See another article on Feng Shui by author published in the Christian Research Journal, Vol 26, No. 1, 2003 at http://www.equip.org/articles/feng-shui-decorating
NOTE: Due to the complexity and varieties of feng shui practice, this article attempts only to give a broad overview of the nature, philosophy, and tools of feng shui without a detailed explanation of all its applications, principles, or technical aspects.
Feng shui (pronounced "fong shwee" in Mandarin) has come to the United States (and other Western countries). In California, New York City, Washington, DC, and other populous areas, businessmen, merchants, real estate brokers, and others are paying high fees for Feng Shui consultants. Donald Trump uses feng shui, as does Merrill Lynch (Ajay Singh, "Luck Be A Stone Lion," Time Magazine, 3 July 2000, 53). At the Whitney Museum of American Art's biennial exhibit, the artist behind two stone lions for sale chose the buyer based on applications explaining the applicants' feng shui problems (Ibid). So just what is feng shui?
Feng shui, which originated within the context of Chinese Taoism, is an intricate process of how to manipulate and harmonize the flow of the invisible universal life force, the chi (also spelled qi or ki), in one's physical surroundings, in concert with yin and yang energies and the five elements (earth, water, fire, metal, and wood). Chi, also known as the dragon's breath, is called the "life and breath" of the universe," (Lillian Too, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui [Boston: Element Books Inc., 1996], 51, 68). "Feng" means "wind" and "shui" means "water."
-"The practice of living harmoniously with the energy of the surrounding environment which naturally leads to the art of placement, not only of buildings, but of everything within them," (www.fengshuisociety.org.uk).
-Originated by farmers at least 3,000 years ago, feng shui is about how to harness the invisible chi in order to "maximize" the benefits of chi, (www.geomanceronline.com).
-An "ancient and complex Chinese art that combines mysticism, science, and superstition to determine health, luck, and prosperity according to natural landscapes and the placement of dwellings, buildings, and graves...[...]....Its fundamental concept is that in order to be healthy and prosper, one must be in harmony with the earth and receive the benefit of ch'i, the universal life principle, which exists in all things and flows through the earth and nature," (Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience, [Edison, NJ: CASTLE BOOKS/Books Sales, Inc., 1991], 200).
-"Feng Shui is the science of divining Yin and Yang in one's immediate environment," (Too, 54).
-Feng Shui is "terrestial divination," used to "discover how energy flows in the land and to live in harmony with it." (Eva Wong, The Shambhala Guide to Taoism, [Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1997], 137, 141). Feng shui is the oldest form of Taoist divination, (Ibid, 141).
Chi, qi, or qi (sometimes also spelled as ch'i), a foundational belief of this system, is believed to be a force that permeates the universe and all forms in existence. The concept of Chinese qi was developed by philosophers such as Lao-tzu, Confucius, Mencius, and others between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C., and was considered to be "the source of vitality, harmony, creativity, and moral courage," (Guiley, 627). Chi/qi has parallels to ki in Japan and to prana (the divine breath in Hindu thinking) in India, an energy "upon which all things depend for health and life," (Guiley, 626). Known generally as the universal life force, this energy is also known as "bioenergy," (Ibid, 629-30), "vital energy," "vital force," or, most commonly in the United States, the "life force." Manipulating and balancing the universal life force is the basis of most alternative healing methods [see CANA documents on Alternative Healing and on Reiki]. "Just as acupuncture, chakra balancing or shiatsu massage can adjust the flow of energy in the body, so can feng shui adjust the flow of energy around us," (Belinda Henwood with Consultant Howard Choy, Feng Shui [Pownal, VT: Storey Books, undated], 6). The chi must flow "not too quickly and not too slowly," and will stagnate or become destructive if it is blocked (Ibid). Additionally, the yin and yang (female and male) components of chi "must be in balance," (Guiley, 200, 627). The literal translation of yin and yang is shade and light (Wong, 126). [See CANA document on Yin-Yang].
Just as in the Taoist belief that good health results from the harmonious flow of chi in one's body, so does feng shui seek to get the chi flowing around and throughout buildings and gardens so that harmony, power, romance, and/or success will result (Wong, 137-8). The tools for determining the flow of chi and what to do about it are tools of divination. Divination is gaining information by reading hidden meanings in ordinary things, through spirit contact, or using tools such as a pendulum. Examples of divination are astrology, tarot cards, palmistry, the I Ching, numerology, and tea leaf reading. [See CANA document on the Occult].
In Chinese cosmology, the relationship between heaven, earth, and man was paramount. This is reflected in the various categories of qi: Heaven Qi, Earth Qi, and Human Qi, which are each further subdivided. Heaven Qi contains planetary and Weather Qi, which are each also subdivided further (for example, Planetary Qi includes astrology and spiritual guidance). Earth Qi contains Natural and Human Made Qi which are both subdivided (Natural Qi includes vegetation, mountains, etc.). Human Qi includes Social and Personal Qi which are each subdivided (Social Qi includes things such as neighbors and local events while Personal Qi includes ideals and beliefs, sensitivity, health and life force), (Henwood, 6). Another factor to take into account is that feng shui can attract positive energy, sheng qi, which moves along curved lines, or negative energy, sha qi, which "strikes quickly in straight lines," (Ibid; Guiley, 201). Therefore, straight pathways and other designs that form a straight line are to be avoided.
Universal life energy, chi/qi and prana are also linked in many cultures to supernormal powers and sorcery. Tantra yoga cultivates the flow of prana in order to raise psychic powers, and prana is the source for exploits in Hindu magic (Guiley, 627). In alchemy, this universal force is called spiritus; the occult Kabala (Qabalah) terms it astral light; and hypnotist Franz Mesmer called it "magnetic fluid" (Ibid, 626). The chi is also the source of power for levitation and other occult feats (Ibid, 327). One traveler who chronicled his occult encounters in 19th century Asia wrote that he learned from a Hindu holy man that the vital fluid, the agasa or akasha, was the cause of all phenomena and was the "moving thought of the universal soul, directing all souls," as well as the "force of which the adepts had learned to control," (Louis Jacolliot, quoted by Guiley, 327). [The adepts are practitioners of occult powers].