Introduction to Feng Shui
by Dave Abbot
When architects design a building, they consider the sunlight, how water drains off the property, and everything else they know of that will affect the building and the people who use it. Feng Shui picks up where the architects leave off, showing us how the earth's chi, or energy enters, circulates within, and leaves the neighborhood, the property, and the building.
The earth is not just a big ball of rock, dirt, water, and vegetation that we happen to live on and use for our convenience. It is a living organism full of living energy. And our connection with the earth is not casual, either. Every atom in every human body, every molecule of air we breathe, every drop of water we drink, our food, our clothing, our buildings and landscapes - all of this comes directly from the earth. So even those of us who do not consciously recognize, understand, or know how to harmonize with it have the most intimate relationship with the earth. When we bring our environment into a wholesome balance with the earth, our lives improve because the earth's chi helps us. The earth wants to help us because we are part of it. Feng Shui may seem foreign to Westerners because it is a different way of thinking and working with nature. But if properly used it is very effective. Feng Shui is common sense; its principles are trans-cultural because the earth's energy is present everywhere on earth.
A long time ago, people drank water out of rivers and gathered food by picking plants and hunting. Because of their close relationship with nature, they were more sensitive to the earth's chi than most people today. Gradually they noticed patterns. They saw that with a hill behind their campsite, people felt more comfortable, had more energy and better relationships, and better luck finding food. In those days, true knowledge was often the difference between living well and barely surviving or dying. Even after the Chinese developed a highly sophisticated culture with large cities, Feng Shui practitioners' freedom, or even their lives, could depend on whether they gave accurate advice to high-ranking rulers. So Feng Shui practitioners had reason to be accurate in those times.
Since those early days, generations of Feng Shui practitioners have contributed to the state of the art. In this short article I will offer an limited introduction to a few of the more popular Feng Shui systems. Although techniques may differ, they all aim to create harmonious, balanced environments.
by David Abbot
More accurately called the Eight Directions School, Eight Mansions is based on the concept that each of the eight directions of the compass - north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest - has a particular chi that has specific effects on people depending on how buildings are oriented with respect to the directions. This school feels that orientation is the most important consideration. They also divide people into eight groups according to a mathematical formula, relating each group to one of the eight directions. Transparencies of the eight directions and the people are laid over a building's floor plan to determine the relationship between building, directions, and people. There are four beneficial directions and four bad directions, so some rooms in each building have good energy and some have bad energy regardless of the shape of the building or the room. The goal of this school is to find a house whose good-energy rooms are the rooms that are important to you, and let the bad-energy rooms be used for less important functions. Each of the eight directions is related to one of the Ba Gua trigrams from the I Ching. The trigrams are superimposed on a floor plan of a house to locate the corners governing different areas of life: wealth, relationships, fame, health, wisdom, career, helpful people, and children. Different schools may associate different directions of the compass with the wealth corner and other corners. Eight Directions says that a plant or a sympathetic magic symbol such as a flute or mirror can be put in a corner to attract or improve one's situation with regard to wealth, relationships, and so on.
by Charlene Weaver
Flying Star Feng Shui, considered to be a complete system, includes time and direction as well as the environment, interior design, and forms. Flying Star requires accurate compass reading, exact construction dates, correct identification of all exterior landforms, and various mathematical and spatial calculations to correctly analyze the structure in question. Additionally, the internal environment must be considered and includes: the shape of the house, general appearance and style, floor plan including the entrance corridors, stairways, position of kitchen, bedrooms and more! The method utilizes nine special influences referred to as "Stars," which are energetic qualities of nature. These Stars reveal visible and invisible influences affecting living environments. The powerful combination of time and direction creates an energy field in a building and while the direction is constant, the time factor changes monthly, yearly and in conjuntion with the nine cycles of the three eras. Additionally, the attributes of the Stars change with the cycles of time. A Star that is favorable in cycle 7 may become unfavorable in cycle 8. The Five Elements are the foundation of Flying Star Feng Shui and hold the key to remedying the unfavorable situations. Extensive training is required to correctly "read the stars."
