Sa Che, the Tibetan tradition of geomancy, or 'Tibetan fengshui', springs from a several thousand year old knowledge of analyzing the earth. Fused with astrology, Tibetan medicine and tantric Buddhism this art has survived in its pure and authentic form until today through a lineage of qualified Sa Che
masters. Its purpose is to work in balance with the natural elements and energies in order to harmonize human life and health. Skillfully applied, Sa Che helps enhance positive emotions, wealth and the fulfillment of individual work and aspirations.
The Legend of Sa Che
The probably oldest story about Tibetan geomancy is sa dpyad bye ma brdal spung, ‘Smoothing and Forming Sand’, around the 1st century.
Four Tibetan men were searching for knowledge about geomancy. During their journey they came across the lake Mapang Yutso at mount Kailash. Suddenly a cow emerged from the waves of the lake and charged against the men’s yak. One of the men hit the cow and
followed it back to the lake’s shore. There a naga girl appeared. Her name was Dorje Lumo. The men apologized and brought her offerings of gold and sand. Upon accepting their offerings they asked her to teach them about earth and nature. Through playing with the sand she transmitted to them the knowledge of Sa Che. She formed hills and mountains, she put stones and let them see the rivers and lakes. She taught them 360 points.
Tantra, Astrology, & Sowa Rigpa
Humankind is an inseparable ornament in the web of the world. The microcosm of our individual life is part of the macrocosm of the reality surrounding us. Our perception of health and happiness depends on the circumstances of our environment. This is the view of Sa Che, the Traditional Tibetan Geomancy which plays an important role for the life style in the Himalayan regions.
Sa Che has undergone different adaptions and integration into different school and traditions. The very first Sa Che came from the shamanic Bon tradition which was later fused with the Buddha Dharma and the philosophy of interdependence. Therefore most of the Tibetan monasteries are built according to Sa Che, mostly to protect them from wind and coldness as the land itself is very harsh and the climate very very chilly during most months of the year. As Buddhist monks were the main lineage holders of the
Sa Che system it was developed strongly as a harmony and health tradition in the Tantra system. Being part on the path of spiritual realization the tantric Sa Che is based on the complex Buddhist philosophy of interdependence. At the same time the Bon studies about elements, time and existence were included into Tibetan astrology and as a result an astrologically influenced Sa Che was created.
Through the close connection between Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan medicine) and the astrological and spiritual systems, Sa Che was then introduced to Tibetan medicine for diagnosis and treatment, especially as a method for improving the lifestyle. Medical Sa Che seems to be a combination of tantric and astrological Sa Che.
Today the Tibetan geomancy can mainly be seen in three traditions; the tantric, the astrological and the medical system.
Traditional tents in the Himalayas
Sa (‘earth’) and che (‘analysis’) is the abbreviation for sa chu me rlung shing gi dpyad pa which means ‘analysis of earth, water, fire, wind and wood’.
“Everything originates from the Five Elements, everything consists from the Five Elements, everything depends on the Five Elements. They are the base of creation, maintenance and destruction.”
In this sense our existence is conditioned by the elements.
Through the omnipresent elements everything existing is interconnected and interdependent. Elements are present in the body as well as in the environment, the planet and the universe. The ancient Tibetan art of geomancy dealt with the energies and elements of the nature and human living space, and tried to understand and gently form them to create a balance for life and for the world.
Legend of the Turtle
Once a giant turtle was flying in the space, singing a song. Manjushri, the wisdom Buddha was sitting in meditation, because the turtle’s song was disturbing his mediation, he thought: “Oh, if I just had my sword! I would go and cut this turtle.” But because he was too lazy to get his sword he borrowed an arrow from Rahula. As the turtle kept on being noisy Manjushri shoot it with the arrow. It was hit in its right side and the arrow got stuck in its body. In rage and anger the turtle spit out fire; because of the pain it lost some water. For a long time the turtle has now been spinning in the space until it became our planet.
So the legend of said. Through this piece of astrological lore our external elements and their connections to our planet are explained. As Manjushri shoot from the east and the arrow stuck in the turtle the metal point of the arrow that went through represents the metal energy in the left side of the turtle, the west. The end of the arrow in the east symbolized the wood energy. The fire out of the turtles mouth stands for the fire energy in the south. The urine it lost represents the water energy in the north. The earth energy, the turtle’s body is our planet.
My House, My Body
In Sa Che we find a metaphorical description of the body, similar to that of the medical text. The shape of our body with most parts of the muscular-skeletal system is described as a palace, whereas the internal organs are represented as the royal family with their household. This approach makes it easy for lay people to understand about the function of body and building.
Like a family living in a house, depending on each other, taking
care of each other, we are connected with our living space. The Tibetan philosophy says that everything that is outside can be inside, everything that is inside can be outside. This expresses the connection between us and our living space.
Sa Che also defines an ‘anatomy’ for the land. Rocks and minerals are the bones, the earth is the skin; the roads are like tendons and water is the blood; plants and trees are like hair.
Traditional temple, Himalayas
Symbols & Amulets
In Asian culture certain symbols or figures are widely believed to have a positive influence. They are often found as decoration in traditional or modern houses throughout Asia. According to Sa Che they can be used on any place and do have beneficial qualities that generally apply to negative circumstances. Among the most popular ones are
- Astrological Turtle
- Five Lucky Animals
- Eight Auspicious Symbols
- Protector Gesar
Specific effect comes from amulets. The Tibetan word for it is korlo which means ‘wheel’. Different forms work like a visible
mantra; through creating a specific vibration they have the power to rebalance energy structures. This form energy comes from every line and works mainly through being seen. They represent the wild syllables of the Dakinis, celestial beings. They do not need to be spoken though they represent a spirit language.
The use of these amulets is strictly reserved to those having received the proper transmission from a qualified master. Therefore even their images are secret and cannot be depicted publicly. Most of the amulets derive from the terma tradition; a terton has revealed them from dreams or visions where they have been hidden in the mind for years and centuries to be discovered in the right time.
Analysis & Rituals
Negatives energies can arise from the geomantic energy of the land, the position of the living space, the location of other buildings or landmarks, adjacent roads, and from within the house we have built depending on its architecture and interior design. It is the main work of a sa khen, ‘master of earth’ to identify these negative influences and apply the proper remedy.
Architecture according to Sa Che follow the principles of balance in light and darkness, of form’s
energy, and of constellations in interior design. Therefore attention is paid to details such as directions doors are facing, positions of pillars, walls and windows, arrangements of furniture, decor and plants. General or specific rituals help identify beneficial spots or redesign unfavorable environment. The means may be simple like putting up a mirror on a wall; or complex like a divination ritual.