Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can destiny be changed?

The book "Liao Fan's Four Lessons - A Classic Work About How to Change One's Destiny" is an insightful book. The entire book has been translated and can be found in this website:

The high accuracy of Destiny Reading is very much exaggerated in the beginning of the story. In the end, the hero of the story changed his destiny by his good deeds and the accuracy became 0.

The moral of the story is:

Destiny Reading can be highly accurate but we can change our destiny to make all predictions highly inaccurate. Therefore, the art of Destiny Reading is to advice people how to live a meaningful life within certain limits. A good astrologer can predict accurately your path of life according to your natal chart. A better astrologer can advise you how to make the prediction inaccurate to your favour.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Art of Life Reading

Let us examine Tiger Wood's 4 Pillars chart:

--------------------Hour -------Day -------Month ------Year

Yi乙 on the year pillar represents his wife sitting on a firm root Mao 卯. However, this root is threatened by the penalty by the month branch Zi 子, which is the peach blossom.

The current period has branch You 酉 that clashed Mao 卯 making the wife element floating thus damaging the foundation of the marriage. You again is a peach blossom. The stem Yi of the luck pillar represents a woman but this is not even a mistress because of the floating nature. It represents casual sex partners.

The picture is clear but the art of life reading is not about accuracy. It is how the astrologer can provide useful advice.

The stem Wu 戊 above Zi in the month pillar is an internal combination. In other words, it can reduce the damage done by Zi. Resource Wu 戊 represents an adviser. If someone can advise Tiger to stay away from damaging peach blossom and focus on his performance (Zi), then the strong water (from Hai, Zi and Chou which is the year branch for 2009) will dissolve the clash between You and Mao. This will save the marriage.

With the help of a good astrologer, one can change his fate. Does it mean that astrology is not accurate? Well, the art of life reading is to help people live in the best way according to destiny. An astrologer is to give guidance to the client what colours to add to make his life a beautiful picture. Good life reading should not be accurately saying, "You are doomed to divorce".


Friday, December 4, 2009

Making something simple complicated

Simple is beautiful.
The poem I learnt in my school days that still stays in my mind:
"Beauty is truth and truth beauty."

Well, a lot of people try hard to make simple things complicated to show how knowledgeable they are. One example is about the teaching of Three Cycles and Nine Periods (San Yuan Jiu Yun 三元九運).

Great Feng Shui masters in the past knew a lot about astronomy and geography. They definitely knew that Jupiter and Saturn do not meet in exactly 20 year cycles and could not have related San Yuan Jiu Yun to Jupiter and Saturn movements. Even the alleged relation between Sui Xing 歲星 and Jupiter 木星 is only a beautiful misunderstanding.

Masters in the past knew that there were 60 year cycles according to the Jia Zi combinations. They also knew that there were 9 stars that take turn to rule in Heaven. The ruling star is called a Ling Xing 令星. The term of office is 20 years. Why?

It is simple mathematics that the LCM of 60 and 9 is 180. When 180 is divided by 60, the result is 3 and hence 3 cycles of 60 Jia Zi. When 180 is divided by 9, the result is 20 and hence 9 periods of 20 years each. It is a simple piece of mathematics. Remember that Mathematics is the Queen of Sciences. It is interesting to note that some people who claim that Feng Shui is scientific simply ignore the simple and beautiful mathematics and go for the more complicated astronomy for answers.

We are in Period 1 today? No way.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shape and Form 形與勢

Feng Shui studies consist of the study of Luan Tou 巒頭 and Li Qi 理氣. The former is the body while the latter is the application. 巒頭為體,理氣為用。

The study of mountain and water also consists of two parts - shape and form 形與勢.
Beginners have learned that mountains and waters can be classified according to the five elements or the nine stars. This is the study of shape 形學。The study of form is to visualize the movement of mountain and water. For water, this part is easier as we can actually see how the water runs. The "movement" of mountains can be appreciated by the inner eye. We have to see whether a mountain is healthy and vibrant. Is it ferrocious or benevolent? This is the part that takes proper Feng Shui training years of time and dedication. This is the part you have to acquire all by yourself. This is the part you cannot learn from your master. The study of form together with the study of shape is known as 形法.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Numbers Game

Numbers are really funny when you play with them. A Feng Shui master in Toronto lives in a house with number 14. When real estate agents ask him why he live in a house with such an unlucky number, he explains that it is supersititious to consider the number 4 as unlucky. Number 14 for a Feng Shui master means career success and romance, he further comments. Well, what about 25 and 23? Can we apply flying stars to house numbers?