Black Sect Tantric Buddism
by Charlene Weaver
Grandmaster Professor Lin Yun introduced the ancient art of Feng Shui from the perspective of Black Sect Tantric Buddism to the West in the late 1970's. By incorporating the time proven principles of the Tao, I Ching, Five Elements and chi with modern western knowledge of medicine, physiology, psychology, architecture, ecology, the study of colors, and social sciences, Professor Lin Yun clarified and expanded the ancient Buddist teachings. Black Sect Tantric Buddist Feng Shui differs from the traditional schools in that it uses the architecturally designed front door Ð as opposed to a compass Ð to place the Ba Gua to locate the life situations within the home/business. It also operates on two separate levels, Sying and Yi. Sying encompasses the tangible environmental factors where both interior and exterior design elements are analyzed to determine the condition of the chi and the manner in which it flows through the space in question. Unfavorable conditions are addressed by using the Nine Basic Cures, which include bright or light reflecting objects, sound, and living objects including plants, bonsai, and flowers. Additionally, the use of water features, moving heavy and electrically powered objects, bamboo flutes, and color may be used to alleviate design imperfections and facilitate favorable chi flow. The placement of furnitures within and landscaping elements without are extremely important to a thorough analysis. Yi Ð loosely translated as wish, will, or intention Ð is a vital but intangible piece of the adjustment process. Unique to Black Sect Tantric Buddhist Feng Shui is the ability to adjust personal chi that has been negatively included by inauspicious environmental chi. Use of these techniques, by a trained professional, will most certainly help in creating a balanced and harmonious life.
by David Abbot
This school says that the physical shape of a building, and the buildings and land around it, have more influence over people than the directions of the compass or the year it was built. All physical shapes are passive chi generators. The quantity and quality of the chi put out by a landscape, building, room, or piece of furniture is determined by its physical shape and how it is placed in relation to other nearby shapes. With a little instruction, virtually anyone can personally feel his or her reactions to the energy of shapes. Living plants are often used for cures because the mutually beneficial relationship between plants and people was created over millions of years of natural evolution. Plants take minerals and other nutrients out of the earth and make them bio-available to humans. The energetic corollary of this truth is that plants take raw chi out of the earth, refine it into forms that are more easily used by people, and radiate this refined chi into the space around them. Because most people do not have a lot of money to put into their homes, remodeling is suggested only rarely, and it is usually minor. Adding, subtracting, or rearranging plants, furniture, and/or appliances, and perhaps a bit of landscaping, are usually the only cures needed to make a significant difference. Landform Feng Shui uses a combination of intuitive sensing of energy (Yin) and conscious knowledge of Feng Shui's principles (Yang). This Yin and Yang compliment, balance, restrain, and nourish each other for a good relationship. Very often people choose and arrange their homes and workplaces based on subtle energies they are accustomed to from past relationships, even when those energies affect them in ways they do not like. The Feng Shui practitioner's job is to gently help these people understand how their environment influences them, and how with just a few adjustments, their sleep, health, relationships, and career can improve.
A Practical Feng Shui Example
by David Abbot
Every Landform Feng Shui remedy has a direct energetic relationship with the need it addresses. It brings in abundant, wholesome energy, balanced energy that circulates properly and then leaves to make room for fresh energy, just as it occurs in the human body. When this happens it has nothing to do with wanting to believe or thinking that it is so. You feel the change in the energy and your life changes as a direct result of that change.
Let's look at a typical example: I recently did a consultation for a woman. Every wall in her house was filled with curios, photos, art, antiques, and memorabilia. Putting myself into her situation, I gently said, "I know that each of these things has an important meaning to you."
"Yes, they do," she replied. "You're going to tell me to get rid of them, aren't you?"
