April 25, 2013
Progress report on our new architectural office and feng shui school in Berlin: The scaffolding is up, the old roof should be down in a few days and a new one installed by the end of May with the concrete ring-beams built in. All subcontractors have been signed up. It is wonderful to be a builder-architect and see a building come together infront of your eyes little by little each day.
April 5, 2013
Having just visited some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s (FLW) buildings in the States (Guggenheim Museum in New York, Fallingwater along Bear Run and the I. N. Hagan House at Kentuck Knob) during our recent Easter holidays, I have found both Cate Bramble and Xu Weili’s comments below misleading:
Frank Lloyd Wright & Feng Shui? NO!
Wright pioneered living rooms (over parlors), carports (in an age moving from buggies to cars), and open floor plans (the ubiquitous design of post-1980 tract homes). But none of those innovations automatically generate good Feng Shui, and are not inherently imbued with Feng Shui principles….
Cate Bramble, Feng Shui Ultimate Resource.
Frank Lloyd Wright & Feng Shui? YES!
Simply said, feng shui means living in balance with nature. Fallingwater represents this ideal. For the first time, an American architect understood Chinese geomancy, and put this to work in his own way. … FLW’s genius flowed from his innate understanding of Taoist principles…
Master Xu Weili, Windhorse Feng Shui Consultants.
In reality both FLW and the practice of feng shui are concerned with Man’s relationship to his environment, both wanted the occupants to live in harmony with Nature, but they have a different approach to this relationship, in which FLW viewed Man as the “host” and Nature as the “guest”, whereas in the practice of feng shui, Nature is considered as the “host” and Man as the “guest”.
In a traditional Chinese worldview, Man is always subordinate to Nature but in FLW’s case, Nature is there to serve Man (to make his house stand out) and we can see this clearly is a picture of a Chinese garden with a waterfall and FLW’s Fallinwater over a waterfall.
PS. Originally FLW’s client wanted to site the house further down stream, where as a kid he used to play there and look at the waterfall, instead FLW put the house on top of the waterfall so it becomes “being looked at” rather than “looking at”. In other words Nature, in the form of a waterfall, became a “servant” of his house instead of an equal partner talking to each other.
April 3, 2013
According to Cate Bramble… “Consider the hemicycle designs that Wright innovated. A hemicycle is not inherently good Feng Shui….I would suggest that many people who think Frank Lloyd Wright was some kind of Feng Shui savant have seen the Guggenheim or a picture of Fallingwater, but generally don’t look much further.”
Having visited the Guggenheim Museum only recently, I have found Cate Bramble’s statement above not to be true, not only none of the feng shui classics mentioned that a hemicycle is not inherently good feng shui, but there are many traditional Chinese architecture done with hemicycle or in a circular form like the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and the Tulou (folk housing complex) in Fujian.
With the Guggenheim Museum, Frang Lloyd Wright (FLW) designed a circular form spiraling down like the inside of a nautilus shell for the interior and a hemicycle styling for the facing.
From a feng shui perspective, both the interior and the exterior worked well for an art museum, where internally the viewers can look outward at the paintings and artworks and look inward at each other as they walk up and down the circular ramps. Thus created “ganying” (mutual resonance) between not only the viewers with the objects but also the viewers with each other as well.
Externally, a hemicycle belongs to the element Metal and looking at work of art is a form of communication, so it can be correlated to the element Water. Since Metal generates Water, we can say, from a Five Elements point of view, the hemicycle styling supports the activity of an art museum and it makes good feng shui.
There are many other reasons I can mention that this building has good feng shui, like the “shoushan” (received mountain) way the architect treated the front entrance to creat a generous “mingtang” (bright hall) to guide he sheng qi into the building, but these three example will serve to show that FLW can do buildings well with good feng shui, even though he knows nothing of the subject, because good architecture always has good feng shui and it will last the test of time.
In Part II to come, I will talk about feng shui and FLW with regards to Fallingwater.
March 26, 2013
Our new “ar-qi-tektur” office and new teaching room for ECOFS (European College of Feng Shui) in Berlin is under construction. Below you can see a couple of pictures of the teaching area being renovated (one looking east and the other looking west). Our schedule is to get the building work done by the end of the summer (August) so we can start teaching again in September in our new premise at Weißenseer-Spitze, Berlin.
You can see our ECOFS Berlin teaching program for 2013 here:
Flying Star-wise, the office/school has a “Timely Mountain and Timely Water” chart, with the main entrance having a 1,4 combination for literary success.
Two palaces with 8,2 and 4,7 combinations are influencing the architectural office part of the building, which means there is a water star 2,7 Early Heaven Fire combination when viewed from the influence of adjoining palaces in terms of wealth and activities. So this area should have Gua Qi support for passionate creativity, a very good potential for architectural work.
The ECOFS part is located in the timely water star 8 area with an adjoining influence of 1 Coming Sheng Qi star. The timely 8 Earth will be able to control the 1 Water and what the host can control is its wealth, so the school should have Gua Qi support for wealth and it also means the college needs a good structure and organisation to control its activities.
The kitchen/coffee break area has a 9,3 combination, which means the Gua Qi is also suitable for cooking, eating and communication. The toilet is located in a Metal/Wood conflict area and that is acceptable too.
We tried to make our new office and college not only functionally efficient but ritually correct as well. We hope everyone who walks through our front door will come out with literary success!
March 20, 2013
One of my favourite poems on how to achieve good Feng Shui of a dwelling is Liu Yuxi’s 劉禹錫 “Loushi Ming” 陋室铭. Below the Chinese is my own translation:
Inscription about a Crude Dwelling
By Liu Yuxi
Mountains don’t need to be too high; they become famous with immortals.
Seas don’t need to be too deep; they become magical with dragons.
Thus is my simple hut, which has only the fragrance of my virtue.
Green lichen is growing up the steps; the color of grass is coming through the windows.
Fine talk and humor have erudition; no ignorant people possess them.
(A learned scholar) can play a simple qin, or read the Diamond Sutra.
There is no jarring sound of common music, or straining over laborious official records.
Zhuge Liang had (such) a cottage in Nanyang, Yang Xiong had (such) a pavilion in Western Sichuan
Confucius said, “(If a virtuous gentleman lives there), how can it be (a) crude (dwelling)”?
This poem by Liu Yuxi, a poet, philosopher and essayist from the Tang Dynasty, resonated deeply with me, because to me, Feng Shui is not just about Heaven Qi like calculating the Flying Star to imprve our “luck”, but it is also about the quality of Human Qi and where we chose to live. A knowledgeable gentleman living in a simple rustic hut has a better chance of obtaining good Feng Shui than an ignorant ruffian living in an artificial and opulent mansion. Keeping things simple and straight-forward rather than coarse and complicated is a “ziran” 自然 (being natural and self-thus) way to achieve good Feng Shui. We tend to keep forgetting this age-old wisdom.
March 13, 2013
The Feng Shui Society 20th Anniversary Celebration Conference (VII), 18-19 May 2013, London UK
18 May 2013 (Saturday) speakers: William Spear, Michael Oon, Davina MacKail, K B Lim, Neil Kingham, Howard Choy, Karan Kingston
19 May 2013 (Sunday) workshops: Howard Choy, William Spear
Price for 2 days: General public £150, FSS (The Feng Shui Society) Consultants £100, lunch included Price for 1 day: General public £75, FSS Consultants £50, lunch included
To book your place: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7419 7828
Venue: Marchmont Conference Room, Hughes Parry Hall, 19-26 Cartwright Gardens, London WC1H 9EF
February 26, 2013
The first International symposium on Scientific Feng Shui and Built Environment was held at the City University of Hong Kong in 2005. Subsequently the second, third and fourth international conferences were successfully completed in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Furthermore, two international conferences on Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and Architecture were hosted by Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in 2010 and 2012. The common aim of these conferences was to provide an international platform to exchange research in the area of Feng Shui.
