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Article FS09/apr2
MEI HUA (PLUM BLOSSOM) DIVINATION:
ANALYSIS OF FALLACIES
Part 2 of 4: DUBIOUS PREDICTION ABILITY

Prof. Dr. Ong Hean-Tatt 13th April 2009


During my intense scientific and historical research into Feng Shui and astrology, I was intrigued by a startling reference to Mei Hua divination, which indicates that Shao Yung could have faked the modern Mei Hua! Before revealing the evidence, it is good to look at the character of Shao Yung pertaining to the reliability of his Mei Hua divination.


3. Fabrication of Anecdotes to Boost Shao Yung's Prediction Image

Anecdotes have been told of how wonderful Shao Yung was as a diviner. But, readers should seriously evaluate what the anecdotes really amount to. We have noted the dubiousness of one anecdote in the previous article. Now, let us look at some other anecdotes.

How Shao Wrote His Own Biography. Oh Yang Fei was sent by Ssuma Kwang on an official mission. Since he was passing through Shao's area, he was given permission to stop and visit him. Shao entertained Oh and told him about his life in great detail. He not only spoke of his work and writings, but described his family's history, about his marriage and his sons. Shao repeated all this information several times. Most peculiar of all, as Oh was leaving at the gate, Shao told him not to forget what he had told him. Many years later, after Shao died, the emperor ordered Oh, then an official court historian, to write a biography of Shao for the official annals of the dynasty. Oh was able to do this accurately based on the information which Shao had told him before.

  • Evaluation: It is claimed that the incidence shows how Shao Yung foresaw that the emperor would have his biography written. The fact is that leading officials in the dynasties often got their biographies written anyway. Even if Shao Yung had not told Oh, the chronicler would obtain sufficient data from various sources.

The Porcelain Pillow. Shao Yung spent all his time fiddling around with the I Ching. He was so obsessed with the I Ching that he left his job with the Emperor just to spend all his time staring at the hexagrams. But, for all this studying he could not find the answer to his most nagging question. He suspected that there was a numerical structure to the Universe and that subtle changes of the 64 hexagrams could make a prediction, but how was it done?

One morning he saw a rat in his room (moth in another version). Shao threw his ceramic pillow at the rat. The pillow cracked open, revealing note inside which said: this pillow will be sold to Shao Yung who break the pillow when he throws it at a rat at a certain time, certain day, certain month, certain year. Shao was amazed at the prediction, for he had broke the ceramic pillow under the very circumstances and exact time. Shao went the pillow maker who told him about an old man who would sit in his workroom carrying the I Ching under his arm. Shao went to the old man's house, where a young boy told him that the old man, his father, had died two days earlier. Shao thought he was too late. But the son gave Shao a book that his father said was to be given to a scholar that would come to his house two days after his death. This scholar would find where the money was buried to pay for his funeral. Tucked inside the pages were the formulas for prediction. Shao used these formulas to mathematically calculate where the old man had buried his silver to pay for the funeral expenses.

  • Evaluation: There many flaws in this tale, one in the nature of the porcelain pillow. It is ridiculous that the slip of paper could remain hidden so long. The porcelain pillow would have been examined several times and any paper would have been discovered long ago. It is just a cooked up tale and the old man never existed.

    Note: The non-existence of this old man should be enlightening about the debate whether Shao Yung was the real author of the Mei Hua divination. This anecdote claims that the young boy gave Shao Yung a book called Mei Hua Yi Shu, putting the old man as the real author of Mei Hua. But as the story is a fraud, the old man could not be the author.

    Or, did Shao Yung get his formulas from Li Chih-tsai? - is which case, why does the anecdote lie about the old man being the creator? Did Shao Yung give due credit to the real creator of Mei Hua?


These anecdotes are fraudulent, told to boost the image of Mei Hua. These dubious anecdotes must have been concocted by the close circle of Shao Yung, likely including his son, to bluff people.

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Shao Yung, author of the flawed
Mei Hua Yi Shu.

Anecdotes were fabricated to cast Shao Yung as a person with great prediction abilities.


4. Shao Yung Could Not Predict Fate of a Nation

What are the purposes of divination (i.e. predicting)? There are certain obvious purposes, such as:

  • Predict opportunities or dangers
  • Using predictions to boost one's success in life
  • Using predictions to obtain material gains, such as wealth and even love!

Let us see how Mei Hua fares with respect to the purposes of divination.

A serious condemnation of Mei Hua is that Wang An Shih, the then Sung prime minister, foresaw the fatal danger to the Northern Sung and tried to prevent it. But, Shao Yung was unable to predict the danger. Shao Yung even assisted Ssuma Kwang to block Wang An Shih, thereby contributed to the fall of Northern Sung.

