“Yin Yang” of Yinzhai Feng Shui

August 12, 2008

Throughout Chinese history, many learned scholars, especially the Confucians and the Neo-Confucians like Wang Chong and Zhu Xi, have criticised the false assumptions people have made with Yinzhai Feng Shui, namely that if we bury our parents in an auspicious place, then the dead would help the living to be prosperous via the Earth Qi. This unrealistic expectation is called “Yin Ying” or Hidden Resonance of Feng Shui.

I have made a rough translation below (not word by word but by my own interpretation of the author’s intent) of a scholar by the name of Xiang Qiao, who wrote a common-sense piece about Yinzghai Feng  Shui:

People often asked Xiang Qiao, “Do you believe a good burial site is related to Feng Shui?” and he replied, “To bury one’s parent is an important matter, this is something everyone has to do and to bury them in a safe and sound place is our responsibility. I am also someone’s son, so I must do likewise and find a good Feng Shui place for burial. But to me, the “wind” in Feng Shui refers to the landform that can protect the grave site from the attack of the sha qi wind and the “water” in Feng Shui refers to the landform that keeps the soil dry, so the water would not attack the dead body and make it rot too soon”.

Then the people followed with another question, “If Feng Shui is so important for burial, then do you also believe in the “Yin Ying” of Feng Shui?” and he replied, “We are alive when our Qi is assembled and we die when our Qi is dispersed and when that happens, our body rots and our spirit returns to its origin, there is nothing left to “Yin Ying” the descendants. The situation is not unlike when our parents are alive, they can look after us when they are awake and mindful, but when they are asleep and don’t know that we are in danger, there is no way they can come to our rescue when we need them. If when they are alive but unaware, they cannot help us, how can they continue to do so after they are dead and gone?”

What scholars like Xiang Qiao are saying is Yinzhai Feng Shui is more about respect for the dead and keeping their memories alive, and not about creating false expectations that the dead will continue to help us even when they are no longer able to do so. Let the dead rest in peace and let us fulfill our own destiny.

(Photo by Kristiina M)


12 Responses to ““Yin Yang” of Yinzhai Feng Shui”

  1. jessie Says:

    hmm…those commented are ancient scholars that only sit at home and make statement by imagination! There never really have chance to saw the real powerful Yinzhai Feng shui!

    We have encountering many Yin Zhai feng shui’s cases happening in China immediately “Ying” 应 to their direct family, the son promoted up to Minister lever…

    As far I know, one of my friend’s friend handled bury the Olympic Torch Hero Li Ning’s parent’s in an auspicious place in Guangxi, you can see on last Friday 080808 how Li Ning lit the Olympic torch in one of the most spectacular Opening ceremonies in the history of the Games, get the full attention from the whole world….. In doing so, he also helped put his own company and entrepreneurial spirit on the world stage.

    Why is him that so lucky packed by Chinese Olympic committee as a last TORCH HERO, his parent’s auspicious yin zhai feng shui immediately “Ying” 应 to him….

  2. howardchoy Says:

    Hi Jessie,

    We have touched upon a very sensitive and crucial issue here about Feng Shui and it is worthwhile for us to investigate what is meant by Yin Ying (Hidden Resonance).

    My observation and experience have taught me that this phenomenon of Hidden Resonance (for a lack of a more precise term for translation), is not done by the location/matter directly itself, but by our projection onto to them. That is also the opinions of many learned scholars as mentioned in the past.

    You and many others on the other hand, have connected Li Ning’s luck and in turn the Chinese Olympic luck “physically” with his parent’s auspicious Yin Zhai Feng Shui, but is it really that simple? What about all the hard work, all the training, planning and preparations? Will Li Ning and the Chinese be able to achieve the same if they just sit on their asses with their parent’s dead bodies in an auspicious site? What about all the other cases which don’t fit in with auspicious Yinzhai Feng Shui?

    We have to be careful not to mix our theory/philosophy/belief with what we observed, while knowing that they do affect the situation in some way, but there are also planning and hard work and many other observable physical factors involved, as well as psychological and hidden ones that we don’t fully understand.

    Yin Ying is a very simplistic way to explain success and failure in life and I am not so sure if that is the observable situation.

    Howard Choy

  3. Jessie Says:

    Hi Howard,

    Thanks for your comment!

    HARD WORK , planning is NOT so GREAT to enssure GOOD living HARD WORK Planning does not enssure GOOD life Hard work and Planning does not make sure you are the SELECTED few….

    Hard work without luck is worker… hard work supported by LUCK is Successful Man

    “Selected few concept” means that success is ONLY belong to very few selected gruop of people

    socially, only 20% of population enjoy 80% wealth of the world,do you tell me that 80 % population is lazy and stupid

  4. howardchoy Says:

    Hi Jessie,

    Your idea that only 20% of the population enjoyed 80% of the world’s wealth is due to luck only and not hard work and planning as well is a bit simplistic for me. I think there is a lot more to it than you have imagined.

