Did you ever wonder where and why we live the way we do? With the goal of answering it, the Chinese developed a tradition of techniques that combines commonsense, fine aesthetics, and mystical philosophy. This tradition, called Feng Shui, is both an art and a science that aims to ensure that all things are harmonious with their surroundings. The application of Feng Shui ranges from planning entire cities and empires to placing a guest at the dinner table; from the orientation of high-rise office buildings, to the interior decoration and furnishing of a house or a room.
Not only is this system used in China, but also in other parts of Asia. It is also known as geomancy. In Korea it is called Pungsu and in Vietnam Dai Ly. Japan, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, London, Lucerne and Paris are among the various cities in the world that, in one form or another, used Feng Shui, to build their cities. Today Feng Shui is widely used in the Western world as well as Asia (Field 1998).
In the Western world, New York City for example, Pun Yin served as a consultant to many businesses, family restaurants and private residences. Her expertise was used in numerous times to plan and develop the architectural base and interior decoration of residences and offices. This can involve the right location of object inside rooms, the selection of the right colors for a room and the appropriate location of entrances to houses or apartment buildings (Walters 1988).
The Feng Shui masters calculate the balance or unbalance of natural energies in a home or business. Feng Shui deals with chi (energy). Since mass and energy are interchangeable, chi can be in the form of matter, energy or a combination of the two. Therefore, chi can be visible, invisible, or partially visible and partially invisible. The ancient Chinese classified all things of nature into five types: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. In fact, all things are a combination of these primary bases. Different combinations have different influences, some are positive and some are negative.
To study the Feng Shui of a residence or a business location, four steps are taken. It is difficult to explain in a few paragraphs how each step is taken; basically for an audit the Feng Shui master looks at the following:
Study the surroundings, sees that the mountains and rivers are suitably located. In cities, buildings and roads are considered virtual mountains and rivers.
Measure how the house is sitting and facing. Use a formula to locate stars on the floor plan and survey.
Plan the color scheme and decorations so as to enhance the fortunate chi and suppress the evil chi.
Calculate the Life-Gua of each member of the family and make sure the bedrooms and living areas are in harmony with everyone.
The purpose of a Feng Shui audit is for the ease of mind. To promote fortune, an aquarium is used to employ the water element ; however, if it is placed in the wrong corner, it can bring misfortune. To dissolve and absorb the evil chi that causes sickness, wind chimes are used to employ the metal element. Yet, placed inappropriately, the chime can be detrimental (Field 1998).
In the Ninth Century a scholar Yang Yun-sung was inspired to compile the first systematic approach to the study of the pursuit of harmony between the physical and natural environments. His belief was that the best location for a settlement would be on the side of a South-facing hill, with a pool of water at the foot. His conclusion was that it was necessary to protect the house from winds, the Southern air would provide warmth while the pool of water would be vital sustenance for the people (Field 1998).
According to Feng Shui, the contours of hills, which surround any given location, ideally should form the shapes of a Dragon and a Tiger. It is when these two forms are perfectly harmonious that the resulting Feng Shui traditionally ensures peace and prosperity in the region.
A Century after Yang Yun-sung compiled his work; Feng Shui scholars in the North of China became concerned with the partiality of the theory. Therefore, they placed great emphasis on the importance of precise mathematical calculations. They compiled a set of formulas and mathematical diagrams that took into account every possible directional, astronomical and calendrical implication. The “Compass” Theory stated that certain directions exert greater or lesser beneficial influences at specific times and for specific events. The fundamental importance of the Compass did not start with the Northern Feng Shui scholars. The use of this instrument can be traced to the times of Confucius (551-479 BC). During these times, several mystical theories and rituals dictated the location of the apartments where the Emperor would live at different times of the year so that his actions would be in accordance with Heaven’s movements (Walters 1988).
The home or business, according to Feng Shui, is seen as having its own universe. Ideally, a structure should be aligned so that it faces South (Red Bird), with the Green Dragon to the East, the White Tiger to the West and the Black Tortoise to the North (or back of the house). In towns and villages, though houses might be facing the “wrong Feng Shui” side, it is still possible to avoid any adverse affects if the environment is seen as being in accordance with the Four Directions. It is important to identify all of the shas, negative influences or “secret arrows”, available in the area. The influences of sha may originate from such features as direct straight lines (e.g. canals, streets, railway lines), telegraph poles, pointed roofs or roadways. “’Secret arrows” are created by sharp bends or angles in a river or road. Though most “secret arrows” cannot be avoided, their presence can be blocked or deflected by the use of trees, walls or even ornamental features such as mirrors.
With regard to the home itself, the driveway leading to the entrance should follow a gentle curve. When entrances are straight, steps should be placed to prevent the direct impact of any unfavorable sha. The entrance doors should be required to be open inward. In cases where a foyer is placed for conservation of energy, then both doors should be open in the same direction, at the same side and should be lined up exactly. If there are other entrances to the building, these should not be lined up with the front door. Staircases should be laid out at right angles to the entrance, or placed along another wall, away from the entrance door. The doors should not only feel the customers/guest feel welcomed, but also have solid-looking doors to inspire confidence and sense of security.
The application of Feng Shui to the architecture and design of buildings will vary, depending on the purpose of such dwelling. A home, for example, needs a harmonious and stable atmosphere. Its surroundings should give a sense of relaxation, self-improvement, comfort, nourishment and family welfare. In an office building or workspace, the atmosphere should radiate a feeling of production, services and profit, while stimulating enthusiasm and the flow of trade (Walters 1988).
This is basically a small understanding of this ancient science and art, and now I need to question myself and see if I think that it is important for me. I believe it is. As a result, I know next time I buy a home I will consider factors that I would not have considered. I am going to research Feng Shui to decorate my home according to the concepts of Feng Shui. I do not want to risk an opportunity to understand the way I can improve my environment and for this reason I am willing to give Feng Shui a try.
Field, S. L. (1998). “The art and science of Feng Shui.” Qimacy. Available On-line: www.home.earthlink.net/~fieldwork.qimacy.html
Walters. D. (1988) Feng Shui: Perfect placing for your happiness and prosperity. Singapore: Kim Hup Lee Printing Co.
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