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Origins of Feng Shui


The particularly strong characteristics of the earth science known as Feng Shui lie deeply within the ancient Chinese philosophy known as Taoism, but it also has certain connections with Confucianism as well as Buddhism and Japanese Shinto. Feng Shui also links across to Vashtu Shastra in India and even has connections with Native American Questing and Space Clearing as well as Ancient Egyptian mythology with wild touches of the Knights Templar, Freemasonry, Celtic traditions and mystic Hebrew! Quite a mixture. It also has strong echoes through the Eastern martial arts, in particular Tai Chi and the exercise regime of Chi Kung.

Taoism, pronounced Dowism is a name which has been applied to a kind of naturistic religion and a number of schools of philosophy found in Ancient China. It should be said however that before Taoism, pictures of animals and symbols connected with Feng Shui have been found which date back into prehistory. This pictures include the twelve astrological animals.

The actual term Taoism was not used until the Han dynasty in the 2nd century AD. Its main beliefs and rituals had merged into the main concept of the ?Tao? as being the unity behind the multiplicity of things. The Tao is ?the way?, the nothingness from which all things are created to take part in ?becoming and unbecoming?--the constant whirl of life, surrounded by the vibrational energies given off by all things, known as ?chi?. It is interesting to note that ?becoming and unbecoming' fits very well into the basic theories of Quantum Physics, i.e., nothing stays the same---- and with the working of the electromagnetic fields around the earth known as the Van Allen Belts [which were only discovered in 1958!]

Yin/Yang and the Five Elements

From Tao, ?nothingness? came Yin and Yang, opposites which attract, from Yin and Yang developed the five elements---Earth, Water, Fire, Metal and Wood. From the five elements came the ?10,000 things?, i.e.-everything else. So, everything is a part of the Tao, the oneness, the tapestry of life and everything is built up from yin/yang---opposites, trying to become each other---female/male and from a mixture
of the five elements. It is these basic ingredients which form the chi, flowing in from all the Compass directions, used in Feng Shui, colourfully known as ?the dragon?s breath?.

Lao Tzu

Taoism is thought to be the philosophy of Lao Tzu who, some sources say, was born in South China in 604BC. It may well be however, that he did not really exist and that the philosophy of Taoism, like Feng Shui, came from a group of learned sages and masters. There are many stories connected with Lao Tzu, saying that he and the Buddha were the same person and that Lao Tzu was born at the age of eighty! What a pregnancy that must have been!!!!! His name is important and that the plum tree and plum blossom, used in Feng Shui remedies have connections with him. Lao Tzu, or the group of sages known as Lao Tzu, wrote the book called The Tao Ching, which tells of the nature of life in harmony with the universe. It is a book which brings together many of the concepts of Taoism and Feng Shui as well as the broad beliefs of Buddhism and Shinto.

Early Feng Shui

But remember, Feng Shui had already existed, probably back into prehistoric times, from human beings watching nature and working out his/her connections with it. Feng Shui had been used in the sitting of gravesites to protect them from feng wind? and shui?water. For the luck of the living family to be good, the gravesite of their ancestors had to be protected from being windswept or flooded. Feng Shui , pronounced Fung Schway [or Fong Choy], was brought into the philosophy of Taoism and became part of the way of life for the Ancient Chinese. It was not a' Sunday? religion, but very much a practical way of organising your environment and life. The arts of Feng Shui in the environment surrounding humans, were also used in the internal environment of the human body through Chinese medicine, especially acupuncture. In my study of Taoism and Feng Shui, particularly the writings of Kristofer Schipper, I have been amazed by the many rituals of Taoism in which the human body is referred to as a land, a natural environment, with rivers and mountains, its chi energy helped by Tai Chi, acupuncture and other forms of medicine and exercise. Feng Shui and Taoism, then later on, Buddhism, also blended with the way of martial arts, particularly Kung Fu . Feng Shui is this concerned with the chi of the ?inner and outer landscapes?.

The Development of the Earth Science

Without going into the vast detail which I had to study during my PhD course, you are already beginning to see through Part One how Feng Shui is not an isolated earth science or art form, but rather it is an important part of a huge picture, a way of life to the Ancient Chinese, which therefore linked together and made complete sense and was not an ?airy fairy, mystical mumbo jumbo?! This is the danger in what I call ?The Emperor?s New Clothes Syndrome?, the blinding of people with mystical terms and phrases--stay way from it--keep it down to earth, and so , by using The Compass School Feng Shui explained in this series of articles, it can always be approached as practical, simple and well proved!

Observing Nature

In Taoism, salvation, enlightenment, is not brought by deep religious prayer but rather by the careful observance of nature, the natural ways of life, the seasons, the flowing forces of chi, the natural energies all around us. These meandering flows of subtle energies flow throughout the environment and through the human body--the inner and outer landscapes. The Tao, the eternal movement of these energies, is the all embracing ultimate principle which existed before all else. The Tao is the life force, which emits the chi, the' dragon's breath' and right through Chinese history and prehistory, chi is referred to, along with-the four celestial animals of the four cardinal compass points [north, south ,east and west]. These symbols were being used in ritual earthenware and decoration, so the dragon, the phoenix, the turtle and the tiger were well known before Taoism really got going. They were symbols of the types of chi, the energy, the calm, the dangerous, the nurturing, the lively---all the subtle ?winds' swirling through the lives of humans---the essentials of Feng Shui, developed through the observation of nature.


The aim of the philosophical Taoist was to become one with the Tao realizing the universal law of ?the return of everything to its source?. Many years later Taoists tried to achieve this through becoming immortal and as you study more about Feng Shui, you will read of the legends of immortality and the symbols of it which remain today in such Feng Shui remedies as the crane, the deer and the pine tree. In these symbols, along with the Chinese astrological animals, there are strong links to Buddhism, Shintoism and even Hinduism. Taoists, through meditation and ritual, were trying to find a special kind of emptiness-?wu?-and simplicity-?pu? and abide in non-action-?wu wei?, just be-ing rather than do-ing. In this, Taoism shares certain similarities with Buddhism . The insistence that the intellect cannot comprehend the Unknowable, the Tao, which once named is not the Tao any longer. Taoism teaches that understanding is not derived from knowledge or theory- but, by comprehension of what is obvious------ by observing nature and the natural laws of the weather, the seasons and in particular the flowing of water, which though gentle is so very strong. Here, once again, the philosophy contained within Taoism, Buddhism, Japanese Shinto and Tibetan Bon have very strong connections with Feng Shui.

