First off, Prizewriter said:
I don't think he is saying "Chi" exists. I think he is offering evidence that what some people call/believe to be "Chi" is actually being studied from a scientific point of view to find out what exactly happens to the body/mind (if anything happens at all) during yoga/qi going et al. In other words, people in the scientific community are trying to debunk "chi" while remaining open to the fact that a lot of these things (e.g. Qi Gong) can have health benefits that can be explained in a rational/scientific way.
That to me is what Ames is saying.
That is what I was trying to get at, and thanks for encapsulating it so well.
I am familiar with the Harvard study you cite-it proves that individuals can assert control over their body temperature using meditation and breathing . This is interesting and surprising, as it is extremely rare and hard to do. However, it says nothing whatsoever about chi despite your assertions but you leap from this to claim it to prove your own supernatural beliefs, which is a bit sly.
I think the problem here is that you are working with second or thrid hand information regarding the 'internal' aspect of these systems.
'Chi' in Japan in known as 'ki', and one art that makes use of 'ki' is Aikido. In his book "Shugyo", Gozo Shioda states (I paraphrase) that the Yoshinkan calls ki 'kokyo'. Kokyo means breath, or breath power, and many techniques in Aikido and IMA in general rely on breath power. In Yoga, the word 'prajna' is often translated as 'energy', but a more exact translation is simply 'breath'.
This has what to do with Chi? You seem to want to widen Chi to mean whatever practice you feel like. Getting offended on behalf of some monks is just a diversion...
The use of ki, chi, prajna in physical systems is related to, and dependent on breath control, and mental focus/intent.
Meditation often makes use of this same 'power.' For example, in Zen you are instructed to breath from your Hara, while in Tibetan Buddhism, one breaths from their lower abdomen, but also 'through' a variety of systems of the body. In some Yogic mediation methods (such as Kundalini) one attempts to move the breath through the body, up through the 'chakras', and eventually into the chakra of the forehead. From my research, gTummo is similar. So you can call it breath, or you can call it 'energy', but in the end, it means either one. So attemtpting to reduce this to a 'well that's just breath and meditation, and has nothing to to with chi', totally misses the essence, as both the a 'meditating' (focused) mind, and breath power is neccesary in all these systems, including those that you reduce to the overly simplified "meditation".
I thought I would help clarify all that for you.
Do you think that things like tai chi might be used by more people to improve health if it wasn't surrounded with 'mysterious' talk of chi and energies?
In my experiance, people who know this stuff well, can explain it in terms that make sense. The problem is that there often aren't Western equivlents for what is being explained (hence that Harvard scientist having to come up with his own term for this stuff) so the terms and definitions, even translations can be quite different.
The main thing with this topic is to seperate the charlatans from those who are actually skilled (a difficult thing to do).
Also, if one were to write off the 'mysterious talk of energies' they would miss the entire point of what they are doing. What they should be doing is endeavoring to form these concepts into working definitions so that they can understand what they are doing better. Recently, a lot of good work has been done towards the goal of restating these concepts in Western terms. The thing is, in the end, it's still the same thing, just a different name.
"Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought."