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What is Feng Shui and How We Apply it Today

This is the transcript of Dr. Mainini lecture given during the Scientific Feng Shui Conference held at the Polytechnic of Turin in September 2008.

Simona Mainini speaks at the feng shui conference turin 2008


Introduction: What is Feng Shui?

Nowadays books and media discussing Feng Shui are often excessive and somewhat misleading. Part of it is because of the world’s fascination for invisible, mysterious forces that gets many to talk without much understanding them, and part is because our generation has indeed reached the gamut– and perhaps a dead end– in terms of what is available out there to give us heath, wealth, and happiness, and so at times we feel me must come up with something else to expand our attention span.

For those of you who, like myself, have been interested in Feng Shui for the past twenty years, you’ve probably observed that the world’s learning curve about this topic has been wide and slow. And after almost ten years of teaching it when I ask my beginning students, “What is Feng Shui?” the most common answers they’ve picked up here and there are, “The placement of objects in your house and office,” or “How to obtain good energy in your house.”  Both are pretty accurate descriptions of some of the goals that Feng Shui achieves, but neither are the final answer of what Feng Shui really is and where it comes from.

To put it in very simple terms, Feng Shui is a natural science. It is based on natural laws and its formulas have been created after centuries of observation of the repetition of the earth’s natural patterns. Hence, it is often refer to as “Geo–mancy” (a.k.a. “The Wisdom of the Earth”) because the scholars who developed it over time believed that knowing how the natural forces of the earth worked and then using them to our advantage would help us all create happier, healthier, and more successful lives rather than trying to strive against its currents and waste our own Life-Force Energy by trying to counteract the adverse effects they were causing in our lives.

Qi: Life-Force Energy

The building block of the entire Feng Shui science is the concept of Qi. In the English language– as well as the Italian — there is no counterpart to this term. That is why we need to borrow it from other disciplines. You often hear non-Asians refer to it as “energy” not so much like the energy that runs into electrical equipment– but rather like the term “energy” used in more scientific discipline.

For example, in science we now know that all that seems like matter is instead made up of infinitely small particles– so small that we just assume they exist even though we have never actually seen them– held together by “intense energy fields” of different vibrations and intensities. Our visual “perception” of these fields makes them “appear” as physical matter to our eyes, when really there is no such thing there.

With this in mind, the concept of “Life-Force Energy” is not much different than what our scientists have now known for a long time, we’re just using a different name for it, Qi.

This ancient science was based on the idea that Qi (Life-Force Energy) is present in everything that exists in nature– the cosmos, earth, plants, animals, humans– and can never be created or destroyed. It simply flows from one element to the other– between humans, between humans and animals, between plants, air, water, etc.

That is why when you feel tired because you have spent a long time inside your office, you can go out for a walk in the park or by a lake and shortly after you start feeling well again. This is because at first your Qi was depleted from the intense concentration from your work (and been in a man-made environment), but later, after being out in nature, your system naturally absorbed some more Qi and brought itself back to “balance” once again.

A few years ago I helped a client, John, select a new business location for a store. I had worked with him previously, so he was already aware of hoFor detailed information on how Qi affects the well-being in the body I recommend reading some good books on Traditional Chinese Medicine, the sister discipline to Scientific Feng Shui.  In those, amongst other things, you’ll find that human wellness is affected by three main conditions:
• The air we breathe.
• The food we eat.
• The environment we surround ourselves with.

The third condition particularly refers specifically to how our buildings are designed (their orientation, layout, construction time, etc.) and where they are placed (the country, city, neighborhood, etc.). These conditions determine the quality of the overall Life-Force Energy of the building and the said energy will affect its occupants time and time again as long as the building stands.

Therefore, I believe it is our job as architects and designers to use Feng Shui in the creation of new buildings (or the renovation of existing ones), so that they’ll always influence the future occupants in a favorable manner.

Feng Shui Helps You to Create Your Goals

In other words, using Feng Shui at the design phase means planning to create “smooth and balanced” energy in a building, which in turn will affect the occupant’s ability of rest, focus, better counteract stress and the intensity of life, been more “emotionally available” for personal and family relationships, and ultimately help them make better decisions both in their personal and professional life– hence affecting their professional success too.

