Editor’s note: This is a thought-leadership article by Feng Shui Master Laurent Langlais. It is an in-depth analysis of today’s Feng Shui practice of enhancing one’s wealth.
If you Google something along the lines of “Feng Shui wealth”, the search engine comes up with more than 500,000 results. With so many “instant formulas” so easily available, how come we are not all richer following Feng Shui?
Here is an important aspect that is often overlooked by modern forms of Feng Shui when they approach wealth. It is that they focus on practices that ensure prosperity rather than direct wealth. Is prosperity the same as money making? This is what we are going to explore. If they differ, can we still use Feng Shui methods to make more money?
To understand this question, let’s first explore the historical ways that Feng Shui was used. Then I will walk you through some of the Elements needed to insure prosperity through Feng Shui. Finally I will explore if prosperity and wealth are two sides of the same coin or different, and what we can do about it with Feng Shui.
3 Historical Forms of Feng Shui and Their Wealth Goals
Historically, Feng Shui has been different things and it keeps evolving. I’d like to review some forms it has taken with you. Keep in mind that I approach the matter as a Feng Shui practitioner rather than an historian specialized in Chinese culture.
We can consider three recorded historical forms of Feng Shui and see what their wealth goal was:
1. Yin Feng Shui
Yin Feng Shui is the Feng Shui practice for ancestral burial. At the heart of its practice is the idea that taking care of your ancestors and their resting places can bring you prosperity. Not doing so could bring bad luck on your whole family.
This idea is deeply rooted in traditional Chinese culture. One famous story is the story of the Lee family, where both Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee died at an early age despite having “good luck” with their movie careers. Their death was linked by some to the wrong burial site for Bruce Lee’s father.
Yin Feng Shui is the original Feng Shui practice, long before the Yang form (aimed at Feng Shui for the house of the living) appeared. One central concept is that the final resting place of your ancestors will directly influence your destiny.
In destiny, understand that they mainly mean health and prosperity. Prosperity is a central concept in Chinese culture, and we’ll talk more on this later in this article.
A first way to generate prosperity through Feng Shui, for people who practice Yin Feng Shui, is to have the right burial site. This means taking into account the grave’s shape and orientation for the remains of one parents, grandparents, and even ancestors beyond that.
The connection works only for people who have a biological link with the remains, and it would be less relevant to someone adopted. Here we see an interesting aspect that we can connect with the notion of ancestral karma influencing our own luck.
2. Feng Shui for Emperors
The Yang Feng Shui practice takes care of the houses, and nowadays businesses. Historically, it has been practiced for the benefit of both the ruling class and common citizens.
The ruling class has been using Feng Shui to ensure their own prosperity. In that case, it meant securing power, ensuring it is long lasting (that power stays with their descendants), winning wars or conquests, and having enough wealth. Both Yin and Yang Feng Shui were used for these purposes, along with other forms of metaphysics through the ages. Records show that the famous Battle of Red Cliffs was won with the help of the Qi Men Dun Jia war oracle.
Another core concept was to have a good mountain at the back and a meandering river running around the complex (more on this later in “Landforms and Landscapes”). Both are seen as essential into bringing prosperity to the Emperors.
This brings us to another important point: if you want to make it, you have to think in terms of landscapes first.
3. Landforms and Landscapes
Historical Feng Shui books show that the practice care as much, if not more, about the landscape and right formations than then internal layout of a place. Among those landscape principles to ensure prosperity are:
The Symbolic Animal Formation
Both the White Tiger (right) and Green Dragon (left) side must be present and ideally embracing the site. The dragon should be higher to ensure fame and the male polarity, but the Tiger must be strong enough to provide wealth and sustain women.
A solid back, called the black tortoise, is to be present to ensure good children. The front should ideally receive a small hill to protect the site, but not as high as to block the site.
The Presence of Water
A good Feng Shui setup can be attained without water, but a LOT of Feng Shui formulas or landscapes for prosperity include water in one form or another.
In landscape, the Water Dragons and other formulas such as the direct and indirect spirits principles are all about water placement. The principle for water to bring prosperity is that it should be slow enough, meander, embrace a site, come from a certain direction and flow in another. Rivers are more successful at bringing wealth than the sea because the sea is often too strong and large of a Chi.
In the Forbidden City in Bejing and in classical books, we see a strong association of the Water Element with prosperity.
The Feng Shui masters whom designed the Emperors palace went to great lengths to create an artificial river rather than relying only on the existing landscape for the forbidden city. They therefore saw this water meandering along the premises as essential to the whole project and to ensure prosperity for the Emperors.
In terms of Feng Shui Elements, we now know that water is an important element that is thought to be able to bring prosperity. Let’s now take a look at what other elements there are to bring prosperity and wealth.
Understanding Feng Shui Wealth Elements: The Forbidden City
One magnificent example of Yang Feng shui is the Forbidden City in Beijing that has been built on Feng Shui principles. Here we can see how a vast complex of palaces was designed to ensure power and prosperity for the Emperors. Important principles that we can ponder on are as follows:
- Four gates connecting to the four cardinal directions. North, East, South and West all have their gates to ensure the four main elements are fed to the Emperors dwelling that rules on the whole kingdom.
- A central North-South axis that defines the place of power, where the Emperor is seated in the North, facing South. If you want to receive the most Chi during the day, facing South is obviously a good way to do this but there is more to this with the Water and Fire Elemental logic and vertical axis.
