Thursday, October 22, 2009

The three classes of Feng Shui Masters

There is a famous saying:

The upper class Feng Shui masters watch the stars, [上等地师看星斗]
The middle class Feng Shui masters watch the water mouths, [中等地师看水口]
The lower class Feng Shui masters roam in the mountains. [下等地师随山走]

The term 地师 can be translated as "Earth Master" meaning a person whose profession involves analyzing Earth qi. A person whose profession involves communicating with Heaven is known as 天师 (For example, the daoist grandmaster Zhang Dao Ling 张道陵 is better known as 张天师). A person whose profession is teaching is known as 人师 (For example, to take up the teaching professional is called 为人师表). Obviously, an Earth Master is better known as a Feng Shui Master.

Most people misunderstand the saying as classifying Feng Shui masters into 3 categories. In fact, it tells the three stages of training of Feng Shui masters.

The lower class refers to the beginners. They have to follow the master to feel the earth qi by walking the dragon. I went through this stage without knowing when I was a child playing in the mountains without shoes. In those days, wearing shoes is a luxury.

The middle class refers to apprentices following the master learning how to measure water mouths using the luopan. This includes measuring the incoming mountain dragon and the facing to erect a monument stone. This part is mainly studying the landforms.

The upper class refers to the third stage when the disciples learn the Li Qi part of Feng Shui. The stars refer to the nine stars different schools use in their Feng Shui practices.

Only when the three stages have been completed one can be called a Feng Shui master.

If you miss first stage, please start visiting the mountains.



Mary Catherine Bax said...

Dear Joseph,

The epic movie, "The Red Cliff', did a wonderful job depicting an ancient military adviser studying Earth qi.

In this time of war, I hope more will do so and leaders mind them.


heluo8 said...

Dear shifu,

When I was in Guilin, where the Dragon is old and can rely on depth, I understood why Feng Shui had flourished here. I could not capture it in words, but I literally felt the energy entering through my feet, gently rising all the way up until I felt I was right at home. Although it felt like the energy was emerging, I had the feeling that I was pushed more firmly onto the soild and I wished to just stay in that one location. It gave me a new notion of 'momentum'. The same sensation I later had in the Brazilian mountains.

Be well,

Heluo said...

Dear Joseph,

We can say the stars are up in the sky, while mountains are the soil below. Waters is what moves in between them: it can rise up to the sky as vapors and clouds, and it can fall down to the earth in form of rain and rivers.

So the "higher", "middle" and "lower" in this saying may merely correspond to the physical reality of what each of these 3 types is studying.
It is not necessarily a statement that indicates any hierarchy.

Just like in an orchestra violins may take care of the "high" notes, while drums or contrabass do the "lower" tones. But both are equally a part of the orchestra and either may take the lead in a given piece of music.


joey said...


I think the time of low quality groups/networks is finished, however there is a
huge interest in high quality discussion on Chinese metaphysics.
How you would explain otherwise that e.g. the forum I co-moderate (Five Arts)
had in Nov. 2009 more than 3500 new posts and more than 450000 page views.
One of the major reasons is that real practitioners share real knowledge, while in
most other groups or forums members don't share as otherwise their "Master" or
head honcho gets annoyed.

IMHO it is time that many of the old groups and forums move away from the old
style of giving half information, and start discussing Chinese metaphysics in a more
serious manner. Back to the theoretical foundations and away from today advocated
short cut methods.This is the reason that I think you should not close posting in your group,
neither should you stop posting. There is a lack of people with a strong theoretical foundation
and they are needed to bring the proper enthusiast into this beautiful field of knowledge.
It is my strong belief that we have to go back to giving students a strong theoretical and
philosophical base and this will automatically lead to strong and independent practitioners.
This will lead to less masters and grand masters and more real practitioners.

joey said...

i was in the alps recently-great feeling
but what should i expect to have learnt there about feng shui?

Jodi Brunner said...

Dear Joseph,

I'm in Santiago Chile and yesterday went to find a tall building to look out at the view. I found an apartment block and climbed the stairs to the roof with trepidation. When I reached the roof and walked out to see the stunning view, it was like meeting god. Looking up at the magnificent Andes is like meeting my oldest ancestor.


(see for a panoramic image)