September 27, 2016
I have done this prediction one day before the first debate on the 27th. September 2016, with Xuankong Mingli; not so much that the stars can tell the future with certainty, but out of my fears and longing for America to stay the righteous course, because her influence on the rest of the world is immense. I am not worry about the outcome of the debates I just hope the stars can give us the reassuring signs.
I use the two candidates birth time to obtain their Ming Gua (Trigram of Fate) number and its associated Five-Phase, then I look at the stars (i.e. the Trigrams) for the year, the month and the day and see how time influence each of them to get a reading.
Clinton was born in 1947, so she has a Ming Gua 7 Metal; Trump was born in 1946, so he has a Ming Gua 9 Fire. The yearly star on duty is 2 Earth, the monthly star on duty is again 2 Earth and the daily star on duty is 4 Wood.
For Hillary, the year generates into her, the month also generates into her and she controls the day of election. For Donald, the year weakens him, the month also weakens him and the day generates into him. What generates into a person nourishes this person and what the person controls is his or her wealth and power.
So the outcome looks much more favourable for Clinton, she will win the election but Trump will also benefit from the contest even though he loses out. For Clinton, being the first female president is what she wants and for Trump the whole contest is a stage for him and he would become even more famous afterward and that would certainly help his business in the future. The fear is that he might suffer health problems as a consequence, because the contest will ultimately weakens him as showed by the yearly and the monthly stars, whereas Clinton will grow stronger.
Of course this might not happen at all, prediction is a risky business, whether we use Western science or Chinese metaphysics. Que Sera, Sera.
September 5, 2016
My Feng Shui journey of becoing a Feng Shui architect started just after I graduated from my architectural study in Australia, I was looking towards Feng Shui, my cultural heritage, to find a way to help me grow into a better architect, more humane and more in touch with nature.
Recently we just finished a 2 years training program accredited by the Feng Shui Society UK and Europe and about to embark on a second program in the new year. In order for us to understand our potential students better, we asked them to tell us a little bit about themselves why they want to learn Feng Shui with a set of questionnaire.
Today I received one reply and it touched my heart because what the student said is so similar to my search and my feelings at the time nearly 40 years ago. I asked her for permission to post it here what she wrote, by way of expressing my own longings to excel in our profession.
Picture below show a page from students submitted for the final practical examination on the Qi Flow and Containment Study of a house. If you are interested in the new 2 years program to be taught in London you can find the relevant information here: http://www.fengshui-college.org/uk
“2. I am interested in Feng Shui for some years now. However, until now just being an idea rather than taking it seriously and studying it deeper. I would like to study it because to me it should be the basic and the primordial study and finding for any place occupied by people. It just happened that the Chinese were the ones very hard working to put it together and give it to humans as a structured writing and information.
3. We are part of the Whole which works perfectly any way, we as humans at some point forget to follow those principles and lows and forget to live together and started to go away and fall apart. We can not…we can see that clearly- we are part of the creation…one of the greatest and we should take responsibility of what we are doing and how we are living and mature. Some of the ways to learn how to understand , follow and be part of the whole is thru Feng Shui to me. In the way I live and what I do a significant part.
There is a dream I have also about designing “THE DREAM”- a kind of self contained town/ village/space as I see it working in harmony with Nature and life itself, based on the 5 Elements, the seasons, the cardinal direction, flower of life, Platonic solids and the houses being spheres as the best form… based on molecule/ sell structure. Any way, working from time to time on that I realized that I need more knowledge and I can find a big part of it in Feng Shui.
4. It started back home with an article I had red in a magazine maybe 12-15 years ago. The whole writing sounded with a lot of sense and then later from time to time I will read a book or watch you tube videos to a point where I got confused of so many schools and left it for the moment being.
Also I have tried to figure out my self the Feng shui at home…☺ In general I am starting from scratch☺
5. I work in an architectural practice, mainly dealing with Historical listed buildings but also some new and extensions.
6. Yes at this point of my life I think I am able to complete the two years course.
7. Yes I would love to serve and help people to live in a better place and better life and become better people if possible….:) if I may and if/ when they are open and willing to take the journey. I will be very happy to apply my knowledge at work.
8. Most of all it is my journey and I am willing to take it- it is my personal seeking to develop my self and have the knowledge on that subject. Even if it just for that and for making my home , my parents and friends homes a better places it is great. Second of all I think at my work – I am designing people’s houses most importantly homes, whether new or old I am sure I can apply this knowledge (even secretly ☺ ) and make this places happy and make them live in harmonious places ( I would love to be the fairy and spread some Feng Shui magic dust around☺) .And last but not least this big Dream I have…Even it will sit on a paper at home I would love to make it proper. We never know…life is full of miracles.
August 24, 2016
June 10, 2016
I have been asked this question by one of my students recently:
“I have a question that maybe you can help me find an answer to – In Chinese Feng Shui literature what character is used for a “cure”? As in a Ba Gua mirror may be placed to help “cure” poor energy entering a doorway… If my hunch is correct, the character would be zhi 治, or a variant of that… Any ideas?”
The original Chinese character for “cure” is “Hua Jie” 化解, sometimes it can also be written as “Jie Hua” and according to the MDBG dictionary it means：
“To dissolve / to resolve (contradictions) / to dispel (doubts) / to iron out (difficulties) / to defuse (conflicts) / to neutralize (fears)”.
When we look at the two characters separately, “Hua” can mean to transform and to neutralize, and “Jie” can mean to understand as in “lioajie” 了解 and to explain as in “fenjie” 分解. So in Feng Shui, through understanding and through finding an explanation for our fears, we can transform or neutralize the Sha Qi, often with an object that is a symbol, which can remain us every time we become aware of it, where our fears came from and how we can transform it or neutralize it through our conscious awareness and understanding.
To translate “Hua Jie” or “Jie Hua” as a “Cure” gives an impression that the symbolic object that we put up will do the work for us, whereas in reality, the object used is just a symbol, we in fact do the work of transformation and neutralization through our conscious awareness and understanding, when we come across different kinds of Sha Qi in Feng Shui, which made us feel uncomfortable in some way.
The Bagua mirror is not going to get rid of the Sha Qi coming towards the front door, the occupants are going to do it by using the mirror as a symbol of reflection, to understand that the Sha Qi is not some kind of physical force, but a formless potential and tendency that might or might not happen. For example when the front door is opposite a T-junction, which in Feng Shui is called a “T-Junction Sha” that could give rise to the fear that a car might fail to turn the corner and come straight into the house and at night time it can be annoying when the car lights turn on and off at the house as the cars turn the corner. The best way to handle this worry is to avoid it, but if we cannot avoid it or get rid of it physically for some reasons, then we can “Huajie” the situation for the time being with a Bagua mirror hanging above the front door.
February 25, 2016
We visited this very interesting and very popular museum not far from the City of Hobart recently and I think its success has something to do with the Water Dragon Qi. Of course the vision and the drive of the owner David Walsh also has a lot to do with it. We drove there by car but it would have been more exciting to arrive by boat. The Water Qi gathered in the bay in front of Hobert is able to transported to the site and within the site there also a gradation of “Juqi” (Assembled Qi) to feed it into the museum located underground between two existing buildings by Roy Grounds, one of the leading Australian architects of the modern movement. The front of the complex faces S2 so it has a “Double Timely Stars Arriving at the Facing Palace” chart – very good for wealth and locate it underground gives the Gua Qi support for the timely Mountain Star as well.
I will talk about the The Five Aesthetic Principles of Feng Shui in the forth coming The 10th Annual Feng Shui Society’s Conference, 14-15 May 2016 (Sat-Sun), London UK and will touch upon this building in more details.
“Feng shui belongs to the Art of Observation (Xiang Shu) in the Taoist Five Arts, consequently the aesthetics of a place or a built-form become part of feng shui considerations. The aesthetic preferences in feng shui is the main focus of this presentation; you will find out what the SUISY principles are and how they can be applied in feng shui practice. By the end of the talk it is hoped that you will understand the aesthetic criterion to use when someone asks ‘What do you think of the feng shui of this building’?” http://www.fengshuisociety.org.uk/the-10th-feng-shui-society-conference-2016-london-uk/
January 11, 2016
I did feng shui and planning for C a couple of years back and recently I received words from her that things are looking up. It feels good to have helped someone on her way.
I wish you a wonderful New Year! May Love, Peace, Joy and harmony be your best friends all along.
Here are some photos of the new sheepfold. In winter, I use the plastic bands but in summer I put them off.
The flow of energy is really different here from when you came and I could sell and throw away a lot of old stuffs. I also cleaned a lot. My life is also changing a lot because most of lying (sticking) energy is away now. In my heart things are also flowing better.
It made such a big change in my life! I really experimented how our house and environment can impact us and how it is important to harmonize a place.
I hope to see you again!
Take good care of you!
December 26, 2015
Have you ever wonder why there are two main schools of Feng Shui, namely the Form School and the Compass School, and not just one? Why do we need two of them? What are their main differences that we would need one to support the other? These questions can be partly answered by looking at their Chinese names.
In Chinese, ‘Form School’ is called either ‘Xing Shi Pai’ 形勢派 or ‘Luan Tou Pai’ 巒頭派. ‘Xing Shi’ literally means ‘Form and Configuration’, that is we look at the smaller and visible parts in our environment and see how they would relate to each other to form a larger configuration, that is how they would group together to form a whole, this process is not unlike playing with children’s wooden blocks to form a recognizable construction.
Another name for ‘ Form School’ is called ‘Luan Tou Pai’, which literally means the ‘Mountain-Top School’. Why mountain tops? Because if we look at the mountaintops of a range of mountains, we can see and follow their rise and fall to get an idea of how the landscape would behave from Point A to Point B.
