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'We can improve our lives by channeling the flow of qi'

FENGSHUI, the Chinese art or practice is said to utilize the laws of heaven and earth to improve one's life by increasing positive energy or qi.

As the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches, so do the yearly fengshui updates on the "good" and the "bad" energies according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

In practice, fengshui (literally "wind, water") deals with positioning objects, especially buildings, graves and furnishings, based on the power of yin and yang and the flow of qi that can have positive or negative effects.

The goal is to achieve harmony with one's environment, and good things are said to flow from concord with the cosmos. We are all supposed to be in balance.

Critics call it superstition and compare it with astrology, saying some fengshui "masters" rake in big bucks by taking advantage of gullible people. They point out that some fengshui principles ?? like considering sunlight and weather, locating buildings against a hill and facing flowing water ?? make common sense, especially for farmers and traders. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out good fengshui and beneficial environments. It's more complicated than that, of course.

That said, the 6,000 year-old system continues to be widely practiced today in China and has gained popularity in the West. When constructing buildings, many corporations pay huge sums to fengshui masters to incorporate fengshui principles to bring good fortune.

So, how do we make the best use of fengshui in 2009?

Su Baicheng, a full-time fengshui consultant based in Minhang District, has studied the "I Ching" ("Book of Changes") for more than 20 years.

He offers easy, practical tips in interior decoration "to help people create a happy, healthy and harmonious home."

"Home, just like people, keeps evolving. It supports you, expresses who you are, and goes with you through various changes," says the fengshui master in his office overlooking the Xinzhuang Metro Station in the south, where, he explains, the coming and going of the trains are like the "dragon," the most important of fengshui's five geographical elements ?? cave (the best location for a site), sand (the enfolding hills surrounding the site that protects it from strong winds), water (a source of water flowing past the site, preferably at the front), wind and direction (the preferable direction the site faces, which is due south).

Many people today see fengshui as a way to build a healthy environment, but it's more than that, says Su.

"Fengshui is the reflection of the whole universe," he says.

The word literally means "wind and water" and qi is the basic particle in the cosmos, which scatters in the wind and is retained when encountering water, he says.

"Fengshui is a science to adjust the movement of the qi. We can improve our life by channeling the flow of qi correctly and properly."

The 48-year-old Shandong native began to study the "I Ching" in his early 20s and created his own theoretical system of fengshui. He has been a consultant to numerous private residences and businesses for about 15 years. He lectures at Beijing's Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China-Europe International Business School and ABN AMRO.

According to Su, the whole cosmos is full of qi, which then forms five elements ?? wood, fire, metal, water and earth ?? thus generating millions of millions of things in the world, including human beings.

"Nothing and no one can escape the powerful effect of the universe, a huge energy field that we must submit to," says Su. "If you go against it, you will definitely get punished or perish."

Fengshui is the way of the ancient Chinese to go with the flow and pay respect to the power of the cosmos, he says.

Cosmic web

"There are too many things in astronomy that can prove it and back up my theory," Su says. "I believe that each human activity is closely connected with and deeply affected by the energy field of the cosmos."

As early as 2697 BC, ancient Chinese found the orbiting laws of the Earth, sun, moon and Jupiter, thus regulating the days, months, seasons and lunar years, says Su.

They found the Jupiter completes an orbit every 11.86 years, roughly 12 years, and then created the 12 animals symbolizing the 12 Branches used to designate years. And 2009 is the Year of the Ox.

Ancient Chinese also found other planets interacting with each other. Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury align every 60 years, called a jiazi. Jia means 60 years while jia and zi combined mean the first. Every 60 year is a "round," according to ancient Chinese, while the nine planets in the solar system line up every 180 years, which was called "nine stars in a line."

"These planets exert great power on the Earth, human beings and their activities," the master says. "Jupiter has the greatest power because it is the largest in the solar system. It is 318 times heavier and 1,318 times bigger than the Earth."

In Chinese, Jupiter is also called Taisui (sui meant a year), a god in Chinese mythology who ruled the soil. People believed (some still do) it would cause misfortune if a construction project is launched in the direction of Taisui.

The Big Dipper, which guides people north, also exerts great influence "because it has a relatively constant position with our planet," Su says.

Based on the Dipper's nine stars, Chinese people created the Figure of Nine Squares, or nine directions ?? the east, west, north, south, northeast, northwest, southwest, northwest and the center ?? for fengshui location.

Human beings receive the energy of Jupiter, the sun, moon, Earth, the Big Dipper and other planets.

