Zurich Airport, 29 January 2018.

1) Chinese divination is not meant to tell the future but how to deal with the future by understanding the past and the present. In my opinion, the Chinese character “bu”卜, for divination, is not only to represent the crack-lines of an oracle bone, but it can also represent sthe “Zhengdao” 正道 (the first and the larger stroke) as compared to the “Pangdao” 旁道 (the second and the smaller stroke), that is the “Main Way” as compared to the “Side Way”, as we travle along our life’s path to fulfill our destiny. Besides the Chinese never just do “bu” (divination) alone, they always “mou” 謀 or plan and orgnaize first, before they do a divination. Traditionally, “mou” and “bu”, or “organization” and “divination”, always go together as one Taiji to ensure that the Yin always follows the Yang, the correlative always follow the causal way of thinking, to make it a whole.

2) Compass measurements in Feng Shui gives us a quantity that is a starting point to look at relationship between things by correlations. There are many different ways to do the measurements and their correlatyions, both in the past and at present. Eg., True Yanggong vs. False Yanggong, San Yuan vs. San He, Feixing vs. Da Gua, and Sitting vs. Facing etc., etc. Which is correct? It is hard to say, yet we managed to locate an object in space and time, like a tomb site or a house, that fits the Feng Shui of the situation somehow, just like whether we should use the Metric or the Imperial, the Luoban or the Yabai Ruler to do the measurement for windows and doors, yet somehow, we ananged to make an openning that fits the house and feel auspicious at the same time.

There is no need to be pre-occupied and get stuck with what is the true or false method to measure with the Luopan compass, it will not automatically lead us to the desirable outcome, unless the practitioner has the skill and the experience and not just the so-called “correct and authentic method” as passed down by some famous master(s) in the past; just like an authentic and traditional Kung Fu style will ot automatcially make us a winner in a tournament fight, it always depends on the skill and the fitness of a contestant to whether end up on top or not as well.

Calligraphy (“mou bu“ 謀卜): organisation follow by divination.


Door Tilting

January 16, 2018

The question about door-tilting in FS keeps coming up, usually it gets 3 kinds of anwers: 1) It works. 2) It doesn’t. 3) It depends on what method you use, then there is the rhetorical reply, “You tell me!”. So here is my take on the subject:

If by feng shui you mean the quality of the environment then tilting the door by a few degrees has miniaml effect on the feng shui or the quality of the environment, instead it would make the door look very strange and visitors who try to use the door would ask, “What is going on here, why this funny-looking door?”.

If by Feng Shui you mean some schools of thought using door tilting to correlate the door facing to a different Herxagram with a different meaning, then the tilting would match the world-view of the user and would “tilt” his or her perception of the formless and it would make the user feel that the fortune of the place has changed. Now that could have an effect since the perception or the mind-set has changed in the user’s view.

There is “body” FS and “mind” FS, and there is also “form” FS and “compass” FS, it could get confusing if we are not aware of the difference.

The attached picture shows Joao Carlos Borges, a FS practitioner from Portugal doing his thing and asking this question in his Feng Shui Forum on Facebook.

A Facebook conversation with Anna W, December 8 -14, 2017.
Trying to explain the 3 Trigram arrangements and what Feng Shui is meant to achieve.

AW: I guess all my knowledge is bullshit then. It seems that the Triagrams must be adjusted for place on earth but I get no further..

HC: The trigrams are correlations, they are metaphors and associations, reflecting a certain philosophical outlook, rather than matching the physically observed literally. The study of the Trigrams belongs the “Xiang Shu Yi Shu” 象数易学 or the Image-Number School of Chinese thinking. I can understnd it sounds like “bullshit” to a scientist but that is because the Chinese use a different way of thinking to what you are using in the West

It is a kind of philosophical speculation using numbers and images, unique to the Chinese culture.

AW: I understand that.. but what does Middle Heaven reflect? And when to apply it? In what way do you apply Later Heaven.. Been studying QMDJ lately? Is that a Later Heaven formation? In Qi Men Dun Jia the time is determent by the spring and autum eqinoux. Which leads my to think that maybe the Early Heaven could be related to the real heaven somehow..

HC: Philosophically speaking the term Early Heaven means that which is innate and congenital and Later Heaven means that which is acquired and learned, Middle Heaven is some where in-between. The term Heaven to the Chinese does not mean only the sky above but more to do with human nature and principles governing the world, or things to do with the mind. The arrangement of the 8 Trigrams in a Bagua picture is an attempt by the ancient Chinese to capture these ideas in a pictorial form, with the broken line representing the Yin and the not-broken line the Yang. With this in mind, you could say that the Early Heaven could be related to the real heaven above, since it is the natural state of the universe.The problem with trying to express a philosophical idea mechanically with numbers and symbols is that different masters have a different interpretation and preference for the same philosophy, then we would get endless compass schools as you can see from the huge variety of compass formulas using the Early Heaven and the Later Heaven and now even the Middle Heaven Bagua arrangement in different ways. Consequently, many students, who are not aware of this, fight over which is correct or which is authentic and so on passionately, as you can see in these forum discussions. It is complicated, but I hope this long-winded explanation helps.

The saving grace is that we have the Form school Feng Shui to complement the Compass school. Form Feng Shui uses mainly observation and analysis to find a pleasing and appropriate solution to locate a building or a tomb site and to organise a built-space, so between the mainly inductive thinking of the Compass school and mainly the deductive thinking of the Form school, we can get to a more holistic conclusion that is practically efficient but ritually correct (being appropriate to the personal and social needs of the situation) at the same time. In Feng Shui we try to look up to heaven and look down on earth and also look into ourselves to find the in-between that will fit Man into Nature in the most mutually constructive

AW: I see. The middle heaven seems most interesting but I still really can’t understand the application. The landform in my enviroment at the moment is both very good and very bad. And in the article that Jay Tee shared they also mentioned a state of self indifference that is a state that religion seem to be able to induce wich is interesting. And every time I go to an old religious I can see the feng shui in the buildings… but I at the same time know that if religion is wrongly implied it can drive humans crazy. (Eg. The crusades and ISIS) So my conclusion is that the feng shui behind religion and rituals in general is important.

HC: I can see why you think the Middle Heaven is the most interesting because it represents how we would deal with the Heaven above and the Earth below, and that requires us to know ourselves and what are our priorities. No building on a site is ever perfect, there are always some good points mixed with some not so good ones, the idea is not to overcome the bad by being indifferent to it, that is not the idea of a Chinese, especially a Daoist, approach, nor is there a need for a religion, but rather a need to examine what we believed in and what is our world-view, so the philosophical can harmonise wih the physical, our mindset and our environment can come togther as a whole.

Ritual need not be associated with a religion, doing Taijiquan slwoly and delibeartely daily is a ritual, making a cup of tea when each movement has a meaning and doing it with conscious awarenes is a ritual. With a ritual, we make the ordinary extra-ordinary and that is what we do in Feng Shui as well, we use ritual to make an ordeinary house into your very own special home. It is no longer a machine to live in but your one and only nest of wellbeing.

