Tag Archives: feng shui

Personal Level Feng Shui

lotusWe often think of Feng Shui in terms of the environment, what is outside and around us.  Even though we may be aware that Feng Shui applies to every level of manifestation, from the smallest to the largest, it is still easy to miss a very important application that is very close to home, each and every person.

Let’s think this through.  The two pillars of Form School Feng Shui are Natural Laws and Chi.  The basic model for Form School design and analysis is the Four Feature Model.  In this model, the core features are called, Mountain, Guardian Hills, Energy Spot, and Water.  These four features are metaphors for Support, Protection, Growth and Expansion.  Any place w these four features manifest in an energetic and balanced way will have good energy that can nourish a good life.

These four features, when interpreted in terms of the qualities they represent, also indicate the qualities required for any successful human endeavor.  For example, a successful business venture will require the following: financial support of a bank or investors as well as the beneficial government policy (Mountain), the legal protection to safeguard against any mistake in operations (Guardian Hills), a good place for growth (Energy Spot), and a vast territory for expansion (Water).

But these features don’t just apply to our activities.  They apply to us, every person. In other words, they tell us something about what makes an ideal person.  The Mountain is the physical body, the necessary support for all activities. The Energy spot is the heart:  love and compassion are central to a good life.  The Guardian Hills are work and achievements, which provide sustenance and support.  A good heart without work and effective action is like a bird without wings.  The Water feature is the goal and purpose of life, which allows for forward and outward expansion.

In other words, ideally a person has a loving and compassionate heart; maintains a strong and healthy body, works well and diligently, and lives a meaningful life following some guiding goal.

Feng Shui is a guide to finding a place that has good energy and nourishes one’s life.  But it is also a guide to something even closer:  how to become the person that will live that life.

 

The Mirror as a Teacher

Mirrors are common household items. They are used for dressing, for reflecting more light and for creating the feeling of a larger space. But mirrors also have negative aspects.

Mirrors can create false images and incite chaos and conflict. For example, a bedroom with mirrored closets often creates insomnia. Also, have you ever noticed that if you talk with a friend while sitting next to a full mirrored wall, the discussion often turns into an argument?

Mirrors have become feng shui gadgets. Some feng shui schools claim that mirrors can deflect bad energy, draw good energy, and can even create an invisible opening when hidden inside a wall. These are just some of the few examples that some claim are the powers of mirrors. For the past few decades, as feng shui gained popularity in the United States, many have come to see mirrors as the aspirin of feng shui, possessing the ability to take care of all issues.

A mirror is a very ordinary object. However, there is much to be learned from it.

Mirrors have been used as a metaphor in many ancient teachings. The best known example in China is an event in Zen history. When the Fifth Patriarch was about to pass on the transmission, he asked all his disciples to present their understanding. The head teacher, Shen Xiu, wrote: “Our body is a Boddhi [wisdom] tree, our heart is a mirror, dusting it diligently daily, does not allow it to be covered by any dust.”

Hui Nen, a monk, working in kitchen, who did not know how to read and write, asked a fellow monk to write and present his understanding: “The Boddhi has no tree, the mirror has no platform, if there is nothing to begin with, how can dust rest anywhere.” With this understanding, He received the transmission and became the Sixth Patriarch.

A mirror reflects what is in front of it. When that disappears, the reflection also disappears. The lesson here is, when something comes, reflect and respond to it; when it leaves, do not hold on to it. Live in the moment, not in grasping after the past or future.

When people stand in front of a mirror, it reflects them. When a king stands before a mirror, it reflects the king. When a beggar stands before a mirror, it reflects the beggar. There is no discrimination. A king does not receive more, nor does an ordinary person receive less. A reflection is just a reflection. No matter who comes to you, then, you should treat them equally.

When a mirror reflects a color, the mirror does not change. The mirror maintains its original nature. As a person, regardless of how things change, one does not change oneself.

A mirror, an ordinary object, can be a great teacher. Isn’t that also true for all things around us? If we pay attention to ordinary things, situations and events, how much additional insight can we gain?

Shan-tung Hsu
Blue Mountain Institute

Square Table vs. Round Table

Is it better to have a round or square dining table?” In feng shui consultations, this is a frequently asked question. Naturally, which is better has a lot to do with the space; the surrounding furniture, the family structure, and the setting one is trying to create.