The Chinese Way of Life

Taoism had existed alongside Confucianism and Buddhism in China throughout the centuries, and along with Feng Shui, it had exerted a great influence on Chinese intellectual, poetical, artistic and spiritual life as well as the ordinary everyday life. As Yin and Yang are opposites striving to blend, so Confucianism and Taoism seem to be opposites and yet were brought together as a combined way of life by the Chinese, very much as a way of living rather than a set religion. They were simple, near to nature and part of the everyday world of farming, crops, weather, illness and death Taoists saw as the ideal, a return to rural simplicity, in which people would be content to conduct their lives unconcerned with what went on in the next village, the perfect, simple life. The Taoists valued the mountains? solitude and also believed that mountain tops brought them closer to the sources of the Tao than anywhere else. The rolling mountain landscapes were the sleeping dragons, the rivers its veins of flowing blood and the energies of chi,' the dragon?s breath?. The mountain monastery tradition carried through into Japan with many of the Buddhist retreats being up in the mountains, the ?yamabushi?, the mountain monk warriors who still exist today in the Northern Sacred mountains of Japan.

The yin and yang ideas also travelled to Japan to become Japanese Feng Shui, known as ?Inyodo? or Fu Sui. In yo do means the way of yin and yang, Fu Sui means wind water---indeed the Japanese days of the weeks reflect the important essentials of Feng Shui, Fu Sui---Sun Day, Moon Day, Fire Day, Water Day, Wood Day, Metal Day and Earth Day. The Chinese days of the week are not so romantically linked, simply, What Day is it?, and then day one, two, three, four five, and six!

Inyodo, the way of yin and yang is crucial to the study of Feng Shui, but it existed back into the prehistory of China and right through the history of Japan and other eastern cultures--this was while Europe was fighting its way through the Dark Ages and The Plague!!!

Yin and Yang, two forces which operate throughout the universe-----yin and yang--known in modern Physics as positively and negatively charged electrons [amongst other complicated names and particles!]. These opposites are used in meditation and Tai Chi as well as Feng Shui. Confucianism was seen as a Yang philosophy, strong and forceful----Taoism, on the other hand is gentle and so is yin, soft and feminine. Kung Fu is yang, Tai Chi is yin. Its power, the power of the chi, the ?dragon?s breath? comes directly from nature.


Water, as stated before, represents the Tao, the One, everything and the great importance of water in Feng Shui is very powerful and can be explained from its links with Taoism and Buddhism. Indeed, Taoists used water with other natural herbs and fungi to try to achieve immortality. Meditation, breath control and sexual yoga became known as internal alchemy and all three were practised. Buddhists, Hindus and to a lesser degree Confucianists also used these tantric (secret, quick) methods as a way of searching for enlightenment.

When Buddhism first came into China, the Taoists took many of its features. This carried on right up to the Mao Revolution period when Feng Shui, Buddhism and Taoism were banned by the communists, but now they are back again in the mainstream life of China. In towns as well as in the countryside too, some of the larger Taoist temples are again functioning. Now the temples are built of stone, not wood, so that they can never again be burnt down, as they were in the early 1950?s. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, Taoism and Buddhism never really went away. It is interesting that in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the tradition of Feng Shui is extremely strong. Note how strong and prosperous both these communities are!


Apart from Taoism and Buddhism, Chinese society was also strongly influenced by another body of ideas-Confucianism. Kung Fu Tzu (551-479 BC), westernised into the name Confucius, was the founder of the first Chinese wisdom school .Confucius believed that good government was a matter of ethics, people must play their assigned roles in a fixed society under authority. He wrote strict moral teachings, based on the strong foundation of institutions and practices that have been used by the Chinese for centuries, and that were once again linked to Feng Shui. To accept the inevitability of the world was one of the outstanding characteristics of the ideal person of Confucius. It became a personal philosophy for how each person lives their lives and was strongly aligned with the natural laws governing Feng Shui.

Feng Shui is concerned with the enhancement of ?earth luck?, doing what you can with the environment around you, to make it as healthy and harmonious as you can. Merit, good luck achieved through good works and karmic luck, inherited from previous lives, can never be strongly affected by Feng Shui.

Earth Luck

It is important to note then that in the practice of Feng Shui, you can never guarantee the dismissal of all problems and pain--but it will enhance the good, produce opportunity and potential, but also allow you to cope with the bad times in a much more positive way. Feng Shui is an important piece of the jigsaw of human existence, but it is just one piece. What Feng Shui does do every time, without fail, is to attract better luck for you and also enable you to deal with bad times in a much better way than if Feng Shui had not been applied. You are living in harmony with your environment rather than fighting against it.

Luck then, is not just accidental as we seem to think in the West, it relies on earth luck, the chi in your environment and how you use it, this ?dragon?s breath?. Merit luck is how you conduct yourself through life and karmic luck is passed through from previous lifetimes. Karmic and merit luck are particularly connected to Buddhism and Taoism. It is important that Westerners in particular realise that Feng Shui will not necessarily bring a magical cure into their lives. It often does, but because we are only dealing with one third of the ?luck?, sometimes, life although improving, will still have its difficulties and problems---that is life, always has been and always will be.