The essentail aim of Feng Shui is to “hasten the auspicious and avoid the harmful”, and that means we have to first sort out what is desirable and what is not desirable and why we think that way, then we can take advantage of the good and avoid, or transform, the bad in a “wuwei” way (doing the mininal for the maximum return). If it cannot be done physically or material-wise then we have to deal with it by changing our attitude to what is there with an alternative meaning that suits our world-view, so the body and mind duality can find its way to support each other.

Our environment affects us in a non-physical as well as a physical way, so in Feng Shui we also try to work with both the form and the formless to come to a satisfactory conclusion, when Heaven, Earth and Human come together as One, and that is reflected in the 3 Bagua arrangements, Heaven (Early), Earth (Later) and Human (Middle).

AW: It is interesting that you speak of viewing what we belived in.. as of now… I don’t share any belief or philosofical view of life after death even thought I have before. It is to complicated for my mind. I simply live here and now since energy/qi/biomagnetic energy became part of my life at the age of 17 it is a natural part of my world too. For a while now, I have been sorting out my priorities, even though I still got a lot to do. And I also understand that some of my goals can not be achieved by the form, so I have to start working with the formless, that can as I understand travel further in the spacetime continuum. The thing is that my knowledge of this is limited and even though my senses are good, they are not that good, which is why I have to rely purely on intuition which can be frightening at times.

HC: I can understand why pure intuition can be frightening because our intuition can be deeply subjective without us being aware of it. I trust my intuition, but I would always double check it with an objective mind. Correlative thinking can bring out the best of our intuition but again it needs logic and causal thinking to make it whole. Senses without know-how is again only half of the story. Let Yin and Yang come together and let them have an intercourse and something new will come out of it, with only one on its own, it is difficult to create something new, just like without your mum and dad you would not be here.

AW: I Will, thank you for you’re guidence

HC: It will be good if you can study some Feng Shui, which is not only good for your living environment but it can also teach you something about the Chinese culture and the way they would tackle life’s myriad of mysteries. In China, Feng Shui is a branch of Xuan Xue 玄學, the study of the mysterious. Thanks for the opportunity to make me think about how best to explain Feng Shui to a beginner with a western scientific background like yourself….until next time.

AW: I will look up Xuan Xue..

Many Feng Shui students and practitioners nowadays think the Compass School is more important than Form Feng Shui, very few is aware that before the Song Dynasty, there were no Compass Schools at all because the Luopan compass was not yet invented.

During the Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty, the imperial court was so concerned that Feng Shui has deterioated to a point where the Compass School is beginning to overtake the Form School, that the members of the Imperial Astronomers Department, including the chief officer Gao Dabin 高大賓and his deputy Qi Kechang 齊克昌, banded together to write a book called, “Qin Tian Jian Feng Shui Zhen Lun 欽天監風水正論” – “The Imperial Astronomers’ Sound Arguments on Feng Shui”.

The aim was to point out and to correct the mistakes made by the prevant and fashionable Feng Shui practcices of the time and to make a distinction between the imperial court’s and the layman’s undestanding of Feng Shui. What do these imperial experts have to say about Form and Compass School of Feng Shui, which in Chinese are called Luantpou Pai 巒頭派and Liqi Pai 理氣派respectiveley?

The book repeatedly explained the real purpose to “Cheng Sheng Qi 乘生氣” or to “ride the Sheng Qi (that is to take advantage of the Qi that norishes and give life to things)” as mentioned in the first line of GuO Pu’s Zang Shu 葬書 or The Book of Burial, can be obtained by looking at the physical form of the land and not by calcualtions with a compass rerading.

I have translated the following line from their book to summarise their point of view in essence:

“The Liqi within the Yin and Yang and the Five Phase are to be found inside Luantou and not outside of it. Luantou (Form School) also has Liqi (Compass School) built within It”.

What they meant was the Sheng Qi mentioned by Gua Pu is hidden in the form, it is not in the Luopan compass, when the Dragon (mountain range) rises and falls vigoriusly it has Qi, and when it sinks low all the way and disperses, its Qi disappears; when the landscape floiws and meanders, it has Qi and when it become flat and stiff, its Qi is gone; lush vegetation has Qi and slow dying vegetation has no Qi. The Qi that was talked about by Guo Pu is this kind of environmental Qi with form and not the so-called Gua Qi 卦氣 (the Qi of the Trigrams), or Xing Qi 星氣 (Qi ofthe Qi of the Stars), or Shi Qi 時氣(the Qi of time) and Yun Qi 運氣 (the Qi of Cycle of Luck).

What the imperial astronomers wanted to say is the Form Schools had precedent over the Compass School, working with the tangible that has forms through observation and appearance is more reliable than working with the intangible that is formless by way of calculations. We tend to keep forgetting this and thinks that is the compass calculations that will give us the answers, whereas in practice form feng shui holds the key.

Eric Martell, an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Milikin Univeristy explained Schrodinger’s thought experiment in quantum mechanic in this way, ” If you try to make predictions and you assume you know the status of the cat, you’re (probably) going to be wrong. If, on the other hand, you assume it’s in a combination of all the possible states that it can be, you’ll be correct.” (“The Physics Behind Schrodinger’s Cat Paradox”, by Melody Kramer, National Geographic.)

When I read this, I was surprised how similar this is to the definition of Qi as expressed In Zhang Dainian’s “Key Concepts in Chinese Philiosophy”, translated and edited by Edmiund Ryden (p45), “Qi is both what really exists and what has the ability to become. To stress one at the expense of the other would be to misundertsand Qi”.

To me this means until we can observe the outcome of an invisible Formless Qi 炁, like the Qi of our destiny(Ming Qi 命氣), the potential outcomne is all encomposing and it would be futile for us to try to make any accurate predictions. We have to “wait for our destiny”, as mentioned by the Confucian scholars, but meanwhile we can always try our best, so the potential outcome is a genuine one and not one predicted on paper by our Bazi or our Feng Shui or whatever a Chinese predictive method is used.

We often make the mistakes thinking that the correlations used in making predictions are causations, whereas the ancient Chinese is trying to use the formless Qi of the Trigrams, the Stems and the Branches and so forth, through correlations, metaphors and associations to get us to look at the potentials of a situation with Chinese correlative thinking to “read” the invisible Formless Qi 炁 through the apperance of the visible Form Qi 氣.

But we need to be mindful that they are potentials and tendencies only, we don’t know for sure and we should not pretend that we can know the future with certainty, we can only make an intelligent guess of what would likely to come, to help us to bring out into the consicous our longings and fears, so we can make an appropriate decision to do the right thing, at the right time and in the right place to be efficacious.

Like the modernday scientists, the ancient Chinese philosophers used the concept of Qi in its form and formless state, to try to come to terms with the quantum mechanic of living, not with scientific experiements, but with philosophical concepts (Ti 體) expressed in technical applications (Yong 用), using correlations with numbers and symbols.

We should keep Schroginger’s cat in mind, everytime we do a Feng Shui consultation or a Bazi reading, and not to pretend that we can tell the future but to use different modes of thinking to make an intelligent guess of the future to help us to handle the present.


Monday morning: Starting the week by reading Burton Watson’s translation of Zhunag Zi writing on “Perfect Happiness”:


IS THERE SUCH A THING as perfect happiness in the world or isn’t there? Is there some way to keep yourself alive or isn’t there? What to do, what to rely on, what to avoid, what to stick by, what to follow, what to leave alone, what to find happiness in, what to hate?

