- The art of abstraction
- patterns, numbers, shapes, relationships
- The art of pattern
- example: the four Chinese element-cycles
- The art of number
- Tao: ‘the One’, two, three, four, ‘ten thousand things’
- Eight Mansions, numeric aspects of Flying Stars
- The art of relating
- direction and centre; father, mother, daughters and sons
At the next level – which in the skills-labyrinth provides us with the way out of that ‘dark night of the soul’ – we learn to use abstract descriptions as a means to lift ourselves out of the chaos of detail. Patterns, numbers, shapes, and the relationships between them: abstractions like these come to the fore in Eight Mansions and Flying Stars feng shui, and provide us with powerful tools to understand and work with the weird realities of qi and sha.
We could use patterns, or relationships of shapes, as in the Chinese five-element cycles: for example, wood feeds fire, destroys earth, is controlled by metal, and uses water; fire uses wood, feeds earth, destroys metal, and so on.
We could use numbers, or number-sequences, perhaps changing over time, to represent particular energies or expressions of energy: this is the core of Eight Mansions feng shui, and is fundamental to Flying Stars feng shui – though both depend on the existence of forms to express those energies.
Or we could use analogies to describe those energies, such as the ‘four winds’ of native-American geomancy, or the familial relationships of father, mother, three daughters and three sons that describe the eight directions or ba gua of Eight Mansions feng shui.
Yet in some strange way these are more than mere concepts or ideas. As we’d expect from the skills-labyrinth, to get these abstractions to work well we need not just to believe in them, but to learn to care passionately about their reality – which to most ‘outsiders’ won’t make any sense at all!