Both these Chinese names implied that we would use observation and analysis to do our ‘Form School’ Feng Shui, and in the process we are dealing with something that are tangible, they have form and are visible. To these things that are manifested, and quantifiable, the Chinese would say they have ‘Form Qi’ or ‘Xing Qi’ 形氣, as compared to the opposite, to things that are intangible, formless and invisible. These things that are un-manifested and not quantifiable, the Chinese would say they have ‘Formless Qi’ or just ‘Qi’. There is even a character for Form Qi 氣 and another for the Formless Qi 炁 even though they sound the same.
This is where the term ‘Li Qi Pai’ 理氣派 for Compass School of Feng Shui comes in. ‘Li Qi’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine has the meaning ‘to regulate the flow of the Vital Qi and remove obstructions to it’. In Feng Shui the aim is similar, but it is not ‘Vital Qi’ (Qi that keeps us alive) that we are concerned with, but the ‘Formless Qi’ or just the ‘Qi’ of the environment. Thus ‘Li Qi Pai’ can be translated literally as ‘Regulating (Formless) Qi School’.
To regulate implies that we have to keep a balance, but the Qi that we are working with is intangible, it has no form, it is invisible and not manifested, so how are we to this? With the compass and with correlative thinking is the Chinese answer.
We start with something that is measurable, like measuring the sitting and facing of a house, or the top of a mountain, or the direction of the coming and going of the water with a compass. This measurement is then correlated to a set of values and numbers to create a pattern language. By interpreting the resultant pattern with a set of rules, we can get an understanding of how the invisible and the intangible are related to each other. With this insight we can ‘read’ the Formless Qi by comparing it with the Form Qi, so the seen and the unseen, the form and the formless, the manifested and the un-manifested can come together, to enable us to find the in-between that is appropriate to the situation.
This is exactly how a Compass School method like Flying Star works in Practice. We start with the time of construction of a house and then correlate it to a 20-years Period with a Trigram and a number, this number then become the Period Number, which can fly through the Nine-Palace with a fixed pattern. Then we do the same with the sitting and facing of a house, the compass measurements are correlated to a set of Trigrams and numbers and with these numbers and the agreed upon flying sequence we can make up a Flying-Star Chart. We then interpret this pattern language with a set of rules, based on the Five-Phase relationships and the concept of timeliness and ‘Host and Guest’, etc.
We then compare our interpretation of the numbers or ‘stars’ with what we can observe in the Form School Feng Shui, and together with the Yin and the Yang of what is visible and observable in the Form School with what is invisible but calculated in the Compass School, we can do our analysis and come up with some efficacious suggestions for our clients to consider.
Correlative thinking in Compass Feng Shui is unlike the analytical thinking we use in Form School Feng Shui. Analytical thinking observes and examines things in detail in order to learn about them, so the process can be repeated and is predictable. It is diagnostic, methodical, logical and systematic. Whereas correlative thinking uses a conceptual framework of correlations to make sense of the same phenomenon, the outcome is not so much in learning about things individually but how they are related to each other, so there is mutual resonance to achieve efficacy. Correlative thinking is more concerned with the original character of a thing under consideration instead of diagnose it. Correlative thinking is more intuitive; it is not methodical or systematic. It tends to be multi-valent and vague in the sense that it relies more on inspiration than on facts.
Precisely because the Chinese believe that everything has Qi and has Yin and Yang, so there are Form Qi and as well as Formless Qi, also correlative thinking as well as analytical thinking to make sense of things holistically, that we need both the Form and Compass School of Feng Shui to do our audit and analysis properly.
However, the pressing issue in modern day Feng Shui is that many practitioners do not understand or know the working of analytical thinking as compare to correlative thinking, these people often take the correlations analytically and literally.
A classic example is the 5 Yellow Earth Star, which is not a real star in the night sky but a correlation for a quality that is sitting in the middle of a situation and has the ability to connect in all directions. It is liken to an emperor sitting on its throne, it can be powerfully good when it is timely and it can be powerfully bad when it is untimely, so when we see a combination like 2,5 where the 2 Black Earth star is correlated to sickness and the mother of the house, these people would say literally that the 2,5 combination will cause the mother to have untimely disaster or even get cancer of the stomach!
This is a gross misunderstanding of correlative thinking, it is like just because you were born in a certain year you are correlated to a Dog or a Pig, it does not mean that you are a dog or a pig literally, these labels are only used as a metaphor to get an understanding of your potential character and tendencies, and we need to observe you in detail to see if that is the case. Somewhere between the observations, the calculations, the analytical and the correlative thinking, we can find the in-between and know a little more about you, so as consultants we can help you make better decisions. That is how Chinese correlative thinking works in practice.
November 30, 2015
There seems to be a lot of fearful talk lately on the feng shui forums and chat rooms about the “Kong Wang” line. It gets our attention when it is translated as a “Death and Void” or a “Death and Emptiness” line, when in fact it should be more aptly translated as a line of “Lost Space”. Since “Kong Wang” refers to a situation when the actual sitting and facing of a house or a tomb site is impossible to obtain. But because different schools have different ways to calibrate space, it is impossible to define what constitute a “Kong Wang” line universally. A “Kong Wang” line for one school may not be the same for another.
For example, the “Da Kong Wang” (Big Kong Wang) lines showed in the picture below may applied to Flying Star Feng Shui, but they are readable for the San He Water Methods and the “Xiao Kong Wang” (Small Kong Wang) lines are also readable for the Xuan Kong Da Gua School of Feng Shui, hence we have this popular saying about the uncertainty of the “Kong Wang” lines:
“There is “have” hidden in “not-have”,
What is empty is in fact not empty.
Knowing the secret of the in-between,
Then you can travel anywhere on earth.
Use “zhong” when the “jian” is needed,
The spatial arrangement is lopsided.
Use “jian” when the “zhong” is needed,
There is no peace within the household.”
Note: “Zhong” refers to a reading in the exact middle of a “mountain”, whereas “Jian” refers to a reading close to the boundary between 2 “mountains”.
As I said earlier the character “Wang” 亡 need not be translated as “death”, it can be translated as “destroyed” or “perished” as in something that is not clear or “lost”, and “kong” 空 need not be translated as “void” or “emptiness”, but referring “space” as in “kongjian” 空間, so “Kong Wang” need not be translated as “death and void” or “death and emptiness” but “lost space”, which means when the compass needle is sitting right on a line separating two Mountains, then we cannot read the Yin/yang of the Gua Qi of the space, but there are always the physical observations, with our five-senses and with our heart-mind, which we can use to make the adjustment, so the reading is not lost or perished or destroyed (“wnag”), and the law of Feng Shui has not broken down as some would claim.
There are in fact temples and sacred buildings in traditional China that deliberately sat on the “kongwang” lines, to show that these buildings can transcend the Yin and Yang dialectics of this mundane world we live in.
November 24, 2015
When we were visiting the Wanan Wu Luheng Luopan Makers (http://www.wawlhld.com/) in our last Feng Shui Study Tour of China 2015, Master Wu Zhaoguang 吳兆光 gave us some hints on how to care and how to store away the Loupan compass properly. He said when we have to store them at home of carry it in our brief case, it is always better to store it vertically in a protective case and away from any electromagnetic influence, and when we have to store it on the horizontal and not moving too much, then is is better to turn the Luopan compass face down so it will be harder for the needle to be influenced by other sources of electromagnetic radiation. He said the worse thing is to drop the Luopan on a hard surface, because once the needle jumps out from its point of rest, we have to replace with a new one and that is quite expensive. Below are a couple of pictures to show how to store the Luopan Compass in a simple and safe way.
October 31, 2015
Resolving the “Magnetic North v True North” controversy.
Whether we should measure directions in feng shui using the true north or the magnetic north has been a question around for 100s of years. I remember having a yearlong argument with Robert Matusan Boyler a few years back, when he insisted on using the true north because that was what the Chinese first used to measure directions according to the sun angles, or the true north.
On this trip we had the chance to visit one of the oldest Luopan makers in China, the “Wu Lu Heng” 吳魯衡 Luopan store in Wan-An 萬安 and also its Luopan museum. At the end of our visit we had a chance to interview the store owner, Mr. Wu Zhaoguang 吳兆光, who is an 8th-generation direct descendant of the original Luopan maker, Mr. Wu Luheng.
Since they make both the Rugui sundial and the Luopan compass by hand since 1723, I asked Mr Wu what was their difference? He replied that the Luopan is used to measure the geo-magnetic influence of the earth via directional reading with the feng shui compass, whereas the sundial is used to tell the local time and also used to select an auspicious time to act in feng shui. He then showed us how to use the Rugui sundial and no reference was made at all to directional readings.
In other words, the sundial is not used to measure directions it is used to measure time instead according to his family tradition. Mr. Wu also mentioned that the Chinese character for magnetism, Ci 礠, has the same root and the same sound as for the character Ci 慈, meaning compassion, which implied that we have a sympathy with the earth’s magnetic field and that it is part of the Earth Qi we want to connect to in feng shui.
I noticed Joseph Yu, another feng shui teacher, also came to the same conclusion. http://www.astro-fengshui.com/fengshui/truenorth.html
October 7, 2015
I wrote an article on Taijiquan and Qi connection many years ago: http://www.shou-yi.org/taijiquan/taijiquan-and-qi-connection
When it comes to feng shui, the mechanism for qi connection is not that dis-similar, one needs to create Yin and Yang and then link them up for the qi to connect and flow.
In Yinzhai feng shui, the yin and yang connection is between the living and the dead, and as long as the living is respectful of the dead and the dead can inspire the living, then there is qi connection; the rest is just ritual and protocol to formalize and to “activate” this connection.
In Yangzhai feng shui, the yin and yang connection is between the occupant and his or her environment via placement of objects and location of rooms etc., and as long as there are mutual interactions between the animate and the inanimate, by creating yin and yang consciously, then there is qi connection.
For example, if we put the bed against a certain direction that would create an awareness of desirability and undesirability, then our conscious awakening of this ritualistic choice will connect the qi between the bed and us. Whether it is done from the head, from the feet or from the heart etc. does not matter, some system even recommend it should be done from the air-conditioner to the room!