This is what the world honors: wealth, eminence, long life, a good name. This is what the world finds happiness in: a life of ease, rich food, fine clothes, beautiful sights, sweet sounds. This is what it looks down on: poverty, meanness, early death, a bad name. This is what it finds bitter: a life that knows no rest, a mouth that gets no rich food, no fine clothes for the body, no beautiful sights for the eye, no sweet sounds for the ear.

People who can’t get these things fret a great deal and are afraid – this is a stupid way to treat the body. People who are rich wear themselves out rushing around on business, piling up more wealth than they could ever use – this is a superficial way to treat the body. People who are eminent spend night and day scheming and wondering if they are doing right – this is a shoddy way to treat the body. Man lives his life in company with worry, and if he lives a long while, till he’s dull and doddering, then he has spent that much time worrying instead of dying, a bitter lot indeed! This is a callous way to treat the body.

Men of ardor are regarded by the world as good, but their goodness doesn’t succeed in keeping them alive. So I don’t know whether their goodness is really good or not. Perhaps I think it’s good – but not good enough to save their lives. Perhaps I think it’s no good – but still good enough to save the lives of others. So I say, if your loyal advice isn’t heeded, give way and do not wrangle. Tzu-hsu wrangled and lost his body. But if he hadn’t wrangled, he wouldn’t have made a name. Is there really such a thing as goodness or isn’t there?

What ordinary people do and what they find happiness in – I don’t know whether such happiness is in the end really happiness or not. I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad dash for, racing around as though they couldn’t stop – they all say they’re happy with it. I’m not happy with it and I’m not unhappy with it. In the end is there really happiness or isn’t there?

I take inaction to be true happiness, but ordinary people think it is a bitter thing. I say: perfect happiness knows no happiness; perfect praise knows no praise. The world can’t decide what is right and what is wrong. And yet inaction can decide this. Perfect happiness, keeping alive – only inaction gets you close to this!

Let me try putting it this way. The inaction of Heaven is its purity, the inaction of earth is its peace. So the two inactions combine and all things are transformed and brought to birth. Wonderfully, mysteriously, there is no place they come out of. Mysteriously, wonderfully, they have no sign. Each thing minds its business and all grow up out of inaction. So I say, Heaven and earth do nothing and there is nothing that is not done. Among men, who can get hold of this inaction?

From the way, Guo Pu defined the term Feng Shui in his Zang Shu or the Book of Burial (Translation by Stephen L Fireld):

‘The Classic says: Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.  The ancients collected it to prevent its dissipation, and guided it to assure its retention. Thus, it was called fengshui.’

We can see Feng Shui puts a lot of emphasis on the idea of “Zang Feng De Shui” 藏風得水 (to store from the wind and obtain water) to gather the Qi to benefit a tomb or a dwelling and its occupant From this we can see Qi is an important concept in Feng Shui, yet very few people, including many Feng Shui practitioners, have a clear idea what is this Qi in Feng Shui.

With the advent of modern science, many Feng Shui theorists tried to use hard science to explain Qi, some think it is related to electromagnetism, while others to negative and positive ions and so forth, and the term “energy”, as used in science, is often equated to Qi, as though Qi can do work to fulfill our longings and desires, like wealth and happiness, with Feng Shui.

This sentiment is echoed in Dr. Jay Bulloch’s article “What is Qi?” (http://jaybulloch.com/articles/what-is-qi/#_ENREF_5)

“Most people in the West, including many authors, think qi means energy, but this “represents a basic misconception that is not supported by Chinese ancient sources” (Unschuld, 1985, p. 72). This common mistranslation has lead to many erroneous ideas and understandings with regards to Chinese medicine. The term qi is complex, multilayered, and at its core, profound. It is one of the most difficult terms in Chinese language to translate. Not only is there no equivalent word in the English language, there is also no all-encompassing, equivalent concept in Western thought or science.”

From my perspective, after studying and working with Feng Shui as a practicing Feng Shui architect, consultant and teacher for nearly 40 years, I think this is an inappropriate approach, because it is trying to explain a unique Chinese cultural heritage with a western world-view. To me, a better approach would be through a Feng Shui and a Chinese world-view, instead of a western paradigm. Look at Qi in Feng Shui not from a hard science point of view, but from a Chinese cultural and philosophical perspective instead.

Three assumptions are made in a Feng Shui paradigm, the first is everything under the sun, be it organic or inorganic, has Qi, the second is everything that has Qi has Yin and Yang and the third is because of this continuum, everything is interconnected. So right from the beginning the Chinese sees Qi as a continuum and as a component of Yin and Yang.

In p46 of Prof. Zhang Dainian’s “Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy” (translated by Edmund Ryden, Foreign Languages Press 2002), he wrote from the Pre-Qi to the Han, Qi is understood as intimately associated with Yin and Yang and then he quoted an extract from a speech by the Grand Historiographer of Zhou, Boyangfu. Yin and Yang are the two aspects of Qi and when the Qi of Heaven and Earth is out of balance, then an earthquake occurs.

In Prof. Zhang’s 8 pages explaining the concept of Qi (p45 – p63), Edmund Ryden at the beginning of his translation, has summarized the professor’s scholarly work with his understanding of what is Qi and I think it is a very good explanation and it echoes with the practice of Feng Shui:

‘In popular parlance qi is applied to the air we breathe, steam, smoke, and all gaseous substance. The philosophical use of the term underlines the movement of qi. Qi is both what really exists and what has the ability to become. To stress one at the expense of the other would be to misunderstand qi. Qi si the life principle but is also the stuff of inanimate objects. As a philosophical category, qi originally referred to the existence of whatever is of a nature to become. This meaning is then expanded to encompass all phenomena, both physical and spiritual. It is energy that has the capacity to become material object while remaining what it is. It thus combines “potentiality” with “matter”. To understand it solely as “spirituality” would be wrong, just as it cannot be translated as “matter.’

If we can accept as its definition:

‘Qi is both form and formless “matter” and it’s potential to become while remaining what it is, thus Qi combines “potential” with “matter” ‘

then we can see Qi, as a therectical construct, is a mean for the Chinese to link the Yin with the Yang as a continuum that would connect the Heaven above, the Earth below and the Human in us, to look at our relationship with the environment we live in, which is essentially what we do in Feng Shui.

Sheng Qi is a result when Yin and Yang come together in a harmonious and balanced way, while the complementary opposite Sha Qi happens when Yin and Yang are out of balance and the life-enhancing Sheng Qi is prevented from taking place. That is what Gu Pu was referring to when he wrote, “To bury is to take advantage of the Sheng Qi” in the first line of this Zang Shu mentioned earlier.

He was not talking about taking advantage of some geodetic force in the ground, he was referring to finding a balance between Yin and Yang of all sorts in their myriad of correlations, like high and low, mountain and water, front and back, left and right and so forth, all the physical attributes that would make up the Form Feng Shui school. But if there is form and everything has Yin and Yang, then there is also the formless in Feng Shui and to study the formless, we have the Compass, or the Liqi Pai – the formless Qi-pattern school.