In consideration of any work, we always begin with the fundamental principles of yin and yang. What is dynamic and mobile is yang, while what is static and stable is yin. Hence, round shapes are yang and square or rectangular shapes are yin.

In applying Yin-Yang Principles, there are two considerations: Resonance and Balance.

According to the Principle of Resonance, if you are trying to create a yang environment you would use a round table. For a yin environment, you would use a square table.

In China, round dining tables are favored, while in the West, rectangular tables are more common. At a Chinese party, everything takes place around the dining table during dinner. This can be seen through the dynamic communal eating, the shared lazy susan, the host serving everyone and trying to push guests to eat more; people trying to out-drink each other, and everybody talking to everybody. This loud and lively event is very dynamic, very yang. A round table resonates with this situation, and it makes sense to use one.

In the West, a party begins with formal dining. People sit around a rectangular table, converse quietly with those who are immediately nearby, rather than with the whole table. More often, one helps themselves to food rather than being served. The atmosphere is more formal and calm, more yin. This resonates with the energy of a rectangular table. Funnily enough, Chinese parties often end when dinner is over, while Western parties begin when dinner is over.

For a small dining area, for efficient use of space, if the table has to rest against a solid wall, it’s better to use a square table and push one end against the wall. Since round tables resonate with yang energy, they are used in more open spaces. A square/rectangular table is more stable and calm, and good for long conversations. A round table provides a more dynamic atmosphere, and is better for fast chitchat. If you want your visitors to stay long, sit around a square table, otherwise, use a round table.

The shape of the table should also be taken into consideration when operating a business. Understanding resonance with space is important for business. For example, in a fast food restaurant, it’s good to use more yang features. These include more round and circular forms, as well as open and bright spaces. These yang characteristics affect people to eat quickly and leave quickly. On the other hand, for fine dining, people often wish to take their time to enjoy the food and conversation. In these situations, it is better to use more yin features, such as rectangular tables and dim light.

Balance is the other principle one must consider. It refers to the balance of yin and yang. In this situation we mean the balance of round and square tables. Even for a fast food restaurant, if all tables are round, the quality of the place becomes too yang, which is not ideal. Similarly, in a fancy dining setting, an excessively yin quality means that there is not enough flow in the setting.

Coffee shops like Starbucks use a lot of small round tables because they have solo customers in mind. With this type of set-up, there doesn’t seem to be any “empty” seats. Also, those having coffee alone don’t feel—or appear to be — lonely.

In environmental psychology, the round table is much more comfortable and informal for individuals, as well as groups of people, to sit at,” says Starbucks executive Rubinfeld. However, this is not necessarily true. It very much depends on why people are sitting there. Too many round tables could be excessively yang, and incite a restless, unstable feeling. If all tables in the room were round, the atmosphere will be very dynamic, but chaotic. Any sense of restfulness or comfort will be missing.

The key is balance, the balance of yin and yang. Whether a design should be weighted more in the yin or yang direction, is based on the nature of the business. But it should never be extreme. A restaurant may want to try to provide a comfortable atmosphere, but not so much that customers feel so relaxed and comfortable that they hang around forever.

The shape of a table is not only important for dining, it is also important for a business office. It affects efficiency and creativity.

Once I was invited to consult with an airplane company about the design of its new headquarters. I recommended using more yang features, such as round tables and more windows for spaces designated more for discussion and brain storming. For spaces designated for formal discussions, ceremonies, and signing of contracts, I recommended using rectangular tables and having fewer windows.

In summary, in any design, it is important to follow the highest guiding principles of Resonance and Balance with yin and yang.. And remember, the precise application of these principles depends on the effect one is trying to achieve.

Shan-tung Hsu
Blue Mountain Institute
shantunghsu@gmail.com

 

Flag of Ukraine

map of Ukraine

The recent unrest in Ukraine over its president Viktor Yanukovish backing out of a trade deal with the European Union, prompted one of my students in Kiev, to ask me about the national flag of Ukraine. How does the flag of Ukraine reflect the fate of the country? The flag is composed two equal sized blue and yellow bands. Originally, yellow on the top, now it is reversed and blue sits on top. Does this make any difference?

