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Article FS09/feb1
RIDDLE OF LAI BU YI's REN PAN:
TOWARDS SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING OF LUOPAN

Prof. Dr. Ong Hean-Tatt 17th February 2009


Introduction

  • Dr.Ong's research has undercovered several scientific aspects of the Luopan ill-understood by modern practitioners. Here, one aspect is discussed.

Although practitioners like to tout the Luopan as the most important instrument in Feng Shui, a number of rings remain mysteries to them. Almost every Feng Shui so-called master pretends to know the Luopan - he will lose face to his students if he admits he does not know! The truth is that there are a lot of things these people do not know about the Luopan.

It is time to understand in a scientific way why the San He Luopan has the 3 rings of Di Pan, Tian Pan and Ren Pan. When we understand the basis of these 3 rings, we can also understand why the San Yuan Luopan has an inner ring which displaces the 8 trigrams 4 hexagrams clockwise to the original Early Heaven trigrams.

  • It is also time to recover why the both the San He and San Yuan Luopans have an outermost ring of the unequal 28 Lunar Constellations. Almost all modern Feng Shui masters do not know why the 28 Lunar Constellations are there and how to use them.

Practically all modern Feng Shui practitioners will be unable to answer the issues raised above! Their inability to answer would indicate how much they really know about the Luopan.


Inventions of the Tian Pan and Ren Pan

During the Tang dynasty, Yang Yun Sung invented the Luopan by creating the Di Pan (Correct or Earth Needle) with the 12 dizhi signs interfaced with 8 tiangan signs and the four ordinals. There are 24 Mountains to the Di Pan. He then created the Tian Pan (the Outer Heaven or Seam Needle) to help usage of the Di Pan. The Tian Pan has the same 24 Mountains as the Di Pan but is aligned 7.5o clockwise to the Di Pan.



Yang Yun Sung.
Tang imperial geographer, astronomer and Feng Shui master.

He left behind a number of Feng Shui texts which modern practitioners find hard to understand.


Later, Yang Yun Sung's second generation student Lai Bu Yi invented the Ren Pan (Inner, Middle or Man Needle) which also has the same 24 Mountains as the Di Pan. But this Ren Pan is aligned 7.5o anticlockwise to the Di Pan. It is therefore 15o from the Tian Pan.

  • Practitioners do not know why the 7.5o alignments are made. Why 7.5 o and not other values?
  • All the rings have the same 24 Mountains in the same order, only their alignments differ by 7.5o. The adjustment of 7.5o indicates that there was a particular real physical value which made Yang Yun Sung fixed the alignment of the Tian Pan.
  • Likewise, when Lai Bu Yi made his new Ren Pan, he did not pluck the value of the adjustment from thin air. There must be also a real physical value which fixed his alignment for the Ren Pan.
  • What is curious is that it is known that Lai Bu Yi invented the Ren Pan to track the movements of the stars. This ill known fact means that the Ren Pan is actually a Time device primarily for tracking the stars and not a direction device.


The modern Yang Gong group has wrongly attacked Lai Bu Yi for inventing a Ren Pan which appears useless in Feng Shui practice. This was because Lai Bu Yi created the Ren Pan to track the stars. The Yang Gong people claim that the stars are too far away to affect human destiny, and so claim that the Ren Pan is nonsense. But, it is felt that there was some valid reason (as revealed below) why Lai Bu Yi invented the Ren Pan, and it is just that the Yang Gong people are ignorant of the reason.


San He Luopan.
It has 3 rings, vis the Di Pan, Tian Pan and Ren Pan. Note the ill-understood unequal 28 Lunar Constellations on the outermost ring.




Hardly anyone knows why there are the Tian Pan and Ren Pan besides the Di Pan.

The San Yuan Luopan has thrown away the Tian Pan and Ren Pan - by doing so the San Yuan group may have lost a means to understand complicated Yang Yun Sung's texts like Tian Yu Jing (Heaven Jade Classic).

Neither the San He or San Yuan groups understand how to use the 28 Lunar Constellations.

