on Feng Shui
on Feng Shui

Article FS09/apr3


Prof. Dr. Ong Hean-Tatt 16th April 2009


The Mei Hua people would try to support their Mei Hua by claiming that Shao Yung had a fantastic philosophy. It is time to debunk the myth of Shao Yung's philosophy in this and the next articles.

This article will highlight that the Taoists had a much broader science based cosmology than realised by the Sung philosophers, including Shao Yung.

One person who had a science based idea of the production of qi by the Sun, the formation of Yin Yang by astronomical movement and the transformation of the qi into seasons was Chou Tun Yi the Sung philosopher and founder of Neo-Confucianism(1017-1073). We will look at what Chou Tun Yi taught.

The ancient people told Time by looking at the stars (or constellations), which were signs first used to track Time. Certain events, like the seasons and moon movements, were repeated in cycles - this was the astronomy stage. Then, they also noticed that patterns of human behaviour could be correlated to the movements and positions of stars as well as the Sun, Moon and planets - this was the birth of astrology, the advance phase of astronomy. Star constellations became signs then used to track astrological effects.

  • And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. Genesis 1:14.

In ancient time, the full orbit of the Earth around the Sun was measured by the first degree of the Zodiac star constellation of Aries. Every time the Sun was observed in the first degree of Aries the ancient knew that the Earth had made a full complete orbit and the new year had begun. In China, instead of looking for the Sun in Aries, the Chinese looked for the full moon in the Lunar Constellation of Chio the Horn - which corresponds to the Western constellation of Spica in the Zodiac constellation of Virgo. Spica in Virgo is exactly opposite Aries - hence the ancient worlds of the West and China had taken the same position of the Earth along the orbit around the Sun as the start of the new year.

Conventionally, the modern world takes January 1 as the start of the new year. The Earth orbits around the Sun in about 365.25 days, not exactly 365 days. We add an extra day every 4 years to re-calibrate the new year. However, it is not exactly 365.25 days and eventually this leap year mechanism will fail in the long term and a new re-calibration will have to be done. The calendar systems, based on round numbers, can never get the exact astronomical movements and through the past had to be adjusted again and again.

To get true astrological effects, one must be able to track the exact orbit of the Earth around the Sun - this is done by observing the stars backgrounds of the Sun, or the full moon with the Chinese system. Hence, the West uses the Zodiac signs from Aries to Aries, while the Chinese the 28 Lunar Constellations. Other cultures, like the Hindu, had their own star systems. The various star systems are valid when used to track the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.

They can also be used to track the real orbit of the Moon around the Earth. Finally they can also be used to mark the true hours of the rotation of the Earth.

Solar radiation is produced by the Sun. What the Chinese philosophers called qi is the solar radiation from the Sun. This qi is affected by astronomical movements along at least two planes, as described below.


Chou Tun Yi
Sung philosopher. Regarded as founder of Neo-Confucianism.

Chu Xi exclaimed Chou Tun Yi as the greatest thinker since Mencius. His explanation of the derivation of the Yin Yang from the Taiji was closest to what Confucius wrote and is highly scientific.

Annual Variations in Solar Shadow Form Taiji, Yin Yang, Seasons and 24 Mountains
Major factor: Tilt of Earth - measurable by gnomon shadow stick.

The ancient records described how they measured the solar shadow with the gnomon stick:

Formation of Yin Yang by annual variation of solar radiation
They even divided the year's cycle into 24 Segments… They used six concentric circles, marked the 24-Segment points, divided the circles into 24 sectors and recorded the length of shadow every day. The shortest shadow is found on the day of Summer Solstice. The longest shadow is found on the day of Winter Solstice. After connecting each lines and dimming Yin Part from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice, the Sun chart looks like [Figure on left]. (Allen Tsai, 1999)

The Taiji, Yin Yang and 8 trigrams are nothing mystical but the patterns formed by the seasonal variations of the solar radiation and shadow! The Wu Chi, the source of everything, is nothing but the Sun!


"In 655 BC it is reported that the Duke of Lu went up to the Divine Terrace to observe the Ch'i at the equinoxes, solstices, and the beginnings of the four seasons." (Walters 1987 p.238).

