Archive for the ‘Chi’ Category

The Secrets of Heaven.

May 17, 2019

“The Secrets of Heaven are not to be shared.” Jiang Da Hong.

Some time towards the end of the T’ang Dynasty, around eleven hundred years ago, Grand Master Yang Yum Song is said to have stolen the “Azure Bag” of feng shui secrets from the Imperial Court. Such procedures and formulae were carefully guarded. Power always wants to hang onto power.

Some say the Emperor swore vengeance. Some say that if the Emperor had indeed wanted revenge, the Grand Master would have died rapidly and horribly; Chinese Emperors were pretty expert at that kind of thing. As it was he lived into his 70’s, long enough to pass on those secrets to the disadvantaged. Some of his methods are still in use today. As we shall learn.

I’m in Devon. It’s supposed to be a routine survey; move the head of your bed, place a Water feature, that kind of thing. Sandy needs a little luck. She’s bringing up her two boys on her own now. One goes to school in one direction, the other in another and her new love lives further away in a third. Money is tight and the house is a spartan Housing Association semi.

Sandy is a very bright woman. She’s recently re-trained as a maths teacher but is unsure that maths is her vocation. She’s concerned to get her elder boy into a special school some miles down the Tamar River in Plymouth. He’s at the bottom of a long waiting list. The odds are against him.

I look out from her front garden over the heights which command the valley. I was not prepared for the beauty of this place: steepled Norman Church up a grass promontory in one direction, postcard West Country village streets in another. Two rivers join on the nearer side of the valley and part just within sight. They cross the landscape like a blue-green snake, forked tongues at either end. On this bright windy day, the tumbling hills are green all the way to the horizon.

Feng shui is Wind and Water. According to the Classic of Odes the qi (pronounced chi) – that is to say life – comes down from the Mountain on the Wind and is held at the Water. In other words abundance – which is a bigger issue than simple wealth of course – can be found where there is live or sentimental Water; something that is pretty easy to find in a basin where rivers join. Why has it not made its way into Sandy’s house? It’s a stumper.

The answer will be outside of course. We build houses expressly to keep Wind and Water out. It stands to reason then that truly powerful feng shui involves not so much moving sofas or pictures as harnessing exterior forces – the rain, the wind, the sunlight. As I recall from O Level Physics, height and bulk are called “potential energy”; it takes a lot to climb a Mountain, not so hard to get back down.

Once clear of the Court, Grand Master Yang set about devising solutions to just these kinds of problem. The palaces and baronial piles of his time were routinely built to make best use of their surrounds, the homes of the common people not so much.

The underlying principle was and remains that Water, Mountain (that is height) and house have to align. Gravity being what it is, the Mountain dictates where the Water gathers. Simples.

The points where Water collects and leaves are often called Qi Mouths; Qi Mouths have to match doors. Which is why I guess Grand Master Yang came up with the procedure known poetically as the Double Mountain Upwards strategy for the Relief of the Poor.

Mediaeval feng shui Masters were maintained by wealthy patrons, much as were painters and sculptors like Michelangelo and Leonardo in Renaissance Europe. Every noble family employed its own feng shui Master. GM Yang’s happened to be the most powerful of all, the Xi Zong Emperor. And relief of the poor was the last thing Xi Zong had in mind. What he did want was his secrets back. So, it is said, he instituted a manhunt.

All the rental properties on Sandy’s crescent are the same: two front doors, no back door; that is to say two entrances, no exit. And equally basic. Despite the commanding position, there is little wealth in evidence here.

Sandy’s just been paid so she offers to buy me lunch. We walk to the village pub. It’s ancient and gabled with beams all over, dark and slightly musty. I half-hear whispers in the empty bar as we walk in.

Sandy’s subsisting hand-to-mouth on Universal Credit, she tells me. Like several thousand others she has found Universal Credit baffling and unfair. She can rely on nothing, as likely to be presented each month with a bill on which to feed her boys as with payment. With a running UC debt in four figures, she has had to scrimp to get me here. I have mouths to feed myself but I’m not cheap and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

To explain what I’m going to do I give her some background. I explain that the mediaeval Master’s task was to ensure that the mansion suited the landscape. It’s unlikely that the Devon housing association took this into account.

And then I realise just how revolutionary GM Yang’s strategy was. He was repairing mediaeval houses built without attention to feng shui – that is to say occupied by the poor.

“These days when doors are wrong the feng shui Master moves or reangles them,” I tell her.

There’s no budget for that however and in any case it’s not Sandy’s house. What is called for then is her own Qi mouth to mirror the rivers. Sounds simple. Isn’t.

When I get back to my stuff at home, I calculate. It’s a day’s work. For which I do not charge her. Then I email Sandy with instructions. On a carefully chosen day she is to surround the house with a ring of clear quartz crystals, leaving gaps at specific points. Grand Master Yang would have disapproved strongly of the crystals, I imagine, but he’d recognise the pattern. After all he designed it.

Less than a month later I receive two WhatsApps: one tells me that her elder boy has a place at the school of her choice. The second is about Universal Credit in the form of the Department of Work & Pensions who have eliminated her debt.

Power, as I said, wants to hang onto power. Indeed one T’ang Emperor, Xuan Zong is said to have commissioned a book of fake information, known as Exterminate the Barbarians, to make it hard for enlightened Masters like Yang Gong to pass feng shui on to the common people. Even today feng shui is mostly the perk of the privileged.

There are those who say that Exterminate the Barbarians is the basis of certain procedures still in use. It’s certainly the basis of taunts between different schools of thought even today. It probably never existed by the way. But why let that get in the way of a good insult?

Sandy thanks me. I thank Yang Gong. As I say, he lived to a decent old age. He did die of poisoning though.

Richard Ashworth ©2019.
http://www.imperialfengshui.info.

Richard Ashworth is among the most respected Western Feng Shui Masters. He has worked from Lebanon to Bermuda, in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and with stars such as Kelly Hoppen and Gillian Anderson. Unusually for a Western Master, he has addressed the Grand Masters at the International Feng Shui Conference in Singapore. His day job remains “walking round people’s spaces being enigmatic”.

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