Lai Bu Yi wrote a document called "Cui Guan Pian" (Induce the Government Positions). This Sung dynasty text contains fantastic revelations of how Lai Bu Yi used the astronomical stars to foster Feng Shui. Keep with us to learn his secrets!


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Scientific Reason for Yang Yun Sung's Tian Pan

Early debates speculated that the 3 rings of the San He Luopan were meant to adjust for the differences of magnetic declinations. This could be true for Yang Yun Sung's Tian Pan, but it is difficult to see why this is so for Lai Bu Yi's Ren Pan.

  • Yang Yun Sung was the royal astronomer and geographer at Xian, the capital of the Tang dynasty. Xian has a longitude of about 107o. The compass needle at Xian points to the magnetic north pole which is located in the Baffin Straits off northern Canada. The magnetic pole is displaced 12o to the geographical north. At Xian, the compass needle will also point almost to the geographical north, due to the nature of the Earth's curvature. At Xian the true geographical north and magnetic pole would be aligned close together.

  • But, towards the end of the Tang dynasty, when Yang Yun Sung fled to Jiangsu, which has a longitude of around 120o, there is a significant difference between the directions of the geographical north and magnetic pole. Hence, Yang Yun Sung mioght have known that in Jiangsu an adjustment of 7.5o was necessary to determine the true geographical north.

    The magnetic needle of the Luopan should point to the north in the Tian Pan ring and the true north is read from the Di Pan.


Lai Bu Yi Invented Ren Pan

It is not difficult to see why the Tian Pan was invented. However, the same arguments cannot be applied to Lai Bu Yi's Ren Pan. Why is the Ren Pan aligned 7.5o in the opposite direction to that of the Tian Pan?

  • Lai Bu Yi was in the same region of Jiangsu as Yang Yun Sung. So, why should there by another realignment in the form of the Ren Pan?

People believe that Yang Yun Sung created the Tian Pan to realign with the difference in the magnetic declination. However, Lai Bu Yi's reason was not for the magnetic declination but for tracing the stars. Why was it necessary for Lai Bu Yi to do that? It has to do with the stars or astronomy. What astronomical phenomenon caused Lai Bu Yi to do that?

A calendar reform was made during the Sui dynasty, when the mechanism of the 24 Solar Terms were created to help determine the intercalary months. From the end of the Sui dynasty to Lai Bu Yi time it was already 400 to 500 years later. The precession of the equinoxes shift the Zodiac signs at a rate of 0.015o every year. Thus, in the 400 to 500 years, the precession would have shifted the Zodiac signs by some 7 to 7.5 o! Hence, the Ren Pan was meant to track the astronomical signs by allowing for the 7.5o shift in the star signs due to the precession of the equinoxes!

That is why, it was known that La Bu Yi invented the Ren Pan to measure the stars. Just as Yang Yun Sung invented the Tian Pan to adjust for the magnetic declination, Lai Bu Yi invented the Ren Pan to adjust for the precession of the equinoxes.

When looking at the sky one could see which of the 28 Lunar Constellations the Earth would be passing through. The Luopan would indicate the dizhi and tiangan signs equivalent to the particular Lunar Constellation. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, it was necessary to adjust 7.5o to get the correct Ganzhi significance.

  • This is probably why Lai Bu Yi was so famous as a much better astrologer than others. This was because he was using the more correct positions of the stars to make his predictions.

    Those who did not know would use the Lunar Constellation pointed out by the Di Pan ring. But Lai Bu Yi knew an adjustment must be made, so he would read the Lunar Constellation pointed out by the Ren Pan.

    Thus, the 28 Lunar Constellations are not there for decoration! They are meant to enable the marking of real astronomical Time. It actually means you have to watch the night sky! Hardly any modern master does that, as he would not know. Contact us to know more.


However, Lai Bu Yi's correction may not be completely correct.

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San Yuan Luopan

The San Yuan Luopan was created after Jiang Da Hong after AD 1600. The San Yuan Luopan dispenses with Yang Yun Sung's Tian Pan and Lai Bu Yi's Ren Pan. It retains the Di Pan with its 24 Mountains and 8 trigrams. However, like in Xuan Kong Da Gua calculations, the trigrams applied are realigned 4 hexagrams clockwise to those of the Di Pan. Four hexagrams amount to 22.5o displacement.