Duke of Lu's equinoxes, solstices & beginnings of 4 seasons are the 8 directions of Bagua. In its earliest perspective, qi referred to some physically visible atmospheric aura or impression.

Sun is Heterogeneous: Earth receives different solar radiation as it orbits around Sun.
Major Factor: Heterogeneous Surface of Sun -
measurable by 28 Lunar Constellations

It is time to highlight another significant modern astrophysics finding.

The ancients in the Middle East often took the Sun as the source of everything, like the Chinese "Wu Chi" being the source of everything. This, of course, ties in with the ancient Feng Shui saying in Zeng Wen Chan's Qing Nang Xu:

  • QNX 2.15, 2.16: The source from the Red Sparrow gives rise to the benevolent qi. Step by step explanation to enlighten the slow learner.
    QNX 2.17, 2.18: One produces two and two produces three, three produces the ten thousands things and this is known as the origin of evolution.

What is significant for astrology is that the Sun is not a homogenous body and its surface is also not homogenous. Modern astrophysics' pictures of the Sun show that the Sun has segments, like a segmented orange (see images below). The images show that the segments of the Sun are uneven. As the Earth orbits around the Sun, the Earth will pass over different surface segments of the Sun and will receive different amounts and types of solar radiations from the different surfaces of the Sun.

Left: Variations in solar flares from heterogeneous surface of Sun
Right: Image of solar field around Sun. Note the heterogeneous segmented nature of the solar field around the Sun, like a segmented orange.

As Earth orbits around Sun, it will pass through different solar variations from the Sun. This variation is the basis of astrological effects of the months and seasons. The ancient Chinese tracked the heterogeneous surface of the Sun through the uneven 28 Lunar Constellations.

That is, the Earth will receive different monthly and seasonal solar radiation from the Sun! These different monthly and seasonal solar radiation will cause different foetal development and different interactions with human behaviour. That is the long lost secret of the scientific astronomical basis of astrology! The ancient founding astrology masters did not imagine things up but had valid scientific reasons for creating astrology!

As astrophysics show, the surface of the Sun is not even. This is why the Chinese 28 Lunar Constellations are not of even durations. Originally, the Western astrologers also observed the sky directly. But, in time, they came up with a convenient system like the 12 Zodiac signs. The equal divisions of the 12 Zodiac signs are only approximations of the actual solar radiation from the different surface segments of the Sun.


Confucius compiled the King Wen I Ching.
It was from what Confucius wrote that Chou Tun Yi got his idea of how the Wu Chi produces everything.

Interactions between Solar Radiation, Tilt of the Earth and Heterogeneous Surface of Sun.

The basis in astrology is the fundamental solar radiation (qi) from the Sun (the Wu Chi), which are different during the different months the Earth orbits around the Sun. This basis factor interacts with these other factors in two planes:

  • First Plane Variation of Qi: Five Elements of Earth
    Tilt of Earth is what creates the seasons. The Yin Yang are created through interactions between the solar radiation and the movement of the tilted Earth and this can be measured through the gnomon stick tracking the solar shadow.

    Hence, Wu Chi interacts with the moving tilted Earth to form the Yin Yang, from which come seasons and then 8 trigrams. This is the Early Heaven Bagua which is a profound scientific flow chart, known in ancient times.

    As the shadow pattern will be reversed for the Southern Hemisphere, the Early Heaven Bagua has to be reversed to some extent for the Southern Hemisphere.

    This tilt of the Earth is affected by the precession of the equinoxes and the signs have to be shifted about one sign every 2,000 years. This is actually the 12 dizhi signs, often called the Zodiac signs.

  • Second Plane Variation of Qi: Patterns of Heaven
    The solar radiation is also affected by the position of Jupiter, which orbits around the Sun in a cycle of almost 12 years. Thus, the Chinese call Jupiter the "Nien Star", i.e. Year Star. The effect of Jupiter on the Sun is independent of the precession of the equinoxes - this is likely the tiangan part. Other aspects of the complicated tiangan system are noted below.

