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understanding the concepts and applications of chi energy  

The Hara

text attributed to Karlfried Graf Durckheim: "Hara: the Vital Center of Man"

The Hara may also be called and recognised by other names, a selection being listed below:

Tai-Tien Chinese   and also:
Dantian Chinese   Energy focus point
Qihai Chinese   Magnetic field point
Chi Point Chinese   Odic force point
Ki Point Japanese   Orgone energy point
Hara Japanese   Spirit breathing point
Kath Arabic    
Spiritus Latin    
Pneuma Greek    
Praria Sanskrit    
Mana Polynesian    
Ruach Hebrew    


The vital centre of the self, the focus of existence. Its basic teaching is simple; to distinguish between body and soul is false; when you see the whole self as a single entity you can attain a higher state of harmony and fulfilment. The knowledge and wisdom of hara are valid not only to the people of Japan and the Eastern World, but it has a Universal human validity. It is a prime factor of all human life, the realization and study of which is of equal concern to yourself. The hara designates the part of the lower abdomen and pelvis region near the genital organs. It is an area located one and a half inch below the navel and one and a half inches inward toward the spine. This point also happens to be the body's central axis (centre of gravity / balancing point) . The word hara literally translated means belly. Energy (chi) is stored in the hara where it is heated before spreading throughout the body - hence a warm glowing feeling. Energy may also be directed at will to whatever task is undertaken. The hara may be considered as being a boiler in a powerhouse, or a storage heater in your home. When it is working it pumps heat into a room, but when it is not doing so - during an off-peak period -then it stores heat within itself to be used at a later time. This is exactly the same principle by which inner power works. You give yourself time to relax, then you use that period to conserve and store further energy. As all energy is heat, you will readily understand the relationship.


Health and recovery from illness are connected with having a good hara; just as cramp and tension obstruct recovery so does the lack of inner form. When you have mastered the application of hara you are always less easily tired. By re-establishing the connection with the vital centre there is always an access to a reliable source of new strength.

The Ego

The posture of "Chest Out - Belly In" expresses an attitude that is wrong in principle; to be more precise, a wrong bodily attitude that prompts and fixes a wrong mental attitude. It. portrays the Ego (self-esteem) in a person and it is this arrogant assumption of the Ego (I) which is the danger. People become (I) by thinking (I) am (I) , that is, by establishing their identity with themselves. In this way they take on the (I) position through their posture and stance, etc. Someone with a non-ego opinion will not take on a rigid point but has the capacity for movement around a firm standing axis. If you are imprisoned in your own ego you will suffer from the loss or non-existence of the right basic centre. A desire for perfection is always a sign of a too rigid ego. The ego-type is quickly roused and constantly irritated if the world does not fall in line with their ideas. You become poisoned or driven to desperation by the injustice and meaninglessness of life. This sooner or later threatens to destroy your faith. Daily life shows an anxious striving for demonstrable security. Self-confidence rests solely upon what you know, have and can do. There is always a concern to improve and preserve your position, always in fear for material security. If you are an ego-type you are sensitive about your dignity and when questioned or criticized will stiffen and turn sour. The belly will become knotted-up inside. Supernatural power can only be released through the liberation from the limitations of your ego.

Perfect Figure

Everyone has a conscious idea on how other people ought to look and how you would like to look yourself. So what is the perfect figure? Several factors should be taken into consideration. A person's figure can differ according to character, age, outlook on life, cultural traditions, fashion, size, proportion and shape, etc. The Western civilization is generally afraid of being too large and being on the heavy side. The ideal perfect figure (not only in the case for women) is to be flat-bellied if not actually bellyless. Because of this Universal Western ideal for the rejection of the belly, which is unnatural and betokens a misguided way of thinking, it indicates that the natural instinct for the true bodily centre of gravity is lost. The result is that the centre of gravity is generally located higher in the upper part of the body. Unfortunately, another factor regarding having a large belly is that of mental degeneration. People wrongly believe that it represents a decline of mental energy and all of the mind's faculties. Although people may regard the declaration of a prominent belly as an offence against "good form", anyone with "a good hara" and the "sedate person" have their centre of gravity in the lower body.