In order to extend into the future world-wide research on Feng Shui in a sustainable way, this Academic Journal of Feng Shui is set up as an open-access online journal to give a focus for rigorously researched contributions to the knowledge of Feng Shui.
The objectives of this journal are:
(1) to promote academic research in the area of Feng Shui
(2) to collect publications and sources of information for Feng Shui research
(3) to provide news and information on academic activities related to Feng Shui
So as to keep the focus strictly on the academic research domain, this journal will not be affiliated with any publisher, sponsor, nor any other commercial activities.
International renowned researchers on Feng Shui are invited to join the Advisory Board of this journal. The role of advisory board is to monitor the quality of the papers to be published in this journal through the review process.
February 8, 2013
Apart from a great workshop organized by Jane Langof with a bunch of fabulous students on Feng Shui and Residential Development (see the first photo below), I gave two talks to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Snake, one for the International Feng Shui Association Australian Chapter and one for the Association of Feng Shui Consultants (second photo showed gathering at the AFSC gala dinner).
1) How Residential Feng Shui was used in Traditional China – A case study based on the traditional residential dwellings in China’s Shanxi Province. (A serious presentation on my attempt to break down the myth about Bazhai Feng Shui)
2) Lets Have Some Fun!…and do some yearly predictions for next year of the Water Snake (2013) With Grand-‐Grand-‐Grandmaster Howard Choy, AFSC Honorary Life Member! (A light hearted attempt and a dig in the rib for yearly predictions and how I would forecast the result of the coming Australian election)
You can download a pdf file of both of my ppt presentation here:
It is the eve of CNY – Kung Hei Fatt Choi!
January 24, 2013
Because I studied with Master Yang Shou-Chung, recently I was asked why Master Yang Shou-Chung had only 3 disciples, each operating in a different region (Asia, America and Europe) and whether there is such a thing called the Yang Family Snake Style Taijiquan, also about Erle Montaigue’s relationship to Master Chu King-Hung. Below is my answer:
I am originally from Sydney Australia but born in China (Guangdong), now living in Berlin. I studied with Master Yang Shou-Chung for 2 years in Hong Kong from 1978-1980 and was offered a chance to become a disciple to take care of the Australia/NZ territory not yet occupied by the other three (Ip Tai-Tak, Chu Gin-Soon and Chu King-Hung). The offer for me (done through Mrs Yang in Cantonese who attends each of our private classes and make sure I’d pay my fees on time; this offer was for me only and I cannot say it is for the others as well) at the time it was a financial proposition and it was an obligation free discussion. In the deal I have to pay a certain amount up front (bishi-laisi money or lucky money for the discipleship ceremony) and afterward to do annual (or there about) training in HK for another fixed fee, then each student I get using the family discipleship tilte, Master Yang will take an annual “membership” fee from them. I was tempted but declined because at that time I have a young family and was struggling with my architectural practice. I knew Erle quite well; we used to practise together every Sunday with some of his students like Tony Ward (who went on to study with Master Huang Sheng-Shyan, much to the displeasure of Erle). As far as I know, the reason why Erle left Master Chu was because he was asked to make similar contributions to be named as Chu’s disciple. Looking back, when discipleship is based on a financial arrangement with a territorial right and not on genuine commitment to the art and skill, it seldom works out well. After Master Yang Shou-Chung died in 1985 I went to see Master Chu Gin-Soon in Boston, Master Ip Tai-Tak and also Yang Ma-Lee (Master Yang’s daughter) in Hong Kong (with Sifu Chen Yong-Fa of Choy Lee Fut) but ended up furthering my Yang Family Taijiquan study with Fu Zhong-Wen’s son Fu Sheng-Yuan from Perth and also with Chen Xiao-Wang (Chen Family Taijiquan) in Sydney (Master Chen Xiao-Wang stayed in my home for a few years). Master Chu King-Hung was the only disciple out of the three who refused to see me in person (“Go learn from Ma-Lee”, he siad). I have never heard of the Snake Style Tai Chi Chuan from the Yang Family and nor from the Fu Family either until recent time from a younger genearation of students. When Master Ip was alive, I went to visit John Ding (Master Ip’s disciple) in London and he did not mentioned the Snake Style at that time as well, so I would imagine it was a made-up thing after Master Ip’s death, by his disciples and not directly from the Yang Family. Master Yang did teach a family long-form, which an ex-pat dentist from Canada was learning from him at the same time I was taking my private lessons.
I might have said things contraversial and made what is private and confidential public, but it is better to write them down now that I am 65, at least there is a first-hand record of what went on in the 70s and 80s as compare to now, from my perspective (needless to say) as one of the few private students of Master Yang Shou-Chung towards the end of his life.
January 23, 2013
January 8, 2013
I came across some of William Stafford’s poetry today and love this poem (“Ask Me”) he wrote, and as I was reading his words, others tumbling down in my head….
You asked me
When the rain is falling down you asked me
How many teardrops have I shed for ye
I am listening and looking
Outside at all the rain falling…..falling
Glancing up the inside room is empty
But my cheek bone front is flooding
With rushes meant for thee
Tears and all precious are falling…..falling
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
William Stafford (plus HC – a wannabe).
January 5, 2013
It is this time of the year again, when endless yearly predictions will make their rounds and also the fear of San Sha and Tai Sui will surface. Already the first cry, “What to do with San Sha 三煞 (3 Killings) in my East?” made itself felt, so here is my two cents:
If the yearly San Sha is a worry for you, then the best way to handle it is to leave the whole afflicted area alone, which included not to dig, not to bang, not to hammer and not to make too much noise. If building work has to be done in these directions, then it is best to select an auspicious day for the start of the work; this will help to mitigate somewhat the negative effects brought on by disturbing the San Sha.
The location of the San Sha is calculated theoretically through the San He combinations of the 12 Earthly Branches on 24 Mountains of a Luopan Compass, so it is not some evil spirit outside of our world view, and because we created this fear theoretically in the first place, we can overcomes it through the same philosophical understanding.
The underlying idea is to get us to consider what we would like to do, in which direction and when to do it in the new year with care and with deliberation, it is a sort of “forced” forward planning, using fear as the motive force.
If you can understand this idea then you can come up with many creative solutions to handle the San Sha in a constructive way. Alternatively, you can be lazy and don’t want to be bothered, you can just go a Feng Shui shop and buy some “cures” and put them in the afflicted area to do the job for you.
Hope and fear are two of the most fundamental forces in our life, the ancient Chinese are aware of this and they build them into the Feng Shui of our environment to get us to think carefully about what is important to us and what we would like to achieve and to avoid in the coming year with these built-in hope and fear, so don’t forget, apart from the bad guys like the San Sha and the Tai Sui, there are also the good guys like the Cai Xing 財星 and the Guiren Xing 貴人星 each year as well.
January 4, 2013
Over the New Year break, I read Stephen Hawkins article on his webpage, “Does God Play Dice?”
He summed up his views in the last paragraph:
“To sum up, what I have been talking about, is whether the universe evolves in an arbitrary way, or whether it is deterministic. The classical view, put forward by Laplace, was that the future motion of particles was completely determined, if one knew their positions and speeds at one time. This view had to be modified, when Heisenberg put forward his Uncertainty Principle, which said that one could not know both the position, and the speed, accurately. However, it was still possible to predict one combination of position and speed. But even this limited predictability disappeared, when the effects of black holes were taken into account. The loss of particles and information down black holes meant that the particles that came out were random. One could calculate probabilities, but one could not make any definite predictions. Thus, the future of the universe is not completely determined by the laws of science, and its present state, as Laplace thought. God still has a few tricks up his sleeve.”
Which, to me, matches up wonderfully with my own experience working with Feng Shui in that we cannot use the form and configuration of an environment, or the compass calculations to predict what will happen to the occupants, we can only use Feng Shui to look at the potentials and the tendencies or what the Chinese would called the Ji-Xiong – the auspicious and the harmful (that is whether it is desirable or not) of a situation and make an educated guess as to what actions one should take, to move into the immediate future.
