Nov 18 2011
Question 3: In Chinese religious thought, what is the importance of feng shui and how does it express fundamental Chinese teachings? Do you think that this principle was respected when the room in which you are sitting was built? Why or why not? If not, how would it be different if the principles of feng shui had been adopted by its builders?
Cosmic balance is an essential element in Chinese religious thought, because ultimately, the universe is one eternal flux of energy; constantly changing and unifying everything that is in it. A person would seek to harmonize his lifestyle with this cosmic energy. One way of doing so is the practice of feng shui, the art of geomancy, which is used in determining the natural flow of qi, the life force (Fisher 146).
The Chinese believe that the human body is an inner universe which reflects the outer universe, the same way Earth is a reflection of Heaven (Bruun 114). Although the inner universe and outer universe seem like two opposite entities, but in order to strike balance between them, one must complement the other or the inner universe has to correspond with the natural flow or “dao” of the universe, because all the elements of the universe influences an individual’s fortunes or misfortunes (Eitel 22). In Feng Shui, the person and the dwelling must harmonize with each other. In order to do so, one must understand the qi of both the person and the dwelling. Feng Shui teaches one the methods on how to understand the qi. Feng Shui fundamental principles include the understanding of the concept of Yin and Yang; which describes the opposing dual facets of nature, principle of Five Phases; which describe the five physical elements of nature, principle of Eight Trigrams; which describes the patterns of change, and Four Celestial Animals; which describes the method to evaluate the surroundings of a dwelling (Skinner 3). There are two main schools of Feng Shui, the first is the School of Forms, which emphasizes more on the geography of the house based on the principle the Four Celestial Houses, and the School of Orientation that takes into account the constantly changing nature of qi and uses a numerology method. Later schools that developed are the Bagua School, the Black Hat Sect School and the Flying Star School. However, one does not need to adhere strictly to one school and methods from both schools may be used in order to practise Feng Shui in a certain dwelling (Bruun 115).
All the fundamental principles of Feng Shui provide the guide for the homeowner to orient the elements of his or her home to the direction with the most favourable flow of qi that will help promote prosperity and bring pleasant tidings to the home. Both the house and the owner have their individual “trigram” which has a particular qi that is associated with it (Hook 44). To know whether a house favors the flow of positive qi to the homeowner, the homeowner must determine the compatibility of the trigrams of both the owner and the house. For example, according to Feng Shui principles, the house in which I am residing in is identified as the third most compatible with my personal trigram, according to the Bagua School - Figure 1.1. The orientation of the house also shows that the doorway is favourable for the flow of positive qi, and there are particular areas that are favourable and non-favorable direction of qi- Figure 1.2. According to Feng Shui principles, in areas of favourable qi, the qi can be enhanced with the orientation of the furniture to face the direction of favourable qi or to place elements; be it wall color or ornaments that correspond to the particular qi of that direction to enhance the flow of qi. For example, since the house’s orientation for favourable flow of qi is northeast, chairs must be oriented so that it faces northeast. This isn’t obeyed in some of the spaces in the house due to limited space. For places that does not favour the flow of qi, the negative flow of qi can also be rectified with the same method, with the understanding of how the elements interact with each other in that direction according to the Five Phase Principle. For example, one of the doors is opposite the stairs which is inauspicious as the Chinese believe that whatever good qi that comes in will go tumbling down the stairs. To remedy this, the walls may be colored to the element that counteracts the negative qi it corresponds to. Other elements of the house are the land plot as well as the surroundings of the house- Figure 1.3. The land plot of the house is favourable as it is square and the house is situated in the centre of the plot. According to Feng Shui, this arrangement is favourable as the qi is able to flow all around the house, ‘nourishing’ all sides of the house. The entrance of the house is also favourable as it is oriented in the correct direction of the house’s qi. Next, is the surroundings at which the house is situated, which is on flat land and is surrounded with other housing. Flat land is favourable as it promotes stability, according to the principle of Four Celestial Palaces. Lastly is the road near the dwelling. The housing is arranged along a straight road. Since it is a housing area, the road is quite quiet and has hardly any traffic. This is favourable as it promotes peace and quiet. According to the School of Forms, the house should favourably not have sharp corners as the qi travels in waves, so rounded corners are more favourable to qi flow (Bruun 142). If the house were builte according to Feng Shui principles, it would definitely have less sharp corners. Overall, although the house was probably built without much consideration in Feng Shui, but it has been quite favourable to my personal qi.
In conclusion, Feng Shui is an important element in cosmic balance as it involves the individual as well as his or her surroundings. Maintaining cosmic balance is the main goal of every individual, and Feng Shui is a means of achieving this. Not only is Feng Shui a practise which is rich in various fields of knowledge, it is also a beneficial exercise to achieve a better quality of living that is simultaneously in harmony with one’s surroundings and one’s inner energy.
Bruun, Ole. “An Introduction To Feng Shui.” United Kingdom: University Press, Cambridge, 2008. Print.
Eitel, Ernest J. “Feng Shui or Rudiments of Natural Science in China”. 3rd Edition. Great Britain: Kingston Press, 1979. Print.
Fisher, Mary Pat. “Living Religions.” 8th Edition. United States: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2011. Print.
Hook, Diana ffarington, “The I Ching and You”. Great Britain: Western Printing Services, 1973. Print.
Skinner, Stephen. “Flying Star Feng Shui”. Singapore: Tuttle Publishing, 2002. Print.