"Thus they are enmeshed in the net of the cosmic energy field and their actions are sure to be affected by that power," says Su.

This year (Lunar New Year begins on January 26), Taisui, or Jupiter is located in the direction of northeast. Large construction project should not in this direction.

"The energy Jupiter generates is already very great, so it can no longer hold any more. The energy from human activities would make it explode, thus bad things would happen," Su says.

Your house

Ancient Chinese believed everything is a Taisui, or center, so your house can also be viewed as a Taisui, which has nine directions ?? east, west, north, south, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest and center.

If you stay in a northeastern room for too long, you will suffer from bad moods, causing anxiety and quarrels. So this lunar year green plants and green objects should never be placed in northeast-facing room because green is considered the opposite color of red which is seen by most Chinese as "happy and auspicious,"

"But clever ancient Chinese can always found a way to reconcile and resolve this," the master says. He advises putting some pink or purple-red objects in the northeast room or part of a house.

Opposite to the Taisui, the Suipo (the direction where the energy from Jupiter disappears) is in the southwest ?? northeast to southwest. It is also a bad direction because the energy flows from the Taisui to the Suipo.

"Too much activity in the southwest will block the way the energy flows," Su says. "Things such fish tank or electric fan should be moved away."

It is advised to put metal objects in southwest. A crystal ball is positive, because crystal has a constant energy field and the round shape can turn the energy around and away.

Southeast is the luckiest fengshui sector this lunar year. Red, pink, purple, orange and yellow (all in the same spectrum and meaning happiness) are excellent in your home in this direction. Business people can store financial papers or put a Fortune Cat in the southeast part of a room, which can help bring luck.

The south is a good direction for students. Facing southward can promote mental ability. Children's bookshelves, desks and computers should be in a south-facing room.

The northwest this year is an auspicious direction for those who are looking for love or want to improve their relationships. You can decorate your northwestern room with golden objects or flowers.

The center is a good place to be this year. It radiates enjoyable, happy energy. Su suggests that you use warm-colored, warm-feeling objects, such as red carpet, fresh flowers and candles, to strengthen the already-happy energy. The east is excellent for creativity, arts, entertainment.

Moving objects such as electrical fans shouldn't be placed here as they disrupt the energy flow. Place a jade kylin (auspicious mythical beast, dragon/lion/horse) in this room or direction.

The west is an unlucky location/direction. People spending too much time facing west (in a west-facing room) are vulnerable to ailments. Su suggests placing a brass gourd in this room.

According to the theory of five basic elements, illness derives from the earth element but metal subdues the earth and heals. In ancient Chinese culture, a gourd cup was used by a god to catch evil things.

The north is the worst direction/location this year. Disasters or serious diseases can happen in a north-facing area. A pair of brass toads can be placed in this area. Ancient Chinese believed that metal cures while the toad is an auspicious animal that can spit out venom to combat poison and evil.

"If you want a happy, harmonious home, you need to be sure there is good energy flow in every room in your house," Su says. "Fengshui can help us to change the bad for the better and let the good remain. In a word, it helps people live a better life."

Which is best?

Fengshui identifies nine directions of energy flow and depending on the cosmic energy, this changes from lunar year to lunar year. Fengshui master Su Baicheng gives his directional forecast for the Year of the Ox.

(Source by fengshui consultant Su Baicheng)

Southeast: Luckiest. Beneficial for all things. Red, pink, purple, orange objects increase benefits. Store your financial papers and put your money cat here.

North: Ultra-unlucky direction. Accidents and illness possible. Place a pair of brass toads here. They are said to spit venom that fights evil.

Center: Very good and auspicious. Decorate with warm colors, flowers, candles.

Northeast: Unlucky. Causes bad mood, anxiety, quarrels. Placing pink or purple-red objects there can improve the energy.

Northwest: Auspicious for love and improving relationships. Decorate with flowers and golden objects.

South: Good for students, for learning and promoting mental activity. Place bookshelves, desks and computers facing south or in a south-facing room.

Southwest: Too much activity blocks the exiting energy flow. Remove fish tanks, electric fans or appliances. Gold-like metal and crystal balls are advised.

East: Good for creativity, arts, entertainment. Moving objects such as electrical fans should not be placed here as they disrupt the energy flow. Place a jade kylin (auspicious mythical beast, dragon/lion/horse) in this room or direction.

West: Unlucky. Ailments possible. Place a brass gourd here, as a god used a gourd to scoop up evil.


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