What we ended up doing in compass feng shui is to create a ritual of various sorts, using object s and space in our environment by way of compass directions as a medium, to heightened our awareness of our everyday environment that we live in and make it extra-ordinary for us.
Lets look at the placement of a bed again, everyone sleeps in a bed, by putting it in this particular direction and not that direction, with what we believe is a good feng shui direction, we will make this bed now something special, it is not just an ordinary bed, but a bed that is specially located for me and it will have the potential of bringing me health and vitality and things that I will need.
It is just like deciding to marry this woman and not that woman, and to go through the ritual of a marriage ceremony to swear to Heaven that we will love each other until death, that will change us from an ordinary to an extra-ordinary person for each other.
A conscious awareness of a particular item in our environment can connect the feng shui qi to us, and a meaningful ritual will activate it.
It is that simple: we highlight the various aspects of Yin and Yang (for example, light and dark, substantial and insubstantial, facing and sitting, etc.) of a space or an object and the conscious awareness of its Ji and Xiong (auspicious and harmfulness) and our deliberate preference will connect the feng shui qi and turn an ordinary space or an object, like a living room or a desk, into something extra-ordinary by its rearrangement.
The feng shui ritual we performed will “activate” this connection, so there is “ganying” or mutual resonance between our environment and us and changes for the better will take place when there is connection and resonance.
October 2, 2015
I am in the process of preparing the lecture notes for the Feng Shui Study Tour of China coming up in a couple of weeks time. Our first stop is Shanghai, so natually I start with the Feng Shui of Shanghai:
Shanghai is China’s largest economic centre, it has a population of over 16 millions and covers a total land area of approx. 6,340 square kilometres. What makes it so prosperous is its unique location and special “pinyang long” 平洋龍 or “flat land with water dragon” feng shui.
Unlike other major in-land cities in China, like Chongqing and Beijing, which have the support of mountains at the back and a generous “Mingtang” (open space) with water in front, Shanghai is a coastal city on a flat plain, with less than 4 meters above the sea level in general. But form-wise Shanghai, unlike other less prosperous coastal cities like Tianjin and Guangzhou, has many lakes nearby and is surrounded by rivers and embraced by the sea.
Luosh-Bagua-wise, Shanghai is located in the Zhen palace to the East, which is associated with the Wuxing (the Five Phase) of Wood, and since Water generates Wood and Wood represents growth and prosperity, Shanghai is uniquely prosperous in this regard, having plenty of Water located in the Wood direction.
The Huangpu River is Shanghai’s main river; seen from the air it discharges into the Changjiang River before flowing into the Yellow Sea. There are two islands, namely the Changxing Island and the Hengsha Island in front, that in feng shui terms, lock in the prosperous Water Qi of the Huangpu and stops it from leaking into the Yellow Sea. These two islands worked as Watergate Locks for Wealth. (See Map of Shanghai and Region)
There is a feng shui saying specially related to this situation:
“There is affection when the Source Water can be embraced, it is not suitable for it to rush at the Gate, the Going Water should be locked in tight, so there is no fear of it will disappear.”
When we look closer at the original birth place of Shanghai next to the Huangpu River we can a classic Water Dragon Pattern call the “Meandering Water with a Single Wind Pattern” 曲水单朝格. Michael Paton in his book the “Five Classics of Fengshui”, has translated the meaning of this water formation and the concluding remark pointed out the special relationship of water to Shanghai”
“The beauty of this situation is indescribable because there is a complete external situation as well as solid internal qi” (See Map of Meandering Water of Shanghai and also page 215 from Paton’s book),
Since “Mountain is associated with Health and Water with Wealth” “山管人丁水管财” and Shanghai has plenty of water because of its unique geographical situation, Shanghai is in a special economic position and the city gave birth to a number of national leaders, famous scholars and celebrities from the sports and the arts.
September 6, 2015
Times like this I have a feeling I have been in the feng shui game for too long. I have no idea who will read the articles on feng shui that I wrote for the Better Homes and Gardens magazine back in 1993 and I did it for 3 or 4 years. It is heart-warming now to know that they did make some impacts on some people’s life in a small but positive way. Thank you for sharing Jan.
Good Evening Howard
I hope this email finds you well. I have an amazing story to tell you. I was sorting through some papers of my Mother who passed away in 2010. In her papers I found this photocopied article on you dated 1993 from Better Homes and Gardens magazine. What is so interesting is that we were living in Zimbabwe at the time (no idea how she had an Aussie article) and she told me about Feng Shui, her and I bought a book and started to feng shui our homes, friends homes etc. Some things worked, some did not but it started my passion for Feng Shui. So when I came to your class in 2012 I had no idea that you and this article had been the reason for my whole Feng Shui journey.
I thought I would share with you :-)
September 4, 2015
I have been asked this question again, “Is feng shui an art or a science or something else like a philosophy or Environmental Psychology?” It s a difficult question to answer or even a wrong question to ask, since the Chinese don’t put things in a pigeonhole like we tend to do in the west, their world-view is that everything has qi and everything that has qi has yin and yang and they are all interconnected. So feng shui has some art, some science, some philosophy and some psychology in it but nothing of the kind on its own, it sits in between all these labels with qi acting like a continuum, and as soon as we try to pin feng shui down to one thing, it loses its meaning and vitality, not unlike trying to pin a butterfly down to find out what is a butterfly. Instead, we can appreciate what good feng shui does by looking at the inter-relationships between all things in our environment, how they would affect us and how we can respond to them in a harmonious, constructive and meaningful way. To me feng shui is not a noun (or a label) it is a verb.
August 30, 2015
It always amazes me that although other cultures don’t have feng shui, we often locate and build our cities, villages and houses the in same way using feng shui, whether we are conscious of it or not.
We went walking from a village called Soccia to the Creno Lake (1310 M above sea level) in the western part of Corsica yesterday and on our way back down the mountain, I noticed that the old village of Soccia (650 M in altitude), with its granite houses, is built along a ridge branching out from the top of the Monte Retondo Mountain.
It is a classic case of riding the Dragon Vein in feng shui, with the village church right at the end of the Qi flow, sitting on a rocky spur projecting out onto the Fiume Grosso Valley. The church is the most important building in a traditional European village and it collects the Dragon Qi of the land, as it should.
In feng shui we say this is a Yang way of locating a site; in contrast, the village we are staying in is located in a wok-like landscape, protected by mountains on three sides and facing the warm South sun, it is a classic case of a Nest Formation and is considered a Yin way of sitting (see water colour painting by my wife Gyda in the last photo).
But I am sure the Corsicans don’t know anything about feng shui and don’t have any of these feng shui terms I mentioned, but they do it the same way as the Chinese would, in sitting their traditional villages in far away China. To me, from this perspective, the application of feng shui is quite universal.
August 12, 2015
My first feng shui teacher, Master Ren Zhi-Lin 任志林 was not famous in Hong Kong, instead he was one of the “crouching tigers and hidden dragons” for me. (“crouching tiger, hidden dragon” is a Chinese idiom meaning an unknown person with hidden talents and good skill).
Although Master Ren is not well known, he has produced some famous students like Master Long Jing-Quan 龍景銓, who is the Feng Shui master behind the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, so in a way Master Long is a Si-Hang (an older brother in learning) to me.
Master Ren came from a San He lineage and he does both Yin Zhai and Yang Zhai feng shui (feng shui for graves and feng shui for dwellings), below you can see a couple of pictures of his handy work, a close-up picture shows his name on the third line to the right of the grave markings.
We spent two years (1978 – 1980) together, doing 2 sessions of one-to-one lectures and theories each week and on the weekends I would accompany him to do feng shui for a client on site. He lived in a very modest tenement housing estate and called his business “The Purple Cloud Studio”.
When I left him he gave me his San He Luopan compass. a set of hand-written notes and also a long scroll of his calligraphy (you can see a picture of his writing below), which I have hang up in my study to this day.
He knew I have found my vocation in feng shui and left these gifts for me as a token and an encouragement to carry on his work. I am still fulfilling his wish, even though he passed away a few years after I return to Australia.
I have studied with many other teachers since, but because he was my first teacher and I was young and impressionable, he still remains the most outstanding and memorable master for me. If it wasn’t for him, I would have given up on feng shui long time ago, he trusted that it was my fate and destiny to be a feng shui architect, consultant and teacher.
July 23, 2015
Faux-European Towns in China don’t have good feng shui, many of them become eerie ghost towns.
The reasons being that they are fake places and we find it hard to connect to them and feel comfortable living in them. The Chinese would say they have “wu-qing” 無情 or they have no feelings and affections.
In a feng shui mnemonic (a song to aid memory) called “The Golden Letter Poem” 《金函詩》，it is clearly stated:
”A good Dragon and a good Liar has real affection, the formation comes alive when it is genuine”.
When it is a copy of a far-away place with a different culture and a different world-view, the results are often fake and false, they don’t come alive and so no one wants to live in them for long, except to take some pictures and then move on.
June 14, 2015
Many students at the beginning of their study are worried and put-off by the initial perception that there are lots of confusions, inconsistencies as well as disagreements between the different Compass schools, but they tend to forget that there is, in essence, only one Form school feng shui and this Yin Yang contrast is part of the working of feng shui.
Our mind, when observing reality, can come up with many different theories and explanation for the same experience, but what we can see is essential the same and the ancient Chinese realized this, so they want us to let go of our “monkey mind” and meditate on the situation in order to avoid the pitfalls and to take best advantage of the situation.
The way it is done in feng shui is to use correlative thinking to come up with a set of numerical pattern language, like a Bazhai or a Flying Star chart, and in the process of analysing the numbers, something enlightening would come through just when we think it is very complicated, not unlike using mathematics as a form of meditation or a silent contemplation with an image of a Hexagram casted with the Yijibng. The Chinese called these methods “Shu Shu” 術數 or the Art of Numbers.
