Up until a century ago, feng shui was just feng shui and that there was little debate on what it is exactly.
This was partly because it was still a closely guarded secret among the masters who practiced it.
How do you question something that you have no credible knowledge of?
Just like if an astronomer tells you that a particular star in the galaxy is called KIC 8462852, you would just accept it without questioning the authenticity.
It is only in recent decades when the teachings of feng shui that guides people how to live in harmony with the environment caught on in the main stream.
And then came the many “innovations” that put a spin on original feng shui practices.
Some feng shui masters even conceptualized their own concepts of feng shui with the ancient art as the foundational base.
However, the rise of symbolic feng shui started to make many practitioners uncomfortable even though it has been around for as long as history itself.
This is because symbolic feng shui involves the use of various symbols that seem to have religious and cultural connotations.
Whether symbolic feng shui originated from religions like Buddhism or Taosim, or whether it is the religions that used symbolic feng shui in their practices is up to debate.
I myself am not a champion of symbolic feng shui. But I acknowledge that it has a place in the practice of feng shui as a whole.
There is actually a lot I have to say about the symbolic debate. But I will leave that for another day.
Because of this, feng shui masters who only practice feng shui according to the ancient text must have experienced awkward moments when their patrons asked them about symbolic feng shui or other schools of thought that were only conceptualized in modern history.
Because they simply don’t have the answers to them!
So in order to communicate clearly to customers, the term classical feng shui was coined to refer to only old-school feng shui.
To put it simply, classical feng shui consist of schools of thought belonging to landscape (form school) or compass school only.
This means that the following types of feng shui are considered classical practices.
- Flying stars (飞星)
- 8 mansions (八宫)
- 64 hexagrams (玄空大卦)
- 3 cycles (三元)
- 3 harmony (三合)
It must also be mentioned that the traditional way of practicing these feng shui concepts tend to combine them with Chinese astrology such as purple star (紫微), bazi (八字), zodiacs, etc.
Practice of classical feng shui in modern times
The irony of feng shui consultants who claim to only practice classical feng shui is that they tend to combine schools of thought for the modern age.
But the ancient way of doing feng shui is to only apply ONE concept for a house.
So by definition, those who claim to only practice classical feng shui for their clients but use more than one feng shui concept are already contradicting themselves.
Moreover, classical text don’t mention anything about skyscrapers enabling people to live in the air, or mega man-made structures that are identified to be able to act as mountains.
So the moment they take on high-rise apartment projects, they are not doing classical feng shui by the book. But actually applying what they understand about classical feng shui to a modern home.
It’s sort of like a Ferrari salesman applying his selling skills to selling insurance. He might be successful in his new line of work, but calling the selling of insurance policies the same as selling of cars is a little far-fetched.
On top of that, the fusion, or the application of various types of feng shui on a dwelling is essential these days because home architecture has become more complex these days.
I find it appalling that feng shui masters are perfectly fine with combining different schools of thought but continue to belittle schools of thought that are cited as “not in classical text”.
For example, symbolic feng shui is taking a bashing in this respect.
But are you going to say that genuine feng shui experts who have been practicing feng shui professionally for 30 years don’t know anything about feng shui as soon as they advocate symbolism?
The truth is that they might have read about classical feng shui more times that we can imagine.
There are many other examples of modern practices of feng shui that cannot be found in classical text that are practiced by masters who claim to only practice classical feng shui.
But that is not the point I’m trying to make.
The fact that there is a fusion of different feng shui concepts is already a clear indication that practitioners are moving forward with the times, yet the continued refusal to acknowledge other types of feng shui that has been practiced for centuries is pure hubris.
It is a demonstration that practitioners are sometimes stuck in the past and refuses to embrace change or new findings.
Sort of like a taxi driver protesting against ride-hailing apps and private car hires.
While I have no doubt about the level of competence classical feng shui masters have, I find that the word “classical” has been overused.
It’s more of a marketing buzz word to carve out a niche, and present an authentic image.
Approach to feng shui
I find that it is perfectly fine for different feng shui concepts to co-exist. And that a real feng shui professional should be able to comprehend different approaches even if they don’t agree with it.
Sometimes it can be very hard to accept something which you don’t believe in or don’t understand.
For example, Einstein was livid when he learned about quantum mechanics as it was not how he pictured the world. But he still acknowledged and accepted it nevertheless.
Even die-hard iPhone fans have to acknowledge that there are various Android phones that are simply amazing.
I would end this by saying that if you are new to feng shui and still have an open mind, don’t stress yourself over what is classical or non-classical feng shui.
Learn everything you can, and apply them when the circumstances are appropriate.
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