This may come as a surprise to many people, but feng shui actually has absolutely nothing to do with religion nor does it have any religious components to it.
It is important to talk about these misconceptions because many people have reservations or are negative about feng shui because they perceive it to carry some negative connotations.
Firstly, there are people who see feng shui as a cult practice, as it seems to involve being part of a following or having to ‘believe’ or have faith in order for it to work.
For many people, this concept of feng shui suggests the need to change one’s faith or accept another faith. Thus, feng shui and their personal faith are not reconcilable.
Secondly, there are people who see feng shui as paganistic. As a result of excessive commercialism, feng shui has been perceived as a practice that requires ‘worshipping’ wealth objects, placing items around one’s home and placing one’s faith entirely in an item to resolve one’s problems in life, or bring luck in life.
Of course, this is not reconcilable with a person’s faith, especially if those object s are seemingly derived from a specific religion like Buddhism or Taoism or involve using symbols from these religions.
For those who are non-religious, this implies the need to insert some religious overtones in their life, which they do not find acceptable.
Thirdly, there are people who have a profound discomfort with something that is ritualistic in nature. Therefore, the perception of feng shui as something that involves chanting, doing love rituals, love chants or using mirrors to reflect energies off a person or object is a big turn-off to many level-headed, practical people.
The truth is, Classical Feng Shui is none of the above.
How ‘feng shui’ became a religion?
How, then, did religious overtones creep into feng shui? Like all classical sciences, it has suffered from a case of ‘lost in translation’. The rush to popularize feng shui has led to some creative interpretation, to say the least.
A good example of how a non-religious science has become ‘corrupted’ into a religious, cultish and paganistic practice can be seen in the innocuous Bagua mirror.
In the old days, where technology was less advanced, Bagua mirrors were made from brass. So when a feng shui consultant wanted to introduce an element of Metal into an area, he would advise the client to place a mirror in the area; not because it was a Bagua mirror but it was made of brass, which is a metal element.
Somewhere along the way, the Bagua mirror became less about the brass and more about the reflection. By the time the new millennium rolled around, the Bagua mirror had become a magical amulet for reflecting bad luck. So something that was not meant to have a religious significance in its original application, somehow, over the years, became religious.
Another reason why feng shui is seen as ‘religious’ is the use of cures. You know, put a five-layer pagoda in the five yellow star and bye-bye problems.
Want to get rid of some bad qi? How about a crystal in your West corner?
The obsession with curing everything negative under the sun through trinkets has contributed substantially to the ‘religious flavour’ that feng shui has acquired, especially since many of these objects are based on Buddhist or Taoism symbols.
These objects have nothing to do with collecting karma points or, at least, no significance in the Classical Feng Shui sense. Think about it – how can an object in itself change the course of your fortunes?
Over the years, quite a number of spiritual masters and part-time mediums have also doubled-up as feng shui masters and so, feng shui and religious practices as well as ghostbusting activities have somehow became inter-related.
Sadly, this image of feng shui being synonymous with religious practices, as well as ghostbusting, still stick in some people’s mind.
It is a combination of these reasons that some people think feng shui is related to Buddhism or Taoism or some form of Chinese religion or practice. It is not. It has its roots in the philosophy of Yin and Yang, which also happens to have some crossover with Taoism.
There is neither God nor spirits in feng shui, just the natural environment. Many theories and practices relating to Chinese medicine, martial arts, health, religion and science overlap – almost all are premised on the backbone principles of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements.
So while the Bagua does have some application in Taoism, it is ALSO a mathematical model used to calculate and ascertain different types of energy patterns in feng shui.
The faithful facts of feng shui
Feng Shui is a science – it is a clear methodology based on the principles of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements and the use of direction to tap into qi, which is simply the natural energies found in the environment.
Feng Shui has clear theory and basic principles, all documented in classical texts going back to the Tang Dynasty such as the Green Satchel Classics, Purple White Scripts, Entering Earth Eye and empirical evidence, outlined in various other classical texts.
Classical Feng Shui, as explained in all the ancient texts written from the Tang Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, does not contain any religious element, any reference to placing your faith in an object or symbol, and certainly doesn’t require you to chant anything or flash mirrors in people’s faces.
In Classical Feng Shui, the use of cures is highly restricted and always related to the Five Elements – Metal, Fire, Water, Earth and Wood. Most of the time, there’s nothing to put in the house and no special colors to paint.
In Classical Feng Shui, the best cure is using natural qi through alignment, changing directions or making use of strategic positions of your house, office, room, bed or desk.
Feng Shui is about using space and land, making use of what is natural, what is readily available from your environment. It is up to you to think who make the energies; God, a higher being part of the natural universe, or whatever you are comfortable with.
The key point here is that feng shui is really about making use of natural energies that already exist in the environment.
In this day and age, it is perhaps more relevant for people to see feng shui as a technology (which is applied science) rather than a pure science. It affords a means in which to improve one’s quality of life, health, wealth and even relationships.
It is the science of ensuring that one’s home or office is located in an area with a living environment that supports one’s personal goals and endeavors.
I am not suggesting that people who are into crystals, space clearing, dousing or the ‘alternative’ practices are in any way wrong or misguided. Or that it is wrong to believe or accept such practices. Rather, I want to make it clear that these practices are not what could be called Classical Feng Shui.
Similarly, if you are told that bringing feng shui in your life involves worshipping an inanimate object, placing your faith in a pile of trinkets or living your life in constant fear of shifting even a stick of furniture in your house lest you ‘upset the energies’, then this is not Classical Feng Shui as practiced since the Tang Dynasty.
Classical Feng Shui involves using directions to tap into the prevailing qi of the environment, which stems from the Mountains and Rivers.
Classical Feng Shui always makes reference to the Time Factor, the Residents, the Directions and Location of the property. Practices that incorporate these elements along with spiritual rituals, chanting or object placement are not considered Classical Feng Shui.
Feng Shui is culturally neutral, non-religious in nature and does not require you to compromise your principles or faith. Using feng shui is about benefiting yourself, helping yourself and making use of the energies that already exist in nature, not changing or compromising your beliefs in God. As long as we keep religion and feng shui separate, each can co-exist peacefully in our life.
Joey Yap’s Profile
Joey Yap is the founder of the Joey Yap Consulting Group, a global organisation devoted to the teaching of Feng Shui, BaZi, Mian Xiang and other Chinese Metaphysics subjects. He is also the Chief Consultant of Yap Global Consulting, an international consulting firm specialising in Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology services and audits.
He is also the best selling author of over 60 books on Feng Shui, Chinese Astrology, Face Reading and Yi Jing, many of which have topped the Malaysian and Singaporean MPH bookstores’ bestseller lists.
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