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Article FS00/7
Origins of Feng Shui: Huang Di Feng Shui Battles
2. SHADOWS OF WATER DRAGON CLASSICS IN SUN ZI'S ART OF WAR

Prof. Dr. Ong Hean-Tatt 7th October 2000



Water Dragon Classic

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The Water Dragon Classic is a well known ancient Feng Shui document showing the favourable and unfavourable locations for houses along water courses. There are evidence that some of the Water Dragon Classic Feng Shui principles are alluded to in Sun Zi's Art of War.

The relevant passage in Sun Zi's Art of War is:

  • When there are heavy rains upstream, a river has much bubbles in the water, we should wait until the water subsides and calms down before crossing. Whenever there are torrents, `Heavenly Wells,' `Heavenly Prisons,' `Heavenly Nets,' `Heavenly Traps,' and `Heavenly Gaps,' leave quickly and do not approach them. Keep away from them and lure the enemy towards them. We face them and let the enemy put his back to them. Sun Zi 9:14-16.

According to Giles (1910 p.85-86) the ancient commentators had defined the terms in the passage of Sun Zi 9:14-16 as follows:

  • `Heavenly Wells' - places enclosed on every side by steep banks, with pools of water at the bottom
  • `Heavenly Prisons' - natural pens or prisons, places surrounded by precipices on three sides
  • `Heavenly Nets' - tangled thickets
  • `Heavenly Traps' - quarmires
  • `Heavenly Gaps' - crevasses, a narrow difficult way between beetling cliffs

The terms are associated with water courses. Those knowing natural geography will realise that, due to the underlying geology of such cliffs and steep banks, such river courses are likely to be very straight, the very unfavourable water courses described in the Water Dragon Classic!

What Sun Zi says in the passage of Sun Zi 9:14-16 is that it would be dangerous for an army to camp along such rivers. If an enemy approaches, the army will be trapped between the straight river courses and the enemy. It is from this ancient memory that the Feng Shui lore grew, that it is inauspicious and unfavourable to stay along such `Heavenly Wells,' `Heavenly Prisons,' `Heavenly Nets,' `Heavenly Traps,' and `Heavenly Gaps' . The advice is "leave quickly"!

It will also be not advisable to have a house in the path of such straight rivers, as these rivers could overflow and the flood hit the house. In fact, one of the dangers the passage of Sun Zi 9:14-16 has in mind is also flooding.

In converse, areas which do not have such `Heavenly Wells,' `Heavenly Prisons,' `Heavenly Nets,' `Heavenly Traps,' and `Heavenly Gaps' would be those meandering rivers in the plains.

All these are what are advised in the Water Dragon Classic.

Thus, the evidence grow that Feng Shui originated from ancient military principles. Not only that, but it also appears that these ancient military principles were the ones related to the "four useful methods of positioning armies used by the Yellow Emperor" mentioned in Sun Zi 9:1-10. Many Feng Shui principles originated from the military science of 2600 B.C.!

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Wrong alignments with respect to water can be dangerous. Find out here!



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