Fengshui talk with Dr. Hsu, Jenny, Taras & Justin via Zoom on May 12, 2020. All Zoom talks and Q&A sessions with Master Hsu you can watch here.
In 1990, I participated in the first Water Symposium held in Washington State (in the US). About sixty scientists and inventors participated in a discussion of the question, “What is good water?”
Most people approached this from the point of view of physics: they talked about the pH, oxygen content, molecular size, purity, conductivity, surface tension, and so on. These are all things that can be measured and put into numbers.
What is beauty? What is the experience of beauty?
Philosophers, both in the East and West, have tried to address this subject: in the West, Plato and Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Hegel; in the East, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Chuang Tzu, and more recently Cai Yanpei, Wang Guowei, and Zhu Guangqian.
We used to discuss what is beauty? – the subjective and objective sides of beauty, and the combination of both.
Regardless of the philosophy of the issue, we have to admit that pure art and architectural art are very different from each other. For one thing, architecture is a very complicated art form, because it has elements of many arts combined in it. But more important is how architecture relates to the public.
In earlier postings we mentioned the Four Features of Feng Shui, and that they apply at any scale, from the largest to the smallest.
Some readers have pointed out that many Feng Shui books talk about Five Features – and that the fifth is orientation.
In fact, that fifth feature came along much later, when people tried to apply astrological ideas to Feng Shui. This was the beginning of what we now call the Cosmological School.
To be in harmony with nature is a popular ideal, especially in light of the increasingly popular environmental movement.
In fact, when Blue Mountain Institute was founded, we used “In harmony with nature, in tune with the heart” as the motto of the Institute. But what is in harmony with nature? And how can this harmony be achieved?
In earlier postings, we’ve said that Natural Law was one of the main pillars of Feng Shui. Natural Law consists of the Yin-Yang theory and Five Element theory.
Even though the Five Element theory is concerned with dynamic transformation, the mechanisms of change, it is still associated with specific things: colors, forms, seasons, and so on. And Feng Shui is basically about form.
Feng Shui does involve some common household items. But these items are generally not a major concern in Feng Shui. Nevertheless, one of these items has become famous – or notorious: the mirror.
In an earlier article, we said that everything in the universe is composed of Chi. It has matter, Chi energy, and information (consciousness or thought). These three aspects exist together.
Chi energy can be recognized through form, that is, the material manifestation. Different forms manifest different Chi. When the form is wholesome, the Chi is wholesome.
Let’s look at the following drawings.
In the first row, the forms are wholesome: when we look at it, we feel comfortable.
In the second row, the forms are distorted rather than wholesome: it creates a less comfortable feeling.
This is also true in architecture. Let’s look at the following two buildings.
The first is pleasing to the eye; the second is strange.
These different forms manifest different Chi, and transmit different information. The impact on the people who live in these buildings is also different.
In China, there is a long tradition of face-reading practice and has amassed a great body of knowledge. In ancient times, the Emperor usually cultivated the skill of face-reading. The great Qin Dynasty general, Zhen Guofan even wrote a face-reading book called Bing Jian.
Face-reading basically looks at the form of the facial features and assesses their character and personality. It also reads if a person will be rich or poor, noble or ordinary and so on.
In the same way, we can look at the “personality” of a house or building. Basically, we try to personify that building, and look at it as though it were a human. It then becomes possible to gain a sense of the personality of the building – cocky or humble, friendly or hospital, melancholy or lively. Just by looking at the outside, one can get a sense of the inside. When the outside is not good, one can be sure that there are problems inside as well. It might not provide full information, but it can provide basic clues about its nature.
So: we can read a house as we read a face. The secret is to take the house as a person, and then we can recognize who it is that we are looking at.