Northern Sung was in deep trouble, with rampant corruption and national treasury virtually bankrupt. One man sent the emperor Shen Tsung an essay of "Ten Thousands Words", spelling out how to salvage China. The young emperor asked that man to become prime minister - he was Wang An Shih. A major reason why the treasury was so empty was that in those days a major part of the budget was used to buy clothes for the officials. Wang An Shih ordered the cloth stipend to be cut down. The army had a single large area to rear horses. Wang An Shih decentralised the rearing of horses so that high transport costs could be reduced. The prime minister tried to create a balanced budget.

Wang An Shih was opposed by the nincompoop group of philosophers rallied around Ssuma Kwang. Shao Yung was one of those who sided Ssuma Hwang. Ssuma Kwang was friendly to many corrupt leaders and raised illogical objections to Wang An Shih. The emperor sided Wang. The unfortunate thing was that the emperor died. At once, Ssuma Kwang influenced his old friend the Empress Dowager. The new emperor Che Tsung was young and the Empress Dowager was regent - she reversed Wang An Shih's measures. The country slided into further ruins. When the boy was matured, he found it too late to recall Wang An Shih.

  • During the ascendancy of the reformer Wang Anshi (1021-1086), technical and scientific subjects could be offered. Previously the questions set, though concerned with administrative, government and economic problems, were expected to be answered within the context of orthodox Confucian literature and philosophy... subjects such as engineering and medicine did not long survive the fall of Wang Anshi in 1076... (Cotterell 1990 p.171)

    After the death of Shen Tsung, his Royal friend and patron, Ssu Ma Kuang, his most powerful political opponent, was restored to power, and Wang An Shih lived just long enough to witness the complete reversal of his reform policy. This drastic action initiated a period of forty years of political strife, during which the policy of Wang An Shih was made either the "butt" or the "banner" of rival factions. So engrossed were the statesmen of this latter period in their factious controversies that matters fundamental to the security and existence of the Empire were grievously neglected. The result of all this was seen in the national disaster of 1126, when the Golden Tartars, who had long been menacing the Empire from the north, launched the attack of which Wang An Shih had previously forewarned his countrymen, and to forestall which his reform policy had been mainly designed. (H.R.Williamson 1935. p.vii).

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Wang An Shih, the prime minister who tried to save Northern Sung China.

He was resisted by people like Ssuma Kwang and Shao Yung, who have to be held responsible for the ruin of Northern Sung China.


Sung Philosophers whose foolishness helped ruined Northern Sung China

Left to Right: Ssuma Kwang, Cheng brothers and Shao Yung

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Shao Yung with his vaunted Mei Hua divination was one of those who contributed to the ruin of his country

Ssuma Kwang was to write that he regretted opposing Wang An Shih. He woke up too late to what Wang An Shih was trying to do. The enemies along the northern borders soon destroyed Northern Sung. These Sung philosophers philosophised their country's future away, and among them was Shao Yung, Chang Tsai and the Cheng brothers. It shows the values of their thoughts which contributed to the ruin of a nation:

  • After obtaining high positions through their successes in civil service examinations, most Neo-confucianists appeared to be pedantic and impractical and achieved nothing useful in their social activities. Here lay their weak points, which were severely criticized by their contemporary opponents Chen Liangct (1143 - 1194) and Yeh Shihcu (1150 1223) and rebuked in later generations by Ku Yen-wu and Yeh YŁancv (1635-1704). (The Establishment of the School of Chu Hsi and Its Propagation in Fukien. Mao Huaixin. 2003-5-23)

Why was it that Wang An Shih could foresaw the danger to China when Shao Yung could not? People use anecdotes to credit Shao Yung with great prediction ability and praise his Mei Hua divination. But he could not see the vision of Wang An Shih and helped Ssuma Kwang ruined Sung China. Being blind to the Fate of the nation shows Shao Yung had no real prediction ability - so, of what use is his Mei Hua? - the historical testimony proves it is just a fraud. When asked why he did not use Mei Hua to predict the future of the Sung dynasty, Shao Yung replied in this way:

  • The wise man does not predict events concerning the government in power. If he interprets good fortune, people will smile and say he is only flattering the authorities. If he interprets misfortune, the authorities will become angry and accuse him of slander and he may meet with disaster." Translation from Shao's own words by Da Liu in Da Liu, I Ching Numerology, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979, p. 92.)

This was just a bluff from Shao Yung. After all, Shao Yung defied the emperor by resigning when Wang An Shih became prime minister. That would have risk persecution, which apparently was not feared by Shao Yung. Hence, why should he fear to use Mei Hua to predict the future of the Sung dynasty? Shao Yung even joined force with Ssuma Kwang to defy Wang An Shih and the emperor.

