Friday, February 24, 2012

Chen Tuan 陳摶(2)

Chen Tuan (871-989) was a legendary Daoist sage. His birth name was Chen Tuan (陳摶); his other name was Tunan (圖南). He was posthumously named Xī Yí (希夷) by the emperor. He was also called fondly as Fu Yao Zi (扶搖子).

Traditionally in China, a person’s birth name and his other name are closely related with the other name an annotation of the birth name. However, in Chen Tuan’s case, his birth name is actually intimately related to the name given by the emperor.

Let us take a look at Chapter 14 of the Dao De Jing 道德經:




Look without seeing is called Yi;

Listen without hearing is called Xi;

Touch without feeling is called Wei.

Chen Tuan’s birth name wants him to put everything into practice in order to understand. The emperor knew him too well to be a superb Daoist. Therefore, he gave him the name Xi Yi希夷 meaning he already reached the state described by Dao De Jing. He looks without seeing, listens without hearing and touches without feeling. It is this state that qualifies him to be a real Daoist.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chen Tuan 陳摶 (1)

A lot of people, including Feng Shui masters, make a mistake in the name of the great Daoist Chen Tuan 陳摶。They erroneously call him Chen Bo 陳搏 (in Cantonese, Chan Bok). This is because the two characters look very similar.

Tuan 摶 means to touch.
Bo 搏 means to fight.

In the next article I will write in more details about the name of the great Daoist.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Is Feng Shui Knowledge From God or From Men?

This article was first published in 2001. I have just added a little bit at the end.

Feng Shui masters in the past claimed that they were in possession of the key to read Heaven's will. They always told people that the secret of Heaven should not be disclosed. Jiang Da Hong is famous/notorious for advocating this. Shen Zhu Reng found this most outrageous and battered him and others including Yang Yun Song. That is also why a lot of people hate Shen and say that he did not respect his predecessors.

The mystrious mask of Feng Shui leads to the belief that Feng Shui knowledge was passed on by God (whoever He is) to a selected master. He then passed this
knowledge to his selected disciple and then a kind of lineage is formed. Claimants of being on the lineage also claim, in a way, that they are the sole holders of the key to read Heaven's way.

On the other hand, some people are of the opinion that Feng Shui knowledge was built up bit by bit by wise people in the past. There are great writings by various knowledgeable people although most of these people did not disclose their true identities but rather used the names of legends like Yang Yun Song 楊筠松, Guo Pu 郭璞, Qing Wu Zi 青烏子, Huang Shi Gong 黄石公 or even the Yellow Emperor 黄帝 who got it from the Mysterious Lady of the Nine Heavens 九天玄女.

The question is what you want to believe. If you believe that Feng Shui is passed on from generation to generation through secretive lineage, then you can only learn from those who claim to be on those family lines. This will have to exclude any line from Shen Zhu Reng because he openly told people that he learned from books.

If you believe that Feng Shui is a living knowledge, then learn whatever is reasonable and has a basis from Feng Shui classics. Do not believe in anything you are taught just because the master says so. Do not believe in anything you read from any book unless you find it reasonable.

It will be chaotic in the beginning. There will be a day in the future when the study of Feng Shui will be like the study of science. People can openly discuss their proposed hypotheses in search for the truth. Until then, you can choose to learn Feng Shui from a
dogmatic school or to learn it with reasons.

To learn it from a dogmatic school is like walking on a road paved with velvet leading to riches. To learn it the hard way is like climbing a mountain. To be able to reach the top may only be a dream. I bet, most people will follow the schools offering doctrine/dogma. Sad? It is reality. And the reality is what they learn will be
(0.9) to the power N of what the original teaching was if one claims to be the Nth generation lineage holder assuming each generation loses 10% of the original teaching , which  is a generous assumption already.

If 30 years make one generation, then in 900 years there are 30 generations. Multiply 0.9 by itself 30 time and see what you get.

Yang Yun Song 楊筠松 (834-900 AD)


Monday, February 6, 2012

Feng Shui Research (4) – On Research

According to Wikipedia,

<<Research can be defined as the search for knowledge. Three types of researches are mentioned:

(1)    Scientific research

(2)    Research in the humanities

(3)    Artistic research

Artistic research has been defined by the University of Dance and Circus (Dans och Cirkushögskolan, DOCH), Stockholm in the following manner - "Artistic research is to investigate and test with the purpose of gaining knowledge within and for our artistic disciplines. It is based on artistic practices, methods and criticality. Through presented documentation, the insights gained shall be placed in a context." Artistic research aims to enhance knowledge and understanding with presentation of the arts.>>

If we replace the word “artistic” by “metaphysical”, the definition will read:

"Metaphysical research is to investigate and test with the purpose of gaining knowledge within and for our metaphysical disciplines. It is based on metaphysical practices, methods and criticality. Through presented documentation, the insights gained shall be placed in a context."

The last sentence in the quoted paragraph will read:

“Metaphysical research aims to enhance knowledge and understanding with presentation of the various fields of metaphysics.”

Therefore, please do not demand that metaphysical theories to go through the steps of validation by independent scientific tests.

Well then, how do we know that the theories are true? Through research we can enhance our knowledge and understanding. We can scrutinize documentation by our predecessors. We can practice to see whether we achieve a result and document our findings. Since the knowledge of metaphysics is not a collection of some rigid rules, it can be enhanced to perpetually improving without the goal of perfection because perfection in metaphysics does not exist.

