Chi, Prana, the Human Energy Field, and the Universal Energy Field

By: ; Date: Mon Jan 04 2021 13:13:44 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

It is the common belief among spiritual practitioners that the underlying force is the non-material energy variously called Chi, Prana, Orgone, Animal Magnetism, and many other names.

The Motive Force: QiThat which animates life is called Qi ("chee"). The concept of Qi is absolutely at the heart of Chinese medicine. Life is defined by Qi even though it is impossible to grasp, measure, see or isolate. Immaterial yet essential, the material world is formed by it. An invisible force known only by its effects, Qi is recognized indirectly by what it fosters, generates and protects.

Matter is Qi taking shape. Mountains forming, forests growing, rivers streaming, and creatures proliferating are all manifestations of Qi. In the human being, all functions of the body and mind are manifestations of Qi: sensing, cogitating, feeling, digesting, stirring and propagating. Qi begets movement and heat. It is the fundamental mystery and miracle.

Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

This force has been known to spiritual traditions around the world. In the book Subtle Energy: Awakening the Unseen Forces in Our Lives the authors give this chart of the various names it has gone by:

Ancient Egypt
Animal Magnetism
Australian Aborigine
United States, United Kingdom
United States, United Kingdom
South America
Life Force
General usage
(e.g. "Ki" means "Life Force")
Hiru Pygmy
Ancient Greece
Qi (chi)
Subtle Energy
United States, United Kingdom

The term "Human Energy Field" comes from Barbara Brennan ( in her books Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field and Light Emerging: The Journey of Personal Healing. In her books is presented the best and clearest description of the phenomenon of Chi that I could find in the mid 1990's, and which drew me to study in her school.

My first experience of Chi was in a class during a guided meditation. Lying on the floor, my arms were at my side, and my forefinger and thumb felt as if they were touching. After the meditation they still felt they were touching, but on opening my eyes I was astonished they were an inch (or so) apart. "What's going on" I thought, and a class member suggested I was sensing the "energy". "The what" I thought, and with such exceedingly humble beginnings started a search.

This picture comes from chapter 7 in Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field and shows observations of the "aura".

Most people see a haze around the fingers and hands when trying to sense the aura. It looks somewhat like the heat wave over a radiator. It is sometimes seen in various colors, such as a blue tint. Usually, most people see it as colorless in the beginning. The energy bodies pull like taffy between the fingers as the haze from each fingertip connects to the haze at the fingertip of the opposite hand. When you move the fingers so that a different fingertip is facing it, the haze will at first follow the old finger and then jump to the closer fingertip.

To attempt to demonstrate this effect, hold your hands up in front of a plain background colored either white or black. Then move them around as described and pictured above. Play with this for awhile. If you are able to see any effects, can you distinguish between viewing the aura and optical effects in the eyeballs? Do not be surprised if you cannot see this, as direct vision is not a gift everybody has.

An easier exercise is kinesthetic sensations of the human aura, like I had in the beginning of my search. For example, the exercise to find your aura.

The Human Energy Field

The Human Energy Field (HEF) is also more popularly known as the "aura". The HEF is distinguished from the UEF (Universal Energy Field) by being "the manifestation of the universal energy that is intimately involved with human life". In other words, surrounding a cat there is a Feline Energy Field, around a flower is a Floral Energy Field, around a penny is a Copper Monetary Energy Field and so forth. The Universal Energy Field permeates everything in the Universe, and is involved as the foundational energy forming everything in the Universe.

The HEF is the illusory separation we humans feel from everything around us. The truth is that the hold thing, the Universe that is, is a continuous field of energy. Thus we, our bodies that is, are an integral part of the universal energy field. At the very edge of the HEF is a boundary at which point we begin to maintain our human individuation. Inside the boundary is the Aura (or HEF) and all the things which go into making us who we are.

Energy Bodies

In both her books Barbara Brennan talks at length about the "levels" of the HEF, but I believe a better term is "energy body". In the exercise to find your aura you are instructed to bounce your hands in and out, expecting to find an edge every six inches or so. The space between each of the edges is one of the layers or energy bodies of the HEF.

This picture is, again, from Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field in chapter 7. This particular model of seven energy bodies is taught by Barbara Brennan. Other healing teachers either do not say anything about layers of the aura, or talk of slightly different arrangements to the energy bodies. Each "layer" interpenetrates the layers below it, hence my insistence on calling these "energy bodies" rather than "layers (or levels) of the field" as is the common phrase at BBSH.

Each energy body is associated with a major chakra in order. Hence, the first (root) chakra is associated with the etheric body, the second (sex) chakra is associated with the emotional body, and so forth. The energy bodies are centered around the "vertical power current" (an energy channel running from the root to crown chakra, and to which each of the major chakras in between is attached). Each higher energy body requires a higher level of energy, both in quantity of energy and in vibrational quality of the energy.

An interesting phenomenon in the energy bodies is a dualistic switching from "structured" to "unstructured" bodies. The structured bodies (etheric, mental, etheric template and ketheric) each are made of lines of light, kind of like a screen door, and the lines of light exactly (almost) match the structure of the human body. The unstructured bodies (emotional, astral and celestial) are loose and flowy. Analogies aplenty abound from this pair of organizing principles, "structured" versus "unstructured".

The energy body closest to the physical body is the etheric body, associated with the first chakra. The one furthest from the physical body is the ketheric body, associated with the seventh chakra. The higher energy bodies are less distinct, while the lower energy bodies are more "dense". There are two ways of looking at this:

  • The energy bodies emanate from the physical body, kind of as a byproduct of physical matter. Hence, the ketheric body is the furthest out the physical body can broadcast subtle energy.
  • The physical body is an extrusion of the energy bodies into physical matter. The physical matter making the physical body is therefore formed upon the structures of the etheric body.

While it isn't clear in a scientific point of view which is correct, my vote is for the second. I say this primarily because my experiences match the second point of view.

The second point of view also follow the laws of manifestation. Namely, the concept that creation of physical reality begins first in the higher planes, and becomes real through spiritual laws and human action.