Talk about a generation gap! Feng shui is at least 6,000 years old, according to some accounts, and yet it’s still horribly misunderstood by some people.
And to best understand the ultimate underlying basis of feng shui, we must go all the way back to the fifth and fourth centuries before the birth of Christ.
In these two centuries, two philosophies flourished in China – both of which eventually come into shaping present day feng shui. In fact, no two philosophies could be more different. Confucianism, a complex system of ethics designed with the intent to cultivate moral perfection, is based on the teachings of Confucius.
It not only outlined one’s moral responsibilities in life, but also the practical side of daily life. Confucianism was and is firmly grounded in the here and now – our actions, and the ability of each us living properly and treated others properly. Confucius was primarily concerned with human relations and social harmony. He sought what we would now call “rational knowledge.”
Resting way on the other end of the spectrum is Taoism (pronounced Dow-ism) whose teachings emphasized “intuition.” This was in fact the only way to gain knowledge of any type. And the only way to gain this inner knowing was by communing with nature and becoming one with the Tao.
And what is the Tao?
The Tao represents the unity of all things within the universe. Once you become one with the Tao, then you it was merely a matter of listening to the small still voice within it – for that indeed is the Tao talking. If you listen closely to this voice, it will tell you how to live your life – you need no code of ethics, no rules, no laying out of the social order as Confucianism said.
This Taoists acknowledge is the only true knowledge. It literally exists beyond our mere five senses to experience it. And certainly simple human language is inadequate to describe it. If this sounds something like the Gnostic knowledge of the early Christians and of the Greeks, it’s very similar.
Now, why do we even bother to tell you of these vastly different philosophies? Because feng shui is born out of these opposites.
Everything in life, indeed, everything in the universe is cyclical. In other words, all is in a constant state of flux like a pendulum which swings from one extreme to another. Knowing this, then you can easily understand that everything in the universe is ultimately interconnected and intertwined.
Just look at the passing of the seasons. The coldest, harshest of the winter days is ultimately connected to the hottest, most humid of the summer days. How? By a mild, transitional season called spring.
Ever heard of the saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn”? It’s the same principle. This polarity of opposites is in the East called the theory of yin and yang. And it’s a fundamental principle of feng shui.
Just how old is old?
It’s possible that the practice of feng shui is as old as the human race itself – well, almost as old! Don’t laugh. Instead, read this stunning account:
Paleontologists excavated a Neolithic gravesite in 1988 in the Henan province of China. This makes the site some 6,000 years old. It appears, by the placement of the body, that even these ancient people were aware of the vital importance of placement – even of dead bodies!
The head of the gravesite was rounded. It faced the south. The feet of the body, pointing north, were encased a square section of the grave. While this may mean nothing to you, this configuration conforms perfectly to the Chinese view of the heavens.
Symbolically, the Chinese view the sky as round and the earth as a square.
But the symbolism of the gravesite doesn’t end there. One ach side of the body the scientists discovered a representation of the Chinese constellations: a dragon and a tiger. The figures were created by placing shells in the images of the constellations and perfectly aligned with Chinese belief: the dragon was on the east, the tiger on the west side of the body.
And in the center created out of shells was the Big Dipper.
This discovery reveals that even the Neolithic Chinese oriented their graves in the knowledge of the revolution of the Big Dipper around the North Star.