Dealing with the Ancient Feng Shui texts can be a minefield.
Here are some.
The critical point of translating these feng shui texts to modern Chinese or English is that it has to be “fit for its purpose”, It could be a research paper published as a book, teaching material for students or methods in feng shui practice.
1. These Ancient Texts are written in an old Chinese script.
Very few people read these texts proficiently and understand them for their purpose.
Currently, in the 21st Century, there are two types of Chinese scripts. It is the simplified version, which is used in Mainland China. Then there is the traditional version used in Taiwan and other south-east Asian countries.
Therefore, to read and interpret this text, you need to be proficient and understand the meanings of the ancient texts.
|Sidebar: The text written by Britain’s greatest storyteller – William Shakespeare (1564-1616). It is written in the old form. It is not easy to interpret. As a result, there can be many different interpretations. The consequence of misinterpretation is relatively minor as it is only a story for a play.|
These ancient texts did not have punctuation in the western sense. That is a comma and full stop or period. As a result, serious misinterpretations can result.
|Sidebar: Punctuation like commas are extremely important in interpretation. I was cross-examined on the interpretation of the law in court. It all stemmed from the position of the comma. Commas in different parts of the sentence can give very different interpretations.|
3. Feng Shui background:
It would greatly help if the person doing the translation and the interpretation had a feng shui background or an understanding of the subject. When a decision is to be made, the relevant background helps.
|Sidebar: There is a well-known example of the word “Permanent Secretary”. In the UK Government service, this is the highest rank in the administrative grades. A Chinese translator is described as “person who sits down all the time and took notes and dictation”|
4. The selection of the appropriate feng shui text.
There are thousands of documents, and selection of the appropriate one is difficult.
This is the story of the Decoy Formula:
A decoy formula was derived from a standard formula. The original formula has always kept a low profile.
The Tang Dynasty was one of China’s most prosperous periods. The King of Korea was going to pay a visit to the Emperor of China. He requested a feng shui method to use in his Kingdom.
The Emperor was not too happy about giving away a secret but, he did not want to lose face by refusing to give the King of Korea the method.
A courtier suggested that they should create a fake formula for him. This they did.
The original formula was called Eight House. People are either East or West House Groups based on their date of birth.
A person has four auspicious directions and four inauspicious directions within each group. This method works when the person faces the designated directions (facing direction).
|West House Group||Auspicious Directions||Inauspicious Directions|
|East House Group||Auspicious Directions||Inauspicious Directions|
The courtiers added the building to this formula. In other words, the building also had auspicious directions, which included facing and sitting directions.
The contradiction: If a building sits in the South East (East House Group), it will face the North West direction (West House Group). Which group is this building? – East House or West House Group?
Similarly, when the building sits in the North West (West House Group) and faces the South-East direction (East House Group). Which group is this building? – East House or West House Group?
This decoy version of the eight house formula is well publicised and stated in many books and articles as the Eight Mansions formula. However, most feng shui scholars, authors and practitioners are not aware of the history of this addition.
However, there are some feng shui consultants who are aware of this.
As always, the original version of the Eight house formula is not well publicised. It is probably hidden away as a “secret formula” as the Emperor had originally wanted.
The original Formula – Eight House. It is about the person and does not involve the property.
Decoy Formula – Eight Mansions. This is well documented. It is about the person and the property.
5. Interpretation of the text.
In ancient China, the only way to reproduce or copy a text was to physically copy or re-write the text. Chinese text is very exacting. One stroke that is added, misplaced or missing can be a different meaning.
Interpretation can be tricky because of the lack of formal punctuation.
Secondly, I find English is precise relative to the Chinese that I know. English has a grammar which are the rules that construct a sentence. However, with Chinese, there is no formal structure. This makes the meaning ambiguous or less precise.
This story is taken from Howard Choy
“Shen Zhu-Nai always wanted to study the works of the famous Feng Shui Master (Jiang Da-Hong). He and a friend went to Wu-Xi in the province of JiangSu to seek out the children of “Zhang Zhong-Shan” who had learnt from Jian Da-Hong.
After a long period of time, they had to pay a large sum of money to have a look for 24 hours at the consultation file notes of “Zhang Zhong-Shan” consultations.
They secretly copied the whole manuscript by hand in 24 hours and took it home with them to study in detail.
After many years, Shen still could not decipher the secret.”
They could not understand the text. There could have made mistakes in the copying.
6. Inappropriate application of the text.
This story is about a Feng Shui Enthusiast Shen ZhuRhen authored the Flying Star Feng Shui method in his book “Mr Shen’s Study of Xuan Kong”.
Shen published the flying star formula after studies of tombs. Yin Feng Shui is about the tombs used for the burial of the deceased.
In the West today, flying star feng shui is being applied to the property of the living, which is yang feng shui. The situations are different. I need not go on.
Shen ZhuRhen was a scholar in the sense that he could read and write. He was a feng shui enthusiast and was very interested in the work done by trained feng shui consultants. Shen did not have any formal training in feng shui.