It so happens that I moved into a house with number 26. Well, 2 is Kun and 6 is Qian in Hou Tian Ba Gua. It matches the fact that there lives grandpa and grandma.

If you are young and lives in number 26, then I will quote from Xuan Kong Mi Zhi 玄空秘旨:

Wealthy as Tao Zhu - it must be firm gold meeting earth.

The famous Tao Zhu Gong 陶朱公 was a real business expert who became the wealthiest man in the Kingdom of Qi 齊 in just a few years time after leaving the Kingdom of Yue 越. Tao Zhu was the famous Fan Li 范蠡 who helped the King of Yue to defeat his rival King of Wu. That is a beautiful story.

Play with numbers in anyway you like with a positive approach. It stimulates sheng qi in your mind and the good wishes will come true. The numbers themselves become the most powerful talisman.


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.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

The fishing skill, not the fish

The way I learned Feng Shui from my master was through:

(1) Observation
(2) Asking questions
(3) Searching for an answer from ancient Feng Shui classics
(4) Presenting my understanding
(5) Repeating (3) and (4) until my master was satisfied

My master was a great master but he did not teach me in the way most people call "teaching". This is the most solid form of teaching.

Did he pass onto me some well-kept "secrets" of Feng Shui? Yes, and I have already disclosed the secret in this posting:

It is the fishing skill, not the fish.


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Feng Shui Lineage Game

Feng Shui was not passed on by aliens.

One of the commercial gimmicks Feng Shui masters are fond of using is "lineage".

Indeed, Feng Shui was taught through a master-disciple system. The disciple would be loyal because of the belief that the master would pass on to him the top secrets before his death. Whether it is true or not, no one knows but the game plays on.

Who was the first Feng Shui master then? How did he create the secrets of Heaven and Earth?

The answer is simple. There is no first Feng Shui master. Some people claim that Feng Shui knowledge was passed down from Guo Pu (276-324 AD) in his Burial Book. Yang Yun Song (834-906 AD) is another important person in the history of Feng Shui. According to the history documentary 《赣州府志》written in 1536 AD during the Ming Dynasty, Yang served Tang Emperor Xi Zong 唐僖宗 as the Gold and Purple Light Prosperity Officer 金紫光禄大夫 that took care of Earth Rational Affairs of the Spiritual Platform 灵台地理事. In today’s language, he was the Imperial Feng Shui Adviser.

When he was 45, the rebellion led by Huang Chao 黄巢 attacked the Imperial Palace and he escaped with important books kept in the Imperial Library. He used the technique he learned from the books to practise and teach Feng Shui. Because he was able to help the poor with his Feng Shui practice, he was known as Yang Jiu Pin 杨救贫 (Yang Saving the Poor). Today, a lot of people claim to be holding his lineage.

It should be noted that no one has mentioned who was Yang Yun Song’s master and his master’s master. According to reliable historical documents, he studied the books he took from the Imperial Library and became the most honoured Feng Shui master in history. Obviously he studied the principles but invented his technique. Unfortunately, no one holding his lineage learned Feng Shui the way he did. Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, people today want to peep through the legs of giants.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

The person, not the star

I remember the house I bought when I first set foot on Canada. It was a Period 7 house facing Ren (N1). The bedroom in the NW had the stars 1 and 4 and I assigned it to my elder son who was about to graduate from high school. Well, he improved a lot from the days when he was in Hong Kong and was admitted into the University of Toronto. What was more amazing was that he was never short of girl friends. As a result, his academic achievement was quite limited.

Then I assigned the room to my younger son. He was always among the best in high school and university and got a good job after graduation. He also got married with his high school sweet heart.

The same stars when used by different people will generate different results. Some people can use the star for academic achievement while others may use the star to become an artist. The same stars can also be used by some people to become romantic people flirting all the time.

The nature of a star does not change, the outcome depends on the user.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Beijing Financial Street

This monument consists of three parts:

Heaven - the globe has a coin with the words Kai Yuan Tong Bao 開元通寶 inscribed. It also has the initial JR standing for Jin Rong 金融 on the other side of the globe. It shows the time and space aspect of Heaven.