There is no way we can predict the future accurately, God do play dice, as pointed out by Stephen Hawking and Quantum Mechanics, we can only assess the situation intelligently and do our utmost, then “wait for destiny”, as the Confucians would stress. That is not to say we should not look to the future, but we need to be aware that the future is not pre-determined, no matter how we try to calculate it, there are always the unknown and the unexpected waiting around the corner, and that is why life is so exciting and worth living.
December 29, 2012
Yesterday we went to an exhibition on Icelandic architecture above the lecture hall in the Nordic Embassies in Berlin. The building complex from outside looks wonderful and the planning of the 5 embassies done by six different architects fit in well on the site, wrapping itself around the corner of two busy streets nicely with clever mechanized sun-shading and privacy louvres.
Internally the use of natural timber contrasted with stainless steel and glass in a backdrop of off-form concrete all showed a remarkably beautiful Nordic character, fresh and elegant. We were very pleased with the opportunity of enjoying a Scandinavian way of doing modern architecture, until we came out of the exhibition and look at the outdoor space separating the 5 embassies and the lecture hall.
The “gaps” between the buildings remained us the no-man’s land separating East Berlin from West Berlin in the cold war days. There is no Ju-Qi (gather the spatial qi) in the outdoor space, as though the Finns don’t want to talk to the Norwegians and the Swedes deliberately want to ignore the Danes. Is this a deliberate aim of the planners?
We felt here is an excellent opportunity for communication between the five Nordic neighbours missed in the planning, the two diagonal and the two horizontal Sha-Qi lines divided up the six buildings severely, instead of linking them together with some friendly outdoor space. In Feng Shui, the aim in ordering the environment is to Ju-Qi, so we can Ju Qing (gather the feelings and affections) and when there is spatial feelings and affection, there is good Feng Shui (Ju Qi = Ju Qing = Ju Fu. 聚氣 ＝ 聚情 ＝ 聚福).
December 15, 2012
Miranda van Gaalen, one of the tour participants from the Netherlands, on our Feng Shui study tour of China last October, has posted up a series of photos she has taken on the trip, including impressions of temples, mountains, water, “red”, furniture, kids, paintings, architecture, vehicles and homes. If you are interested please go to her blog:
December 10, 2012
History books tell us our ancestors started out as hunters and gatherers and as agriculture developed, we began to settle down and thus Feng Shui, or the knowledge of knowing how to find the best place to settle and how to take care of the land so it can take care of us, was born.
Many different cultures devised different ways to live in harmony with the environment; Feng Shui is one of the best examples coming out of the unique cultural heritage of ancient China.
Unfortunately, as time goes by, modern human beings are increasing disconnected from the land and nature. We are destroying our environment in an alarming rate and we no longer feel our home and our workplace can support our life style and our needs any more. The cars dominate our cities and our neighbourhoods are isolated from each other; we no longer feel our home is a sacred place and the centre of the universe for us any more.
A Feng Shui consultant is train to re-establish these lost connections, empower the occupants and make our home sacred again, so we can again be the master and the mistress of the house and we need not be alienated from our environment and the place we live and work in, the land and our environment can support our needs in a lasting and sustainable way again.
If you are contemplating a change in your career and do something that is worthwhile for your community, your family and yourself, then do give Feng Shui a try, because this ancient body of knowledge still has a lot to offer for the modern world.
Picture below showed participants from Unit 4 (Flying Star) of the Professional Practitioners’ Course being conducted in Krakow Poland last weekend.
December 6, 2012
The role of a Feng Shui consultant, or what a Feng Shui consultant can do, is defined by what is meant by the term “Feng Shui” and “consultant”.
A consultant by definition is “a person who provides expert advice professionally” it is synonymous to being an adviser or a counsellor.
What is meant by Feng Shui was first given by Guo Pu 郭璞 in his classic the Zang Shu 葬書 and that is to “cheng sheng qi” 乘生氣 or to take advantage of the life enhancing and life nourishing qi of the environment, using “wind and water”, or the Yin and Yang forces of the land and the house as the modus of operation.
To “cheng sheng qi” is also expressed in Chinese as “qu ji bi xiong” 趨吉避凶 or “to hasten the auspicious and avoid the harmful”, that is to take advantage of what is constructive and to avoid what is desconstructive in a given situation, and this should be done on the 3 San Cai levels of Tian, Di and Ren (Heaven, Earth and Human) to be comprehensive and holistic.
In other words, the job of a Feng Shui consultant is to help his clients to take full advantage of what the natural and man-made environment can offer and avoid the pitfalls as much as possible, so his clients can be empowered physically, emotionally and spiritually, to help them to fulfil their needs.
The responsibility of a Feng Shui consultant is to assist his clients going through this Feng Shui process as an expert adviser and sometimes as a personal counsellor, in a professional manner, with honesty and sincerity (as expressed in the Chinese character “cheng” 誠).
He should establish a precise brief of what he should and can do right from the beginning and he should try his best at all times, but he is not responsible for his clients’ final decisions and actions, and this has to be made clear right from the beginning, to avoid any misunderstanding and unrealistic expectations.
Often Feng Shui don’t seem to work because the clients have unrealistic expectations of what Feng Shui can do. They think Feng Shui can do the impossible, like double or triple their income, find them a partner and make a woman fall pregnant or make them lucky and change their fate, etc. A Feng Shui consultant cannot do this directly with any styles of Feng Shui, even though he might be dishonest and tells his clients that he can do them.
What a Feng Shui consultant does is to re-order the environment in order to support and to help his clients to achieve their goals, he consults and he give expert advice, but the final outcome rests solely with the clients.
November 20, 2012
November 20, 2012
I often get to be asked questions by students of architecture when they have an assignment to do, this student from England is a Malaysian Chinese and she has to do a 5,000 words essay on Feng Shui and architecture, I thought since I have written the answers to her questions, we might as well share them on my blog post:
1. What do you think motivates your students’ interests in Fengshui?
Motivation for my students vary: a) I am mainly a teacher’s teacher, many of my students are already teaching or practising Feng Shui for a living and they come to me to improve their skills. b) Career change, looking to retrain as a Feng Shui consultant. c) Wants to use Feng Shui to support their chosen career path, from professions like real estate agents, environmental designers (architecture and interior design), facilities managers and personal trainers, etc. d) Interested in Chinese culture, comes from other disciplines like TCM, Taijiquan and Qigong. e) Wants to use Feng Shui to handle their personal problems – learn to change their “luck”. f) Doing it for a hobby or looking for a new spirituality through learning Feng Shui. The last group is quite small because my tuition fee is not cheap and I don’t teach Feng Shui as a religion.
2. Do you have many architects coming to you for lectures and classes? What do you think motivates their interests?
About 10- 15% of my students are architects and interior designers; they are motivated to study Feng Shui to improve their skill as an environmental designer. Some are frustrated with their work and look to Feng Shui for a creative outlet.
3. What do you think is the main reason behind the increase in Westerners’ application if Fengshui in their everyday lives?
The main reason behind the increase in Westerners’ application of Feng Shui is because they feel modern architecture has failed them. They feel their quality of life is decreasing because the modern built environment don’t support them. They want Feng Shui to empower them and to make their home and office a special place just for them.
4. In your case, you came to learn and practice Fengshui because you had to redesign your proposal for a project in Hong Kong. Why do you think Western architects came to practice Fengshui? Personally, do you think its more of a self interest in the subject and the environment or perhaps due to demand?
Some architects come to learn Feng Shui because they have clients interested in using Feng Shui or they are doing projects in China. Some come because they have a personal interest. So it is both due to demand and due to personal interest.
