ECOFS Professional Practitioners Training Course
Fully Accredited by the Feng Shui Society UK

Starts: 1 – 6 November 2018 in Central London
Completion: 14 – 19 February 2020.

This course is structured to provide 30 days (210 hours) of classroom attendance with 5 modules of 6 days each spread over fifteen months, plus post-graduate personal mentoring support to give you a full two years of continuous learning overall.

The course offers a combination of in-depth theory, practical applications, on-site case studies done with face-to-face personalised teaching and mentoring throughout, providing exceptionally high-quality training. Students will learn all the required skills to become competent Feng Shui practitioners.

You can download the details on teaching contents, class dates, teaching venue and fees by clicking onto the link below.

ECOFS 2018 PPTC Course Outline

European College of Feng Shui (ECOFS)

There are 3 parts in FS and colour selection and they are based on the San Cai relation of Heaven, Earth and Human Qi, and since Human Qi links the Heaven Qi above and the Earth Qi below, in selecting a colour scheme we should always start with the Human Qi:

Human Qi:
Start off by asking yourself or your client what kind of colour is most favourable, what colour a person likes is also a colour that he or she needs and have a resonance with the person. Use this personal preference as a reference point to start looking at the colours.

Earth Qi:
Then look at the Earth Qi, the visible and the physical things in a room, its existing colour and furnishing, the function of the room, the orientation and the lighting level of the room, etc. At this level you can discuss what is there with your client or your partner and the occupants, it is a tangible level we can work with without too much ambiguity.

Heaven Qi:
Only when you have a good grasp of the Human Qi and Earth Qi that you begin to look at Compass Feng Shui and the Jiehua remedies required. If colour is the choice then the colour used should be an accent colour that stands out in a particular direction but does not take over the whole room.

The San Cai relationship also recommend that the ceiling colour representing Heaven should be lighter and less saturated and the floor colour representing Earth should be darker and more saturated while the wall colour representing Human should be somewhere in-between.

Also, since everything has Yin and Yang, your colour scheme should comprise of a theme or a main colour that is more dominant with supporting and complimentary secondary colours that are complimentary in a harmonious relationship with the main colour. Gradation in tone and in hue should be gentle with the FS accent colour stand out but blended-in at the at same time.

Let’s take an example of a colour scheme for a bedroom facing the north, and the couple has some wooden furniture that are quite dark already and they like green and “natural colours” and the floor has a carpet colour that that don’t like.

Since they don’t like the carpet, maybe you can suggest that they rip up the carpet and expose the wooden floor below as a starting point. If they think a full timber floor is too cold for the room, you can always suggest a rug to lessen their concern.

Now the ceiling can be white and the floor is natural wood, the room is not bright and the furniture is quite dark as well, Earth Qi-wise, the green tone that they like should be something that is light and can reflect light well but at the same time it should be a relaxing green with a strength that is somewhere between the floor and the ceiling. At this point you can take out the colour chart and try to come to a decision with the couple, a particular green that can be the main or the them colour for the room.
The room is quite dark so attention should be paid to how to lighten it up, one way of doing it is in the window, by painting it white and having translucent white widow curtains, they can make the room brighter.

When most of the decisions are made you can bring in the Compass calculations and they can come from different school, it can be Eight-Mansion or Flying-Star or whatever, but the colour used should be an accent one, stands out a little but not to be overwhelming.

For example, if a Fire Jiehua remedy is needed it can be be a red painting above the bed or a red triangle fixed to the light shade next to the bed or both.

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?” (

“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 theoretical 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.

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:


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?

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