Feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment. The
literal translation is “wind and water”.
Feng shui is not a decorating style. Rather, it is a discipline whose guidelines are compatible with many different decorating styles. Feng shui is a discrete Chinese
belief system involving a mix of geographical, religious, philosophical, mathematical, aesthetic, and astrological ideas.For a place to have “good feng shui” is for it to
be in harmony with Nature, to have “bad feng shui” is to be incongruous with Nature. People aren’t usually described as having good or bad feng shui.
Before you read the interesting description from Wikipedia, I would like to say that I have always been interested in Feng Shui and have about 10 books on the
subject. I have used some of the techniques to achieve better energy flow in my home. You’ll read below how westerners have thought Feng Shui is a fraudulent
practice since no two Feng Shui Practitioners would arrange a room exactly the same way to achieve optimum results.
Qi (or Chi)
Underlying the practical guidelines of feng shui is a general theory of Nature. Nature is generally held to be a discrete organism that breathes qi (a kind of life force
or spiritual energy). The details about the metaphysics of what Nature is, what qi is and does, and what breath consists in vary and conflict. It is not generally
understood as physical, but neither is it meant to be metaphorical or fictionalistic (the latter being the view that even though an entity is fictional, it is useful to talk as
if it really exists). The goal of feng shui guidelines is to orient dwellings, possessions, land and landscaping, etc., so as to be attuned with the flow of qi.
Very generally, some common rules are:
When sitting at a desk or lying in bed, the entrance door should be in a clear line of sight, and you should have a view of as much of the room as possible.
Straight lines and sharp corners are to be avoided, and especially should not point where people tend to sit, stand, or sleep.
Roads to and from ancient towns were often curved and windy, an attempt to disorient and keep away evil spirits, who were believed to travel in straight lines.
Some objects are believed to have the power of redirecting, reflecting, or shifting energy in a space. These include mirrors, crystals, wind chimes, and flowing water.
The bagua (or pa kua) of the I Ching (Book of Changes) is an octagonal diagram that is used in feng shui analysis. Each direction on the octagon (north, northeast,
etc.) is thought to have certain significant aspects, perhaps in part depending on the birthdate of the person using it. By mapping the bagua onto a home, village,
cemetery, etc., information about correct orientation and placement can be gleaned.
First, let me say that some practitioners utilize their intuition, while some rely on a combination of astrology and numerology to
achieve results (as taught by different schools of Feng Shui).
Secondly, superstition is not the reasoning behind why you would use Feng Shui. You might consider it a wake up call to pay
attention to the energy you are creating in your home environment and how it effects you. You think or concentrate on bringing in
more wealth, abundance, luck, love, harmony when you are consulting Feng Shui ideas. Think about something as simple as clutter
because it represents the energy of what is going on in your life. Clear the Clutter Change Your Life is a book written with just that in
mind. I never did pay to have a Feng Shui Consultant come to my home but I did consult books and make some obvious changes
and I did have wonder results. So if you are interested try it.
Schools of feng shui
The Form School
The Compass School
The Black Sect School
Black Sect is a recent development of feng shui in the West, led by Grandmaster Thomas Lin Yun Rinpoche. It is sometimes called Black Hat Sect Tantric Buddhist.
Black Sect feng shui relies less on directional energies, horoscopes, and astrology, and instead focuses on the internal orientation and organization of the space.
For instance, the Black Sect always orients the bagua in line with the space’s entrance, rather than northwards.
Some in the West prefer Black Sect feng shui because in dispensing with the more suspect astrological aspects of feng shui, it emphasizes its psychological benefits
at the expense of the metaphysics.
Since first learning about feng shui, many Westerners have been quick to dismiss it as superstition. Eitel calls it “a conglomeration of rough guesses at nature,
sublimated by fanciful play with puerile diagrams.”
More recently, the high consultancy fees charged by feng shui masters have raised eyebrows. This has led to accusations of fraud, and practitioners being called
cult members or snake oil salesmen.
Magicians-turned-social-critics Penn and Teller tackled Feng Shui in their Showtime series, Penn and Teller: Bullshit! (Season 1, Episode 7. “Feng Shui/ Bottled
Water”.) While recording with hidden cameras, the duo ask several Feng Shui “experts” to arrange the same room for maximum harmony; No two arrange the
furniture in the same manner.
Use in the West
In recent decades many feng shui books have been published in English, often focusing on interior design, architecture, interior decorating, and landscape design.
Audiences have reacted skeptically towards the purported benefits of crystals, wind chimes, mirrored balls, etc., on one’s life, finances, and relationships. Often,
these claims are dismissed as New Age, pseudoscience, relying on the placebo effect, or even outright fraud. The high prices charges by some feng shui analysts is
sometimes cited as evidence of the fraud claim.
Other audiences reject feng shui’s justification for its rules (movement of various energies, etc.), but believe that some of its more practical rules (such as not
working with one’s back to a door) are very useful. It is unclear what relationship these Western interpretations of feng shui have to the Eastern tradition. Many
traditional feng shui practioners in Asia regard Western adaptations as inauthentic.
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