China is a vast country with many geographical features. The specific topography of the country lends itself to the study of Feng Shui. We can see the country reflected in the teachings.
One of the most significant discussions for me was the Fortune Teller and Feng Shui man at the temple on the hill in Hangzhou. We paid him to give us a discussion about Feng Shui in China and some of my tourgoers were kind of sceptical about him, and thinking he didn’t really know anything, some were off doing their own thing, which is fine. But one of the things about learning, is patience and the ability to sit and listen. Even the most basic of teachings can give us clues and insights.
The fortune teller was discussing the four animals, and he was also discussing the landforms of China. He said that the correct Feng Shui site should have a mountain at the back/north (we call the ‘black tortoise’ or Xuan Wu. Note: ‘xuanwu’ does not literally translate as ‘black tortoise.’), water at the front/south (‘red phoenix’ or Feng Huang), water to the right/east (the ‘cerulean dragon’ which literally translates as ‘Qing Long.’) and mountain to the left/west (‘white tiger’ Bai Hu).
He said it was because of the topography of the country that the ‘animals’ are placed in this way; China has mountains to the north and west, the ocean (eastern sea) to the east and from the south comes the majority of the wealth of the country, as well as the warm winds and most importantly, sunlight.
He said a site should have water coming down from the tiger side, passing the ‘hall’ (front of the house/site) and exiting at the dragon side. This is in keeping with the natural landforms of China. The major rivers of China flow from the mountains in the west towards the eastern sea.
Water always runs off the mountains, and water is also a necessary feature for us to survive so it should be passing by the site to ensure the sustainability of the site.
Did my tourgoers notice the exact configuration in any of the sites we visited? Think about the forms we saw at the Jinjiang Tombs; it was perfectly described there, including the water coming from the tiger side, passing the hall and exiting at the dragon side. This is imperial Feng Shui at its best.
So even though time changes and the Feng Shui formula changes; the forms, the space, have remained the same. This is where we get the sense of how Feng Shui can engender continuity; and in the case of the tombs, continuity from one generation to the next.
In addition we learnt that the Yellow River which runs through the centre of China and exits at the eastern sea is the cradle of Chinese civilisation. To the north of the river is yin, to the south is yang. Literally in winter, those to the north of the river, the yin side, are given coal to warm their houses. Those to the south were (and still are) on the warmer side (yang).
So next time you read about the four animals, think of the fortune teller; you will not need to wonder why mountains should be on the tiger side and water on the dragon side. This is simply in keeping with the landforms of China.
Does that mean that every site should have the four animals in this configuration? No, because then it depends on the formula; form and formula go together. Inspect the site, check the forms, then check the formula and see how well they match together. This is yin and yang. Many layers of yin and yang make a site auspicious.
A house does not need to face south to be auspicious, nor does it need to have mountain to the left and water to the right to make it auspicious either. But there needs to be some guidelines for us to follow, and that’s where the teaching of the four animals comes from. We have seen many sites on our trip that were not facing south, but yet had a mountain at the back (such as Qilin Nunnery in HK for instance). So we should be flexible in our approach to Feng Shui and remember that these are guidelines, principles, and not to be taken as ‘laws’ to be followed literally. ‘Be like water’ as Bruce Lee said, and your knowledge and understanding will grow.
It is after all, China, the ‘middle kingdom’ that brought us this art, and if you have been here yourself and seen and experienced this place for yourself, it can bring a deeper understanding of Feng Shui. It is chaotic, seems messy and feels in some ways, unfathomable. There are many layers to peel away to find the true essence of China. The people are pragmatic and just get on with their daily lives in the most expedient way. They do not stand and wait for you to pass, they literally and simply, get on with it. We can learn something from that.
This trip I also learned more about the character of the people, and how underneath a rough or ‘closed’ exterior, they are very friendly and open.
