You may like to read: Faculty-Condition (indriya-paccaya
) from CONDITIONS Conditionality of Life in the Buddhist Teachings An outline of the 24 Conditions as taught in the Abhidhamma by Nina Van Gorkomhttp://www.dhammastudy.com/Conditions13.html
I actually found the term "Rupa-jivitindriya" through reading Nina van Gorkum's work. She doesn't go into specifics or describe whether it might be compared to the notion of qi. All she says is:
As to life faculty, jivitindriya, there are two kinds: nama-jivitindriya and rupa-jivitindriya. Nama-jivitindriya which is a cetasika, one of the seven "universals" arising with every citta, controls and maintains the life of the associated dhammas. It conditions the associated dhammas and the rupa produced by them by way of faculty-condition. As to rupa-jivitindriya, this is classified separately in the "Patthana". It maintains the life of the kamma-produced rupas it has arisen together with in one group. It is related to them by way of faculty-condition. In the groups of rupa produced by kamma there is always jivitindriya, whereas in the groups of rupa produced by citta, temperature and nutrition there is no jivitindriya.
I don't really like Gorkum's style of writing. She seems to have an obsession with Pali, an aversion to using suitable translations, despite the fact that the Buddha taught that dhamma could be taught in any language. Although it's true that some of the meaning of terms is preserved through leaving them untranslated, the inability to express Abhidhamma in English seems to imply a lack of understanding what the Abhidhamma actually says.
Since 90% of what she says is in Pali, it's a bit confusing to read. Even once you know the terms she's using and you can start to memorize the "patterns" of how the terms are related, you don't necessarily get any insight from memorizing such rhetorical patterns -- that is, unless they can be related to experience... but she rarely uses real-world examples and analogies, just coldly repeating the logical patterns of terms as they are used in the Abhidhamma. And if they could be related to experience (which they should be), then we come back to the idea that it isn't particularly necessary (possibly unskillful) to express yourself using strictly Pali terminology.
When it comes to distinguishing dhamma, vinnana, citta, cetasika, nama, and sankhara, these things are best left untranslated to avoid the ambiguity of using translations like concepts, consciousnesses, mental objects, mental states, etc.. But kusala and akusala can be pretty easily translated as wholesome and unwholesome, hetu and ahetu can easily be translated as "with cause" or "with root" and "causeless" or "rootless". I don't understand why she writes that way.
To understand what I mean, so I don't just seem like I'm being unjustly critical or arrogant, I suggest looking at the way the Arahant, Nagasena, speaks in the Milinda-Panha. He is very creative, very eloquent, and so he doesn't just repeat what the Pali canon says verbatim. Through speaking like this, there is insight to be gained from what he says, because he actually seems to know what he's talking about, not just memorizing and reciting rhetorical patterns. As another example, instead of using Nina van Gorkum, go see if you can get Namdrol on e-Sangha to discuss Abhidhamma. There's another case where he doesn't really seem to know anything (unless he's changed greatly, which is entirely possible), but he's collected a considerable amount of mundane knowledge through mundane study, which will be gone, at death. This is very different from Retrofuturist, another example, who hasn't done very much study, but has considerable insight which will remain after death. And so, Retrofuturist speaks very clearly, not attaching to speaking in elaborate, complex, or foreign terminology.