The trick is not to worry which Compass school is correct or which Compass school is authentic, but to adopt one that appeals to you and use it to help you go through the process of “thinking without thinking” or “mind without mind”, and in the process get rid of your extraneous theories and explanations about what you can see and see it as it is, for what it can do to help your clients to live in harmony with their environment the best way possible, which is the ultimate aim of good fengf shui.
The problem with most beginners is they don’t understand this idea of “Wuxin” 無心 or “Without Heart/Mind”, instead they become “Youxin” 有心 (too much mindfulness) and saw too much and think too much and come up with too many worries and fears that are not really there. But with time and experience, they can master the Art of Numbers and learn to see the form and configurations of the environment in its true light to help their future clients. It takes time and patience to master the art of feng shui.
May 25, 2015
Below are three info-graphics (original graphic by Alan Chong) about the common Chinese parables that says:
3. Feng shui
4. Good Deeds
The first black triangle at the top implied knowing our destiny and our luck is the most important, that is the Heaven factor controls the success of our life; the second implied doing good deeds and education is most important, that is the Human factors can make the difference and change our fate to make our life a success and the third implied feng shui could bridge the two through knowing and know-how, it is the in-between approach, using the Earth factor (our environment) to enable Heaven and Human to become One (Tairen Heyi 天人合一) to make our life a success.
Which one of the three makes most sense to you?
Book Review by Dr. Stephen L. Field: “Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art”
May 19, 2015
FLORIAN C. REITER, ed., Theory and Reality of Feng Shui in Architecture and Landscape Art. Asien- und Afrika-Studien der Humboldt-Universita¨ t zu Berlin, vol. 41. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013. vi, 182 pp. J48 (pb). ISBN 978-3-447-10005-2
Beginning in 2005, the City University of Hong Kong hosted four international conferences on the subject of fengshui 風水.1 Following the third conference, a volume of proceedings titled, Research in Scientific Feng Shui and the Built Environment, was published.2 For the fifth conference in 2010, the venue moved to Humboldt University in Berlin under the auspices of Professor Florian Reiter, after which a second proceedings volume, titled Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and Architecture, was produced.3 The volume under review is the proceedings of the second Berlin symposium, the sixth in the series, which was held at Humboldt University in 2012.
The intention of the Hong Kong conference organizers was to ‘‘bring the study of fengshui beyond the shadow of superstition’’ and to investigate whether it has any scientific foundation. One important aspect of that investigation was to ‘‘filter out’’ the ‘‘imaginative’’ from what was authentic, especially in the ‘‘rules of the Compass School.’’ The methodology of the Form School, on the other hand, was not suspect, since ‘‘a large proportion . . . is actually taught in schools of architecture around the world.’’4 Consequently, of the four parts of that first conference proceedings, only one dealt with the Compass School, and its conclusion was that ‘‘contradiction renders the theory inconsistent and questionable.’’ Furthermore, ‘‘[i]t is important that the practitioners be aware of this in the applications.’’5 This last statement clarifies a subtext that might escape some readers: so-called scientific fengshui is that whose theories are ‘‘logical’’ and have practical applications, and the task of investigation is to show the efficacy behind such practices.
This stance was not as strictly maintained in the Berlin symposia, although it might not be obvious to the casual reader. In his foreword to the first Humboldt conference volume, Reiter asks the question, ‘‘Do we unknowingly combine planning and construction with a possibly wanton selection of cosmological theories?’’ What he refers to as ‘‘cosmological theories’’ are some of the Compass School concepts observed by contemporary fengshui practitioners in the West. Such ‘‘modern esotericism,’’ according to Reiter, ‘‘threatens to spoil the field for the sinologist and the specialist in architecture.’’6 Yet Reiter’s first volume includes two very esoteric chapters—one on the most widely practiced form of Compass School fengshui in the West today, and one on its ‘‘flying star’’ version.7
In the second Berlin volume, the book currently under review, Reiter retains his critical perspective toward esoteric theories. His introductory chapter, ‘‘Feng Shui and Architecture: Common Knowledge and Sensation in China,’’ gives readers the perspective of Qing dynasty scholars. From a translation of the preface to the section of the Siku quanshu zongmu 四庫全書總目 that lists books on fengshui — the Shushulei 術數類 ‘‘Crafts and Numerical Categories’’ — we learn that ‘‘[c]ontradictory thinking flourishes all around, and those who have recipes and skills spread them, each of them exploiting the opportunity to make a score’’ (p. 5). Reiter then outlines a number of titles listed in the Zongmu, concluding that, [W]e get entangled in the most intricate history of the transmission of antique books and observe a welter of idealizing nations [sic], which in fact does not help us to resolve the mystery of the correspondences of emblematic symbols with the actual geographic location. The methods concerning the practical application that may be realized in fengshui and architecture remain concealed. I doubt that today we can put such information to our practice in architecture but we must be aware of the emotional weight of an emblematic and suggestive thinking that makes up large portions of fengshui reasoning. (p. 8)
The chapter continues with analysis of the ‘‘overall geophysical frame’’ (p. 8), including discussions of traditional Chinese building practices such as symbolic ornamentation, especially in traditional roof design, and its relation to fengshui.
Reiter still considers Compass School concepts worthy of study, although when such analysis does appear in this volume, it is usually subordinate to Form School theories. For example, the contributions of the fengshui architect team of Howard Choy and Gyda Anders are essentially case studies of traditional Chinese architecture. In his chapter on the ‘‘Layout of Traditional Shanxi Residential Dwellings,’’ Choy argues that residential siting traditionally began with an objective analysis of the physical site followed by divination, thus combining the use of xingshipai 形勢派 (Form School) and liqipai 理氣派 (Compass School) theories. As he puts it, ‘‘This is to ensure that both the objective and the subjective parts of human needs are taken into consideration, so the outcome is not only practically efficient but ritually correct as well’’ (p. 182).
‘‘The Power of Feng Shui and Amulets,’’ by Klaas Ruitenbeek, is also critical of Compass School theories.8 Ruitenbeek begins his discourse by explaining how the concept of fengshui is essentially simple—‘‘build a beautiful house, or a beautiful tomb, in a pleasant place, with some mountains in the back to protect you, and water in front of the house for a lush feeling’’ (p. 105). However, because ‘‘only if something is difficult, arcane, hard to penetrate, will it be taken seriously,’’ it was eventually made complicated by ‘‘the system of calculations, developed in the early centuries BC, that had as its main components the five elements water, wood, fire, earth, and metal, the ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches, the Diagram of the Luo River and the Chart of the Yellow River’’ (p. 106). He then discusses various building rituals of Chinese carpenters and concludes that fengshui ‘‘can be regarded as a kind of imaginary architecture, which is superimposed on the actual architecture of bricks, beams and tiles’’ (p. 112).
Of the remaining chapters, one is notable for its conservative view that the fengshui of architecture is meaningless outside the religious context of ancestor worship. Huang Lan-shiang, in ‘‘The Application and Extension of Clan-Ethical Feng Shui Belief on Hakka Residential Building,’’ analyzes tomb and residential architecture of Hakka minority communities in Taiwan, Fujian, and Guangdong and concludes that: ‘‘There is a straight spiritual connection between the graveyard and the . . . residential facility that in its central building harbours the house altar with the spirit seat of the ancestors’’ (p. 49). Much of his richly illustrated analysis points out the remarkable resemblance of the structure of the sanheyuan 三合院 housing compound and the traditional tomb configuration. Huang’s chapter is in Chinese, which will make it inaccessible to some readers.
Ellen Van Goethem’s ‘‘Feng Shui Symbolism in Japan’’ deals exclusively with the transmission of the Chinese concept of the Four Divine Beasts 四聖獸 to Japan and its eventual assimilation into Japanese cultural norms. These figures originated as zodiacal constellations in ancient Chinese cosmology and became symbols of the cardinal directions in Form School fengshui. Tsai Sueyling’s ‘‘Feng Shui of the Reclining Buddha’’ gives a fengshui reading of the physical configuration of a monastic site, Wofoyuan 臥佛院, in Sichuan, picturing the Buddha there to be ‘‘imbedded in the womb of the dragon’’ (p. 81). While she admits there is ‘‘no evidence to demonstrate that the planners of this Buddhist site were conscious of this fengshui reading,’’ Tsai locates a colophon attached to the site in the tenth century by an ‘‘expert of the Geomancy of the Five Tunes (wuyin dili 五音地理)’’ (p. 83), a branch of the Compass School.
Surprisingly, the only chapter in the book that deals solely with the application of fengshui theories for modern construction is Michael Mak’s ‘‘Feng Shui and Sustainable Design for Modern Buildings.’’ His chapter builds upon work initiated in his edited volume by adding a case study of a ‘‘Green Star’’ office building in Sydney, Australia.9 The study concludes that ‘‘the provision of the open central atrium is a prime feature to satisfy these criteria from both sustainable design and fengshui considerations, which is similar to the traditional application of fengshui practice to the courtyard houses in China’’ (p. 31). For readers expecting concrete application of scientific principles, this chapter, while tantalizing, is long on sustainable design specifics and short on fengshui ‘‘science.’’
For readers of this review it may seem quaint that scholars appear to claim some fengshui methodologies are efficacious while others are not. I will simply echo another reviewer trying to make sense of scientific fengshui who said, ‘‘perhaps we should keep our minds open on this score.’’10 The importance of fengshui in the history of Chinese naturalistic thought is unquestionable, and the scholarly world is therefore greatly enriched by the efforts of Florian Reiter to make such studies available.
1 In this review, the convention of linking pinyin syllables that form words will be followed. Thus, the word 風水 will be rendered as fengshui, unless it is spelled otherwise in a published chapter or book title.
2 Michael Y. Mak and Albert T. So, eds., Research in Scientific Feng Shui and the Built Environment (Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press, 2009).
3 Florian C. Reiter, ed., Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and Architecture: International Conference in Berlin (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010).