The excuse for not using Mei Hua to foretell the country's Fate was cooked up. It shows that Shao Yung was unable to use Mei Hua to foretell the country's Fate, when Wang An Shih could - i.e. Shao Yung and his Mei Hua composed a useless and dangerous fraud, as implied by Wang An Shih:

  • If anyone fails to exert himself to maintain the principles of love and right, and relies upon the ability of the fortune teller to prognosticate his future correctly, all his energy will be dissipated on these trifling and worthless matters, and in the end he will be enslaved by such false and superstitious notions. (H.R.Williamson 1935. p.381).

Another related important testimony of Shao Yung's prediction ability shows he could not even use it to become financially sound and successful:

  • "As a man he [Shao Yung] was much respected. For forty years he lived in Luoyang in poverty. He was offered two minor offices but he declined. When he approached in a small cart, all people, whether adults or children, welcomed him with warm smiles." (Wing 1963 p.483).

So, of what use was his Mei Hua divination to Shao Yung when he could not even lift himself out of poverty and be successful in office? If you use his Mei Hua you can become as poor and unsuccessful as Shao Yung! His Mei Hua is not going to make anyone successful or wealthy! His Mei Hua could not predict the Fate of a nation. Wang An Shih was right, you "will be enslaved by such false and superstitious notions."

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Why was it that Wang An Shih could foresaw the danger to Northern Sung China when Shao Yung could not?
This verdict shows that the Mei Hua divination of Shao Yung could not predict the fate of a nation and was therefore useless!

So-called Dedication of Shao Yung

Some like to describe Shao Yung as very dedicated to his divination research :

  • ... there lived a government official named Shao, Kang Chieh (1011-1077) who began to study the I Ching. So interested did he become in this subject that he resented his bureaucratic duties because they prevented him from spending all of his time studying the I Ching. Determined not t be frustrated, Shao finally succeeded in obtaining an early retirement from his career on the grounds of poor health, even though his health was excellent. He could now devote all of his time to his studies. His study of the I Ching became so intense that he did not pay attention to his household responsibilities. When the weather turned cold he did not even gather firewood to warm his house. As far as Shao was concerned his normal duties took too much time. He devoted all his time to continuing study of the I Ching. (Jou 1984 p.86-87)

This tale is supposed to foster Shao Yung as a dedicated researcher of the I Ching. However, the tale indicates how untrustworthy was Shao Yung! He lied to the emperor. Then he was irresponsible in his household duties. The character of Shao Yung was flawed and is not the Mei Hua likewise a flawed product coming from such a liar and irresponsible person?

There are further evidence of the untrustworthy character of Shao Yung, as he was known to pretend to say something in public which was opposite to his view in private:

  • Like many of his contemporaries, Shao Yong fervently guarded Confucian orthodoxy, insisting on eliminating Buddhist services from funerals. He was true to these beliefs, as he performed absolutely no Buddhist rituals or other folk services in mourning his father. So observant was he of the Confucian rites that when he died his son Shao Bowen (1056-1134) also strictly followed them in holding his mourning observance.25 Judging from the high degree of consistency between his ideology and his practice, it seems Shao Yong was a Confucian paragon, leaving no room for heterodox ideas to occupy his mind.26 However, a close scrutiny of his daily conversations shows that his thinking was imbued with Buddhist ideas concerning spirits, the afterlife, and reincarnation openly opposed by Confucianism. As reported by his son, Shao Yong had privately divulged a numinous incident regarding the death and rebirth of Yong's stillborn twin sister. Possibly learned from his mother, this story tells that a quack doctor mistakenly poisoned Shao Yong's twin sister while she was still a fetus. Her ghost came to her mother about a decade later complaining about her being killed, and left only when her mother responded that both her death and the survival of her twin brother were predestined. Later, after another decade passed, the ghost appeared again to inform her mother that she finally was able to attain reincarnation, upon which the ghost-daughter bid her mother a tearful farewell.

    Shao Yong's acceptance of Buddhist ideas as depicted in this account, so contrary to his public image, was usually dismissed as a fabrication and was largely discounted.27 Yet given that it was Shao Yong's own son who recorded this story, its authenticity should not be questioned so lightly. Shao Bowen concluded the story with a brief yet revealing remark that serves not only to corroborate but also to justify his father's religious disposition, saying "Kangjie [Shao Yong] knew that some Buddhist ideas about reincarnation and spirits were indisputably authentic, but he simply did not want to publicize them."28 Father and son both seem to have believed that coexistence of one's religious convictions with opposing secular convictions was justified so long as the former remained bound to the private domain [BIBLID 0254-4466(2002)20:1 pp. 399-440 Visualizing the Afterlife: The Song Elite's Obsession with Death, the Underworld, and Salvation Hsien-huei Liao]


So, much of Shao Yung's public Confucianism, including his philosophy and Mei Hua divination, seemed to be a bluff enacted for the public.

