YiJing on Qi

Part one

The YiJing (易经) is a Chinese philosophy that is universal and encompasses everything in this universe.  It has philosophical theories and principles that embraces subjects from as high as Astro Physics, astronomy, geology, medicine, and even to the lower subjects of painting and handcrafting.

In Chinese universities, many disciplines require students to study the YiJing because the wisdom within can be applied in many ways.  In Chinese Metaphysics, it has its fundamentals in the YiJing.  For example, in FengShui many theories and principles are derived from the YiJing.

One theory says the ‘heaven is round and earth is square’ (天园地方 TianYuan DiFang).  This is another way of saying ‘Yin and Yang’ or another way of saying “robust activity and stillness’ (动与静, Dong yu Jing)。

For example:

When you hear the phrase, ‘Heaven is Round’ (天园), you can have two views – one is that heaven is round like a globe or round like two dimensional round circle.

When you hear the phrase, ‘Earth is Square’ (地方)you can also have two views – one is Earth as a cube or like a two dimensional flat square.

Whichever view you take, MUST be compatible with whatever that thing you want to do with this philosophical theory and principle.

Philosophical viewpoint:

To digest and internalize this philosophical viewpoint, you must have the ability to think laterally, or think out of the box.

This is what I always teach my students.  I told them, Chinese Metaphysics classics are all written cryptically.

It is not because the ancient masters are selfish or unwilling to share, but rather, it is because the ancient masters have a set of principles that of Ethics and Morality, and they believe in the efficacy of ‘Affinity’ (缘分 Yuan Fen).

To them, if the student has the affinity with the knowledge to be learnt, when he reads the cryptic classics, he will easily ‘see’ the true meaning.  To them, if a student has the affinity with the Master, they will definitely meet. The master will eventually teach the student.

How much the student can learn, absorb and internalize, all depends on the student’s attitude and aptitude.  Loyalty to, and faith in the master is another trait the student must have.

On the point of ‘loyalty’, all ancient masters will look at the Bazi of the student before accepting him/her, more so when the master wants to inherit all his lifetime experience to that student.

On this point of ‘faith’ I must advice that a student MUST check and investigate the master’s character and ability before going to learn from him.

Part Two

《荀子·礼论》说:“天地合而万物生,阴阳接而变化起。”

XunZi. Said, heaven and earth combined myriad things born, yin and yang linked transformation begins.

This phrase by XunZi is easy to understand.  Many sages had already written about this aspect and most of you would have read countless times from Chinese Metaphysics writings.  But, the next saying by ZhuZi is a little bit abstract because he was referring to something ‘not substantial’ as in non 3D graspable concept.

Qi in a way is also non 3D but it is easier to grasp its grosser form of Qi as in the air we breathe.

Let us see what ZhuZi means……

朱子,

天下未有无理之气,亦未有无气之理。有是理,便有是气。理未尝离乎气。无理,将不能有气。但无气,亦将不见有理。故此两者,不仅是同时并存,实乃是一体浑成。

ZhuZi said,

In the universe, there is no such thing as Qi without a logic, and no such thing as logic without Qi.  There is logic, there is also Qi.  Logic cannot be separated from Qi.  No logic surely there will be no Qi. But no Qi also cannot be seen to have logic. Thus these two appear, not only together, more so, in fact is a successful mix in one body.

Here ZhuZi was pointing out the philosophical gist of the concept of Tian Di Ren Qi.  As I wrote before there are three main categories in this concept: Heaven, Earth and Man.

When we talk about YiJing, we cannot be far away from knowing about the BaGua and about the TaiJi.   Everything in this world has a TaiJi – from the Macro down to the micro……everything has a center of ‘gravity’ where every aspect of that something revolves around it.

So when ZhuZi talked about Qi and Logic he was referring to the universal Logic that emanated from the philosophy of the YiJing because this philosophy is nothing but LOGIC…..and….. the Qi is nothing but the universal Qi that resides in every phenomenon.

故曰:“太极只是天地万物之理,但太极却不是一物,无方所顿放,故周子曰无极而太极。”

Thus it was said, “TaiJi is the encompassing ingredient of Heaven and Earth universal logic, but the TaiJi is not only ONE ingredient, and you cannot lay your hands on merely a single aspect of it only, thus ZhuoZi quoted ‘WuJi then TaiJi”

WuJi 无极 means the non-dualistic adamantine origin or beginning of all phenomenon.

