Feng Shui and Its Many Variations

Feng Shui philosophy is based on principles of Yin and Yang in conjunction with the five elements.

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When Feng Shui was first used about 3000 years ago, it was called the art of Kan Yu and was considered the observation of forces between heaven and earth. As with the current Feng Shui philosophy, it, too, was based on principles of Yin and Yang in conjunction with the five elements.

Like most Chinese disciplines, Kang Yu philosophers passed down their knowledge from master to disciple. And with each new generation, more findings were added and old theories were redefined. Then came the Tang Dynasty. At that time, Kan Yu ruled, but one school of thought popped up as most prominent: the San He system.

San He and Feng Shui are basically the same thing. San He is considered the oldest form of Feng Shui. The discipline of San He places great emphasis on environmental features such as mountains, terrains and water. The direction, shape, flow and appearance of all these features in our environment became components for various sophisticated design elements. By the end of the Ming Dynasty there was yet a new ideology emerging. It was called San Yuan.

San Yuan and San He, again, were very similar. The main difference was that San Yuan placed more emphasis on the aspect of time while San He focused more on the appearance, forms and flow of water in the environment There are three basic key functions of Kan Yu, a.k.a. Feng Shui:

  1. Corrective, a function designed to fix existing problems.

  2. Constructive, a function to enhance such things as wealth, health, love/unity.

  3. Predictive, a function designed to reveal that which has past, explain the present and predict the future.

When Feng Shui was first practiced (around the Chou Dynasty: 206B.C. _ 219 B.C.), there weren't any particular schools. There was only one type of Feng Shui and it used forms and yin and yang of the five elements to determine the quality of the land. Later on, practitioners began developing their own methodology and, in doing so, discovered new theories. Since each practitioner had his/her unique experience and outcome, a number of different schools of thought sprang up. Yet they all had many things in common. A good definition of classical Feng Shui is: A serious study of how the unseen energies of our living environment affect the people living or working in that particular area in a certain period of time.

There are today some variations of methodology in Feng Shui because each school can have its own application for both yin and yang. Classical Feng Shui schools do not always conflict in theory, they just operate on different levels.

(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of Mystery of Color. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)

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