Chinese Buddhism, with its concepts of merit and karma, developed through the 6th and 7th centuries. It divided into two distinct schools, Chan Buddhism which used meditation and the other school developed into a strongly devotional sect which practised the invocation of particular Buddha's and was a definite religion rather than a philosophy. These Buddha's, notably Ho Tai and Tara, also known as Quan Yin, are used in Feng Shui enhancements, for cures and protection. Remember that all of the figures used in Feng Shui were real living people and they are examples of what can be achieved and called Gods because of this, not in any Western religious sense of the word God. These certain Buddha figures, both male and female, humans who have ?cracked the code? and knew how to live their lives, crop up along with Taoist immortals in the symbolic applications of Feng Shui. In Japan too, where Feng Shui is known as inyodo (the way of Yin and Yang), these Buddha figures are used in Feng Shui, as well as elements of its own very ancient religion, Shinto. Shinto is very similar in many ways to Taoism and the nature loving philosophies of Tibet and Ancient China, where Tai Chi and secret Tantric practice developed through the observation of nature, in particular the forces of wind and water--linking it again to Feng Shui.


Throughout all of these philosophies meditation was used. It was, and still is, hard work and can be made easier by the influences of Feng Shui! Meditation stressed oral instruction and was constantly looking to nature for examples. It became the strong inspiration for artistic and poetic creativity. Riddles and questions were asked of the meditation students who were then left to ponder them. These became the famous koans of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Meditation, and the philosophies associated with it, is concerned with things as they are ----not how you would like them to be and in this way it links again to the practice of Feng Shui. Feng Shui is working with things as they are, to try and enhance your life, bringing your life into harmony and balance with its surroundings, the principles of yin and yang, comprising the five elements of water, earth, fire, metal and wood. The essence of all things, made of the elements in different combinations, the chi, is eternal, immutable and independent-worldly things arise, pass away and so are empty-once again, the very core of Taoism and Buddhism.


Buddhism was spread into Japan in the 6th century by Korean and then Chinese scholars. Japan had borrowed all things Chinese anyway, including its written language, so this was a natural progression. Once again, as in China, Buddhism combined with the philosophy which was already there. Tai Chi was already there and so we believe was Feng Shui, Buddhism blending into Shintoism, completed the picture! ?Chi? became the Japanese---?Ki?. Shinto, the ancient Japanese way of thinking about life and death, -the way of the Gods, was very simply paying reverence to all things in nature, its spirits and human ancestors-so the links to Taoism and Feng Shui were extremely strong. Shinto teaches that all things, animate and inanimate have their own ?kami?-gods, special spirits, special energies-which protect the living and their dead ancestors. Shinto emphasised rituals of bodily cleanliness and fertility. Buddhism and then Zen Buddhism fitted very well into this love of nature and ritual.

Wind and Water

Feng Shui, meaning wind and water was a natural way of looking at things. Wind and water were seen as the two most important and natural elements which helped to underline the theories of Buddhism. Wind and water were the intermediaries between earth and heaven. Feng Shui was first used in the sitting of graves. It was important to site the graves of ancestors in good places that would be unaffected by floods water] and typhoons wind]. If the graves were disturbed--- then bad luck would descend upon the living members of the family! Also, water is the sustainer of life and has been used in many rituals in many religions and philosophies throughout the ages. Taoism and Buddhism as we have mentioned, used water a great deal in their practices. Soon, common festivals spread across all the philosophies of China and Japan. For example, on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, the Chinese carry out a ritual and communal banquet which is intended to release suffering souls from hell. This festival is Buddhist in origin, but in China, Taoist priests would perform their own versions of the ritual and the same happened with Shinto priests in Japan.

The closeness of these philosophies to the simple, everyday way of life and cycles of nature cannot be emphasised enough-and this thinking still exists today within the very elements of Feng Shui.Chi, the essence of nature, the essence of everything, is the vital life giving energy which flows inside us, inside everything. It is the energy flowing through the meridians or invisible channels of the body, used in acupuncture and meditation and now proved to exist by the experiments of Chinese doctors in America.

Chi is the energy spinning in the Chakra centres of the body as used in Yoga. It is the energy used in martial arts, notably, Kung Fu, Karate and Tai Chi. It flows like wind and water. Indeed, Buddhist mantras are said to be carried around the body by special ?riding?winds.At the agricultural, or garden level, chi is the life force which, if not stagnant, ensures fertile crops, flowers, shrubs and trees. At a climatic level, chi is carried on the wind and on the waters. As stated before, Feng means wind and Shui, water--the two elements which dominated life in Ancient China. These two natural elements were important in connection with the sitting of graves and the growing of crops. Later on the Feng Shui principles, of ?wind? and ?water?, with the flowing of the ?chi? from the eight compass directions became important in the building and the design of the interiors of houses.

Chi and Earth Luck

These energies in India and Japan became important in the sitting of religious buildings. In India, the sitting of these temples uses the art of Vashtu Shastra. Where temples were constructed was all important, since chi enlivens the earth as well as the body. Slow, meandering rivers or streams accumulate chi in the land nearby. Living, praying, meditating near or on concentrations of chi is therefore a source of greater concentration, clear headedness, wealth, health and happiness and links directly back to the Taoist sages and the Tantric Buddhist masters who used the chi to help during their meditations to bring enlightenment. This is how chi helps in the accumulation of earth?luck?, something which can be worked at, enhanced and improved.

The essence of Feng Shui is------ to analyse a landscape, house, office, garden and to determine where the most favourable flows of chi are located, and then work out how to produce new chi or enhance existing chi concentrations. When the chi does not flow freely, stagnant chi will accumulate. This must be dispersed and its harm reduced as much as possible. Once your good chi provides you with an increasingly positive attitude to the world, as through Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, chakra cleansing-your reaction to those around you becomes much more positive.

Feng Shui does NOT imply a lack of free will. It simply suggests that it is much easier to go with the flow than fight against it! By careful manipulation of Feng Shui techniques you can ensure that the flow, the chi, is going your way-or---- is it you going the way of the flow?

Energy Fields and Flow

This flow of chi energy within you and outside you is constantly mixing together. Every building, garden, landscape, town, street etc, has its own unique movement of chi -- natural---- and man made electro magnetic energy fields. Wherever you are, your own flow of chi is constantly being influenced by your surroundings. Hence the feeling of----- this is a ?nice? place or the feeling of' I don?t like it here.? Beams and sharp corners, chi rushing through in straight lines can make you feel very uneasy! It is therefore important to be able to control the chi of your environment through Feng Shui, but also, if you can, your own chi flow by using Tai Chi and meditation. Once again, these control methods link back directly to Taoism, Buddhism and the martial arts.