又曰:“才说太极,便带着阴阳。才说性,便带着气。不带着阴阳与气,太极与性那里收附。然要得分明,又不可不拆开说。”

And said, “The way is TaiJi, more so it carries YinYang.  The way is Nature, more so it carries Qi.  (If) it does not carry YinYang and Qi, how does Taiji get attached to Nature.  But to be clear, it has to be split open to be discussed.”

Before we go further, let us explore the literal translation of the word Cai 才.  It means – ‘ability, talent, a certain type of person, a capable individual, a moment ago, just now, only then, only.’

So you can see there are so many meanings of this word Cai that it can be quite a task to interpret and translate ancient writings such as the YiJing.

One of the important aspect of studying Chinese metaphysics is – knowing how to dissect ancient wisdom to be used in a modern environment.  Knowing how to interpret is a skill the needs to be learned.

The convenient method (方便发) is to split open the theory of LiQi (Qi management), and split open TaiJi and Yinyang, and then combine them together in one clear stream of thought.

The reason to do this is because —

Li 理(logic)and Qi 气 might be two different things but in a way they are like complimentary to each other;

while TaiJi and YinYang are although seemingly two different concepts but it has an intimate relationship that can only be understood if there is mental acceptance.

故曰:“未有天地之先,毕竟也只是先有此理,便有此天地。若无此理,便亦无天地,无人、无物,都无该载了。”

“(If to say) heaven and earth comes first, when all is said and done, surely there is only the Logic first, then only there is Heaven and Earth.  If there is no such Logic, (there would be) no Heaven and earth, no Man, no matter, and even no need to talk about it.”

又曰:“先有个天理了,却有气。有是理,便有是气,但理是本。”

“first there is the Logic, then there is the Qi.  Have Logic, Have Qi, but Logic is the base fundamental.”

Part three

朱子又说:

“阴静是太极之本。然阴静又自阳动而生。一静一动,便是一个辟阖。自其辟阖之大者推而上之,更无穷极,不可以本始言。”

Yin stillness is the fundamental basis of TaiJi. Yin stillness can be stirred from the movement of Yang.  One stillness, one movement, more so is like ‘an opening and a closing’.  From the vastness of this ‘opening and closing’, it can be deduced upwards, more so like ‘unlimited extreme’, cannot discuss like its ‘fundamental beginning’.

PiHe 辟阖 can be interpreted as the repelling and attraction (of two opposites); it can also be interpreted as the opening and closing of something; it can also be interpreted as something more abstract like the ‘latitude and longitude’.

In YiJing philosophy, there is this concept called ZongHeng 纵横. Some scholars translated this as the ‘warp and waft’ of weaving.  Some translated it as the ‘vertical and horizontal’.

ZongHeng 纵横, in YiJing philospphy, when we apply this concept to FengShui, depending on what aspect you are dealing with, is more like the ‘the latitude and longitude’ of geography and the ‘warp and weft’ of universal Qi.

Note:

Pi 辟 means to repel, to avoid;
He 阖 means to close.

又曰:有一种人,思虑向里去,嫌眼前道理粗,于事物上都不理会,此乃谈玄说妙之病,其流必入于异端。

ZhuZi also said, “there is a type of people, when they contemplate internally, resented the theory and principle to be too coarse, unable to notice of the (intrinsic quality) of the things (they contemplated), this is but a malady of ‘discussing the profound and talking about the wonderful’, that finally might flow into the realm of ‘heresy’.

Part four

In this part four, I shall be a brief.  Those of you who think you need more explanation. Please let me know.  I will try my best to write a longer explanation.

朱子又说:说穷理,则似悬空无捉摸处。说格物,则只就那形而下之器,寻那形而上之道,便见得这个元不相离。

ZhuZi said, “to discuss to the extreme of Logic, is like grasping at midair.  Discussing the underlying principles, thus merely at what appears to the eye, to search for the upper meaning of what appears to the eye, seemingly is not too far away from the fundamental.”

又曰:人都把这道理作个悬空底物。大学不说穷理,只说格物,便是要人就事物上理会。

He also said, “people tend to use this to justify a non-substantial basis.  Higher studies if do not discuss logic to the extreme, only discuss underlying principles, precisely needs one to understand the object discussed.”

These two sentences are a bit abstract for those with lesser understanding of the philosophical aspect of Chinese Metaphysics.  However, it is still not lost because now is the time to engage your mind to the important work of contemplation of YiJing philosophy, in relation to what you are doing.