4 Mak and So, Research in Scientific Feng Shui and the Built Environment, xvii.
5 Ibid., 42.
6 Reiter, Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and Architecture, vii.
7 The former chapter, ‘‘The Origin of Bazhai fengshui,’’ is attributed to the joint authors, Stephen Field, J.K. and Ingrid Lee. However, the latter two names were inadvertently copied by the editorial staff from Field’s academic title (‘‘J.K. and Ingrid Lee Professor of Chinese, Trinity University’’).
8 Ruitenbeek is perhaps best known as the translator of the Ming dynasty Lu Ban jing 魯班經. See his Carpentry and Building in Late Imperial China: A Study of the Fifteenth-Century Carpenter’s Manual Lu Ban jing (Leiden: Brill, 1993).
9 Mak and So, Research in Scientific Feng Shui and the Built Environment, 209-30.
10 Richard Smith’s review of Reiter’s first Berlin volume, Feng Shui (Kan Yu) and
Architecture, in Journal of Chinese Religions 41, no.1 (2013): 79.
STEPHEN L. FIELD
(Book review taken from “Journal of Chinese Religions”, 2014)
May 11, 2015
Zhouzhuang 周庄 is a water town in Jiangsu Province about 80 Km west of Shanghai, it is well-known as the “Venice of the Orient”. The town is located and divided by lakes and rivers; all in all it has 14 bridges with the “Twin Bridge” being the symbol of the town. Because of the limited arable land and dense population surrounded by water, the traditional houses of Zhouzhunag have a much tighter spatial arrangement and smaller courtyards than the traditional houses north of the Yangtze River. The smaller courtyards are more like light wells than a garden courtyard, and since all the water flows down into the courtyard in the middle of the house complex, the layout of the Jiangnan (south of the Yangtze River) houses, like the ones in Zhouzhuang, are often called “Double Water Entering the Mingtang” 两水入明堂 in Feng Shui terms and is considered very auspicious. “Double water” refers to water from the front and back, left and right of the house. After the water is collect in the middle of the courtyard it is often channeled to the outside according to a particular compass direction, so not only the form and configuration of a house is auspicious and but the compass calculation is also considered desirable to “hasten the luck” for the occupants. Pictures below showed the Twin Bridge in Zhouzhuang and also the layout of a typical Jiangnan traditional courtyard house like the one shown in the site plan indicating the location of the two bridges in town. We will visit this water town in the forth-coming Feng Shui Study Tour of China, from 17 – 30 October 2015, and will stay there for a few days to study and enjoy the Feng Shui of a traditional water town. There is still a few vacancy left for the trip, if you are interested you can find out more information about the study tour by clicking onto the pdf Flyer for the tour. We hope you can join us in China this year. Flyer for Feng Shui Study Tour of China 2015
Feng Shui in essence is how we experience architecture and the built-environment in a particular way and this “particular” way has its root in Chinese culture. The best way to express this Chinese perspective is written up in Laozi’s Daode Jing: “Molding clay into a vessel, we find the utility in its hollowness; cutting doors and windows for a house, we find the utility in its empty space. There for the being of things is profitable, the non-being of things is serviceable.” (trans. by David Hall and Roger T. Ames 1998) To the Chinese, what make a building or space useful are not the solid walls but the void space enclosed by the walls and one needs at least three sides to do this effectively. In Feng Shui, the term “Juqi” or “Assembled Qi” is used to express this desirable quality and the “Siling” or the “Four Mythical Animals” model in Form School Feng Shui is a good example.
This ideal Feng Shui model is used to selection a site for a city, a town, a village, and in urban planning (e.g. The Forbidden City) and house design (e.g. the traditional courtyard house) as well interior furniture layout like the living room.
The art in Form Feng Shui lies in how to find a balance and a harmonious relationship between the six parts that enclose the void space: what is above, below, front, back, left and right, experienced by a person entering into the setting. If there is “Ganying” or “mutual resonance” between the void space and the occupant, then it is considered to have good Feng Shui. But one needs to bear in mind, the void would not be there without the solid and the “mutual resonance” does not only involve the sight but the full five senses and our heart/mind as well. So in this sense, good Feng Shui is always site-specific and personal, the best we can do is to provide some guidelines or “Feng Shui protocols” as preferences rather than as some strict rules.
Generally speaking, the regular is preferred over the irregular; to fit in is preferred over to stand out in a situation, being humble is preferred over being ostentatious and being simple and direct is preferred over being complicated and indirect. Anything that is too extreme is always considered undesirable and anything that is too regular and too static (dead) without any “sheng qi” (life enhancing Qi) is also undesirable. The trick is to find a dynamic balance between the Yin and the Yang, so the environment comes alive and we can engage the resultant built form fully in its unique circumstance. It is just that in Feng Shui and Chinese architecture, we put the emphasis in the Yin (the Void) rather than the Yang (the Solid), but it is not to say Yin is better than Yang, but rather the need to harmonize the two (the solid and the void) to be holistic. It is not how “pretty” a building ooks with the tangible that determines the feng shui of a place (the quality of the environment), but how useful and how engaging the intangible aspect of the built form and the natural environment can be, that made the subtle difference.
For most of us, this type of weird house is difficult to have an emotional connection to because it looks like an earthquake has struck it and it sits like a sore thumb in the landscape. The type of persons who wants to live in this kind of house often has some sort of psychological issues to start with, so in the long run, the feng shui will not be supportive.
This is also an unusual house as well but it is still considered to have good feng shui, because it is protected by the earth like a bunker and orientated towards the warm sun with a generous “Mingtang” (open void space) at the front. We can clear see and relate to its regular and balanced “face”. At night it will “glow” to make us feel happy that we have arrived home. The first house is mainly concerned with the unusual “look” of the solid form and it stands out in the landscape, whereas the second house mainly deals with the void space at the threshold between the internal and the external, with the house fit neatly into the landscape.
April 27, 2015
In Feng Shui, the multitude of situations we encounter are considered to be made of 3 categories of components the Chinese termed “Qi” 氣, “Shu” 數 and “Xiang” 象.
Lets start with the term “Xiang”, which literally means appearance, shape and image; it refers to the things that we can see through our observation with the five senses. What we can see, hear, smell, touch and taste allow us to come to terms with the situation physically. It is the tangible parts of a feng shui consultation and we always start with the visible and the exposed, in order to work towards the invisible and the hidden.
“Shu” has both the meaning of numbers and to count them, it refers to the pattern language that we have created, using numbers through correlative thinking to contemplate at things that are hidden and invisible. Just as the previous is dealt mainly with Form Feng Shui, this category is mainly done with Compass Feng Shui. The compass reading is correlated to Trigrams and the Trigrams to numbers and the arrangement of Trigrams gave us a numerical pattern like a Flying Star chart, which we can use to meditate on the intangible aspects of the same situation metaphysically.
Between the physical and the metaphysical, the tangible and the intangible, the visible and the invisible, the form and the formless, we can gain enough information to allow us to understand the formless Qi of a situation. The term “Qi” here in Feng Shui refers to the potential and the capability inherent in a situation; it is also a continuum that links all things together through the complementary opposite of Yin and Yang.
By doing so, we can have a grasp of the form and formless Qi of what is inherent in a give environment and the occupant’s reactions living there. This holistic understand allows us to make suggestions, to make changes, to improve and/or to readjust the deficiencies without destroying the existing environment. This is essentially what we would do in a feng shui consultation, with the three basic concepts of “Xiang”, “Shu” and “Qi” outlined above.
Below you can see a brief example of one of our recent feng shui consultations for a new house. Picture 1 showed a page from the Form feng shui studies, picture 2 showed our preferred orientation for the house, picture 3 showed a rough location and configuration of the house on site and the last picture is a Flying Star chart of our suggested planning for the house.
January 5, 2015
This is my first blog post for the 2015, so lets find something auspicious we can do for the Chinese New Year of the Goat.
I have fond memories of going “ghost busting” with my Master Ren Zhi-Lin in Hong Kong more than 30 years ago. Every time we set out to chase away a ghost, he would put a Pomelo leaf 碌柚葉 in my left pocket for protection. I never asked him how or why a Pomelo leave can protect me from evil spirits, I just accepted it as a miracle.
The Chinese new-year of the Sheep is coming soon (18 February 2015) and at the last day of the year, there is a popular custom in the southern part of China, to take a Pomelo leaves bath to wash away all the bad lucks of the previous year and to get rid of bad spirits, to welcome another new year.
The standard procedure is to boil a bundle of Pomelo leaves and pours the content into a newly purchased basin, then stands over the bath and pours both the water and the leaves all over the body. Afterward soak in the bath for 15 minutes and when the time is up, do not rinse off the Pomelo water, just get dressed dripped-dry.
The Pomelo water can also be used to cleanse the house before the new-year and also get rid of evil possession by bathing if ever a person is haunted by a ghost, but the used Pomelo leaves have to be wrapped in red paper before disposal by burning to be considered auspicious, otherwise it would mean the “dirtiness” would still hang around the house and the person.
According to some, there is a “scientific” justification for the use of the Pomelo leaves, because they contain “flavonoid”, a polyphenolic compound that can improve blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels. From a TCM point of view, illness is caused by the “six evils” of wind, cold, damp, heat, summer heat and dryness. Improved circulation will give a feeling of freshness and help to mitigate the harmfulness of the “six evils”. In that sense, Pomelo leaves can help to chase away the internal evil spirits externally, not only psychologically but herbal-wise as well.
For this year, from midnight to 1:00 am of the last day of the year (17 February 2105), Xuan Kong Da Gua Date Selection showed a most auspicious structure of 1,6 Hetu pairing of Early Heaven Water for the Gua Yun numbers of the Four Pillars of time (see attached calculation). According to the popular belief, if you can take a Pomelo leaves bath in that hour in the early morning of the last day of the year, then you will have the best chance of a happy and prosperous new-year of the Sheep to come.
So do take the Pomelo plunge and Kung Hei Fatt Choy!