The word Science comes from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge". The science as defined today is only one kind of knowledge that can satisfy certain definitive rules. If someone demands all other kinds of knowledge to go through the same rules, then a religion called “Science” is established. Do you want to be the founding infallible Pope of this religion?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Feng Shui Research (3) Human Qi

One of the basic concepts in Chinese Metaphysics is Heaven, Earth and Man the meaning of which depends on the context. The three form an integral part in all situations and it is the Man part that makes it impossible to set up scientific tests.

We leave the term "human qi" as undefined and its existence originates from a living person. The Chinese way of saying is that qi is born at the heart. The "heart" here does not refer to the heart we know in human anatomy. It does not refer to an organ but it is not the mind. That is why we leave it as undefined. The existence of human qi is obvious observation. When a person walks in, we can feel the qi he brings in. Sometimes we feel the qi of joy, sometimes the qi of bitterness and sometimes we feel sha qi. Sometimes even in the virtual world of the internet we can feel the kind of qi from a person's writing. There is another Chinese saying, "The facial appearance is given birth by the heart 相由心生". This actually means that the heart gives birth to qi and the kind of qi will appear on one's face.

Since human qi originates from the heart, belief or disbelief of something will affect the outcome. Do not underestimate this human qi that comes from the heart. There are many case studies of a dying person prolongs his life because he wants very much to wait for someone to come to say goodbye.

This leads to the use of placebo effect. Medical doctors usually use positive words to tell the patients that they will get well because of the right medication. If the patient trusts him, the effect of the medication is more powerful. Some doctors after diagnosis tell the patient that he is not sick and therefore does not need prescription. The patient is told to do more excersice and eat healthy. Most people will leave the doctors office happily. However, there are people who need given some pills or even injection otherwise they always think they have not been cured. Some doctors in Hong Kong give the patient vitamin pills or even inject distilled water and the patient recovers in no time. If it helps the patient to get well, why not?

In practising Feng Shui, some practitioners tell their clients to put a three-legged toad (also called a money frog) to attract wealth. This definitely has nothing to do with Feng Shui just as providing vitamin pills or water injection is not medical practice. The thing is, some clients report that it works well. Some who do not believe in such things merely refuse to buy the toad. They may even tell the practitioner the toad is ugly. This may also lead to the practitioner losing business. Well, well, I myself would not recommend such things. However, I have no objection to such practice as long as there is no claim that this is a Feng Shui practice.

It is not nonsense.
It is not Feng Shui practice.

You can say that it is loosely related to Chinese Metaphysics because it is the qi from the heart that makes it work. Since there are better ways in Feng Shui practices, why bother to use this? But as long as it does no harm, why bother to condemn it?

Some unethical practitioners may be selling a three-legged toad for a very high price claiming he has "opened the light" for the toad and it is very powerful because of this. The term is "Kai Guang 開光". This is to be condemned.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feng Shui Research (2) - Logic and Common Sense

Even though Feng Shui is not science, the theory goes through the same steps as science theories are developed. It begins with undefined terms and principles. The theories are then developed logically.

Many years ago, a client asked me, "What is the most basic principle in Feng Shui?" 

I said, "Whatever beautiful is a source of Sheng Qi."

The client said, "Isn't it just common sense?"

"Exactly," I said, "If something goes against our common sense, it is nonsence and Feng Shui is not nonsense."

If a Feng Shui practitioner claims that he can make you a billionaire with Feng Shui, this is nonsense. Why? If he can make you a billionaire, why has he not made a billionaire himself? This is logical deduction. Making such claims is nonsense and by logical deduction we can say that he does not know Feng Shui.

However, using logic does not make Feng Shui a science. Whoever accuses me of contradicting myself makes a fundamental error in logic:

(1) Science uses logic.
(2) Feng Shui uses logic.
Therefore, Feng Shui is sicience.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feng Shui Research (1)

When I founded Feng Shui Research Center, I expected my students to join me researching the validity of Feng Shui theories in practice. Some people expect the research work to satisfy scientific requirements. We must understand and agree that Feng Shui is not a science. It is not a pseudo-science. It is a branch of studies in metaphysics - something that exists but not obeying the laws of physics. To help people understand a little of the Feng Shui theories we use analogies that most people are familiar with. For example, we start with qi but we do not attempt to define what it is. We use it as an undefined term but describe it as something that "rides the wind". This approach is like science. But you can see that this is just an analogy. "Wind" here includes any moving object, not necessarily air molecules from a physics standpoint. Then at some point, we use the word "star" to mean some kind of qi with "personality". At this point, we see there is a huge gap separating physics and metaphysics.

How can we expect that our research work has to meet with the criteria scientific research work has to undergo?

Some may say to prove that Feng Shui practice works we can design some simple experiments to test the effect of placing an aquarium in a house according to Feng Shui practitioner's recommendation with a control experiment without the aquarium and repeat the experiment for many other pairs of houses. By the effects we may mean "the amount of money made" by the people for the same time period.

Well, in the first place, activating the qi only helps people use the qi in doing their work. To make more money we still need other factors like the general economy and how it affects different kinds of business. It still depends on how the "star's" personality affects the people's work. It is not "water = more money" or "1 + 1 = 2".

To say that such experiments are irrelevant is not evasive of valid "tests" to prove or disprove that Feng Shui works.