Category Archives: Ying-Yang

Dr Hsu Fengshui Talk 8

Dr Hsu Feng Shui Talk
#8: What is the Ideal Size for a Human Dwelling?

Talks on Feng Shui with Dr. Hsu

8: What is the Ideal Size for a Human Dwelling?

Natural laws (Yin-Yang theory and Five Element theory) are the foundation of Feng Shui. According to Yin-Yang theory, balance creates harmony. Therefore, in nature, a place with both mountains (Yin) and water (Yang) is the ideal.

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Climax is Only Half Way of the Journey

In the Yin Yang theory, everything – every process, every transformation, and every object – has both a Yin and a Yang aspect. The Yin and Yang energy roles represent different qualities: Yang energy manifests outwardly, and tends to be aggressive, dynamic, initiating and expansive. Yin energy reflects inward, and tends to be subtle, responsive, unseen and withdrawing.

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Apple, the FBI, and the Five Element Theory

The FBI’s war against Apple’s strong iPhone encryption has recently been much discussed in the United States. The FBI ruled that Apple must help to see what’s on an iPhone that belonged to one of the shooters involved in the mass killings in San Bernadino, California.

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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


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

The Feng Shui Prospective of 9-11 Memorial Park

Ten years in the making, the National September 11 Memorial was completed and opened to the public on September 12, 2011.  The eight-acre park was designed by Israeli- American, Michael Arad of Handle Architects, a New York and San Francisco firm.  The Memorial is composed of a forest of swamp white oak trees with two square pools, one on each of the original foot prints of the North and South Towers.  The core of the design is a 30-foot man-made wall of water that hugs the sides of the one-acre reflecting pools. The downward-streaming water is meant to symbolize falling tears.

The purpose of the memorial was to commemorate those who died in the September 11 terrorist attack, and those involved in the rescue work, and to provide a place for the families of the victims to be reminded of the loss they suffered and for continue grieving.  It is also intended as a reminder that we should remain vigilant against the threat of another attack, and also to show the world the American spirit:  that we may be destroyed, but we can rebuild.

People with a basic understanding of how energy works know very well that to hang onto past tragedy serves only to perpetuate the negative energy, and continue to be consumed by it. A memorial park should be more than merely a place of remembrance:  it should lead in a positive direction.  It should inspire, by conjuring up a positive image, like the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.   Even the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery inspires people by commemorating heroic acts and sacrifices for good causes.

Most who died on 9-11 were just victims, caught up in an event they did not choose.  In this, they were not much different than millions of innocent civilians who have died in wars all over the world.  Although it may be appropriate to have a reminder of tragedy and grief, the reminder should also lead to a symbol of hope for peace and celebration of life.

A wrong concept always leads to wrong manifestation. Not surprisingly, from a feng shui point of view, the design of the 9-11 Memorial fails badly on all three levels:  informational, chi energy and physical manifestation.

Instead of creating a Yang, upward and positive energy, the design reflects a Yin, downward and negative energy.  If we wish to show an American spirit that can rise up after being destroyed, we should build something that moves upward, above the ground, rather than something that sinks 30 feet below ground.  In fact, when the “Reflecting Absence” design was first selected from among the 8 finalists, relatives of the victims gathered with other concerned citizens to protest the choice.  They too thought that the memorial should be built above the ground.  Despite this, many politicians hailed the creativity and thoughtfulness of the design, and the chosen design prevailed.  From a feng shui perspective, both the designer and the decision panel had either lost touch with common sense, or had somehow developed a much disoriented mind set.

The most significant feature of the design is the waterfall.  From a feng shui perspective, a body of water metaphorically represents money and wealth. The 52,000 gallons of water per minute, rushes into the center dark pit, symbolizes that money is continuously going down to the drain.  This is especially so since it is in the center of New York City, the financial center of USA, at the site of the World Trade Center buildings that were a major part of that financial nexus.  On both the information and energy levels, this reflects not only the current state of affairs, but also the days to come.  Even more, the treasured survival tree is a non-fruit bearing pear tree that was rescued from the World Trade Center grounds  — a further suggestion of the infertility of hopes for economic recovery in the years to come.

As a tourist attraction, what can it offer tourists?  What can a tourist expect to take away from this?  Only sad memories of the event, and the tears of the victims’ families?  It literally is a depressed place and a depressing place. What incentive would tourists have to visit?

An additional irony is that, in the midst of the financial crisis, the US government spent 500 million for the project.  And, coincidentally or not, within a week after the National September 11 Memorial opened to the public, the Occupy Wall Street movement began.