FENG SHUI: HISTORY, BUILDINGS, GRAVES, HOMES, BUSINESS AND LOVE

FENG SHUI

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Feng shui chart
The ancient science of Chinese divination, 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, feng 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.”

Fengshui (literally “wind-water”) is a form of geomantic divination based on the workings of the cosmological concepts yinyang and qi. It often involves 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, feng shui is often expressed in terms of Chinese and Taoist cosmology and is said to be over 3,500 years old.

Dr. Stephen L. Field of Trinity University wrote: “The popular form of fengshui was predicated on the belief that yinyang currents of cosmic breath (qi) , which flowed in every geographic area, influenced human fortunes. These currents, subject to various astrological influences, including “star spirits,” manifested themselves in local topography. [Source: “In Search of Dragons: Fengshui and Early Geophysical Notions of Qi” by Stephen L. Field, Ph.D., Trinity University, May 9, 2003 *~*]

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 focuses on positive energy (or ‘qi’ in Chinese). Five elements are involved -- wood, fire, earth, metal and water – each with its unique association to certain colors, materials and symbolism. For example, the colour of the fire element is red, while that of wood are green and aqua-related colors. Feng shui can be influenced by the location, shape, size and color of an object and. it has been said "does for space what the Chinese lunar calendar does for time, seeking the most auspicious arrangements of the material environment." 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.

Good Websites and Sources: Traditional Religion in China: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Religion Facts religionfacts.com; Deities Worshipped by Farmers China Vista ; Mazu China Vista ; Video: “Ancestor Worship, Confucian Teaching, featuring Myron L. Cohen Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu; Feng shui Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Feng Shui Crazy fengshuicrazy.comfengshuisociety.org ;Skeptic’s Dictionary on Feng Shui skepdic.com ; Qi Gong 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

Folk Beliefs and Superstitions: Chinatown Connection chinatownconnection.com ; New York Times on Earthquake superstitions nytimes.com ; Old Book on Superstitions archive.org/ or Old Book PDF Fileus.archive.org/2/items ; Five Elements chinatownconnection ; I Ching Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; China Vista chinavista.com ; Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu;

Funerals and Death: Chinese Beliefs About Death deathreference.com ; Death and Burials in China chia.chinesemuseum.com.au ; Grief in China Culture www.indiana.edu ; Chinese Funeral Customs China Vista; Lucky Numbers Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; New York Times article nytimes.com ; China View article xinhuanet.com ; News in Science abc.net.au ; Symbols Chinese Symbols. Com chinese-symbols.com ; Chinatown Connection chinatownconnection.com ; What’s Your Sign whats-your-sign.com

Good Websites and Sources on Religion in China: Chinese Government White Paper on Religion china-embassy.org ; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom uscirf.gov/countries/china; Articles on Religion in China forum18.org ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Council of Foreign Relations cfr.org ; Brooklyn College brooklyn.cuny.edu ; Religion Facts religionfacts.com; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org ; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy stanford.edu ; Academic Info academicinfo.net ; Internet Guide to Chinese Studies sino.uni-heidelberg.de

Books: 1) James Watson and Evelyn Rawski, eds., “Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China” (Berkeley, 1988); 2) the chapter by Maurice Freedman in “The Study of Chinese Society,” ed. G. William Skinner (Stanford, 1979), pp. 296-312; 3) Laurence Thompson, “Chinese Religion” (Belmont, 1979), Chapter 3; 4) C. K. Yang, “Religion in Chinese Society” (Berkeley, 1961), pp. 40-43, 52-53; 5) Henri Doré (1914-1933), “Researches into Chinese Superstitions,” trans. M. Kennelly, 6 vols. (Shanghai), vol. 4, pp. 417 ff.]; 5) Addison, James Thayer. “Chinese Ancestor Worship: A Study of its Meaning and its Relations with Christianity” (London: The Church Literature Committee of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, 1925); 6) Graham, David Crockett. “Folk Religion in Southwest China” (Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1961); Hsu, Francis L. K. “Under the Ancestor’s Shadow” (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971); 7) "The Way of Qigong" by Kenneth Cohen (Ballantine Books). You can help this site a little by ordering your Amazon books through this link: Amazon.com.

Geomacers


feng shui compass

Feng shui observations have traditionally been carried out by geomacers, or 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.