    The Moon obviously has an effect on the solar radiation streaming into the Earth's atmosphere. The division of the year into 12 months was an ancient acknowledgment of the influence of the Moon. Solar eclipses caused by the Moon also have profound effects.

    Planetary movements, especially conjunctions, have significant effects on the solar radiation. Parts of these effects are measured by the Later Heaven Bagua.

The dual nature of the cosmology of the solar system was not unknown to the ancients. It is, of course, the scientific basis of the Ganzhi system, with its dual features of dizhi and tiangan signs.

The ancient Chinese texts referred to at least two astronomical planes in the variations of qi, one vis the tilt of the Earth and the other the planets. The former and later are known in Chinese astronomy as respectively the "Red Path" (equatorial, linked with tilt of Earth) and the "Yellow Path" (ecliptical, linked with orbit around Sun). The former can be said to be the dizhi part of the Ganzhi system and the later the tiangan part.

Huang Shih Kung wrote of these two planes of the variations of qi in his Qing Nang Jing that the pattern of Heaven produces different qi and that after the Earth will transform the qi:

  • QNJ 1.34 & 1.35 Heaven consists of five planets. Earth consists of Five Elements
    QNJ 1.36 & 1.37 Heaven is divided into constellations. Earth is arranged according to mountains and rivers.
    QNJ 1.38 & 1.39 Qi transforms on the ground. Pattern magnifies from the sky.
    QNJ 1.40 & 1.41 Based on pattern to evaluate qi. One can establish the guideline for Man


The interactions of the tilt of the Earth and the solar radiation is the cause of the seasons.

This is what the ancients meant when they stated that the "alternation of movement or activity" forms the Yin Yang.

Partial Explanation by Chou Tun Yi

The interactions of the solar radiation and the movements of the tilted Earth around the Sun to generate the Five Elements or seasons are what is meant by the Sung philosopher Chou Tun Yi, as noted below:

Chou Tun Yi's Diagram

Chou Tun Yi explained the diagram at the left as follows (also annotated in right column):

"Non-polar (wuji) and yet Supreme Polarity (taiji)!
The Supreme Polarity in activity generates yang; yet at the limit of activity it is still. In stillness it generates yin; yet at the limit of stillness it is also active. Activity and stillness alternate; each is the basis of the other. In distinguishing yin and yang, the Two Modes are thereby established.
The alternation and combination of yang and yin generate water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. With these five [phases of] qi harmoniously arranged, the Four Seasons proceed through them.

The Five Phases are simply yin and yang; yin and yang are simply the Supreme Polarity; the Supreme Polarity is fundamentally Non-polar. [Yet] in the generation of the Five Phases, each one has its nature."


What Chou Tun Yi wrote at the left can be understood scientifically as below:

1.The Wu Chi or Non-Polar is the Sun, the source of all Life and energy.

2.The Taiji or Supreme Polarity represents the orbit of the Earth moving around the Sun. This orbit interacts with the tilt of the Earth to form the dark and bright phases of the year, i.e. Yin and Yang.

3.The "alternation and combination" or variations of the Yin Yang also form the seasons, represented by the Five Elements.

Chou Tun Yi explained that Yin and Yang are produced by "movement", i.e. of the tilted Earth around the Sun, which causes variations in the solar shadow to form the pattern of Yin Yang. The Yin Yang do not produce Heaven and Earth. It is the other way round - Heaven (Wu Chi or the Sun) produces the solar radiation which is transformed by the moving Earth to form Yin Yang.

What Chou Tun Yi postulated is in line with what Confucius explained in his commentaries to the King Wen I Ching. His theory is also in line with the scientific flow chart explaining how the tilt of the Earth modifies the solar radiation to form the seasons.

  • What is ill-realised is that Chou Tun Yi and the many Sung philosophers were debating only this First Plane of the Variation of Qi! They did not comprehend, as known by Huang Shih Kung, that there is another plane, the Second Plane of Variation of Qi regulated by the planets in Heaven.

    Yes, The Sung philosophy is incomplete! The Sung philosophers did not understand the full cosmology of the Ganzhi system and were arguing only about the dizhi part!