"No, I wouldn't do that."
"Well then, what are you going to tell me? Why do I wake up after eight hours of sleep feeling like I haven't slept for weeks?"
"Let's do an experiment," I said. There wasn't any clear wall space, so I had her stand with her nose lightly touching the closet door in her living room. "Tell me what you feel. Not what you think or what you think you should feel, just tell me what you feel."
After a moment she said, "This is weird. My mind feels kind of peaceful."
"OK, now turn around and face into the room, and tell me how you feel."
"I feel as if all of my things are pulling my attention in different directions. My mind feels scattered. I feel nervous."
I smiled at her. "Feng Shui is not about me telling you what to do using impressive-sounding foreign words. Feng Shui is about you and I figuring out how you can feel the way you want to feel, and you can have the life you need to have."
"But I can't get rid of these things."
"Each of these things represents a person or an event that was very important to you," I replied. "But if you had to carry everything that had meaning to you everywhere you went, what would happen?"
"I wouldn't have a life. Besides, I couldn't carry all of these things. I'm not strong enough; it would be too much of a strain."
"Generally speaking, how do you feel these days?"
"I have been under so much strain you wouldn't believe..." She stared at me. "These things that I love are straining on me, aren't they?"
"Unfortunately yes. By keeping your past always in front of your eyes everywhere in your house, you can't rest in the present or focus on your future. This is not a judgment of the importance of the things on your wall. I know that you could pick up each of these things and describe to me the good events that have led you to have a strong mental and emotional association with it."
She looked relieved that I understood her feelings.
"Things are Yin. Having more things on your walls than you can afford to pay attention to makes those things unwholesome Yin, preventing you from resting and sleeping well. Their effect on you is unwholesome simply because you don't have enough energy to carry all of your past in your mind all the time you are in your home. (No one has that much energy.) When you should be resting or sleeping, you can't because your attention and energy are continually divided and captured by your treasures. The unwholesome Yin of too many things prevents you from experiencing the wholesome Yin of sleep and rest."
"You could try a gentle experiment. There's three walls full of things in your living room. You could temporarily take down all of the things on the smallest wall and see how you feel. Just for a week."
To correct a strong energetic imbalance caused by the shape of her house, I planted three inexpensive little trees in a natural pattern in her front yard, and found some rocks to put among them.
Three days later I heard that she had cleared everything off the wall space behind her bed. Several days after that, I heard that her mind was more calm and clear, her energy more focused, and she had an easier time at home and at work. I had previously done a Feng Shui consultation at her workplace at Verizon, where I gave her supervisor and manager a workstation arrangement that enhanced the flow of energy from manager to supervisor to workgroup, and to facilitate cooperation in the workgroup. This worked so well that the manager changed the workgroup budget to buy plants to complete my recommendations for improving workplace Feng Shui.
Feng Shui shows us how people, landscapes, buildings, nature, and the earth can enter into a harmonious resonance, making wonderful music together.
In closing, I want to say that if we memorize lists of rules, we become masters of rules. But if we truly master Feng Shui, we become masters of environmental energies. The whole point of Feng Shui is to intuitively sense the earth's energy as it is expressed in landscapes, homes and offices, to correlate intuition with knowledge of Yin and Yang, to know how to correct the energy, and finally, to clearly see the improvements in people's lives. Statistically speaking, many peoples' situations will improve whether they get a Feng Shui consultation or not, so if a Feng Shui practitioner wants to be taken seriously, at least 85 to 90% of his or her clients' lives should improve significantly as a direct result of implementing the recommended remedies.
Author David Abbot is an Everett-based writer, Feng Shui practitioner, student of Chi Kung, Chinese healing, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, and I Ching. He has also practiced astrology for 26 years.
Author Charlene P. Weaver is a Seattle-based consultant and principal of the Feng Shui Design Group. She is experienced in the practice of several Feng Shui schools.