December 27, 2014
After our Boxing day lunch, we took a walk in the forest outside of Schleiz, the sun was shinning at the same time the snow was falling. As we walked I thought about the words I read in the morning about the Way of the Dao being simple. The esoteric Daoist saying showed above has always fascinated me; it seems to hold the key to understand the Daoist arts like Feng Shui, I have made a translation of the first line of this saying and collected my thoughts in the last blog post of the year.
The Methods of the Way (Dao) are not many,
The Southern Dipper linked with the Northern Dipper in the Milky Way,
They all have their source in the numbers 3 and 7,
（They can) subdue all the demons in the world.
Lets look at the term “Daofa” 道法 or the Methods of the Way first. It is interesting to note that the Chinese character for the Dao 道is written with 12 strokes and they can be correlated to 12 Shichen 時辰 (two-hourly periods) and the character for the character Fa 法 is written with 8 or 9 strokes and they can be correlated to the 8 Trigrams or the 9 Places of the Luoshu, which are all related to the study of the Yi or Changes (Yixue 易學).
Whether it is a legitimate assumption or not, we can use this idea that the methods of the Way are related to the study of the Yi or the Yin and Yang and from his vintage point we can make sense of the rest of the saying.
“The Southern Dipper linked with the Northern Dipper in the Milky Way” is referring to the 6 stars of the Southern Dipper is located in the opposite direction to the 9 stars of Southern Dipper in the night sky. 6 and 9 makes 15 and this is the number of the sums adding up in all directions in a Luoshu diagram, representing the coming together of the Yin and Yang (numbers) in all 8 directions. Also South is correlated to Fire and North to Water, so it has the meaning of Fire and Water intersect each other to form a beneficial relationship as in the Hexagram JI JI (水火既濟). The Daoists also believe that the Northern Dipper is related to death and the Southern Dipper is related to life, so all again, has to do with achieving harmony and balance between Yin and Yang.
“They all have their source in the numbers 3 and 7” is referring to the working of the Way can be understand through the Art of Numbers (術數 Shushu). 3 times 7 equals 21 and again 2 and 1 has the meaning of Yin and Yang being the 2 and the Taiji being the 1. This again is about Yin and Yang and how to combine them so they can be whole again as in the un-manifested Taiji of 1.
“(They can) subdue all the demons in the world” implied that we could resolve all the difficulties in life (the demons) through the mutual coming together of the Yin and Yang, so we can maintain fullness (represented by the number 10), by finding an appropriate balance and harmony between Yin and Yang.
In the Luoshu diagram, 19, 28, 37, 46 and 55 all add up to 10, that is the cyclical rise and fall of all things can find its fullness through the harmony of Yin and Yang, what is in the formless heart/mind is balanced with the physical form of the external appearance and actions, that is what is out of balance is readjusted to go with the flow. According to the Daoist (and the Buddhist as well), the demon has its root in our heart/mind, if we can change our attitude when things seem impossible to resolve, through readjusting the Yin and Yang, then we can be free from the bondage of all the demons of the world.
It seems so simple and straightforward; may be that is why the first line of the saying says, “The methods of the Way are not many”! But then again, I am not a Daoist expert, I gained this understanding through 35 yars of doing Feng Shui, so I might have oversimplified the saying; any worthwhile comments are welcome.
Wish you all a Happy New Year!
December 8, 2014
Tilting the door by a few degrees is one of the major criticisms leveled at some practitioners of the Xuna Kong Da Gua (XKDG) School of Feng Shui. Not only it is practically impossible to do so accurately, one wonders if the theory has overtaken the practice and the Essence (Ti) of the system is cut off from it Function (Yong). An orally transmitted secret from XKDG, which I have translated below, may give us a clue how to handle this difficulty.
An oral transmission from Xuan Kong Da Gua
The square and circular arrangement is an aperture to peep into the Heaven’s Heart.
The subtle aspects are the principles,
The gross aspects are the images.
Essence and Function have the same source,
(We) Cannot see the gaps between them.
They hold the reasons for fortune and misfortune, transient and lastingness,
The way to advance and to retreat, to remember and to forget,
Understand their meanings and (you) can interpret their numbers,
With the Qi of the time cycles built into them,
(You) Need to keep this in mind.
Make use of the large (gross),
Be frugal with the small (subtle),
(So) Nowhere it cannot penetrate,
(And) Nothing it cannot fit.
In essence what this secret transmission says is to take care and make use of the gross and the physical aspects of a situation first, then concern with the subtle and the theoretical to find an integration between the two, which means tilting the door, based on some numerical calculations of minute degrees, should be like an icing on the cake, it is not the cake itself.
The Chinese are not so concerned with what is conceptual and what is quantifiably accurate, they are more concerned with efficacy – what the method can do to help them achieve what they want.
So instead of spending a lot of money tilting the door by less than one degree or just a couple of degrees, ask ourselves first, what is the big picture here? What are we trying to achieve? Perhaps tilting our mind-set by a few degree is much cheaper and more efficacious than physically tilting a door!
In the beginning of 2015, we will have a couple of Master-Course on XKDG School of Feng Shui, one in Berlin, a 4-days course from 20-23 February 2015, will look at the theory and the practice of the system and some of the difficulties we will encounter, and the other in Zurich, a two days course the week after, from 28 February to 1st March 2015, will look at XKDG Date Selection and how to use it to be timely. For further information please refer to our ECOFS website: http://www.fengshui-college.org/ Under Course and Workshop for ECOFS Berlin and for Switzerland.
December 3, 2014
Traditionally, a Luopan invocation is an incantation used to invoke a deity to protect the user and calm his or her spirits before setting out to use the compass to read all types of form and formless Qi, with some being beneficial and some being harmful. In this case, the 九天玄女 Jiutian Xuannu or the Mysterious Lady of the Nine Heavens is being invoked. This deity is considered to be an ancient Heavenly Spirit who helped Huangdi 黃帝 (the Yellow Emperor) to subdue his archenemy Chiyou 蚩尤.
My rough translation of the incantation:
Jingjing Lingling (calling on the Essence and the Spirits),
Wearing a protective armor on my head,
Occupying the Southern Dipper to my left,
And the Seven Stars to my right (ie the whole of the Ursa Major Constellation),
Those who go against me will perish,
Those who go with me will prosper.
This commend from above I receive.
Urgently, urgently, act as on the divine order of
The Mysterious Lady of the Nine Heavens.
October 18, 2014
I gave these questions out to my students last week and the worse result in the class was 14/20. How many of them can you answer?
1) What are “the five essential components of a landscape model” (Dili Wujue)? Please draw a sketch showing their relationship to each other.
2) What is the “four animals model” (Siling) arrangement? Please show with a sketch or explain how they are derived from nature – “the five essential components of a landscape model”.
3) How can you tell the yin and yang of mountain and water? When is a mountain considered yin and water yang and when is the reverse being the case?
4) Please name 5 of the 15 core principles of form feng shui and explain briefly what they are.
5) What is the essential difference between “Bazhai Mingjing” (The Bright Mirror of Eight Mansion) and “Yangzhai Sanyao” (The Three Essentials of a Yang Dwelling) in the Eight Mansion School of feng shui.
6) A man and a woman were both born in January 1987, what are their Minggua numbers? Do man and woman born in the same year always have the same Minggua numbers? Please give reasons to your answer.
7) In a west-four house the husband is a west-four person but the wife is an east-four person, so the house suits the man more, what can we do for the woman?
8) What are the names and the elements of the 8 wandering qi in Eight Mansion School of feng shui? What is the most desirable of the 8 wandering qi and what is the least desirable?
9) What is the term “Xuan Kong” means? How are they expressed in the Flying Star School of feng shui?
10) In a Flying Star chart, each of the palaces has four numbers or stars, that is four latyers of numbers, what are they and what do they represent?
11) In a Period 8 house facing S3, is it better to have a home office in the west or north-east Guaqi-wise?
12) Please construct a replacement chart from a normal chart for a period 8 house sitting on E1.
13) In the Xuankong Dagua School of feng shui why do we need to match up “the coming dragon” and the “going water” with the sitting and facing of a tomb or house? Please name 2 types of auspicious matching of numbers.
14) Is the Tongren Dagua, with the Qian trigram on top of the Li trigram, an auspicious or harmful Hexagram? Please give your reasons.
15) Please name the four San He water methods learned in class.
16) What are the 12 Life Stages in the San He School of feng shui?
17) What is the major difference between a Sanyuan and a Sanhe Luopan compass?
18) In what directions the “general” Direct and Indirect Spirits for Period 7 are located? Also, in a Period 7 house facing E2 where are “specific” Direct and Indirect Spirits?
19) What is the San Cai Methodology for feng shui audit and analysis? Please explain how you can use this methodology to find the appropriate suggestions in a feng shui consultation.
20) How does a feng shui “cure” work in practice? For example, what would you do if your client asked you to use feng shui to help her find a husband?
September 15, 2014
You can now download a transcript of the interview for
Monica Amato Marquez’s radio program
‘Dragon de Aqua’ – Feng Shui y Astrologia China.
in English via the ECOFS webpage
August 18, 2014
LEARN FROM CLASSICAL CHINA
Feng Shui Study Tour of China
17 – 30 October 2015
The best way to learn Feng Shui is to visit and see how Feng Shui is used in traditional and modern Chinese architecture and planning with your own eyes, especially in the location and layout of residential dwellings, gardens and villages, as well as temples and sacred mountains.
In this 14-days trip we will concentrate on the rich agricultural “belly” of China, starting from Shanghai and travel a “loop” through Hongzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan, Nanchang and Xiamen, then back to Shanghai. The mode of travel will include by road, by train and by air.
You will see scenic mountains, sacred temples, quintessential Suzhou gardens, well-preserved ancient houses and villages, also the very special Fujiang earth dwellings (Tulou). During the trip, we are invited to participate in a Daoist festival high up in the Qiyuan Mountain to mark the 9th day 0f the 9th moon in the Chinese calendar. The Daoist monks from the Wanshouguan Temple in Nanchang have also offered a very special blessing ceremony for us when we visit them.
