Looking Beyond Visible Manifestation
When we talk about manifestation, we mean the visible shapes and forms that indicate the presence or existence of things in the physical world. But according to Chinese metaphysics, all manifestation derives from a higher level of essence, known as Chi in China and by other names in other cultures. We can observe the many forms that are the manifestation of chi. But how can we learn to see beyond the visible manifestation to the chi itself, the invisible energy patterns from which all shapes and forms derive? This is one aspect of the study of traditional Feng Shui principles.
According to traditional Chinese metaphysics and Feng Shui, human beings live between Heaven and Earth, nourished by Yang and Yin energies. The Yang energies of Heaven come downward from above, manifesting as sunshine, rain and so on. The Yin energies of Earth rise upward from below, manifesting as food, water and other nourishment. Heaven (Yang) energy implies expansion; Earth (Yin) energy implies connection, coagulation, cooperation and nourishment. When there is balance between Yin and Yang, there will be good chi. In turn, good and abundant chi nourishes abundant and wholesome life: prosperity, peace, harmony and so on, for the land and the people.
Can we apply this Feng Shui approach to understanding why some parts of the world tend to have more conflict than others, for example places like the Balkans, Israel or Colombia? From the point of view of manifestation, there are many explanations, including historical, economic, religious and/or racial factors. These factors are interwoven in such a complex manner that it is very hard to get a clear picture. But if we look beyond the point of view of manifestation and see from the point of view of chi energy, we may get a more fundamental picture of what is happening.
Without enough Earth (Yin) energy to balance the expanding Heaven (Yang) energy, there will be poor chi, leading to conflict and strife. What is the most powerful manifestation of Earth (Yin) energy? It is trees, and especially trees accumulated into forests. This is why many areas of continuing or particularly bitter strife are those which are desert, or unforested mountainous regions or areas in which forests have recently been depleted, often at an alarmingly rapid pace. On a larger scale, there is a positive correlation, in modern history, between the overall depletion of natural forests and the general level of strife and chaos in the world. This imbalance of the Yin and Yang energies is the fundamental source of the problem.
When we try to solve these problems on the level of physical manifestation, the solutions tend to be incomplete, or even to cause new problems, because our understanding of the problem is fragmented and incomplete. Efforts in the arenas of politics, economics or other specialized spheres will never be able to solve these problems at the root. The solution is to increase the nourishing Yin energy, so that there will be energy for cooperation and support. The best way to do this is to begin planting trees and establishing (or re-establishing) forests in all these troubled areas. In the meantime, where forests are abundant, water will be abundant. And water to the planet is like blood to the human body – our most essential nourishment.
We find another example of this need to look beyond manifestation in architecture and design, where people have long debated the question of whether form (yin) or function (yang) is more important. But both are clearly part of the world of manifestation. When we look beyond manifestation to the level of chi, in terms of the balance of Yin and Yang energies, there is no conflict between form and function. Both are present simultaneously, and contribute to a balanced wholesome structure.
In the same way, people often talk about having to make a trade off between aesthetics and efficiency, as though an increase in one would require a decrease in the other. But from the point of view of chi, in the Feng Shui model, good design means design according to the principles of Yin and Yang balance. Thus any building designed according to Feng Shui principles should be simultaneously economical, functional and beautiful. This is why it is vitally important to learn to see things from the level of chi energy.
Our view of physical manifestation at any level – a country, a building, a room – is fragmented and limited, and this keeps us from achieving a unified understanding of the situation. When we learn to see something beyond its physical manifestation, we are able to see the correct way to balance the yin and yang energies at their source and create a sustainable solution. This is why, in every type of human endeavor or interaction, it is important to seek for a higher-order understanding of the problem. Only thus can we achieve a higher-order, integral solution.