    Since we are talking about luck now, I wrote another post on Feng Shui and luck, hopeful it will further our discussions up to now. Thank you for your contributions.

    Howard Choy

  5. albert Says:

    Dear Howard,

    I hope I am talking to an open minded and a person of integrity.

    I will be happy to learn otherwise or accept new facts. Have you ever done enough research to justify for your facts?
    I have not enough evidence in the yin feng shui bringing good luck or opportunities so I will not touch on that.

    But I’ve witness enough of problems graves and tomb to know the bad effects it can bring on the family. And having it redone have change and improve the situations.

    I will be happy if you can prove with other explainations.


  6. howardchoy Says:

    Dear Albert,

    Being a Feng Shui practitioner for nearly 30 years and an architect all my working life, I have enough experience and done enough research to know that there is no conclusive evidence to show that burying a person in a culturally unacceptable place will cause bad fortune for the family in a directly related way.

    Contrarily, living in a non-supportive environment do affect the living adversely and that can be demonstrated scientifically.

    I have also deal with problems relating to bad grave sites, but my own conclusion is that, in most cases, they have more to do with guilt and remorse than with the actual physical improvement.

    However, since in Yinzhai Feng Shui, we not only consider the burial place in a practically efficient way, but also in a personal, psychological, social, culturally and religious way as well, so my approach of “seeing is believing” as oppose to your “believing is seeing”, may both missed the point, may be the answer lies somewhere in between.

    Howard Choy

  7. albert Says:

    Dear Howard,

    Just for disccusion…
    If you claim no effect, only cultural and personal why don’t you allow a test on your own ancestor’s grave since it has no effect. Because the affect can be felt or unfelt by yourself is the best quantifying. Even cremated can be used in this test to reburied in a very bad spot to test the effect.

    Just like cancer in the old days before it was detected. Somethings that you cannot see doesn’t mean is non-existent.

    If Yang feng shui is termed as science it must have the capability to be repeated 1000 times with the same consistent result. Agree?


  8. howardchoy Says:

    Dear Albert,

    Just for discussion as well, I like it when it is done without malice.

    Having just buried both my parents in the last few years and my grandparents before that, I think I am qualified to speak about my own experience as far as Yinzhai Feng Shui for my own family is concerned.

    All five of them (my father is buried with both his wives on either side of him) were buried in the same public cemetery together with most of our village clansmen. There is nothing special about the cemetery or the grave sites and my parents and grandparents are buried in different places with different orientations. The outcome is, out of the 7 children, some did well and some did not, some went to university and some not, nearly half of them were remarried, and one is still single. One of them died in his early 50s and the eldest is in his early 80s.

    The lives of my uncles and aunties are much the same, average like most families, and there is no clear indication that our parents and grandparents grave sites have anything outstandingly good or bad that can be attributed to Yin Ying.

    I also do Yinzhai Feng Shui in my practice, but I do them to help my clients feel that they have done their best for the deceased and not to expect anything in return.

    As for a scientific proof of Yangzhai Feng Shui, a scientific proof do not require 1000 times with the same consistent result, it only required a statistically agreeable outcome and still leave out some portions unaccounted for. That is the nature of science, it is a statistical truth, not the whole truth.

    I am not against burying our dead in a good Feng Shui place; I am against the false expectations some people promoted about its unsustainable benefits. To me, they are unrealistic.

    Howard Choy

  9. sui xing Says:


    If you believed in Heaven, you need to believed in Earth for you to be a man.

    If you loss the triangle, you have loss everything you learn.

    Do not forget that you are learning ancient science. I have seen many of you all are overly scientific. Remember nature, when it is overly believed, you are out of balance from nature. So your study about nature is not correct in any way.

  10. howardchoy Says:

    Dear Sui Xing,

    Please do tell how we have overly believed in nature and in what way we have wrongly studied her?

    Howard Choy

  11. Dear Howard,

    I like your reply on the Yin Feng Shui. I agree that we should be scientific about Feng Shui and astrology.

    Please read attachment for more details.

    Best wishes,and Happy New Year

    Dr Ong

    There are widespead disgreements among the Feng Shui schools. It will be difficult to convince each other in the ongoing debates, as the problem is that practitioners have no objective criteria to determine the validiy of what they say. If people expound their beliefs in mystical ways, all sorts of nonsense can be put forward. We have to put Feng Shui and also astrology on an objective scientific basis.

    Different schools of a scientific field, say like engineering, are based on common foundations which can be understood in similar scientific ways and definitions by the different engineering schools. Hence, there are little contradictions among these engineering schools which would complement and support each other. The same cannot be said for the different schools of Feng Shui and astrology.

