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The School of Forms

Sunday, December 17, 2006
By: Joey Yap

Most of you probably have heard that there are two schools of Feng Shui. The concept of 'school' is used as an English interpretation of the Chinese word 'Pai'. In Feng Shui, like in many Chinese arts (such as Qi Gong or Kungfu) there are 'pai' or groupings. These groupings are usually based around a certain method, technique or approach to a field. When Bruce Lee developed his own form of Kung Fu, known as Jeet Kune Do, he was essentially establishing his own 'pai' or group. In that sense, the word 'school' in the context of 'school of thought' does to a degree, capture the concept of 'pai'.

One incorrect and highly misleading interpretation on the two schools of Feng Shui is that they comprise of the 'Compass School' and the 'Forms School'. In fact, all methods and techniques of Feng Shui use Forms and a Compass or Luo Pan. A more appropriate and correct division of the two schools of thought in Feng Shui is that Feng Shui methods and techniques fall into either a Forms School (Xing Shi Pai) or a Qi School (Li Qi Pai). There are two famous 'schools' that advocate Xing Shi and Li Qi, and these are the San He (Three Harmony) and San Yuan (Three Cycles). Most major Feng Shui systems, methods and techniques will fall under either one of these schools.

Even with this subdivision, it is important to recognize that both schools pay attention to Qi flow and Landform - the difference is the emphasis of the techniques, methods and formulas. Generally, San He favours landform assessment over Qi assessment, whilst San Yuan favours Qi calculation over landform assessment.

This week, I'm going to delve in depth into the San He School - the aim here is to provide you with a clearer understanding of what this particular school of Feng Shui is all about. Thus when you engage a Feng Shui practitioner, you will be able to appreciate the methods he is using, gain a basic understanding of why certain changes or suggestions are made and appreciate what the Practitioner is trying to achieve. I am also going to talk about some of the common fallacies and misinterpretations of San He principles so that those of you who are interested in Feng Shui and do some reading of your own, can separate the false theories or incorrect interpretations.

Now you might be wondering - do I need to know what technique my Feng Shui practitioner is using? After all, most people don't know anything about plumbing when they hire a plumber. Well, you don't need to know the subject to the level of depth of say a practitioner but by understanding the methods and techniques, you will be in a position to understand why certain changes are requested - I find in my practice that when clients appreciate why they are being asked to do something, compliance is usually easier to achieve. Also, it makes it easier for members of the public to distinguish New Age practitioners from Classical Feng Shui practitioners.

Methodology and Approach in San He Feng Shui

San He is one of the oldest Feng Shui systems in practice. Famous advocates and masters of this system include Great Grandmaster Yang Yun Song(Tang Dynasty) 楊筠松祖師, Zeng Wen曾文, Jing Dao He Shang靜道和尚and Lai Bu Yi 賴布衣. The foremost texts for San He practitioners, written by Grand Master Yang, is the Han Long Jing and Yi Long Jing. However, there are also some other important texts on San He that form the core readings required for any San He mastery, including Yu Sui Zhen Jing (Jade Essence Classics) Ru Di Yan (Entering Earth Eye) and Xue Xin Fu ( Snow Heart Classics)


San He methods focus on five factors - Long(Mountains), Sha (mountain embrace), Xue (Meridian Spot ), Shui(water) and Facing (Xiang). San He focuses largely on techniques of analyzing external Feng Shui. The methods are largely focused on appreciating and understanding how landforms generate and concentrate Qi, identifying the Meridian spot (Long Xue) through evaluating the land contours and ascertaining where the Qi has concentrated, by looking at the formations in the land. San He in that sense is focused on observation of the land first, before moving onto the calculations of Qi for the internal of the property.

Another distinctive principle of San He is the concept of Three Harmony. What is Three Harmony? It involves applying the Earthly Branches Three Harmony (which talks about the Mountain ranges in the vicinity) in tandem with the Water Formula Three Harmony that includes the 12 Growth Phases(Chang Sheng Jue) and the systematic alignment between environment, house and man.

Some typical methods for analysis and application used by San He Masters: Includes Ba Sha Huang Quan - 8 Killings Yellow Spring, Piercing Mountain 72 Dragons, Earth Penetrating 60 Dragons, 120 Gold Divisions, 12 Growth Water, Assistant Star Water and Land Embrace methods (Bu Sha Fa).

What system is my Feng Shui master using?

Okay, so you are aware of the theory now but how do you know what method your Feng Shui practitioner is employing. Well of course, one way of finding out would be to ask him but you can also tell by observing what he does during the audit.

A San He practitioner usually will focus on the external environment primarily so if your practitioner studies the mountains in the vicinity of your property, and the waterways in the area, and uses a San He Luo Pan, chances are that he is using San He as his pet system. Of course, the San He practitioner will not ignore the inside of the house or internal Feng Shui, but his focus will be to check the environment first.

His goal will be to determine how to best orientate the property to suit the surrounding Mountain and Water formations and to try and match the location of the Water and Mountains in the area, to San He formulas. Do not be alarmed or think you are being conned if he doesn't recommend Water Formulas to you because remember, all these formulas require natural water formations to conform to the formula and if you don't have a natural formation you can use, the practitioner will not tell you to force the situation by digging a canal or putting a drain around your house. Instead, a good practitioner will strive to work with what is in the environment already.

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