In the Liqi Pai, a Luopan compass is used to measure the directions of a house or a tomb. This measurement is then correlated to a Trigram and through the Trigram correlations or associations, the practitioner would “read” the Qi of the Trigrams, which eventually will correlated back down to the Five Phase relationships, and with the Five Phase (Wuxing 五行) – the five “matters” (in this case the 5 Qi correlations) of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal, and their potential to become, the practitioner can determine which relation is auspicious and which is harmful. As a result, we have the Wuxing Qi, or the Qi of the Five Phases to work with. Again, this Qi is not some sort of energy or force, but relationships that are either desirable or not, according to whether the relationship between the Five-Phase Qi is harmonious or out of balanced or otherwise.

Through this definition for Qi, we can also explain some of the unusual expression or mystical demonstrations of Qi we often see in Qigong and Kung Fu, a good example is the so-called Empty Force (Lingkong Jin 凌空勁) – the ability to move another person without touching that person. The so-called Qi (Jin is defined as dynamic Qi) is a continuum of Yin and Yang and a continuum needs a connection, so to demonstrate this Qi, one needs a sender and a receiver. When the student as a receiver, is under the influence of his or her master as the sender, then the Qi of mutual resonance can take place and the student gets pushed over. But if this teacher tries to push a stranger, who is not connected to the sender, or not able to receive his Qi (i.e. no mutual resonance), then if won’t work. Not knowing the true meaning of Qi and the working of Qi, we mistaken it as some sort of super-human power beyond our understanding.

The character for Qi is written with the radical “rice” below the radical for “vapour”. Rice is substantial while vapour is the opposite, when ric is cooked it sinks to the bottom while the vopou rises, so even the written word for Qi is associated with Yin and Yang. The term Feng Shui (wind and water) also expressed the same sentiment, with wind being the active and water being the passive agent in nature. Calligraphy by Wang Xi-Zhi (303-361 AD).

The other day, one of my students asked me about the future of Hong Kong, after 20 years of handover, from a Feng Shui perspective, so I took out a satellite map of the Pearl River Delta Region of which Hong Kong is located at the end of the same Dragon Vein embracing the region and said to him.

It is very obvious to me looking at the map, the greater Mingtang or the ideal Xue (FS Spot) is located to the south of the city of Guangzhou, thus in the long run, the prosperity of the region will shift north-west-ward from Hong Kong. This was not possible before the handover because Mainland politics have cut off the regional connection through Human Qi, but now the political situation has changed and the region is opening up and consequently the Earth Qi will re-exert its influence aided by the human desire to make the region into one big basin.

The shift will start with Shenzhen and it is already happening now, this shift is mirrored with Macao to Zhuhai on the White Tiger side, but Hong Kong will never die out because it is located on the Azure Dragon, the Yang side of the Four Animals model and she will continue to play an active part, but not the only part in the region any more.

That was the answer I gave my student with this map shown below.

The Chinese Luopan Compass with all its esoteric markings like the Yin Yang, the Wuxing, the Bagua, the 12 Life Cycles, the 24 Mountains, the 28 Lunar Mansions and the 64 Hexagrams etc., have always captivated the Chinese, who often felt that this instrument is magical and it has a supernatural quality unlike the ordinary compass. So, when the needle in the Tian Chi, or the Heavenly Pool, moves in an abnormal way, the Chinese would see it as a sign that the site is possessed by some malevolent spirits. Some practitioners would capitalise on this folk belief and promote the idea that they have the supernatural ability to see ghosts and spirits with the Luopan compass.

1) The Unstable Needle. 搪针.
The needle keeps moving, not able to remain still and it does not align with the middle. This indicates that the site has abnormal rocks below and whoever live there will encounter disaster and calamity. If the needle hoovers over the Xun, the Si and the Bing directions then there are antique remains to be found there and the site will attract wanton women, shamanic practitioners and lonely bachelors.

2) The Rising Needle. 兑针.
It is also called the Floating Needle, the head of the needle is tilted upward, this indicates a presence of benevolent Yin Qi and the source comes either from the deceased ancestors or from some protective spirits.

3) The Sinking Needle. 沉针.
The head of the needle is tilted downward, this also indicates that there is a presence of Yin Qi but in this case, it is neither protective nor harmful, instead it indicates the deceased has met with an unusual and an unjust death and felt uncomfortable being buried without a resolution.

4) The Turning Needle. 转针.
The needle cannot stop rotating, it indicates the presence of malevolent Yin Qi, the Qi of hatred and resentment will not dissipate and whoever live there will be physically harmed or emotionally hurt.

5) The Dropped Needle. 投针
The needle is half sinking and half floating, it tilts alternatively upward and downward, neither all the way to the top nor all way to the bottom. It indicates that there is a grave below and and whoever live there will experience sadness, gossip and lawsuits.

6) The Inverse Needle. 逆针.
The needle does not sit on the central line smoothly and the head tilts to one side or the other. This indicates that the place will produce a rebellious person and both the person and the wealth will decline; there is no good feng shui to speak about.

7) The Inclined Needle. 侧针.
The needle has stopped but does not return to the central line. This indicates that the site is suitable only for a temple or a religious alter and not for a residential dwelling.

8) The Proper Needle. 正针.
The needle leans neither to one side nor the other, it sits steadily and it aligns with the central line. This indicates that the site is a normal one and one may consider different aspects with discernment.

PS: Anyone who uses the Luopan compass long enough would know that it is not unusual for the needle to behave in an abnormal way occasionally. Some would prefer to look for a physical cause, while others would believe in a supernatural one. The choice is up to you.
The reference I used on the Qi Zhen Ba Fa comes from a Taiwanese Feng Shui teacher called Yan Shi 顏仕, he is the Principal of Dahan Yijing College. I understand he wrote about the 8 Abnormal Needles after doing his own research from writings of the past on the Luopan compass.

We still have a couple of vacancy left foe a small group tour on a Friday afternoon before the Self-Activated Talisman workshop. The tour will last for three hours with a comprehensive copy of notes given out to the participants free of charge. Come and join us!


Screen shots of a brochure for the First Symposium of the Academy Journal of Feng Shui in Sydney, 13-14 May, 2017






After a house is built, Liqi Pai 理氣派 or Compass School Feng Shui is concerned with how the building is engaging with the environment from a Gua Qi 卦氣 (Qi of the Trigrams) point of view and there are three ways to do this, according to the San Cai 三才 theory of Tian Qi, Di Qi and Ren Qi or the Three Abilities theory of Heaven Qi, Earth Qi and Human Qi:

1) To “ride” (Cheng 乘) the Earth Qi.
2) To “face” (Xiang 向) the Heaven Qi.
3) The “take in” (Na 納) the Human Qi.

For this reason, a compass method, like the Bazhai Mingjing 八宅明鏡 Eight Mansion School, would use the sitting direction, called the Fu Wei, to calculate the locations of the eight Wandering Qi through Yao line changes, the idea is to use the correlations of the compass readings to calculate how the house is “sitting on” or “riding” the Earth Qi.

Another system, like the Xuankong Sanyuan Feixing Pai 玄空三元飛星派 or Space-Time Three-Era Flying Star School, would use the facing direction to calculate the location of the flying stars, with its resultant sitting and facing star influencing health/relationship and wealth/officialdom respectively. The idea is to use the facing direction and its subsequent correlations of the eight Trigrams in the eight directions, to calculate how the house would face the Heaven Qi and whether a particular direction is auspicious or harmful (ji-xiong 吉凶) from a health and wealth perspective.