    The schools of Feng Shui and astrology seem to share common foundation concepts, like the Tai Chi, Yin Yang, qi, sha and the Bagua. This is misleading, for there are contradictons in how they interpret the common foundation concepts. There are debates whether mountains are Yin or Yang. Xuan Kong Fei Xing and Xuan Kong Liu Fa have contradicting directions as the Zheng Shen and Ling Shen. Fei Xing and Yang Gong have contradicting Kung Mang lines. Is the undecayed corpse inauspicious or not? They do not know what are the nature of the foundation concepts like the Tai Chi, Yin Yang, qi, sha and the Bagua and hence there are all sorts of schools and their contradicting concepts.

    Many, especially Westerners, pretend to know – Yang Sun Sung wrote of these people long ago. In reality, everyone of them is thoroughly confused. Some practitioners are architects and engineers; yet, Feng Shui and astrology come no nearer to a scientific objective rationale.

    The Feng Shui and astrology world is truly in a messy confused stage. The practitioners say anything they like in contradictions with others without pausing as to the validity of their stands. Challenged they would bristle with anger and arrogance. One practitioner cried out that what does it matter so long as they make money out of clients!

    Much of the confusion emerged during the Ming dynasty when a number of Compass approaches began. Emperor Kang Hsi knew Feng Shui and astrology do work, but wrote in 1681 that these arts are full of dubious exponents: “Siting experts have a great deal to say, not from books about how the great sages and worthies of ancient times made their selections, but rather from books fabricated by people later on to suit themselves…” (Ole Bruun 2003 p.66). Many of these books coming out during the Ming and Qing dynasties are mystical nonsense.

    Based on the opening lines of Qing Nang Aow Yi, Jiang Da Hong invented his Xuan Kong Fei Xing. Based on the opening lines of Tian Yu Jing, the Pa Chai (8 Mansions) came into existence. People adapted Shao Yung ringed 64 hexagrams to create Xuan Kong Da Gua. Fei Xing considers Pa Chai and Da Gua to be fakes. Xuan Kong Liu Fa emerged to challenge Fei Xing and Da Gua. It is quite remarkable that they all claim their concepts are based on Yang Yun Sung’s Qing Nang Aow Yi and Tian Yu Jing. I have studied both Qing Nang Aow Yi and Tian Yu Jing and find no support for all these Compass approaches. They twisted the same passages to support their conflicting theories! As one Feng Shui master acknowledged, everybody interprets the same passages as he likes! I found that the Pa Chai 8 Mansions school not only contains the least deviations from the texts of Qing Nang Aow Yi and Tian Yu Jing but also squares best with scientific evidence.

    Within each school there are also quarreling divisions. Within each school, there are some who believe that they possess “great secrets”. But, on deeper examination these can prove to be complicated errors.

    This is why I undertake scientific research into Feng Shui and astrology. It can be surprising to some that Feng Shui and astrology concepts can be scientifically proven. They have scientific rationale and basis and applications should be based on these scientific foundations. Let me outline a few scientific basis of how I believe or not:

    1. I have carried out a statistical analysis correlating the durations of the Chinese dynasties to layouts of the main imperial palaces. The coefficient of correlation is about 0.90. So, I have grounds to believe in Feng Shui of Yang premises.

    2. I have also carried out a statistical analysis correlating the durations of the Chinese dynasties to certain features of the imperial tombs. Well, the coeffcient of correlation is about as good as that of the above. So, I also have grounds to believe in Feng Shui of Yin premises. I know some practitioners are openly skeptical about tomb Feng Shui. But the scientific statistical analysis shows it works; only the current tomb Feng Shui is not the correct one. These practitioners should not too quick to brush off tomb Feng Shui – they should evaluate how the ancient imperial tomb Feng Shui really worked.

    3. It is also possible to show that the seasonal variation in the solar shadow forms the Yin Yang symbol. That is, the Tai Chi, Yin Yang and the 8 trigrams of the Early Heaven Bagua are an astonishing scientific flow chart showing that the 8 trigrams are 8 seasonal packages of solar energy levels. Such a scientific mechanism should form the basis of the applications of these key concepts of Tai Chi, Yin Yang, the 8 trigrams of the Bagua and their associated qi and sha.

    4. I have analysed and found that the 9 numbers of the Lou Shu magic square represent the spatial positions at different times of the solar eclipses as related to the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions which occur in 20 years cycles. This is one reason why I know that the 9 Yuns of Fei Xing is more scientifically accurate than the 8 Yuns of Da Gua and Liu Fa. To understand this aspect requires rather good knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. I do not think most practitioners can grasp this aspect and will just go on to use them in a magical manner. When I tried to explain this to one well known Feng Shui master he developed a headache and coud not go on.

