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Feng Shui: An Introduction to Good Luck.
I. What I Know, Assume or Imagine
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking of a topic for this I-Search Paper, but I didn’t really know what I want to do except that I want to do something unique, something that will surprise the readers, something that has not been done before. I came up with two possible topics: landscape designing and origami. After couple more days of dilemma, I ended up doing landscape designing because I have always been interested in that field of career. So my research began. I first look up general information about landscape designing on the internet, that was no problem, but when I search in the library for some books, I ran across a problem. I only found one passй book, and I wasn’t sure that the informations are current. I looked through it anyway, though, and that was when I came across the word feng shui. I remember hearing about it when I was younger, but I didn’t know much about it. From what I knew, feng shui involves certain arrangement of furniture in the house and supposedly good arrangement will increases good lucks for people who live in the house. Since I want to do something unique, and landscape design isn’t too unique in my opinion, I decided to change my topic to feng shui.
As I mentioned, I heard of feng shui before. Feng shui is quite common in Thailand, where I grew up. There’re a lot of Chinese in Thailand, and they contributed feng shui into Thai’s cultures. Although I’m not Chinese, I was taught by my grandmother of some basic principles of feng shui. I was taught not to buy a home at cul-de-sac, not to place the bed in direct line to the door, and not to place study desk back to the door. To tell you the truth, I believe in these things because it does make a lot of sense. When you come to think of it, if you place your study desk back to the door, you won’t be able to see who’s coming in which can be very dangerous and can even create paranoid which effects mental health.
Since the concept of feng shui is very complicated, and it takes years of study to become an expert in this subject, I decided to research its meaning, how it came about, and basic principles that made up feng shui rather than the whole details which would takes years.
II. The Search
There are some evidences that lead to believe that feng shui might be as old as six thousands years old. In 1998, the grave that is as old as 4000 BC was found in Henan, China. “It is oriented facing south, with rounded head (symbolic of t’ien, Heaven or the sky). The northern end of the grave is square (symbolic to ti, Earth). On the eastern side there is an image of a dragon, with an image of a tiger on the west, representing two of the four celestial Animals of feng shui. The constellation the Big Dipper (very significant in Chinese astrology and also in feng shui) is traced out at the center of the grave. (6;50) Although this discovery might not prove that feng shui was as old as the grave, the concept of feng shui was recorded in the famous Trigrams of the I Ching, which date back to 2800 BC.
So what exactly is feng shui? Well, feng shui is “the study of energy, harmony, balance and placement in building design. The focus is on arranging one’s life in accordance with the forces of the universe.” (3) Feeling lost? Let try this. Feng shui is basically the art of placements and arrangements of your homes, offices, and even graves. “Feng Shui lets you make your own “luck.”” (1) There are three types of “luck.” Heaven Luck is the “horoscope” you were born with; Man Luck is your own responsibility; and Earth Luck that involves with feng shui. (6;35) By practicing proper feng shui, you can improve your Earth Luck.
Feng shui is about interpreting environments around us, and making sure that everything balanced out. The word feng means wind, and shui means water. This gives us a “hint” that this subject has something to do with the nature. We know that both water and air are fluids, so “flow” is part of the meaning of feng shui. Also, air and water, are absolutely crucial to life which symbolizes the important of feng shui. (6;24)
To really understand Feng Shui, there are few concepts that needed to be point out. One is ch’i. It is the energy or the cosmic “breath of life,” a force that is stifled when a person’s surroundings are out of balance. “It’s the most important aspect of feng shui, which is a process of improving Ch’i or curing or improving bad Ch’i.” (5) The Way, or the Tao is the philosophy of which underlies feng shui. “It shows how to order our lives to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and the natural world.” (4;12) Another concept that is quite well known in the west is Yin and Yang, but just in case you don’t know what they mean, Yin and Yang are basically a positive and a negative forces that act together in order to create energy. Think of a battery, one size is positive, another is negative. “Yin and Yang are the two dualities in nature that feng shui tries to bring into balance.” (2) If one achieves dominance, an “imbalance” occurs. (4;12) And one more thing to remember is that Ying and Yang are opposing but interdependent concepts meaning that they cannot exist without one another, but too much of one another can create bad environment. Another concept that lies behind feng shui is
There are many types of approaches that practitioners use to create feng shui in the place to create a comfortable for those living or working there. The environmental approach is also known as the Form or Landform School. It’s the earliest approach to feng shui. These people who approach feng shui this way often considered their basic needs such as food, shelter, and transportation. Rivers are important because they need water for growing plants and transporting their crops. (4;16) The compass approach is a little bit more complicated. This approach needs the aid of Luo pan or compass. The luo pan “illustrates” direction, and “investigates” the energy of each direction. By interpreting these energies, the “practitioners” can determine the suitable sites for human beings. (4;10) The intuitive approach is based on ancient texts which show different shapes of mountain and water course. Different names illustrate concepts significant to the Chinese psyche. An example of bad feng shui is “Tiger in Waiting” which means a negative place where residents will never be able to relax. (4;13)
Although all the mentioned concepts are important in the understand feng shui, but the fundamental concept involves the five elements – fire, earth, water, wood, and metal – and everything consists of one or more elements. (1) In order to create good environment, all of these five elements should be balanced. Just like the concept of Ying and Yang, if one’s dominates or is lacking, then difficulties will occur. (4;14)
III. What I Discovered
This is what I got so far from my research. It was very hard to find any information on feng shui, especially from books. There wasn’t any book in the library about feng shui, but the librarian bought two books about it for me, and they’re very helpful. The concept of feng shui is so perplex that I couldn’t truly research deep into the subject within couple of weeks. So far, I realized how wrong I was about feng shui. I used to think that feng shui is an easy concept, and all one needs to do to practice feng shui was to move the furniture around. However, through my research, I found out that feng shui is a serious stuff, and if you randomly rearranging your home’s furniture, you might “changed” the flow of your already existed “luck.” You have to understand feng shui very well before you make any changes.
1. Alexander Skye. “Feng Shui Demystified” 10-Minute Feng Shui. January, 2002:2-11. SIRS Researcher. Estancia High School Library, Costa Mesa, CA. 14 May, 2003 http://sirs.com/
2. Braudo Colette. “Feng Shui: The Key to Creating a Feel Good Environment.” South African Home Owner. Sept. /Oct. 1996: 98-101. SIRS Researcher. Estancia High School Library, Costa Mesa, CA. 14 May, 2003
3. Gore Jennifer and McGarvey Carol. “Going with the Flow.” Des Moines Register. 29 Sept. 1997. SIRS Researcher. Estancia High School Library, Costa Mesa, CA. 14 May, 2003
4. Hale Gill. The Practical Encyclopedia of Feng Shui. China: Joanna Lorenz, 1999.
5. Lollar Michael. “Appeasing the Spirits: U.S. Design Makes Room for China’s Feng Shui.” The Commercial Appeal. 9 Oct. 1994:3. 14 May, 2003. SIRS Researcher. Estancia High School Library, Costa Mesa, CA. 14 May, 2003
6. Skinner Stephen. Keep It Simple Series Guide to Feng Shui. New York: Mary Thompson, 2001