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

Understand the essence 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 complex body of knowledge that can be easily misunderstood and applied incorrectly. 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 and the overall success in life.

The beauty of the ancient Chinese culture is that, by the nature of its essence, it meticulously observed and recorded the wisdom of feng shui masters over a long period of time. The right application of feng shui promises a long life of happiness, success, and material abundance, so there are numerous formulas, guidelines, and feng shui rules to follow in order to create a space that will support you in achieving your life 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 to it ranging from a simple connection of life areas to specific areas of your home to the health of specific organs represented by areas of your home. A sophisticated feng shui compass is used for deeper levels of accessing information about any site.

However, here is what is very important to understand. Feng shui documents, in great detail, the way the Universal energy works either for or against you (to put it in very simple terms) but the actual Universal energy has no nationality or boundaries and is not restricted by a specific set of rules.  The Universal energy is Universal (thus the name, right?) It is neither Chinese, nor Japanese, nor Swedish, it just IS.

I have clients all over the world — from South Africa to India, from Australia to Switzerland, USA, and Mexico — that have achieved great results with feng shui applied on a deeper level, meaning forgoing the Chinese culturally specific level and focusing on the actual ways the universal energy works in any space.

So on a deeper level, feng shui is purely about the language of Universal energy in your surroundings and how to understand and harness its wisdom for your well-being and success. On a  level closer to the surface, this language is expressed in Chinese culturally specific symbols, of course, 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 see or read feng shui tips and recommendations about specific Chinese symbols that you do not know or resonate with, such as the Chi Lins, the Fu Dogs, the Pi Yao/Pi Xiu, the Three Immortals, 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/images used and what energy do they represent? How can I represent the same energy in ways that are relevant and meaningful to me?”

You might not want to use the image of mandarin ducks in your bedroom to strengthen the energy of love but the image of a loving couple might work for you very well.

Then, of course, there is the deeper and very efficient level of feng shui where we work with the 5 feng shui elements,  this work is amazingly powerful and absolutely universal. Colors and shapes are the easiest ways these elements are represented in feng shui but here again, you have to understand that the use of colors and shapes can be culturally specific, too.

For example, limiting the use of blue color in the logo of a pizza business makes sense (blue color expresses the Water feng shui element that depletes the Fire feng shui element of this specific business). So this is Universal no matter where on earth you live.

However, if we look at the use of red and white colors in Chinese culture we see strong cultural associations, so the use of these colors in classical feng shui most often will be very specific to Chinese culture. Red is the auspicious color that is much loved in Chinese culture and even 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 the white color with purity and fresh new beginnings, which means when you start applying feng shui you will be wise to go a bit deeper and understand why specific colors are recommended and be sure this truly makes sense to you on a personal level.

I committed to feng shui over two decades ago after I went through an intensive vibrational healing training, in which I was introduced to feng shui as a healing art.

I understood its dynamics on a deep level and had an instant knowing that this is my path, this is why I am here. Of course, I trained with a few feng shui teachers afterward, including a very gifted and intelligent Chinese feng shui master who is also a doctor of acupuncture. I chose him not only because of the depth of his knowledge, but also the brightness of his intellect and understanding that feng shui is universal and you need to focus on its healing aspect rather that cultural representations of specific energy.

I help people heal by healing and rebalancing the energy in their spaces. Basically, I am a healer in the shoes of a designer that knows how the energy works and can translate it for anyone and place it into 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 feng shui symbols in my own home? No. Do I have deep respect and understanding of their use in traditional Chinese feng shui? Yes.

Even though I do not use traditional Chinese feng shui cures in my home anymore, when it comes to representing a specific quality of energy I always give my clients a wide range of choices, including culturally specific feng shui cures. I mention the richness of Chinese culturally specific symbols and representations and emphasize that they have to really understand, like, and connect to these images on a deep level, otherwise the extent of energy work and transformation is limited.

For example, if you like the look and the energy of the three-legged money frog, if you know its story and really feel it brings the energy of abundance 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 we will find the best image or decor item that represents the energy of abundance for you and is expressed in the proper language of the needed feng shui elements.

I could go on and on writing about it, but I trust I managed to give you a clear idea of the different levels of this powerful ancient art. I strongly encourage you to apply the feng shui wisdom in your home and see what a difference it makes in your well-being!

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Rodika Tchi

Rodika Tchi is a master feng shui consultant and author of two best-selling books on feng shui -- "The Healing Power of Smudging" (Simon and Schuster, 2017) and "Feng Shui for Healing" (Rockridge Press, 2019). Connect with Rodika on RodikaTchi.com