Many Chinese metaphysics practitioners have quoted this poem by Shao Yong since it touches on the practices like Feng Shui 風水, Bazi Suanming 八字算命, Qimen Dunjia 奇門遁甲 and Ziwei Doushu 紫微斗術, etc. There are few English translation availabal on this poem so I decided to have a go with my limited scholarship and understanding, your comments are welcome.

“A Song on Observing the Yi (Changes)” by Shao Yong.

A thing has a body in itself,
A body also has its own Taiji.
To know how myriad things are prepared for me,
(I) need to know the division of San Cai at its root.
Heaven faces one-center to separate the Ti Yong
Man relies on his heart to raise the Jing Lun.
How can heaven and man have a different meaning,
The Dao is not an empty journey it depends on man.

Translator’s notes and commentary:

1. A “thing” 物 here refers to matters in the universe.
2. A “body” 身refers to its qi 器, or its vessel/container.
3. “Taiji” is translated from the Trigrams Qian and Kun, meaning Yang and Yin.
4. “San Cai” 三才 refers to the trinity of Heaven, Earth and Man.
5. “Ti Yong” 體用refers to the concept of “principle and function” or the “body and its usage”.
6. “Jing Lun” 經綸refers to theory and classification in Chinese thoughts, it can also mean silk-threading or to a clever statecraft.

The first two lines of the poem can be expressed with the concept of “One item one Taiji” 一物一太極, in the sense that everything has its complementary opposites, so we need to decide what constitute one “item” or one “thing” under consideration, before we can look at its Taiji or Yin and Yang.

In the third and fourth lines, Shao Yong is talking about the San Cai in the six Yao lines of a Hexagram when casting the Yijing with a question in mind, by dividing the six Yao lines into 3 pairs of Heaven, Man and Earth, thus help us to decipher the meanings of a Hexagram to answer the questions we asked. (Refer Illustration)

The fifth and sixth lines are about the concepts of Ti and Yong (Principle and Function) in Heaven and Jing and Lun (Scripture and Classification) in Man.

According to Shao Yong, one principle (or one body) has many functions (or applications), the ancient Chinese viewed the world from the centre looking out, he puts himself in the middle of the Bagua or the eight directions looking outward, to strive for a unity of Heaven and Man. For this reason, he needs to establish a center in a chosen “item” or “thing” to differentiate, but the two are not separate, they are held together as complementary opposites in a Taiji.

The same applies to Man on Earth, theories and classifications (or clever statecraft) come out from Man’s “Xin”, or his heart/mind, by the way he observes and thinks looking at the near and the far, the large and the small, and thinking in a causal and correlative way at the same time, to find his efficacy. The unity of heaven and Man can be achieved by combining the “Li” 理 in Heaven and the “Xin” 心 in Man.

The last two lines referred to the idea of the unity of Heaven and Man and the path to the Dao depends on the “Xin” of the Man and not on the numbers, symbols and images casted in the Yijing or other “Shu Shu” 數術” or “Numbers and Methods” in Chinese numerological metaphysics. Contrary to most people’s understanding, Shao Yong towards his later years, put his emphasis on the Xin (heart/mind) and not on the Shu (numbers and symbols), but he also acknowledged that they go together like Yin and Yang, to Shao Yong the idealistic and the materialistic are two sides of the same coin.

When Plum Blossom Divination 梅花易數was being promoted to the general public, the earlier practitioners shrewdly changed the last two lines to advertise their exclusive knowledge and lineage:
How can heaven and man have a different meaning,
The Dao is not an empty journey it depends on man.
There are no two sayings for theImmortal and Man,
The Dao is not an empty transmission it depends on Man.


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?

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. ;-)

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.


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….



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!

Dispatch from Hong Kong

August 12, 2014

Today I met a very talented young Feng Shui master in Hong Kong, on my way back from my reconnaissance trip to China for the next year’s Feng Shui study tour in October 2015.

His name is Kwong Ching-Chuen (Jiang Jing-Chuan 江靜川) and he is only 31 years old, but he has been studying Feng Shui since he is 14 from a well-known and knowledgeable teacher from Ganzhou (the birthplace of Yanggong Feng Shui).

He has a very precise approach to Liqi calculations based on astronomical data, he said one cannot do Feng Shui well without a deep knowledge of Chinese astrology and astronomy. According to him many of the Luopan rings are not correctly and I have to admit some of his arguments are quite convincing.

He is most helpful in tracking the where about of some of my first teacher Master Ren Zhi-Lin’s work with his name written on the grave-stone as the Feng Shui master who locate and set the orientation of the graves. I was also able to find out some of my “Si-Hang” (elder brother in learning) and one of them is Master Long Jing-Quan 龍景銓, who is famous for being the Feng Shui master behind the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.

If you can read Chinese he has a website full of useful information from his research, especially in Yinzhai Feng Shui and Iron Plate Divination (Tie Ban Shen Shu 鐵板神數:

It is good to know that “the new waves still takes the place of the old” (chang jiang hou lang tui qian lang 長江後浪推前浪)!

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