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NYC Shrine of Prometheus Message Board Science and spirituality - various other philosophical and historical matters › "Energy" in modern science vs.

"Energy" in modern science vs. "Energy" in esoteric spirituality, complementary/alternative medicine, etc.

New York, NY
Post #: 754
The meaning of the word "Energy" in modern science is different from the meaning of the word "Energy" as used in various spiritual traditions and in various traditional forms of medicine.

Briefly, "Energy" as used in modern science is an indirectly measured quantity, i.e. a precisely-defined numerical quantity that can be computed from various measured quantities such as mass, velocity, force, and distance. On the other hand, "Energy" as used in esoteric spirituality, complementary/alternative medicine, and martial arts is not a numerical quantity, but is something that is visualized and felt.

Are these just different ways of perceiving the same thing? Probably not, in my opinion. "Energy" in the spiritual sense has quite a few aspects that don't correspond to anything in the modern scientific sense of "Energy."

For some brief introductory info on both, see the Wikipedia articles on Energy (in the modern scientific sense) and Energy (esotericism), and see also the Wikipedia article on Qi (the traditional Chinese version of energy in the esoteric spiritual/healing sense). Note, however, that the Wikipedia article on Energy (esotericism) has some parts that seem to be written by people quite hostile to the concept and thus is NOT the best introduction to it, although it does distinguish "Energy" in the esoteric spiritual/healing sense from "Energy" in the modern scientific sense.

I would appreciate it very much if others here could post links to good online resources written by practitioners of various kinds of energy work (in the esoteric spiritual or healing sense), or other well-researched websites by well-informed people with a non-hostile point of view. "Energy" in the esoteric sense is a concept I've had quite a bit of exposure to over the years via my study of various kinds of spirituality, but I'm not aware of any really high quality online resource about it. It would be nice to be able to list such resources here.
A former member
Post #: 1
All I can offer for the present is more wikipedia articles.

Élan vital
Odic force
Animal magnetism

My own research into vitalism is of a very experiential sort, being primarily found within the context of modern-day vampirism.
New York, NY
Post #: 756
I just now created a separate thread "Energy" and today's psychic vampire community. Because the topic of modern-day vampirism often leads to contentious discussion, I ask that all subsequent discussion of that aspect of the topic of "Energy" be placed in that new separate thread, rather than in this current thread. I ask that this current thread be reserved for discussing other aspects of the topic of "Energy" (in both the esoteric sense and the modern scientific sense).

To Jonathan:

The Wikipedia articles you referred to are mainly about the "life force" idea as an outdated concept in biological science. Now that the biochemical processes of life are understood in minute detail, the idea of a "life force" is no longer seen, by today's biologists, as having any explanatory merit.

However, many people today still experience something that feels like a "life force." Precisely what it is that these people are actually experiencing remains to be seen, in my opinion.
A former member
Post #: 2
I would say that the need for a theory of vital-force is no longer a necessary component to modern science. Not that it's been disproven; it's just not necessary. There are apparently better theories that explain the processes of life. My own reluctance to accept this wholesale dismissal is because biological science and medical for-profit business are so closely linked. The persecution, within this country, of Wilhelm Reich and his orgone theories seems more than enough evidence to show what happens to someone whose theories go against power and profit masquerading as science.

As far as feeling life-force... I don't really care what I feel or think I feel in relation to directly perceiving energy. What I care about is how my body responds after receiving an influx of vital energy. It's not dissimilar to having eaten a satisfying meal when hungry. My body is relaxed but strong, my thoughts are elevated and clear, and my mood is refreshed.

I admit that it *could* all be in my head. <And I laugh with tremendous laughter> But sometimes it's best to just except the most direct and common sense explanation. If we doubt our very experience – and experience that has revealed the same or similar results on countless occasions – then we might as well doubt our own self-directed will and consciousness itself, and lay down quietly to await death.
New York, NY
Post #: 783
More about "energy" in the modern scientific sense:

A website called Physics in Plain English contains one of the best-written attempts I've seen, so far, at a layperson's introduction to the concept of "energy" as that word is used in physics.

Alas, although it's very well-written, I think it contains some major inaccuracies. The sections on "kinetic energy," "potential energy," and "total energy" look correct to me, but the explanation of "Rest Mass Energy" conflicts with what I recall learning in school.

The above page explains "Rest Mass Energy" in terms of the difference between (1) the weight of an object itself and (2) the sum of the individual weights of all the protons, neutrons, and electrons in the atoms that make up the object. According to the above page, that difference is accounted for primarily by the kinetic energy of the electrons. What I learned in school is that the difference is accounted for primarily by the energy that would be released if the atoms were to be formed by a series of nuclear fusion reactions starting with the individual protons and neutrons as isolated particles.

I would very much appreciate comments from our resident retired physicist, John G.
John Gregor AKA Z.
New York, NY
Post #: 6
Yes, Diane, due to the large nuclear binding energy the mass of a nucleus is substantially less than the sum of the masses of the constituent protons and neutrons. However, it is also true that the mass of an atom is slightly less than that of the nucleus and the electrons due to the weaker electric binding energy. The binding comes from the attraction between the negative electrons and positive nucleus. The kinetic energy of the electrons reduces the binding.
New York, NY
Post #: 788
About "energy" in the esoteric spiritual sense:

There are quite a few complementary/alternative healing practices that feature the manipulation of "energy" (a.k.a. "chi", "prana", etc.) These practices include acupuncture, qigong, Reiki, Breema, Therapeutic Touch, and polarity therapy.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a branch of the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health, refers to the "energy" of these "energy therapy" practices as "putative energy," meaning that the energy is of a kind that is reputed to exist but has not been measured.

(There are also some other forms of "energy therapy" that use what the NCCAM calls "veritable energy," e.g. magnetic fields, which can be measured. For the most part, these have not been shown to be effective, although Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy is a mainstream treatment for bone fractures and apparently has been shown to be effective.)

On some websites, including Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders and WebMD, what the NCCAM calls "putative energy" therapies are referred to as "biofield" therapies.

P.S.: Here is the Wikipedia article on Qi.
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