If Architecture is more about the material construction and physical functions of a building, Feng Shui is more about the spirit of the building. If interior design focuses more on the dress and make up of the house, Feng Shui is more concerned with energetic feeling and the internal health of the house. If architecture and interior design are mainly concerned with the building itself and its accessories, Feng Shui cares more about whole atmosphere and environment in and around the building. Qi is the concept that the ancient Chinese used to describe the invisible and the formless such as spirit, impression, atmosphere, feelings, energy and energy field, etc.. In this sense, Feng Shui is about the Qi of the building and its environment. For example, sometimes we would hear people saying so and so “does not look not very well”. How could he or she tell that this person is not well? Obviously by observing the expression, impression and spirit (i.e. the Qi) of that person. So Feng Shui is also called Xiang Zhai, meaning House Reading.
Feng Shui is based on the philosophy that believes in the harmony between human society and the natural environment. The earliest use of the Feng Shui concept is found in the classical book called Zang Shu or The Book of Burial written by Guo Pu (276 – 324 A.D.), a Feng Shui master of the Jin Dynasty. Feng Shui was defined in the following way: Feng Shui “is to take advantage of the Sheng (lively) Qi. The Qi dissipates when it meets wind (Feng) and stays when it meets water (Shui). Our ancestors would keep it gathered so that it does not dissipate, and circulated so that it stays. That is why this kind of practice is called Feng Shui.” We can see in this classical definition that the Qi is at the heart of the Feng Shui concept and practice.
In nature, Feng Shui works on two aspects: First, to tune in and to take advantage of Sheng Qi – vibrant, lively and good Qi. Second, to avoid or transform Sha Qi – damaging, stale and negative Qi.Feng Shui is both a science and a form of art. It is a science in the sense that there are natural laws that we should follow regarding building works and when living in a residence. If we follow these laws our life should be healthy and prosperous. Otherwise we may be heading for disasters or suffer some negative consequences.
Feng Shui is an ancient practice that contains much insight knowledge that has been lost in modem times in both architecture and design work. This kind of knowledge should be complementary to modem science and technology. On the other hand if we are ignorant of the knowledge of Feng Shui, we may not necessarily have to have bad consequences; however, if we do look into the Feng Shui aspects of our residence, we will be able to create a much more pleasant and nourishing living and working environment. In this sense, Feng Shui is a creative and artistic practice. Without it, we may not have done something exactly wrong, but with it we will surely have done something positively right. Instead of creating much fear about what we may have got wrong with the Feng Shui of our house, the art of Feng Shui works on creating a more sensitive, delicate, comfortable, attractive and beautiful home or office.
Feng Shui has been a royal practice from the very beginning. Since the emperor had all the resources, human as well as material wise, in the world to work for him and to be disposed with, Feng Shui principles are based on perfection and idealism. It emphasizes harmony, balance, stability, reverence (for the supreme force of nature), safety, comfort, grace, pleasure, grandness, uprightness, politeness, and appropriateness.
Though Feng Shui originated in ancient China and takes its root in the Chinese tradition, the essence and practice of it should go beyond the Chinese culture. One does not have to adopt Chinese attitudes and style in life to rectify and improve the Feng Shui. On the contrary, good Feng Shui practice should be well integrated into the indigenous culture where it is applied.
Because of the subtle nature of Feng Shui practice, it does not only require much knowledge and information on the subject, but also demands an unusual ability to perceive the Qi or the subtle energy field of the house and its environment. Rather like in the appreciation of antiques, the expert will be able to tell a genuine piece from a fake, while to the laymen’s eyes they may look exactly the same. This kind of sharp vision into the Qi of the building is the key to good Feng Shui practice. An expert with direct perception will be able to diagnose a house like he or she diagnoses a person, giving appropriate suggestions based on the particular situation instead of fixed formulas, and changing the Feng Shui with a healing power.
Different Ways & AspectsThe work of Feng Shui can advise on various aspects related with a residence – from choosing a site to build, to facilitating the sale of a property.
Because of the sophisticated nature of Feng Shui practice, a project may need to be worked on from various angles. There is a classical description in a historical book about Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty who summoned a group of Feng Shui experts specialized in different aspects of Feng Shui to discuss the wedding of a princess. As a result, they came up with different opinions from their own aspects.
Specifically, we can give consultancy mainly in the following ways:
- Where & How to Build
Feng Shui works best if starting from the very beginning of the building work, i.e., to decide where and how to build. It has a rich tradition in finding the so- called “Dragon’s Line”, “Four Spirits” (symbolised by four animals) and the exact site (Xiue) to build a tomb. There is the saying that “It takes three years to find the “Dragon’s Line” and ten the “Xiue”(the exact site for the building). However, modem Feng Shui focuses primarily on Yang Zhai – the residence of the people who are alive – and as it is unpractical to take so long to find somewhere, to choose an appropriate site for the building remains a very basic issue of Feng Shui. Feng Shui can advise on where to build (finding the best Qi spot) and how to build (deciding the best auspicious orientations in relation to the natural directions and environment).