5.One of the reasons Fengshui is popular in countries like the states and Australia is due to business immigration. Could you perhaps provide any other factors that may have influenced Fengshui’s rising popularity among Western countries?
Feng Shui went through a popular fad phase in the early 80s and 90s, this popularity lead to many books being written on the subject and a lot of people still find these books interesting and want to learn more. Many who discovered Feng Shui during this period got deeper into the subject and they continue to study and promote Feng Shui. So the rising popularity is also due to the momentum of this new age fad not completely die away. Another factor for the continual rising interest in Feng Shui, though in a slower pace, is put forward by Ole Bruun, who thinks Feng Shui became popular because it can make a home sacred for the occupants, may be he is onto something there.
6. It can be said that Fengshui is more noticeably popular in the States and Australia. However while Fengshui is practiced and applied by many in Europe, the subject doesn’t seem to be as obviously popular as compared in those two countries. Why do you think that is?
Feng Shui is not as popular in Europe, compared to Australia, Canada and the US, is because there are a lot less Asian migrants in Europe and most Europeans are not familiar with Asian cultures. I know at least one or two Germen who don’t want to know about Feng Shui, because they think their European culture is more superior.
7. Would you say Fengshui now has a significant presence among Western architecture? If so, Fengshui seems to have a ‘silent’ presence in the field, why do you think that is?
I think Feng Shui has become better known but not necessarily has a significant presence amongst Western architecture. It is true that it has a more “silent” rather than “audible” or acceptable presence. A few years ago we want to write some articles for the German architectural magazines, but they turned us down because they think it will lower their professional standing. They have a view that Feng Shui is only a Chinese superstition.
8. Fengshui consultations have always existed since long before. But among the Western societies, Fengshui has not always been well received. Would you say that there’s been a signification attitude change in their attitude towards Fengshui? Would you say its being more sought after in recent years? Do you think it may have any connection to the consumer culture that characterizes the society today where just about anything is commoditized into a ‘product’ and where nearly everyone seeks to be or possess something unique? Or perhaps its just that in the 21st century in which everything seems possible, people are getting more accepting and open to just about anything?
Feng Shui has not been well received by the Western public because there is a lot of false information written in the books and in the popular press. Two of the “pioneers” who promoted Feng Shui in the early days, did it to promote either their religion or their business interest, thus give an impression that Feng Shui is a superstitious rip-off from the Chinese culture. I would not say it has been more sought after in recent years, but the more serious side of Feng Shui is emerging after the new age fad die away. Part of its popularity is due to the consumer culture like you said, promoted by people who want to sell their Feng Shui products. It is not good for Feng Shui but it will persist because that is a part of our social make-up.
9. Would you say the rise in Fengshui popularity may have connections to marketing gimmicks or related schemes in which Fengshui has become a sort of ‘trend’, perhaps a ‘fashionable product’ to be sought after?
Yes, the rise in popularity of Feng Shui could have connection to marketing gimmicks by people like Lillian Too with her chain of “The World of Feng Shui (WOFS)” shops. Unsavoury characters like Donald Trump also uses Feng Shui to do their business, even though they have no idea what Feng Shui is all about. In the hay days of Feng Shui Craze, hairdresser even used Feng Shui to sell their haircuts! They left a horrible legacy to Feng Shui and we can still feel the bad after effects years later. Of course there are also many charlatans in Feng Shui and that doesn’t help the situation either.
10. Looking up articles related to Fengshui, I have come across several that tells of residential projects in which they have incorporated the application of Fengshui in the design/ development. Would you say this is more of a marketing gimmick mainly aimed at the fast expanding Asian community in Western countries, or out of interest in being harmonious with the environment and ecology?
Yes, most of them used Feng Shui as a marketing gimmick, rather than as a tool to improve the environment. However there are people beginning to use Feng Shui to promote ecology and environmental sustainability, but they are quite small in number by comparison.
11. Have you had any problems with applying Fengshui to architecture? If so what sorts of problems have you had?
Personally I don’t have any problem with applying Feng Shui to architecture, to me good architecture is good Feng Shui and vice versa. Nowadays we use Feng Shui in all our works even when it is not asked for. We find it to be a very useful tool if applied appropriately. Over the years we have developed a design methodology using Feng Shui principles, it is called “The San Cai Methodology for Feng Shui Analysis and Design”.
12. Many cities are imposing urban renewal/ regeneration schemes. What do you think of Fengshui’s potential in these schemes?
In our experience, Feng Shui is vey effective in environmental preservation and urban renewal projects because Feng Shui is about space, time and human action, so time (cycles of time, being timely and using historical time as a design tool, etc.) plays an important role and we can take advantage of Feng Shui effectively in this area.
Below are a couple of photos of our office and Feng Shui school in Berlin under construction, we are converting an old building not very far from the center of Berlin to house our new ar-qi-tektur office and ECOFS (European College of Feng Shui). It is done with Feng Shui principles and we picked the site after doing a thorough Feng Shui survey of Berlin to identify this “hot-spots” for redevelopment.
October 2, 2012
One of my old clients, Siimon Reynolds, just sold his 2-bed bachelor pad in Sydney’s Double Bay for AUD1.56M, almost doubled what he paid for 12 years ago. It was quite an experience for me to work as a Feng Shui consultant with Ian Halliday, a famous Australian architect. Looking back, there were some awkward moments, but in the end Ian came through with a brilliant alternative design. We both agreed at the end of the job, it is better for the Feng Shui consultant to be engaged right at the beginning, instead of coming in after the initial design is done. With the Feng Shui brief I did for the site, I moved the goal post and the architect has to do his job twice, but Ian was fantastic and in the end we both served our client well and that is what really matters. Photos come from the property observer site:
September 13, 2012
Another person has just joined in at the last minute, so we now have 21 participants plus Gyda and I on this Feng Shui study tour of China (“A Journey Through China of Old”) in less than a month’s time. I have been fully preoccupied with preparing the travel notes lately and altogether there are 21 sites to write up (21 again, must a lucky number!-):
1) Feng Shui of Beijing 北京
2) Cuandixia Village 爨地下村
3) Prince Gong’s Mansion 恭王府
4) Yungang Grotto 雲崗石窟
5) Huayan Temple 華嚴寺
6) Hanging Temple at Hengshan 恒山悬空寺
7) Wooden Pagoda in Ying County 应县木塔
8) Wutai Shan – Wuye Maio/ Tayuan Si/ Bodhisattva Summit 五台山
9) Foguang Si 佛光寺
10) Chuangyang Gong太原純陽宮
11) Twin Pagoda太原雙塔
12) Jinci Temple 晉祠寺
13) The Ancient City of Pingyao 平遙古城
14) Qingxu Daoist Temple 清虛觀
15) Chenghuang Maio 城隍廟
16) Confucius Temple 文廟.
17) Wang Family Mansion 王家大院
18) Shaunglin Temple 雙林寺
19) Qikouzhen Old Town in Linxian 磧口古鎮
20) Longxing Temple in Zhengding 隆興寺
21) Yu Family Stone Village 于家石頭村
You can download a sample pdf file note of our first day’s trip to Cuandixia Village, about a couple of hours of coach ride from Beijing, by cut and paste the link below:
or to visit the article section of our ECOFS website (there are many other interest articles to read):
I hope to write up some dispatches from different places on our travel in the blog entries with photos and commentaries, so please stay tuned!
August 30, 2012
2012 International Symposium on Kanyu (Feng Shui) and Architecture is to ahead!
The 6th international gathering has been confirmed and is to take place at Humboldt University, Berlin from 05 – 07 November 2012. This free event is open to the public and is supported by the German Research Foundation, hosted by Seminar Sinology Humboldt University.
