What in Feng Shui is Universal and What is Specific to Chinese Culture Only?

Understand the essence and the roots of the ancient art and science of feng shui

Feng shui originated in China over 5,000 years ago. Being part of the ancient Taoist healing arts, feng shui is a very complex body of knowledge that can be easily misunderstood (and misapplied). Just like its ancient counterparts of acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, etc, feng shui documents in great detail the many ways that the flow of Universal energy called Chi affects our well-being on all levels – from our health to our love life to career success. The ancient Chinese culture meticulously observed and recorded the wisdom of feng shui masters over a long period of time.

This wisdom is universal, present in many forms and in many cultures, but not as thoroughly recorded and studied. The right application of feng shui promises a long life of happiness and material abundance, so there are numerous formulas, guidelines, and rules to follow in order to create a space that will support one in achieving these goals. The main principles, or theories of feng shui, are the yin-yang theory, the theory of the five feng shui elements, and the bagua, or the feng shui energy map. The bagua has layers of wisdom ranging from a simple connection of specific areas of your life to specific areas of your home all the way to the health of one’s internal organs connected to specific areas of one’s home.

However, here is what is very important to understand. The ancient art of feng shui reveals, in great detail, the way the Universal energy, or Chi, works to either strengthen, or weaken one’s health and well-being. The actual Universal energy, though, has no nationality, culturally specific images or boundaries, it just is. It is not restricted by a specific set of human rules, historical events and expectations. The Universal energy is universal, thus its name. It is neither Chinese, nor Japanese, Swedish, Indian or Russian, it just is. I have clients in many parts of the world that have achieved wonderful results with feng shui applied on a deeper level, forgoing the culturally specific level and focusing on the actual ways the Universal energy works in any space.

So in its essence, feng shui is purely about the specific expressions of the Universal energy in your surroundings and about understanding and harnessing its flow for your well-being and success. On a level closer to the surface, this language is expressed in Chinese culturally specific symbols, because this is the culture that pioneered the recording of this wisdom by countless observations and studies of ancient masters. This means that when you read feng shui tips about specific Chinese symbols that you do not know or resonate with, such as the Chi Lins, the Fu Dogs, the Three Immortals, the Pi Yao,  or the Kitchen God, among many others, you would be wise to not dismiss feng shui entirely, but rather ask: “Why are these symbols, deities and images used and what energy do they actually represent? How can I bring the same energy in ways that are relevant and meaningful to me?”

You might not want to use the image of the mandarin ducks in your bedroom to strengthen the energy of love, but the image of a loving couple might work very well. Then there is the deeper and very powerful level of feng shui where we work with the five feng shui elements,  this work is truly powerful and most definitely universal. Various colors and shapes are the easiest ways that these elements are represented in feng shui, but here again, you have to understand that the use of some colors and shapes can be culturally specific, too. For example, limiting the use of color blue in the logo of a pizza business makes sense, because blue expresses the Water feng shui element that depletes the Fire feng shui element of pizza business. This is universal, no matter where on earth you live. However, with the use of red and white colors we can see strong cultural associations, so some classical feng shui cures will be very specific to Chinese culture. Red is the auspicious color that is much loved in Chinese culture and is the color of choice for the dress of the Chinese bride, while white color is associated with funerals and is avoided. In the West, though, we associate white with purity, clarity and fresh new beginnings, which means when you start applying feng shui it is wise to go a bit deeper and understand the reasons a specific color is recommended; and to see if you feel the same way, if it makes sense to you on a personal level.

I committed to this work over two decades ago after a vibrational healing training, in which the teacher introduced us to feng shui as a healing art. There was an instant knowing, or recognition, that this is my path in this lifetime. I trained with several feng shui teachers, including a very gifted and intelligent Chinese master who was also a doctor of acupuncture. I chose him not only because of the depth of his knowledge, but also for the brightness of his intellect and the lightness of his spirit. He had a genuine understanding that the wisdom of feng shui is universal, and one needs to focus on its healing aspect rather than insist on culturally specific representations.

I help people heal by healing and rebalancing the energy in their homes. Basically, I am a healer in the shoes of a designer that knows how the energy works and can translate it for anyone, in any place, and any type of energetic container. I know how the energy expresses itself and I know how to work with it in order to improve my clients’ quality of life. Do I use Chinese culturally specific symbols in my own home? No, I do not. Do I have respect and understanding of their use in traditional Chinese feng shui schools? Yes. Even though I do not use traditional feng shui cures in my home, when it comes to expressing, or representing a specific quality of energy, I always give my clients a wide range of choices, including many culturally specific feng shui cures. I mention the richness and the meaning of Chinese culturally specific symbols and emphasize that they have to feel connected to these images on a deep level, otherwise the extent of energy work and transformation is limited.

For example, if you like the look of the three-legged money frog, if you know its story and truly feel it can bring the energy of wealth into your space, I will say definitely go for it! However, if you look at it and think: “How on earth is this supposed to attract the energy of abundance to me?”, I would encourage you to trust this voice and then find the best image or decor item that represents the energy of abundance for you (then express it in the specific language of the needed feng shui elements). Crystals can be a really powerful expression of both the Earth feng shui element, as well as the energy of abundance, so if you love crystals, you can bring really good energy into your home and create good feng shui in a way that speaks to you the most.

I trust I managed to give you a clear idea of the different levels of this powerful ancient art and science. I encourage you to apply it in your home and see what a difference it makes. To conclude, did you know that a big part of feng shui wisdom actually comes from Tibet, and not China? One of the two baguas we use in feng shui, the so-called Western bagua (which has little to do with the West) originally comes from Tibet, and the school it comes from is the Black Sect Tibetan Tantric Buddhist School of Feng Shui. It is a beautiful and powerful ancient school that has been sadly “new-aged”. Here is a quote from Longchenpa, the famed 14th century Tibetan Buddhist Master and Scholar; I invite you to contemplate his words: “Depending on the place in which you reside, your mind undergoes a change. There is either growth or decline in your efforts in what is healthy and wholesome. It is of utmost importance to examine the place or the locality.”

I trust you have chosen a place that has all things healthy, wholesome and prosperous.

rodika tchi

master feng shui consultant. published author. teacher. RodikaTchi.com

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