Thursday, March 1, 2012

"To cure a house" is a western concept

I remember I read something a long, long time ago that goes like this:
"A Feng Shui practitioner is a house doctor. When a house is sick, we can apply Feng Shui cures recommended by the house doctor."

The underlying philosophy is quite different from that of Yang Zhai Feng Shui 陽宅風水。In Feng Shui for houses, we focus at the qi we use in the house. We try to use the most appropriate qi to help people to fully utilize their potential. Of coures, this sentence alone is already prone to challenges.

To put it in simpler language, we can compare living in a house to eating in a restaurant. Choosing a dish from the menu is like picking a house. You don't need a doctor to tell you that a balanced diet is good for health. The dish you ordered may have some ingredients inappropriate to you. The food is all edible. The food is not sick and does not need any cure. Then just avoid whatever in the dish that is unsuitable to you.

In the same way, a room may not be suitable to you. Then stay away from that room. Another room may help you to have fame and fortune and if this is what you are going after, spend more time in that room. Feng Shui is just that simple.

Then there comes the question, "What if the restaurant is located right next to a garbage dumpsite and the filthy smell comes in from the door?" The answer is simple, "Go for another restaurant." The restaurant is not sick. The food is contaminated because of the environment." Can you cure the environment? Yes, move the dumpsite. What if the dumpsite cannot be relocated? An egg-head Feng Shui practitioner may recommend, "Since garbage is earth, use metal containers to weaken it. The restaurant will be cured." If you ask me why garbage is earth, then you are a student of the egg-head professor.

JY

18 comments:

Howard Choy said...

Hi Joseph,

I have a different take on Feng Shui Cures and I have written a post on my log:

http://howardchoy.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/feng-shui-cures/

Your and your readers comments are most welcome.

HC

Jodi Brunner said...

Hi Joseph and Howard,

Most Traditional Feng Shui practitioners will agree that using Feng Shui 'cures' is only a psychological remedy.

However I would add that it is not 'merely' a case of psychology. After all we are dealing with people so psychology is an extremely important part of our work - it is intrinsically linked to our client. So often, we have to deal with people and their problems, particularly in residential Feng Shui. Psychology is of course about the people.

My theory is that the cures originated from someplace where there is a limit to what can be done Feng Shui-wise because a) the people cannot afford major Feng Shui adjustments and/or b) there is a limit to what can be done Feng Shui-wise (eg there is nothing that can be done for a bad fs situation, the front door can't be moved, etc etc).

Therefore the Feng Shui master feels they should offer some sort of remedy to the maladies affecting their clients, so they offer the Feng Shui cures. This makes the client feel better, which is an important ingredient, albeit not a permanent solution.

However the cures can become a problem when there they turn from being a psychological cure to becoming a 'cult' whereby they must be used in order to achieve good Feng Shui. As you say Joseph, people have the choice how to use the qi in the house available to them, depending on what they want in their lives.

If people knew how important Feng Shui was, then they would seek a proper Feng Shui consultation with a consultant who can tell them what type of qi they have in the house, who would ask them what they are looking for in their lives and then give them proper advice.

However people are still at a point of needing convincing that Feng Shui works, so they would often rather spend a few dollars on a 'cure' than a few hundred on a consultation. This will change eventually, with education. In a way that is a shame, because there is room in the Feng Shui world for cures that can give a motivational reason for clients to keep on track in their lives, so to speak.

We can say that Ba Zi is for heaven luck, Feng Shui is earth luck and the Feng Shui cures are for man luck.

Best wishes,

Jodi

Howard Choy said...

Hi Jodi,

What do you mean by the word "luck", as in heaven luck, earth luck and human luck? Is there a Chinese character for it?

Howard

jneurater said...

Howard

I think it depends on whether you treat stars as spirits or elements

Howard Choy said...

Jneurater,

To me, the stars in Flying Star are Gua Qi, or the Formless Qi of the Trigrams; but things like Tai Sui and San Sha are what the Chinese would called Shen and Gui 神鬼 and we translate these two terms as Spirit and Ghost. The essence of Yi (Yili 易理) is about the Yin/Yang opposites, concepts like active/passive, substantial/insubstantial, Ji/Xiong, Wuxing Sheng-Ke, Gua and Gua Yao changes, etc., and in the order to express these constant changes in nature that are hidden and beyond our understanding, throughout history the Chinese has used Shen and Gui to express these esoteric ideas and concepts of changes, they are not the same as the Spirits and Ghosts as we understood them to be in the West, so unless we can see their original meaning and intent, Shen and Gui, when translated as Spirits and Ghosts, will always confuse and trouble us.