- Mountain at the back and an artificial river at the front. The river was built to create prosperity and its meanderings are essential – it is not a straight line.
- Separation in East and West, with East symbolizing Yang and West symbolizing Yin.
Here we have an important rule of associating the East Chi (expanding Wood Element with Yang) and the West Chi (contracting Metal Element with Yin).
If you now apply this logic to a building facing South and with a back in North, you can easily see the associating Green Dragon (Yang energy, male) higher on the left side, and White Tiger (Yin energy, female) a bit lower on the right side on the premises.
So what is important here is to see that East is the place of expansion and West the place of contraction.
Wood (East) is an Element often associated with enhancing money in modern Feng Shui. HOWEVER, the association of wealth and Wood to generate more money is NOT straightforward.
Rather, it is East-Wood for expansion, and Southeast is “lower Wood” that continues the cycle. For a business, expanding its activities CAN mean more money.
Do note, however, that money has long been made of metal and that the Tiger side is associated with money making. So the logic is East (Wood, Green Dragon) is expansion, and West (Metal, White Tiger) is contraction, which can translate into accumulating wealth in form of metal money.
By now, you probably start to see that when we go back to the fundamentals of Feng Shui practice, just putting a Money Plant in the Southeast corner to make more money is not going to cut it.
We previously have seen that the East and Wood Element is about expansion and the Water Element is thought to be able to bring prosperity. Water feeding the Wood could be an ideal combination of prosperity-expansion that for most would be synonymous with wealth.
At this point, you can see that there are three elements to explore for wealth in Feng Shui: Wood, Water and Metal. However, there might be a twist.
Prosperity is NOT Equal to Wealth, Although there are Overlaps
Here, we really need to go back to this connection of Feng Shui with cities and settlements.
The metaphysical practice of Feng Shui at that time was closely associated to a much more down-to-earth reason: finding sites and areas that will sustain food crops and harvests for decades and possibly generations to come. Many classical books showing mountains and rivers diagrams show villages rather than just a house.
I therefore argue that some of the good “Feng Shui sites” are as much as the quality of the Chi as they are as having a fertile and protected land to grow food. Hence some of the “bad mountains” of Feng Shui which are broken ones that cannot sustain food growth. Yet, some cities in Colorado, Nevada, or Arizona are very successful in modern days. Las Vegas certainly has no “good” Feng Shui mountain, but the diversion of the Colorado River on its East side has helped it.
Besides, prospering in a less than ideal Feng Shui site is a triumph from a capitalistic point of view. One example among others illustrates that one can create wealth without having the perfect Feng Shui setup.
Furthermore, what traditional Feng Shui considers prosperous might not be entirely synonymous with money making. Prosperity in ancient times meant having enough food to eat for years to come. After all, if there is no food growing, money won’t get you far!
It is now very logical to see why the Water and Wood Elements are associated with prosperity rather than wealth in Feng Shui.
Water sustains crops and is essential for plants to grow and animals to live. Wood is the food supply in the form of plants that we eat or fed to the animals.
Water is seen in many cultures as the primordial element sustaining all life. In other words, when looking for life on other planets, we look for water. Along the same lines, some schools of Chinese medicine see the origin of the Chi in the kidneys.
As for other type of Chi in relation to prosperity: the Fire Chi is also considered through this spectrum of food.
The stove’s auspicious and forbidden positions have to do with the fact that it is used to prepare food and bring heat, rather than directly “producing” money. Not exposing the stove to direct view is also about not having a fire that goes off all the time.
In that context, the slowest Element of all – Earth – and the one relating to human activities but not directly to food – Metal – have less connection with the Feng Shui “prosperity” principles or formula. Yet, they are the modern definition of wealth! The Earth through the real estate market and the Metal through the production of money, originally based on precious metals, which are making a comeback.
Thus, I argue that the Feng Shui good landscapes, auspicious sites, internal formulas, the use of Water and Wood Elements for prosperity are not entirely about wealth production but rather about sustainability. They are about having enough food (and heat) to sustain the family, village, and the kingdom’s existence. This is why the Feng Shui wealth formulas that you used are not bringing you money.
Of course, the Emperors were also concerned about having enough means to produce money. But for the Feng Shui used to design villages, the sites were more about protection and food production.
Even modern China sometimes understands this concept intuitively. Some villages are fighting to keep their ancestral woodlands as source of the lively Chi and prosperity rather than making money out of those pieces of land.
So with this deeper look, we see that the traditional concept of prosperity in Feng Shui does not entirely overlap the concept of wealth through money.
Going back through the history of Yang Feng Shui, we can see that the aim is long life, prosperity and to be in the flow.
While some of those ideas can translate into more wealth, prosperity was also about having a good place to grow food and enough to eat for the whole family and the next generations. A Chinese Emperor had a Feng Shui setup spreading on kilometers to help him hold power and generating wealth.
You probably are not able to implement the same. If you are, do get in touch, we need to talk! Kidding aside, as the Cheong Fatt Tze’s Blue Mansion in Penang shows, the right house can really make a difference in your life and should not be overlooked. Cheong Fatt Tze became the tycoon of his time and he saw his “Feng Shui house” as essential to maintain his prosperity.
With this in mind, nowadays being prosperous does mean making enough money (and more) to eat. The traditional Feng Shui techniques can still be used and adapted to be in the flow and to give you a boost in money luck, which I will show you in my next post.
In the meantime, if you have questions about your home’s Feng Shui setup for wealth, feel free to contact me here!