    The schools have a mixture of rights and wrongs. Some objective means should be used to clean up the mess.

    So, I have a very scientific belief in Feng Shui and astrology. Effects of Feng Shui and astrology do not just appear by magic, but must have logical basis. The research shows that Feng Shui and astrology relate to geography, astronomy and physical science. Such findings are more consistent with the historical testimony of how the emperors arranged their Feng Shui of Yang and Yin premises.

    However, my research shows that much of current Feng Shui concepts are in error. It is quite true that the Luan Tou Feng Shui concepts have more basis than those of the Compass schools. Most of the confusion are caused by the faulty Compass concepts. You can read some of my articles at the website http://www.guiculture.com/fengshui.htm#articles.

    Outstanding errors in current Feng Shui include:

    1. Traditional Chinese premises tended to face South. Hence, what meanings are there in the Feng Shui schools creating facing directions other than the South?

    2. The South facing also means that while the water flow may enter at any point it would flow from the South. Hence, what is the basis of those schools which create different water exit directions for different water entry points?

    3. From a scientific viewpoint, the compass needle cannot have an accuracy greater than 1 degree. Hence, where is the basis for schools which require accuracy of one degree of even less? The 360 degrees compass did not exist in Yang Yun Sung’s time (circa AD 880) but was invented in AD 1279. There is no basis for angular shifting doors and tombstones!

    4. Astronomical evidence shows that the precession of the equinoxes have shifted the relative points of the Zodiac signs, one sign every 2,000 years. The Chinese Zodiac signs have not been corrected since the end of the Han dynasty. The uncorrected Ba Zi Four Pillars will be wrongly used.

    5. Astronomical evidence also shows that the 20 Years Saturn Jupiter conjunction has jumped by 2 cycles since the days of Emperor Yao. Hence it is now Period 1 not 9 or 8! All those 9 or 8 Periods calculations will be out of order.

    6. Those using the 64 hexagrams do not realise their inconsistency during Date Selection. For they had to use the Ba Zi Four Pillars which have only the 60 sexagenary signs. 64 hexagrams do not square with 60 signs as there are 4 surplus hexagrams. Usage of the 64 hdxagrams is questionable.

    7. Chief of all is that practitioners have little idea what are the scientific nature of qi and sha. Their applications will lack scientific impacts.

    Using a scientific approach, I find it is quite easy to understand ancient Feng Shui texts like Han Lung Jing, Yi Lung Jing and Xue Xin Fu. They are basically Luan Tou documents and can be understood with a good geographical analysis. Using the understanding of Han Lung Jing, Yi Lung Jing and Xue Xin Fu, it is possible to begin to understand what the texts of Di Li Bian Zhen and Zangshu are about. While Zangshu is almost purely a Luan Tou document, the Di Li Bian Zhen discusses how certain time markers can be used to improve Luan Tou practices. These time markers essentially relate to how astronomical movements of the solar system influence the geography of Earth. The external stars are just markers. Yes, there are the Heaven tiangan and Earth dizhi components, which are interactions between astronomical and geographical parameters. It is very scientific!

    Unfortunately, lacking such scientific understanding, many had veered off by misinterpreting the Di Li Bian Zhen to create erratic Compass schools waving about their mystical magical nonsensical theories. It has come to an extent that some famous practitioners believe that charms and talismans can overcome Feng Shui defects, trying to use sympathetic magic to overcome Feng Shui defects or other mind over matter methods.

    The irony is that sympathetic magic can work, but one must first know the scientific nature of the physical Feng Shui effects. Components of ancient sympathetic magic incorporate physical factors which can deal with the said physical Feng Shui defects. Otherwise, it will be just wishful hoping.

    I have not found out everything. Should we join efforts to foster a rational and scientific approach to Feng Shui and astrology? Perhaps, there are others of like minds?

    Happy Chinese New Year! With best regards.

    Dr Ong Hean-Tatt.

  12. Alan Says:

    Hi Howard,
    Very interesting debate and write ups. I would not like to think that Yin FS has no role in our lives but i do believe relatively it plays a smaller role compared to Yang FS. Your comments sounds logical.

    I must say the ancestral deeds has big bearing on decendant’s luck. If your ancesters have done much good the ‘virtuous qi’ will sure benefit their decendants.

    If an emperor has done evil to his subjects i believe no amount of Good Yin/Yang Feng Shui can hold/keep a dynasty just to prolong a little. eventually History has shown us that no dynasty can last forever and it is mainly due to the people are not happy and demand changes.

    Good deeds / good governance by one emperor can be reversed by another decending emperor and then later followed by a dynasty change.

    For those who choose to believe, then believe and seeing will work & i do believe symbolic feng shui works in this manner. For those like me who are more skeptical about the Yin FS, only time will prove my skepticism….haha….have fun in life!.

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