Ernest Eitel (1838-1908), German Protestant missionary to China, described the importance of Feng Shui for Chinese community in Hong Kong. In his book, the first book on Feng Shui ever written in English, he was mentioning that when it was proposed to erect a few telegraph poles, to construct a railway or to utilize the coal-mines, ‘’Chinese officials would invariably make a polite bow and declare the thing impossible on account of Feng-shui.’’
It took him many years to understand the basic principles of this ‘’natural science’’, for whenever he was asking questions, the replies he got were ‘’rather obscure and confused’’. At best, he was told that term Feng Shui means "wind and water," and is so called, "because it's a thing like wind, which you cannot comprehend, and like water, which you cannot grasp."
Basic Feng Shui principles: the concept of energy, Ch'i
One of the authentic and probably the most accurate definitions of Feng Shui is that it is an art of proper placement of cities, houses and graves - in accordance with the flow of Ch'i.
However, in order to understand Feng Shui, one should understand a concept of Ch'i, a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture, for Feng Shui was referred as doctrine of Nature Breath. Ch'i literally means "air" or "breath," but as a concept it refers to the energy flow that is said to pervade all things. The proof of its importance in Chinese culture could be easily found in Chinese language where Ch’i was already contained in many words and expressions; for example, literal translation of Chinese characters for health actually refers to ''original'' Ch'i.
According to Chinese philosophy, Ch'i is the Breath of Nature, and as the breath of nature and vital force, Ch'i vitalizes everything, allowing the overall growth and development. Basically, this force permeates the whole existence; its nature is active and vibrating, and overall quantity and quality of Ch’i on our disposal affects our daily living and accomplishments.
Earth, Heaven, Human
Our daily supply of Ch’i comes from Heaven (outer space) and Earth (subject of Feng Shui), but also from food we eat and air we breathe. In this way, we can talk about Earth, Heaven and Man Energy - Ch'i, each one as equally important for our wellbeing.
Earth energy as the base for our accomplishments, and since we are spending so much time at our homes, it becomes very important to be assured that the energy Ch’i of the location and building should be as best as possible. Earth energy is the main subject of Feng Shui and it is well known as host Ch'i.
Earth energy runs along the soil and waterways and although it is the most stable Ch'i, it is also prone to decaying, as everything else in life. However, since it is the most solid, it can hold its basic qualities for a long period of time, being on disposal of many generations living on certain property. Therefore, we should always look for general indicators of abundant EARTH Ch'i, such as the occurrence of water, trees and grass, i.e. luxuriant flora and fauna at certain spot.
If the Ch'i in the soil and the environment is strong and plentiful, it will have a positive effect on people living there, providing good health and stamina. On the other hand, whenever there is an abruptly rising hill or mountain in vicinity, or water running in a straight line, the surrounding area might expect to face the dangerous breath.
The concept of HEAVEN energy is the most complicated and therefore not easy to explain. As Earth energy is related to SPACE, Heaven energy is related to TIME. It can not be seen directly, but its patterns might be figured out due to certain mathematical formulas.
Human or Man Ch’i concept covers not only inherited energy but also energy we are consuming on a daily basis from our food, water and air. The concept of Yuan, original or inherited Ch’i, is particularly interesting, for it points out the way our basic energy is derived directly from our parents but indirectly (through our genes) - from various ancestors. Sometimes, this inherited Ch'i may become our biggest life challenge, for it can limit our activities in various areas of life (lack of physical strength, allergies, problems with weight, heart, etc.).
Though it may look like that our inheritance may restrict us, there is still a lot to do in order to improve our personal energy. Our energy depends not only on our diet and quality of air and water, but also on our deeds and everyday life. Sometimes, it matters not only what we do, but also what we haven’t done. That is why Ba Zi (life elements analyses, traditional Chinese astrology) is the essential part of Feng Shui practice, for sometimes a person should be directed towards the least resistance path, in order to achieve the most and find inner contentment.
Vital or - sluggish
Dwelling deep into traditional Feng Shui and related skills involves meeting with other aspects of Ch'i. Apart the main concept of Heaven, Earth and Human Ch’i, there is also a concept of Sheng or vital Ch'i and Ssu or sluggish Ch'i.
Sheng Ch'i points out to active energy, while Ch'i Ssu is passive energy, and this concept might be applied to Earth, Heaven and Human Ch’i. The goal of Feng Shui practice is basically about finding THE place with Sheng Ch'i, which encourages the growth and wellbeing. At the other hand, when Earth energy is sluggish, it can be often related to decay and-or death.
Moreover, overall design of our property might create more pro-active or pro-sluggish energy flow. In creating layout, one should be guided by purpose of certain rooms, but the best layout should also conduct the energy Ch’i in a continuous way. Certain situations like hitting the wall right at the entrance or creating long and narrow corridors and hallways might affect the Ch’i flow and create the internal problem.
We should mind that our personal energy might be also vital or sluggish, depending on our daily habits but mainly relying on our – character. Therefore, besides Feng Shui, one should continuously work on his character, improving and developing himself but also mastering new skills, because it is the only way to reach inner contentment. Feng Shui and Ba Zi might make our lives much easier and richer, but there will be always something that depends – only on our selves.
Althea S.T. is Classical Feng Shui and Ba Zi Life Dynamics consultant,Mentor, Speaker & Educator.
Her services includes:
• Residential and Commercial Feng Shui Consultation
• Ba Zi Chinese Traditional Astrology Consultation for personal guidance & counseling
• Date Selection for important personal and business events
• Workshops, corporate talks and lectures
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