Archive for March, 2006

Simple ways to get started

Recently I was in Canada to conduct some courses on Feng Shui and BaZi. During the lunch and coffee breaks, there were lots of opportunities to chat and get to know each other. I was intrigued by the fact that so many students told me how surprised they were that Feng Shui was so straightforward – it seems many of them had in the past found their study or attempts to practice Feng Shui complicated by an uncertainty over a very simple yet fundamental question: when you Feng Shui a house, what do you focus on first?

Yes, this seemingly simple and elementary question, in fact, is what boggles many people when it comes to Feng Shui. Perhaps it is the result of information overdose but many people often have no idea where to start when it comes to practising Feng Shui, especially if they are planning to ‘Feng Shui-It-Yourself’ their home or office. They wonder about the ornaments on their dressing room table, ponder the colour of their curtains, sweat over the plants in their garden and worry about the furniture they bought last week.

So that is what I will address this week: if you want to Feng Shui your house yourself, what should you be looking into when it comes to checking or improving the Feng Shui of your home? I’ll also show you a simple, easy and very quick DIY Feng Shui technique in this week’s article.

Think Environment, Forms and Qi

The fact is that when it comes to Feng Shui, it is simply not possible to over-state the importance of the external macro environment. Now, that has nothing to do with economics but to do with the formation of mountains and rivers in the vicinity of your home or property. A good Classical Feng Shui practitioner will always look at these natural features, known as Landform (Luan Tou) or Forms, before he or she evaluate the Feng Shui of the property. These Forms are what dictate the quality and type of Qi that influences the area and of course, your property.

In addition to the Forms, which determine if there is positive or negative Qi in the area or if the Qi flow is somehow being blocked or repelled, formulas must always be considered. Formulas, which are techniques and calculations for determining the energy map of an area or a property, help to qualify the Forms, assess the quality of Qi and provide a fuller picture of the Feng Shui situation in the area.

Finally, when it comes to the property itself, classical Feng Shui practitioners will always zero in on the three most important factors: the Main Door, the Kitchen and the Bedroom. In fact, when it comes to evaluating the property itself, without looking at the macro environment and the formulas, these are the three areas that should always be given priority. These three important factors are known as “Yang Zhai San Yao”.

Why is it that only the Main Door, the Kitchen and the Bedroom are considered important you might be wondering? As I have said in the past, Feng Shui is a very practical, logical and rational practice that has no room for frivolity. The Main Door is given significant priority because this is the entrance to the house, for the residents of the property and for the Qi. The Main Door is considered the Qi Mouth of a home. Accordingly, it is extremely important to make sure that you have a good Main Door as this will go some way towards ensuring you have good Qi entering the property. The Main Door is considered the primary reference point in any system of Classical Feng Shui.


The Kitchen is where food is prepared and so is also extremely important. Food is what nourishes us and gives us energy and strength to go about our endeavours. Hence, the Kitchen should be located in a suitable sector, so as to ensure the vibrant health of the residents. Finally, the bedroom is where we spend time resting and sleeping. Out of 24 hours a day, most people spend between 6-8 hours in their bedroom. Accordingly, it is important that the bedroom is located in a place that is conducive for rest, recovery and sleep with stable and rejuvenating Qi.

If you can look at nothing else, make sure that the above three factors are well taken care of and you would have taken some important positive steps towards improving the Feng Shui of your property.

Applying simple Feng Shui to Your Home

For the average person, evaluating the external macro environment and Landforms is not something they can do or for that matter, should be expected to be able to do without some expert help. So if you want to Feng Shui-It-Yourself, what then can you do? Well, the easiest and quickest form of evaluation that the average person can do, when it comes to the Feng Shui of their home, is to look at the house itself in tandem with a simple formula-based assessment of the three important factors: the Main Door, the Kitchen and the Bedroom.

The technique that I am going to show you how to use this week is known as the Life Gua Method, which is derived from a system of Feng Shui known as Eight Mansions or BaZhai. It is premised on the theory that every individual is imprinted with certain energies at the time of his or her birth, based on the planetary influences and magnetic fields exerting an effect on the Earth. These energies are unlocked or maximised best, when used in tandem with certain directions. A simple analogy would be to see the Life Gua as your personal radio frequency and the directions as the antenna that enables you to ‘tune into’ that frequency.

I have selected the Life Gua Method because firstly, it is a safe method with minimal negative side effects, even if applied incorrectly. Secondly, it is quite an easy method to make use of and usually brings about a modest improvement. Thirdly, it is a system of Feng Shui that produces very steady improvements, and thus is suitable for people residing long-term in a property.

So how do you make use of the Life Gua Method? Begin with your year of birth. Check the Gua Table below and find your Life Gua number. Do note that the number differs depending on your gender. Once you have found your Gua number, match it to either the East Group or the West Group directions table below. From here, you can derive your personal Favourable and Unfavourable Directions.

