Feng shui (风水) is an ancient metaphysical science practiced by the Chinese to live in harmony with the environment and the intangible forces that accompany it.
Despite popular associations, it is neither a religion nor superstition.
If anything, it is an art of living that is more associated with zen and new-age movements that are gaining more public attention in the modern world.
The biggest difference between feng shui and the many other types of metaphysics (eastern and western) in practice is that there is a very clear background of origins and history behind it’s conception and evolution.
Just reading one of the classics of feng shui text, one would realize how serious this subject was in the past as even the greatest minds had invested so much time into the study of feng shui.
Even though feng shui is a subject defined with huge breadth by itself, it is but just one of the subsets in the big picture of Chinese metaphysics described in the 5 arts.
Fundamentals of feng shui
There are some key concepts of feng shui practice that sets the perimeters of application in almost every macro or micro situation.
The essence of feng shui is basically down to achieving these ultimate goals or living in sync with these guidelines.
Chi (气) is the mandarin word that is a reference to energy.
As energy moves about in the external and internal environment, it is influenced by the the presence of structures in it’s way.
Some of these structures emit their own good or bad forces of energy, which can dynamically alter the nature of the chi in that space and the space surrounding it.
As such, it affects the lives of people around them.
After all, everything in the universe is made up of energy. Even us.
Yin and yang
The essence of the concept of yin and yang is that balance has to be present in everything tangible and intangible.
For example, every masculine being would also have feminine traits within and every feminine being would have masculine traits as well. Every bad intention has some good in it, and every good intention has some sin in it. And every strength is a weakness, and every weakness is a strength. etc.
Even chi has yin and yang attributes. Which forms the basis of various ideas on feng shui.
Energy is centered around 5 elements. And the interaction of the 5 elements determines how energy forces interact with each other.
The 5 elements are:
Competent practice of feng shui requires an in-depth understanding of the 5 elements, which include their traits and interaction. This can be further broken down into the study of ganzhi which describes the heavenly stems and earthly branches.
Seasons play a prominent role in determining the strength of elements. This is especially important in the analysis of bazi.
What is the practice of feng shui used for?
The art of feng shui is mostly used today in the design of buildings and planning of layouts.
When a building for example, is located in a hostile environment, then feng shui can help the building defend itself from being harmed by aggressive forces. Or when it is surrounded by auspicious energy, feng shui helps the building draw from it more efficiently.
This can impact the different aspects of life experienced by residents in the building.
It must be added that there are various schools of thought in feng shui. And some of them can be contrastingly different in principle.
But they are all meant to achieve the same objectives of living in harmony with the environment, and enhancing life aspects.
The modern feng shui master often makes it a point to practice feng shui that adheres to the different perimeters set by different feng shui concepts.
Other that property feng shui which is applied to real estate, personal feng shui applies feng shui on an individual basis.