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Feng Shui - The subtle invasion
The East invades the West!
It appears that the church growth movement has the wrong idea of how to increase the your modern worship styles and your evangelism; these things won’t be very effective until you get rid of that stone lion in front of the building across the street.
That might be one of the things a feng shui consultant might suggest.
Feng shui, Chinese geomancy, is gaining popularity in Western Society, with the general public, as well as in the corporate world, especially when considering interior design.All in an attempt to improve one’s health and wealth.
References to feng shui, and advice from feng shui consultants, can be found in women’s magazine, architects magazines, interior decorators’ publications, and many other periodicals - from Australia through to many European countries, as well as in Asia.
For example, feng shui consultants are in great demand in west Germany, according to a report on October 26, 2001. Naturally they are also in demand in Asian countries and cities such as Singapore and Hong Hong. Payment for the services of a reputable feng shui practitioner (or consultant, or master) can range from 9 to 15 Deutsche Marks per square meter in Germany to between S$500 and S$5,000 per consultation in Singapore.
Historically, the Emperors were the only people in China who were allowed to use feng shui originally. But, we assume, one of the emperors - or his imperial feng shui ’consultant’ - made a bad choice about where he put his doorway onto the back patio; some energy escaped and made its way among the common people, who knew a good thing when they found it, and learned its secrets.
A fanciful interpretation certainly, but it is always helpful to keep a sense of humour about you. While feng shui is supposed to work irrespective of one’s morality, many practitioners seem to suggest that in practice, the size of the benefit very much depends upon your attitude and behaviour.
Originally, feng shui meant to align oneself properly with the seasons (the term ’feng shui’ means ’wind and water’) and is basically, ’the art of the placement of things’; in the present day, this takes the form of constructing and positioning houses and rooms, doors and windows, flowers and furniture, even down to metals and colours, in ways that, according to Taoist (pronounced ’dow-ist’) philosophy, allow the forces of yin and yang to remain in harmony, bringing good ’chi’. This included where one placed one’s dead relatives’ graves in order to keep them content in the afterworld, and also to appease the spirits of wind and water.
However, today many feng shui practitioners do not consider feng shui as a religion or superstition, but rather claim it is based on the world-view centred on ’chi’ or ’breath’, which is the universal energy that permeates all things (’use the Force, Luke’). In feng shui, one designs every aspect of one’s house so as to bring in the most positive balance of chi.
Feng shui seeks to balance the yin and yang forces of ’chi’, but getting the right balance seems to be extremely difficult.An imbalance of yin and yang supposedly makes chi disrupt your life. Chi is apparently fickle - it will leave as soon as it can, but if you treat it well and make the house attractive, it may linger around for awhile and bring you money and happiness. Chi is also not very intelligent - it seems chi can only enter through the front and leave through the back.
So, to get a good balance of yin and yang in order to get the best chi, it appears that:
You must position your house, furniture, plants in certain places, facing certain directions. One does not, for instance, place the toilet in the prosperity corner, lest one flushes one’s wealth away. What about a nice aquarium instead?
Apparently also brought into play are:
(i) the geography of the house - it interesting to note that living at a T-junction may well cause you to lose prosperity, and that a 3-way crossroads may increase the likelihood of immorality;
(ii) the design of the house - sharp angles are like arrows, nasty things that can hurt you if pointed the wrong way;
(iii) the knick-knacks you place within and outside the house - plants, dragons (presumably ceramic or paper ones), mirrors to deflect ’bad’ chi, fish-ponds etcetera;
(iv) (Chinese) astrology - what is good for the horse is not necessarily so for the rat;
(v) the textures and colours of your environs - red does make you go faster;
(vi) numerology - 4 or 7 means death, 8 means prosperity;
(vii) and even the location of an ancestor’s grave.
According to many of its practitioners, feng shui is a complex art and science, well worth the several hundred dollars one may well pay for a consultation; despite the fact that, as one feng shui consultant said, it’s mostly commonsense. (It’s obviously better feng shui to charge large sums of money, than to suggest people use common sense!)
Certainly, there is no doubt that surroundings do affect one’s mood, at least. One does not want to go into a bright red or orange room if feeling stressed, nor into a total black room if feeling depressed; nor do we feel relaxed looking out the kitchen window onto a brick wall. Common sense also suggests that it is not wise to build one’s house on the slippery slopes on the side of a hill known for its large mud-slides. Thus, while part of feng shui undoubtedly is common sense, animism and the use of astrology also comes into play, as does an unsubstantiated symbolism in the connection, for instance, of water to money - such symbolism can easily degenerate into superstition.
While one may not see belief in yin, yang and chi as religious, but rather as part of a world-view, this world-view does affect how one sees the natural environment and also the Divine. If yin and yang are constantly striving forces, opposite to, but complementing one another, this is a form of dualism, in which there are two powerful forces at work. (Zoroastrianism has this world-view as well, where neither the good god nor the bad one can overcome the other.)
However we must go one step further back. Both yin and yang are the two aspects of the one chi, the breath, the life-force which permeates the universe. By this concept, then, belief in chi and the things relating to it reflect a form of panentheism: that is, god is in all things. But this ’god’ is an impersonal, amoral force, not the Christian concept of a personal yet transcendent (outside of the universe) being. And an amoral god (if it is impersonal, it has to be amoral, knowing neither good nor bad) is in opposition to the Christian message as well - the Bible speaks of God as the righteous Judge. ’Will not the Judge of the earth do what is right?’
While there is no doubt that the decor and surroundings of one’s home and office are important in keeping one relaxed and content (as any organisational psychologist will tell you), surely the most important factor is the relationship of the family or co-workers (this includes the boss) to each other, where each person works as a team, each part of which builds the others up, both personally and professionally.
Why are feng shui consultants chosen in preference to (Western) organisational psychologists or ergonomics experts? It may be the same cause that seems to be afflicting all the Western world: that is, a general rejection of the Christian message, which is now seen by many as a ’western’ and ’institutionalised’ religion. So, because Christianity is old hat, people seek other means to satisfy their spiritual emptiness.
But that still does not explain how a stone lion could supposedly counteract the influence of a church; especially when we have as our head the living lion of the tribe of Judah.
(From TACL Vol 23 #3 April 2002)