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Feng Shui

Contemporary feng shui

Westerners were criticized at the start of the anti-Western Boxer Rebellion for violating the basic principles of feng shui in the construction of railroads and other conspicuous public structures throughout China. However, today, feng shui is practiced not only by the Chinese, but also by Westerners and still criticized by Christians around the world. Many modern Christians have an opinion of feng shui similar to that of their predecessors.

It is entirely inconsistent with Christianity to believe that harmony and balance result from the manipulation and channeling of nonphysical forces or energies, or that such can be done by means of the proper placement of physical objects. Such techniques, in fact, belong to the world of sorcery.

Still others are simply skeptical of feng shui. Evidence for its effectiveness is based primarily upon anecdote and users are often offered conflicting advice from different practitioners. Feng shui practitioners use these differences as evidence of variations in practice or different branches of thought. Critical analysts have described it thus: "Feng shui has always been based upon mere guesswork". Some are skeptical of feng shui's lasting impact.

This present state of affairs is ludicrous and confusing. Do we really believe that mirrors and flutes are going to change people's tendencies in any lasting and meaningful way?  There is a lot of investigation that needs to be done or we will all go down the tubes because of our inability to match our exaggerated claims with lasting changes.

Nonetheless, after Richard Nixon journeyed to the People's Republic of China in 1972, feng shui became marketable in the United States and has since been reinvented by New Age entrepreneurs for Western consumption. Critics of contemporary feng shui are concerned that with the passage of time much of the theory behind it has been lost in translation, not paid proper consideration, frowned upon, or even scorned. Robert T. Carroll sums up what feng shui has become in some instances.

Feng shui has become an aspect of interior decorating in the Western world and alleged masters of feng shui now hire themselves out for hefty sums to tell people such as Donald Trump which way his doors and other things should hang. Feng shui has also become another New Age "energy" scam with arrays of metaphysical products...offered for sale to help you improve your health, maximize your potential, and guarantee fulfillment of some fortune cookie philosophy.

Others have noted how, when feng shui is not applied properly, it can even harm the environment, such as was the case of people planting "lucky bamboo" in ecosystems that could not handle them.

Feng shui practitioners in China find superstitious and corrupt officials easy prey, despite official disapproval. In one instance, in 2009, county officials in Gansu, on the advice of feng shui practitioners, spent $732,000 to haul a 369-ton "spirit rock" to the county seat to ward off "bad luck."

The stage magician duo Penn and Teller dedicated an episode of their Bullshit! television show to criticize the construal of contemporary practice of feng shui in the Western world as science. In this episode, they devised a test in which the same dwelling was visited by five different feng shui consultants, all five producing different opinions about said dwelling, by which means it was attempted to show there is no consistency in the professional practice of feng shui.

 

Contemporary practice

Many Asians, especially people of Chinese descent, believe it is important to live a prosperous and healthy life as evident by the popularity of Fu Lu Shou in the Chinese communities. Many of the higher-level forms of feng shui are not easily practiced without having connections in the community or a certain amount of wealth because hiring an expert, altering architecture or design, and moving from place to place requires a significant financial outlay. This leads some people of the lower classes to lose faith in feng shui, saying that it is only a game for the wealthy. Others, however, practice less expensive forms of feng shui, including hanging special (but cheap) mirrors, forks, or woks in doorways to deflect negative energy.

In recent years, a new brand of easier-to-implement DIY Feng Shui known as Symbolic Feng Shui, which is popularized by best-selling author Lillian Too, is being practiced by Feng Shui enthusiasts. It entails placements of auspicious (and preferably aesthetically pleasing) Five Element objects, such as Money God and tortoise, at various locations of the house so as to achieve a pleasing and substitute-alternative Productive-Cycle environment if a good natural environment is not already present or is too expensive to build and implement.

Feng shui is so important to some strong believers, that they use it for healing purposes (although there is no empirical evidence that this practice is in any way effective) in addition to guide their businesses and create a peaceful atmosphere in their homes, in particular in the bedroom where a number of techniques involving colours and arrangement are used to achieve enhanced comfort and more peaceful sleep. In 2005, even Disney acknowledged feng shui as an important part of Chinese culture by shifting the main gate to Hong Kong Disneyland by twelve degrees in their building plans, among many other actions suggested by the master planner of architecture and design at Walt Disney Imagineering, Wing Chao, in an effort to incorporate local culture into the theme park.

At Singapore Polytechnic and other institutions, many working professionals from various disciplines (including engineers, architects, property agents, and interior designers) take courses on feng shui and divination every year with a number of them becoming part-time or full-time feng shui (or geomancy) consultants eventually.

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