Feng shui is the knowledge of living environmental design based on the philosophy of living in harmony with nature and regards, qi (chi), the inner energy of nature, as the essence of design.
In ancient times, man followed their instincts seeking “ideal” places to settle and build their dwellings. They sought places that would provide physical security, food and water resources, and fertile land to grow crops. Over time they became aware that this “ideal” place had a consistent landscape pattern. Ancient Chinese further discovered that different land patterns possessed different innate qi energy. They found that the more “ideal” the land pattern, the more qi was present; more qi meant a more nourished living environment.
For over 3,000 years, the Chinese combined these understanding of natural land patterns and qi energy to develop a large body of concrete knowledge of living environmental design. This knowledge and practice is called feng shui.
A Universal Approach to Living
Although it was developed in China, feng shui is in fact the same knowledge that was applied by people in different traditional cultures all over the world throughout history. In modern times, we have grown apart from this simple, common sense approach to life; all our choices easily lead us astray. If we want to blast a tunnel through a mountain or build on a flood plain, we can, but we have lost our instinctual sense of the balance between the human being and the natural world and are often faced with consequences different from those we intended. True feng shui offers a return to this understanding of natural balance as well as methods for applying this ancient wisdom to modern life. Because feng shui is in tune with natural principles that are universal, it rises above religion, belief systems, or cultural differences. Feng shui is open to everyone and universally relevant.
Philosophy, Science, and Art
One way to express the philosophy of feng shui is the saying, “Live in harmony with nature; live in tune with the heart.” This is the core concept of feng shui knowledge. It stresses that human beings are living in the way that is best for them when they are also living in a way that in accord with natural energy that follows the same patterns everywhere.
Feng shui can be regarded as a science, because the knowledge it provides can be verified by experience. It requires no “suspension of disbelief” or faith in magic; rather, the principles can be studied and applied, and the results evaluated to see if they are in accord with what was learned.
Feng shui is also an art. Rather than a rigid collection of rules to be followed, it is a way of seeing a set of tools which can be used in a myriad of ways. It is like the single tree that supports the growth of a hundred different blossoms. Instead of a “paint-by-numbers” kit which defines not only the outline of the picture, but also the locations and boundaries of every individual color, feng shui provides the paint box full of colors to be used according to the individual artist’s choice.
Why is it called feng shui?
Feng (風) means wind and shui (水) means water; these are the two most powerful forces in our planet. They are the most fundamental form of energy; permeating, nourishing, and affecting all living things. Their ever changing flow and physical manifestation in reaching balance, symbolize the basic concept of the search for harmony between humanity and nature. The constant flow of wind and water adequately represent the constant flow of qi energy—the core concept of feng shui design.
Although the knowledge and practice of environmental design began to develop over 3,000 years ago, the use of the term feng shui did not appear until the early 4th century in China. It was taken from the Book of Burial by feng shui master Guo Pu (276 A.D.-324 A.D.). The book states:
“Qi rides with the wind (feng), is dissipated by the wind, and is confined by water (shui). Hence, the ancient people sought places where qi collected and did not dissipate, where its momentum was held by water. This is why this knowledge and practice is called feng shui.”
After this was written, the term feng shui came into use.
How does feng shui relate to us?
While a Buddhist might say, “We are what we think”, a nutritionist may say, “We are what we eat”. But from a feng shui perspective, we say, “We are what we live in”.
We all strive to reside in a living environment that nourishes good health, harmonious relationships, career success, and overall happiness. Feng shui knowledge is a valuable tool, helping us find or design a living environment that will enhance this goal.
Furthermore, the philosophical concept of “living in harmony with nature, in tune with the heart” provides deep insight and guidance for a good and balanced life for both individuals and society.