Across Cultures and Centuries

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Unfortunately, over the centuries these depictions of the human energy field have lost their primary meaning.  In his book Future Science, John White lists ninety-seven different cultures in which the aura was described in ninety-seven different ways. Despite the differences, every description referred to the manifestation of a gleaming light or glow.  The halo, aura and later all their imitations symbolized uniqueness and divinity, distinguishing the person who possessed them from those who did not. However there is a principal difference between a halo and other forms of crowning of the head. The halo was used to signify a person's virtue and good deeds, and in all cultures was an unmistakable sign of spiritual development. With crowns and other head decorations the issue was often quite different. The crown did initially indicate a loving heart, kindness, forgiveness, wisdom and sensibility, which was associated with a high level of spiritual development.

In many of these ancient traditions, the basic meaning of the word "energy" was and still is the primordial life force or life energy. This energy fills and surrounds all human beings as well as the environment. According to this view of the universe, the life force animates matter and creates life; in other words, life is created when energy penetrates inanimate matter.

In ancient Greece, this life force was known as pneuma. Paracelsus named it archaeus.  In India the Sanskrit terms are prana and shakhti, with prana meaning universal energy and shakhti a more personal form that flows through human beings and is divided into the flows of nadi and bindu. Prana is believed to be able to change its level of vibration and transform into shakhti, and vice versa. In Tibet, this energy is called ca, lung and tikle. In ancient Egypt it was called ka.   In China, the name was chi or ki, depending on the region of the country. From this latter term originate, among others, Tai Chi and Chi Gong, which constitute meditative, kinetic practices based on energy flow. As mentioned, people who are able to regulate and correct the energy flow are known as Chi Gong masters.

In Japan, life energy is called ki. Its flows are utilized by Aikido, a school of defensive martial art, as well as by the school of active martial arts known as Karate. In the United States the best-known Japanese tradition of healing with energy is called Reiki.