Still another method, like the Yangzhai Sanyao Bazhai Pai 陽宅三要八宅派 or the Three Essentials of a Yang Dwelling Eight-Mansion School, would use the front door as its Fu Wei, to calculate the locations of the eight Wandering Qi memorized by the Song of the Yearly Cycles (Younian Ge 遊年歌), namely Fu Wei 伏位, Sheng Qi 生氣 , Yan Nian 延年, Tian Yi 天醫, Huo Hai 禍害, Jue Ming 絕命, Liu Sha 六煞 and Wu Gui 五鬼, instead of using the sitting direction mentioned earlier.

When a house is not yet built, Feng Shui is concerned with its location to the landscape, so in systems like the four San He Water Methods, they use the incoming and outgoing water in front of the site, as well as the direction of the Coming Dragon of the mountains behind as their reference point, to set up the 12 Life-Cycle (十二長生訣), to calculate the auspicious and harmfulness of a location.

In Xuankong Dagua, the aim is match the siting of a house with its landscape (Shan Shui or Mountain and Water), so the direction of the “Coming Dragon” and “Going Water” of the land is matched with the Sitting and Facing of the house, according to the correlated numbers or Trigrams so the 4 numbers/trigram are either of the same, adding up to 5, 10 or 15 or they have Hetu pairing relationships to be ritually correct and auspicious.

Thus we can see the Compass Feng Shui Schools have different metrics to reflect the different way a house would engage its environment, and these are used as reference points for calculations, both before and after its construction, also internally and externally.

When this is understood, the compass methods may seem numerous and complicated, but they all have the same objective: how best to engage the Qi of the environment, so it can energize and nourish us in a meaningful and ritually correct way. Obviously, the best way would be for a house to be able to “ride”, to “face” and to “take in” the Qi of the environment in the most appropriate or auspicious way at the same time and this idea should be the core principles of any Compass school of Feng Shui.


The other day I was asked this interesting question about the annual flying star, which is a question of concern during this time of the year.

How big of an effect are the annual flying stars to a home’s Feng Shui? Or rather how should people be using this info to benefit their Feng Shui?

The annual flying star is based on the Luoshu, which is a general representation of the universe according to the ancient Chinese, where the even numbers represented the square Earth and the odd numbers represented the circular Heaven above (see picture below). Consequently the yearly flying star is a pattern language using correlations to represent space-time and the regular cyclical changes in Nature.

The annual flying star is not meant to be a specific picture of what would happen in the coming year in the 8 directions, it is there to stimulate us, using correlative thinking, to think about our relationship to our environment with our fears and longings in the present, so we can make plans for the new year.

The effects in the different directions suggested by the annual flying star of all sorts should not be taken literally, just like when we are born in a certain year we are correlated to a certain animal. This animal is only a metaphor of what we could and can be, we are not literally that animal.

But this information can be used to examine different space in our house, we can use the chart to reflect on our hopes and our fears for the coming year and also how to plan and manage another 12 months, knowing that things will always go up and down in cycles.

For example, if there is an indication of theft and robbery in the South-West because the 7 Red Metal “Broken Army” Star of Robbery has landed in this direction in 2017. Don’t panic, the 7 is not going to cause you trouble literally, it is just an indication that there could be some issues relating to the 7 and its correlations in this direction, so check what is there? Is the security sound? Is the security of the house a concern? Did you renew you household insurance for next year? And so forth and if it still worries you, put up a picture with blue colour or with a water scene there because Water can weaker Metal and in this way you begin to redecorate and to refresh your home for the new year as well. That is how it could be used to benefit our feng shui and enrich our life at the same time annually.



Xuankong Mingli (XKML) 玄空命理, or Space-Time Flying-Star Divination, has a different way to look at the yearly stars than the usual ones we encounter in the market place every year.

Instead of just looking at the stars on their own and ended up, most of the time, the directions where the four Purple-White Stars (1, 6, 8 and 9) fly to become the most auspicious directions with the other four directions being inauspicious, XKML uses the yearly star on duty as its host and then look at the Five Phase relationships of the other eight stars. Not only there is a Host-Guest and a Five-Phase relationship to consider, XKML also uses timeliness of the stars and the seasonal strength of a star to make a final judgment on the desirability of a direction for each year.

Lets take an example for the 9 Purple Fire Star in the SE for next year (2017), most readings are similar to the one below:

“The Nine Purple Star provides residents of Southeast-facing houses with a blissful year in 2017. You will have a smooth sailing year as there are no inauspicious stars present this year”.

The way XKML would read the same star in the SE is as follow:

9 is declining while 1 is timely, timely Water controls 9 Fire, but because the Fire Qi of the 9 Purple is located between the seasons of Summer and Spring, it is rather active with vigor, so the Water cannot put it out fully, but in the conflict the vitality of the 9 Purple Fire is injured.

If we take, host-guest, timeliness and seasonal strength into consideration when we look at the relationship between the yearly star on duty and the other 8 stars, then the SE is not as auspicious as some would suggest. Instead it would be desirable to introduce some Wood into the SE to make sure that the declining Qi of the 9 Purple Fire in this direction can remain prosperous during 2017.

We have only considered one direction, when we use the XKML way of looking at the stars, then the outcome can often be very different. It is not to say XKML is right and the other way of looking at the stars is wrong, I simply want to point out that when we use numbers and symbols (that is the Stars) to make a prediction, they need interpretation of the correlated numbers and symbols and each school has a different way to consider the Stars, so please take these yearly predictions with caution.


“Space clearing is the feng shui art of clearing and revitalizing energies in buildings. It’s as essential to the energetic maintenance of a place as physical cleaning is to the physical maintenance. The term “space clearing” has passed into the English language as a generic term for all kinds of energy clearing techniques, but originally it was the name I coined to describe the ceremony I have pioneered and developed since 1978.” – Karen Kingston.

Space Clearing as defined by Karen Kingston is not Feng Shui, the techniques and ceremonies she pioneered and developed since 1978 are her own creation, they have little to do with traditional Feng Shui.

The Chinese term used to cleanse the Sha Qi of a space out of balance is called Huajie, or Jiehua 解化, commonly known as a “cure” in the west. To chase away an evil spirit or to get rid of a ghost is called Bi Xie 避邪 or “Ward Off Evil Spirit” and Qu Gui 驅鬼 or Ghost Exorcism respectively, both involved special techniques and ritual passed down from the Chinese religious tradition and they are nothing like Karen Kingston’s own inventions. These ceremonies, especially the more powerful ones, are very often carried out by specialists invited by the Feng Shui expert.

Then there are the more popular and simple ceremonies, like “paying homage to the four quarters”, which every feng shui practitioner can learn, to help their clients to move in and to take possession of a new home.


At best Space Clearing is an add-on skill to Feng Shui, it is not Feng Shui itself in the traditional sense, but it has been adopted by New-Age Feng Shui in recent years and they claimed it is part of Feng Shui, which is not true.