The following specialists have confirmed their attendance and presentation for publication of their research after the symposium:
Ellen van Goethem,
Florian C. Reiter,
Please contact ECOFS should you be interested in coming this rare event:
European College of Feng Shui
c/o Brunnenstrasse 181
The previous symposium papers were published in the following book:
August 22, 2012
Since most people can only see Feng Shui from a western perspective, instead of accepting it as a Chinese cultural phenomenon, I often get to be asked this question, “Is there Science behind Feng Shui?” and my answer is typical Chinese: It depends! It depends on what one meant by “Science” and how one defined “Feng Shui”.
If Feng Shui is defined as a traditional Chinese study of Man’s relationship to his environment, in particular the siting and construction of human dwellings and tombs (as given by Lee Sang-Hai in his PhD thesis “Feng Shui: Its Context and Meaning), and by Science, we are referring to “soft” science rather than “hard” science (“hard” science deals with the tangible matters, whereas “soft” science deals with the intangible, like feelings, thoughts, opinions and ideals), then there is Science behind Feng Shui and we can study its effects with scientific methods.
If Feng Shui is defined from a folk angle (instead of an environmental angle as mentioned earlier), which believe in the idea that Feng Shui can change one’s luck, allow one to see into the future and can make one happy, rich and famous directly, then there is no Science to speak about behind this kind of Feng Shui, because it is more of a Chinese folk belief than anything else.
Past studies done by environmental psychologists and anthropologists and recent research done by neuro-sociologists like Dr. John Zeisel (“Inquiry by Design: Environment/Behavior/Neuroscience in Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, and Planning”) have proved beyond doubt that our environment do affect us and we have an effect on the environment by our actions in return, and they can be measured readily.
There is a close affinity between Feng Shui and environmental design from an ecological perspective, because the aim of Feng Shui is to establish “a harmonious relationship between the cosmos, the physical environment and the man-man structures” (Lee S.H), and to do this, one needs to be scientific and to take human behavior and human emotion into consideration, and to “design with nature”, at the same time.
However there is a fundamental difference in attitude towards nature between the Chinese and the European, who sees nature as subordinate to man whereas the Chinese sees man is a part of nature. This may be a gross generalization, but if one looks at the design of a Chinese and a European garden, there is a grain of truth to this difference. Learning how to “design with nature” through Feng Shui principles can help us gain a broader understanding of how to manage our environment in a more natural and holistic way.
Since “folk” Feng Shui and “environmental” Feng Shui have co-existed from its beginning in China, Feng Shui, as the we know it today, still contain many irrational ideas that can muddle the water between sense and non-sense and it is not uncommon to hear people say, “Nah, it’s Asian superstition!” and dismisses the usefulness of Feng Shui altogether.
Even if one do not agree that there is Science behind Feng Shui, there is always Art behind Feng Shui, many modern architects and interior designers are inspired and influence by Feng Shui, below showed a picture of a “Feng Shui Cube on Wheels” designed by the architectural firm Space Flavor for our good friend Liu Ming in his loft in San Francisco.
PS. Having dealt with this question, I would like to point out, whether Feng Shui is a science, an art or a religious belief or whatever pigeon hole people want to place it in; it is of no concern to me. I am more concerned with what I can do with Feng Shui than what label it belongs to.
August 19, 2012
THE SAN HE WATER METHODS
XUAN KONG DA GUA DATE SELECTION
30 October – 02 November 2012, European College of Feng Shui, Berlin
In the first half of this workshop we will cover the theory and the practice of all of the four major Water Methods in the San He School of Feng Shui, using the three 24 Mountains rings. The second half will be allocated to the study of the Xuan Kong Da Gua Date Selections, so some knowledge of XKDG School of Feng Shui would be advantageous but not a pre-requisite as we will cover the basics before venturing into the more advanced topics. However, the ability to recognize the 10 Heavenly Stems and the 12 Earthly Branches in the Chinese characters is expected. A comprehensive set of notes and templates for the San He and XKDG Luopan Compass will be provided free of charge for the participants.
San He Pai Feng Shui
The San He School of Feng Shui is also known as the San He Water Methods because it puts the emphasis on where the water comes in and goes out to determine the auspicious and harmfulness (Ji-Xiong) of a site. This school uses the 3 rings of the Earth, Heaven and Human plates of the 24 Mountains and the 12 Life Cycles or the 12 Qi Phases (十二長生位) to do its analysis and is a very popular school in China for locating tombs and houses in the country side, where the mountain ranges and the water courses can easily be identified. Due to urbanization in China the majority of the population increasingly moved to the towns and cities where natural environment is not so visible and this method is being over taken by methods, like Flying Star, which pays relatively less attention to the landform and more to the abstract influence of space and time on occupants in a highly populated environment.
There are quite a few San He methods using the similar terminology but different technical applications of the same philosophy. In this Master Course we will examine four of them and hopefully after the course you can incorporate these ancient techniques into your modern practice. Below showed an antique San He Luopan my teacher Master Ren Zhi-Lin gave me in 1980 at the end of my study in Hong Kong with him.
Xuan Kong Da Gua (XKDG) Date Selection
XKDG Date Selection is an extension of the XKDG Feng Shui system, so we will start the course my familiarizing ourselves with the 64 Hexagrams on the XKDG rings, which has an “elemental number” and a “period number”. These numerical concepts will form the basis for the Date Selection as much as it is for the Feng Shui techniques.
The Four Pillars (or Bazi – Eight Characters) of time (year, month, day and hours) are translated into numbers and they are used for the calculations to seek an auspicious outcome. If you decide to attend, please bring along with you a 10,000 Years Calendar.
There are many Date Selection methods and XKDG Date Selection is one of the most popular after the Chinese Almanac, because it is very easy to use and relatively flexible in it choices.
Learning this date selection method will further enhance your Feng Shui knowledge, especially when your clients ask you for an auspicious date and time to commence their tasks or projects.
Early Bird discount if paid by middle of September: Euro 520.00
Full fee: Euro 630.00 (Full set of notes include free of charge)
Gyda Anders & Howard Choy, Feng Shui Architects
May 15, 2012
The map of Krakow old town shows the shape of the town is like a sacred turtle with its head located in the Wawel Royal Castle, drinking water from the Wisla River, the whole layout is like a Chinese Model of the Universe: Heaven is round and Earth is square symbolized by a turtle, drinking water is taking in wealth from the river, which the old town depended on for survival and prosperity.
Pingyao old town in Shanxi Province of China is also planned like a sacred turtle with its head taking in the prosperity from the south gate and the tail of the turtle is represented by the north gate and the four legs are the four gates to the east and west. We will visit Pingyao and stay there in a traditional courtyard hotel for 4 nights in the coming Feng Shui study tour of China in October.
April 24, 2012
According to Prof. Wang Yude’s lectures on the Yi-jing (“The Book Of Zhou Yi” – a 7-DVD collection of his TV presentation showed in picture below), divination like casting the Yijing is different to fate calculations like Bazi Suanming 八字算命. To him, Suanming (fate calculation) is not the same as Liuyao Yuce 六爻卜卦預測 (forecasting with the Yijing), which is concerned more with the potential of an outcome of an event based on looking at a numerical or symbolic pattern generated by synchronicity at the time of asking a specific question with the Yijing, whereas Suan-ming is more concerned with the potential of a person over a life time based on looking at the four pillars at birth.
In my opinion Feng Shui is again different, it is more concerned with how the environment would affect the person and vice versa, how we can hasten the auspicious and avoid the harmful so an appropriate decision for action can be taken at the right time and in the right place (that is the harmony of space, time and human action).
Unfortunately, many modern practitioners mixed Feng Shui with Bazi Suanming and also with Yijing divination nowadays, so now we have Bazi Feng Shui and Yijing Feng Shui, trying to make predictions of the future instead of working with the environment to enhance the quality of life of the occupants. We now have more and more Liqi 理氣 calculations and methods and less and less practical solutions using form and configuration 形勢 and the context of the site in Feng Shui. Instead of looking at the mutual influence of human and nature we now have the Bazi of a person dictating the environment and using meaningful chances in Synchronicity to locate the elements in a building, thus completely ignore the environmental factors and the human needs in Feng Shui.