Man - the four legs of a stable urn shows the oldest cloth money with the name of the ancient financial center in China 茲氏 on each cloth bank note. For artistic reasons, the radical 草 is split into two, one standing on top and the other at the bottom. The other part of the character is "silk 絲" and it looks like the numeral 88.

Earth - the square base with the name of the street.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Will or the Petition to Heaven?

The plaintiff in this case launched several charges:

1. This will is forged.
2. This will was written when Nina Wang was so ill that her mind was unsound.
3. This will is a Fung Shui will not meant to be executed.
4. This will is a supplement to the 2002 will and the residue is zero because all has been donated to Chinachem Charity Foundation.

The plaintiff has to win only in one of these four charges while the defendant has to win in all of them.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feng Shui Will vs Petition to Heaven

Mr. Szeto provided some details about the ceremony of Rebirth after Death 死後重生法事 in his report. When a person is in great danger in life, he can go through a process to shake off all the sins committed and live a new life. In this process, the person is required to sleep in a coffin for at least one day. For the other 48 days, his finger nail, hair and four pillars chart on a little tablet will take the place of the person. There is also to be a Petition to Heaven for Continuance of Life after Rebirth 死後重生续命奏章 drafted under the guidance of a certain god. This god (or a group of gods) will bring the petition to the Jade Emperor 玉皇大帝 who is supposed to be the supreme god in Heaven.

In the petition, the name of the petitioner together with his date and hour of birth is included. The request (winning a lawsuit, recovery from terminal illness, etc.) is stated. A promise is made to Heaven to bequeath a huge sum of money for charity purposes. The sum of money can be a substantial part of what the person possesses and the larger the amount shows the higher degree of sincerity.

Such a practice is quite common and popular in China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan). We have no doubt about this.

Mr. Szeto emphasized on the inclusion of asking for God's help is mandatory in the written document. This document is meant to be burnt to reach Heaven. This obviously is a traditional Daoist Religion 道教 teaching.

A Daoist Master incorporates Daoist technique into his Fung Shui practice is understandable. In the same way, some Feng Shui practitioners in the West also incorporates Dowsing into the practice. However, Dowsing and Daoist ceremonies should not be considered Fung Shui unless such practices can actually improve the principal purpose of the flow of qi to acquire results.

We cannot find any similarity between the 2006 Will and a Petition as described except for the phrase "guided with God help" in the Will. It is not a Petition. It is a Will.

I find it hard to be convinced that a Will is the same as a Petition. If Tony Chan wins this part of the lawsuit, it is because of Mr. Szeto's inability to prove that the 2006 Will is a so-called Fung Shui Will. It is not because of my ability to prove that it is not. In fact, I cannot and did not attempt to prove anything.

Outside the court, Mr. Szeto told the reporters that he wore white on the day he was cross-examined because white represents righteousness and it is righteous to help to win the case for charity. Well, he forgot that an expert witness is not there to help either the plaintiff or the defendant. It would be better if he said it is righteous to help the court to make the correct judgement. I could also say that I wore deep blue and blue represents wisdom. I was there to help the court to make a wise judgement.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Report (2)

I will only disclose the parts of my report that are non-specific. This is the part regarding health issues:
The numbers labeling the paragraphs are not the same as in the original report.

1. Fung Shui is not magic. What Fung Shui can do is to help people tap into the beneficial qi (energy in the metaphysical sense) so that they can perform with efficiency, enjoy a happy and successful life. Regarding illness, what Fung Shui can do is to help people distancing themselves from sickness qi (metaphysical energy) and to help people to absorb the healthy or good qi thus strengthening the body and to be lucky to receive the best medical care. Whether or not the patient can recover still depends on how serious the illness is. Fung Shui practices are usually directed at the residence of the patient, and typically involve at a minimum making adjustments in the bedroom, the kitchen and the main door. Some Fung Shui practices involve relocation of the bed/desk/sofa/stove/door so that the patient can receive healthy energy at rest. Some would involve choosing the time when health energy is strong to make the Fung Shui setting more effective. Different schools use different techniques. For many schools no special technique is required.