Awareness, Balance and Control/Calmness are so important in the uses of Feng Shui, meditation and Tai Chi. A lack of any of the above-A-B-C-will show through into your life as stress, tension, anger, illness and suffering. Feng Shui is one good way of attempting to restore the balance, the calmness, control and awareness of your life. It has a highly complex and well structured philosophy as we have seen, its pedigree is a long one and is connected and interwoven with the major philosophies of the Far East. It needs years and years of practice, an in-depth understanding and sincere intuition which only comes with the practice!

Congratulations-you have taken the first step on a very long journey.

Through the application of Feng Shui, you can structure your life around a series of tried and tested principles so that all the energies within and around you are aligned in harmonious balance. Your Awareness will be total, your Balance superb and your Calmness and Control increased! Having achieved all of that, opportunities for good fortune are more likely to open up to you, and you will find that you are in a position to recognise and grasp them. Also, if bad luck happens to come your way, and it can never be totally within our control----you will be in a much better position to cope with it and to defend yourself! Feng Shui, with its roots blended within the philosophies of the Ancient Eastern World is a way of life, it will encourage you to be more observant of your environment and to reflect on the ways it influences your life.

The Internal Landscape

Feng Shui is learning to tap into the chi, the natural energies which flow all around us in our environment, by using special enhancements and cures. Tai Chi, the Chinese slow motion exercise, is a way of tapping into and building up the chi inside your body. A body which the Taoists described as the internal landscape. Tai Chi is an experience--------a way of life, a philosophy tightly connected to Taoism, Feng Shui and Buddhism. You carry Tai Chi with you in the same way that when you have meditated a great deal, you will leave the meditation room and it stays with you-----------------so with Tai Chi! During the actual slow motion exercises--of which there are many forms, the mind, the soul, breath, balance, co-ordination and various parts of the body are combined to work simultaneously and spontaneously during each and every movement. The hands and the feet together with the breath combine to harmonize the powers of the yin and yang, the swirling rivers of chi all around us. The eight Compass points of the Pa Kua, the symbol used in Feng Shui, are all travelled through during the performance of Tai Chi, a moving meditation, as you stand, beginning and ending in the tai chi centre. You are taking in the chi energies from all the compass points including the centre, which is healthy and ?earthing?.

Tai Chi

In Feng Shui, the centre of any property or garden is called the tai chi and in it is the essence of yin-yang energies, light and dark, swirling round in a whirlpool. The tai chi should always be left open. The tai chi was originally the dark and sunny sides of a mountain, or the dark and sunny sides of a roof, where the tai chi was the main beam across the centre. The other compass points have different kinds of chi flowing in meandering streams. In the north it is calm and sleepy, in the north east, it is sharp and changing, in the east, it is nurturing and produces growth. The south east contains chi which brings great opportunity, the south is fiery and passionate, the south west, staid and solid, the west--unpredictable, lively and dangerous and the northwest, strong and reassuring, like a kindly father! All these energies are used in Tai Chi and they are all used in the practice of Feng Shui. Tai Chi begin in observance of the movement of animals, just as feng Shui observed Nature---the Tao, the Oneness.

Tai chi without Tao (Oneness) is no longer Tai Chi, but Chinese exercise. Feng Shui, without care, compassion, intuition and love, without an understanding of the Eastern philosophies is mere ?ornament placing?---simply interior decoration or garden design. This is why the first four parts in this series of articles tuned you into the background which is blended into Feng Shui. Studying Feng Shui in isolation leaves so many questions unanswered and renders the earth science of Feng Shui sterile!

The universe, is a vast Oneness, a great Unity-the Tao, from which chi, the energy life force comes. Everything is dependent on everything else and that harmony, that balance and the awareness of it, is the basic principle of all existence. The universe is a vast tapestry in which every star, every creature, every rock and every drop of water is an essential thread helping to hold all the other threads together. This vast picture is the one which can be echoed in your environment through the application of Feng Shui principles.

Becoming and Unbecoming

This rich, complicated tapestry, the Tao, has a peculiar characteristic. Its many threads are always moving, adjusting and changing their relationships, swinging between yin and yang-- containing the Five Elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Metal and Wood, ?Becoming and Unbecoming?. These elements then are not like the staid and solid elements of the Western world, rather they are moving and constantly changing like the protons and electrons in Quantum Physics. Change is the only constant in the Tao. With the human body, it is the same----like the Tao, the body is also a totality, a unity. As long as all of the parts co-operate with one another, the body will stay healthy-conflict will destroy. As long as all the elements of your environment are balanced and not allowed to rush about or stagnate, your surroundings will be healthy and ?luck nurturing?. Feng Shui has to ensure this happens.

The Tao

The Tao divides into yin and yang chi-the vital energy, made up of differing combinations of the Five Elements, the ?dragon?s breath? as it is known in Feng Shui. This ?dragon?s breath' differs in its composition, depending on which direction of the Compass it is coming from-in the same way that a Northern gale is different from a Southern breeze!

The yin chi is ?feminine?-non-aggressive, yielding, receptive and is particularly found in the South West. The yang chi is ?masculine?, strong, aggressive and outgoing and can be found in the North East. Every single thing is composed of a different combination of yin and yang chi-or in terms of modern physics-negative and positive particles, charged with electro-magnetic energy. We are not solid, but revolving masses of charged particles-as is everything else---our particles react with the particles of our surroundings, if harmony is not achieved, then sparks begin to fly!

The Tao is the vast ocean, composed of the ?waters? of chi, flowing in currents and eddies, into which Feng Shui masters tap. We can harmonise ourselves with the flow of the whole. We, in the modern Western World tend to categorise everything and everybody. As a result, our lives are often lived in isolation and loneliness. We have lost our feeling of Oneness with nature. Feng Shui, tai chi, meditation, yoga, chi kung and many other activities link us back into this Oneness.