Explanation:

朱子又说:说穷理,则似悬空无捉摸处。说 格物,则只就那形而下之器,寻那形而上之道,便见得这个元不相离。

又曰:人都把这道理作个悬空底物。大学不说穷理,只说格物,便是要人就事物上理会。

ZhuZi said, “to discuss to the extreme of Logic, is like grasping at midair. Discussing the underlying principles, thus merely at what appears to the eye, to search for the upper meaning of what appears to the eye, seemingly is not too far away from the fundamental.”

He also said, “people tend to use this to justify a non-substantial basis. Higher studies if do not discuss logic to the extreme, only discuss underlying principles, precisely needs one to understand the object discussed.”

These two sentences are abstract, pointing towards the way to study, contemplate and understand Logic.

One should not just see the superficial side and take it as it is. There is a deeper meaning to every thing.

悬空底物, this phrase means the basic fundamentals are abstract, like something “hanging in mid-air”.  If you search this phrase in Google translate, you will get, “dangling substrate”.  说格物 means studying the underlying principles, especially rationally learning Logic.

只说格物,便是要人就事物上理会。

This mean you need to stick to and be grounded in the (basic) underlying principles of subject you are studying (and not distract your mind towards high lofty theorems). The fundamentals is always there for you to see.

So you see, when studying Yijing and Chinese Metaphysics, you cannot read superficially. You should also not try to understand the words by dissecting a sentence or phrase, if you did not have proper training or proper guidance from those knowledgeable, because you could probably muddle up the whole interpretation.

Part 5

In part five, I wish take an excerpt from Lesson 7, Foundation lessons, of my Professional Fengshui course.  Lesson 7 is about Qi.

Before you become a professional in fengshui, you need to know and understand what is Qi.  Only after that, you would find it easy to grasp what are the significance of the different types of 5 elements Qi.  For example, in Xuan Kong Flying Stars, what is 5 Yellow Earth Qi , what is 2 Black Earth Qi, etc……

And thereafter, you would understand why certain remedies are used for pacifying bad qi, and for what purpose.

The concept of Qi in this course is mainly based on the philosophical concept espoused by a prominent Sung Dynasty Philosopher and Cosmologist, ZhangZai 张载 (AD 1020-1077).  ZhangZai was a great adherrent of ZhuangZi’s Yi Philosophy.

He wrote: “氣之聚散於太虛,猶冰凝釋於水,知太虛即氣,則無無。故聖人語性與天道之極,盡於參伍之神變易而已。諸子淺妄,有有無之分,非窮理之學也.”

Qi accumulates or disperses within the Supreme Void, like water coagulates to ice or ice melts to water. To know that the Supreme Void is none other than Qi, so it is not ‘Empty’ as the Void is.  Therefore, the words of the Sages on the nature of the Supreme Void fully refer to the Change and Transformation of the 5 Elements.  The various materialistic presumptions have a dualistic ‘have / have not’ differentiation and is not a study of absolute nothingness.

He also said, “太虛不能無氣,氣不能不聚而為萬物,萬物不能不散而為太虛. 循是出入,是皆不得已而然也.”

The Supreme Void cannot be without Qi, Qi cannot but reside in all phenomena, and all phenomena cannot but disintegrate back into the Supreme Void.  The abiding cycle of transformation is but the inevitable spontaneity of nature.

All the phenomena in this universe are none other than the resultant play of Qi.  The coming together and the disintegration of Qi all play out their drama within the Supreme Void (that is our universe and the multi-verse).

Mountains, oceans and rivers are all formed from the interaction of Yin Yang Qi.  The centrifugal force of the spinning Earth intermarries with the cosmic radiation slamming into Earth’s atmosphere giving rise to myriad things.  All things on Earth, animate and inanimate are affected by this interaction.  Good or bad, beneficial or malevolent, all depends on the subjective conditions prevailing.

Part 6.

First of all I wish to repeat a few things I said before, in case you all had forgotten. I teach my students the same thing.

