qì (器)

literally means “to use” (as a verb) or “a tool” (as a noun). In the classical Chinese discussion of natural philosophy in the Great Commentary of Yìjīng (Xìcí (繫辭)), qì (器) was used to characterize an individual’s ‘ordinary’ relationship with the world — to use it to secure what he/she needs and wants. However, the author(s) of Xìcí recognized that investigations based on that yáng (陽) orientation toward the world would not help seekers discern the subtle dynamics if qì (氣). Instead, they found that watching carefully, while contemplating the various groups (shù (數)) of symbolic images (xiàng (象)) allowed them gradually to discern the subtle dynamics of Dào (道).

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