Feng shui chart Feng shui is the practice of bringing about good fortune among the living, the dead and the spiritual world by making sure objects placed in a landscape or space are in harmony with the universe in such a way that they optimally draw on sources of qi (cosmic energy or life force). Also known as geomancy, ifeng shui is often expressed in terms of Chinese and Taoist cosmology and is said to be over 3,500 years old.
Feng shui (pronounced feng shway) has been practiced in various forms by a number of cultures throughout history. Believers regard it not as a religion or superstition but as a science whose goal is to create balance and harmony among the five elements of nature—water, fire, wind, wood and earth. One Feng Shui master told Reuters, "Feng shui is a Chinese ancient art of living in harmony with the environment. Feng shui is not a miracle. Feng shui is not magic. Feng shui is like a catalyst.”
Feng shui literally means "wind-water." It can be influenced by the location, shape, size and color of an object. Objects that allow qi to flow freely are said to have good feng shui, which is said to bring prosperity and success. In the old days only the Chinese emperor was allowed to use it.
Feng shui observations have traditionally been carried out by feng shui masters who have traditionally come from families of feng shui masters. They are involved in the lay out of cities, skyscrapers, office buildings, homes, gardens, rooms, beds, desks, chairs, windows and graves and often tell fortunes by consulting geometric figures and check houses for evil spirits on the side. When choosing the right spot feng shui masters often walk around with a special compass.
Good Websites and Sources: Feng shui Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Feng Shui Crazy fengshuicrazy.com ; Feng Shui Ulimate Source qi-whiz.com ; Feng Shui Society fengshuisociety.org ;Skeptic’s Dictionary on Feng Shui skepdic.com ; Qi Gong Literati Traditionliterati-tradition.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Classical text sources neigong.net ; Qi Gong Institute qigonginstitute.org ; Qi Gong association of America /www.qi.org ; Skeptic’s Dictionary on Qi Gong skepdic.com
Links in this Website: FOLK RELIGION IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; MYSTICISM AND SUPERSTITION IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; SYMBOLS AND LUCKY NUMBERS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; CHINESE LUNAR CALENDAR AND ZODIAC Factsanddetails.com/China ; FENG SHUI AND QI QONG Factsanddetails.com/China ; RELIGION, FOLK BELIEFS AND DEATH ( Main Page, Click Religion) Factsanddetails.com/China
History of Feng Shui
Feng shui is based on Guo Pu’s Zhangshu (“Book of Burial”) from the Jin Dynasty and rooted in the Zhouyi (“Book of Changes) attributed to Emperor Wen of the Zhou Dynasty (1100 to 221 B.C.)
Cai Defeng, a professor of archeology at Shanghai’ Tongji University told the China Daily, “Ancient Chinese people, according to feng shui principals, liked to build houses near the water and mountains.” However, he said, feng shui was never created to ward off evil, “The ancient art has never been properly passed down form older generations, Today’s practitioners learn only superficial knowledge from books and then try and use that as a way of making money.”
Feng shui was banned by the Communists as a feudal superstition and was targeted during the "Four Olds" campaign during the Cultural Revolution. An effort to make it an intangible cultural heritage was turned own.
Feng Shui in China
Feng shui has traditionally been regarded in China as something only enjoyed by the elite because of the high prices feng shui masters charged.
Feng shui is experiencing a revival in China as more people take an interest in it and more people can afford the fees that feng shui masters charge. One feng master attributed the revival to interest in the Chinese classics. He told the China Daily, “Young Chinese intellectual have started to realize the value of traditional culture. They believe feng shui...must have had its reason for longevity.”
Newspapers feature feng shui columns and businesses, singers and actors seek out feng shui masters for advise. Government officials have even allowed high schools to offer feng shui classes and sought the advise of feng shui masters on career moves and the designs of their buildings. AP described one senior official who moved the graves of his ancestors thousands of kilometers to the Tian Shan mountains in far western China on the advise of a feng shi master to improve his chances of getting a promotion.
A feng shui master in Shanghai told the China Daily that many of his female clients sought advice on improving their family life or securing a good marriage prospect while men “usually come when they are considering switching jobs, or thinking about a new investment.”
