Chinese Feng Shui

Last Update: 2008-10-16 22:10:00; By drwi

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Luopan, a tool of Chinese Feng Shui
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Chinese Feng shui, also known as geomancy (i.e., divination by means of lines and figures in geographic planes), is an ancient Chinese art used to promote health, happiness and prosperity through the auspicious spatial arrangement of objects, much as Chinese astrology is concerned with the temporal arrangement of events. Feng, meaning 'wind', and shui, meaning 'water', are references to the nature of the life force, qi (to learn more about qi, click here), which can be harnessed by the individual: "Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water" (from Zhangshu, or the "Book of Burial" by Guo Pu, who lived during the Jin (CE 265-420) Dynasty).

Feng shui can explain many auspicious as well as inauspicous happenings: children who cry frequently in one locality while those in an adjacent locality are happy and contented; an individual who suffers from an illness or a malaise in one locality but who immediately sheds this problem when moved to a different locality, even an adjacent one; a destitute person whose luck changes dramatically when he moves out of a square-shaped building to a round one – or vice-versa; etc.

In all of these circumstances, the placement – and even the shape – of physical objects in a particular locality can either be in harmony with the flow of life force, or in a clash with that same force. A shape that is auspicious in one locality, due to the special topographical circumstances of that particular locality, may not be auspicious in another locality. Even the placement of the doors and windows of a building must follow the principles of Feng shui in order to avoid clashing with the force of qi, which is why adherents of Feng shui consult a Feng shui diviner before erecting a house or other building. An auspicious, rather than a haphazard, arrangement of physical objects in space is considered by followers of Feng shui as vital to a healthy body and mind.

An ancient Feng shui precept says that there must be a proper balance of air, mountains and water in the environment in order for humans to thrive. Everything develops prosperously under the proper balance of these three. For example, the presence of mountains reduces the incidence of strong winds which would blow topsoil away, exposing barren rock and sand on which nothing will grow, while the mountain, in addition to shielding from the wind, also brings precipitation which nourishes plant life.

A modern appreciation of the role of Feng shui in promoting a sustainable planet is beginning to emerge, also beyond the borders of China. Practitioners of Feng shui around the globe are urging scientists to study the potential benefits of adapting mankind's presence – his architectural, agricultural, and industrial footprint, if you will – on planet Earth in accordance with the principles of Feng shui. In China, they point out, these principles have been followed by Feng shui devotees with great success for over a thousand years, therefore modern scientists would do well to examine this body of evidence.

The study of Feng Shui has witnessed a revival in recent years, combining theoretical principles and practical operating procedures with actual case studies. Although the practice of Feng shui has experienced many ups and downs in its history, and although it inarguably contains some elements that are at odds with acceptable scientific method, the pursuit of knowledge based on the concept of "the unity of heaven, earth and mankind" has an intuitive appeal that is just as powerful today as it was during ancient times.

While modern man has reason to admire the advances that modern science and technology has delivered, he cannot help worrying whether an unfortuitous use of science and technology which violates the inherent principles of harmony that govern our planet's eco-systems might be wreaking havoc on the planet and harm on its inhabitants. Feng shui is an art, if not a science, that concerns itself with the way we humans live in harmony with nature, harnessing the force of qi so as to provide us with postive energy while avoiding negative energy. What if the way we design our cities – our buildings and their open spaces – is in violation with unrecognized but real forces of nature? Would it not be better to study this possibility to see if there is not a way to construct our man-made world so that it facilitates the spread of positive energy while suppressing negative energy?

Chinese Feng shui is a concept that was arrived at by ancient sages who studied astronomy and its interaction with the earth's topography, and how this affects people. Ultimately, the practice of Feng shui still boils down to the skills of the individual practitioner and the practitioner's ability to read different aspects and elements in the environment, both nearby and farther away, in order to achieve a propitious overall balance between 'Yin' and 'Yang'. The concept of 'Yin' and 'Yang' keeps humans in harmony with nature, leading to balanced, and therefore sustainable, development.

It cannot be denied that the spatial arrangement of physical objects, given the particular topography in which they are located, from the studied stone arrangements of a Japanese garden to the arrangement of skyscrapers and the spaces they occupy, both individually and in groups, can contribute to a pleasing sense of ambiance, which is simply another form of beauty. This spatial beauty stems from the conformity of the physical objects in question to the space which they occupy, the space which surrounds them. If the arrangement of the objects in the physical space in question, given the particular topography, violates that topography, then the result will be ugliness, and people will not thrive in such an environment.

Feng Shui has caught the attention of architects and city planners around the world in recent years, especially since a number of world-renowned architects have erected unique living environments in China in recent years which comform to the surrounding Chinese structures, many of which were undoubtedly erected in harmony with Feng shui. These architects and city planners have initially taken the existing spatial arrangements as a given that belongs to Chinese culture, but architects and city planners everywhere are beginning to realize that the underlying spatial principles that bring well-being to a Chinese living-and-working environment apply as well to the well-being of humans everywhere.


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