We will stay on top of the Huangshan Mountain to watch the sunrise high above the clouds. Also you will have a chance to learn about Chinese calligraphy and painting in a local artist’s studio and also visit a Luopan maker and his museum in Wanan. Another special treat for this trip is you will meet a local Feng Shui master in Xidi and see his work on Yinzhai (gravesite) Feng Shui.
This is a unique opportunity for you to experience classical China that is fast disappearing. To maintain the “exclusive” nature of the trip (it is not possible to experience a sacred China with a large group), a limit of 25 participants is set, so please register early to avoid disappointment. The language used is mainly in English with some translations when feasible. Cost is to be finalized but it will be in the vicinity of Euro 2,500.00 – 3,000.00 to cater for 4 to 5 stars and “unique” accommodations.
To register your interest, please contact us by email and we will send you a detail itinerary for further consideration.
Howard Choy and Gyda Anders,
Feng Shui Architects
European College of Feng Shui (ECOFS)
13086 Berlin, Germany.
August 12, 2014
Today I met a very talented young Feng Shui master in Hong Kong, on my way back from my reconnaissance trip to China for the next year’s Feng Shui study tour in October 2015.
His name is Kwong Ching-Chuen (Jiang Jing-Chuan 江靜川) and he is only 31 years old, but he has been studying Feng Shui since he is 14 from a well-known and knowledgeable teacher from Ganzhou (the birthplace of Yanggong Feng Shui).
He has a very precise approach to Liqi calculations based on astronomical data, he said one cannot do Feng Shui well without a deep knowledge of Chinese astrology and astronomy. According to him many of the Luopan rings are not correctly and I have to admit some of his arguments are quite convincing.
He is most helpful in tracking the where about of some of my first teacher Master Ren Zhi-Lin’s work with his name written on the grave-stone as the Feng Shui master who locate and set the orientation of the graves. I was also able to find out some of my “Si-Hang” (elder brother in learning) and one of them is Master Long Jing-Quan 龍景銓, who is famous for being the Feng Shui master behind the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.
If you can read Chinese he has a website full of useful information from his research, especially in Yinzhai Feng Shui and Iron Plate Divination (Tie Ban Shen Shu 鐵板神數: http://www.kwongchingchuen.com/
August 10, 2014
The Korean architect Hyunjoon You in the conclusion of his book Modernism: A History of Eastern and Western Architecture argued that modern architecture is the result of combining eastern and western culture; he then asked, “ What then, will be the next step in the architectural revolution?”
Earlier in the book he quoted the claims of the biologists that the reasons why there are two sexes in nature is to hand down superior genes to the next generation, by combining different genes from the opposite sex after growing up in different environments, the two sexes met and are combined to produce a better off-spring.
Now I can relate to this since my two children are “mixed-blood”, their mother has German and English blood and myself a Cantonese/Chinese lived most of my life in Australia, so what happens next for my children biologically will be similar architecturally, they will reproduce according to the partners that they will meet, that is according to their circumstance. So here, by analogy, we can see the answer to the next step in the architectural revolution.
The next step in the architectural revolution will be architecture of circumstance. A new generation of architects will not produce their work under a particular label, but will create according to the circumstance that they find themselves in space-time; that is the coming together of the different Yin and Yang forces associated with the circumstance.
They will learn to let it be (wu-wei), let the context of the site and the human needs produce the physical form, they will not interfere artificially with some new “ism”, they will let the circumstance produce the architecture and not their ego, transcending the need for control and to be different.
It will be an architecture that is multivalent and heterogeneous, but it has one thing in common: it is what it is meant to be; it is architecture of being itself in its circumstance.
Below are some pictures of our Farmhouse in Herzfelde Ukermark taken a few years ago: When it is renewing an old house it is just that: renewing an old house, because that is the circumstance, both with the outside and the inside – the idea is to respect what were there and let the original “perfume” come through. It is architecture without a capital “A”.
July 27, 2014
The Kaya Village lies just 10 km from Oludeniz, a popular tourist resort in the Turkish Aegean Coast. The village was built on the ancient Lycian city of Karmylassos and was known as “Levissi”.
Before the 1920s there were stone houses for a population of 25,000 located panoramically around the slopes of three hills, overlooking the Kaya plains. The main part of the town is located in the middle forming the Black Turtle with a less populated Azure Dragon hill to the left and a White Tiger hill to the right. It has the perfect location, forming a “Si-Ling” (the Four Mythical Animals) feng shui model facing the warm south sun and protected from behind. Yet this village with good feng shui, made of indestructible stones, did not last.
After the Turkish War of Independence, the Turkish and Greek government agreed to a population exchange, with the Greeks, who were mainly Orthodox Christians moved to mainland Greece and the Turks, who were mainly Sunni Muslims, moved in.
But the new Turkish settlers did not feel comfortable moving into an environment with an alien culture and religious faith to their own. Gradually they moved away and left the village a ghost town. The earthquake in 1956 put a final end to this picturesque place and is now preserved as a “Museum Village”.
The Human Qi is always an essential part of feng shui, no matter how good the feng shui of a place can be, if it does not resonates with the inhabitants (in feng shui terms it has no “qing” or love and affection), then the good feng shui cannot exert its auspiciousness. Good feng shui can only be effective when it is “timely” (“he-shi” 合時) and “affectionate” (you-qing 有情) to the occupants.
From a Form School point of view, some of more technically orientated would argue that the village did not last, because the two guests on the either side of the host (the Azure Dragon and the White Tiger hills) are not respectful of the Black Turtle in the middle (being too far forward), therefore in the end the host, the original settlers were pushed out, yet the guests the Turkish late-comers, being too exposed, did not survived either.
April 8, 2014
“Good Luck Comes when the Elements are Together”
An Introduction to the Core Principles of Feng Shui
September 12 & 13, 2014 10am-5pm
A 2-days FSS Accredited Foundation Course
Taught by Howard Choy FSSA B.Arch.
September 12 & 13, 2014 – £160 includes full course notes
London University International Hall
Lansdowne Terrace, London WC1N 1DJ
“Does my house have good feng shui”? “What makes my garden a feng shui garden”? “How can I change my bad luck”? How would you answer these often-asked questions? We will go into the core principles to find the answers. Then you will begin to understand what feng shui is, why it can be so powerful and how to use it yourself.
Howard Choy is a bi-lingual practicing feng shui architect and fully China-trained in feng shui. He will give you a genuine understanding of the traditional theories and contemporary practice of feng shui, with materials drawn from recognized Chinese feng shui classics.
Attendees will be able to make some effective changes in their homes and their life by the end of the two days. An attendance award is given upon completion of the course.
Graduate students who wish to pursue the subject further will have gained the foundation skills required as a pre-requisite for practitioner level training with a Feng Shui Society accredited school.
To book a place on the course and for further enquiries:
Phone: Sylvia Bennett 020 7419 7828 or 07779 139187
Email: Sylvia Bennett email@example.com
Email: Howard Choy firstname.lastname@example.org
March 17, 2014
We are delighted to announce the final line up for the conference and workshops taking place in London on 17 & 18 May 2014. As you will see there are varied and interesting presenters for both days and you are urged to book now so that you will be sure of a place. You will also be pleased to see that the conference dinner has also been finalised at the Wallace Collection and you can now also book for this event on line. Below are brief details of the presenters and, full details and booking please follow the link: Conference Booking
THE Timeless Home – Alidad (UK)
Alidad is marking the publication of his first book “The Timeless Home” by sharing with us his unique aesthetic style, evocative design, and how to create a timeless home. Functionality, proportion and comfort are paramount, but Alidad will also reveal the secrets of the intangible feng shui principles which enhance beauty, harmony and balance.
HOW to Feng Shui Your Bedroom (for Love and Health) – Carla Miles-Robinson (UK)
Our bedrooms are the most important rooms in our homes, simply because we spend at least one third of our lives there. Come and learn how to optimise, energise, beautify and feng shui your bedrooms for love and health in nine simple steps. You’ll never see your bedroom in the same light again (whether by day or by night).
NIDOTHERAPY: The Importance of Harmonious Relationship with the Environment – Peter Tyrer (UK)
Nidotherapy is a new mental health treatment. It is actually a ‘proxy-treatment’: rather than treating the patient directly, it works by adjusting the environment to make a better fit for the person. Although other therapies have an environmental component, nidotherapy, named after the Latin ‘nidus’ (‘nest’ – since a nest accommodates to a wide variety of shapes), is the only one that works only on the environment. The psychological component comes with the nidotherapist’s systematic analysis of all aspects of the patient’s environment to make sure the right environmental pathway is chosen. In a randomised trial compared with standard treatment, nidotherapy has been shown to reduce the time those with severe mental illness spend in hospital (Ranger et al, 2009; Tyrer et al, 2012).
THE Art of Feng Shui – Jeannie Tower (USA)
In these times of information overload, Steve Jobs said “Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication”. Feng shui can get complex and complicated at times but it doesn’t have to be that way. This talk will help you to see feng shui in a new, fresh and crystal clear light. Like art, feng shui works best when it’s clear and simple – but, like art, it can still be profound as it works on many levels. Come and learn how to use feng shui to simplify your life and business, getting the results you want with simple and powerful feng shui solutions.
THE way we Decorate our Home is Often a Message from the Subconscious – Elliot Jay Tanzer (USA)
In this talk we discover how we can interpret the messages that our homes reveal about our inner lives. The items and images we use to decorate our homes, and their placement, are actually metaphorical “messages” which give deep insights into our emotional issues, our health, and our attitudes to abundance and relationships, among other things. We will examine how an analysis of a home’s imagery can be used for personal growth and self development. “Every Picture Speaks a Thousand Words” – early Emperor of Xia Dynasty, 4,000 BCE.
