|Qi Men Dun Jia 奇门遁甲|
( aka Mysterious Gates Escaping Technique)
Qi Men Dun Jia (aka Mysterious Gates Escaping Technique) cosmic model was made popular by its military applications to take full control and to take advantage of circumstances against the adversaries in ancient warfare and also to predict vantage points for military events or episodes of identified circumstance. Qi Men Dun Jia places great emphasis on Di Yuan (地云, earthly or spatial aspects or phenomena). Qi Men Dun Jia can have multiple applications over a wide array of events or circumstances, but its potency is encumbered by a challenging degree of mathematical array of complexity and places strong demands on the learner before it is able to achieve high level of accuracy in its interpretation of the identified circumstances in question.
Traditional practices or approaches of learning of Qi Men Dun Jia (aka Mysterious Gates Escaping Technique) has made it extremely difficult to be accessible to the common people at large and the cost of learning it is extremely prohibitive just to spend countless hours learning just how the pan or plate are configured for each circumstance or Ju for certain identified time and space under consideration. It was once a restricted subject only use in imperial palace and hence only limited spread of such arcane knowledge to high-priest of Chinese Metaphysics practitioners or scholars alike.
As to exactly when this high-priest ancient wisdom was developed and put to use of three cosmic (Tai Yi, Qi Men Dun Jia, Liu Ren) models or formulae, it is difficult to pin it down with certainty but there are folk indications alluding to the "Warring States Period" around 700 BCE though the Chinese gave credit to the Yellow Emperor period, 5000 years ago. The popularity of QMDJ was attributed to the famous military strategist, Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮 (aka Kong Ming, better known as the Sleeping Dragon) as told in the Chinese Classic Novel as in the Sanguo yanyi 三国演义 Romance of the Three Kingdoms where he used QMDJ to win in the Battle of the Red Cliff as well as escaped from the clutches of his arch-rivals.
Another famous ancient personality who popularized the practice of QMDJ was the imperial astrologer & military genius, Liu Bo Wen 刘伯温, during the first Ming Emperor Zhu Yuan Zhang 朱元璋, though he was no lesser known a historical figure and has no less skillful with his QMDJ forte.
In the study of the three cosmic models (San Shi, 三式), it is important to know that the Chinese terms do not necessarily convey exactly the same meaning to a modern scholar as they are did in ancient China. A point of interest is the Chinese character Shuxue 数学, which is now a universally accepted Chinese equivalent for the modern English term mathematics. The Chinese term Shuexue 数学was first adopted as the technical term for mathematics only in the middle of the nineteenth century by Li Shanlan 李善蘭 (1811-1882) and was not officially adopted until the beginning of the twentieth century.
In ancient China, the term had a much wider meaning. Shuxue 数学 used to refer to what we now call mathematics, natural philosophy, numerology, divination, astrology, feng shui 风水 (aka geomancy) and music. Indeed, mathematics was only regarded as the elementary segment of the Shuxue 数学, as clearly stated in the Preface of Qin Jiushao 秦九韶(1202-1261 BC) Shushu jiuzhang 数书九章 and in what Liu Hui 刘徽 wrote earlier in the year AD 260 in his Jiuzhang suanshu 九章算術. The opening paragraph of Qin Jinshao's book contains the sentence 'If we aim at the great, we can be in touch with the spiritual powers and thus live comfortably with our destinies; if we aim at the small, we can settle the affairs of this life, and by classification deal with the myriad phenomena.' Qin Jiushao goes on to classify mathematics into 'esoteric mathematics' (neisuan 内算) and 'exoteric mathematics' ( waisuan 外算).
What Qin refers to as esoteric mathematics is more often referred to as Shushu 術数, a general term that encompass not only mathematics but also astronomy, astrology, music, and divination, and exoteric mathematics is what modern scholars understand by the word 'mathematics'.
At first sight, it seems that modern scholars of mathematics can simply reverse the order of priority of the traditional Chinese and take only the exoteric component in the Chinese mathematics. However, esoteric mathematics also included problems of calculating the unknown.