Travel. What can we learn from it? In my guidelines for my Feng Shui Tour of Hong Kong & China before we arrived, I asked my tourgoers to carry a small suitcase. Only one of them actually complied with this, but that’s fine. It was then up to them to literally, carry their own baggage with them. We are all on a journey and each of us carries baggage. The purpose of a journey is to be in the moment and enjoy were we are and what we can learn right at that time. ‘The journey and not the destination’ and so we have experienced that. What we carry with us, our ‘baggage,’ if we can drop some of that along the way, then we can be more free within ourselves.
As I have learnt on this trip, this is the essence of Buddhism, and whether Buddhist or not we can relate to the teaching, that we are all suffering in one way or another, and the purpose of life is the removal of suffering, don’t you agree? How to remove suffering? By removing the ‘baggage’ that we carry with us. The more we desire, the more we suffer, because we set ourselves into an endless cycle. Give up desire and we can get what we desire.
After all, what do we really need in order to survive? I think you know, and it is what I learnt many years ago from a Melbourne Feng Shui master: water, air and sunlight.
If we can let go of our own desires then we can also serve our clients better. Our ‘stuff’ can often interfere with our ability to listen and to see life from our clients’ point of view; and of course we know that they have their ‘stuff’ too. A client may like a particular piece of art and we literally hate it; but it is their home and their opinion, and really, that’s all that counts. I have heard of many occasions where a consultant has forced their personal opinions on a client and that client has been highly affected and even offended.
So when we consult, be a good listener and we will discover the truth and deeper meaning. On the last day of my tour we attended a consultation together. We were so focussed around the calculation of the chart, but not all the information had come out yet. So if the chart, or anything, doesn’t feel right, literally get up, walk around with the client and then things will become clearer. In the case of this client, we were literally sitting in the boardroom with 2’s and 5’s…
Then there was the problem of deciding the facing direction of the building too. With a door in the south and the main road in the north, which way was the business facing? At the FSRC the theory says that if a company occupies the entire floor of a premises then we should take the facing side of the building as the facing of the company. So trying the north facing P7 chart, I found the water star 8 was in the south; which was also the same as the P8 chart…So how to tell which chart was correct?
When I went out of the room and walked around, it came out that the client occupied the building on floor 6 from 2003 and then moved to floor 21 in 2005! That changed everything! It was a Period 8 chart, not Period 7. Finally the right answer came out.
In the P8 chart the Marketing Dept is in the SE, and literally a powerhouse of good marketing driving the business. In the SW is the beautiful water form of the winding river/water dragon, turning its head as it if doesn’t want to leave. Master Jiang said in the 17th Century, ‘three visits of the yang god makes the site auspicious’ so we saw the beautiful river form winding away on the water star 1, literally enhancing the wisdom and intelligence factor; which is how the company markets their products.
So if I hadn’t got out of my chair and taken a breather, I may not have got the correct information.
Another important factor about being a consultant is that once we have done our job to the best of our ability, we should simply walk away. Do not carry the burden of your client with you. Do not have regret about whether you did a good job or not, or did you miss something, or was there something else that could be done, etc etc. We all have our sufferings and burdens to bare, but obviously the less the better. So do a job, any job to the best of our ability and then simply walk away knowing that we are satisfied with our work. Have confidence. That is important.
I have studied with Master Yu for nearly 18 years and I have found it is always the way that when I have finished a class, there are always more questions…endlessly more questions. If you feel that your questions have not been answered during my Feng Shui Tour, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I have always been open to answering questions and I appreciate enquiring minds. If you don’t have questions, that’s ok too.
To this end, as promised, I have put together a presentation of our tour workbook online and scheduled a webinar for us to discuss the missing pieces of the book. It will be a good way to revise the tour and discuss what we’ve learnt.
As promised, all this and more will be revealed in my course, ‘Form School Feng Shui Fundamentals’ coming soon.
Next year I have had several requests to go to Beijing…so we will begin our tour there and visit many famous and lesser known places in the northern part of China…I do hope you can join me.