Each of these directions is not just merely ‘favourable’ or ‘unfavourable’. There are specific types of energies in each direction, which are suitable for a specific use or function. For example, the Sheng Qi direction taps into Life Generating Qi, suitable for increasing work performance and vitality, while the Tian Yi direction taps into healing energy that is favourable for health or rejuvenation. The Yan Nian direction is all about communications and interpersonal relationships while the Fu Wei direction is best used for calming, peaceful and relaxing activities, such as mediation, personal cultivation or just a good night’s sleep.

Let’s take an example to give you an idea of how to make use of the Life Gua Method. For example, a female born in 1957 will have a Gua number of 8. She belongs to the West Group of Directions, thus her Favourable Directions are South West, North West, West and North East. Her personal Unfavourable Directions are South, North, East and South East.

How then do you apply this information to your property? One way is to check to see if your Main Door taps into any one of your Personal Favourable Directions. You can also make use of this system in the bedroom, by making sure that your bed headboard faces one of your Personal Favourable Directions.

Now, the Life Gua Method is not by any means, the most powerful form of Feng Shui you can use, nor is it the only method of Feng Shui out there. It is also a method that has some qualifications and limitations, especially for properties with more than one resident, which I will talk about in next week’s article. Suffice to say, this is a simple, easy technique for anyone to ‘get their feet wet’ with Feng Shui, with minimal fuss and no expensive renovations required or cures to implement so do give it a go!

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Different schools, same goal

Ever since Feng Shui became a populist practice, it is rare to find a person these days who doesn’t know something about Feng Shui or ‘Wind and Water’ as so many people are apt to associate it with. In fact, what public knowledge there is out there about Feng Shui simply scratches the surface of an incredibly deep and profoundly sophisticated science.

The real world of Feng Shui goes deep beyond and far further than just windchimes and money frogs. It has systems and schools that extend far beyond Flying Star Feng Shui and Eight Mansions Feng Shui, the two systems that most people are familiar with. It is much more than just tapping into the energies to improve your love life or help you get a promotion – indeed, at its most powerful, Feng Shui can create Emperors, and give birth to Empires. In this article, I would like to show you, the depth that Feng Shui has as a science, how it leads to and is inter-linked with other Chinese Metaphysical subjects.


The Schools of Feng Shui

To begin to understand Feng Shui, one must first be aware of how it came about. Briefly, Feng Shui originally began as a science of selecting burial grounds, what is known today as Yin House Feng Shui. It also wasn’t even known as Feng Shui, back then. It was known as Kan Yu. The name Feng Shui only came into use in the Qing Dynasty. And while it is an ancient science, it is not really THAT old. By most documentary evidence, it is around 1200 years old and is really thought to only have gained ground and achieved its renaissance period during the Tang Dynasty.

Essentially, Feng Shui can be separated into two main schools. Before I delve into the two schools of Feng Shui proper, I must first dispel this long-standing error on the two main schools of Feng Shui. It is common today to see books referring to a Compass School and a Forms School of Feng Shui. While it is indeed true that there are two main schools of Feng Shui, they are certainly not distinguished in this manner.

All Feng Shui systems have a core set of principles and theories that are similar – for example, they all refer to the Five Elements, they all take into account the Four Factors of Residents, Time, Location and Direction. And, they all use a Compass or Luo Pan. And all schools and systems of Feng Shui involve taking into consideration the landform. Accordingly, it is incorrect to separate Feng Shui systems as either being part of the Compass School or the Forms School.

In actual fact, Feng Shui systems are separated according to whether or not they fall in to the Li Qi School, or the Forms School. Li Qi School focuses on the calculation of Qi through formulas. The Forms School focuses on observation of the physical environment (or landforms) to ascertain the Qi in the area.

The more technical terms for Li Qi and Forms Schools are San Yuan School of Feng Shui or the San He School of Feng Shui. San Yuan and San He are what we call the founding schools of Feng Shui. They are like the Oxford and Cambridge of Feng Shui.

San Yuan and San He Systems

The San Yuan system (San Yuan means Three Cycles in English) is a mathematical model of the BaGua that is used to calculate the quality of Qi through time. In San Yuan, Qi is thought to be dynamic but cyclical in nature. All is in a constant state of flux, but within the flux, there are patterns and trends. The objective with San Yuan is to ascertain which point in time is what Qi at its optimum and make use of those energies. San Yuan involves updating one’s Feng Shui to keep up with the Qi cycle and adopting a dynamic approach to stay in tandem with the changing Qi.