The movements of Tai Chi are an imitation of the movements of the Tao, the currents of chi, the twisting and turning of yin and yang. By imitating the Tao, the student becomes one with it and harmonises himself with all things. Tai chi is an oriental discipline, it has to be done totally with all one?s being. That is the way I practise Feng Shui. I dedicate myself to the Tao, I practise my Tai Chi before I set off to do a consultation. At the end of a consultation, I meditate to help the processes gel ?before? I begin my written reports.


Mind, body and soul merge in harmony during Tai Chi, in the same way they do in meditation---the best sessions of Tai Chi are often when you cannot remember doing the moves. It has to be a process where consciousness is dispersed from the mind throughout every cell of the body so that the entire being becomes pure awareness. Tai chi masters talk of ?breathing through your heels?. A-awareness, B-balance, C-control and calmness. So it is with Tai Chi. Hand, foot, breath, balance and concentration blend into each other until the individual disappears into the Void, back into the Tao--that creative nothingness.

The pianist cannot think of every note as she plays it, it must simply be there. So,Feng Shui is the putting together of notes into one harmonious concerto. Leave the mind alone, leave the body alone, when we can do this, they flow with the Tao. Opposites cannot be separated. Yin strives to be yang, yang strives to be yin. We need both! Balance and harmony in all things. Flow with your nature, your simple self. You are a unique person, if you were not here the Tao would not be the Tao. The chi of your body is blending with the chi of nature. Enhance your own chi with meditation and tai chi, in the same way, enhance the chi of nature, your surroundings, by using Feng Shui.

The Roots of Feng Shui

Water, along with the female and the infant, is a symbol of Tai Chi. Water is a strong symbol in Taoism. Water is also used as an enhancement in Feng Shui, helping with career, health and wealth when positioned properly. Not only does the chi differ in each compass position, each chi represents different aspects of your whole life.

North is career, north east is learning and knowledge, east is health, longevity and the family, south east is wealth, south is fame and public recognition, south west, physical relationships, west, the area of children, pleasure and creativity, new projects, whilst the north west is the sector of mentors, important meetings and new beginnings. Have in mind then, the importance of water in the symbolist approach within Feng Shui, where water represents prosperity and growth and remember the importance of water in early Feng Shui when sitting graves.

Empty yourself of everything, so that you can be filled.

Taoism and Buddhism state that extremes cannot be maintained. So it is with Feng Shui, dominance is dangerous! Go too far and you get the opposite of what you are searching for. A little medicine is good and needed, overdo it and it becomes poison. Water can be energising---overdo its use and it becomes an enemy, not a friend! In my Feng Shui work, I advise clients on what to place and where-----but, it must never be overdone. Water, overdone in bathrooms, kitchens and especially in bedrooms can be very damaging to the harmony of the environment and therefore to the A-B-C, the awareness, balance, control and calmness, the harmony of the people living in that environment. Going back to Tai Chi, the original movements were separated from each other, then at some unknown point they were joined together in a ?form?. The moves were observations of nature, the movements of water, animals, birds, snakes, trees and smoke.

The same masters were observing nature for the basic rules of Feng Shui. The original moves of these exercises have been lost, no one can say what they were like. In much the same way, some of the original thoughts of Feng Shui have been shrouded in the mists of time and have developed over many centuries, sometimes into contradictions.

Chi Kung and the Use of Chi

Chi Kung means the cultivation of chi energy. I practise Chi Kung in movements called ?The Eight Pieces of Treasure' which are older than Tai Chi, as old as Feng Shui, older than Taoism. Throughout all Chinese history, these movements have been there, once again copied from nature and often given titles referring back to nature. Certain postures which regulate the breath and concentrate the mind are called the ?Frolics of the Five Animals?, the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird. The hard chi or soft chi developed can be used in martial arts and meditation respectively. Chinese medicine talks of channelled chi and it is used, in various ways, through chakra cleansing, space clearing and of course, Feng Shui.

Chi Kung is standing, with feet planted firmly and performing exercises with the rest of the body, without moving your stance. You are ?earthing? your body, taking in the chi from around you.

All of this ties back into Taoism, and further back before the philosophy was even called Taoism, until they were all collected together under the one philosophy. Animals and birds, as well as water, have great symbolism in Feng Shui as indeed do numbers, especially the number five which represents ?the centre? also known ,as we have learned before, as the tai chi.


The key word throughout it all is------- harmony, the balance of yin/ yang. As mentioned earlier, the word yin originally referred to the dark side of a hill or
mountain where the sun did not reach and the word yang to the light side illuminated by the sun. As you have also read, another story says that yin yang referred to the dark side and sunlit side of a house, the tai chi being the main beam of the roof sitting between the two. In Feng Shui, the centre of the compass is often called the tai chi and is a place of very special energy flow! It is also represented by the number five, using the ?magic square? called the Lo Shu which we shall look at in detail in a future lesson. The meaning of yin and yang eventually widened in much the same way that the application of Feng Shui, once used only for gravesites, then for crops, extended out to houses and gardens, using a different form of the compass[Luo Pan] for the buildings of the living.

The wider application of the terms yin and yang introduced a further sophistication-that of Wu Hsing---?the five things which are being done?--- or more simply the five elements. These five elements are moving swirls of energy, constantly changing. The five activities of water, fire, wood ,metal and earth are processes, in movement and they interact. These five elements do not so much cause something to happen as create a pattern in which something does happen! Read that sentence a few times and in it you have one of the main cores of Feng Shui. The elements, once again, are connected to the points of the compass, and the chi which is associated with each sector, as we shall soon see. Notice, there are FIVE elements, but think of them as forces rather than as solid objects.

The number five fits in very well with many more things connected with Taoism and its associated ?arts', one of these being Feng Shui.

There are four seasons and the balance which exists between them makes up the number to five. Wood represents things in growth, the Spring, the East; Fire, the state of maximum vitality, Summer-the South; Metal, a declining state, West, the setting sun and Autumn----- Water, in the North, a state of rest, Winter. Earth or equilibrium is the natural balance of the four----appearing in the centre of the Pa Kua(the design template placed over a plan of a house, office or garden in Feng Shui and shaped like an octagon, with a small circle at its centre.)