He heard that many tombs were designed with feng shui. It was showing positive results as the descendants were very successful.
|Sidebar: Yin Feng Shui was considered to be very important in Ancient China. The luck of the descendants was based on the quality of the feng shui of the gravesite. As a result, descendants made sure that the best gravesites were built and maintained.|
He investigated the position of the tombs and reversed engineered the design with his knowledge of feng shui and the Chinese Divination “QiMen DunJia”. Finally, he proposed the flying star method. Today, this method is very popular amongst the feng shui community in Hong Kong and the West (Europe and North America).
This method includes changes of auspicious directions with time as in the Chinese Divination System – QiMen DunJia. This documented method involves time, location and compass direction.
Let me go through the details of a Chinese tomb. It is more complicated than the western tomb.
I will only go through the relevant parts for this discussion. Please refer to the image.
A: This is the entrance to the tomb. The tombstone (door) is opened, and the coffin is slid in in a horizontal motion. The tombstone is then put in place and sealed. It is the direction of the tombstone that is relevant to the feng shui.
B: The earth mound behind the tombstone. This is above the coffin. When there is a need to clean or renovate the burial area (containing the coffin), the earth is dug up, and access to the burial area is gained.
Let me go through the rules of Flying Star feng shui on a Chinese tomb.
Say in the year 1990, a body in a coffin is buried in the tomb.
The year 1990 is in Period 7, and the tombstone is facing West. It will have a natal chart –
The coffin is in the sealed burial chamber. Because of the sealing, the air and energy are kept within.
I have only put an image as the details of the natal chart will become a distraction. I want to focus on the point.
In the year 2010, the family of the deceased decided that they wanted to clean the burial chamber of the tomb.
They remove the topsoil of the tomb and “break open” into the sealed burial chamber.
When they break open the sealed chamber, the “old air (energy) from 1990” of the sealed burial chamber is replaced with the present air of the year 2010, which is in Period 8.
When they seal the burial chamber and replace the topsoil, the natal chart of the tomb is:
This natal chart is different from the previous Natal Chart as the old and Period 7 Energy is replaced with the Period 8 Energy.
Modern Feng Shui Experts have been using Shen ZhuRen’s flying star feng shui formula for properties for the living. That is transposing feng shui for yin feng shui to yang feng shui.
Let me give you an example:
A family moved into a new-build house in 1990. The property faces West.
It will have a natal chart pertaining to Period 7 with the direction of West. It is precisely the same as the tomb.
Then in the year 2010, the family decides to update their property to get the updated Feng Shui. Their Feng Shui consultant, using the flying star formula, recommends that to get the updated feng shui, they have to open their roof and ceiling so that the current energy (Period 8) in the atmosphere can enter the property.
The removal of the roof is analogous to the opening of the tomb.
This is the Natal chart of the property after the replacement of the roof and ceiling. This is exactly the same as the tomb after breaking into the burial chamber.
But, I would say, is there a contradiction?
1. In the sealed burial chamber, the atmosphere and the energy is at the time of the sealing of the chamber.
2. When it is opened, it is allowed to mix with the present atmosphere.
3. When it is re-sealed, the “new” atmosphere is kept within the burial chamber.
4. In a living property, there are doors and windows. The doors are opened for the people to move in and out. The windows are opened to let new air come in.
5. When there is a Period change, say from Period 7 to Period 8, the House with opening doors and windows will automatically have its internal energy refreshed without having to open the roof and ceiling.
In my opinion, this is a contradiction. The use of this formula has not been properly thought out.
The facing direction: This is very straightforward in a Chinese tomb. This is the entrance where the coffin enters.
In modern houses, the front door does not always have the same direction as the front of the House. The door can be in the front wall but tilted at an angle for various reasons. Also, the front door could be at the side of the House.
Comment: The flying star method might be a fine and workable method for tombs (yin feng shui), but it is not the best method to use in houses where people live (yang feng shui).
So, when you read feng shui books, it can appear to be full of contradictions when you think about it.
Conclusion: Working on these Ancient Texts are full of pitfalls and many obstacles have to be overcome.
To validate these formulae, you need to have a feedback loop so you know whether you are on the right track or not.
It is not possible to make a validation as these formulae do not have a feedback loop.
In Traditional Chinese Feng Shui about dealing directly with energy. When you can visualise or feel this energy, you can validate what you are doing.
|Sidebar: We improve our skills from the feedback loop. For example. You want to bake a particular cake. In your 1st attempt, it was not up to your expectation and you pinpoint areas to improve. In your 2nd attempt, you put more effort in your weaknesses and the standard of the cake improves.
It is from this feedback that you know you are on the right track and know how to improve.
In my opinion, if you want to practise feng shui effectively, it is best to be trained in with the practice knowledge from an established feng shui consultant who is using proven formulae that have been handed down, generation to generation, over the centuries.
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