1676269 (photo taken from lilyfengshui.weebly.com)

Here is an interesting Yijing reading I did with a Facebook friend on her page. It is more like she is doing the reading than me (and that is the way it should be done). We project our thoughts onto an image or a picture constantly all the Yijing reader has to do is to open the floodgate with a Hexagram…

A Yijing reader is not a fortune-teller, he or she facilities in a process of self-reflection and self-discovery using a synchronistic picture of one of the 64 Hexagrams randomly casted as a prop.

Disclaimer: I have not ask this person for permission to post up our conversation, although you can read it in full in her Facebook, if she raises any objection I will take it down straight away, so please read it before it disappears. I hope you can gain some insight from reading our conversation of how a Yijing reading is carried out in practice. Thank you for your understanding.

Well, night before last I dreamed of dinosaurs stomping a shopping mall. I was shopping there. (Although I go to a mall about once every 5 years) Then, last night I dreamed I was driving and my steering wheel broke in half. Something’s up.

I’ll be glad to do an I Ching reading if you like to find out what’s up. Just let me know!

Haha….that’s ok. I think I have it figured out. We’ll see, anyway.

Sometimes it’s better if someone else does the dream interpretation, no strings to the answer.

Another the night before last included a dead relative who never shows up unless someone is headed her way. sigh. Let’s hope it’s someone nobody likes.

Are you sure you don’t want a I Ching reading?

Three dreams.

Then it’s needs at least 3 reads.

I think they’re all about the same thing

One reading with 3 moving lines?

That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

Anytime you want I can cast one for you.

Thanks. If you want to, go ahead whenever you want. It might be a great learning experience for us both.

Here it is:
(See Hexgram below)

I can see old issues coming back to haunt me..or just old issues causing trouble.

Dinosaurs…you may need to discard your old ways… hmmm.

Or could be someone else … from the past coming to cause trouble.
An old relationship perhaps…family comes to mind.
On the divination I would be the subject…moving to control the object. getting a bit of support from moving yao 5.,,…a woman
Spirit of robbery is the gua shen…but it is clashed at the year
Looks like I’m set to get robbed.

It’s obvious to me but you have to come to this point.

Don’t be so damn cryptic!
If you have something to say, say it. I know what I think it says. I’m wondering if I should allow myself to be robbed or not.

It is not about robbery it is about you.

Again…just say what you think.
Never do another one for me if you don’t want to discuss it
OK, background on this week…I’ve been working on finding out more from my lawyer and dreading the upcoming fight with my sister. My lawyer is a woman…which seems to show up on the hexagram.

The second and the fifth Yao line are the core line of the two trigrams and they are moving, and that indicates the core of you is changing, this is also reinforced by the dream of dinosaurs stomping.

These are the dinosaurs…my relationship with my brother and sister.
So, yes…my relationship with my siblings has changed.,,and continues to change. Their relationship with me is the same it always was…I’ve discovered what has been hiding behind the curtain though…and it’s been since we were small children. So, it’s all good.
I want justice, but that can never be. So, we will see.
Or it could be something completely different. Who even knows anymore?

It is not about justice, it is about peace of mind, like a calm lake on earth.
You will lose control for a while but….

Peace of mind comes with justice. ;-) But, again…that isn’t going to happen in the normal way. I just remember that we all have a part to play, so do my siblings. I can only assume they have played their parts well. Sure had me fooled. ha. So, whatever happens is just going to have to be fine.

It will be fine, but only if you are willing to change, little by little….

The peace of mind will come after the conflict. I only have to do what I think is the right thing.
While using kindness and not revenge or hate….or even anger.

The change in the fifth Yao line tells you to rediscover your feminine side, whatever that mean….

And, actually…I’ve been very patient with all of this. I didn’t want to have to hire a lawyer just so my sister will disclose what she’s been doing with our mother’s estate. But, I’ve been hearing “you don’t need to know that” long enough. ha… Well, I kinda do need to know that.
And, I will not sign her documents without advice from an attorney. So, there’s all the conflict. I’ll be glad when it’s over.
t is absolutely disgraceful that it has to come to this. My parents would be horrified.
The month break Yin/brothers line shows that my brother has already received more than his part of their inheritance…before they died…so it’s basically a sister vs sister. There’s a lot in this hexagram.

The last moving line is from a Yang Yao to a Yin Yao then you can reach Cui – Bringing Together.

With the subject moving to Mao…it controls the object Xu..which is also money. in between though…the Officer/ghost moves so I’m calling this the lawyer…and that whittles at the future subject, doesn’t it?
It won’t bring me and my sister together. Our relationship was spoiled from the time she was born when our mother put one child against the other. I didn’t “bite” (no parallel in my chart, so no competition) so she turned the other two against me without me suspecting. Until my dad died I had no idea. ;-) Well there you go.

The commentary by Alfred Huang: “Bring Together. It is bring people together: Devoted and joyous. The firm is central and has correspondence. Therefore people come and assemble together.

Sounds nice, but not likely.
Their hate runs deep.
But, that’s ok. I don’t have to let it bother me…or control me. I wish them well. But, when asked to sign documents that will affect my taxes..without knowing all the details…I have to consider the best option I have concerns a lawyer. Ha

Their hate runs deep; can your love run deeper? Well it is not for me to tell nor for you to answer, it is spoken by the Yi that shows a way to resolution. Here ends the reading, good night.

Reading Hwang’s version though…only the third Yao is read…humiliation.
I think all the Yaos are important else they wouldn’t bother moving.
We’ll see. I’ll just be glad when it’s over. Maybe the death aspect is the relationship. ;-) God knows it’s been sick long enough. Ha
And, it’s already humiliating to have to go through all this. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next month or so. Thanks for the reading, Howard. I appreciate you. ;-)


The answer is the flow of air or wind has Qi but it is not Qi in its fuller sense, because Qi in Feng Shui is made of Form Qi and Formless Qi, similar to Einstein’s theory of relativity that energy and matter are interchangeable, from his famous equation E = mc2 so we have to look at the two parts and what effects their relationship has to each other to use the term Qi.

Form Qi, as the name implied, has form and a shape, it is manifested, tangible and visible, it is also measurable and quantifiable, whereas Formless Qi has no form, it is un-manifested, intangible and hidden, it is not measurable and not quantifiable, it can only be felt individually.

Form Qi is something that actually exists, while Formless Qi has the ability to become but not yet manifested, and we cannot pull them apart when we talk about Qi in its totality because they are the complementary opposites to each other like Yin and Yang, one cannot do without the other.

This idea that there is Form and Formless Qi within each other implied that Qi is in everything and Qi is everywhere, it is both material and spiritual, it combines “potentiality” with “matter” and we cannot just see it as matter on its own, neither as potentiality by itself. That is why it is so difficult to define and measure Qi, because it is a thing and an idea and it is also concrete and abstract at the same time.

With this in mind, let’s get back to question, “Is Qi the same as wind”? The answer is yes when we talk about Wind Qi, but no, when it is only about wind as a physical force that we can measure its effect but not its potential to become. So in a way we have to speak about wind and its “windiness” before we can say it is Qi, because Qi is more than energy, it is energy that has the potential to become matter while remaining what it is. Likewise, Qi can be matter, but is more than matter, which has the potential to become energy or a force while remaining what it is.


Master Jiang 江靜川, my colleague from Hong Kong, has given some simple but valuable advice on Yinzhai Feng Shui in his recent Facebook posting, I think what he said is also applicable to Yangzhai Feng Shui, so I did a quick translation of the important parts of what he wrote to share on my Blog, with my comments in brackets.