2. In Fung Shui practices, we cannot guarantee any result. We can just say that we can reasonably expect certain results from fung shui practices. Typical fung shui techniques might involve relocating the patient to receive healthy energy so that he can recover from illness or to enjoy better health and/or longevity.

3. It is suggested by the Plaintiff’s witnesses that the digging of holes in 2005 was related to Nina’s health problems. Digging large holes activate earth energies. In most cases, it will not help a patient to recover. There is a general principle that one should avoid any movement of the earth (動 土) when health is at stake. If the inappropriate energy is disturbed, it will make matters worse.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Report

In this series of articles, I will provide some first hand information about the case to clarify something disclosed by the press.

This first article is the introductory paragraph of my report:

1. The profession of Fung Shui is not regulated. Usually we classify Fung Shui consultants under the categories (1) scholarly researchers and (2) professional consultants. The former is also known as the Academic School (Xue Yuan Pai 學院派) while the latter as the Commercial School (Jiang Hu Pai 江湖派). The Chinese term for the latter carries a negative meaning as most of the commercial practitioners only know the how but not necessarily the why regarding to their practices. The scholars, on the other hand, may know the theory quite well but often lack practical experience.

2. I started studying and researching into the theoretical background of Fung Shui while I was studying at the University of Hong Kong. The knowledge of Mathematics and Physics helps me tremendously in understanding and deciphering the ancient Fung Shui classics. Although I became a full-time Fung Shui practitioner after moving to Toronto, Canada, I think it is more appropriate to consider myself belonging to the category of scholarly researchers. Since I have been traveling to teach and practise Fung Shui all around the world, my practical experience covers Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, India, Australia, Israel, Greece, Russia, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. The practical experience confirms what I learned from the books.

3. In 1998, I founded Feng Shui Research Center to offer education in Chinese Metaphysics. To date, Feng Shui Research Center has branches in many of the countries I have referred to above.
My CV is included at the end of this report.


Saturday, July 11, 2009


There is some misunderstanding on reports by journalists that the judge abruptly ceased the cross-examination during my session of testimony. Here I hope that the situation can be clarified.

The work of an expert witness consists of two parts: to write a report based on the witness statements by various witnesses with reference to the field of expertise of the expert witness. In this case it is Feng Shui (known as Fung Shui in Hong Kong). The second part is to appear in court to be cross-examined by the barrister of the opposite side. Usually the cross-examination is focussed on the expert witness report. Most of the time, the barrister tries to find fault with what is written.

The first expert witness Mr. Szeto was cross-examined and it was pointed out that his report plagiarized a website and contained false information. It took over 3 hours and the barrister tried to impress the judge that his report is not trustworthy.

When it was my turn, the barrister did not mention anything from my report but instead began with my biography that is on my website. He asked whether my standpoint of vowing to destroy the superstitious part in Fung Shui. My answer was positive.

He then asked whether I considered Mao Shan and black magic Fung Shui practices. My answer was negative. He then asked whether I know Mao Shan and black magic and I admitted that I did not know and this topic was beyond my scope of expertise. He then asked whether I consider anything I did not know as not Fung Shui. I explained that even though I may not know certain practices, I could use common sense to tell that they were not Fung Shui.

At this point the judge took over to ask me whether my Fung Shui knowlege came from self-study. I said it was 90% from books and the other 10% was guided study by my master. When I asked the master something, there was no direct answer but he pointed to certain chapters of a certain book. When I thought I understood something, then I reported to my master. If he turned away without a comment, then I knew I was wrong and did further research until he was satisfied with my research work. That was the way I learned.

The judge then asked if I encountered something that I did not understand but made no sense to me, would I consider it not Fung Shui. I said I would not consider it Fung Shui as Fung Shui is a study that is based on logical development.

The judge then told the barrister there was no need to further cross-examine me. What I understood was that the judge had asked the questions on behalf of the barrister and he fully understood the point and therefore there was no need to carry on. He then asked the barrister who defended Tony Chan whether he had anything to supplement. He said not and the cross-examination was over.

It must be noted that the judge did not order to adjourn the cross-examination and had the barristers wanted to continue, the cross-examination could have continued.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Xue Wen and Zhi Shi

There are two terms in Chinese that people usually cannot distinguish. They are:

Xue Wen 學問 - learn and ask
Zhi Shi 知識 - know and understand.