Joseph Yu said...

Hi Howard,

What trigram's gua qi does Five Yellow carry?

JY

Howard Choy said...

Hi Joseph,

A very good question, it highlighted the “trickiness” in the correlative process of Feng Shui. There are 9 palaces in the Luoshu diagram but only 8 Trigrams, so the 5 Yellow, which resides in the central palace, is not given a Trigram correlation, but it still has a Wuxing correlation of Earth, which allows us to use Wuxing Sheng-Ke, to determine the Ji-Xiong of its relationship to the Gua Qi of the other 8 Trigrams.

HC

Joseph Yu said...

Hi Howard,

Since 5 Yellow does not carry qua qi as no gua is assigned to it, it is either just a lump of lifeless earth or it is a living being without body. Although the other numbers are each assigned a gua, their standings have to be the same as #5. Since #1 is not lifeless water, #2 is not lifeless earth, etc., we give all the nine numbers of the Luoshu a special term: star.
A star is then to be understood as a living entity without a body. Each star has a personality some of which can correspond to the gua qi it carries. 5 Yellow is a special one because its personality does not correspond to any gua. It stands out to take up the personality of the Emperor, sometimes benevolent and some other times a tyrant. Whether a benevolent despot or an evil tyrant, 5 Yellow is powerful as an emperor. Without life, one cannot talk about fortune/misfortune (ji-xiong 吉凶). Wuxing sheng/ke is not wholely responsible for ji/xiong. We must appreciate the living aspect of the 9 stars otherwise we cannot talk about Feng Shui.

JY

Howard Choy said...

Hi Joseph,

You gave 2 options when the 5 Yellow is not given a correlation to a Trigram:

1. A lump of lifeless earth.
2. A living being without a body.

Could it be it is just a number without a Trigram correlation but with many other correlations like the colour yellow, the Wuxing Earth and the personality of an emperor, etc. why limited to only these two options?

The living aspects of the 9 stars come from the correlations we give them, by doing so we make them come alive. They are like words, by giving them meanings and say them with feelings, we make the words come alive. So whether 5 Yellow is a living entity without a body or a dead entity with a number, depends on us.

HC

Howard Choy said...

Hi Joseph,

You might think that I disagree with you but that is not the case, I just think there are more options we can consider.

As soon as you mentioned, “The 5 Yellow is a living entity without a body”, you set up 3 pairs of Yin/Yang complementary opposites: living-dead, entity-nonentity and body-bodiless, so there are at least 8 permutations we can have just like Yin/Yang give birth to the 8 Trigrams, especially if we ask these 3 questions one at a time: “Is it alive or dead?”, “Is it an entity or not?” and “Has it got a body or bodiless?”

In the end, what world–view we adopt about the 5 Yellow and the other “Stars” will affect the way we do Feng Shui and we need to be mindful of this.

HC

Chris Allen said...

Dear Joseph,

I have a theory on 5 Yellow. This comes from the understanding of Nei Dan but I think it matters. The 5 is the centre and from my experience is both the sum total of the relationship of the other stars, and also has reference to a state exemplified by planet whose nature is controlling yet benevolent when we respect it. It has it's own nature but is also the controller (or Emperor). It's a paradox of receptivity and control.

In the body, the spleen is the centre and holds the sum total of all the energies of the other Yin organs. It is the last place we come to when balancing polarised Qi.

Thanks for everything

Chris

Chris Allen said...

Dear Joseph,

Not sure you got my comment if you did scrap this one, I wasn't signed in.
My understanding of the 5 yellow star comes from Nei Dan. This energy/intelligence is a paradox of receptivity and control. It's nature depends on the relationship between the other intelligences (in Nei Dan).
I think this paradigm runs throughout Daoism and has the same meaning in Feng Shui. The planet assigned to this intelligence (in Nei Dan)is the toughest nut to break, but is benevolent when we are balanced - when we balance the other intelligences.