Dr Field wrote: “The task of a geomancer (fengshui xiansheng) was to calculate, on the basis of an enormous number of topographical and astrological variables, the most favorable positions to locate residences for both the living (homes, temples, businesses, official buildings, etc.) and the dead (graves).” Those involved with the later often “locate qi in the mountainous landscape, and then close with a general picture of the ideal location of the tomb site, according to the authors of the Book of Burial...While much has been written on the physiological characteristics of qi, on the one hand, and the philosophical and cosmological ramifications of qi on the other, very little study has been conducted on the concept of qi as understood by practitioners of fengshui.” [Source: “In Search of Dragons: Fengshui and Early Geophysical Notions of Qi” by Stephen L. Field, Ph.D., Trinity University, May 9, 2003 *~*]

A geomancer's key instrument, the so-called a compass, is a round board with components that include nine flying stars, eight lunar mansions and the five elements of earth, fire, metal, water and wood. Using a set formula in conjunction with their dates of birth, users attempt to discern their ming, or fate, including career and marriage prospects, and aim to attract greater fortune by decorating their offices and homes and aligning furniture in accordance with the basic tenets of feng shui.

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.). 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.

Dr. Stephen L. Field of Trinity University wrote: “ One of the earliest texts that discusses what we may call the geophysical nature of qi is the Zangshu, or Book of Burial, attributed to Guo Pu (276-324) of the early 3rd century.[1] The Zangshu, for example, is the locus classicus for the term "fengshui," and many of the cardinal principles of what eventually became the Form School of fengshui are outlined in this text. [1 He based his work on an earlier text, probably the Zangjing, or Classic of Burial, purportedly written by a certain Qingwuzi, whose origin is unknown.] [Source: “In Search of Dragons: Fengshui and Early Geophysical Notions of Qi” by Stephen L. Field, Ph.D., Trinity University, May 9, 2003 *~*]

Cai Defeng, a professor of archeology at Shanghai’s 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 in China


Luopan (feng shui compass) with a mirror

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


feng shui crystal

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

right 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


Tomb of Dong Zhongshu

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.

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.”

Beijing Feng Shui Business

On the business run by feng shui master Qi Yingjie, Peng Yining and He Na wrote in the China Daily, ““Born in a village in Hebei province, Qi was influenced by his grandfather, also a "master", and has been interested in the mysterious and ancient art since he was a teenager. In 1995, he founded his first consultancy in Hebei's Tangshan city, before expanding the business to Beijing in 2010.[Source: Peng Yining and He Na, China Daily, March 18, 2013 ***]

“The company's website provides a detailed breakdown of the price list: Naming newborn babies or changing existing names costs up to 38,885 yuan ($6,246); choosing the right time for a cesarean birth to ensure the child is born at a propitious moment costs 1,685 yuan to 8,885 yuan; the price for advising real estate agents, companies and the location of tombs ranges from 500 to 50,000 yuan. ***

“Qi said that when he first started out, he charged just 10 yuan to name a newborn baby. "But now, too many people are asking for my help. I had to raise the price to limit the numbers," he said. "I do lower my prices for poor families, but those businesspeople make millions or even billions, so it would be ridiculous if they were to pay just a couple of hundred yuan for the service." He said the most frequent inquiries from businesspeople include the decoration of offices and apartments to encourage positive developments, investment advice, the pros and cons of entering into partnership or working by oneself, and how to choose the right subordinates. "I provide answers based on their names, their dates of birth and the feng shui arrangements in their immediate environment," explained Qi. ***

“Qi has eight employees. His office, situated close to Beijing's second ring road, faces south and stands in front of a river. In short, it is a textbook feng shui office location. The office is decorated in strict accordance with the rules, and a statue of Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism, is enshrined in the main hall, surrounded by flickering candles. However, the front door faces a second door inside, an arrangement believed to bring bad luck. Qi solved the problem by hanging a crystal curtain between the doors. The lower sections of the French windows are covered by opaque plastic film. According to feng shui principles, large, uncovered windows can result in the loss of money. A fish tank has been placed by the window for the same reason, to stop Qi's fortune from flowing away. ***


Luopan


Wealthy in Beijing Increasingly Turn to Feng Shui

Peng Yining and He Na wrote in the China Daily, “Forget about the shabby sidewalk stalls of feng shui experts, the ones fighting for space next to the psychics, palm readers and fortune tellers. The ancient art believed to unlock riches, power and control of one’s life is now targeting China’s newly rich and has become a "must-have" for many high-end individuals. Qi said his expertise in providing auspicious names and arranging feng shui for companies brings three to five clients a day. "Most of them are accomplished businesspeople and high-ranking officials," he said. [Source: Peng Yining and He Na, China Daily, March 18, 2013 ***]

“Tang Zhijun, 47, general manager of Beijing Changfeng Innovation Science and Technology Co, said some of his business friends from southern China are strong believers in feng shui. "They constantly urged me to learn more about it, saying it has immense influence in enterprise development and the prosperity of our families," he said. "They even moved their ancestors' tombs because the master told them the deed would benefit their family." As the owner of a company that makes scientific and high-technology items, Tang was disinclined to believe in the ancient practice. However, when the aficionados claimed that a few minor adjustments to the layout of his office would improve the company's performance, he decided to act on their advice, reasoning that even if it proved ineffectual, the move was harmless. ***

“He began by rectifying a long-standing "problem". Tang often sat with his back to a north-facing window. "I changed it recently," he said. "The master said the window behind me represents a hole and that the money I earned would flow away through it," he said. Following the master's suggestion, Tang placed a screen wall between his back and the window. "Although the business hasn't made huge progress since then, I'm still surprised because I've been feeling better since I put the screen in place. Before, I often felt that eyes were watching me from behind." Tang now wants to learn more about the basic techniques concerning the location and decoration of homes. "Even now, we're unable to provide convincing explanations for lots of things in the world. If feng shui can provide a solution, why shouldn't we try it?" he said.

