Healing with Qigong
A gadfly is a biting insect reputed to drive animals mad. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the “Lord of the Gadflies” was a philosopher, Socrates, whose biting dialogues launched our Western intellectual tradition. But we forget that he was also a spiritual teacher with powerful tools to nurture our souls.
Across two millennia, Chinese sages and physicians have described the function of qi (“chee”), or vital energy, that courses through the body and the spirit, and have pointed to blockages in the body's hidden qi channels as the source of physical ailments and disease. Qi skeptics counter that the energy channels described in ancient Chinese texts and drawings do not correspond to any real structures in the body, and that the concept of qi is both elusive and impossible to verify scientifically. Lost in these abstract debates are the questions that real people facing health crises might ask.
For a number of years I have collected lists about traveling light. Most arose from journeys people have taken: place to place, day to day, birth to death. Each list simply describes what was carried, often in a rucksack, sometimes deeper within the traveler. I began collecting these lists, I suppose, because I found myself drawn to their spare poetry — a poetry of emptiness.
I have given each list below a brief introduction. The lists themselves retain as much as possible the language, word order, and spelling of their sources.
In the summer of 2002 we invited our readers to take two leaps of faith — first by writing a personal essay, and then by letting us read it. We received many wonderful entries. Here’s one of our favorites.