Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Blessing

To meet a good teacher is a blessing. When I was young, I was lucky to have met an old man who taught me a little Kung Fu, which unfortunately was not my cup of tea. What I benefit most from him is the guidance to study metaphysics. He asked me, "Do you want to learn some secret formulas 秘訣 from me?" I replied, "Of course!"

He smiled, "Study the books with your heart, not with your eyes. Listen to me with your heart, not with your ears. Practise with the analytical mind, not from your memory. Ask questions and you will always get the answer even if you do not hear anything from me."

Well, 90% of what I know is from the books. The remaining 10% is through conversation with my teacher. The 10% is the annotation to the 90%. Sometimes my teacher did not answer my question. Then I knew that I have not prepared myself to ask. When I was ready to ask, I did not, as the answer was already in my heart.

What is most unexpected from my teacher is this: Do not thank me with your words. Thank me from your heart without words. Practice and teach with your heart and this is your deepest gratitude I can feel.



Judy Morris, Master of Feng Shui, FSRC said...

Beautiful, Joseph. You certainly do teach from your heart and give transmission of your teachings. We are all blessed to have you as our teacher.

Siria Grandet. said...

Thanks Master Yu! A big hug ♥

Małgorzata Gałkowska-Błądek said...

This is true...true and beautiful in one.
This is about giving freedom to student, not holding him/her on a leash.
This is about giving fishing rod, not ready fish.

You were lucky, Joseph to meet such a teacher. We - your students - are lucky too - because of meeting you...

Claudia said...

Realmente Sabio y hermoso.
Muchas gracias por compartir el conocimiento y la maestria.

Howard Choy said...

Hi Joseph,

Being a fellow teacher I often read your posts with great interest. My experience in learning is so different to yours, I have found in my life-long learning of Taijiquan and Feng Shui, less than 10% came from books, the rest came from my teachers but most importantly it came from constant practice and experience of working at the coal-face of what we do. For that reason, I also learned a lot from my students and my clients. So to me the human interactions and the doings taught me more than books, and like you said, to meet a good teacher is a real blessing.

Thank you for your reflection, it helped me to reflect on my own experience.

Howard Choy.

Marina said...

What are the books that you can recommend? Thanks!

Joseph Yu said...


What I find is most of the time we are talking about the same thing but the presentation is different. For example, I consider knowledge to come before practice. Practice confirms what I learn. It is not through practice I invent something new. Therefore I do not learn from my practice but I get confirmation of what I know through practices. The knowledge came from books.

Of course when you say that your knowledge come mostly from practice, you do not mean that because you practise, you discover some Feng Shui theories from your experience. That is why I say we differ only in the way we say the same thing.


Howard Choy said...

Hi Joseph,

It is true what you said that practice confirms what we have learned but a life-long practice can also lead to new theories and new ways of looking and doing things.

When I was learning Chen Taijiquan from my teacher Chen Xiao-Wang he invented the 19 Movements Short Form and his new take on Dantian Rotation right in front of our eyes, tested it out in the classes and formalized it to become part of his teaching curriculum for the beginners.

Being Feng Shui architects working with Feng Shui in our daily practice for the last 20 years and more, my wife and I have put together a San Cai Methodology for Feng Shui Analysis and Design, which we teach to our students on how to carry out a Feng Shui audit and analysis systematically to arrive at a set of suggestions and to use it for planning.

Lately, I have put together a theory and a method on how a talisman can be written without a religious context (Self-Activated Talisman writing - Zi Fa Fu) and I am testing this theory by practicing writing them with my students.

None of these examples came from books; they came from daily practice. How do you think new theories and new ways of doing things are invented in the first place? Usually not through reading another book, but through practical experience and observations and they need to be put through their pace before they can make sense written down in a book.

I am not underestimate the value of books, I love books and collected many of them, but in my experience, they don't give me 90% of what I have learned. I usually learn a new theory or a new method from one of my teachers and then go on job assignments with them and then on my own to practice what I have learned and then read up books to consolidate my knowledge. I use books mostly as a support and reference material and not as the prime source of my learning.

I am not attacking your way of learning either, each to their own and some self-taught can do quite well, but we do have a different way, or a different preference, in learning and doing things in this regard, at least that is the way I see it.