  1. You need to have lateral thinking when you learn metaphysics.
  1. In any situation, whatever happen, there are always multiple factors contributing to it. In any fengshui situation, there are always multiple factors. if anyone tell you this fengshui is the best or that is the best, then I can tell you that the person does not know what fengshui is all about. Similarly, if a person dead-brained clawing at this classic or that classic as the “holy grail”, then he also does not what the fengshui is about.
  1. There will always be trade secrets in any profession. These secrets are not revealed to just anyone simple because that anyone is NOT in the group contributing to the well- being of members in the same group. Here is an analogy……..like in a restaurant, the chief cook teaches the young recruit a special way of cutting vegetables that the recruit was not taught that way in the cooking school. Do you get what I mean.?

so if you guys are ready, I shall post some more info for your perusal. you think first how it relates to the phrase “qi is not static” and then comeback to ask questions.

  1. anybody who studies fengshui, or chinese mataphysics, must read the YiJing and learn from its wisdom. here is a caption from my course foundation lessons: From Lesson 10 of Foundation Lessons: Yijing TaiJi and BaGua The Progressive Division of the TaiJi The progressive division of the TaiJi comes from the most popular description of the YiJing: ‘無 極 生 太 極, 太 極 生 兩 儀, 兩 儀 生 四 象, 四 象 生 八 卦’. From the state of Limitlessness of WuJi was born the TaiJi; From the TaiJi were born the Two Appearances; From the Two Appearances were born the Four Images; From the Four Images was born the BaGua.

Think what this means

  1. from lesson 7: First section of my Foundation, Lesson 7. The word Qi 氣, written in its old form, is made up of two separate words: Vapor 气and Rice 米. The general concept of the origin of the word Qi 氣 comes from the Ancients’ observation of their surroundings and their daily life chores. This word being a combination of two characters of Vapor 气and Rice 米, tells us that the Ancients formulated this word when they observed steam rising from rice being cooked. Qi 氣, however, is more than just steam rising from a cooking pot. It is something not easily translated or interpreted with our limited language. It is something that is so pervasive and encompassing that it touches and affects everything within our universe. From the ticking of the clock to the changing of seasons, everything involves Qi. Nothing escapes its pervasiveness.pervasiveness.
  2. also from lesson 7: Yin Qi and Yang Qi The most fundamental of divisions is the Yin and Yang of all phenomena. It is the positive versus the negative. Yang is positive and Yin is negative. Yang is white and Yin is black. Yang is hot and Yin is cold. Yang is movement and Yin is stillness. The comparison can go on forever. However, in the matter of Qi, this basic division into Yin and Yang gives it a reference point to further develop into different sub-categories within these two. Yang Qi being positive is supposed to be benevolent Qi and Yin Qi being negative is supposedly malevolent Qi. This perspective of Yin Yang Qi is NOT ABSOLUTE. Yin Qi is supposedly negative, but when there is a positive transformational interaction with Yang Qi it can be turned into Benevolent Qi. Likewise, if Yang Qi has a negative transformational interaction with excessive Yin Qi, it could possible lose its benevolent quality and turn malevolent. Yin or Yang Qi, if standing alone, without any interaction with each other, could possibly stay neutral, neither benevolent nor malevolent. It just stays as Yin or Yang Qi. Then there is a third party involvement – Human Qi. This shall be discussed in the next section.
  3. also from lesson 7:………………….. Tian Di Ren (Heaven, Earth and Man) Trinity In FengShui, great emphasis is placed on the complimentary nature of ‘marriage of Yin Yang Qi or Tian Di Qi (Heaven and Earth Qi) to produce Sheng Qi.’ The resultant Sheng Qi (Lively Qi) would then be beneficial, in the case of a house, to those living in it. Yin represents Female and Yin Qi would be Earth or Di Qi. Yang represents Male, and Yang Qi would be Heavenly Qi or Tian Qi. Or this can be described alternatively as Internal Qi (Di Qi) marrying External Qi (Tian Qi) to produce Sheng Qi. All these had to be done right using the special formulas as passed down by the Ancient Masters of FengShui.
  1. last part…… From another section of this lesson: In Chinese Metaphysics, the study of FengShui is the study of the forces of Nature. The Ancients had developed theories and formulas for us to manipulate these forces for the benefit of Man. The point that I’d like to emphasize here is: When the Qi from the Heaven descends and interacts with Earth Qi and gives rise to myriad things, the resultant Qi also interacts with human beings to complete the trinity of Tian Di Ren (Heaven, Earth & Man). Thus, the FengShui concept of Tian Di Ren trinity is none other than to harness the Qi of the Heaven and the Earth to benefit Man in a complete cycle of interaction. OK. Read, try to understand. use contemplation. then think. then internalise. if u can gain wisdom from these, you are much better than most who just yak.

