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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Is Feng Shui Superstitious

Is Feng Shui Superstitious: "The Oxford dictionary defines superstition as “any blindly accepted belief or notion”. So people who think Feng Shui is superstitious would think that Feng Shui is a belief or a notion entertained regardless of any reason or logic.

Is this the case? Is it true that Feng Shui is just a belief? Is its analysis without reason or a theoretical framework?

Feng Shui is not superstitious…

Feng Shui is not just a belief. We do not need to have faith for Feng Shui to work. If we live in an environment with bad Feng Shui, sooner or later it will affect us somehow. We may not be aware that it is Feng Shui at work: we may just feel uncomfortable, or unsettled for some reason but can’t put words to it. Feng Shui has a paradigm and a terminology to describe this unbalanced state of being. The theoretical framework for Feng Shui is based on Chinese metaphysics whose origin comes from the observations of nature and the interaction of the yin and yang forces in our environment. There is a great deal of know-how that has been collected through the 2,000 – 3,000 years of evolution of Feng Shui practice.

On the other hand…

To say that Feng Shui is completely devoid of superstition is not true either. There are many examples of gross misinterpretations of the metaphysics, the classic example being an old Feng Shui method called “Wu-Yin-Xing-Li” – interpreting the auspiciousness of a dwelling according to the five sounds of an owner’s surname. This method was severely criticized by Han Dynasty scholar Wang-Chong (born 27 AD) and subsequently dropped out of Feng Shui practice.

Because Feng Shui involves a multi-disciplinary approach to its practice, we should not look at it only from a Western scientific point of view. Feng Shui is also an art. A large portion of Feng Shui analysis requires a personal and subjective interpretation of the given data. One needs to balance out the subjectivity with the objectivity of a given situation. To the Chinese, the brain is tied to the heart (Xin-Yi), so science and art can exist and should exist as one discipline, instead of two separate entities.

Ultimately, Feng Shui looks at the interaction of the environment with its user. Since the user is a human being and by nature we are a part rational and part irrational being, so Feng Shui has to be part scientific (rational) and part intuitive (irrational/superstitious) as well.

We have an irrational fear of superstition…

If we can accept the notion that everything in nature is composed of the yin and yang complimentary opposites, why can we not accept the fact that behind the rational thoughts are the intuitions and the irrational feelings that seem superstitious? Why can’t science and faith exist side by side? Western science does not have all the answers. Chinese science may be able to provide some of the missing answers. The sceptics are good at attacking irrationality and superstition but they don’t realise that in their zest for Western science and rationality, they are being irrational as well. They give more power to the devil than it deserves.

Feng Shui is unique…

In that it tries to work with the opposing forces of nature. It is extremely complex to practice even though the principles and the objectives are quite straightforward. It looks for balance and harmony, both inside our head as well as out there in the environment. To dismiss it as mere superstition is to throw away a valuable resource from the Chinese culture.

“The Westerner is a man of extremes, who fails to see the basic unity of positive and negative. He strives for the positive and denies the negative. He identifies himself with one extreme, which he makes the goal and god of his life. But the opposite still remains and reacts on him. Unable to reach his god, he finds his self divided, and being self-divided he creates one-sided things that split nature and in turn disrupt man and his order. He fights the devil within his heart and in fits of despair turns negative and creates destruction. He turns to science, technology and formulas to create machines that will bring happiness to man, only to discover that they also bring unhappiness. The happiness and suffering which he brought about he calls progress and thinks this is his mission in life”

(A Taoist speaking to Wolfram Eberhard in his book with Hedda Morrison, Hua Shan – The Taoist Sacred Mountain in West China, Vetch and Lee Ltd, Hong Kong, 1974.)"


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