It is not going to promise a “miracle cure” for every problem, but it will create a more holistic living and working environment to support and help in counteracting an intense, modern lifestyle.

Feng Shui for Building Design

Being a natural science versus an exact science, the final results of using Feng Shui will vary from situation to situation.  This is due to many variables. For starters, each of us is born with different genetics that will manifest in our health and also in our talents and abilities. For example, some of us can jump higher than others, and some can make a business more successful than others– you name it.

In addition buildings are– just like humans– extremely different from one another too.  The circumstances under which they are created will affect each building from the start, both those that seem incontrollable (the plot of land, time of construction, etc.) and those that we can control a bit more (the orientation of the building, its design, layout, the colors and materials we use to built it and decorate it, etc.).

A Building’s Hidden Influences: The Xuan Kong System

For the purpose of this report I’ll be focusing specifically on the use of a technique called the Xuan Kong (also known as “Zi-Bai Fu” and as the “Nine Palace Floating Stars,” to show how the Life-Force Energy of a building can affect its inhabitants in a deep, invisible, and yet very powerful way.  But to understand how this system works we first need to understand how the Qi in the universe operates.

According with the theory called the “Three Powers” the Life-Force Energy in our environment is divided in three main levels:

Heaven’s Qi (the Life-Force Energy radiating down from the cosmos): This changes constantly based on the movement of the many celestial bodies– specially the big ones like Jupiter or Saturn– and their distance effects the Qi that comes from the cosmos and its effects on earth’s Life-Force Energy. Hence the earth’s “Time Factor” and the “Construction Cycle” are based on these changes.
Earth’s Qi (the Life-Force Energy radiating up from the earth as a response to the influence of cosmos’ energy): It is constantly interacting with the Heaven’s Qi leaving no empty space. All living creatures are constantly absorbing this combination of Heaven’s and Earth’s energy, effecting them on both a physiological and emotional level. This becomes even more obvious with people who are weather sensitive and whose mood will change drastically based on the changes of weather and the seasons. Furthermore, in Xuan Kong all calculations are based on the Magnetic Pole as point of reference for the building’s positioning (and its orientation in space).
People’s Qi (based on the person’s date of birth and the Yin and Yang Qi characteristics each of us has). People’s Qi is beside the scope of this report, so it will be discussed in a different time and place.

During the construction of a building a unique combination of Heaven’s Qi and Earth’s Qi is “sealed” inside it and, in my personal experience, its’ Xuan Kong characteristics will remain so for the entire life of the said building. Although each new year may have a little bit of an affect (sometimes favorable, sometimes unfavorable) on each building, its core energy will not change and it will effect over time different occupants in a similar manner.

Application of the Xuan Kong System

When applying the calculations of the Xuan Kong System we end up with a nine-grid table filled with numbers. These numbers are not randomly placed, but derive from a very systematic calculation. In the interest of length I won’t go into the details of the calculations here, but you should know that these calculation are not based on any kind of numerology. In the metaphysical field, numerology– whether based on the Pythagorean (Greek) or Kabalistic (Judaic) tradition– has gained a lot of popularity in the interpretation of numbers related to someone’s date of birth, name, etc. But this has no connection with the calculations used in the Xuan Kong System.

In relation to Feng Shui we must remember that Xuan Kong is based on binary mathematics and was divulged to the public during the Tang Dynasty (around 618-907 A.D.), at a time when mathematics was at its height of development in ancient Chinese culture. Most calculations related to the I Ching and the Yin and Yang are also based on binary mathematics– introduced in the western world by famous mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz only in the late 1600’s. And ultimately, although we use Arabic numbers nowadays, the original calculation system was in Chinese ideograms, which normally carry other meanings in the interpretations different from the western (including Greek and Judaic) meanings.

In Table 1 below you can see the associations that each number has with Yin and Yang, one of the five elements, one of the eight trigrams, each of the eight directions, and each of the four seasons.

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