One very important purpose of Chi is to support the function of the organs. Chi helps to digest food and transform it into blood and energy. Chi defends the body against infection and pathogens. Chi also maintains the body’s temperature and circulation; it keeps the organs in place, keeps the blood in its vessels, and governs elimination of excess materials. Chi makes all movement and growth possible When Chi is out of balance it can become deficient or stagnant; these are opportunities for disease and illness to arise.

From these functions it is clear how important Chi is to our health. From a purely pragmatic perspective, learning to acquire and utilize Chi properly, to keep it strong and mobile, will assist in extending a person’s lifespan. The quality of that life depends upon other aspects of Chi as well: the strength of the Shen (spirit) energy and the health of the organs.

Energy, as we have described before, can be considered the ability to do work. Work requires something physical to be acted upon. When a force is applied against a substance, energy is expended, and work is achieved. We have just seen what energy is in the Daoist models, but what is substance? Let’s take a brief journey into the Daoist view of the nature of matter before continuing on to look at the organs and meridians.