So what is Feng Shui? It is literally Wind Water in Chinese. For a practitioner or enthusiast, there is a lot of significance in the words Wind Water but to uninitiated it does not mean much.
Here is a common definition of Feng Shui. It is a Chinese metaphysical study that looks at the how the surroundings affect mankind - positive or negatively.
While this definition is correct, it is incomplete. Let me explain.
The definition implies that the nearby naturally occurring surrounding features - especially large ones - such as mountains and waterways somehow affect mankind. Also included in the list are man made structures such a lamp post, buildings, roads, high tension pylons, electrical substations, cemetery etc.
The ancient text says that when there is form, there is ‘qi’. The location, shape, size and distance of these natural features and artificial structures generate qi - both good and bad - that affect mankind. This is well known and is known as ‘Xing Fa’ or Form Technique. It is exemplified by the San He School and is popularly called, Form School.
Unfortunately for beginners to Feng Shui, the ancient text also says that there is also ‘qi’ in the absence of form! What did they mean?
It is also quite well known that mankind is also affected by the cosmic energy (also called qi) that comes from out of space. These are forces created by planetary movements. It is also known as ‘Li Fa’ or ‘Li Qi’ which is a technique or ‘qi’ that is unseen but can be revealed through calculation.
The San Yuan School is based on this belief that the quality of these energies changes with time and influence the quality of dwelling. This is the reason why some dwellers that have good Feng Shui can turn bad (and good again) with the passage of time.
The Xuan Kong Fei Xing (Flying Star) system is an example of such a ‘Li’ or ‘Calculation’ system.
From the above we can say that Feng Shui is a study of how mankind is affect by the surrounding that are not just limited to nearby surrounding forms but also invisible energies that originate from the cosmos (out of space).
But is this explanation complete. In my opinion, it is not. Let me explain further.
Advance students of Feng Shui know that there is an intrinsic and undeniable relationship between Feng Shui and a person’s natal chart (or astrology). Somehow at birth, an energy signature is imbued into use that determines how the different directions and sectors will affect us.
This is best exemplified by the Eight Mansions Personal Gua system where each of us have 4 good and 4 bad directions and sectors based on our year of birth.
At a more advance level I will use Ba Zi and Zi Wei which is highly personalized as it takes the year, month, day and hour of birth into consideration. Advanced practitioners know that with Ba Zi or Zi Wei , we can state with decent accuracy how the different directions and sectors - 8 with Ba Zi and 12 with Zi Wei - affect a person’s wealth, career, health, travel and relationships.
And these directions and sectors are different for everyone who is not born on the same day and time. This is best illustrated by the ancient Feng Shui saying, "Three persons living in the same house walk a different path". This is another reason why it is not possible to optimize the Feng Shui of a house for every occupant. In practice we optimize it for the head of the household and do our best for the rest!
As you can see, Feng Shui is not just about how nearby forms affect us. A complete practitioner will also consider the unseen cosmic forces as well as take the person’s astrology into consideration.