Standing Posture

A person with a good hara will stand upright, firm and collected. The shoulders will be low and the arms hang loose. The legs are slightly apart and the body weight is evenly distributed (never standing with the weight on one leg while the other is part "empty") . A firm but relaxed standing position creates an immovable centre (hara) . The body would not easily be toppled over if pushed. However, if something happens which causes you to be upset, or if circumstances temporarily force you to overreach, then the body will very quickly and automatically swing back into the vital centre. Refer to the Japanese Dural Doll.

Sitting Posture

The most important thing to think about when sitting is that the knees should not be higher than the hipbones. With raised knees it is impossible for strength to flow from the vital centre. With the presence of a good hara you will sit erect and completely motionless, yet are inwardly alert and attentive. It is as if peace has entered the body, an inner calm that is not lifelessness but the expression of a tranquil, self-collected harmony. The appearance as such is looking apparently asleep and submerged within yourself.

Sumo Wrestler

The idol of the Japanese population is the Sumo wrestler. Despite their weight and size the Sumo wrestler is incredibly nimble, displaying agility and flexibility. The seat of their strength is in the belly. With hara you remain balanced both in action and in endurance. Winning no longer requires physical strength. The win comes through a quite different kind of strength! Apart from their technical skill a Sumo wrestler really demonstrates hara; providing the highest evidence and value of inner mastery.


In everyday life a person with a fully developed hara has the strength and precision to perform actions that otherwise they could never achieve even when using the perfect technique, the closest attention or the strongest willpower. "Only that which is done with hara succeeds completely". When physical performance results from the right use of hara that is, "using your middle", all the organs work as if in play functioning as a whole, accurately and without strain. Because of a certain inner attitude such a person can deal readily with everyday tasks, and especially will cope with any situation in the case of an emergency. They will remain calm, able to make an unprejudiced judgement, know what is important and what is unimportant, meet reality serenely and with detachment by keeping a sense of proportion.

Personal Development

Personal development consists of three factors -experience, insight and practice. The three cannot be separated! The idea of training only, as a decisive factor in personal development, as long disappeared. Yet you can achieve nothing without practice. But practice without insight will be just as short-lived and sterile as is insight without discipline.

Practice of Breathing

Correct physical breathing comes from the movement of the diaphragm. Shallow breathing (high up in the chest) shows that a person is tense and caught up in their own ego (I) without knowing it.

The three stages of breathing are:

1. It is a question of becoming conscious of the usual physical breathing, of correcting and exercising it.
2. To recognise wrong breathing, and so then to practice letting go and receiving in a new way.
3. To begin to recognise breathing as a sign of supernatural life and surrender yourself to it.

Hara-kiri Hara means to split the belly. For a Japanese Samurai the word "seppuku" is the ritual suicide by disembowelling. The fatal incision is made in the belly because for the Japanese it is the actual seat of life.  

Final Requirement for the Practice of Hara

The prerequisite for the practice of hara is:

1. Your present form of life is unsatisfactory.
2. You must have an attitude and understanding for the progress of the inner way.
3. You must have a strong willpower and total commitment.
4. You must keep silent about your practice and progress.


Whole Life Attitude

The practice of hara cannot be limited to certain hours of the day for such habit leads only to right posture, a feeling for the right balance of tension and relaxation, and the training in right breathing. This daily period of practice develops a person to become aware immediately of every wrong posture in the daily life, and know how to correct it. But, the full meaning of hara study is reached only when it has become a constant force penetrating the whole of everyday life. Your whole life attitude appears in your posture, in the relationship of tension and relaxation, and in breathing. They are integral functions rising to psychological and spiritual levels. The overall benefit from having a good hara is the capacity to gain new strength, new understanding and a feeling of higher commitment. It will renew and permanently transform your life. However, it can only be achieved by long, faithful and dedicated lifetime study.


The vital centre of the self, the focus of existence. Its basic teaching is simple; to distinguish between body and soul is false; when you see the whole self as a single entity you can attain a higher state of harmony and fulfilment.

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