As we know, any successful company in the world has a good logo; such as, Apple computer, Facebook, Google, Nike, Mercedes Benz, and Twitter, to name a few. Likewise, any strong country in the world has a good flag design.

The most common national flag design is the combination of colored bands in either a horizontal pattern (German, Russia, and Netherlands) or vertical pattern (France, and Italy). Flags could also have different design patterns such as the flag of USA, England, China and Japan.

Good design is reflected by the color combination and the form of the pattern. For the flag with color bands, ideally it should have a three-color combination such as the flags of Germany (black, red, yellow), France and Russia (blue, white, red), and Italy (green, white, red). If there are only two colors, it should have three bands such as the Austrian and Canadian flags. Three (either color or band) represents a Yang number with more dynamic energy. Two (color and band) is a yin number. It is static and has less momentum such as flags of Libya, Monaco, Poland, and Indonesia. (Indonesia, in spite of its largest population and big territory, does not play any important role in the world stage).

Ukraine’s national flag of blue and yellow was officially adopted for the first time in 1918 by a short lived Ukraine People’s Republic and then was restored in 1992. There were times when yellow was on the top and blue was on the bottom. There are some who argue that maybe it’s better to have yellow on top instead of blue. The real issue is that it has two-colors and two-bands. Both are Yin in number (even number), and the lack of Yang energy from the numerology in the flag reflects stagnation, conflict, and indecision for the fate of the country.

Good design follows Natural Laws; Yin Yang Theory and Five Element Theory. From the Five Element theory point of view, Blue (Wood element) and Yellow (Earth element) are in direct conflict. What is more, even though Wood controls Earth, the light blue is a weak Wood, which means it does not have a strong control over Earth. This reflects stagnation and indecision. Also, from a Yin-Yang theory point of view, Blue is a yin color, Yellow is a neutral color, thus the flag energy also leans more toward yin. The flag of strong and rich countries such as USA, China, Russia, Japan, German, France, Italy, Netherland, and Canada all have the color red, the Yang color, in their national flag.

Ideally, Ukraine should add a Yang element in its flag. This can be done by simply adding a red band to the flag. If there is a concern of being too similar with other countries, it can also consider inserting an emblem, of which reflects the historical and cultural identity in the center of flag to bridge the Blue and Yellow colors. But make the blue, a darker blue for strength.

To change a national flag is not an easy task. It will require much national debate. However, all manifestations begin with a simple thought of a simple person. Time will come when people’s energy will change, to a stronger energy and inspire the change of the flag, for the better future of the country.

Shan-Tung Hsu, Ph. D.
Blue Mountain Institute
Seattle, Washington USA
shantunghsu@gmail.com

A Country of Miracles

There is a country with a land size of 35,900 Km square, 0.37 % of USA. It has a population of 23 million (7.35% USA). This country has no oil, iron, coal, gold, or mineral deposit, nor does it have any other noticeable natural resources.
Yet this country has accomplished:

GDP per capita: $37,000 (USA $49.800)
Foreign Reserve: 408 billion. It ranks No. 6 in the world, next to China, Japan, European Union, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

Electronic Industry: rank No. 4
Steel industry: No. 4
Petro-chemical Industry: No.4
Import/export Volume: No. 12
Mass transit quality: No.5
Literacy rate: > 96%
Health Care service quality: No. 5

National Health Insurance is administrated by the Ministry of Health, and has a population coverage of 100%. The average premium is around $30 per month and there is easy access to very good health care service. Its per capita health expenditure is $750 (less than 1/10 of USA)
Literacy rate: >96%
The cost of water, electricity, gasoline, school tuition, tax rate are among the lowest in the world.
Political system: Democratic, with strong opposition political party.
Religious/worship areas: one for every 1,500 of the population.
It’s amazing! Isn’t it?
So, what is this country?
–Taiwan (Republic of China)
Pay a visit to this beautiful island. Enjoy the picturesque landscape, friendly people, most abundant variety of fruit and vegetables, and the best of Chinese food.
Shan-Tung Hsu
Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute
Shantunghsu@gmail.com
206-523-3946