一位有功夫的地師要掌握以下三大法則,才算稱職合格 :
三僚補救三大法訣 :

An accomplished and skilful Feng Shui practitioner needs to master the following three skills:

1) The skill to trace the Dragon (i.e to follow the mountain tops and the valleys to work out the Qi flow of the land) and pinpoint the burial spot (I.e. knowledge in Form School Feng Shui).
2) The skill to calculate the desirable orientations for a site (i.e. knowledge in Compass School Feng Shui – the term used is 消山納水 “to sort out the mountains to obtain water”, that is knowing the Yin and Yang of the sitting and facing).
3) The skill to remedy the deficiencies by man-made means.

(That is he is able to) make use of the sufficient and remedy the insufficient.

The San Liao School (Yang Gong Feng Shui) has three ways to do the remedy:

1) Use earth moving to overcome the deficiency in the landform.
2) Use trees and greenery to remedy the imbalance of Yin and Yang (e.g. light and shade, open and close, etc.).
3) Create an embracing structure to capture the Qi Vein with Form adjustments.

Master Jiang said if one can follow these three Yang Gong recommendations, then every descending generation can prosper.

Casa Domintila

October 31, 2016

Kolping Hotel Casa Domintila has interesting feng shui, looking at it from the front it is like a person with two arms stretched out (Christ on the Cross?) and because of the land restriction, one of the arm has to fold in on an angle. The centrepiece has a Metal phase, supported by Earth of the brickworks above and to either side, plus a little bit of horizontal Wood to give it some interest.

Unusual for a hotel, the reception is located below ground level with a restaurant above and a chapel sitting on top. The architectural composition reflected the character of housing pilgrims on their journey well, at the end of the day, the pilgrims need food for their stomach and worshipping their Lord, more than feeling welcome.

I only wish the architect could have done a sunken courtyard in front of the reception area so there is an inner Mingtang on the lower level to collect the Qi of warmth and affection as the visitors sign into the hotel.

On the whole I much prefer this kind of hotel with meanings to some of the soulless modern varieties that we see in so-called the international hotels, which look at same all over the place, whether we are in Beijing, New York or Rome.






aptera-spitiThis Byzantine Monastery of St. John the Divine is located next to the huge Roman Cisterns at the ancient city of Aptera. It is believe to have been built in the 7th. Century AD and remain in use until 1964 when it is abandoned permanently.

The layout is very similar to a traditional Chinese courtyard house and if we take the North as the sitting direction, where the chapel is located, then according to the Bazhai School of Feng Shui, it is a Kan House with the Door at Xun, where the auspicious Sheng Qi Wandering Star is located (see Bazhai map below). I know it is not how the original builder would have envisaged, but I find it interesting to see it from a Feng Shui perspective.

The irregular shape of the courtyard gave a distorted perspective and made the courtyard seem larger than what it is as one enters from the main door. In Feng Shui it is called a “money bag” shape.

It is quite a pleasant surprise when we walked into the courtyard from a harsh landscape, it is cool, calm and welcoming, like entering an Oasis from a desert.

In contrast to other monasteries of later periods in Crete, the chapel is not located in the centre along the East-West axis, but it is located to one side and is quite moderate in size. This made me think may be the idea of a Community of God has given away to a Worship of God over time.

I could not get my camera to work on the day, the last photo is taken from a Crete tourist site.

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.


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.

Laughter is the Best Cure.

August 24, 2016

Feng Shui makes good cartoons when correlative thinking is taken literally!




I'd like you to... ward off evil spirits coming from the Inland Revenue office across the way.

I’d like you to… ward off evil spirits coming from the Inland Revenue office across the way.


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.


The other day I cam across a saying by a colleague, “Luoshu is not Heaven’s Heart” that I wondered if it is crrect and it got me thinking further: how can I explain the subtle difference between the three terms: the Heaven’s Heart (Tianxin 天心), the Taiji 太極 and the Centre (Zhongxin 中心) in Feng Shui practice to my students? I thought about it over the weekend and this is how I would do the explanation:

A Zhongxin requires a boundary to locate, so the space in question has to be enclosed somehow to have a physical centre that we can locate with geometry, it is “below form” 形之下 that is a concrete thing.

A Taiji is where the Yin and Yang meet, it could be the meeting place between the active and the passive and the substantial and the insubstantial of a house. It can be an open space without an enclosure and it can even be where we spend most of the time, like the location of the pillow upon which our head rests as in the Xuan Kong Liu Fa School of Feng Shui, because according to this school it is our mindset that has to decide where the Yin and Yang would meet. Also since we have to decide, we will need to know what constitute an item under consideration, hence the popular saying, “One item one Taiji” 一物一太極, to guide us to decide on things like whether a home-office or a unit in a housing complex should have its own Taiji and its own chart or not.

In contrast, a Tianxin or a Heaven’s Heart is “above form” (an abstract idea); it can be looked upon like seeing the situation from heaven above to locate the reference point on earth below. For example, if I were to find out in which direction I should travel according to the yearly Flying Stars, I would have to decide: do I use my house as the Heaven’s Heart? Or the city I live in or the capital of the country I live in and so forth. Without deciding on the Heaven Heart for a reference point, I would not be able to find the four cardinal directions to calculate in which direction to travel, just like the red cross-hairs or the “Tianxin Shidao” 天心十道 (the Cross of the Heaven’s Heart) on a Luopan compass that we use to read the directions in a Feng Shui audit.

As we can see, sometimes the three terms can refer to the same point and sometimes only one or two, it depends on the situation under consideration and whether we are referring to something concrete or abstract, something manifested or un-manifested, as a place or as an idea or as something in-between for a reference point.

The more traditional practitioners are less concerned with accuracy and more with efficacy, so instead of casting the Luoshu Flying Star chart over the floor plan like the modern practitioners tend to do, they simply put it to one side and do their audit from comparing the two diagrams (See sample below from “Zhaiyun Xinan” 宅運新案 – a classic of Flying Star Case Studies published in the 1920s).


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/




The New Sheep Shed

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.

“Dear Howard,
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!

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.

Graphic courtesy pranaji.com

Graphic courtesy pranaji.com

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.

Kongwang Lines

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.



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

The Rugui Sundial and the Luopan Compass.

The Rugui Sundial and the Luopan Compass.

Mr Wu Zhaoguang, owner of the Wu Lu Heng Luopan store in Wanan.

Mr Wu Zhaoguang, owner of the Wu Lu Heng Luopan store in Wanan.

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.


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.

Meandering Water

Paton Water Dragon

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 :-)

Kindest Regards

Jan Leese


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.

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.




Master Ren Zhi-Lin

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.

Master Ren 01Master 0211880113_10153206002049858_118784142_n-1

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.



Lost in Feng Shui?

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.


The other day Boyler wants to know how the names for the five pentatonic notes (Wu Yin 五音) in Chinese music came about, why are they called Gong 宮, Shang 商, Jue 角, Zhi 徵and Yu 羽 for the equivalent of do, re, mi, so and la in the western musical scale.

