Sorry about the explanation Jeff. I was trying to keep it as basic as possible. I'll try to clear this up a bit.
"my understanding of ki/chi (deriving from what I've read) is that ki itself is the energy of harmony (what we would call aiki)."
My perspective to English: Do Way or The Way (the path), Ki Energy or power (the energy of the universe) Ai Harmony (also defined as Love in some Japanese to English dictionaries). I always understood Aikido to be the way of the power of harmony, and therefore Aiki to be the power of harmony (or more aptly, the path of striving to achieve harmony with Ki, or harmony with the force that drives the universe). For me this involves way less technical (body) training than it does mental and spiritual. A better way to understand myself and my relationship to the world if you will.
Using this line of thinking, when I refer to "good and bad" Ki it is not my intent to say "good or evil" (as I believe good and evil reside in men, not in Ki it's self), but more of "helpful or harmful" Ki. I will try to give some examples of my thoughts: if we believe (or if I do
) Ki is everywhere and in everything then the breath in my body now has "negative" Ki and must be removed after expelling this I intake fresh air containing "positive" Ki, plants on the other hand take in my exhaled breath (my negative Ki) as positive to survive and in turn give off their "negative" Ki as Oxygen (my positive Ki). On a hot day cool water splashed on me has "positive" Ki, on a very cold day that same water has "negative" Ki (of course this Ki is not only the waters, but a combination with the weathers Ki, which is a combination of the Earths Ki with that of the rest of the universe
). It is my understanding that Ki (or what we are referring to as Ki) travels along certain paths in the body and that if these paths are not "in alignment" as they should be there can be pain or illness (like a kink in a hose that blocks the water flow). I assume this would also mean that if the energy that would be positive for one part of me becomes directed to another part this could become negative Ki and could cause harm (like plugging an American appliance in in Europe
). An ocean wave is perceived as a beautiful calming thing, a Tsunami is viewed as a catastrophe, the same Ki drives the waves, but in different ways. There is an exchange in energy in all of these things, some have what we would perceive as "positive" effects and other's we perceive as "negative".
With Ki a part of everything and everything a part of Ki this becomes very difficult to break down in to words. These can not be defined as good or evil they are just parts of nature. Everything has Ki and is part of Ki, but for "harmony" to exist this Ki must be the right type and in the right order order. If we think of Ki as the rippling effects of drops on the surface of a clear pond we can see that the ripples effect each other, some flowing in harmony some disrupting other ripples. And to try and keep on the post topic, I believe that this is the very nature of "Ki" with any religion.
I'm afraid I'm at work and have no books with me, but I will try to provide some sources later in the post. Please understand that this is me trying to break things down to "simple". Also, these are only my opinions and views and PLEASE remember that I claim no ancient wisdom (or new wisdom for that matter
) and do not consider myself a scholar. These are things I reflect on and should be reflected on by all of us in our own way. Thank you for taking the time to read.