The art of divination in China has a vast tradition which foundation traces goes to several millennia. Such art incorporates China’s political and social fabric. During history it had various purposes; when to take part in war or when to seek peace, when to plant and harvest, or to schedule important events such as weddings and funerals.
Very unique to divination in China is a symbiosis of astrology and geomancy. Purpose of Chinese divination is to unearth mysterious events and to position and balance humans to be in harmony with the flow of time and space. Analyzing stars and planetary positions and chronological movements, and the earth’s unique physical features, we can discover characteristic situational patterns in life.
The very first unification of China brought Art of divination to be state law adopted in 3rd BCE. From the foundation of the empire in 221 BCE, until its collapse in 1911 AD, Chinese imperial state continuously employed professional diviners and sanctioned official texts about their art.
Chinese astronomy incorporated astronomical advances from India in the 9th century following the arrival of Buddhism, and in the 18th century following European missionaries which in turn greatly influenced Chinese astronomy.
Crucial point for Chinese divination and astronomy marked Emperor Qianlong Hong Li 弘历 (1736-1796 CE.) who ended dispute in choosing correct methods for selecting times and orientations, as rectify calendrical and geographic practices publishing set of rules and principles known as Treatise, within Bureau of Astronomy, a subunit of the Board of Ritual. Treatise is considered the official reference manual for imperial diviners and almanac makers.
The Chinese art of divination and astrology contains the very core of traditional culture and philosophy. Divination in China was considered neither supernatural nor superstitious. The information with which the art dealt was thought to derive from the natural universe itself and not from a transcendent power.
Traditionally before consenting to an arranged marriage parents compare the eight characters of the bride’s and groom’s birth times to see if the two were well matched. Fortune-tellers were consulted for advice about health issues. Farmers consulted almanacs to identify ideal times for planting and harvesting. Generals sought similar advice about when to engage the enemy. The Book of Changes is considered China’s ultimate divination manual.
Intuition and our ancestors
Nowadays in modern societies it seems that we lost touch with many skills that our ancestors used for their survival. Ability to use our intuition mostly disappeared to many people. We often experience intuitive feelings, but we choose not to follow it, as we do not see any logical explanation to justify it. Only in cases when seriously ill, or in life threatening situation we start following our gut, which means that we haven’t completely lost our intuition.
This very intuitive feeling about a place is known as geomancy. "Geo" means Earth and "mancy" means the divination or messages from the Earth. Divination of the earth originally derived from the concept that future decisions about peoples' existence could be interpreted from the pattern created when a handful of soil was cast on the earth. One way of acquiring divination in our technologically created reality world is by rediscovering the concepts of feng shui which were first documented about 2000 years ago. So when we apply Chinese geomancy, or Feng Shui, it means interpretation of the feelings we get from our immediate surroundings using our senses and intuition, based on the principles of this ancient Chinese science and philosophy.
Feng Shui or Chinese geomancy
Traditionally Chinese geomancy is passed through the generations for thousands of years until Guo Pu 郭璞 (276-324 AD.) in The Book of Burial mentioned feng shui. The early feng shui concepts developed from the belief that the "afterlife" of the ancestors, played a role in their descendants' physical existence on earth. Feng shui principles were applied to the landscape in order to find the most providential place to bury one's ancestors.
Chinese believed that if they buried their ancestors in a fortunate place, then they would look after them during their lives, and thus ensure that their lives were also fortunate. Chinese believed and respected equally the invisible and the visible world.
What is Feng Shui?
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese system of rules, concepts and principles that endeavours to explain the impact on people’s lives, of the layout and design of their homes and businesses, and the environment around them. It is about creating a living and working environment that is balanced and harmonious. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy that dwells on the interaction of the five elements in the environment and on the energy, also called qi that flows into your life.