Ancient Detection of Variations of Qi Through Stars Constellations

Knowing that the Sun produced different solar radiation (or qi) from its heterogeneous surface, the ancient Feng Shui and astrology masters needed to know which sector of the Sun the Earth was passing through. What they did was to look at the stars constellations behind the Sun or the full moon. Then they could know where along the orbit the Earth was.

They would also watch where were the major planets and the Moon and determined how the basis solar radiation or qi would be affected by the extra factor of the planets and Moon.

This was why ancient cultures all over the world originally used some forms of 28 Lunar Constellations to track the qi variations from the Sun. Simplifications led to the emergence of the equal spaced 12 Zodiac signs and the even 28 days Lunar Constellations. Thus, the patterns of the stars constellations can be used to detect the prevailing status of the changing qi.

  • From this was born the arts of Feng Shui and astrology! They all have scientific and astronomical basis.


The Chinese used the 28 Lunar Constellations to detect which sectors of the Sun's surface the Earth was passing through, thereby tracking the different qi from the Sun.

The cosmology of the solar system is reflected in the Ganzhi system with its dual dizhi and tiangan signs. This total cosmology was noted by Huang Shih Kung in his Qing Nang Jing:

  • QNJ 1.34 & 1.35 Heaven consists of five planets. Earth consists of Five Elements
    QNJ 1.36 & 1.37 Heaven is divided into constellations. Earth is arranged according to mountains and rivers.
    QNJ 1.38 & 1.39 Qi transforms on the ground. Pattern magnifies from the sky.
    QNJ 1.40 & 1.41 Based on pattern to evaluate qi. One can establish the guideline for Man

There is nothing mysterious about the theory of Wu Chi, Taiji and Yin Yang. The theory was the ancient scientific knowledge of how solar radiation or qi from the Wu Chi is affected by movement (of tilted Earth) to form Yin Yang, the dark and bright phases of the year and the Early Heaven pattern of the 8 trigrams. The fluctuations in the Yin Yang are the fluctuations in the solar radiation which will cause the seasons. This is only the First Plane in Variation of Qi, due to the tilt of the Earth and is only the dizhi part of the Ganzhi.

Those who are sharp enough may realise that the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams pattern does not form the Heaven's five planets part vis QNJ 1.34: "Heaven consists of five planets" but forms only the Earth's part of the Five Elements interactions with the solar radiation, as reflected in the Early Heaven Bagua of QNJ 1.35 "Earth consists of Five Elements."

  • The Sung philosophers concentrated only on this dizhi part of QNJ 1.35 "Earth consists of Five Elements." They were unaware that there is more than the incomplete Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams theory, which does not deal with the planets and even the Moon. Some of the Sung philosophers also mistakenly labeled the planets and stars as parts of the 8 trigrams of the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams pattern. The 8 trigrams of the Early Heaven Bagua stricty concern only the seasonal variations of the solar radiation or qi and have nothing to do with the planets and Moon.

The Sung philosophers including Shao Yung, who were Confucians, took a Taoist concept but did not fully understand it. They thought they could use the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams theory to create a total philosophy about Existence. But the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams theory is only a part of the whole picture. It may be said that the Sung philosophers were unaware that there is a huge gap in their metaphysics philosophy.

The Sung philosophers thought they could grasp the I Ching. They failed, had conflicting views and argued endlessly against each other. Their narrow pre-occupation with the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams pattern confused many later thinkers, including practitioners of Feng Shui and astrology.

While the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams pattern is a significant part of Feng Shui and astrology lore, Feng Shui and astrology are much more than that. Better gear up research to find out the Truth!

next (last) article


Taoist Immortal
Huang Shih Kung.

Teacher of Chang Liang, the strategist who helped established the Han dynasty.

The Cosmology of Huang Shih Kung is far broader than that comprehended by the Sung philosophers. The Sung philosophers knew only the Wu Chi-Taiji-Yin Yang-8 trigrams part (Earth-Five Elements part) but did not understand the Heaven-planets part.

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