The centre, known as the tai chi, is associated with the number five, which is the central number in the numbers 1 to 9. 1=North, 2=South West, 3=East, 4=South East, 5=Centre, 6=North West, 7=West, 8=North East and 9=South. These need to be learnt as they are also used in Chinese Astrology to determine a client?s Pa Kua numbers, their ?lucky? locations and directions. Each direction of the compass is also symbolised by an element.

All the Ancient Eastern philosophies mingle and merge, all of them display the same natural truths, the same observations of the natural order of things and they all draw the same conclusions----awareness, balance and calmness. They surely cannot all be wrong! The compass points used in Feng Shui are related to the moves used in Tai Chi. The Eight Pieces of Treasure used in Chi Kung relate back to the eight compass points used in Feng Shui. The eight compass points plus the centre make nine, the number of heaven and earth combined in Taoism. I am hoping by now you are tiring of me showing you the similarities between all theses different disciplines. I would hope you are beginning to say, same mountain, different paths-and even then the paths cross many times!


The original name of Hsing-I Chuan, an ancient form of moving exercise similar to Tai Chi, could well have been Five Activities Boxing---- since its basic movements consist of five techniques. It describes perfectly, the Five Elements constantly in motion. Pa-Kua took its name from the eight trigrams and Tai Chi from the diagram of the Supreme Ultimate, once again all are interconnected. Tai Chi theory takes the eight trigrams and relates them to eight movements or ?gates? and subdivided these into four directions and four corners, which are all passed through during the practice of the Tai Chi exercises, or ?Form?.

The movements, in all forms of Chinese exercise, were seen as a way of becoming in harmony with the universe-- with the aim of attaining health, longevity and inner tranquillity. As such, it seeks the same result as meditation, in a complementary way. Many Taoist masters have attested to the importance of physical exercise in conjunction with the practice of meditation and getting the environment right through Feng Shui.

These practices began in China in prehistoric times, the vital essence of chi was known about then and-- the forces around it, the symbolic animals, shown in very ancient pottery and jewellery. Breathing techniques, for use in meditation, martial arts and Taoist ritual, have been an important subject of study in China for well over six thousand years. The Taoists, once again, were responsible for putting all the techniques together, techniques to prevent sickness, prolong youth, achieve longevity and reach their highest goal------- immortality. Even today, in the symbols of Feng Shui, these aspirations are symbolically represented in various directions and animal metaphors, immortality has ?lapsed' into the more realistic hope of longevity! Some of the movements in Tai Chi were known as--- the interplay of bird and turtle. The bird, a phoenix, symbolises the south and the turtle, the north, respectively fire and water. The east is symbolised by the green dragon, the ultimate creature of good fortune and very yang male], whilst the west is represented by the white tiger, very yin[female]. Once again, at this point, it would help to learn the different creatures and their associated compass points.

Feng Shui Masters

In times gone by, the Feng Shui ?master? was likely to be the old man/woman of the village, also expert at Tai Chi and meditation, practising Chinese medicine-either that or a Taoist priest. These days, a Feng Shui master/consultant is likely to be part ?hsien -sheng?(master), part interior designer and part esoteric practitioner.

The Feng Shui practitioner definitely needs to know something of Taoism and Tai Chi and the basics of Chinese and Japanese philosophy,---otherwise the Feng Shui he/she performs will be cut off from its traditions and roots and merely be a hobby, a playing about with things oriental until the next fad comes along!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Soak yourself in the philosophies of China and Japan and Feng Shui will become a natural piece of the whole jigsaw puzzle and a very important, key piece, it is as well.

Part of the confusion surrounding Feng Shui is the fact that it comes from all these multiple origins. There is no canonical book or almanac that can answer all of your questions on Feng Shui and there is no single school which trains the Feng Shui masters. Feng Shui has grown over many centuries by trial and error, through observation and mysticism. People in the West have now stopped trying to force the natural world to conform to the will of mankind and many are trying to live in
harmony with it. This has been part of Feng Shui for thousands of years. Modern times have brought an attempt to set Feng Shui principles down in stone-but-----there is no Great Answer to tie up all the loose ends.

Some practitioners set special store by using the points of the compass. Others prefer to emphasise colours, ornaments and crystals. Still more use all of these plus astrology and divination.


Because there are many competing authorities, some of the details, enhancements and cures used in Feng Shui can appear contradictory. Feng Shui began when people had a very different way of explaining the world. This is why I insist on my students getting a basic background in the philosophies that were around at the time, that they know a little of Tai Chi and Chi Kung and that they are aware of meditation and its many methods. My students then become aware of the thinking of the Ancient Chinese and how the symbolism and metaphor of Feng Shui fits in with this thinking.

There are four main schools of Feng Shui, two of which I consider to be the ancient, traditional ones, Form School, using the Landscape, hills, water and valleys--- and Compass School, using the compass directions. Added to these two there are two schools of Black Hat Feng Shui, an Eastern and a Western school, both of which claim to have their origins deep within the mysteries of Tantric Buddhist practice. The Black Hat schools are very popular in America and rely a great deal of the intuitive qualities of the practitioner.

Modern thought often reaches the same conclusions as Feng Shui, in the same way that yin yang can now be explained in terms of quantum physics. Social geography tells us that farming communities like to face south because their crops get more sunlight. Large companies spend huge sums of money on time-and-motion-studies to increase their workers' productivity only to reach the same conclusions as the ancient Feng Shui manuals. Feng Shui cannot be seen in isolation, but must be viewed along the Oriental philosophies with which it has so much in common.


One of the strong connections with all these philosophies, which has echoes through into Feng Shui is meditation. Focusing the mind to bring peace and harmony into your
mind and body has always been the basis of meditation. People have been trying to ?focus the mind? for thousands of years. Meditation is involved in all of the major religions and philosophies----- and certainly, as we have seen, it occupies a strong place in Indian, Chinese and Zen Japanese] Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Native American traditions and Taoism. But there are essential differences to be noted.

