When I first started consulting in 1992, the only controversial discussions seemed to be about so-called traditional Feng Shui versus the New Age inventions, such as the BTB School which flourished in the 1990’s and with headquarters in Berkeley, California. This is where the founder of that school transplanted himself after having been an instructor in Hong Kong. And if I can begin with my metaphor, it has been pretty hard to top the BTB School for the “most-genetically modified” rendition of this greatly misunderstood metaphysical practice.
The acronym “BTB” stands for Black Tantric Buddhist, even though the teachings have little to do with Buddhism. But originally it was referred to as the Black Hat School, in part because the Black Tantric Buddhists wear black head coverings. But the term “black hat” has since taken on all kinds of negative connotations in the world of cyber space and internet hacking, so this New Age version of Feng Shui had to change their name!
Why would the BTB School hold such honors as most-genetically modified? Well, in part because the very foundation of Feng Shui rests on laws of time and space, which the BTB School ignores. For example, the BTB practitioner will put the same symbolic template over every single floor plan, regardless of when the structure was built or what direction it is actually facing. The back left hand corner of every single structure is misnamed a “wealth corner.” This is on par with an astrologer saying they do not need to have a birth date or a birth place to establish a personal chart and instead just rely on “intuition.” Intuition is a great thing to have and to use, but it is not an essential ingredient in a proper analysis.
In the last twenty years, another genetically modified version of Feng Shui gained momentum and that is the Southern Hemisphere School. The Southern Hemisphere School was created by an Australian gentleman who made radical changes to traditional theories and applications to suit, what he believes, are major differences in the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern hemisphere, where most land masses exist. Meanwhile, none of these radical changes were necessary because the fundamental principles of Feng Shui address the relationship of our entire planet with the Sun (and solar system.) To imply that we need a flipped approach in the Southern Hemisphere is to misinterpret the real purpose of the luo-shu, the compass and the fact that all hemispheres (which are man-made distinctions) answer to the same north and south poles.
Another GMO practice in our industry which has misled many sincere practitioners is the Move-In Theory, also known as the Date of Occupancy doctrine. This school advocates calculating a house or building based on when the occupants move in, as opposed to the time-tested ancient practice of calculating the magnetic field based on when the structure was built.
The Date of Occupancy doctrine also ignores the vast powers of the universe which go into creating the magnetic field of a structure and instead assumes that a person moving in can change these energies as easily as flipping on a light switch. I was also informed that there are some other misguided off-shoots of this practice, such as calculating a flying star chart for a house, based on when the new occupants sign the lease or purchase the property. In the realm of astrology, these can be influential dates, but they do not change the magnetic field of a house.
Some of the most cleverly disguised false notions are hidden within the long enduring and respected Ba Zhai School, also known as the Eight Mansion School, which has been genetically modified at a level that even scholarly and world renowned masters have not been able to detect. All the other schools mentioned in this article were developed most likely with sincerity and conviction by their creators, but the Ba Zhai School was actually created by the historically noteworthy astronomer and monk Yi Xing, under strict mandate and meddling by the Chinese Emperor– who ordered the corrupted version of Feng Shui to be made. This simplified school formulated in the 8th century has some intentionally altered aspects to it that have not been discussed openly within the global classical Feng Shui community.
To be brief, there were some political reasons why original teachings were tampered with and the long term goal was successfully executed, by making it hard to believe or decipher the errors.
This article only scratches the surface in discussing some of the controversies which exist in our field and serious practitioners need to agree to have a mature discussion about these issues. Feng Shui has the potential to be very powerful and alter people’s lives for the better, so we need to keep the information pure and undiluted.
We need to discard the miscellaneous practices which deviate seriously from authentic principles and applications. The problem is that, as marketing gimmicks, many teachers have sold their students on the implied superiority of their curriculum over other schools. And if you don’t study with Master So-and-So, you will miss out on the greatest secrets of all!
This does not mean that there is no more room for discovery or fine-tuning; to the contrary. We can continue to observe and further expand our knowledge, but we first need to address some of the questionable theories and practices that have cropped up in the last few decades. They have not been tested long enough to garner so much confidence in their use and some theories are based on faulty logic to begin with. As well, some older methods should not be above further scrutiny when we better understand them in a historical context.
Author: Kartar Diamond
Company: Feng Shui Solutions (R) since 1992
From the Feng Shui History & Culture Series