The nature of lying irresponsibility went back in the ancestry of Shao Yung's family. Shao Yung's ancestor was one of those who installed the founding Sung emperor. This founding emperor had promised Yang, his master fatally wounded in battle, that he would install Yang's infant son as the new emperor. But, Shao Yung's ancestor and others caused the founding Sung emperor to renege on his promise and got himself installed as emperor. The infant grew up to form the famous Yang family who valiantly fought against the Tartars. To eliminate rumours of the flawed succession, one Sung emperor even once tried to order the whole Yang generation to commit suicide by drinking poison.

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The testimony of history is that Shao Yung was an irresponsible person prone to bluffing and fabrications.

5. Current Mei Hua is a Fake?

There is a tendency for new learners to take what they learnt as the original version. They are likely to think that the method had come down all the way from ancient times.

  • Jiang Da Hong's generations of students were split into various schools. Only the Zhong Seng Chan school survived, but it is not necessary that this school preserved faithfully what was taught by Jiang Da Hong. A look at the Jiang Da Hong's Luo Pan will betray that the Zhong Seng Chan school deviated significantly from Jiang Da Hong. This is because the Luo Pan of Jiang Da Hong has a ring of the 28 Lunar Constellations. The current Xuan Kong Fei Xing (Flying Stars) does not know how to use this outer ring of the 28 Lunar Constellations. In fact, in many San Yuan Luo Pans devised, the ring of 28 Lunar Constellations has been omitted. The inability to understand and use the 28 Lunar Constellations indicates that current versions of Xuan Kong Fei Xing have deviated from that of Jiang Da Hong. GUI Management Centre is researching to recover the original version of Xuan Kong Feng Shui.

Likewise, there is historical testimony that the current Mei Hua divination is not the original. One commentator to the Snow Heart Poem notes that Liao Yu and Lai Bu Yi, first and second generations disciples of famous Tang dynasty master Yang Yun Sung, dubbed founder of Feng Shui, condemned Mei Hua divination:

  • Liao Yu had said: "Pure Yin pure Yang really move the world, Tzu Wei Bagua Fang is false, single (solely) with Plum Blossom not the proper discussion... learn Tzu Wei, Bagua false method cannot be used. Plum Blossom method calculation fortune telling only use the book surface Zhong temple (Ji Hong Fan Shui) and Heaven Star method early already claimed (regarded) as too simple. Lai Bu Yi had said: "inside and outside water never not going back to the ring, inside and outside mountain never not to care, itself become a wealthy land, no need Bagua, already auspicious." Of course, if suitable with Bagua if more auspicious.

The passage above shows that the original Mei Hua was involved with the problem of deciding how to find the auspicious location. The ancient text Snow Heart Poem advocates a Luan Tou method to determine the auspiciousness of a location. It condemns the usage of other methods to find the auspiciousness of the location, including Mei Hua divination.

An art which combines divination with site auspiciousness is Xuan Kong Da Gua. In a similar format to Mei Hua, Xuan Kong Da Gua uses a year, month, day and hour to determine the best time to do a thing. But, Xuan Kong Da Gua also has methods to determine the auspiciousness of a site. The modern Mei Hua is incomplete and has left out a significant portion pertaining to the identification of the auspiciousness of a site.

  • This historical testimony indicates that the ancient Mei Hua at Lai Yu and Lai Bu Yi's time is not the modern Mei Hua. The current Mei Hua could be a distortion or even a fake concocted by Shao Yung!

Conclusions

In Part 1 it was shown that the current Mei Hua divination is not based on the I Ching. Its Hu Kua, Moving Yao, Shih Kua, Ti-Yung are all rubbish never found in King Wen I Ching. The modern Mei Hua has a date usage which is contrary to the Wu Xing principle of the I Ching. Here, in Part 2, we find historical evidence that the current Mei Hua divination was not the same as the ancient Mei Hua. The current Mei Hua is dubious, something the irresponsible compulsive liar Shao Yung was capable of cooking up, along with his fabricated anecdotes. We have examined five issues and any should be sufficient to put the modern Mei Hua into the dustbin.

Shao Yung was a failure. Shao Yung was unable to use Mei Hua to predict the Fate of the nation. He was also unable to use it to escape poverty. So, how good is his Mei Hua divination?

Out there is the real original Mei Hua - who will re-discover it?

There are a number of other implications. What the articles demonstrate is that it is easy for unscrupulous pretentious people to bluff others who know little of the backgrounds. We have to be careful about how we think, in order to be able to sieve the chaff from the wheat.

Good luck!

next article

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The modern Mei Hua is not the original Mei Hua but is a fake

Liao Yu and Lai Bu Yi left records that there was an original Mei Hua which was involved with Luan Tou evaluation of the auspiciousness of a site.


Other related articles:

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ONCE KNOWN TO THE ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS!