does not bring glory to God.
Recently I met a Japanese professor who lives near me. She told me she was a Christian but she didn’t believe in Jesus. The Bible was full of myths, she assured me. Then how was she a Christian? Oh, she ascribed to the philosophy of Jesus concerning love and how to treat one’s neighbor. There is only one way to be a Christian, I started to explain, but she cut me off asserting that it is possible to separate the philosophy from the founder.
Christianity Is A Precious Relationship
Why would an Asian want to give up qi gong for something that doesn’t lend itself to manipulation? Christianity is a relationship with the Creator that requires one to give up control and manipulation (Zech. 4:6) because it is founded on Love and ends in eternal life. Asian religion is a philosophical system that demands nothing, claiming that man is born pure. It gives momentary power aside from God’s, so it is less than pure whether human or demonic. And it is motivated by fear, causing one to ask what can be expected to happen tomorrow. In direct contradiction to Christianity, Asian religions believe the life cycle is repeated in many reincarnations. If you miss perfection in this present life, you will be recycled to try again, and again, and again. The Asian view of all life being equal (a grasshopper is as good as a man) has been revised to appeal to western minds in New Age (that a man will be reincarnated to be a man again, not a lower life form). The Bible says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Ro.3: 10-12). Christianity and Asian religions are mutually exclusive for Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). What’s more, man will die once and then face his Maker (Heb. 9:27).