By contrast, San He (which means Three Harmony in English) focuses on the environment – the mountains, the rivers and the landforms and looks to understand how the environment shapes and creates Qi. It is more focused on finding an optimal or strategic location in which to benefit from the Qi in the environment. San He recognises that Qi is dynamic and changes through the time but is premised on using the unchanging or Yin, to counter the changing, or the Yang. Landform features, such as mountains and rivers, are considered permanent and unchanging through the times. San He systems do not look to adapt to the changing Qi cycle, but to insulate and outlast any unfavourable periods in the Qi cycle through superior landform.

Both San Yuan and San He take into consideration the Time and Form factor. The difference between the two is the priority they accord to each of these two factors. San Yuan focuses more heavily on the Time factor, while San He focuses more on forms. From these two founding schools, newer systems have been developed. You see, Feng Shui may be an ancient science, but it is not a science that has been frozen in time.

The San Yuan system has many derivative sub-systems, such as Long Men Ba Ju (Dragon Gate Eight Formations), Xuan Kong (Time and Space School), Xuan Kong Da Gua (64 Hexagrams), Xuan Kong Fei Xing (Flying Stars) and Ba Zhai (Eight Mansions).

Dragon Gate Eight Formations is based on the mathematical model of the Ba Gua and is a study of landform based on intricate calculations. It is, you could say, San Yuan’s answer to the San He Landform approach. It is premised on eight sets of Mountain and Water formations and is popular in Taiwan.

Xuan Kong incorporates the North Dipper Stars into the mathematical model of the Ba Gua and integrates Landform with Star or Qi calculations. It has spawned two sub-schools of its own, namely, Xuan Kong Da Gua or 64 Hexagrams and Xuan Kong Fei Xing or Flying Stars. In Xuan Kong Da Gua, the 64 Hexagrams are factored into the Time calculations and it is premised on understanding what is the Star that governs the particular period in time and the Qi pattern of that period, known collectively as the Period Luck (Yuan Yun). It is a highly precise and results orientated method.

Xuan Kong Fei Xing or Flying Stars and Ba Zhai or Eight Mansions are also systems derived from San Yuan. These are two of the more popular Feng Shui systems used today, especially for Internal Feng Shui. In Flying Stars, a Qi map of the property is derived from calculations and then used to determine the quality of Qi in each sector of the home. Eight Mansions by contrast is about understanding the individual and unique Qi pattern of the House, and then matching the House to the Individual.

A relatively recent addition to this family of systems is a new system known as Qi Men Dun Jia. It is a hybrid system that theoretically is not Feng Shui, but more a divination or scientific probability science. It is mainly used for highly advanced time selection, such as choosing the right time to install a cure or remove a structure.

Which is better?

People often ask, is the San Yuan system or San He system superior. There is no real answer to this question. Each system has its advantages and most practitioners have their pet systems. I prefer not to pursue the debate of which is best, because this is something that has caused the development of Feng Shui to be stymied for years. As modern students of this science, the focus I believe, should not be what is best, but what works in the given circumstances.

In any case, ultimately, both San Yuan and San He have common denominators – they all agree that the factor of Time must always be considered and that Landforms cannot be ignored. They are both premised on a mathematical model of the Ba Gua, both make use of the Five Element theory and both are firmly rooted in the concept of Yin and Yang. And both San Yuan and San He have one goal in common: the best way to harness Qi in the environment to support one’s goals and objectives in life.

Going Beyond Feng Shui

Classical Feng Shui practitioners in the ancient days functioned almost like Imperial advisors. Their roles spanned not just Feng Shui, but military tactics, diplomacy, international affairs and relations, recruitment (hiring of advisors and staff for the Emperor), health and even, economic planning, by way of advising the Emperor on the best time for harvesting and planting of crops. Accordingly, their skills in the old days encompassed a wide range of Chinese Metaphysical subjects. They were expected to be able to master not just Feng Shui, but Astrology, Divination, Face Reading and Palmistry.

Today is no different. In-house Feng Shui masters to tycoons and businessmen provide advice not just on Feng Shui, but on the timing of business ventures, when to sign contracts, appropriate business ventures during certain economic periods, which employees to place in what divisions and even, economic forecasting. As such, they are often highly skilled practitioners of not just Feng Shui, but BaZi or Purple Star Astrology, Divination and sometimes Face Reading for back-up. Successful practice of Feng Shui therefore actually demands substantial cross-disciplinary knowledge and in fact, is a multi-discipline field. It is much, much more than just being about interior decoration, ‘being one and in harmony with the universe’ and certainly, a lot more than just being about the placement of objects or furniture.

I hope that through this article, you can see what a rich and diverse science Feng Shui is and that you are able to gain some insight how it has evolved and developed over the years. At the same time, I hope that my readers are also able to see Feng Shui as part of the wider field of Chinese Metaphysics and to see that the real world of Feng Shui is so much more than what people perceive Feng Shui to be about today.

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Copyright © 2008 by Joey Yap. All rights reserved worldwide.