Beijing Feng Shui Class

Peng Yining and He Na wrote in the China Daily, “In a classroom at Peking University School of Economics, the students pored over their calculations, just as countless preceding generations had done. But the people in this class were not regular scholars - instead, they represented China's business elite, including chief executive officers of major companies, entrepreneurs and financiers. All were busy divining their destinies in a feng shui class. They hoped to gain insight into the ancient Chinese method of geomancy, which has become an important part of the school's Executive Master of Business Administration program.[Source: Peng Yining and He Na, China Daily, March 18, 2013 ***]

“Using a set formula in conjunction with their dates of birth, the students were attempting to discern their ming, or fate, including career and marriage prospects, and also attempting to attract greater fortune by learning how to decorate their offices and align furniture in accordance with the basic tenets of feng shui. The 43-year-old lecturer, Qi Yingjie, introduced himself via a slideshow as a "feng shui master" and, dressed in a traditional black tunic suit, he strolled between the desks as the students added, subtracted, multiplied and divided according to the formula. "Use the formula and you will discover your destiny," intoned the former farmer and vegetable vendor, as he lectured the class of executives. ***

“During a break, the students surrounded him, firing off questions: "Would it be bad feng shui to place a cupboard beside my bed?"; "My son loses his temper at home for no reason, can feng shui help solve the problem?"; "My wife and I often fight. Do I need to reconsider the feng shui of our apartment?" One particular question aroused Qi's attention. "The door of my apartment faces southwest and I put a bookshelf in the northwest corner of the room. Is that good feng shui?" a middle aged man, who wore a shiny gold watch, asked. Frowning with concentration, the master scanned the sheet of paper and announced: "The door is fine, but you have to move the bookshelf from the northwest corner, because your chart shows that it will suppress your future development." ***


Luopan (feng shui compass)


Feng Shui in Chinese Business Schools

Peng Yining and He Na wrote in the China Daily, “Most EMBA programs in China's major business schools, including the China Europe International Business School which charges a hefty 560,000 yuan for its part-time, two-year course, provide lectures on I Ching, The Book of Changes, feng shui and related issues. [Source: Peng Yining and He Na, China Daily, March 18, 2013 ***]

“Li Juanjuan, a student at Peking University's EMBA program, likes reading books about feng shui and watching related videos. The 32-year-old manager at Beijing Capital International Airport said she will invite a master to help decorate her new apartment. "It's all to provide a better life for my daughter. I've already changed her name to promote better feng shui," she said, declining to provide details to protect her daughter's privacy. ***

“People who have recently become wealthy are fearful of losing their fortunes and the prospects of making another. Feng shui provides a means of easing that tension, according to Zhang Xuedong, a researcher and lecturer on Tsinghua University's EMBA program. Although he teaches ancient Chinese culture and philosophy in the program, the most frequently asked questions concern feng shui, said Zhang. He admitted that some people seem to miss the point. "The students asked if I could predict their futures or use my knowledge to help them make more money," he said. "I advised them to be patient and to search for inner peace, but they asked for short cuts to finding inner peace, such as donations to temples or rearranging their offices.” ***

“Chinese people have only recently become wealthy and have yet to learn how to deal with the pressures associated with large fortunes. Because it is part of ancient Chinese culture, people mistakenly believe that feng shui can provide an easy solution, according to Zhang. "If simply moving your tables and installing a fish tank could help you make more money, everybody would try it," he said, and warned that it might not be wise to ask the so-called masters for business advice. "The laws of economics may help you, but not the laws of feng shui," he said. "The 'masters' certainly do care about making money, but only for themselves." ***

“He said the practice undoubtedly does contain many ancient wisdoms, but they are often commonplace or simply self-evident. For example, feng shui principles state that windows in Chinese houses should face south, but that's hardly a mystical revelation - the country's geographical location means that south-facing windows allow natural light to illuminate rooms for the optimum period every day. "It's part of a rich heritage of traditional culture and folklore. To some extent, we should research and protect it," he said. "But it shouldn't be seen as an infallible way of living your life.” ***

Image Sources: Feng shui images, University of Washington, Wikimedia Commons

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.

Last updated September 2016

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