Once again it should be asked why the trigrams are not read from the Di Pan but instead from the ring displaced 22.5o clockwise.

The clue is that the San Yuan Luopan also takes into account the precession of the equinoxes! By Jiang Da Hong's time, the precession of the equinoxes had advanced further, more than the 7.5o in Lai Bu Yi's time.

22.5o displacement is equivalent to some 1,500 years of precession. As each hexagram is 5.625o, there may be a rounding up and the period could be some 1,200 to 1,500 years. Somebody had taken a Time reference point in Jiang Da Hong's time back to some time in the end of or soon after the Han dynasty.


San Yuan Luopan.
It does not have the rings of Tian Pan and Ren Pan. It also has the 64 hexagrams which are not in the San He Luopan.





Ring 2 shows the normal trigrams of the Early Heaven Bagua.

Ring 9 has the trigrams displaced clockwise by 4 hexagrams - the reason for this displacement can now be understood.

This simplified San Yuan Luopan does not show the 28 Lunar Constellations which are present in proper San Yuan Lopans.


Conclusion

There were different valid astronomical reasons for the Tian Pan, Ren Pan and San Yuan ring of shifted trigrams. Trying to apply the same reason had confused earlier commentators from realising the real situations.

  • That is, both Lai Bu Yi's Ren Pan and the San Yuan Luopan shift of 4 hexagrams are meant to adjust for the precession of the equinoxes. In a way, the San Yuan ring is a more modern type of Ren Pan!

  • In contrast, Yang Yun Sung's Tian Pan was believed to be an adjustment for the physical directions of the true geographical North.

    Caution must be exercised about giving a magnetic declination reason for Yang Yun Sung's Tian Pan. It may be the reason. However, of recent, the author's research indicates that the true reason may not be related to magnetic declination but an adjustment for the drift of the seasons due to the precession of the equinoxes.

    Read about how the precession of the equinoxes affect astrological dates and that modern astrologers are using wrong dates.


The discussion indicates that some rings of the Luopan may be meant to measure physical directions. But other rings are meant to track Time. Modern practitioners have mixed them up and confused themselves. The Luopan is both a Feng Shui and astrology instrument!

  • Once the differences in purposes of the rings of the San He Luopan are understood, it is possible to understand how it was originally used by the Yang Yun Sung's circle.

  • These differences can throw light on the basis for the mysteries of some ancient Feng Shui documents like Yang Yun Sung's Tian Yu Jing (Heaven Jade Classic).

  • What is the significance of the term "San He", which means "Three Harmonies"? Some say that the meaning could relate to these 3 rings of Di Pan, Tian Pan and Ren Pan. Or, the different rings in the San He Luopan may contain the secrets of how to measure the interactions of Earth, Heaven, and Man, a theme which permeates both Feng Shui and astrology.


Lai Bu Yi's Ren Pan and the Xuan Kong Da Gua's shift of 4 hexagrams indicate that corrections must be made for the precession of the equinoxes. There is a good chance that current Luopans have not been updated for the precession of the equinoxes since Jiang Da Hong's time. Current Luopans may have a time bomb of serious errors!

There are other major aspects of the Luopan ill-understood by current practitioners. Read the next article on Riddle of 28 Lunar Constellations in Jiang Da Hong's Luopan.

We hope to write a book or have courses to expound the corrected Luopan.



Other related articles:

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Did Lai Bu Yi invent a useless feature, vis the Ren Pan?
No. Only ignorant people claim so, as they do not understand the reasons for the Ren Pan.

We have translated Lai Bu Yi's "Cui Guan Pian" into English. This Sung dynasty text contains fantastic revelations of how Lai Bu Yi used the astronomical stars to foster Feng Shui. Keep with us to learn his secrets!


FENG SHUI IS A LOST HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
ONCE KNOWN TO THE ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS!