Defining Feng Shui

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When it comes to Feng Shui, I think there are generally three groups of people. There are the Believers, Skeptics and the In-Betweens. In-Betweens are those that are neither Believers but nor are they absolute Skeptics.
  Being in the industry, obviously, I meet people who believe in Feng Shui all the time. But I do not ignore the fact that like many other metaphysical sciences, is often skeptically perceived by the public in general.

The problem lies with the fact that there is so much hocus-pocus in this field, that one cannot help but feel a sense of misconception shrouding the practice. In actual fact, the art, science, study and practice of Feng Shui is a principled subject and no different to other traditional studies. I think it is up to the practitioners of this art, the believers, to help put it in a better light. And I believe, the best way to do this through education.

I asked a group of advanced students once, what they believed to be the definition of Feng Shui. To my surprise, almost everyone responded with a different definition. It was such a fundamental question – yet most of their replies were different. Some said that Feng Shui is “an art of placement”, others claimed that it was “about harmony” or “wind and water” and another group said it was about “living in harmony with nature”.

It was interesting experience. It seems, almost everyone has a different ‘definition’ of Feng Shui. Even the professionals in this field seem to have different definitions. Not surprisingly, even the same author, may have different definitions on the subject depending on which book you read! What exactly is this art? Is it really an art? Or is it a science?

It is because of this lack of understanding that people tend to lose respect for Feng Shui. If even the professionals don’t have a common denominator on what Feng Shui is, then what value is there in it?

Some of the more common definitions circulating today are :

1. Feng Shui is an Art of Placement
2. Feng Shui is Interior Design
3. Feng Shui is about decorating your house with good luck objects
4. Feng Shui is about living in harmony with nature
5. Feng Shui is about enhancing Wealth
6. Feng Shui is about enriching lives.

Which one of these is correct? Actually, lets start with the wrong ones, it’ll make it simpler?

To begin with, Feng Shui is definitely NOT the art of decorating your home with good luck objects NOR is it the so-called ‘art of placement’ of furniture and objects. Placement of objects and items is a new concept introduced and passed off as Feng Shui in the 90s.

In the old days, even though Chinese good luck objects were used by wealthy residents, they were never used in the context of ‘Feng Shui’ but always as part of ‘culture’. Many people today confuse ‘Culture’ with ‘Feng Shui’, hence confusing the study of Feng Shui.

Secondly, Feng Shui is not about Interior Design. The furniture you buy, the color schemes and rich marble floors you choose are not part of Feng Shui studies. Arranging furniture and choosing color schemes are best left to the expertise of an Interior Designer. You would never ask an architect or a land surveyor to advise you on Interior design concepts. Then why ask a Feng Shui Master to undertake interior design work? Feng Shui and interior design are TWO different subjects altogether.

Thirdly, Feng Shui is not about living in harmony with nature either. I find it amusing when people say, “I want to live in harmony with nature, that’s why I practice Feng Shui”. If we were to really try and apply this principle in it’s literal sense, it would mean living in the forest; as close to harmony with nature as possible. I realize this may upset some people, do forgive me if it does, but this is an example of what is presently being hazily defined as Feng Shui.

While it is true that Feng Shui is about “harmonizing”, but the question is … what is it we are trying to harmonize?

In order to understand WHAT really Feng Shui is, one needs to refer to the old manuscripts. The Chinese have five categories of study in the world of Chinese Metaphysics – (known as the Chinese Five Arts – Wu Shu), Feng Shui is classified under physiognomy of the living environment. The Five Arts are Mountain, Medical, Divination, Destiny and Physiognomy. Physiognomy refers to observation of appearances through formulas and calculations in order to assess the potential and outcome of a person, or in this case, the out come of a person living in a certain property.

Feng Shui is therefore an art of “assessing” the quality of life through observations and analysis of the persons’ living environment. Feng Shui in the old days was known as “Kan Yu” (the observation of the forces between Heaven and Earth). Only towards the end of the Qing Dynasty did the term “Feng Shui” come to be used unanimously to represent “Kan Yu”. Feng Shui today is seen as many things from interior design, house decorating, fashion jewelry and village type superstition.

In hopes of doing justice to this art, I hope I am able to help you better understand how the true form of Feng Shui is not and never will be a fashionable idea. Feng Shui is a metaphysical science where one learns to recognize and tap into the Qi (cosmic energies) of the living environment to help the many endeavors in life. The study and presence of Qi, is today recognized by Western medical doctors when it comes to acupuncture and acupressure. Feng Shui is about Qi in the living environment and how to go about harnessing it. Not only do we want to harness it, we also want to use it to help specific goals in our everyday lives. Since Qi is a natural phenomenon of the living environment, it is rarely ‘generated’ by man made objects like decorative items, and designs.

The second aspect of Feng Shui is that it is also a form of “forecasting”. The nature of Qi is cyclical and as such, can be calculated. Practitioners of Feng Shui have learnt to assess outcomes based on the influence of Qi upon a particular living environment. The “predictive” and forecasting part of Feng Shui is often neglected or unknown to many practitioners today. If you know the types of Qi that will affect the environment in certain months of the year, one can prepare for the best or worst of the situation. Making informed decisions are in fact, part of both Chinese Feng Shui AND Chinese Astrology.

I hope this article has helped you understand the definition of Feng Shui better. Approach Feng Shui with an open mind. Have a “goal” in mind when practicing Feng Shui. After all, Feng Shui is about harnessing the Qi in your living environment to help you achieve your goal. But it is not a miracle cure as it only represents 1/3 of the Cosmic factor that influences our lives. (the other two being Destiny and the Human factor).


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