The Year of Awakening
The year of the Monkey is nearly over, along with all its surprising twists and turns. Coming up very soon is the Year of the Rooster, and perhaps with it a new awakening, especially in the aftermath of the political and cultural turmoil.
Over the past year, with the help of graduate Kelly DeBruine, we have established and developed this web site. We have also been fortunate in that Gwen Williams, another graduate, has volunteered to serve as our web master. We are building an archive of past articles from this newsletter and other sources, and hope to make it available soon. The web site will also make it easier to give everyone timely information about or activities.
Another exciting development this year was the first Blue Mountain Feng Shui tour in China. This September, thirty people went with us on a 12-day review of some key sites. Of course we had fun, and saw some standard tourist sights — but we planned the tour around Feng Shui themes, so we approached each activity and location with Feng Shui in mind. Many of us were vividly struck by the intensity of ascending Yang energy at the Temple of Heaven. We also visited the White Cloud Temple (Bo Yun Guan), one of the premier Taoist Temples, and attended a lecture on energy cultivation by Lineage Master Xu. Most of us accepted the challenge to climb up almost to the top of the Great Wall, despite the fog and mist on that day. Going down the Li River from Guilin, the landscape seemed especially dreamlike; Dr. Xu led the group in Taiji on the deck, while water buffalo gazed on the banks of the river.
Because of the enthusiastic response of the people on the tour, and because many people were not able to attend, we are organizing another Feng Shui tour in China for April, 2005. The tour will be limited to 28 people: if you are interested please contact us as soon as possible, so that you can reserve a place. You can contact us by telephone, or by e-mail through our web site.
This year we also offered three new courses. Two specialized courses, Feng Shui for Lovers, Yin and Yang of Food and Cooking, were very well received. We also offered a Feng Shui Remedies course for graduates who were already certified as Feng Shui consultants. People had been asking for such a course, and we finally felt that it there were enough students who were ready for it. The course presented with both conventional and esoteric approaches to dealing with situations when changes on the physical level are not possible.
Many people are probably not aware of the long tradition of Qin music in China, although some of our local students have had a chance to hear this music at some of our events. In Seattle, we are fortunate to have a Qin master teaching at the University of Washington. He has agreed to develop a CD of meditation music exclusively for Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute. This tape should be available in the first part of the coming year. As soon as it is available, ordering details will be announced on the Blue Mountain web site.
Over the past year, the popularity of Feng Shui has continued to increase around the world. In addition, more people are developing a clearer sense of what traditional Feng Shui really is. There has also been an increase in trained Feng Shui practitioners, and we hope that this in turn will have an increasing positive effect on the societies in which they live and work.
Water and Feng Shui
In traditional Feng Shui, the intrinsic energy pattern (qi) of our living environment, whether a large-scale landscape or a small house, is detected from physical patterns.
In a large-scale landscape, there are Mountains, Hills, Flat Lands, and Bodies of Water. We call these the Four Features. The intrinsic energy of the landscape is closely related to the quantity, quality and composition of these four features. These are thus the basis for understanding the energy pattern of the environment, and its likely impact on the people who live in it.
Mountains, being static and stable, provide the force for stability, the force of support. The Hills, also called the Guardian Hills, provide protection for the Flag Ground, where energy collects. The Flat Ground is the Energy Spot, the nurturing space within activities take place. Water, flowing through the lowest places, confines and shifts the energy flow. It also provides an open field of vision that allows for expansion. When these features are good, and are well balanced, we say that the Feng Shui of the landscape is good.
The Mountain feature, as a source of energy, support and stability, is also the source of control. It becomes a metaphor for power, political or military. A country with great political or military influence usually has a strong Mountain configuration.
The Water feature represents flow and traffic, and is thus a metaphor for trade, commerce and money. Economically successful countries have access to large bodies of good Water. Most large business centers are on rivers, oceans or lakes.
Because of this, people often say that Mountains are Power, and Water is Money. Taking this in a simplistic way, people sometimes think that Water is Money, and that flowing water will bring fortune into the house. This is why in recent years miniature fountains have become a popular household Feng Shui gadget in the United States.
But the real impact of Feng Shui is on the energy level — the level of energy patterns carried in and by physical features like water. It is not the water itself, but the energy pattern typical of water, that is associated with wealth. If water were literally wealth, a house with a leaking roof would be better than a house with a good roof.
The Water feature represents flow, merging, spreading, connection, liquidity, and flexibility. It is these traits that are associated with economic success, just as they are also characteristic of material water.
The political unrest that has accompanied the recent elections in the Ukraine has reminded me of a question asked by a student in a workshop I gave in Kiev a few years ago. The student pointed out that Ukraine has nice mountains in the northwest, vast flat lands with very rich soil, and the Dnieper River flowing from the north to the Black Sea in the south. In terms of Feng Shui, these four features are almost perfect. Why, then, is the Ukraine so poor?
