2007

The Year of Directness

pig

This year’s newsletter is coming out late. If we wanted to look for an excuse, we might say that it was in tune with the nature of the pig — slow and lazy. That, at least, is the impression people often have about pigs; the pigs may prefer to see themselves as having a steady, easy-going nature. Many people are anxious to know what the Year of the Pig will bring, on every level from the personal to the global.

Personal Level

According to the traditional concepts, this will be a year of change for people born in a year of the Pig. We may feel that change could be for the better as well as for the worse, but from nature’s point of view change is a constant; it is the nature of things to change. Thus, to change is to follow the way of Nature, and any change must therefore have a positive aspect.

People born in Snake years have a unique situation. The Snake is directly opposite the Pig in the Chinese Zodiac, and Pig years are not favorable for people born in a year of the Snake. They should remain calm and cautious, and not get caught up in ambitious endeavors or new projects. This will be an especially good year for people born in a year of the Rat or the Sheep; for them, things will go smoothly and well!

Global Level

On the global level, not much will change. Conflict and chaos will continue, but a clear picture will gradually emerge. For the past year, many things have been buried in denials and cover-ups; these mists will gradually clear away. This transition reflects the nature of the Pig.

Of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals, the Snake fears the Pig, and the Pig controls the Snake. This means that in Pig years, whatever the negative aspect of Snake represents can no longer prevail. The hissing threats, conspiracies, secrets, denials, and waiting for wishes to be fulfilled will fade away. World leaders will have to adopt more pragmatic and open policies. This will be especially bitter medicine for our President to follow. However, good medicine is often bitter; in Chinese medicine, bitterness is considered to be good for the heart. We cannot expect much progress on any particular issue, but we can expect a gradual alignment with reality, as preparation for the beginning of the next Zodiacal cycle in 2008, the Year of the Rat.

At Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute

In the past year, Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute offered a new course for its graduates called Signs and Symbols. This course looks at the “information level” of every existence and learn how to pick up hidden information from material manifestations. The workshop was well attended and well received. In the future, it will be offered as a regular course for new students as well.

Another notable event was the August book-signing party at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Shan-Tung Hsu released his first novel, The Medicine Box, which comes with Tao, a CD of Blue Mountain meditation music, included. This page-turning tale based on real people and experiences, was written to help enlighten western readers about the philosophy underlying herbal medicine, Feng Shui, Qigong, and energy healing. The story reveals the way natural principles work within us, and the secrets of how energy works. The book is especially suitable for those interested in Eastern philosophies, spiritual growth, and all lines of healing work. For more information, seewww.TheMedicineBox.com and hear samples of the music or read sample chapters.

At the end of April, by invitation from the People’s University in Beijing, Dr. Hsu will be giving several talks in Beijing. We hope this signals a gradual relaxation of the official attitude toward Feng Shui. The overwhelming success of past Feng Shui tours to China has led us to offer another Feng Shui tour to China this September. People interested in the tour should contact the Institute as soon as possible to reserve a place.

Relax, take it easy, and smile like a happy pig!

Seeing the Big Picture of Feng Shui

In any study, it is important to see the big picture. Naturally, this is also true for the study of Feng Shui. People interested in Feng Shui often begin by picking up a book or attending a class. If it happens to be one involved with interior design, it is easy for them to conclude that Feng Shui is essentially the art of placement: how to arrange furniture, decorations, and so on. If they encounter someone using the Ba Gua as the basic design concept, they may regard the Ba Gua design as the central feature of Feng Shui. Those who first encounter the Flying Star or Eight House School might assume that Feng Shui is all about those complex and mathematical calculations. When that person then begins to read other books or attend other classes, they can become puzzled, finding little relationship between one approach and the other. Puzzlement leads to being confusion, which leads to frustration or even giving up in despair.

This sequence of events is not limited to Feng Shui; it happens in many other studies as well. Qigong, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Tuina – all employ different healing techniques, but how they are related to each other? Whether there is a big picture into which they all fit, is often unclear.

To address the big picture of Feng Shui, we must first define and understand the term. If we use the ancient name, Kan Yi (The Tao of Heaven and the Tao of Earth), we get an overview idea of a field focusing on how human beings live between heaven and earth, a field that addresses how people should live and work following natural principles. In more modern terms, we might say that Feng Shui addresses the relationship between human beings and their environment, such as:

  • how to detect and understand the inner energy of the land
  • the proper way to use the land
  • how to find and use a good energy site to build a house that will nourish human life
  • how to create a structural plan that will work the best for particular people with a particular life-style
  • how to utilize the ideal forms, shapes and sizes of structures for any specific purpose or activity.

Feng Shui deals with how our environment affects us. The key to understanding its applications is to see it as the search for balance and harmony with Nature. If we accept this, the next question is: what does Feng Shui knowledge entail? Is it just a set of rules and Do’s-and-Don’ts? Is there a fundamental principle and philosophy behind it? What exactly is the object that is being studied? And what exactly should we see in a house, building, or larger environment?

Attention to the big picture has been absent from most popular Feng Shui books and training courses. People read one popular manual and clutch what they have read like someone clutching a log on the ocean at night; where they are, where they are going, and where they might end up, may not be clear.

In recent years, some have awakened from the gadget approach that uses the Ba Gua as its basic model, and have gone on to the Flying Star School, without knowing the place of the Flying Star School in the historical context of the Feng Shui tradition. After the Qing Dynasty, many serious Feng Shui scholars have avoided this approach. Other people jump to various teachings that claim to be based in the Form school, without knowing exactly what the Form school is or how it fits into the long tradition of Feng Shui. Many so-called Form school teachers still use the Ba Gua pattern, but simply avoid using gadgets, like mirrors and crystals, that are popularly associated with it. But traditional Form school approaches never used the Ba Gua pattern at all!

What is the big picture that provides the context of traditional Feng Shui? There are two great pillars to this tradition. One is to use natural law as the guiding principle of design; the other is to see the subject of interest in the context of its relationship between matter, energy and information.

Relying on natural law means using the Yin-Yang and Five Element theories. Natural law transcends cultural, regional, and religious traditions; it is universally applicable. Even though design does consider such lower-order factors as climate, culture, and social factors, these more limited considerations should not be allowed to violate or over-ride the higher-level principles of natural law.

Regarding the second pillar, most designers view the objects of their design as only physical bodies or structures. However, true Feng Shui recognizes the physical structure as well the energy body and the information body, taking all three levels into consideration. Considering the three levels has never been a part of traditional architecture, and architects do not recognize the energetic consequences their structures have on the lives of the people who live in them. However, over thousands of years of observation, the Feng Shui tradition has developed a clear sense of the impacts that buildings have on the lives of people who live or work in them, in terms of energy and information.

The first pillar guides us to live in harmony with Nature. The second pillar helps us to see beyond physical manifestations. Once the big picture is clear, we can make good use of more specific aspects of the Feng Shui tradition: design principles, specific techniques, and so on.

It is critical not to be satisfied with the general overview of Feng Shui. The value lies in coordinating the big picture with its practical design techniques. The techniques alone are only a tool kit, filled with whatever one has picked up, having no way of telling the useful from the useless. Seeing only the big picture leaves us with no way to implement something of value. The essence of Feng Shui is connecting Heaven and Earth, connecting the big picture with specific techniques. Feng Shui study should begin with learning how to make this connection.