- Where to Live
Alternatively if one is not to build a house from the start, finding somewhere to live will be the first issue. Feng Shui can evaluate the structural implications, the Qi-field and the potential luck of a place and a house in relation to your personal information to help you to decide the healthy and lucky environment and house to move into.
- Arrangement of Rooms, Furnishings and Decorations
This aspect of Feng Shui work involves observation and evaluation of the environmental influence or impact, the structure of the building, the function of different rooms, the placement of furniture, the use or display of lights, mirrors, paintings, sculptures, antiques, colours, etc.. The main focus is to create the best Feng Shui effects through physical or material measures. For a already lived-in house, suggestions for improvement largely fall into the following options:a. To change the structure of the building such as pulling down a wall, rebuilding a bathroom, opening a door or a window, etc.b. To change the function of the rooms. For example, to change the son’s room with the daughter, or to change the study to a bedroom or a bedroom to a study.c. To rearrange the placement of furniture. For example, to put the bed in a different place or to face a different direction.d. To rearrange electronic items i.e. the computer, TV, telephone.e. To rearrange lights, mirrors, paintings, sculptures, antiques and other ornaments. To re-decorate the house or part of the house.f. To use symbolical measures such as colours, a label, a number, a symbol, etc.g. To move (or not to buy). This is only suggested when the Feng Shui is really bad and it is very difficult to change it.
- Feng Shui ‘Healing’ / Organizing the Qi-Field
If the advice on Feng Shui is like telling a patient what to do to look after his or her own health, Feng Shui ‘Healing’ is like giving a patient a treatment. Here the patient is a building or a room. The Feng Shui expert uses his highly developed Qi and mental power to change the Feng Shui of the place. The whole atmosphere and feelings of a house can change. The air can feel purer and fresher. The space may seem bigger and freer. Specifically, it can have the following functions:a. Cleaning out filthy, depressing, heavy, stagnant and potentially dangerous Qi.b. Organizing an orderly, harmonious and nourishing Qi-field.c. Boosting the Qi of the residence and in turn the residents’ fortune.
- Feng Shui Strategy Feng Shui is not only about the residence, but also about the luck and fortune of the residents. This aspect of Feng Shui is beyond the structure of and placement in the building and we name it Strategy Feng Shui. It is more about human design than house design. Instead of placing everything in the room according to uniformed charts and formulas and coming up with ridiculous unpractical and insensible arrangements, this concept of Strategy Feng Shui frees us onto an energetic and symbolic level and a level of information and consciousness. Strategy Feng Shui can help with designs of logos and trading names, evaluating and advising on telephone numbers, number plate of cars, the auspicious time to exchange contract and move house, or to launch a product, the lucky direction to take action, etc. Strategies are worked out based on information of the residents or business in question, and on classical Feng Shui principles rooted in the ancient Yi Jing (I Ching), Jiou Gong (the nine squares of numbers), Yin and Yang theory. Five Element Principles, and Chinese Astrology and Zodiology.
- Personal Feng Shui
This aspect advises on personal matters such as what jewellery to wear on which part of the body, or what glasses to choose or what coloured clothes to put on. For example, one person got rid of the pain on her shoulders by taking off one of the earrings as advised. Another person recovered from a serious migraine after she changed her hairstyle as suggested. This is a special area of Feng Shui work that is not widely practised and only people with sharp subtle perception can advise on these matters.
- Consultation by Correspondence
This way applies when one has specific questions to ask or when an on-site consultation is simply not practical. Usually one would need to provide pictures and floor plans of the residence and some supporting information such as one’s date of birth or the nature of the business. There are two levels in this way of work. The first level is to give advice according to the information received. The second is like an absent diagnosis of the Feng Shui of the building by tuning in to the Qi of it through the information provided and the resulting suggestions can also have a distant healing effect. This is an extraordinary level that requires unusual abilities developed through Qigong.
- Feng Shui Painting & Calligraphy
Paintings and calligraphy have been used for Feng Shui as well as decorative purposes throughout Chinese history. Though the Feng Shui function has been mostly lost in modem artwork, it has been the essence of traditional Chinese arts. For art works to have Feng Shui function, they need to have two kinds of qualities: First, they should represent the original energy and information of what is painted on the picture. Second, they should have rich symbolic meanings for auspiciousness and prosperity.