Those of you who were fortunate enough to attend the recent AFSC Conference in Melbourne were treated to some exceptional discussions examining the essence of feng shui and the origin of qi. A key point brought to light during these metaphysical discussions is the way in which our modern day ‘quick fix’ approach in the pursuit of wealth can so easily overshadow the fundamental observation of qi in the surrounding landform and its inherent link to fertility/nourishment or lack thereof.
Hindsight is such a wonderful tool and in this case, I can now see the interesting dichotomy between the commercial side of the Conference title: ‘Feng Shui Water & Wealth’ compared to an alternative title which certainly sprung to mind during the Conference: ‘Feng Shui: Fertility and the Nourishment of Spirit’.
Our key note speaker for the Conference, Dr Michael Paton, highlighted the importance of getting back to the roots of feng shui via careful observation of qi in the surrounding landform. I recently read Dr Paton’s fascinating article “Feng Shui: A Continuation of ‘Art of Swindlers’?” and I laughed out loud when he mentioned Karen Kingston’s assertion about using “colonic irrigation as an extension of feng shui theory”. Oh dear – this sounds painful and rather intrusive!
Karen Kingston is a fabulous teacher and advocate of space clearing which is a highly useful methodology that can be used alongside feng shui practice – I use it myself, however I can see where Dr Paton is coming from. There are too many so called experts out there who gain a little knowledge about feng shui without any real in depth study and then market the process as a commodity that is simplified for ease of consumer use and wrapped in vague mystical connotations without necessarily having any real substance from a traditional feng shui perspective.
As Dr Paton points out in his article through the following quote from the Xing Qian (Star Seal), this issue of confusion and potential loss and/or misunderstanding of original feng shui concepts has always been an issue facing modern day feng shui practice – it was just as relevant a thousand years ago as it is now. It appears no matter when or where – mankind has a propensity to gravitate towards a ‘cut-to-the-chase’ approach when it comes to increasing wealth and/or a position of higher office.
“The method is on the lip and in the breast.
Yet the spirit is not passed on by the eye.
And the fundamental mystery is not passed on by the heart”.
I agree with Dr Paton, this is indeed a challenge faced by all Associations and collective groups of feng shui students and practitioners – esp in our current consumer hungry and materialistic society.
Our challenge as an Association is therefore twofold. On one hand, we need to promote and research the ‘origins of feng shui practice’ and help steer new students towards authentic teachers and learning institutions (keeping in mind, one teacher cannot be the master of all knowledge – it is better to learn from more than one source and use your own observation and research to ascertain which methodologies prove sound in practice).
I would like to think we were on the right track when we invited Dr Paton to speak at our Conference, alongside the canonical literature genius of Tyler Rowe and theoretical expertise of Master Gayle Atherton, Master Jodi Brunner and Master George Bennis, interspersed with the metaphysical and astrological insight of Vic Ketis alongside a selection of practical case studies.
For me personally, Master Joseph Yu is my ‘Enlightening Teacher’ (Qi Meng Lao Shi 啓蒙老師). He is not the only Master I have studied with, however he is certainly the most profound and I love the way in which he provides succinct interpretation of the classics and then demonstrates practical application in the modern world. He encourages the student to think for themself, observe, research, debate and share experiences with other practitioners so that we may learn together, rather than blindly accepting everything he says as feng shui law.
The second challenge our Association of feng shui currently faces, is the fact that members of the Association seek not only to increase their knowledge and expertise, but also to make an actual living from this practice, whether on a full time or part time basis. This is why the first day of the Conference addressed the commercial side of putting together a feng shui business and explored ways in which to market your services and realise the value in what you provide. The need for a more structured cost per service system was highlighted and this will be an ongoing discussion in order to help provide a more uniform fee structure depending on the level of expertise of the practitioner and the service they provide.
Coming back to Dr Paton’s article, he makes a good point that:
“In the West there is a perception that much of the “magic” of life and the power of the individual has been lost to the powerful corporate conglomerates, which tend to hold the reins of scientific knowledge through dry statistical analysis. Thus, there has been a gradual increase in distrust of modern knowledge systems, whether they are economics or medicine, and a search for more meaningful humanistic knowledge systems that meld both the intellectual and the emotional.”
This leads us back to the alternative title I came up with (in hind sight) for our recent Conference: ‘Feng Shui: Fertility and the Nourishment of Spirit’. Now, from a feng shui perspective, I should probably point out the concept of 'fertility' ties in with the transformative interaction of yin and yang qi in its most nurtured form, which stimulates a state of harmonious synchronicity with one's surroundings. I believe this is the crux of what people are really searching for these days and we are certainly in a great position to help lead the way with authentic feng shui practice and application. The tricky part is finding that all too pervasive balance between commercialisation and generosity of spirit, consumer appeal and metaphysical insight/application based on key observation of the surrounding landform, the abode in which an individual works and lives and observation of the individual’s inherent strengths and weaknesses as practiced via traditional xuan kong feng shui and san cai (the trinity of luck).
Anyway, if you are currently thinking about learning feng shui, a great starting point is to join the Association of Feng Shui Consultants International Inc (AFSC) which can be found at www.afsc.org.au and begin your journey surrounded by like-minded individuals seeking to enrich their metaphysical learnings with authentic teachings and via the shared experience of the collective :-)
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