In Chinese language feng shui (风水) literally means “wind” and “water”. The “wind” provides the movement or flow of universal energy – qi 气 which affects everything. The “water” provides the container or receiver of qi. Feng shui principles are designed to harmonise the wind and water influences. It encompasses what Chinese cosmology refers to as the “qi” flow or energy flow within a building. It describes does qi flows easily, or is it blocked or slowed down by the external environment around home, or by the interior design and decorations of your home. This concept is similar to the qi flow within the human body upon which Traditional Chinese Medicine – TCM, and acupuncture is based. According to TCM, if qi flows evenly through your body, you are generally healthy. Similarly, if qi gently flows through your home or business, then your life appears to flow more easily and “luck, fortune or good coincidences” come your way.
One purpose of applying feng shui concepts is to create a place where you want to spend time, rather than a one from which you are constantly trying to escape because something doesn’t feel right. If the places where you spend a lot of time feel pleasant, this will have an effect on your general attitude to life, and on everyone who comes to your home or business. You may intuitively know something feels wrong about a place but are at a loss to explain those feelings. You may also have observed situations in which peoples’ luck or health altered following a change of home or business premises. Feng shui proposes some answers to why these situations occur. It also provides some simple solutions to improve the flow, balance, harmony, wealth, health, fame, relationships, career and creative aspects of people’s lives.
Everyone applies Feng Shui principles every day, as they make decisions on how to set out their dining table, workbench, desk, choose a colour and many more decisions which impact their immediate day to day environment. This daily practice of applying Feng Shui and its principles emanates from our desire for our immediate surroundings to feel good and to improve our feelings of love and happiness about the place where we live or work. Feng Shui is about listening to those unconscious, unexplained, intuitive feelings, using the principles of Feng Shui and making your home or workplace a place of light and joy.
The principles of Feng Shui are based on the concept that everything we see in our physical world is made up of qi or energy, which prompted scientific exploration of energies that are every bit as concrete as radio waves, but have yet to be identified by western science. Just as the Chinese discovered and used the principles of the magnetic compass 1500 years before they were understood in Europe, so Western science lags a long way behind in the recognition and utilization of energies such as qi. The landscape teamed with life: demons, guardians, and spirits of mountains, pools, springs, trees, and rocks, in fact of any prominent feature of a locality. All of these could become objects for veneration, fear, or placation. Life was not confined merely to that defined as living by biology but pulsed through the rocks, waters, earth, and winds. The whole universe was seen as a living organism.
Feng shui principles are based mostly on observation, reflection and common sense. Feng shui offers techniques to express what we are feeling intuitively about a place. So when you walk into a place that doesn’t “feel” right, instead of dismissing that intuitive feeling, you should be able to look around and assess what might be contributing to your feelings of unease. If it is a place that you can change, then make the appropriate feng shui alterations, and then observe over time the impact of these changes, whether profound or subtle.
Feng Shui today
The combination of the principles of finding an auspicious place to bury your ancestors and later developments of the map to form the bagua form the basis for feng shui as it is applied today. In particular, it applies to places where people live and work. Feng shui is also based on a recognition of the "universal energy" or qi flow within any place and “dragon lines" of qi in the landscape. Again, we cannot see this qi, but by applying the principles of feng shui can enhance the flow of qi to create a more harmonious place. The concept of energy and energy flow will unfold. It may be difficult to accept at first, but as you try some of the corrections and adjustments in your own home or business, you may notice changes in the feel of the place or in some aspect of your life. Our logical brains often dismiss the changes as mere coincidences, but how many "coincidences" does it take to convince us that the invisible world, on which many Eastern philosophies are based, can have just as big an influence on us as the physical world? It is interesting to note that in Hong Kong the success or failure of businesses is often attributed to a respect for its location relevant to the “dragon lines of qi on the landscape”. Buildings like the Hong Kong Regent Hotel have been specifically designed so as not to interrupt the flow of qi on the landscape and have operated successfully since opening. Some unsuccessful buildings have had to be modified at substantial cost to their owners when they have ignored this respect for the natural environment.