Almost every time I talk to someone who knows a little about feng shui, I learn about a strange concept or a new misconception.
Yes, it’s that bad.
Many of those conversations were people validating and cross-checking their feng shui knowledge. They would ask whether a feng shui knowledge is true, but in fact they were asking whether an urban legend is true. So I wondered – if I encountered this many misconceptions, wouldn’t feng shui consultants and experts hear even more?
I reached out to several feng shui experts and consultants to see what they have experienced. Here’s the question that I asked them:
“Based on your professional experience as a feng shui consultant, what was the most common, funny, or ridiculous feng shui misconception that you’ve heard from your client (or any misconception that you felt most strongly about)?”
Here are their responses that I received:
Honestly, there are so many ridiculous misconceptions about feng shui, that it feels like I have been forced to spend more time in the last 25 years trying to counter these misconceptions than being able to deliver actual good information. In my first book, Feng Shui for Skeptics, there is a whole chapter called “Real Feng Shui Versus Fake Feng Shui” which lists quite a few of the popular myths and misconceptions.
Perhaps, one of the more common responses that I get at business and social functions when people find out I am a Feng Shui consultant, is that they tell me how their home must be a “feng shui nightmare” just because it is messy. A long –standing misconception people have is that having a tidy, organized home is synonymous with having good feng shui.
I have one long-time client (more than 20 years) who thinks the first aquarium that I suggested for his office was what made him successful. So every office I did for him since, and they got bigger and bigger, has to have an aquarium somewhere. I don’t mind because an aquarium is a nice feature to have in an office, especially a high-pressure one, but I am not sure if that is what made him wealthy.
On more than one occasion, I have been asked if Feng Shui is a religion by a potential client concerned that it will conflict with their personal religious beliefs. Thankfully, I was alerted by my mentors during my training that this is a common misconception and so have been prepared with an answer to this query.
I like to explain that to me, so much of what I have learned in the course of my training, I also learned in high school physics, or perhaps in my Jewish training, or even in my interior design schooling. The basis of Feng Shui precedes most popular Western based religions. Where there is overlap, it is more likely that the religions borrowed from Feng Shui, not the other way around!
But, no, Feng Shui is not religion. It’s really much closer to science rather than religion.
The most frequent question I am asked is “Do you come round to my house and move my furniture?” My response is usually “No, Pickfords do that!” I have only on two occasions recommended that beds be moved due to high EMF readings.
Probably the most common go-to traditional “cure” my clients seek to improve or increase their wealth is to place 9 coins in row leading to their front door. The problem is always two-fold. As soon as the landscaper shows up with his leaf blower, the coins scattered and the clients panic.
I tell them to think of the coins or any traditional “cure” as an enhancement, not a one-size-fits all remedy. The mindset of harmony also plays a key role. If you want to increase and sustain your cash flow and prosperity, adopt the Feng Shui Philosophy of: “If you always give, you will always have.” Hoarding stagnates the flow of money. If you donate your time, talent or money on a regular basis, all will come back to you. And, you never have to fret over the scattering of coins at your doorstep!
In a nut shell, it is that most people think (because they are told on the internet and in books) that Feng Shui is a magic pill. Just do this or place that and viola all your dreams will come true. Yet, the complete story is that Feng Shui is only part of the equation to a good life; metaphysically speaking. Good fortune comes from knowing when to do things.
Besides placement and flow, here are two parts to this practice that are rarely mentioned: (1) timing and (2) action. Classical feng shui can be paraphrased into “being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing”. It is not about color and objects as much. To get the best results with Feng Shui you need to use it in connection with action, location and timing.
This principle is often refer to as the Heaven (Time), Earth (Feng Shui) and Man (Action) Trilogy. This is what Feng Shui is, living your life the best it can be. It is not do this or place that and all your dreams come true. This gives people the wrong idea and therefore brings misconceptions about the benefits of this ancient practice that has helped millions of people for thousands of years. Yet, a lot of good folks have just abandoned this practice for that reason and labeled it as superstition.
Think about the five elements. The elements work in a creative and a destructive cycle because the world, and our personal space, is constantly changing. The element, Metal, is about organization. Fire, which is creativity, destroys Metal.
