What is Feng-shui?

*Cyril Yuen

Cyril Yuen was hired for feng-shui survey @ Hermès Asia Pacific Headquarters
Cyril Yuen was hired for feng-shui survey
@ Hermès Asia Pacific Headquarters


Editor's Note: Mr. Cyril Yuen, an engineer and famous Feng-shui expert. After graduation at McGill University of Canada, he learned the art of Feng-shui from a Buddhist monk (an academic authority on Feng-shui) in Hong Kong. Upon our invitation, Mr. Yuen generously donated this article to our readers who care about the harmony of their living environment.


In Chinese architecture, the traditional Feng-shui (“wind and water”-geomantic omen) theory has been practiced nearly all over site selection, planning, design and construction. This age-old theory was under the influence of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and embraces fragments of Chinese ancient philosophy, aesthetics, psychology, geology, hydrology and landscaping. It also touches the question of how human being conform to nature. It is the inevitable outcome of the Chinese traditional culture.


For thousands of years, people in China have used Feng-shui techniques to improve their environment and lives and live in harmony with the earth. They believe that if you site your home or office in the right location full of vital ch'i (universal life force), you would lead a life of health, happiness and abundance.


Although all this sounds somewhat abstract, the actual application of Feng-shui throughout Chinese history has been extremely practical. Early writings mentioned that government buildings were constructed on the principles suggested by Feng-shui experts called in for their expertise, and all the ancient palaces and temples were built strictly in accordance with the same rules. Even today, in Far East, especially in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, most modern developments have their Feng-shui aspects.


Numerous anecdotes, both ancient and modern, testify to the efficacy of Feng-shui in attracting fortune and averting calamities. The most widely appreciated, is the legendary ability of the Feng-shui experts to bring good luck to their clients through their esoteric techniques of adjusting the placement of their premises.


The 19th century writers who introduced the concept of Feng-shui to the west were mostly China missionaries, beginning with the Rev. Yates who wrote the first English article on the subject in 1868. Another missioner, Rev. E.J. Eitel, published his book Feng-shui in 1873. In the 1950's, when British scientist Joseph Needham published the volumes of his great work, Science and Civilization in China, revealing to what advantage the Chinese had developed their traditional sciences, it was possible for western readers to appreciate the scientific context in which Feng-shui flourished. Interest in the subject has been growing ever since in Europe and America.


Nowadays, more and more western architects are drawn to the mysteries of Feng-shui through their perception that its principles make a very good basis for building design or town planning.

This article was orginally published in a Chinese newspaper in the US, and was later translated by the author and authorized to be quoted in a magazine in Canada.


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