A Facebook conversation with Anna W, December 8 -14, 2017.
Trying to explain the 3 Trigram arrangements and what Feng Shui is meant to achieve.
AW: I guess all my knowledge is bullshit then. It seems that the Triagrams must be adjusted for place on earth but I get no further..
HC: The trigrams are correlations, they are metaphors and associations, reflecting a certain philosophical outlook, rather than matching the physically observed literally. The study of the Trigrams belongs the “Xiang Shu Yi Shu” 象数易学 or the Image-Number School of Chinese thinking. I can understnd it sounds like “bullshit” to a scientist but that is because the Chinese use a different way of thinking to what you are using in the West
It is a kind of philosophical speculation using numbers and images, unique to the Chinese culture.
AW: I understand that.. but what does Middle Heaven reflect? And when to apply it? In what way do you apply Later Heaven.. Been studying QMDJ lately? Is that a Later Heaven formation? In Qi Men Dun Jia the time is determent by the spring and autum eqinoux. Which leads my to think that maybe the Early Heaven could be related to the real heaven somehow..
HC: Philosophically speaking the term Early Heaven means that which is innate and congenital and Later Heaven means that which is acquired and learned, Middle Heaven is some where in-between. The term Heaven to the Chinese does not mean only the sky above but more to do with human nature and principles governing the world, or things to do with the mind. The arrangement of the 8 Trigrams in a Bagua picture is an attempt by the ancient Chinese to capture these ideas in a pictorial form, with the broken line representing the Yin and the not-broken line the Yang. With this in mind, you could say that the Early Heaven could be related to the real heaven above, since it is the natural state of the universe.The problem with trying to express a philosophical idea mechanically with numbers and symbols is that different masters have a different interpretation and preference for the same philosophy, then we would get endless compass schools as you can see from the huge variety of compass formulas using the Early Heaven and the Later Heaven and now even the Middle Heaven Bagua arrangement in different ways. Consequently, many students, who are not aware of this, fight over which is correct or which is authentic and so on passionately, as you can see in these forum discussions. It is complicated, but I hope this long-winded explanation helps.
The saving grace is that we have the Form school Feng Shui to complement the Compass school. Form Feng Shui uses mainly observation and analysis to find a pleasing and appropriate solution to locate a building or a tomb site and to organise a built-space, so between the mainly inductive thinking of the Compass school and mainly the deductive thinking of the Form school, we can get to a more holistic conclusion that is practically efficient but ritually correct (being appropriate to the personal and social needs of the situation) at the same time. In Feng Shui we try to look up to heaven and look down on earth and also look into ourselves to find the in-between that will fit Man into Nature in the most mutually constructive
AW: I see. The middle heaven seems most interesting but I still really can’t understand the application. The landform in my enviroment at the moment is both very good and very bad. And in the article that Jay Tee shared they also mentioned a state of self indifference that is a state that religion seem to be able to induce wich is interesting. And every time I go to an old religious I can see the feng shui in the buildings… but I at the same time know that if religion is wrongly implied it can drive humans crazy. (Eg. The crusades and ISIS) So my conclusion is that the feng shui behind religion and rituals in general is important.
HC: I can see why you think the Middle Heaven is the most interesting because it represents how we would deal with the Heaven above and the Earth below, and that requires us to know ourselves and what are our priorities. No building on a site is ever perfect, there are always some good points mixed with some not so good ones, the idea is not to overcome the bad by being indifferent to it, that is not the idea of a Chinese, especially a Daoist, approach, nor is there a need for a religion, but rather a need to examine what we believed in and what is our world-view, so the philosophical can harmonise wih the physical, our mindset and our environment can come togther as a whole.
Ritual need not be associated with a religion, doing Taijiquan slwoly and delibeartely daily is a ritual, making a cup of tea when each movement has a meaning and doing it with conscious awarenes is a ritual. With a ritual, we make the ordinary extra-ordinary and that is what we do in Feng Shui as well, we use ritual to make an ordeinary house into your very own special home. It is no longer a machine to live in but your one and only nest of wellbeing.
The essentail aim of Feng Shui is to “hasten the auspicious and avoid the harmful”, and that means we have to first sort out what is desirable and what is not desirable and why we think that way, then we can take advantage of the good and avoid, or transform, the bad in a “wuwei” way (doing the mininal for the maximum return). If it cannot be done physically or material-wise then we have to deal with it by changing our attitude to what is there with an alternative meaning that suits our world-view, so the body and mind duality can find its way to support each other.
Our environment affects us in a non-physical as well as a physical way, so in Feng Shui we also try to work with both the form and the formless to come to a satisfactory conclusion, when Heaven, Earth and Human come together as One, and that is reflected in the 3 Bagua arrangements, Heaven (Early), Earth (Later) and Human (Middle).
AW: It is interesting that you speak of viewing what we belived in.. as of now… I don’t share any belief or philosofical view of life after death even thought I have before. It is to complicated for my mind. I simply live here and now since energy/qi/biomagnetic energy became part of my life at the age of 17 it is a natural part of my world too. For a while now, I have been sorting out my priorities, even though I still got a lot to do. And I also understand that some of my goals can not be achieved by the form, so I have to start working with the formless, that can as I understand travel further in the spacetime continuum. The thing is that my knowledge of this is limited and even though my senses are good, they are not that good, which is why I have to rely purely on intuition which can be frightening at times.
HC: I can understand why pure intuition can be frightening because our intuition can be deeply subjective without us being aware of it. I trust my intuition, but I would always double check it with an objective mind. Correlative thinking can bring out the best of our intuition but again it needs logic and causal thinking to make it whole. Senses without know-how is again only half of the story. Let Yin and Yang come together and let them have an intercourse and something new will come out of it, with only one on its own, it is difficult to create something new, just like without your mum and dad you would not be here.
AW: I Will, thank you for you’re guidence
HC: It will be good if you can study some Feng Shui, which is not only good for your living environment but it can also teach you something about the Chinese culture and the way they would tackle life’s myriad of mysteries. In China, Feng Shui is a branch of Xuan Xue 玄學, the study of the mysterious. Thanks for the opportunity to make me think about how best to explain Feng Shui to a beginner with a western scientific background like yourself….until next time.
AW: I will look up Xuan Xue..