The latter can be translated as knowledge but the former has no English equivalent. This term is also interesting in the order of the two words Xue 學 coming before Wen 問. That is to say, you have to learn before you ask. Isn't it the right order?

A lot of people ask questions before they learn. When they take a course and encounter difficulty in reading the course book, they ask immediately. This is not the right thing to do because they ask without first learning. The term is Xue Wen and not Du Wen 讀問 (read and ask). The reason why you should learn before you ask is because by doing so, you will understand the answer much better. Sometimes, you don't even have to ask because you will find the answer yourself even though it may not be explicitly given in the textbook. This is the way I learn and therefore also the way I teach.

The other term is Zhi Shi (know and understand). Knowledge is not just something you know. It must be something you understand. What you know is just information given to you. From books and the internet, you can get information but not knowledge. Information can be transformed into knowledge through learning and asking. Of course whether this is successful will depend on the information provider and the knowledge acquirer.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Four Pillars 四柱

"Bazi 八字" is the abbriviated term used to mean the more academic term "Si Zhu Tui Ming Shu 四柱推命術". The term "Four Pillars" is the translation of "Si Zhu 四柱" and is, in fact, more picturesque.

Each year, month, day and hour is represented by a binomial of Tian Gan 天干 and Di Zhi 地支 which is to be distinguished as their functions and implications are different. We can say that one is the more visible part while the other is the more important background. Each part can represent a person/people or a situation/event.

The natal chart tells us the spiritual structure of a person, his character and the likely limits of achievement. This is largely influenced by the 10 year Pillar and each 1 year Pillar that comes after the person's birth. This accounts for the new environment and people the person will meet.

It is quite obvious that the character of the person leads to the probable reaction to what he encounters. However, we must not forget that education and experience can change the character of a person. This is why there is a part of life that we can control. In Chinese, there is a saying "人定勝天" (Man can surely win over Heaven). This does not mean that Human force can beat Heavenly force. It tells us that we can change the outcome of a situation brought to us by Heaven through our determination and effort.

Heaven can decide what to give us but cannot determine how we react and thus the outcome.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

What we face and our reaction

The link brings you to an insightful pps file:


The author is Stephen Covey.

No matter whether it is life reading or divination, what is revealed is the 10% - things that are going to happen to you. The outcome depends on the other 90% - how you react to the things happening to you.

If we know the 10% that is beyond our control, we can plan the best reaction to get the most favourable outcome. This is the value of life reading and divination.

If you are the coach of a football team, divination about the game will give you the analysis of what your team is facing. Whether your team will win depends on how your team reacts. If you are just an onlooker, since you do not know how the team reacts, your divination will not tell you the outcome. If Qi Men Dun Jia is used, then it also reveals whether the coach is doing the right thing as well. However, QMDJ is not really divination treated as communication between the diviner and Heaven. It is the analysis of the multi-dimensional field of qi. It may cover much more than 10% as the probable reaction is also revealed in the study.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yin and Yang and Life

In Feng Shui, we do not deal with "dead" yin and yang. We are interested in how yin and yang intercourse 陰陽交媾 to generate life. It is inappropriate to try to create a rigid definition even when we compare two parts of a picture to see which part is yin and which part is yang. Rather, we can use models to help appreciate the concept.

The flower and the bee - which is yin, which is yang?

The bee is the one in action to make pollination a success. Therefore, the bee is yang while the flower is yin, right?

However, the flower sends out the message to attract the bee and is actually the one that initiates the action. The bee only responds to the message to come over. Therefore, the flower is yang while the bee is yin, right?

This is an example illustrating the teaching in

Qing Nang Jing:
Yang originates from yin. Yin breeds yang. Heaven follows form. Earth is attached to qi. This is what is known as the origin of transformation.

陽本陰 陰育陽 天依形 地附氣 此之謂化始 — 青囊經


Sunday, May 10, 2009

No movement, no divination 不动不占

The word "movement" points at the movement of the mind (heart). When nothing bothers one's mind, there is to be no divination.

When someone is bothered by something, his mind sends a strong message to the Universe, which is considered an "intelligent entity" in metaphysics. The Universe will send back a reply of guidance. A diviner is someone who can pick up the message and is versed in interpreting the message. It is, however, not fortune-telling.