Ancient Chinese people's interest is well-known in the prediction of human events. Such evidence of divination can be found in the earliest Chinese written records in the form of oracle bones, with which the oracle officials made predictions for the Yin 殷 kings. In Zhou 周 dynasty (around 221 BC), the imperial court also enlisted the service of the diviners using Yarrow stalks method, attributed according to some form of variant system interpreted from the Yi-Jing 易经 (aka Book of Changes), besides retaining the service of oracle officials. Even the heads of state in the period of the Warring states (480-221 BCE) employed their own oracle bones and Yi-Jing system experts. According to ancient experts' at the time, one can notice the flexibility (or vagueness, as a matter of one's own perspective) in the interpretations of the Yi-Jing systems as well as the divergent messages or quasi-meanings from different groups of diviners. The systems themselves were seldom in doubt, but making correct interpretations was the issue. The system of Yi-Jing in fact became one of the foundations of Chinese thought process, while the oracle bones fell out of use. Many different schools of interpretation on Yi-Jing system were developed since the Han period (202 BCE - 200 AD), and captured the attention of the Chinese Scholars.
The oracle bones and Yi-Jing Hexagrams were not the only methods used in divination. A system of astrology was developed during the time of Spring-and-Autumn period (722-480 BCE) that was supposed to enable the emperor and feudal lords to read their fortunes and destinies from the signs given by the heavenly bodies, eclipses, conjunctions of planets, comets, meteors, clouds, and vapours were dutifully observed by the ruling house in the belief of there being a mutual influence between men, earthquakes, natural disasters and unseasonable rain and snow were also believed to come under the same influence. A form of astrology that was relevant only to the ruling class was thus developed. The common people also had their own forms of divination, although they were generally far less sophisticated than those employed by the ruling class.
Modern archaeology provides evidence that the method of selecting auspicious days (Zeri 择日) was already practiced during the time of the Warring states period. None of the methods mentioned above used for divination involved elaborate calculations, although the manipulation of yarrow stalks in the Yi-Jing system did require some amount of counting. Ultimate knowledge in ancient mathematics must have been that of the 'numbers of the celestial bodies' and how to calculate them. Such special esoteric knowledge was employed in the three cosmic models (San Shi, 三式), which were not commonly known as other divinatory systems.
Thus the ancient Chinese scholars held the high regards for the Yi-Jing system knew it far better than the common people. However, the Chinese people continued to be amazed by the secret arts of the three cosmic models that were supposed to yield much more precise interpretations than the foundational Yi-Jing system.
These three cosmic models method, being arcane as well as rather sophisticated, have hitherto received little attentions from scholars, and practitioners, both ancient and modern alike. However, gradually more people are beginning to realize the potency in predicting future outcome and check back the past events that had happened.
There are reasons why these sophisticated methods did not receive due attention from traditional scholars. The first was the general attitude towards studies beyond the requirements for the imperial civil service examinations, in which the Confucian classics predominated. It is interesting to observe that because the Yi-Jing was included amongst the Confucian classics, it received much respect from the ancient scholars. Another reason was that the confidential nature of these methods, as they looked upon as having deep implications with military affairs. They are often regarded as part of the classified spectrum of knowledge, taught and practiced only within the confines of the Astronomical bureau of the imperial court.
Due to such arcane knowledge was shrouded in high bureaucratic secrecy and resulting in scholarly neglect, it affected the availability of literature and written records on the subject to modern scholars and practitioners alike. Probably another reason was the overwhelming amount of technical jargons on the subject that would discourage the uninitiated from trying to decipher these sophisticated algorithm models of calculation.
While in my first Qi Men Dun Jia book written for the English speaking audience, is a modern attempt to present one of the three cosmic models in a simpler modern language at the introductory level, what is shared therein is by no means exhaustive and I encourage you to continue to research on it while I am working on my third Qi Men Dun Jia (Mysterious Gates Escaping Technique) Book currently. Once upon in ancient times, such arcane knowledge was restricted to only a few good men. Auspicious Qi Always !!.
Founder, AncientFengShui.com, Ministry of Chinese Metaphysics Blog