March 27, 2012
The Four Methods of self-cultivation:
1) Do not be aggressive; cultivate self-control.
2) Do not speak loosely; cultivate thoughtful silence.
3) Be fair and not be judgmental.
4) Be honest and not be deceiving.
“One hundred battles and one hundred victories cannot equal to one small amount of self-control, ten thousand words and ten thousand deeds do not equal to one small amount of thoughtful silence. Be fair and not be judgmental, be honest and do not hide your interest.”- Huang Ting-Jian.
March 2, 2012
Hi Howard – Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your course on Business Feng Shui. I have already completed 3 business consults since the course with another one scheduled for this Saturday and have found the information I learnt from you invaluable. I look forward to studying with you again in the future – Carolyn
February 15, 2012
Just had a great 4-days in Melbourne working with a bunch of enthusiastic participants who are trained consultants already, so it felt more like working with a bunch of colleagues than teaching. Thanks to my organizer Jane Langof for keeping things running so smoothly. Below are some kind words from three of the participants:
“Howard is a rare gem we are lucky to have. I appreciate and admire his wisdom, integrity and passion. The presentation was interesting, well paced and enjoyable.” – Tyler
“Hi Howard, Not only did I learn a lot of new techniques when assessing a business but also I really enjoyed your presentation style and personal warmth. It was great to be able to discuss and debate the diverse techniques of Feng Shui analysis with you.” – Carol
“Hi Howard, Thanks for coming to Melbourne to conduct your course, I learnt a lot, particularly about client presentations and your methodical San Cai approach. I enjoyed your class a lot and also enjoyed brainstorming with all of you!” – Jodi
December 15, 2011
The papers presented at the International Conference on Kanyu Fengshui and
Architecture in Berlin last year is now available in book form, it can be
purchased direct from the publisher:
(look under New Books section)
International Conference on Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and Architecture in Berlin
Edited by Florian C. Reiter
2011 Harrassowitz Verlag · Wiesbaden
ISSN 0948-9789 ISBN 978-3-447-06592-4
Volume : 38
Asien- und Afrikastudien der Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin
Weight: 500 g
Publishing Date: 03.11.2011
Price info: 49,80 Eur[D] / 51,20 Eur[A]
Contents of the book:
FLORIAN C. REITER Considerations about the assessment and application of Feng Shui in Berlin.
OLE BRUUN Feng Shui: a universal mode of thought?
HONG-KEY YOON Cultural ecological links in “The geomantic landscape of a sailing boat” .
MICHAEL Y. MAK Scientific research of Feng Shui applications for the built environment.
WANG YUDE Feng Shui and architecture in Taizhou.
HOWARD CHOY Spatial appreciation with Yin Yang dialectics – a Feng Shui way to
make Sense of our environment.
GYDA ANDERS Traditional Chinese architecture and Feng Shui.
EDUARD KÖGEL Feng Shui in Germany. The transculturation of an exotic concept by Hugo Häring, Hans Scharoun and Chn Kuen Lee.
TSAI SUEYLING Mount Hongding: Buddhist cosmology in geomantic topography.
ALBERT T. SO AND MICHAEL Y. MAK Study of flying stars method of the compass school with case studies.
MICHAEL PATON The cosmology of Yang Yunsong and science.
STEPHEN L. FIELD, J.K. AND INGRID LEE The origin of Bazhai Feng Shui.
ELLEN VAN GOETHEM The four directional animals in East Asia: a comparative analysis.
List of Contributors.
November 25, 2011
“Thanks Howard! My team loves the new office.”
Our client just sent us some photos of his new office, which we not only did the Feng Shui audit and analysis but also the planning. This is the fourth office we did for him in the past 10 years, starting from a one person operation to a multi-national company operating from Sydney, Los Angeles and China. This is one of our success stories, when done well, the use of Feng Shui in business can have some demonstrable benefits.
November 15, 2011
When someone is not familiar with the Chinese language and called a Siling model an armchair model, it loses some of its deeper meanings. Prof H.K. Yoon in his article “The Image of Nature in Geomancy”, explained Nature to the Chinese is alive, magical and personified; the “Siling” (“the four mythical animals”) has this connotation whereas calling it an armchair is dead and mechanical. From this misunderstanding we can see it helps to know a bit of the Chinese language and the Chinese world-view to study Feng Shui well.
According to Prof. Xu Subin from Tianjin University in her paper, “The Psychological Factors of Feng Shui”, which appeared in Prof. Wang Qiheng’s book “Research of Feng Shui Theories”, the Siling model can be compared to Kurt Lewin’s “psychological life space” and it is a Chinese way of dealing with the psychology of space, in which the form and configuration of the Siling created a spatial field that can “carry the Yin and embrace the Yang” and leads a spatial harmony and balance that can “gather the Sheng Qi” of the land and made the occupants feel comfortable and being embraced by the psychological field created by the physical form and configuration of the space.
It is an abstract modeling device used to plan homes, villages, towns and cities in China and has proven to be an effective way to deal with the psychology of an environmental space using Chinese philosophical concepts like Xing (Form Qi) and Qi (Formless Qi). The Siling configuration is not only a functionally efficient formation (protect the site from the cold wind and orientate to the warm sun) it is psychologically satisfying as well. So we can say it works to satisfy the basic human needs (being protected and being “loved”) and to improve the Feng Shui (environmental quality) of a site.
October 28, 2011
Choy Lee Fut Luohan Qigong (Lohan Chi Kung in Cantonese) is an internal exercise that uses movement and breath control to manipulate the flow of Qi along the body’s meridians. It is both a physical and mental exercise. Inwardly, it is done to cultivate the “three treasures” of jing (essence), qi (vital energy), and shen (spirit). Outwardly, it is practiced to build a strong and healthy body.
The main purpose of Qigong is to develop one’s vital qi (chi) or the vital energy that keeps us alive. It can help realize the body’s full physical potential, resist sickness, repair damages and balance the bodies’ energy flow. The control of respiration plays a central role in the system. The use of the breath is a fundamental aspect of Qigong practice and is the key to energy control as well as the bridge between the body and the mind. The elderly for its specific therapeutic or rehabilitative properties can practice Qigong. Athletes and martial artists from other systems of martial arts to compliment their other training can also practice it.
It has been established that Qigong stimulates the immune system and is favorable for the healing of inflamed and degenerated tissue. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and is therefore beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and depression. Also, for the student of martial arts and Taijiquan it is a means of furthering one’s study and improving one’s skill.
There are altogether 5 Luohan Qigong forms:
1) Sap Ba Lohan Kuen
2) Siu Lohan Kuen
3) Dai Lohan Kuen
4) Tai Git (Tai Chi) Kuen
5) Mo Git (Wu Chi) Kuen
In the coming weekend workshops (26-27 November 2011 and 14-15 April 2012) we will teach the Sap Ba Lohan Kuen or the Lohan 18 Hands Qigong form, which emphasized on using correct postures and movements to activate the circulation of the Vital Qi in our body. It is most suitable for those who are interested in a classical approach to the practice of traditional Qigong as taught in southern part of China within the famous Choy Le Fut Martial Arts School.
You can see a segment of the form as performed me here on Youytube posted up in his Shouyi Taijiquan Qigong website:
I will start teaching the Lohan 18 Hands Qigong in Mulhouse France from 26 – 27 November, 2011, this is the first time I teach this in Elizabeth Sartia’s School, anyone interested please contact her:
ASSOCIATION LE FIL DE SOIE – TAI CHI CHUAN & CHI GONG
Salle Franklin, 48 rue Franklin 68200 Mulhouse France. Tél: 06 21 60 52 52
October 19, 2011
It seems some consultants have the impression that color has no place in classic Feng Shui, this is one of the posts I replied in the Yahoo Traditional Feng Shui Discussion Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TradFengShui/message/8123), Susan is another lady I helped with her choice of color in a previous post:
> Hi friends,
> There is no place for colour in classic FengShui.