A journalist asked me whether I have divined for the outcome of the lawsuit over Nina Wang's estate. As I am not interested in who will win the lawsuit, there is no movement in my mind. Therefore, I cannot do the divination. If either party requests me to do the divination, then the message is strong as there is movement of the mind of the enquirer. However, as I am an expert witness in this litigation, I cannot be the diviner because an expert witness is not supposed to do anything in favour of any party. To divine on behalf of someone is to ask the Universe to give guidance to the enquirer. Therefore, an expert witness cannot divine for any party.

It is a common mistake to view divination as disclosing the outcome. It is, in fact, not a game to satisfy one's curiosity. Divination is to ask for guidance from the Universe to obtain a favourable outcome.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Teaching in Moscow

Here are some photos taken during my recent teaching tour in Moscow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Litigation of the Century

I am glad to be invited to be an Expert Witness in the lawsuit over the multi-billion dollar assets left by Asia's richest woman Nina Wang (Little Sweetie).

The duties of an expert witness are to provide independent assistance to the court by way of objective unbiased opinion in relation to matters within his expertise. An expert witness has an overriding duty to the court and is not an advocate to any party.

The media wrongly assumed that because I was retained by the lawyers of the Defendant, I would be fighting a battle with the expert witness (about Fung Shui issues) retained by the lawyers of the Plaintiff. I don't blame them as their intention is to make it dramatic to attract more readership.

This case is the first one that involves the practice of Feng Shui (Fung Shui). When the case is over, I will share my experience with my friends in this blog.


Friday, April 10, 2009

My Name: 大智若愚

Back in 2000, when I gave a seminar in UK, I got a temporary library card to visit the British Library. After the seminar, I went to the library. The librarian in charge of the Chinese reference books section was an old English gentleman. He asked me what particular books I wanted to read. I told him I wanted to do a little research on Shao Yong’s work. He took my business card and asked me to write my name in Chinese on it. I wrote:

He put his thumbs up, “What a good name!” He then wrote with beautiful calligraphy:

若 大
愚 智
道 山
長 人

and asked, “Which way do you like me to address you?”
I looked into his eyes, which was blinking with wisdom and humor. We burst into silent laughter together.

“You must be a sinologist.” I said.
“No,” he shook his head with his grey hair almost dancing, “I am just a lover of Chinese culture. Sinologists are westerners who do research work on ancient Chinese the western way. I don’t like the flavor and that is why I am not one.”
“I love to enjoy Chinese culture through books, visiting China and communicate with Chinese scholars.” He added.

He then showed me my seat and asked me to visit other places of the library, “Come back in 1 hour, and the books you want will be on your desk. We have the complete Si Ku Quan Shu 四庫全書 and Shao Yong’s work is in the Zi section Shu Shu Category子部 術數類.”

I was impressed as he did not have to go through any catalogue or computer. It was all in his mind.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Design - a follow-up

A design according to Feng Shui principles must integrate the concept of San Cai 三才 - Heaven, Man and Earth 天人地. The part San Cai takes in Feng Shui is Time, Activities and Space. The part San Cai takes in design is Truth, Virtue and Beauty 真善美.

The design must also cater for the special purpose of what the space is for. The concept of yin and yang for a debate is undoubtedly appropriate. The design, however, is too artificial. The Heaven part is represented by a hanging Taiji symbol. This is eye-catching but as Howard Choy pointed out, it is something calling "Look at me, look at me". In Chinese, it is called "the noisy guest overshadows the host 喧賓奪主".

The Man part consists of a structure inspired by the Taiji Tu 太極圖. The male seated in the white section while the female seated at the black section is not the right seating. In the Taiji diagram, there is a white dot in the black part and a black dot in the white part indicating there is yin contained in yang and yang contained in yin. Therefore, the male should be seated in the yin part while the female in the yang part. As a matter of fact, during the show, the man (黃毓民) talked loudly all the time and the woman (葉劉淑儀) had to plead for a chance to speak. It was chaotic and lacked harmony.

The Earth part is also represented by a large taiji symbol painted on the floor where the seats are placed above. Well, the Earth part should be a square conforming to 天圓地方 (round Heaven square Earth). This will help the speakers to talk with solid foundation. Now, what they say are superficial because there is no firm grounds to support them.

