A HISTORICAL LOOK INTO FENG SHUI

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A HISTORICAL LOOK INTO FENG SHUI

The Eight Life Aspirations style of Feng shui is a simple system which coordinates each of the eight cardinal directions with a specific life aspiration or station such as family, wealth, fame, etc., which come from the Bagua of the eight aspirations. Life Aspirations is not otherwise a geomantic system.

The Black Sect Tantric Buddhism Feng Shui was introduced in America in the 1970s. Black Sect is a religion that goes beyond Feng shui to include elements of transcendentalism, Taoism, and Tibetan Buddhism. Black Sect is concerned mainly with the interior of a building. Instead of orienting the bagua to the compass, it is oriented to the entryway. Each of the eight sectors represents a particular area of one’s life.

Landscape ecologists often find traditional Feng shui an interesting study. In many cases, the only remaining patches of old forest in Asia are “Feng shui woods”, associated with cultural heritage, historical continuity, and the preservation of various flora and fauna species. Some researchers interpret the presence of these woods as indicators that the “healthy homes”, sustainability and environmental components of ancient Feng shui should not be easily dismissed.

Environmental scientists and landscape architects have researched traditional Feng shui and its methodologies.

Architects study Feng shui as an ancient and uniquely Asian architectural tradition.

Geographers have analyzed the techniques and methods to help locate historical sites in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and archaeological sites in the American Southwest, concluding that ancient Native Americans also considered astronomy and landscape features.

Traditional Feng shui relies upon the compass to give accurate readings. However, critics point out that the compass degrees are often inaccurate as fluctuations caused by solar winds have the ability to greatly disturb the electromagnetic field of the earth. Determining a property or site location based upon Magnetic North will result in inaccuracies because true magnetic north fluctuates.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Feng shui was officially considered a “feudalistic superstitious practice” and a “social evil” according to the state’s ideology and was discouraged and even banned outright at times.   Feng shui remained popular in Hong Kong, as well as in the Republic of China (Taiwan), where traditional culture was not suppressed.

Persecution was the most severe during the Cultural Revolution, when Feng shui was classified as a custom under the so-called Four Olds to be wiped out. Feng shui practitioners were beaten and abused by Red Guards and their works burned. After the death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution, the official attitude became more tolerant but restrictions on Feng shui practice are still in place in today’s China. It is illegal in the PRC today to register Feng shui consultation as a business and similarly advertising Feng shui practice is banned. There have been frequent crackdowns on Feng shui practitioners on the grounds of “promoting feudalistic superstitions” such as one in Qingdao in early 2006 when the city’s business and industrial administration office shut down an art gallery converted into a Feng shui practice. Some communist officials who had previously consulted Feng shui were terminated and expelled from the Communist Party.

Partly because of the Cultural Revolution, in today’s mainland China less than one-third of the population believe in Feng shui, and the proportion of believers among young urban Chinese is said to be much lower Learning Feng shui is still somewhat considered taboo in today’s China. Nevertheless, it is reported that Feng shui has gained adherents among Communist Party officials according to a BBC Chinese news commentary in 2006, and since the beginning of Chinese economic reforms the number of Feng shui practitioners are increasing. A number of Chinese academics permitted to research on the subject of Feng shui are anthropologists or architects by profession, studying the history of Feng shui or historical Feng shui theories behind the design of heritage buildings, such as Cao Dafeng, the Vice-President of Fudan University, and Liu Shenghuan of Tongji University.

Westerners were criticized at the start of the anti-Western Boxer Rebellion for violating the basic principles of Feng shui in the construction of railroads and other conspicuous public structures throughout China. However, today, Feng shui is practiced not only by the Chinese, but also by Westerners and still criticized by Christians around the world. Many modern Christians have an opinion of Feng shui similar to that of their predecessors.

It is entirely inconsistent with Christianity to believe that harmony and balance result from the manipulation and channeling of nonphysical forces or energies, or that such can be done by means of the proper placement of physical objects. Such techniques, in fact, belong to the world of sorcery.

Still others are simply skeptical of Feng shui. Evidence for its effectiveness is based primarily upon anecdote and users are often offered conflicting advice from different practitioners. Feng shui practitioners use these differences as evidence of variations in practice or different schools of thought. Critical analysts have described it thus: “Feng shui has always been based upon mere guesswork”. Some are skeptical of Feng shui’s lasting impact.   Feng shui has become an aspect of interior decorating in the Western world and alleged masters of Feng shui now hire themselves out for hefty sums to tell people such as Donald Trump which way his doors and other things should hang. Feng shui has also become another New Age “energy” scam with arrays of metaphysical products…offered for sale to help you improve your health, maximize your potential, and guarantee fulfillment of some fortune cookie philosophy.

Others have noted how, when Feng shui is not applied properly, it can even harm the environment, such as was the case of people planting “lucky bamboo” in ecosystems that could not handle them.

Feng shui practitioners in China find superstitious and corrupt officials easy prey, despite official disapproval. In one instance, in 2009, Feng shui practitioners gulled county officials in Gansu into hauling a 369-ton “spirit rock” to the county seat to ward off “bad luck.”

Modern Feng shui may have connotations of being a superstitious scam, which arose from improper usage and scams by New Age practitioners, but is not always looked at as a superstitious scam. Many Asians, especially people of Chinese descent, believe it is important to live a prosperous and healthy life as evident by the popularity of Fu Lu Shou in the Chinese communities. Many of the higher-level forms of Feng shui are not easily practiced without having connections in the community or a certain amount of wealth because hiring an expert, altering architecture or design, and moving from place to place requires a significant financial output. This leads some people of the lower classes to lose faith in Feng shui, saying that it is only a game for the wealthy. Others, however, practice less expensive forms of Feng shui, including hanging special (but cheap) mirrors, forks, or woks in doorways to deflect negative energy.

In recent years a new brand of easier-to-implement DIY Feng Shui known as Symbolic Feng Shui is being practiced by Feng Shui enthusiasts. It entails placements of auspicious (and preferably aesthetically pleasing) Five Element objects, such as Money God and tortoise, at various locations of the house so as to achieve a pleasing and substitute-alternative Productive-Cycle environment if a good natural environment is not already present or is too expensive to build and implement.

Feng shui is so important to some strong believers, that they use it for healing purposes (although there is no empirical evidence that this practice is in any way effective) in addition to guide their businesses and create a peaceful atmosphere in their homes. In 2005, even Disney acknowledged Feng shui as an important part of Chinese culture by shifting the main gate to Hong Kong Disneyland by twelve degrees in their building plans, among many other actions suggested by the master planner of architecture and design at Walt Disney Imagineering, Wing Chao, in an effort to incorporate local culture into the theme park.

 

Kathy Kiefer

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