> Harrindra Dhruv
> FengShui Consultant
Color is a part of classical FS consideration, for example, in olden days only
the imperial household can use the yellow tiles on their buildings, because the
yellow is considered the kingly color, nowadays we should look at color choices
from 3 levels:
1) Human – the psychological level.
2) Earth – the functional and environmental level.
3) Heaven – the symbolic and the ritual/cultural level.
The final choice of a color scheme should reflect these 3 levels of
considerations to achieve a balance and harmony between the San Cai Qi of Tian
(Heaven), Di (Earth) and Ren (Human). This is one of the core aims of classical
If Susan don’t like the existing color of the door trims, then we should take
her concern into consideration as part of our tasks and come up with another
suggestion that suits her taste and fits in with the rest of the scheme. If she
wants to paint the door red because that is her understanding about FS, then she
has a Ganying or a mutual resonance with red at that level, and we should take
her level of understanding into consideration as well. If we want to change that
then we have to give a good explanation, so she can connect to the new choice.
Without Ganying, FS won’t work because there is not connection between the users
and their environment, this is also how FS “cures” work, through Ganying between
the objects used and the meanings attached to them.
As a consultant we should help our clients to select a color scheme from their
perspective and not from our own color preference and we should explain clearly
to them the reasons for our choice so they can connect to what we have in mind,
and let them make the final decision, they have to live with the colors, we walk
away from them after our consultation.
We perceive the Qi of the environment with our five senses and our mind, and
since the sight is the most acute of all the senses, we must not neglect color
in Feng Shui, but we must consider the choices from all 3 levels and not just
the Heaven level.
October 13, 2011
Compass methods of all sorts used correlative thinking, which can be very open-ended without considering the physical world and human behaviour. Life is very complex, there is no one single law or causal relationship that can explain everything.
The numbers and patterns are there for us for us to contemplate with what we can observe in the physical environment and what we can find in human needs for each particular thing-events.
Don’t just rely on the compass calculations or a cycle of time to come to terms with our world in a particular space-time. Wealth cannot be explained away simply by a set of numbers, nor can the stock market be understood by following the moon-phase alone.
Below is a typical Feng Shui expert’s advice, attacking other methods and promoting his particular own, but missed the most important aspect of Feng Shui and that is to observe the physical form and configuration of a site and the functional needs of the occupants before looking at the intangible “stars” using correlative thinking with numbers and symbols. In fact the external form is not his first consideration, it is the Gua Qi from his Xuan Kong Da Gua calculations. In reality, the best Qi is not the intangible “Compass” Qi, which is meaningless without taking into considering the Earth and Human Qi at the same time.
“When I design a new house from the scratch, the external form is my first consideration, what direction and compass orientation can give the client the best energy based on Xuan Kong Da Gua, then I will look into the water supply point and sewage exit to get the Jiu Xing water method’s 5 ghost carry money after I know the design of the house shape.
Be careful with feng shui professionals who only rely on the Flying Stars system.”
The 10,000 things come together by the interaction of the San Cai Qi of Heaven, Earth and Human, so please look wider and beyond the numbers and different cycles of time (the so-called “Heaven Luck”), when we want to understand the Feng Shui of a situation.
Also books, whoever wrote them, are good, but they cannot give us the full answers by the nature of the limitation of written words. Only constant practice can give us the skills we need and that is why there is no point in talking to someone who has no experience in doing Feng Shui about the effectiveness of Feng Shui, which lasted for thousands of years, not by a set of numbers, but by its usefulness.
October 8, 2011
I was looking for some material to read while holidaying in Plakia Crete (October 8, 2011, 3 days away from my daughter Anna’s birthday) and came across a book called “The Four Seasons of Greek Philosophy” by an author with the same name as the famous actress, Maureen O’Sullivan. Here are some of my thoughts after reading this book by a humorist:
There is an absolute truth, but it cannot be spoken, because it is “Above Form” (Xing Zhi Shang 形之上). One can come to know it, after years of study, but one cannot speak about it, because as soon as it is spoken, it becomes “Below Form” (Xing Zhi Xia 形之下) and it is not absolute any more.
Other truths are relative truths, relative to the space and time when it is spoken, it is only true to a particular context but it may not be the same when the circumstance changed.
This should not stop us from searching for the Truth, but we must keep in mind what we have found may not be absolute, especially when it can be written down (like I am doing it now), but only relative to the situation and it keeps changing from time to time.
When someone said that he has discovered the truth, keep an open mind and try to figure out the needs hidden behind this truth that he is telling, for there is a “Need” in his particular space and time to come up with this particular version of the truth and that happened with different schools of philosophy in ancient Greece, which deeply influenced the way we think in modern times.
I am telling you this “relative truth” because there is a need in me to figure out what are the differences and similarities between the ancient Greeks and the ancient Chinese, and I have to agree with Maureen in the end – “they are ever changing and yet always the same,” like philosophies all over the world, from ancient to modern time. It is only the preference at a particular time that made the East and the West seem not the same.
“Nothing is either good or bad, but only thinking makes it so” – William Shakespeare.
“Nothing is either good or bad, but only the opposite makes it so” – Howard Choy.
September 18, 2011
In Zhang Zhong-Shan’s 章中山 annotated explanation of the Tian Yu Jing 天玉經, the meaning of “Shou Shan and Chu Sha” 收山出煞 or “to receive Mountain and to expel Sha” was clearly given, even though Jiang Da-Hong 蔣大鴻 reckoned in the same book published earlier, only the worthy students should receive of this secret knowledge of the mysterious working of Heaven (Tain Ji 天機), otherwise “keep one’s mouth tight with one’s tongue well hidden”, he warned.
Since everyone who reads my Blog here is considered by me a worthy person, so I have written down below the meaning of this secret formula as explained by Zhang Zhong-Shan:
To “Shou Shan” or “to receive Mountain” is locate the Wang Qi and the Sheng Qi of the Mountain Star on the higher ground and to locate the Wang Qi and the Sheng Qi of the Water Star on water or on lower ground.
To “Chu Sha” or “to expel Sha” is to locate the Declining Qi and the Dead Qi of the Mountain Star on water or on lower ground and to locate the Declining Qi and the Dead Qi of the Water Star on higher ground.
Then the Wang Qi can be received in the Feng Shui spot (穴 the Xue) and the Sha Qi can be expelled by having the Gua Qi stars supported by the landform, then the Xing (形 the tangible Form Qi) and the Qi (炁 the intangible Formless Qi) can come together in a synergetic whole, where the Yin and the Yang can exist in a mutual balance.
Shou Shan and Chu Sha can also be explained from the way the form of a building at the main entrance (the Qi-mouth) should respond to the Qi of its environment. This is different to Jiang Da-Hong’s teaching mentioned earlier and is promoted by Kong Shi Xuan Kong 孔氏玄空 and the Zhong Zhou Pai 中州派 School of Feng Shui. The former is a Liqi 理氣 way of explaining Shou Shan and Chu Sha, and the latter is a Xingshi 形勢 way of explaining the same term.
Shou Sha in the latter case, refers to the indentation of an entrance to a building located in a narrow lane-way or at a dead end street, where the space is tight and the Qi flow is weak, therefore a “Ming Tang” or an open pace is needed to collect the Sheng Qi before it enters the building. Shou Shan has more of a meaning to recess (to “shou”) the Mountain (the building itself and not what is behind) at the front entrance, in order to receive and to lock in the Sheng Qi.
Chu Sha is when a building is located in a wide-open space; the main front entrance can project forward to catch the Sheng Qi before it disperses by the “wind” (not only the physical wind but also the diverse movements of all kinds at the site). By catching the Sheng Qi actively with an extension at the Qi-mouth, the undesirable Sha Qi can be nullified (Chu Sha) and the desirable Sheng Qi caught instead.