The Heaven part must be true 真 meaning that the taiji symbol hanging there should be replaced by light and shadow on the ceiling to be real. The Earth part must be beautiful 美 meaning that the design must be natural symbolizing solid grounds. Although this is a face-to-face heated debate, the atmosphere must be harmonious and the two participants must have constructive ideas for the benefit of the public. The Man part must show harmony and virtue 善.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Special Design

This is a TV show of two famous political commentators in Hong Kong debating over certain issues. Note the design of the room where the heated debate takes place. Do you think it serves the purpose?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tai Sui 太歲

Some students argue among themselves whether Tai Sui of the year covers 30 degrees or 15 degrees of the luopan.

Qing Nang Xu 青囊序 says:

先天羅經十二支 後天再用干與維

In the luopan, the Xian Tian divisions are the twelve branches.
In Hou Tian, the stems and the corner trigrams are also used.

This means that the Heavenly bodies occupy and define the twelve palaces along the yellow path. When it is mapped onto the earth, in addition to the twelve branches, the eight stems (Wu and Ji go to the center to become the Huang Ji 皇極) are added to assist the branches. Moreover, the four trigrams Qian, Gen, Xun and Kun are also added to make it up to 24 paths occupying 15 degrees each.

Xian Tian is the body while Hou Tian is the application. Fundamentally, Tai Sui covers 30 degrees but in Feng Shui practices, we use the branches of the 24 mountains to define the location of the Tai Sui. 7.5 degrees from each side of the branch will be occupied by assisting forces of the Tai Sui.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Granddaughter

She's so content!

She's so happy!

Rebecca, Mark and their 1 day old daughter

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fish and Bear's Palm

Watch the two videos:


They both show that the bear has powerful paws to help catching a fish with ease.

If you search for videos "bear catching fish", you will see a salmon swimming upstreams flying into the mouth of a bear waiting there. In comparison, you can see how important it is to do something at the right place and time.

Mecius could have meant that to have the instrument to catch fish is better than to be given the fish.

However, it is important to read the entire chapter before drawing our conclusion. Mencius continued to say, "To survive is what I want. To be righteous is also what I want. If I cannot have them both, I will give up survival and choose righteousness. 生我所欲也 義亦我所欲也 二者不可得兼 捨生而取義者也"

For survival, food is essential. It is to be righteous if food is the result of hardwork. If a bear is to choose between being fed with fish but sacrificing his paws, the bear would rather choose to die of starvation.

Giving up survival for righteousness 捨生取義 is what Mencius wanted to teach.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Fish and Bear's Palm

Mencius said, "Fish is what I want. The bear's palm is also what I want. If I cannot have both, then I will give up the fish and take the bear's palm. 魚我所欲也 熊掌亦我所欲也 二者不可得兼 捨魚而取熊掌者也"

Because of the above writing, people have been thinking that the bear's palm must be very delicious. I remember one year when I was in Hong Kong, a group of very wealthy people bought a pair of bear's palm from China and shared them in a very special banquet. They arranged the banquet in a famous restaurant with the best cook. A lot of reporters were attracted there to interview everyone in this event. When asked about the taste of the bear's palm, here were some of the remarks:

(1) It is good, like beef but a little difficult to bite through.
(2) It is a rare opportunity. The flavour? Well, to tell you the truth, not as good a beef.
(3) Not worth the money.

I tried hard to understand why Mencius said he preferred the bear's palm to fish. One day, I got the answer. I will tell you in the next moment when I think aloud.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Cao Chong Weighing the Elephant

The story about Newton sitting under an apple tree may be just a made-up story. Whether it took Newton 20 years of hard work to make his theory credible or whether the apple cleared what blocks his mind and inspired him to receive the idea of the Law of Gravity leaves much room for imagination.

Another story that is equally inspiring is about Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC). He stepped into a bath tub and noticed that the water level rose as his body submerged into the water. He exclaimed “Eureka!” as this inspired him to discover what is now known as Archimedes' Principle – the weight of water displaced is equal to the weight of object submerged in water.

Now I will tell another story. This one is about Han Prime Minister Cao Cao's young son Cao Chong 漢丞相曹操之子曹沖(196 – 208).

