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The truth about feng shui

Sunday, February 15, 2015
Manila Bulletin

The truth about feng shui

Why feng shui won't solve all your problems, and other truths about this ancient tradition

A lot of people have "items" around their house (think "green frog with coins in its mouth") saying these things are there for feng shui purposes. These were bought from a local tiangge or department store with the hope that they would bring health and prosperity. On the other hand, some have expressed frustration with feng shui saying all they got was really bad luck anyway.

What is the real score? Are most people able to bring good luck to themselves or did they just bring good luck to those who sold the stuff?

Feng shui is an easily misunderstood concept especially for people who want quick fixes to their problems and ills or for those who are just plain lazy to try to know better. Feng shui master, Joey Yap, stresses that since there is much information on the Internet regarding what this really is about, there is hardly an excuse for not trying to know more. It can be argued though that there is also a lot of wrong information out there that may just confuse people.

As with everything, you can't be faulted for trying. It is in things like these that you realize, once you start trying to sift through all the wrong and right info, that you really do need a guiding hand to at least get things going in the right direction. It may cost more than doing things yourself, but doing so will tend to save you more money and give you true benefits.

What is the most common misconception people have with feng shui?

Joey Yap: You will often hear people saying that feng shui is about living in harmony with the environment. Others believe it is about the placement of objects like statues and talismans to improve luck. Worse still, you might hear some say it is entirely about getting rich. It is not any of these things. Feng shui is the art of accessing the qualities of qi that converge at or affect a certain location in our environment and to ascertain its potential and shortcomings. To put it in layman's terms, qi means "energy." A natural occurring force all around us, it is considered an active principle that forms a part of every living being. Most people think this concept is exclusive to feng shui or the Chinese but it is not, because other cultures including some in the West have similar concepts. Qi can be either good or bad. In feng shui, it is the good qi that we want to tap and utilize while the bad qi or sha qi is what we want to avoid.

Which misguided ideas do you find most bothersome?

I would have to say it is the one about the placement of objects, something which I term as the "Put Theory." Classical feng shui entails very little "putting objects" and a classical practitioner will almost never ask you to do such things. The purpose of feng shui is to enable natural energies in the environment to be tapped for beneficial and productive use by the residents of a building or an area and not about clich├ęd Oriental interior decoration. The essence of classical feng shui practice in the modern era involves understanding today's lifestyle and integrating feng shui into it. In the old days, a piece of art or a fine vase would draw people into a room. Hence, the purpose a feng shui practitioner in advising someone to place such objects in a room was a subtle way to encourage greater usage of the room. Unfortunately through the years, it became misunderstood that the vase was the source of feng shui rather than the room.

What preconceived notions or prejudices should people check when they consider feng shui?

Most people subscribe to feng shui believing it to be the magic bullet for all their woes. They think that feng shui is something magical and mysterious, much like casting a spell. Activate this sector and you will immediately become rich. Place an object here and you will soon be swarmed by admirers. This kind of notion can't be any more wrong. There is nothing whatsoever magical or mysterious about feng shui. It is a science grounded in proper theory and principles, all which can be logically explained.

If people are to benefit from feng shui, what attitude should they have?

They should approach feng shui with common sense. As said earlier, it is grounded in proper theory and principles which can be logically explained. Use your own judgment on certain matters. For instance, there is a lot of talk about toilets being a source of bad qi and that it is bad to have a toilet located in an area of house with good qi. What would happen if the house has more than one toilet as in the case of most houses nowadays? It is of course illogical to have every toilet in the house located at the same place and common sense will tell you this can't be right.

What would we say to a person who says, 'I tried all this feng shui stuff before but all I got was bad luck?'

First of all, you will have to ascertain how he or she "tried all this feng shui stuff." Did he or she just refer to some self-read information from somewhere and attempt a half-hearted "do-it-yourself feng shui?" It takes a practitioner many years to master the craft and every day can still be a learning experience even after decades of professional practice. It would not be fair to say it doesn't work based on a botched half-hearted attempt at feng shui. The effects of feng shui do not happen immediately. In order to be affected by qi, a person has to spend a considerable amount of time in an area before any effects can be felt. So even if you had the services of a proper practitioner, you should not expect to see results overnight.

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