Another phrase pointing to the non static nature of Qi….. 吉凶悔吝者,生乎动者也。 All auspicious and inauspicious, are born from movement. From the lower script of Xi Ci, Yijing.

The next phrase from a following paragraph….also points to qi as non static….. Qi can be so many things. 爻象动乎内,吉凶见乎外,功业见乎变,圣人之情见乎辞。 Hexagram lines movement internal, Auspicious or inauspicious seen in the external, Achievements seen from transformation, The emotions of the wise is seen from his statements. So can you see why I said, “qi is non static”.?

张载:

《易》一物而三才:阴阳,气也,而谓之天;刚柔,质也,而谓之地;仁义,德也,而谓之人。

ZhangZai wrote:  (Yi) matter is three ingredients:
YinYang is Qi, and represents heaven;
Robust and pliable is materials, represents Earth;
Humane and righteous, is attitude, represents Man. 

木曰曲直」,能即曲而反伸也;既曲可伸,伸抑可曲。「金曰從革」,一從革而不能自反也。從者,不易其質,革者,其形可變。能從能革,具斯二德,此云不能自反,於義未安。水火,氣也,故炎上潤下,與陰陽升降,土不得而制焉。水火,有質而勝用在氣,氣,故可旁達,與金木之用止於形中異矣。與陰陽升降者,以陰陽升降為體也。土不得制者,不受命於土也。炎以散寒,潤以解燥,與上升下燥各為二德,此獨就上下釋之。木金者,土之華實也,木者,土之敷榮;金,土之結而堅者爾。其性有水火之雜。故木之為物,水漬則生,火然而不離也,蓋得土之浮華於水火之交也。金之為物,得火之精於土之燥,得水之精於水當作土之濡,故水火相待而不相害,爍之反流而不耗,蓋得土之精實於水火之際也。漬而生,然而不離,惟其中有水火之性也。水火之交,謂水火之氣與陰陽升降,融徹土中,故土感其氣,合同而化,以發生浮華,以此知土中具有燥濡之性,為水火所資生,雖不能制,自包函之。燥者,土函火;濡者,土函水,木受水火之氣,故浮;金乃水火之精所結,故實。相待,謂金有津潤還可生水,燧鏡還可生火,交相待以生,不相害,謂水火不能毀金,火雖爍金而金反流。流者,生動之機。火既去仍無所耗,若水則終不損金也。際者,兩相接而成之謂。水濡之,火燥之,土堅實而成金。土者,物之所以成始而成終也。始生於土,終歸於土,神有往來,土受之而成形。

土者,物之所以成, 始而成終也。地之質也, 化之終也, 水火之所以升降物, 兼體而不遺者也.

始生於土,終歸於土,神有往來,土受之而成形。

地一土而已,木金皆其所生,水火依之而成。二氣變化,至形成而止矣。火依地而升,水依地而降,下徹黃壚,炎潤之性在焉。故無依空之水,火離土依空則息。水、火、木、金皆與土為體,則萬匯之生,有形有質,土皆兼體而不遺矣。《洪範》之言五行,以人事言,利用厚生之資,故於土但曰稼穡。若自天化而言,即地也,四行所不得抗也。周子太極第一圖,太極之本體;第二圖,陰陽二氣,天之蘊也;第三圖,五行順布,地之撰也。第二圖陰陽分左右,而中有太極,陰陽分體太極,而太極自不雜,在天之極也;第三圖位土於中,周行水、火、木、金而別無太極,明上為在地之極也。土不待水火而生,而水火依土;木金、土之華實,非土外之有木金。張子此論,究極物理,與周子吻合。而術家之言謂火生土、木克土者,其陋明矣。蓋嘗論之,天以神御氣,地以氣成形,形成而後五行各著其體用。故在天唯有五星之象,在地乃有五行之形。五氣布者,就地而言。若七曜以上之天,極於無窮之高,入於無窮之深,不特五行之所不至,且無有所謂四時者。然則四時之行,亦地天之際氣應所感,非天體之固然矣。人生於天地之際,資地以成形而得天以為性,性麗於形而仁、義、禮、智著焉,斯盡人道之所必察也。若聖人存神以合天,則渾然一誠,仁、義、禮、智初無分用,又豈有惻隱、羞惡、恭敬、是非之因感而隨應者。然下學上達,必循其有迹以盡所得為,而豁然貫通之後,以至誠合天德,固未可躐等求也。