Feng Shui and Homes
The five directions of Chinese cosmology and feng shui are north, south, east, west and center. South represents light and brings good luck. North represents darkness and brings bad luck. Accordingly, doors of houses should not face north of northwest: they should face south. The entire house should be oriented towards the south with mountains to the north to block the bad luck from entering and keep good luck from escaping. The best location is at the foot of a mountain, facing a river. Waters helps attract qi. Buildings with a square plan help hold it firmly.
The location of the family alter, the orientation of the house and the arrangement of the furniture should be in harmony. Bedrooms should face the sun and stairway shouldn’t be visible from the front entrance. Qi is believed to enter through the front door and exit through the toilet.
Walls can be constructed at certain angles to attract positive energy. Doors can be adorned with coins bearing the names of famous emperors to attract good luck. Fountains in corners are sometimes used to deflect bad energy from the sharp angles of nearby buildings. Mirrors are also used to deflect bad energy. Cell phones are believed to disrupt feng shui. Thriving plants are signs that qi is plentiful.
Feng Shui and Furniture
Mirror, scissors hung over door Furniture is moved and mirrors and wind chimes are often added to direct good and evil spirits and forces to their proper places. Negative earth forces from the northwest can be held back and positive energy can be attracted, for example, by placing wind chimes in strategic places. Objects in a room can also placed in different arrangements and places according the birth sign of the occupant.
Common household feng shui practices include: 1) making entryways bright and inviting; 2) using mirrors to increase space; 3) removing furniture that blocks entrances; 4) directing desks and chairs towards the doorway; 5) keeping the television covered when in not use; 6) never leaving the toilet seat up; and 7) never placing a mirror at the foot of the bed. [Source: AP and Geomacy-Feng Shui Organization, San Francisco]
Windows should be opened occasionally to keep the energy flowing. Beds should be aligned in a north-south direction—even if that means they are arranged diagonally across a room—and should not face towards any closet. It is considered bad luck to move beds through the front gate of a house. It only happens after death or a divorce. The stove represents the source of food; mirrors should be placed behind it to increase the positive energy of the burners and reflect approaching people.
Having a chair or desk under a cross beam , near a back door, or next to an aisle s aid to bring bad qi. Large-leafed pot plants are said to create opportunities for pay increases; a bowl of goldfish brings good luck; and a miniature fan can improve the flow of qi and make one more popular with colleagues.
Some feng shui touches—such as installing fish tanks filled with expensive feng shui arowana fish that are said to prevent disasters and help homeowners get rich—are expensive. Pricey feng shui crystals and toilets with a special positive energy tanks are also available. Other feng shui touches are cheap. A simple curtain can be raised in front of a storage room to deflect negative energy.
The Japanese clothesmaker Descente markets sportswear with colors selected by a feng shui master to bring good luck to their wearers. Prices range from around $10 to $120,
Feng Shui, Buildings and Cities
Entire cities have been laid out according to feng shui principals. Seoul was established along the Han River by feng shui masters who were looking for place where the energies of the wind, water and earth would bode well for the future. The liked the site because of the relationship between the winding Han river and the eight surrounding mountains. In the old days many buildings in Beijing were oriented with the feng shui in mind, namely with their backs towards the north and the mountains and the their fronts facing towards water and the south.
Ideally, feng shui masters are consulted before building are built and designs are drawn up. It is not unheard of for recently constructed buildings to be torn down, or for people to refuse to occupy them, because they are out of harmony or face the wrong direction. Sometimes the buildings can be saved if certain countermeasures are taken, such as locating mirrors at key areas. Other times people are undeterred and move in anyway.
In May 1998, a bridge near the village of Qiongshan in Guangdong was blow up because it seriously violated feng shui principals. In New York, the collapse of some scaffolding was blamed on the fact that the nose of a Concord on billboard pointed the wrong way.
At New Year feng shui master make predications about the coming year's weather, business picture and the effects of the weather on people’s health. One Hong Kong fortuneteller predicted that in 2002: "Apart form increasing digestive, respiratory and nerve-related problems, the humid mid-summer and -autumn will make people more uptight and bad tempered...A positive outlook, good food, hygiene and water and baths help maintain healthy blood circulation.
In California, a lawmaker introduced legislation to require state and municipal building codes to accommodate feng shui principals. In New Jersey, real estate agents that are having trouble selling a house have been advised to place the “For Sale” sign in a different location, removing some of the furniture and putting plants and candles into strategic places to balance yin and yang.