It turns out that there are different theories for their origin proposed by different etymologists and I will present 4 of them below:

1) According to ancient astronomy: Those were some of the names for the 28 Lunar Mansions. For example: the first note “Gong” represents the “Zhong Gong” 中宮 or the Central Palace in the center of the 28 Lunar Mansions, the other four notes are drawn from the rest of the star configurations.

2) According to domesticated animals: The five domesticated animals, namely the Niu 牛 or Buffalo. Ma 馬 or Horse, Zhi 雉 Or Pheasant, Zhu 豬 or Pig and Yang 羊 or Goat, sounded very similar to Gong, Shang, Jue, Zhi and Yu. These are also five of the 12 Zodiac Animals representing their respective Earthly Branches at the same time.

3) According to ancient tribal totems: With their clan or family names similar to the names for the five notes.

4) According to the ancient sovereign ruler and the ruled: The musical classic “Le Ji” 樂記 mentioned, “Gong is for the sovereign ruler, Shang is for the officials, Jue is for the people, Zhi is for national affairs and Yu is for public properties.

Whether the theory has its origin in ancient astronomy, domesticated animals, tribal totems or sovereignty, having different ways to explain the origin of the names for the five notes indicated that music to the ancient Chinese served many different kinds of purpose for different occasions. Their particular choice of names gave ancient Chinese music an additional sense of mystery, pure simplicity and a colorful sense of feudal aesthetics, reflecting the different concepts about music held by the ancient Chinese.

The choice of five instead of seven note in the Chinese musical scale, with “fa” and “ti” missing, is also interesting, because Five Notes fits well in with the Five Phases in Chinese philosophy and the Five Organs in Chinese Medicine, but that is another story….


Below are three info-graphics (original graphic by Alan Chong) about the common Chinese parables that says:

1. Destiny
2. Luck
3. Feng shui
4. Good Deeds
5. Education.

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?


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.

Trinity University

(Book review taken from “Journal of Chinese Religions”, 2014)


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 The water town of Zhouzhuang showing location of the Twin Bridge

The Twin Bridge in Zhouzhuang

The Twin Bridge in Zhouzhuang

Site Plan of the Twin Bridge showing a typical single courtyard house between the two bridges.

Site Plan of the Twin Bridge showing a typical single courtyard house between the two bridges.

Plans of Lower and Upper Floor of a typical Jiangnan Courtyard House with its Front Elevation and Section.

Plans of Lower and Upper Floor of a typical Jiangnan Courtyard House with its Front Elevation and Section.

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.

The black Turtle at the back should be protective and higher than the other three animals, the Azure Dragon to the left should be more vigorous than the White Tiger to the right, the two echo each other to gather the qi of the land in the middle, with the Red Bird in front being the lowest open space to form the Mingtang (the Bright Hall) in front of the Xue or the Feng Shui Spot.

The black Turtle at the back should be protective and higher than the other three animals, the Azure Dragon to the left should be more vigorous than the White Tiger to the right, the two echo each other to gather the qi of the land in the middle, with the Red Bird in front being the lowest open space to form the Mingtang (the Bright Hall) in front of the Xue or the Feng Shui Spot.

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 ideal city model embraced by the four mythical animals.

The ideal city model embraced by the four mythical animals.

The Forbidden City also has a Siling model

The Forbidden City also has a Siling model

A typical traditional courtyard house. The parents stay in the Black Turtle sector, the male children to the Azure Dragon side and the female memebrs to the White Tiger side with the void space in the middle to gather the Sheng Qi for the whole household.

A typical traditional courtyard house. The parents stay in the Black Turtle sector, the male children to the Azure Dragon side and the female memebrs to the White Tiger side with the void space in the middle to gather the Sheng Qi for the whole household.

Furniture layout for a living room.

Furniture layout for a 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.

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.

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.

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.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4<a

The Salt Water Cure

April 20, 2015

The “Anren Shui” 安忍水 (literally means water to pacify and to endure), commonly known as the “Salt Water Cure”, has always been a fascinating subject for the feng shui students, because by placing a few copper coins in a glass of salt water, they can see the resultant chemical reaction and interpret this phenomenon as the “sha qi” of the 5 Yellow Earth or the 2 Black Earth has been neutralized by the Metal/Water in the Anren Shui. Slide1 It is especially appealing to the “scientific-minded” students because they can see correlative thinking used in feng shui being expressed physically, but is there a need for this “evidence”, to confuse correlation with causation? According to the book “Zhaiyun Xinan” 宅運新案 (New Case Studies of the Cycles of Luck of Dwellings), a Flying Star classic written by You Xi-Yi 尤惜陰, in the chapter entitled “Zhibu Ruhua Yi” 制不如化義 (The meaning of “to overpower is not as good as to neutralize”), the Salt Water Cure is just an expedient way to show off correlative thinking, it would have been more natural and more visually pleasing to use fish in an aquarium (You recommended using either a 1:8 or a 1:6 ratio of fish). I don’t have the time to translate the whole chapter but if you can read Chinese, it is quite enlightening to know from reading You’s words, that to transform or to change our attitude to a situation through our awareness is quite often more effective than trying to control or to change the same situation when it is physically impossible.

Also according to You, the “Anren Shui” is used to neutralize the negative effects of the 7 Red Metal out of time rather than the 5 Yellow Earth or the 2 Black Earth. It makes sense if we take a look at the Five Phases relationship and the idea that to “to overpower is not as good as to neutralize”. Zhaiyun Xinan

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.

Yiu Lok-Yee, a famous Hong Kong actress taking a Pamelo bath to get rid of her back luck.

Yiu Lok-Yee, a famous Hong Kong actress taking a Pamelo bath to get rid of her back luck.

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!


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!

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.

Image taken from Ong Feng Shui Studio.

Image taken from Ong Feng Shui Studio.

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.


九天玄女 The Mysterious Lady of the Nine Heavens.

The Mysterious Lady of the Nine Heavens.

Now, this “ArticBath” Swedish floaring hotel has good feng shui, not only it is simple and elegant but the form and configuration is also ritually correct as well and that is what we would aim for in good feng shui.

Let’s look at it from a Feng Shui perspective, the environment is water and Water can generate and support Wood, in shape and in material. The courtyard in the middle is Metal and Metal again is in harmony with Water, and the much larger amount of water can weaken the Metal and make it soft and pliable, which is how we would make tools and jewllery. Often Fire is involved as well and it is good to see that the logs used are not uniformly vertical but in angles at ramdom to associate with the Fire phase.

The architect most likely dose not know much about Feng Shui, but like all good design they always have the Feng Shui principles involved, because Feng Shui is abouit finding harmony and balnce in the built-form and how it can relate to our living environment in a mutually productive way and that is the same for good design, at least in the old-fashion way of looking at design. Nowadays design seem to be like our modern society and politics, they aimed to be extreme instead of being “wu-wei” and allow things to be self-thus.

In the process of assessing this building, I not only use Wuxing Shen-Ke (the mutual generating and controlling of the Five-Phase) to look at the relationship between the whole and its parts, but I also use correlative and causal thinking at the same time. Can you tell the difference and where they occurred? If you can then you have a better chance of being an efficacious Feng Shui, consultant if you have no idea what I am talking about, then please read up on Chinese correlative thinking in books like A.C Graham’s “Yin-Yang and the Nature of Correlative Thinking”. Photos from CNN Travel:


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