In Buddhism, the real world does not exist-it is called ?Maya?, meaning illusion. In Taoism however, the real world definitely exists and is made up of yin and yang and the five moving elements of earth, fire, metal, wood and earth.

Meditation, whatever you believe, is there to help you cope better with the ?outside world' and also to improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. It is the sitting form of Tai Chi. Meditation masters all agree----the first thing you need to change in order to change your life is----- your mind!! Your mind controls everything and so everything else follows.

Reality and Perception

This article, you will be pleased to read[!], will not go into great detail about the techniques of meditation-although, if you wish, you can spend time doing that and you can learn simple visualisation methods and discover how to meditate. We basically create our own reality, through our perceptions of the world and these perceptions of the world and how we feel about ourselves and our environment are very important in the practice of Feng Shui. Meditation helps us to clear these perceptions and in so doing reduces stress and problem exaggeration. Meditation is a practice which, across all the traditions, is intended to still the turbulence of our outer and inner lives. It brings Awareness, Balance and Calmness remember A-B-C].

It creates harmony between the individual and his or her social and spiritual world. It brings stillness, understanding, freedom and tranquillity. In China and Japan and to a certain extent in India through Vashtu, the building of holy buildings using the compass points)-it is linked with Feng Shui or Inyodo as it is known in Japan-meaning ?the way of yin and yang.?

Meditation is Being----be---ing, not doing! It is a method of learning to be---- without attachment, greed's, desires, aggressions or guilt's. Meditation takes us deeply into the world of metaphor and symbol. Like Feng Shui, the basics are decorated with beautiful imagery to help the mind cope with the vastness of it all. In meditation, we work with the breath, the breath is made up of chi and the chi flows round the body in the same way that chi flows round your house or garden in meandering streams of good energy. In Tai Chi, in meditation, as in Feng Shui------we are trying to trap, to enhance, to use the chi around us and in us. Breathing in meditation is the starting point and remains the most important focus right the way through into Tantric meditation and Vajrayana (these are special, quick--- yet very difficult forms of meditation.)

Focusing the mind IS the basis of meditation.

The Mind!

The mind is infinite-there are no boundaries, no limits, no walls! All that exists, exists within the mind. Unlike the brain, which is the instrument of the mind, the mind has no form-it cannot be measured or separated from its host. It is intangible, abstract.
The mind is part of the Oneness, the whole, the way, the infinite. As individuals, each one a part of the Tao, each, it would seem, possesses an infinite mind containing all that exists. In fact, there is only ONE mind, one infinite, all embracing mind--- and we are all part of it-?becoming and unbecoming?. It is this great, one mind that is the provider of all chi which is tapped into when we use Feng Shui to enhance our gardens, homes and businesses.

Feng Shui is using chi, as the Chinese say,' harnessing the dragon?s breath?. Chi-containing yin and yang and the five moving energies, the five basic elements---earth, wood, fire, water and metal. Chi produces specific patterns of movement, the meandering, moving rivers of vibrations which result in the countless balanced systems of interacting currents-energy, electric magnetic energy, the movements of chi used in Feng Shui.By using Feng Shui you can learn how to trap and use this chi, how to prevent it rushing away from you and how to prevent it from stagnating!

Ancient Symbolism of Animals

Red is redder, water is wetter and mud is muddier!

The world is how we perceive it, how we react to it. Awareness, Balance and Calmness/Control enable you to see the world in a different way. By using the chi energies within you and around you, harmony is achieved. Chi produces specific patterns of movement which results in the countless balanced systems of interacting currents, ?becoming and unbecoming?-energy, electric magnetic energy, the meandering movements of Sheng Chi the?dragon?s breath' used in Feng Shui.

Four Celestial Animals

There is an ancient saying in Chinese, First, luck, Second, destiny, Third, Feng Shui Fourth, virtues and Fifth, education. Feng Shui is a powerful force which can help to shape our lives, but it is not a panacea. Person Luck Merit] and Karma, as mentioned in the two previous lessons, play a major role as well. This should always be remembered when dealing with Feng Shui. It cannot create miracles, although saying that, it often seems to by producing positive attitudes out of bleakness.

Feng Shui allows us to put ourselves within our immediate surroundings to the best possible advantage. The positive energies of our environment can be enhanced and nurtured then the negative ones reduced. One of the most important ways of doing this is by harnessing the power, the symbolism of what are called the ?Four Celestial Animals?. The whole of the universe and all the things inside it are continuously throbbing with the energies of the natural chi which is flowing through it. In the Landscape School of Feng Shui, also known as the Form School, practitioners will try to find the most auspicious places for someone to live so that they will be flowing in harmony with the Tao, the Universal Chi. They do this by looking at the land formations around the property, garden or commercial premises.

Symbolism in Feng Shui has already been mentioned in these articles. The symbolism comes through from prehistory into Taoism and Buddhism. The Four Celestial Animals belong to this symbolism. The dragon, the tiger, the turtle and the phoenix are essential to your basic knowledge, both for the rules of Form School and Compass School Feng Shui.


The dragon is the most powerful symbol in Chinese history and tradition. The whole of the landscape is very often described in terms of a dragon?s body. Dragons live in mountain ranges. They will not live in flat or desert landscapes. Dragons are the ultimate representation of good luck, bringing prosperity and abundance. You can have water dragons, earth dragons, sky dragons, celestial dragons and Imperial dragons. Your left hand side is known as your dragon side. This would bring into the property and garden the positive influence of the dragon. Hills will also slow down rushing chi into a more moderate flow. The dragon is thought of as a strongly Yang, male symbol. Its energy is growing, lively and strong. Dragons with three toes or four toes are friendlier than the five toed Imperial dragon, which really should only be used by the Emperor and his family. Incidentally, the Imperial dragon was given his extra toe so that he could show how intelligent he was. The fifth toe enabled him to read, by being able to turn the pages of a book and write, being able to hold a pen!

The hills to the east side of a property should always be slightly higher than those to the right. Those to the right symbolise the tiger. The tiger is dangerous, so very unpredictable and should always be kept under control and never be allowed to dominate. The dragon protects, brings luck and success and is the ?divine bringer of storms' which clears stale and stagnant air. It is said that the dragon is most powerful in the centre of a room the tai chi], but he will bring fortune anywhere.