Feng Shui and Graves
According to the principals of feng shui a good grave site should be protected from evil winds and exposed to good winds, have a good view, be near water and be in harmony with its surrounding. An ideal place is on a slope with a view of water on a mountain shaped like a dragon, tiger or horse (all symbols of good luck). Tombs in graveyards sometimes face in different directions as the needs of individuals are different.
A feng shui master using a compass and an edition of the I Ching to determine the proper place for a grave told National Geographic: "The prevailing winds and the location of running water are of primary importance for proper burials. So are the presence of nearby hills, the contour of the land and its direction. Important because the price of an improper burial site is very high—nothing less than misfortune visited upon sons and their sons. A proper burial keeps the spirit at rest, and beneficent influences eminate from it like rays from the sun."
The selection of a grave site can depend on a person's Chinese astrological sign. A person who is born in the year of the ox, for example, is most in harmony with the monkey and the rooster. A good burial site is one that has landmarks nearby that look like these animals. Asians can spot these landmarks easily but Westerners usually have a harder time making them out.
Feng shui masters are often present at funerals. They are regarded by some as so important they take on the role of a religious figure in the funerary rites. But sometimes, relatives complain, the master say that things aren’t right at key moments as a way of getting some extra money.
Well-situated house acording to feng shui
Feng Shui, Business and Government
Furniture arrangements and building shape are thought to affect business. For example, a fish tank on a balcony, it is said, can help keep cash flowing in and counteract the affects of drainage ditches that suck away good fortune. Desks are oriented so employees face each other and work together rather than against each other. Sometimes high profile buildings are built according to feng shui principals. The Shanghai Stock Exchange is shaped like a hollow square to help it store positive energy.
Businessmen are advised to seal doors and place books in the southeastern corner of their offices and take calls from important clients while orienting themselves toward the northeast corner of their offices. People with a strings of bad luck or bad business often consult a feng shui masters to help turn things around. Geomancers in China charge about six cents a square foot, compared to 50 cents a square foot in Hong Kong, for advise on building lay outs.
Men wear ties with lucky feng shui colors. Women wear cosmetics that attract positive energy. Dark, yellowish faces are regarded as manifestations of bad qi. Both men and women wear crystal bracelets to catch qi and stimulate personal energy.
Feng shui has made its way Wall Street and Hollywood. Merrill Lynch, Universal Studios, and Coty Beauty have hired feng shui consultants. Tycoon Donald Trump sought advise from feng shui experts on the building of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. Oracle boss Larry Ellison did the same for his home and offices. Entertainers Sheryl Crow, Annette Benning and Susan Sarandon have been seen wearing chi-oms (bead bracelets) that use feng shui principals to attract qi. Other believers in feng shui include Rob Lowe.
In 2007, a year of “fire sitting on water,” inventors were advised to buy oil and avoid metals and not burn their fingers because fire and water are not in harmony and the market will soar and create an “illusion of optimism” only to collapse.
Government officials employ feng shui principals to boost their careers and pay big money for talisman to ward off evil spirits and for the advise of feng shui masters on how to organize their offices. A Hong Kong Feng shui master was hired by a court of law in Shenzhen to help rid the court of bad luck after three judges at the court were prosecuted for taking bribes. Under the advise of the master the eastern and western doors were renovated “to correct the misfortune of the previous year.” The master said the eastern side of the courthouse faced a factory with an inauspicious smokestack while the “yin” on the western side was too strong and needed a pair of stone lions to deflect evil spirits. [Source: Reuters]
Feng Shui and Love Life
Many young Chinese are seeking out feng shui masters for help with their love life. An attarcive28-year-old marketing specialist told the China Daily that she “half-believed, half-doubted” feng shui but she was desperate after spending so much time alone and having all of her romances ending badly. Based on her Chinese horoscope and birth date and time, a feng shui master advised her to move the location of her bed and other furniture and keep fresh flowers in her apartment and change the water daily. Two months later she met a Frenchman at a pub and fell in love and was married the following Christmas.
“Now I’m a faithful follower because through my own experience, I know how magical it can be,” she told the China Daily. The feng shui master that helped her said, “The change of furniture and fresh flowers can help create a smooth flow of qi in the bedroom, which in turn allowed her to be healthy and high in spirit. With a strong spiritual and physical presence, it is easy to catch a man.” Funerals
Image Sources: Feng shui images, University of Washington, Qi Gong images, Fighting Arts com
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2012