Apart from the form consideration, there is also a Liqi formula to indicate in which orientation a building should Shou Shan or Chu Sha. All in all, there are 10 Mountain directions to Shou Shan and 14 to Chu Sha.
As we can see, Feng Shui secrets are only secrets because we don’t know them, once told they are not secrets any mores and we should not keep secrets because it would prevent us from knowing what is available and be able to discuss their merits openly. It is time for us to overturn Jiang Da-Hong’s “keeping secrets” and move forward with the serious study of Feng Shui openly.
September 13, 2011
Just spent four days with a group of keen and hard working students, going through how to use Feng Shui to plan a new holiday house about 2 hours from the city. The theory we did included a PowerPoint presentation on Feng Shui and Residential Development plus going through the translations for the 30 Rules of a Yang Dwelling from Shen’s Xuan Kong Study.
The practical lesson we learned in this workshop is not just to use only the Compass methods to do the analysis and planning, but we must first understand the human needs and the context of the site before the Gua Qi of the Stars can make any sense.
The planning at the end came straight out from our Earth and Heaven Qi analysis, and when they combined with the client’s feelings and needs (the Human Qi), the solution just drop out from the sky onto our lap.
Thank you Natalia (seated to the right of me in the picture below – Dragon Pearl Feng Shui) for organizing the workshop and thank you Alexey (to the left of me) for doing the translation, we do make a wonderful team and I look forward to be back again next spring.
If you are interested in the result of our work, you can download a copy of the report in our ECOFS webpage:
September 6, 2011
Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 (Showed above) – a rectangular black box enclosing a garden in the middle – remained me of the Chinese character “Yuan” 園 for garden. The character for “Yuan” (showed below), is enclosed by a wall, with the phonetic radical “yuan” in the middle, which is not only a phonetic symbol but also expressed the essence of a Chinese garden, it is made of “earth/soil” (“tu” 土) at the top to grow flowers, shrubs and trees, has a “mouth” (“kou” 口) in the middle to represent openings to express the idea of framed views and borrowed views used in a garden and “female” (“nu” 女) at the bottom to represent the garden being a Yin place - a quiet retreat from the outside world.
Peter Zumthors does a masterpiece of Qing-Dan 清淡 (simple and elegant) architecture again with this pavilion and reduced a garden right down to its Benxing 本性 (original character or essence) just like what the Chinese character for garden tried to express.
August 16, 2011
Last weekend I taught a workshop on Self-Activated Talisman writing in Bratislava for Peter Filo’s students (Feng Shui International). Below are some notes and tasks given in the class. The first photos showed the students’ first attempt at writing a talisman to prevent burglary at home, the last photo showed my own effort.
“To the ancient Chinese, ideas were images or metaphorical symbols, their function was to suggest or give some hints to what the author intended to tell the readers.” – Shih-Chun Chen.
Talisman writing in this sense is a natural extension of the Chinese language because even with an agreed sets of symbols and metaphors they are limiting in expressing our deepest emotional and spiritual needs. Chinese Talisman writing tried to bridge this gap in creating a personal language in an attempt to communicate with the Unknown.
1) Design a self-activated talisman, to prevent burglary in your home (What is so precious that you don’t want to be stolen?), with graphic symbols and metaphors to express your deepest feelings on the subject with “Cheng” (sincerity and honesty).
2) Write up a poetic prayer to accompany the act of writing up the talisman in one continuous flow by practicing the writing to a point where you can internalize the picture with the words (“one breath, one heart/mind and one action”).
3) Chose 3 of the best out of the group and let the authors express their thoughts on the design and the poem to see if we can understand the “spirit” hidden in the talisman.
August 13, 2011
July 12, 2011
Michael, one of my colleagues, sent me this reference to the use of colour in Feng Shui by Ulrich Wilhelm Lippelt in his book “Feng Shui Demystified II” and asked me for a comment:
Enclosed are references to the books I mentioned. The author is Ulrich Wilhelm Lippelt. Enclosed is the back side of his second book, the table of content of both books, as well as his take on the use of color. Any idea where he got the idea, that color is the domain of wood? He is otherwise actually a pretty clever guy….
The following is the reply I gave Michael, I think it is worthwhile to share and risk being labeled too critical of others point of view:
After reading Ulrich Lippelt’s 3 pages you sent me on the use of colours in Feng Shui, I have no idea where he got his idea from but I think he has mixed up his correlative thinking with the Wuxing (Five Elements) theories.
First he grouped colour, odour, flavour, sound and liquid into one grouping and then correlated the Five Elements to them, this I have never seen it done before in the Chinese classics, so his claim that colour is the domain of Wood is an unusual one. Then he extended this correlative grouping mentioned to another grouping (this time colours) using Wood as the linking Element, which makes no sense because they are two entirely different sets of correlations. It is like mixing up the correlation of the Earthly Heaven Bagua to the Luoshu numbers with the correlation of the Later Heaven Bagua to the Luoshu numbers, without knowing the same number doesn’t correlate to the same Trigram.
He then used Wood/green as the reference point and came to the conclusion that red is the most effective colour and blackish blue should never be used (how rigid)! On the way he mixed in the correlation of the Luoshu numbers to the Five Elements and further muddled the water, by making 3,4 the determining numbers and completely ignored the idea that the five colours used in the correlation of the Purple-White Stars are not the same as the five colours correlations first mentioned in the “Spring and Autumn Manual of the Lu Clan” back in the Warring States period of China (475-221 BC).
If we apply his way of thinking to the Five Flavours, then the sweet taste (Earth) is a manifestation of the Earth Element and then spicy (Metal) is the most effective flavour and bitterness (Fire) should never be used. One can carry this to its extremes by considering odour, sound and liquid in motion as well, and come to some similar ridiculous conclusions.
This is quite a reversal in Chinese thinking, because correlative thinking is no longer relative, it became deterministic which is exactly what correlative thinking tries to avoid. Besides the use of colours in Feng Shui should not be considered only on the symbolic level (Heaven Qi) like the interaction of the Five Elements, but also needs to take into consideration of the effects of the Earth and Human Qi, such as the functional requirements and the psychological use of colours.
The mistakes Mr Lippelt made are not uncommon with people who studied Feng Shui without understand the traditional way of thinking by the ancient Chinese. They mixed up the various correlations and take things too literally by mistaken correlative thinking with logical thinking, the result is they become quite deterministic rather than treating things in a relative manner in the process.
June 25, 2011
I am going to give a talk on the inner workings of classical Feng Shui next week (Wednesday 29 June, 2011 @ 8pm.) for the Golden Gate School of Feng Shui in Berkeley California USA.
The practice of Feng Shui involves many disciplines and because of its multidisciplinary nature involving a different kind of thinking, it is very confusing for a lot of people, especially those who are not familiar with the Chinese culture and language. This talk attempts to answer two very fundamental, but not so simple though it appears to be so, questions about the very nature and the practice of Feng Shui – “What is Feng Shui and how it works in practice?”
In the presentation, I will draw on the history and philosophy of Feng Shui to show you what is Feng Shui in its essence, and the different layers made up its contents and structure so you can get to appreciate the core layer of Feng Shui. Feng Shui can only be practiced properly if we know what it is and how it works, otherwise it can easily be turned into a superstition open to exploitation by charlatans. This we should try to avoid.
I have been a practicing Feng Shui architect/consultant as well as a teacher for over 30 years now, and it took me nearly two third of that time to figure out what it is all about and how it works. I would like to use this opportunity to share with you what my experience and my Xinde 心得 or what my heart/mind have perceived over these years working at the coal-face of Feng Shui, in learning, in teaching and in practicing this ancient Xuanxue 玄學 or “The Study of the Mysterious”.
If you are nearby please come and join us and please feel free to ask questions at the end of the presentation. See you!