For example, picture an artist’s new canvas, white and untouched, his brushes laid out in a neat row, his paint tray clean. He is practicing Metal. But when in the act of painting the canvas is half finished, the brushes are dirty, the paint tray is covered in different color paints. Now he is doing Fire. When the painting is done and the cleanup is completed, he returns to Metal. It is the same in our homes. Sometimes the home is neat and sometimes it’s messy and we need to remember that there can be good Feng Shui in either state.
Most of the time I have clients who are educated about Feng Shui principles, but some always surprise me by putting statues of divinities or picture of their loved ones in the toilets, rather than anywhere else. That certainly always brings interesting questions about the place of those notions in their life…
The most “interesting” concept that I have heard of was actually not from one of my client, but rather from a fellow practitioner.
I am part of some professional guilds and we have some forums where we debate anonymous Feng Shui cases. And so this other consultant was facing this problem with a massive tree very close to the main door of the house, and was asking our point of view on the solution to adopt.
Coming from a traditional Feng Shui background, I stated that they could either use another door – but that the compatibility of the new door would need to be checked with the Kua, house sector and individual Bazi – or that they could chop down the tree to use the main door, if that was an option.
Sure, it is sad to cut off a tree, but let’s face it – when you build or own a house in an urban environment, the surroundings have already and totally been reshaped to accommodate human needs rather than nature.
Another Feng Shui practitioner however came up with the interesting proposal – that the owners should go talk to the tree, ask “it” to make peace with the house and let the Chi in without splitting it. This solution was the one chosen by the consultant for her client and she was very comfortable with such New Age take on it. I was left speechless, but then remembered that we all have a role to play in this big Universe…and that maybe I should talk to trees more often to make my consultations easier.
The funniest and most ridiculous was a client who couldn’t figure out why her “wealth cure” wasn’t working. Upon further inspection, her “wealth cure” was a bowl of popcorn on the back of her toilet – in a bathroom that was dilapidated!
Faucet leaking, toilet running and walls peeling. I thought, “Hmmmm, yea popcorn is not going to fix this.” :)
However, I think the biggest misconception is that people often get intimidated by feng shui because they think there are a lot of rules, and that it’s superstitious voodoo. Don’t fear feng shui. It is a beautiful practice that when done right can change your life for the better.
My answer to your question is: the so-called Western feng shui “masters” keep on misleading people that the BSTB (Black Sect Tantric Buddhism) ba gua map is associated with the actual compass direction of the site. I have written some articles regarding this topic and you are welcome to browse my blog.
By the time clients contact me they’ve usually done their homework and have a good understanding of how I work. But from time to time, I get a request for a quick fix feng shui “cure” to help instantly change circumstances.
One caller asked if I could just ‘feng shui’ her bedroom since she had recently hired a decorator and was suffering from relationship problems. When I explained that authentic feng shui doesn’t work that way and that her own birth chart and building’s location, compass directions and construction date have far more influence over her experience than simple room décor, she was caught off guard. This is one of the most widely held myths of authentic feng shui and its correlation to luck.
As it turned out, there were several remarkable issues with the building that contributed to her problems, having nothing to do with the bedroom’s décor. Of course there are generic steps everyone can take (or avoid) to improve their surroundings, but meaningful shifts require a critical and holistic approach to landforms, architecture, design details and timing. This is the wisdom of authentic feng shui.
The Bottom Line
In this day and age, we are constantly blasted by tons of information. Sadly, it has gotten quite common where some people twist the facts just so they can get readership, start a hype, or gain other commercial purposes.
In fact, science is facing the same type of issue, as described by Atul Gawande in his article on the New Yorker: The Mistrust of Science:
“Describing facts that contradict an unscientific belief actually spreads familiarity with the belief and strengthens the conviction of believers. That’s just the way the brain operates; misinformation sticks, in part because it gets incorporated into a person’s mental model of how the world works.”
Feng Shui Consultants can learn something from Atul’s article. His solution to battle mistrust (and misinformation) is NOT to rebut bad facts, but to assert true facts. Including a narrative will help a great deal.
For those learning about feng shui – don’t believe everything. Question them. Check the facts and find your source of truth so you can replace misinformation with tried and true facts. Also, when applying feng shui rules, don’t forget that correlation does NOT equal to causation. It’s easy to take misinformation as the truth. Please don’t fall into that trap.
If you have any questions about feng shui, remember to cross-check with an expert like those mentioned above.
Not sure if a feng shui concept is a misconception? Comment below and let us know!
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