I just wonder whether the 5 star's nature is a direct result of the other 'stars' relationships within the house, and if these are okay then the 5 star loses its wrath.

Thanks for everything
Chris

Unknown said...

Hi Joseph, Ho Howard

The trigrams are like a list of responsibilities: family members, body parts, directions, types of houses, types of horses. The emperor is in overall charge so he does not have a to do list. The trigrams are a binary code of the to do list that gives different output depending on which program you are running. You can of course encode the emperor, but that is not the same as giving him a code for a to do list.

Best Regards,
Foon

Howard Choy said...

According to Joseph’s earlier statement, the 5 Yellow can be one of these 8 combinations:
1) A living being with a body.
2) A living being without a body.
3) A dead being with a body.
4) A dead being without a body.
5) A living non-being with a body.
6) A living non-being without a body.
7) A dead non-being with a body.
8) A dead non-being without a body.

Joseph gave two options, 7). A lump of lifeless earth (ie A dead non-being with a body)
and 2). A living being without a body and he dismissed 7) outright, which seems reasonable.

Most of us would agree it cannot be 1) A living being with a body, that would mean the 5 Yellow just like us) and 8) a dead non-being without a body, that would mean the 5 Yellow is just a number and nothing more.

Since Joseph also insisted that the 5 Yellow has to be alive otherwise there is no Feng Shui to talk about. What he said seems reasonable as well, because when something is dead, it has no Qi and without Qi there is no Feng Shui to talk about, then 3) A dead being with a body and 4) a dead being without a body, would not qualify either, so it left us with these 3 alternatives:
2) A living being without a body.
5) A living non-being with a body.
6) A living non-being without a body.

It seems both Foon and Chris have chosen 6) A living non-being without a body (it can be liken to a family member and body parts etc. and it can liken to relationships between them with the 5 yellow in charge. “Liken” or “correlated to” would imply the 5 Yellow is a non-being).

No one has chosen 5) A living non-being with a body, that would make 5 Yellow into either a Ghost or a Spirit.

So would you say the 5 Yellow is
2) A living being without a body or
6) A living non-being without a body?

In other words, is the 5 Yellow a living entity or a living idea? A living entity can act on its own whereas a living idea requires our participation to make it come alive. That is the subtle difference that you have to decide in your world-view about the 5 Yellow (and other stars for that matter) and it will affect the way you do your Feng Shui.

Unknown said...

Hi Howard

I said a trigram is like a list of responsibilities, of things to do. I did not say a star is like a list of things to do. I also said the emperor does not have a to do list. What I said and what you seem to think I said are different.

Best Regards,
Foon

Chris Allen said...

Hi Joseph, Howard, All

I appreciate the way you've all made this subject so cohesive.
What I find interesting is the list you have written up Howard. It consists of 8 possible permutations. Where is the ninth?
The 8 directions encircle the centre creating a particular frequency

When we get to the ninth year of a cycle in Numerology, we receive the sum total of the karma from the previous 8.

It's impossible to fold a sheet of paper 9 times too.

9 is completion. But maybe the 5 Yellow already had an intelligence and this would make it a paradox.
We know it needs human Qi to be activated, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is our creation. It is the creation of a specific consciousness which the Hindus call Vastu Purusha.

Existence creates this as a result of the combination and communication of Heaven, Earth and Man. The 8 directions, the trinity of Feng Shui all collect in the centre. But it's not like the eye of the storm, or a lump of lifeless earth. It's as though it stands up like an Emperor to the directions, while receiving their blessings.

Enough waffling

Howard Choy said...

Hi Foon,

Sorry to have misunderstood you. I thought in FS the trigrams are correlated to the stars and vice versa and the 5 Yellow is a part of the totality of 1-9. I also thought the 5 Yellow, correlated to the emperor, has something to do, even though he is not given a to-do list, he is in charge and he is part of the setup and is not separated from his Gua Qi subjects, that is why he is given the element Earth, the color yellow and the job of being the king, so he is connected to the other trigrams, but I could be wrong and you obviously think differently.

Howard Choy said...

Hi Chris,

You asked "Where is the ninth?", from my perspective, the 9th is us. By participating, we become part of the process. It is the decisions that we make and the actions that we take that make the 10th, the number of completion, before the cycle starts again.

Like you said, "Enough waffling", may be it is time for Joseph to have the last words.

HC