ONE Chart, Many Lives – Ting-Foon Chik (UK)
There are many people on this planet whose ‘four pillars’ astrological chart look the same. Do they lead the same lives? What is pre-destined? What are the influences of human decisions and actions? In this presentation there will be a brief introduction to the four pillars of destiny, and a discussion of some of the subtleties that mean people born with the same qi energy pattern in their birth chart can lead different lives. Find out how you can make the most of your future luck.
FORM School, Architecture and Feng Shui in China – Jodi Brunner (Australia)
Australians love to travel and in order for us to truly understand the roots of this extraordinary art known as feng shui, at some point in our training it is important to actually travel to China ourselves. Doing so allows us to feel the qi of the place, to visualise the locations where our predecessors have planned their feng shui, and to ponder their techniques and choices.
The Main Door as the Connection between Internal and External Energies (Qi) – Diane Grobler (South Africa)
This is a largely visual presentation on landform feng shui and its influence on homes, apartments and businesses. We focus on the main door to see how it influences the quality of energy (Qi) entering the property, how to successfully collect and use the positive aspects, and how to block what is not beneficial. We explore who will be affected and how.
EVERY Home Tells a Story: The Symbolism Found in Landform Feng Shui and Why we are Attracted to the Homes we Choose to Live In – Elliot Jay Tanzer (USA)
In this workshop, we explore the actual structure of the home – how it is sited and constructed, the room layout, and compass directions – and how these reflect the personality and personal issues of those who live within. After considering the physical impact of landforms – including excessive wind exposure, proximity to toxic waste dumps etc – much of landform feng shui is predicated on how we respond to the symbolism of certain structural components of the home. Many aspects can affect our unconscious minds, from room configuration to the placement of a bed or desk in relationship to doors and toilets. As with all things, ‘form shapes content’ – with the corollary: by changing the shape, the consciousness of those who reside within will also be forever changed.
Feng Shui Water Methods – How to Maximise your Wealth with Water Element
This presentation will focus on the use, meaning and symbolism of water element from the most fundamental to the more advanced Xian Tian Hou Tian Water methods to the technically complex systems of Shui Long Fan Gua and Na Jia. The feng shui water method will open your eyes to the vast world and applications of water methods for enhancing your wealth with examples showing the potential positive and adverse effects they can have on a building depending on its facing orientation, main entry and the location of surrounding water ‘mouth qi’.
FSS Gala Dinner will be held afterwards
17 May 2014 ( Saturday 6.30pm for 7pm)
Reception & Gala Dinner at the Wallace Restaurant, Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN – Google Map
Feng Shui Society
February 26, 2014
February 25, 2014
Master-Course on Chinese Garden Feng Shui
04 – 07 April at Berlin
European College of Feng Shui (ECOFS)
Chinese garden architecture has a history of more than 3,000 years (first written during the Shang Dynasty) and during this time a large body of knowledge was accumulated and was written down in classics like the “Yuan Ye” (“The Garden Treatise” by Ji Cheng, published in 1631).
In this 4-days master-course we will explore the theory and the practice as passed down in the classics and then apply the principles learned with feng shui audit and analysis in the planning of a suburban garden in the outskirt of Berlin.
During the workshop we will visit the Chinese, the Japanese and the Korean gardens in the “Garten der Welt” in Berlin Marzahn-Hellersdorf to see in first hand the differences and similarities between the 3 types of Asian gardens.
This workshop is suitable for feng shui enthusiasts who would like to include garden design in their work portfolio and for those who would like to know how to design a Chinese garden in their home with simplicity and elegance. Come and join us in this hands-on workshop filled with knowledge and fun.
For further details please contact Howard Choy or Gyda Anders
tel:+49-30-28385855 , +49-30-28385856
The other day I came across this new year of the Horse greeting card and someone asked, “So how does a horse eat? Ehhhh”.
This is an interesting question because the answer depends not on the horse but on how we think a beast should train. This is one of the curiosities of correlative thinking, which we use quite a lot in feng shui.
In the saying, “Train like a beast, eat like a horse”, the idea of training is matched with eating and a beast is matched with a horse, so if one thinks a beast should train fast and furiously then a horse should eat slow and leisurely. But if one thinks a beast is cruel and unrestrained, then conversely a horse is refined and restrained.
We use these correlations not to find out how does a horse eat, but to investigate the relationships between these metaphors, so we can express more fully the appropriate behaviors for the year of the horse.
In Flying Star feng shui we use a similar way of thinking, the water star representing wealth is matched with the mountain star representing health and the movement in the environment and in our activity (dong 動), is matched with stillness (jing 靜).
These correlations are not meant to tell us a cause or an outcome for wealth and health, but to guide us how to modify our environment and to behave in the most appropriate manner if our desire is for wealth or for health, and they mutually affect each other, like yin and yang complementing each other.
Failure to appreciate that we are using a different way of thinking in Flying Star feng shui would lead to the misconception that we can foretell the future of our wealth and health with these numbers, whereas the aim is to use correlative thinking for us to understand the past and the present and then to do some forward planning to help us to achieve what we want out of life, represented by wealth and health.
February 11, 2014
European College of Feng Shui (ECOFS)
2 Years Professional Feng Shui Training Course taught by Howard Choy B.Arch. Feng Shui Architect.
Starting 10 Oct 2014 in London.
Howard Choy’s Professional Practitioner Training Course is fully accredited by the Feng Shui Society (FSS). Starting on 10 – 13 October 2014 with Module One, all classes will be taught in central London. The seven modules of 4 -5 days each are spread over 2 years, making a total 210 hours / 30 days of face to face quality teaching. Mentoring is free throughout the course and for two years after graduation to provide you with essential support while you embark on your feng shui consulting career The course content aims to be one of the most comprehensive available in Europe and you will learn from an experienced China-trained teacher, well qualified to teach the professional application of feng shui, who is also a practicing feng shui consultant and architect.
For more information please see http://fengshui-college.org/uk/an-outline-of-course-curriculum-and-content-for-a-professional-practitioners-training-course
To express interest please contact
Howard Choy: email@example.com.
For full details via FSS please follow the link:
February 6, 2014
The AFSC Chinese New Year Gala Dinner was held in Melbourne yesterday and I took the participants through Melbourne’s Chinatown for a guided walk. You can click onto the link below and download a pdf file of the notes I gave out during the walk, it identified the 3 main issues concerning Chinatown and how we can fix them from a feng shui perspective.
January 16, 2014
Happy New Year! This is the first blog post of the year. I have been helping a university student doing her final year thesis assignement on feng shui and design, here are three interesting questions that she asked me with my reply. Please feel free to make your comments, since your input will help her broaden our understanding of feng shui and design as well.
1) What has influenced you to apply Feng Shui into your design?
HC: Three things have influenced me to apply feng shui into my design:
i) A traditional built form in China, whether it was a house, a village or an old town, has always been done in an harmonious way with its environment, this is somehow due to the influence of feng shui, so I would like to use the principles underlying feng shui to do the same with my design. I think the more complex our society becomes and faster it is moving, modern architecture needs to be more simple and slow down to compensate for the inbalance and feng shui can help us to achiecve this.
ii) In the Daoist Five Arts 五術 Feng shui belongs to Xiang Shu 相術 or the Art of Observation and Gestalt psychology maintains that “the human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts, suggesting the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Further, the whole is anticipated when the parts are not integrated or complete. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain stable percepts in a noisy world. Gestalt psychologists stipulate that perception is the product of complex interactions among various stimuli. Contrary to the behaviorist approach to understanding the elements of cognitive processes, gestalt psychologists sought to understand their organization” (Carlson and Heth, 2010), so I feel the way that we learn to see from a feng shui perspective would help me come to a design that is more holistic and comprehensive, able to satisfy the physical, the emotional and the spiritual at the same time.
iii) The San Cai principle in feng shui can help us to achieve this effectively, because we not only learn to observe what is above (heaven Qi) and what is below (Earth Qi), but also what is in us (Human Qi – both the architect and the clients) as well. This holistic approach may not produce a feng shui style but it has a feng shui depth to it and it is basic to all good design.
2) How would you determine whether Feng Shui really works or it is just superstition?
HC: Feng shui works when it is practically efficient and ritually correct at the same time. By being practically efficient I means the result is simple and straightforward, cost effective without any unnecessary and superficial “decorations” that works in a “wuwei” 無為 way in harmony with its environment. By being ritually correct I mean the result is in keeping with the context of the site, it looks and feels “ziran” 自然 (being self-thus) and it satisfies the social, philosophical and personal needs of the occupants. This is the criterion that we use to judge the result of our feng shui architecture and built-forms, including interior and graphic designs. Feng shui becomes superstitious when the practitioner fails to understand the basic principles involved and how these principles are applied in technical applications. For example, the principle of Yin and Yang is not fixed; their technical application depends on the context of the situation and the reference point used. A mountain can be considered yin or yang compared to water, it depends on whether we are looking at it from a height point of view or from an activity point of view and so forth.
3) How has Feng Shui affected modern designers? (or it hasn’t made an impact to modern designer?)
HC: From what I can see in the west Feng shui has not made much of impact on modern designers because most of them don’t want to bother, thinking that feng shui is just an old Chinese superstition or a “New Age” fade. But I hope in the near future, when a new generation of Chinese designers learns to appreciate their own culture and they will look to feng shui for a unique source of inspiration, things will change. If the Japanese can come up with a modern “Japanese” architectural style that is universally acceptable, I am sure the Chinese can do the same one day and most likely it will be influenced by feng shui principles, even though they might not use the term feng shui because it is politically incorrect. In a few of the modern designs that we can see coming out from China, like the works by Atelier Feichang Jianzhu Beijing and Amateur Architecture Studio Hongzhou, I think the days are not far off. What they have produced is not just a superficial “Chinese” style, but what we called in feng shui a “Xing Shi” (Form and Configuration) 形勢 way of locating a built form in the existing environment, so it is in keeping with the “Ben Xing” (essential characters) 本性 of a given site, both in the man-made form and the use of color and material.