Well, that's a loaded question.
The Egyptians called it "ka." The Hebrews called it "ruah." Christians call it "spirit."
Medicine calls it...superstition.
Almost every ancient religion or metaphysical belief system has in some way addressed
the question of life--or more specifically, what is that force that gives life to
The answer in acupuncture is Qi or Chi. (pronounced "chee.") This is the life-force
energy that circulates in the acupuncture meridians and gives life to all the organs,
structures, and even the consciousness in humans and animals.
And simply put, all dysfunction and disease can be traced to a blockage in the flow
As modern science has sought to discover more about this life-force energy that
makes us who we are, many interesting theories have developed.
One theory [http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001UX2RGkX2Hqm4fGywSj_4kV-2AoWqPEk2FzLPyxLCoMcPkaZaULT_vA7Wev2figsKXXtg2bRWLdfaq0F37HtNgNmuyUxjz8OzGDqsOkihLPJvZVBhZ6iBjKGkj3tKs22K]
by Oxford physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff suggests
that human consciousness can be traced to quantum interactions in microtubules in
brain cells. Since these interactions take place on the quantum level, they operate
outside the realm of time as we know it. The fascinating implication of this work
is that the consciousness--the soul--exists outside time and is therefore...immortal.
Whether this theory is correct has yet to be proven, but the question of Qi remains
fascinating from both scientific and philosophical standpoints.