This is a legitimate question. In physical terms, the Ukraine does have good Feng Shui. Its capital, Kiev, was once the center of Europe — in the tenth century. The Ukraine was also the breadbasket of the old Soviet Union. But the answer, as I told the student, is that the Ukraine now does not have good Water. Not that I discount the existence of the Dnieper River, or the Black Sea. But in Feng Shui, Water is more than just physical water. Human beings live between Heaven and Earth. We are affected by three factors: Heaven (Time), Earth (Space) and the Human. The Four Feature model does not apply only to the Earth factor: it also applies to the Human factor. The rigid political system and awkward economic system of the current Ukraine indicate that there is a lack of the Water quality — flow, liquidity and flexibility. With this lack of these Water qualities, one cannot expected money, or financial success.
This is why well-controlled, dictatorial countries are so often poorer than freer societies. Hungary broke free of the old Soviet bloc in 1991, and turned (or returned) to a market economy. It now enjoys the highest per capita income among all the countries in the old Soviet bloc. China is another good example: the recent rapid economic growth began with the pragmatic 1 of the popular leader Deng Xiaopin.
It is important to realize that physical manifestations — including the structures of the material world — are created by energy patterns. To change physical manifestations, it is most efficient to work with the energy and information levels.
An example, on the human level, is the formal debates held during the recent US presidential elections. Formal arguments in themselves may express the point of view of the debaters, but they do not often convince anyone — and certainly not the other party to the debate. Once people have acquired a point of view, it is not easy to change that point of view, especially through arguments. A political position or commitment manifests from the higher level of energy and information: from the mind and heart of the person who holds it. To change or affect that position, it is not so effective to manipulate the terms in which it is expressed. It is more effective to work at the level of the mind and heart from which the position has taken form — and to do that, one has to work with one’s own mind and heart. This may seem to be a slow process, but in fact it is actually the fastest process, because it is the most effective.
After the election, many Kerry supporters were disappointed and distressed, even to the point of despair, and wondered if it was worthwhile even hoping to influence the situation. The answer is that there is little hope of influencing the situation by manifesting antagonism to it on the outer level. To do so is to work at the material level. There is, however, the real possibility of affecting the situation by working at the energy level. To do so, however, requires working with one’s own mind and heart, and having an openness to the minds and hearts of those whom one wants to influence. One cannot influence people with whom one has no relationship. But before one can have a relationship, one has to be open to the idea that a relationship is possible.
Form defines energy. In the true Feng Shui approach, one needs to see things beyond the physical level. For example, from the conventional point of view, a physical building is just a physical body. But from a Feng Shui point of view, a physical building is also an energy body and an information body. This understanding has been missing from the architectural world throughout its history: this is why people have been able to spend centuries debating the issue of form versus function. From the Feng Shui point of view , this debate does not arise, because form and function exist simultaneously, and are developed and perfected simultaneously. In a pyramid, there are four points at the lowest level, but there is only one unifying point on the top.
A Taste of China with Dr. Hsu
One photo with trained cormorants perched on your shoulder, three Yuan; twenty postcards from a street vendor outside the Forbidden City, one USD; floating down the Li River practicing Tai Chi with Dr. Hsu; priceless.
To my mother and me, China is no longer a distant country to the East that we bear no connection to, but a place made real to us because we’ve seen, tasted, and experienced it. Our trip was nothing less than fabulous, overflowing with countless memories and new experiences. One of the most memorable moments for me on this trip was my ambitious dream finally becoming a reality the day we literally climbed the Great Wall. I can still see the gray bricks which formed the battlements on the walls I climbed between, and through the openings the fog covered mountainous horizon, layer upon layer, looked just how I had pictured it would. My mother, however, who has been drawn to China for years, and even as a teenager dreamed of leaving her life to meditate in the mountains of Tibet to be amongst monasteries, monks, and their ways of life, found the mysterious pagodas in the far off distance drew her attention. An especially notable experience for her was when we were invited to Master Xu’s temple where he spoke to us about deep secrets of Taoist energy and meditation, and I think we both felt the power in the Monk’s chanting at Lingyin Temple where we also saw life size statues of the five hundred disciples.
I am embarrassed to admit that neither my mother nor I have taken Master Hsu’s Feng Shui classes, but we were fortunate enough to hear about the trip through friends of ours, (Jim and Charlotte Fairfield), who had. Although we joined this journey knowing little about Feng Shui, we were eager to learn, and what better place to study this art then with Master Hsu at the heart of where it all began. Over the duration of the trip Master Hsu pointed out countless Feng Shui examples, such as the man-made layout of the Forbidden City, the natural landscape surrounding the section of the Great Wall we climbed, not to mention the Feng Shui specific gardens we visited and the various discussions on Yin and Yang to mention a few.
I cannot fathom going to China in any other way. If it had been up to me to plan the trip, I would have overlooked some of the greatest sites (and seriously have gotten lost), and I honestly think the trip would have been made hollow by what it would have lacked. All our stops, tour guides, buses, meals and accommodations were great, and had we not have traveled with Master Hsu, we would have missed his insights and added knowledge of tea, Tai-Chi and Yin and Yang, to name only a few, which I felt really added to the depth of the experience.
On the lighter side, however, we thought it important to mention our experience with the unbalanced Yin and Yang in most public bathrooms, as there is a toilet but rarely any toilet paper (bring your own)!
Neither of us would have traded this trip for anything. We sincerely hope that our brief description helps nudge you in the direction of deciding to go on the next Feng Shui Tour, and that you enjoy and gain as much as we have. Happy travels! – Written by Jen and Marguerite Redmond