Thursday, January 25, 2007


machu picchu - good feng-shui

Most have heard of feng-shui (fung-shway) - the Taoist principle that the land is alive with energy, and that buildings can have good or bad feng-shui depending on how they are situated in the landscape.

Feng is translated as wind, while shui is translated as water. Wind is considered yang (male/light), while water is yin (female/dark). Gentle wind and smooth water are associated with a good harvest and good health, while harsh winds and stagnant water have been linked to famine and disease. Thus, "good" feng-shui has become linked to a good livelihood and fortune, and "bad" feng-shui has become linked to hardship and misfortune.

It is quite a bit more involved than all of that, and it is a study that requires years to master, but we all have an innate sense of it, I think. This may well be one of the great attractions of Vancouver, which abounds with good feng-shui.It definitely feels very different here.
Water is yin, and mountains are yang. Earth is yin, and sky is yang. When water meets mountains or clouds drop from the sky to embrace the earth, nourishing energy is generated. Mountains that seem to disappear and reappear because of shifting clouds are said to contain tremendous energy. source
That's Vancouver in a nutshell, but the pace is slower with the mountains disappearing for days, or weeks at a time, and then brilliantly exposed throughout the summer. Though, by these measures, this last few months of storms and lashing winds and rain have had some bad energy.

Is it perilous to ignore feng-shui? Some say it is. The Chinese are famous for wanting addresses with auspicious numbers, and are willing to pay a premium for them. Some deals are contingent on municipal approval to change those numbers.

Feng-shui is also an issue inside the house. A clear line of sight through the middle of the house is said to be a negative. There needs to be breaks so that the energy does not just flow through - leaving the dwelling less charged. A large tree outside the front window can also be negative. Bathrooms by the entrance doors are very negative. It is said that you flush your fortune out of the house. I have always been turned off places that have "powder rooms" right by the front door. Strangely (to me), a lot of people find this to be a desirous feature.

Feng-shui is not a superstition or a set of dos and don'ts. It is the art and science of understanding the forces of nature in order to design houses and workplaces that blend with the environment instead of clashing with it. It aims to help us live in harmony with the world by promoting the flow of positive energy and neutralizing or avoiding negative or destructive energy. source

As with so many "cliche" philosophies, there is a great amount of common sense to this ideal. It is not magical, but the difference between a good living environment and a bad one can seem so.

I have been thinking of all of this since I posted on the ROAR yesterday. That project seemed to have good feng-shui to me. Then, after thinking about it all day, I read some comments over at the pope's place by will and wg2c, and it was a confirmation.

Too bad this post has poor feng-shui. It just does not flow. I added the picture of North Vancouver shrouded in clouds to bring some balance to it (when I noticed that the tall buildings at the shore were blocking the flow from sea to sky...).

I don't have time to do it justice. Your expansions on the topic are most welcome. I'm sure that some of you are much more fluent (pun intended) on the subject than I.


shikko said...

The idea of feng shui as a set of design principles is one I can get my head around. Taking sight lines and traffic patterns into account when designing human-inhabited space is a great idea.

Feng shui as belief system is not as attractive. Telling me I am "leaving myself open" to bad luck/ill health because the layout of the furniture in my living room resembles the character for death moves it squarely into the realm of supersititon.

The world (not just the RE market) needs less application of unreasoned belief and more fact-based analysis.

the pope said...

I agree - The application of feng shui design makes a lot of sense in terms of liveable space, but the importance of numbers seems to be much more based on magical thinking than anything real that I can wrap my head around.

Uncertain Buyer said...

I need Feng Shui, because I get bad energy every time I think about buying in this over-priced RE market.

wg2c said...

The world (not just the RE market) needs less application of unreasoned belief and more fact-based analysis.

Why? People are irrational ... and I don't mean they're crazy ... I mean simply that reason and logic don't enter much into most people's lives.

Emotion, religion, superstition, imperfection, irrationality ... in short, human-ness. We can't force fit the problems (humans) into our rational solutions.

I'm not big on Feng Shui myself, but I similarly rejected Technocracy, a somewhat popular political movement some decades ago. It would seem that just about everybody has now rejected Technocracy.

A handy definition from Wikipedia --> "The social and economic system proposed by the Technocratic movement and the organization Technocracy, Inc., which believes that modern technology and a government organized on a scientific basis can lead to a society of abundance."

wg2c said...

the importance of numbers seems to be much more based on magical thinking than anything real that I can wrap my head around.

It's what the numbers sound like when you say them. The word for 'eight' (phonetically: bā) similar to the word for 'prosper' (phonetically: fā). Similarly the word for 'fourteen' sounds similar to the words for 'ten die'.

So it's sounds, not numerology. I don't subscribe to the beliefs, but I find them fascinating.

solipsist said...

I have to say that I don't subscribe "whole hog" to the philosophy, but I do give it passing thought - just as I give passing thought to other ideas.

There is (I'm fairly sure) a lot more to our "reality" than meets the eye. We do have a limited range of wavelengths in which we can see or hear.

Just as I don't whole-heartedly accept ideas, I tend not to whole-heartedly reject them either.

Perhaps I have done too many hallucinogenics...

wg2c said...

There is (I'm fairly sure) a lot more to our "reality" than meets the eye. We do have a limited range of wavelengths in which we can see or hear.

It's nearly 40 years ago since I read Wittgenstein ... was it not he who suggested that language was the grid through which we see the universe?

In other words, our view of reality is fundamentally constrained and distorted by language. If reality does not fit with language, we cannot see the reality. We see, interpret, reason and understand with language .... always with the constraints of language.

solipsist said...

wg2c - here is a Wikipedia link for Wittgenstein.

I read years ago that when the Portuguese first arrived at Africa, the "natives" could not "see" their ships - because they had no experience with such a sight. It did not fit into their reality. The ships were there alright though, and the mariners began taking slaves.

At one time, disease was believed to be caused by "bad humours", or evil spirits. They had never viewed micro-organisms (did not have the necessary equipment), and suggesting that they existed would have been ridiculed.

Geocentrism and the Flat Earth theory are other cases in point. That is why I do not reject ideas out of hand. I cannot prove, or disprove them.

I always find it interesting how many people believe in an omnipotent "God", but flatly reject other, unprovable (for now) ideas (such as aliens, ghosts, etc.).

I like mysteries.

solipsist said...

wg2c - I have not read Wittgenstein (I just came from the bookstore, and having forgotten what I wanted to find, picked up Tom Robbins), but I was thinking about language - particularly, the different ways of being depending on one's mother tongue.

I have noticed my own thinking is very different when I am thinking in Spanish, Portuguese or French. I think more humorously in Spanish, and tend to be softer and more romantic. The Mexicans have great double entendres for just about any situation, and are generally humble (as are the Spanish of Spain). Spanish is (to me) a language of dreams. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books are very dream-like.

The Germanic languages are quite staccatto, and the Germanic peoples tend to simplicity of function, and logical ways (simplicity of function can be quite complex - like Mercedes Benz). I also have noted that Gunter Grass' books are about twice to three times as thick in original German as in English. I wonder if the simplicity of form and function are a result of a very descriptive language.

Russian also seems to be a very descriptive language (judging by tomes translated to English), and is ponderous - much like the peoples seem to be.

The body language of animals is interesting too. Subtleties say much in that realm. Again, it seems a simplistic complexity.

Over all, language is a fascinating subject. I think that language can be very limiting as an avenue of expression - especially English.

antz said...
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