When someone mentions Feng Shui to you, you probably see a vision of bamboo flutes and wind chimes, think of ba gua mirrors or perhaps recall something about lucky frogs. The reputation of Feng Shui as a respected science and art has taken a beating over the last few years. Some people consider it superstition, others consider it old wives' tales and with the number of luck-enhancing items and fortune trinkets on the market, more and more people probably think of Feng Shui as psychobabble at best, nonsense at worse.
I am glad to have this opportunity, through this column, to share with all of you my knowledge and research on Classical Feng Shui and hopefully, put this highly credible field of classical study into its proper perspective. I intend, in the coming months, to broach this classical Chinese science in a practical yet informative manner with the aim of clearing up much of the mystery surrounding Feng Shui, dispelling the myths, separating the fact from superstition (indeed, fiction) whilst showing you how you can apply Classical Feng Shui successfully with measurable results to your home.
I realise some of the information I present may be completely new to some of the readers, especially if you have only been exposed to what I call New Age Feng Shui all this time. The best approach therefore is to keep an open mind and I will endeavour to help you better understand this fascinating and empowering science.
What Classical Feng Shui really is all about?
If there is one certainty I can be assured of each time I undertake a speaking engagement, it is to be approached by someone asking me if they have "bought the wrong cures" or "have the wrong items" in their home or office or who are puzzled as to why none of my recommendations or suggestions include something they can buy or place in a certain corner or direction.
This underlines the problem with Feng Shui in today's world - there is a clear lack of understanding about what Classical Feng Shui really is all about and what the practice of Feng Shui entails. Commercialisation, while bringing the concept of Feng Shui to the 21st century and to the masses, has also conveniently left out a lot of the genuine information, in the name of 'getting it to the masses'. I am a firm believer that 'the secrets of the Heavens' (as Feng Shui was termed during the Ming and Qing dynasties) should be shared and available to everyone, and I certainly do not subscribe to diluting or for that matter, oversimplifying the information.
Therefore, we must go back to basics and first ask and answer the crucial question: what is Feng Shui?
The answer to this question does to some degree depend on whether you are talking about New Age Feng Shui or Classical Feng Shui. Most Feng Shui practitioners today fall in to two loose categories: the New Age practitioners, and the Classical practitioners. New Age Feng Shui leans heavily towards symbolism and the placement of Chinese cultural items or good fortune cures. New Age Feng Shui is rather all-embracing, and as a result, many New Age practices, like Space Clearing and Dousing, have become ostensibly a part of and even are considered Feng Shui practices.
However, in actual fact, there is no historical, theoretical, empirical or evidential basis for New Age Feng Shui or the symbolic objects that are frequently recommended as part of the practice of New Age Feng Shui.
Everything in modern day science, as we understand it, is drawn from basic science. So someone who posits a new theory must premise it on existing knowledge, for example, Newton's Law. This is no different in Feng Shui. All the different schools of practice, such as San Yuan, San He, Xuan Kong, Flying Stars, Eight Mansions, have their origins in ancient classical texts. The newer practices do not. Therefore, concepts like Space Clearing and the Eight Aspirational Directions, Symbolisms are in fact modern practices that do not derive any of their basis or theories from the classical texts and literatures on Feng Shui.
The Chinese categorized their study of Metaphysics into five distinct classes, known as the Chinese Five Arts (Wu Shu). Feng Shui falls under the banner of Physiognomy, the science of observing and understanding the living environment and through applying formulas and calculations to the living environment, to assess the potential and possible outcomes for a person living in a particular property.
Classical Feng Shui began life as Kan Yu about 1500 years ago and was used primarily for burials sites. Today, this field of practice is known as Yin Feng Shui. Only towards the end of the Qing Dynasty did the term "Feng Shui" become more commonplace. Like many of the Chinese Metaphysical sciences, Classical Feng Shui is a field of study that was well-documented and there are numerous texts on Classical Feng Shui theories and techniques.
Classical Feng Shui's most obvious distinguishing feature is that all the schools are premised upon four primary aspects - Residents, Time, Building and Environment. They do not have references to items or products but focus solely on the use of DIRECTION and LOCATION with reference to the four factors above.
The objective of Feng Shui is the harnessing of the Qi in the environment to support us in our endeavours. It is a science for assessing the quality of a person's life by looking at their living environment and seeking to improve that quality of life by tapping into the natural energies - the Qi - in that environment.
Feng Shui is not Chinese culture. Classical Feng Shui has nothing to do with the art of placement or symbols or even living in harmony with nature. It has nothing to do with your hair colour, with the pendants or crystals you wear and certainly, nothing to do with what colour your house or your toilet door is.
The application of Feng Shui also has no religious elements or beliefs, contrary to popular misconception. Again, this is the problem caused by New Age Feng Shui, which deploys as part of its practice, a lot of the typical Taoist symbols and deities, such as the Happy Buddha or the Trio of Fuk Luk Sau. It also stems from the fact that in the early 1900s, the practitioners of Feng Shui were usually also religious practitioners or people associated with the local temple. There is absolutely not one iota of reference to the need for such items as part of the practice of Feng Shui. The BaGua, the He Tu, the Lo Shu numbers, and the Five Elements, all which form the backbone of the practice of Feng Shui, have no religious implications.
Making Classical Feng Shui work for you
When you apply classical Feng Shui to your home or office, you are looking at harnessing the Qi that is already present in your environment and then making changes within your property to ensure the Qi supports you in your life's goals. Many people have the idea of Feng Shui as a magic wand that overnight makes their lives better. In truth, Feng Shui is a goal orientated science. What do you want to achieve in life? What are your aspirations for the year to come? The next 10 years? The end game?
In answering these questions, a Feng Shui consultant is essentially looking to determine if the place you live in or work at, is 'with you or against you'.
Besides supporting the individual's aspirations in life, Feng Shui is also extremely useful for strategic planning of one's life. Through Feng Shui, it is possible to assess the outcomes that may culminate as a result of living in a particular property. This is because Qi is cyclical in nature and the influences in your living environment can be calculated based on formulas. By knowing what are the pitfalls coming up, the highs and the lows that are likely and then matching this information with that derived from a person's Bazi or Destiny chart, it is truly possible to plan for the future.
Over the course of the next few articles, I will share with you theories, techniques and applications that will enable you, through simple modifications and changes, harness this classical science, and draw upon the Qi in your living environment, to support your endeavours in life. The first step of course, is to open your mind to Feng Shui. Then, you can begin the journey of using Feng Shui to assist you in achieving your goals.