My Straw Man
I’m not sure that last post fully qualifies as a straw man, as it is something that someone *is* arguing.
But yes, Jason’s argument is stronger than that. Here’s a couple disorganized thoughts about it (I can’t spend a lot of time on this; I’m very busy today. Hopefully later I can devote more thought to it):
1. The car metaphor. Good metaphor, but it makes my point. The car doesn’t work at all without a driver. Put the best gasoline in it, the best sparkplugs, the strongest battery — but no driver, no movement. The driver can also get out of the car and walk. We don’t have to think about gasoline to get to work; we can put some shoes on and hit the pavement. Because we — the consciousness of the car — is the part that really matters.
2. Qi is energy. No it’s not. The word qi more accurately translates to “breath” or, taking into account some parallel etymology, “spirit.” Similarly, “mana” means prestige or power, not energy, and “prana” is another word referring to breath and not energy. In fact, the concept we have as energy now is pretty new; you’re not going to find a pure analog in any system older than the 1800s.
3. Tumo is your strongest argument. Granting that there’s neither fraud nor misunderstanding when a practitioner of tumo melts the snow around him, that certainly looks like real energy. However, if matter is an epiphenomenon of consciousness, I would certainly expect that the kind of concentration involved in tumo could transform matter. This one phenomenon doesn’t prove to me the existence of magical energy.
4. I don’t understand how you can say consciousness isn’t involved in some of these practices, unless you think I’m using “conscious” in a very narrow sense, or you are. In fact, I would say that consciousness is involved in everything, because everything is the symbolic interaction of Ideas in the Nous.