One day Cao Cao received an elephant as a gift. Cao Cao ordered the officers to find a way to weigh the elephant. No one could find a solution until Cao Cao's five year old son Cao Chong said he could find accurately the weight of the elephant.

He told the people to bring the elephant to the river and led it to board a boat. Then he told the people to mark on the boat the water level. The elephant was led back to the shore and stones were placed in the boat until the water reaches the same level as when the elephant was on board. It remains an easy job to weigh the stones separately and add up the total. The weight of the elephant was simply the same as the weight of all the stones placed in the boat.

Could and should Cao Chong quote Archimedes to support his method? Can we accuse the young boy for plagiarism because he could not quote from a reliable source? I would rather say that he has wonderful ability to receive messages floating in the Universe.

Most of the time, the gifted people have to work very hard to polish his invisible antenna to keep it functional. Unfortunately this clever boy died at the age of 12.

The modern format of presenting academic papers makes it easy to trace the line of thought but it also makes writing academic papers mechanical and lack of poetry. If you compare Newton's Principia and some modern research papers, you will know what I mean.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nothing is New Under the Sun

In my Plum Blossom Divination course, I wrote:

Before the Yijing was written, the concept of Yi already existed. It might not exist in the minds of people. It might just be floating in the Universe waiting to be picked up by someone living on earth.

However, when one picks up an idea floating in the Universe and writes it down as his discovery, it is considered his idea. Obviously he cannot quote the source of the idea.

Yes, nothing is new under the sun. But if you are the first one to discover something, how can you quote an "authoritative source"? Note that you do not create anything. You just discover something that already exists but is unknown to people before your discovery.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Huai Nan Zi 淮南子 and Bai Hu Tong 白虎通

These are two books some westerners are fond of quoting. Sinologists are addicted to these two books as if they were the most authoritative books in ancient China. In a way, it is true. These are very comprehensive books compiled in a very rigorous way. However, they are both of encyclopedic nature.

Huai Nan Zi was compiled by Liu An 劉安, the King of Huai Nan 淮南王 (179-121 BCE). The work was mostly done by his guests and was divided into 21 Inner and 33 Outer Chapters. The Inner Chapters were about the Dao. The Outer Chapters were about other philosophies. What remain today are the 21 Inner Chapters. These chapters are about the Dao of Nature. It is an integration of Daoism 道家, Moism 墨家, Yinyangism 陰陽家, Faism 法家 and Confucianism 儒家 with an inclination towards Daoism.

Bai Hu Tong was compiled during the reign of Han Zhang Di 漢章帝 (58-88 AD). The work started in the year 79 AD when he summoned his officers to hold a conference. The results were recorded and compiled by Ban Gu 班固, a famous scholar. This becomes the standard answers to questions about the study of Jing Xue 經學. It is interesting to find that this book even included a section on sex education.

Anyway, because of the encyclopedic nature of the books, they are not really reliable at the expert level. To call someone a walking encyclopedia is actually calling him someone who knows superficially almost anything you can name but expert in nothing.

I remember I started trading in gum rosin in China in 1982. I looked up the Encyclopedia Brintanica about gum rosin before I went to negotiate a deal. Armed with the detailed information from the authoritative source I was confident that my knowledge was at the expert level. Fortunately I was a good listener and not a big talker. I was surprised that even the categorization of different grades of the product was not the same from the book and as used in the insdustry.

There is always a danger to rely on reputable source of information.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Attitude towards quoting

There are different scenarios when we quote from an established source.

(1) To share something we find useful. In this case, if the reader does not agree with the idea, he is disagreeing with the source, not the one who shares what he finds. This will be valuable as the writer will view the materials he wants to share from a different angle and thus broadens his vision. Of course he can also defend the idea to further explain it to the reader. A fruitful debate will spark off.

(2) To support his idea. In this case, he must have his own idea and what he quotes is just to show that his idea is supported by (not copied from) an authoritative source. Such quotes are necessary as a new idea has to be hatched from an egg and not burst from a rock.

Having said this, I want to comment on some people's attitude. When you present an idea, they would demand that you quote the source from an authority. When you say it is your idea , they are not satisfied. They will not accept your idea even if it is logical. They will rather accept a false idea when it is directly quoted from an ancient book. They will not be satisfied even if you quote from an authoritative book to support your idea. This is a very wrong attitude.