literally, "the breath of life"
embedded with the shen (the immaterial, celestial soul, associated with the yang substance)
that creates and nourishes the "10,000 things,"
the spiritual, life-force in, around and through all things
At birth transmitted directly from mother to child, as the child is soft, supple and malleable.
Over time and the life-cycle, unless preventative measures taken, the amount of ch'i diminishes.
Until at old age, the ch'i is so reduced that the bones are brittle and the body are rigid.
philosophical Taoism seeks to conserve ch'i
augmentative or folk Taoism seeks to increase ch'i
religious Taoism strives to apply ch'i
Footnote: does ch'i arise from material phenomena? or does material phenomena arise from ch'i?
Most Buddhist and Taoists tend to hold the latter, with the Buddhist maintaining that matter is ultimately an illusion, while the Taoist seek to travel a long and prosperous life.
In contrast, Confucians, aligning themselves with Western philosophy, see ch'i existing as separate from matter (Cartesian Dualism) and view ch'i as metaphorical of the fundamental physical properties and process of the universe (level of physical laws).
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