I would also consider what we have learned before practice as information and only after much practice will this information become knowledge and through continue practice, this knowledge might turn into wisdom through understanding and new theories can evolve from it. Books are good at giving data and information, but knowledge is gain through practice, IMHO.

If we can learn through only reading books, then there is no need for teachers and for us to go to schools, colleges and universities and there is no need for apprentices or training schemes, or on the job experience. Even a self-taught needs practice and experience to make what he or she has been reading in a book to work.

Virtual learning is fine up to a certain point, but it cannot replace face-to-face teaching and guided practices, so I am afraid you have to continue to travel or to have your students to come to you, and you have to continue to mentor them if you want them to be good Feng Shui practitioners. A few like yourself may be able to learn just by reading books and be self-taught, but there are not many of us can do it without the help of a teacher over a period of time. Your students’ continual need for you proved this point.

Howard Choy

Jodi Brunner said...

Thanks Joseph, I feel that "Practise with the analytical mind, not from your memory" has been an important part of your teachings for me.

Jodi Brunner said...

Hi Howard and Joseph, it may be that these days Joseph is not travelling that much to teach, however he also has hundreds (maybe more?) of students who discuss our cases studies and observations every day on the student list. This in itself provides useful, practical knowledge as it is being applied in the field. I also personally welcome the chance to attend when you, Howard, to come to Australia to teach next year.

Howard Choy said...

Hi Jodi,

One of my favorite Chinese scholars from the past is Wang Yang-Ming of the Ming Dynasty and one of his major contributions to Chinese philosophy is the doctrine of the unity of knowledge and action.

According to him, knowledge is the beginning of action and action the completion of knowledge. No one really knows food unless he has tasted it, he argued. That is why I run many practical courses on how to do Feng Shui in different situations, so students can learn by doing and that is how I learned from my teachers as well.

I look forward to seeing you again next February in Australia, and congratulations for being re-selected the President of AFSC (Association of Feng Shui Consultants). Joseph has produced many brilliant students like yourself and I hope I can complement what he has done for you.


Mary Catherine Bax said...

Dear Joseph,

Today I would like to honor those courageous men and women who kept those books safe during Mao's reign of terror.

If it wasn't for their courage and wisdom, only ashes would remain of this precious metaphysical study.



Joseph Yu said...


Don't be fooled by these "courageous" claims. Books were well kept in Taiwan both in libraries and by learned people who fled the communist rule in 1949. There are fake masters today who claim to have the only true version of certain Feng Shui classics. The claims are ridiculous as they go beyond common sense. For example, they even condemn Great Grand Master Jiang Da Hong for changing "Qing Nang Ao Yu 青囊奧語" and the true version is only in their hands. Well, the book was collected in Si Ku Quan Shu 四庫全書 by Ji Xiao Lan 紀曉嵐 during the reign of Emperor Qian Long. If a false version was collected, the compiler would have been executed. These fake masters simply are ignorant of history.


Mary Catherine Bax said...

Dear Joseph,

One thing I have learned about this study is if it is not met with respect, truth and humility, it will backfire. Just ask Tony Chan.

I don't know anything about the false masters you mentioned. I have little interest studying with anyone but you. Your teaching is of such high quality that there is no reason to go anywhere else.

I'm only thinking of those who suffered watching their rich ancient culture destroyed by Mao.


Joseph Yu said...


This is what I wrote five years ago in the astrofengshui group:

"Theory without practice is empty talk, practice without theory is blind testing. The correct way is to lay a solid foundation by studying the books written by the celebrated scholars and then to furnish the details by our own experience. It is only through practice that we can build a house on a solid foundation. To build a house without foundation is dangerous. Without building the house when the foundation is prepared, the house is simply not there."

Feng Shui is to be treated as living knowledge. Therefore new discoveries are encouraged. However, it has been a tradition to give credit to ancient masters instead of to the discoverer. In my last seminar one student asked, "This is wonderful technique. May I know the origin?"

I replied, "Master Yang Yun Song 楊筠松 taught me in my dreams."

The whole class laughed and applauded for five minutes.


Howard Choy said...


I was only responding to your posting: "90% of what I know is from the books. The remaining 10% is through conversation with my teacher." That is 100%, no mention of face-to-face learning, learning by doing, apprenticeship, mentoring, learning from students and colleagues, etc.

Now that you have clarified your position about the importance of practical experience in learning, I am glad and I shall continue to follow your future posts with great interest.