Feng Shui-- is this as bad as I think???

Okay, I’m going to assume that y’all are vaguely familar with Feng Shui, and a fair sampling of the silly books about it that are out right now. I just finished “Feng Shui Dos and Taboos,” and the only thing I can think is that this is just a PRIMER FOR OCD. There are lucky and unlucky directions, placement of every imaginable item in your home and garden, numbers (which is really a giveaway, I think!), colors, flowers, trees, plants, animals, etc. Yes, I know; it has a long and venerable tradition and all that, but honestly, who else thinks it’s being perpetuated by people with OCD and LOTS of denial??

Of course, the entire reason I read this book in the first place was because it’s a key part of my exposure and response prevention therapy. Basically, I took notes on everything you’re NOT supposed to do, and one by one, I’m going to do all those things. Pictures of dragons in the bedroom, the bed facing the door, bathroom doors left open, a willow tree planted in the backyard, etc. But I’m doing it because a big part of my OCD is magical thinking-- authors of books like this are trying to frighten people into doing these things because otherwise something awful is going to happen!! Well, that’s OCD thinking in a nutshell. It’s like they want others to get it. If someone already had a predisposition towards OCD anyway, doing Feng Shui could be enough to trigger it, IMHO. I think it’s really kind of awful.

But, maybe not. I’m far from an unbiased observer. What do y’all think?

Thousands of years ago in China, someone worked out that you shouldn’t dig an outhouse next to the well, and then someone just went nuts writing the rest of the rulebook.

Actually designing the way energy flows through a building is something that every architect and interior designer considers. If you think it doesn’t matter go to the Guggenheim and walk around, and then take a cab to a warehouse filled with boxes and walk around.

A lot of it obviously is cultural baggage, which one doesn’t need to resent in order to remove due to lack of necessity.

Temples throughout history have been built facing east, the reason for this should be quite obvious.

“Energy” does not “flow” through buildings, and any architect who tells you it does is some kinda melonhead.

What you’re talking about is simply aesthetics and functionality, which is of course quite important in building design. Learning how people use and move throughout structures and figuring out sunlight and visibility issues and so forth is of vital importance. But none of this involves “energy” or your “chi” or “organic yogurt” or any other nonsense, especially including “feng shui,” which rivals astrology for vague, useless advice disguised as some kind of scientific system.

Ah, the classic abuse of the word “energy”.

Other common-sense things include “do not put a mirror opposite your bed” (because if you wake up in the middle of the night you might see yourself in the mirror and get a fright), “the best place for a house is on the side of a hill, overlooking the sea” (because it’s aesthetically pleasing, and relatively safe).

One thing to note, however, is how seriously this bullshit is taken in China. In Hong Kong there’s a high-rise apartment block with a hole in it, to allow the dragon that lives on the hill behind to get down to the sea. Commissioned before the handover, the Bank of China building was specifically purposed with three horizontal apexes that intersect the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (a British-owned institution), the Legislative Council, and the Governor’s house. The Australian owners of the “Bond Centre” went bust; the first thing the new Chinese owners was get a geomancer in, who instructed them to turn off the fountains that flowed out from the building because it was drawing money from the company (money = “water” in Cantonese slang).

Because it’s taken so seriously, it has a massive placebo effect, and westerners living there dismiss it at their peril.

I’d love to see a picture of that - is there one online somewhere?

Well, light is a form of energy, and air circulating is energetic, but I too can’t bear the vague use of ‘energy’ in this way.

Here you go.

Hehe. That’s lovely. Do the apartments bordering the hole command higher rental, perchance?

::Scratches head::
Why doesn’t the dragon just go around? I mean it’s only a few feet and he’s alot less likely to catch a wing on the edge of the hole. Seems like an excuse to do something stupid in the name of tradition or myth or seeing what they can get us merkins to believe.

I hope not, I’d want half price rent if I gotta worry about a dragon wing/foot/head clipping my apartment. And besides, you’d think you’d be at a higher risk for a fire, what if the dragon sneezes or gets mad as it’s about to go through the hole?

Dragon lines are immutable, silly. If he can’t get through, he’ll get angry and cause bad luck to the people in the apartment.

For once, it’s not about you. :wink:

It just wanted to say that while I know absolutely nothing about Feng Shui, I do know that exposure therapy is an extremely effective for anxiety disorders of many stripes. It’s difficult, but it changed my life. I wish you the best of luck.

the stone lions guarding the hsbd building used to face straight out in venerable british tradition. they now face each other to block the bad mojo from the bank of china building. hsbc deny this but there are before and after photos.

the bond center is a bad location or bad feng shui - you decide. either way almost every owner has gone bust and it’s a crappy building. I worked there for a few months.

on the subject of fengshui,
the Master speaks

The Lippo Group didn’t go bust did it?

a couple of owners w nt bust or were distressed sellers. not sure if Lippo survived the 97 crash - they certainly were crippled. i’m posting from a pda so hard to check right now

The master being Dex in this instance. I kind of agree with him: stripping away the more bullshit aspects of feng shui, you’re left with a fund of commonsensical suggestions about how to improve the quality of your surroundings.

Rather than getting hung up on whether chi exists or doesn’t exist, it’s more useful to think of it as a way to conceptualize the principles of feng shui, almost as if it were a unit of measurement. It can be used simply as a way to talk about spaces, and whether they’re arranged harmoniously or not.

So give the Chinese credit for attempting to systematize something we all know more or less intuitively. And if they heaped on a bunch of extra cultural baggage, I still think we can strip some of that back without losing sight of the essential principles.

I have a theory that a lot of these systems of apparently-arbitrary cultural rules–feng shui, Jewish dietary rules, the elaborate European dining protocols–started out as common sense observations. Succeeding generations disconnected them from their native milieu and carried them as ossified rituals to new places and times, elaborating them as they went.

And in time, aided by arguments from authority, they became religious, accepted on faith rather than as the results of direct observation and experiment. Metaphors were interpreted literally and the literal as metaphor; the meaning of technical terms were lost; and new accretions appeared emulating and extending the original as seen through later eyes.

As Annie said, “Thousands of years ago in China, someone worked out that you shouldn’t dig an outhouse next to the well, and then someone just went nuts writing the rest of the rulebook.”

You can see it happening in mocdern times as well: all the new-agey stuff about “vibrations” and “energy” is essentially religious concepts clothed in the language of the milieu in which it was born, in this case the language of physics and electronics.

Perhaps every religion carries the linguistic stamp of the science of when it was founded.

You forgot the cultural protocol of ‘shoes on or off in the house.’ :wink:

That’s just common sense. :slight_smile: