Director/owner of Imperial Feng Shui, Richard Ashworth’s first love is “going in and out of people’s spaces being enigmatic” both face to face in the flesh and online. Over the last decade plus, he has taken that passion and joy in what he does to develop programs that leaves his students and clients “healthier, wealthier, happier, and wiser.” With humor, wisdom, and grace, he approaches the student relationship with a personal touch.
Read on to find out about his unique style and school.
Q. Please describe your very first coming into awareness about Feng Shui.
A: Having studied the material of a variety of (mostly Western) Masters, teachers, self-help gurus, what-have-you in the 1980’s, I spent the first half of the 90’s investigating feng shui: what was understood as feng shui, what was authentic and what was silliness. And I was lucky enough to be invited to observe a day in the life of Master (now GrandMaster) Chan Kun Wah. Which was a revelation. When we arrived at a house he was to work on, he said – without getting out of the car – that it had always been the home of lonely women. He was absolutely right. It took me about 12 years to work out how he did that.
Q: What is your branch of Feng Shui? How have you made it your own?
A: I studied Chue Style pretty much full time with Master Chan. Because he was just starting out I had a series of one-to-one conversations with him which was an extraordinary privilege. It was during this time that I met Derek Walters who first taught me ba zi. Derek was then and I think remains, the only European name the Chinese Masters generally admit to recognising. After four years I felt that I needed to move on from Chue style and learn other approaches. So I sought out teachers in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere in SE Asia, in that time completing a short course at Huazhong University in Wuhan.
I teach the classical foundations I learned on these travels but also that if you know the principles thoroughly, you’re not only safe to improvise, you will often have to. That’s probably contentious, I guess. My best students can do complex XKDG calculations but also work with crystals. And I’m very conscious of language. Perhaps unusually for someone classically trained , I encourage intuition but I insist on thorough and prior knowledge of classical principles.
Q: How has Feng Shui changed your life?
A: It restored my faith in the miraculous.
Q: Describe your school’s approach to teaching Feng Shui.
A: I teach almost exclusively one-to-one and online in real time. I had been doing that for several years before Covid-19 made online teaching the only real option. 1-hour Sessions are usually weekly by mutual arrangement. Obviously we have limited capacity but the waiting list isn’t too long.
I like to start my students with ba zi – that is Four Pillars, personal feng shui based on time and place of birth, often misleadingly called a Chinese Horoscope. The ba zi lets us know a great deal about a client before a consultation. Learning ba zi ahead of feng shui makes people the priority. Equally it means the student learns many of the terms and principles he will need when studying feng shui later.
In terms of material, I tend to decriminalise all approaches by initially examining with the student a number of methods that I don’t teach. Then I teach the history and origins of feng shui – not only in China by the way – and a great deal of philosophy. Only then do I teach classical. I aim to abide by the ancient principle of tian-ti-ren: each of us lives in several realms simultaneously. There is a major aspect of feng shui that is mechanical and calculated but much that is not.
Q: What is the newest addition to your curriculum?
A: Basic QMDJ but also a very simple classically-rooted but intuition-based Foundation Course. Which oddly, in 20 years of teaching I’ve never offered before. In 2021 I will – because of the demand for it – also be teaching forecasting.
Q: What is the latest area of expansion for your school?
A: Live Workshops on Zoom. On the Book of Changes, on Date Selection, on the prospects of each New Year and a number of other topics. Historically online teaching was perhaps 60% of my activity. It’s 90%+ now. Students can record the sessions but nothing is pre-recorded. At least for the time being.
Q: Besides yourself, what does your school offer that is unique to Feng Shui training opportunities?
A: Tuition at the student’s own pace with unlimited email back-up. I also teach more Chinese history and politics than most. I figure that (to paraphrase CLR James) you can’t really understand Classical feng shui if Classical feng shui is all you know. You need some understanding of China. If you take this thing seriously you need to have felt Chinese soil under your feet, to know that Chinese food doesn’t taste like er….Chinese food for instance. My first authentic dim sum (with Master Howard Choy) when I was studying in Wuhan was a revelation.
Q: What is your guiding philosophy about teaching Feng Shui?
A: My purpose is to leave my client healthier, wealthier, happier and wiser. That’s what I try to teach. If we define the purpose of feng shui and indeed ba zi, as a spectrum from performance enhancement to actual physical change, what I realised when I first encountered classical feng shui was that it was the most powerful transformational model I had ever encountered. There remains to me something extraordinary about the fact that the Celestial Animals, for instance can have hard and fast meanings and yet have deep personal significance for the individual student.
Life is about decisions, I think, some smart, some not-so smart. I teach that what the ba zi does better than any method I have ever come across is to highlight where we make decisions and where they lead.
Q: What is your favourite nugget of wisdom about using Feng Shui yourself?
A: From the Tao Te Ching: “Solidity is an advantage but it’s emptiness that makes a space useful.”
Q: What additional training does your school offer or plan to offer?
A: We offer selected students bespoke mentoring. Some mentees now practise professionally, some just love learning. Some of my students and ex-students are quite high profile professionals. Often assistance with social media is as important as practising sam he procedures. Some students are as likely to want to discuss hashtags or The Dream of the Red Chamber as formulae.
More about Richard Ashworth
Richard Ashworth is probably best known for introducing authentic Chinese Imperial Feng Shui to BBC tv’s Housebusters and for his book The Feng Shui Diaries which apart from anything else, may be the funniest on the subject to date. Respected widely for his innovative approach to classical ba zi & feng shui, many professionals have studied with him. Richard himself studied with a series of masters over a period of decades including attending Huazhong University in Central China. His direct, authoritative and humorous approach has changed lives for the better from Poland to New Zealand.
In 2012, he became one of very few Western masters to address the Singapore International Feng Shui Conference and in 2008 was co-chair of the 1st International Congress on Scientific Feng Shui in Turin. A regular enquirer of The Course in Miracles as well as the Book of Changes, Richard is happily married with six grown-up children.