Shui: The Ancient Art of Design and Placement
Where there is light in the soul,
There is beauty in the person
Where there is beauty in the person
There is harmony in the home
Where there is harmony in the home
There is honor in the nation
Where there is honor in the nation
There is peace in the world.
. . . ancient Chinese proverb
The mysterious culture of China introduces feng shui (the ancient art of design and placement) to the western world. This concept of integrating the invisible, vibrational world of heaven (Kan) with the visible physical world we call Earth (Yu) requires communication with mind, body and soul. Historically used as a method to locate auspicious burial grounds, feng shui masters have been catapulted into the new age and are currently employed to integrate aesthetic and spiritual perspectives into the creation of healing, harmonious and balanced environments.
A healthy environment requires a firm and consistent foundation where mind, body and spirit are one. In this state of balance one has the opportunity to identify and manifest one's intentions. Feng shui practitioners are often employed to help sustain and create relationships, improve health, stimulate travel and influence finances.
Feng shui was first discussed by Guo Pu (276-324 AD) during the Jin Dynasty. According to Guo Pu's Book of Burial, the buried person rides the Sheng Qi (life energy). Qi that rides the wind disperses; when near water, it becomes still. The ancients congregate so Qi does not disperse, and move so it cannot be still. Therefore it is called feng shui which literally means wind and water.
Feng shui can predict the outcome in various aspects of our life by organizing the environment coherent with our intentions, whether they are conscious or not. In each life these boundaries can be physical, psychological or spiritual. Homes and workplaces are physical boundaries we create that reflect the psychological and spiritual. Organizing these boundaries coherent with our intentions helps us to manifest them. The feng shui specialist explores and uncovers ways to transform unconscious intentions and bring consciousness to the inhabitant and their intentions. Where one's focus and intention goes is where the energy flows, creating the enormous power of realization.
Each space has a bagua, an eight-sided schematic that consists of (from top, clockwise) Fame, Relationships, Children and Creativity, Benefactors and Travel, Career (front entry), Knowledge, Family, and Wealth. The center of the space represents others and is the ninth aspect.
Color is nourishment to our spiritual life and plays a very important role in feng shui. The cosmic interplay of light and dark serves to balance, neutralize and nourish. Each color has a vibration ranging from physical to spiritual and functions as a vibrational door between our dense physical and light spirit bodies. For example, Black and White are extremes that do not actually exist, but hold all potential within them-Yin and Yang. They define each other by being stark opposites, counterpoints. Photosynthesis, the process that activates the ascension of physical life as we know it, has both a light and dark symbiotic cycle.
Red, the luster of life that permeates the whole living world, represents the power of creative spirit manifest within us as surging vitality in our blood. Yet, too much red can over-stimulate and induce violence. On the other hand, blue is generally cool, calming and known to relax and quiet the mind for a spiritual mood. Violet is the meeting of the fiery stimulation of red and the soothing nature of blue, creating a balance of consciousness in color. Violet often is associated with spirituality, dignity, and diversity and can be used to promote inner and outer balance, silence, reverence and raises sensuality.
Yellow promotes inner and outer joy and a need to radiate. Yellow also promotes mental clarity but overuse can create nervousness or detachment. Orange is a color of joy called the wisdom ray because it combines physical red and intellectual yellow. Orange is a catalyst for understanding, tolerance, joy, lightness and release. Like red however, orange in abundance creates over-stimulation. Green is very soothing and nurturing, creating balance, peace and harmony.
In general, the darker the color the more earth oriented. Conversely, the more rarefied the color tone, the more spiritual. Pure tints, hues and their relationship to adjacent colors are essential. Colors need to integrate with the function of the space and those using it to create harmony, or else there will be discord.
The principle of male and female are also very essential to good feng shui. The feminine principle, Chi or life-force, is round soft lines which compliment and enhance the stark, straight foundation of male energy. Once again a balance of opposites is required.
Controversy exists as to what constitutes a feng shui master or specialist. Several schools of thought exist, concepts vary and methods are many. The study of feng shui can include the study of Qigong (breathing exercises), meditation, Qimengdunjia (a form of divination utilizing numbers, the eight trigrams and ten heavenly stems), numerology, wushu, and Tibetan and Chinese mythology. Consulting oracles such as the I Ching, Tarot, Gong Hee Fot Choy, astrologers, fortune tellers, shamans, sorcerers and deities are all accepted and widely used methods of accessing the divine.
A Personal Path
I am a feng shui practitioner studying to be a Tibetan Buddhist Black Sect Master. While the Black Sect of Sino Tibetan Buddhism is an integration of Buddhist, Taoist, Bon, Confucian, and folk traditions, its heart is the Heart Sutra, a Buddhist wisdom teaching. Tibetan Black Sect explores the scientific ramifications of light matter and intention with a focus on the Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra begins with the identity of form and emptiness, presenting us with the great paradox-form is emptiness, emptiness is form. In Buddhism, the "great emptiness," or void, has the nature of luminosity. It is interesting to note that, in science, the unit of light, the photon, from which all matter is formed, is essentially empty. Thus Buddhism and quantum mechanics converge.
The key role of a feng shui practitioner is to understand intention and its relation to light, sound and matter, and to create comfort and safety in a personal paradise.
Rhonda Kennedy is owner of a design firm called Altared Spaces and works as an interior decorator and feng shui specialist in partnership with the Community Contractors Group, a firm dedicated to personal and environmental well being, located in Portland, Oregon. Her goal as a designer and feng shui specialist is to create spaces that celebrate the spirit of those who occupy them.