The tiger?s power should always be second to that of the dragon. She symbolises protection, but is very unpredictable and can be dangerous when roused. I usually recommend that no images of the tiger are needed in a property, since her power there will already be extremely strong. A tiger?s power must be contained. Tiger hills, to the right of the property, if possible, when looking out of the front door need to be lower and more rounded than dragon hills. Dragons are male, tigers are female[Yin]. . The dragon and the tiger always co-exist .When there is a position for the dragon, there will always be a position for the tiger, so there is no need to use tiger imagery at all. She is already present! In China, the tiger is known as the King of the Mountain. Ancient Chinese soldiers used to have a tiger painted on their shields, bringing her ferocious spirit to help them. The tiger has always been a symbol of bold, brave leadership. The tiger likes to lead and does not follow orders easily. Amber jewellery is a wonderful protector and is known as ?the soul of the Tiger?. It is especially good for anyone finding themselves the victim of a bully!

A lovely story, older than Feng Shui, about the White Tiger and the Green Dragon is that they were said to have mated and so produced abundant amounts of special cosmic chi. The special place where this happens is called Cheng Lung Pak Fu.


There is no differentiation between a turtle and a tortoise in Chinese, they use the same word for both. A turtle is the symbol of the North, which has the Pa Kua number 1. He symbolises support, self reliance, stability and longevity, and from Ancient Chinese Taoism, the Dark Warrior. Low, rounded hills, shaped like a turtle shell symbolises the turtle. In Chinese and Japanese gardens, a turtle island is a lucky shaped rock to have near the edge of a pool. It is best if the rock is discovered in a turtle shape, rather than being' constructed?! The perfect place for Turtle hills are at the back of a property, like the headrest of an armchair. The turtle of the North is linked with winter and the colours of black and dark blue. Water is also associated with the North, bringing in wealth and abundance connected with career.

He is one of the most sacred animals of China and rose deep from the waters of the Yellow river carrying magical symbols on his back. There is a story within the legends of Taoism which states that the Tortoise[turtle]had forgotten the Eight Rights and Wrongs, so its image in the West is said to help to make naughty children behave, but in the Southwest, the earth mother corner, it will make the lady of the house misbehave!!!!!!!!! A turtle ornament or picture in the North West is said to help with virility and impotence. Turtle images are always made more powerful if water is added, either real or a representation in the form of anything coloured blue, or a small octagonal mirror beneath him not a Pa Kua mirror, which should only be used outside].


The phoenix is the final celestial animal. It represents the South, Pa Kua number 9, the number of fullness and perfection, its element being fire. It is a symbol of opportunity and its colour is red. It represents the season of summer, the season of warmth. The dragon was the symbol of the Emperor and the phoenix is the symbol of the Empress. She symbolises a life of fame, public recognition and reputation and is always very important to anyone involved in the public eye, especially show business.

The phoenix has been found drawn on very ancient Chinese pottery and has always symbolised great opportunities! Low, small hills at the front of a property are the perfect place for the phoenix, looking like a footstool in front of an armchair! The phoenix symbolises all the good things about a human being?s personality like truth, virtue, loyalty, love and honesty. She is also said to signify a life of ease and luxury.
In Chinese legend, the body of the phoenix symbolises the five human qualities, the head is virtue, the wings, duty, the back is correct behaviour, the breast-humanity and the stomach---reliability. She is the female, nurturing symbol, although sometimes represented by a cockerel or pheasant. The phoenix only appears on the earth in times of great wealth and is said to grant long happiness and happy marriages. As well as the South, she also can be used in the South West in pairs. Too much phoenix imagery around the house/office/garden may encourage too much passivity and ?giving in to others?, leading to a feeling of not being appreciated.

Cosmic Breath

You have read much no doubt about the concept of chi and through these articles, read how its ideas have permeated all of the ancient Eastern philosophies. The flow of good chi is called Sheng Chi, the dragon?s breath--whereas bad, stale or rushing chi is known as Shar[or Sha ]Chi----?killing arrows?. Straight, vertical lines as in corners, lamp posts, straight paths and edges bring Shar Chi rushing through. Legends in China and Japan say that demons only travel in straight lines--this is why, curves, soft edges and meandering lines should be encouraged. Incidentally, demons cannot jump either and this, symbolically, is why front doors and porch/hall areas should always be at least one step up into the house!

Where the dragon?s breath can be encouraged, trapped and used, where a permanent circulating pool can be built up, good fortune, health and prosperity will surely follow. The interactions of the five elements ?becoming and unbecoming? will help this to happen. Earth, wood, fire, water and metal, all can be carefully controlled and used to accumulate ?chi? the dragon?s breath, by manipulation of the environment, the Celestial Animals--bringing good ?earth luck'. The Western explanation of luck explains nothing. ?He is a ?lucky' person?, we say. Feng Shui helps to explain why he is a lucky person. Even the word ?luck' then has a different meaning in the philosophies of the East compared to our everyday use in the West.

It makes us see as well why Sheng Chi, good chi, the dragon?s breath, should be encouraged and helped, why Shar Chi' killing arrows? or stagnant chi should be spotted and destroyed. Sheng Chi is good and helpful to have around and brings with it a feeling of harmony, of Awareness-Balance-Calmness, Control.. Being alive and aware, in harmony with your surroundings can bring good feelings and lets us know when a place feels intuitively ?nice? or ?nasty?!! A positive attitude to the world and to life in general allows opportunities to be grabbed and used. It also allows us to get through very bad times without too much damage. The value of Feng Shui is just as important now as it was 6000 years ago in the countryside of Ancient China---perhaps more so, with all the pressures and stresses we have to put up with.

All aspects of your life can be enhanced, all opportunities can be brought within reach. Using Feng Shui will bring better luck, followed by better ?richness? of life in general.

Paul Darby is a feng shui expert, a registered consultant with the Feng Shui Society(UK), who travels all over advising individuals and companies on homes, gardens and offices.

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