Welcome to the third lesson of the Feng Shui Master Class. This time we’ll look at external Feng Shui, things that surround your house but affects you. Although they are not inside the house, their impact to occupants in the house could be as great as the internal Feng Shui. This is why all authentic Feng Shui masters must check the external environment in the first place when commissioned to do a Feng Shui diagnosis.
There are lots of things that you should check when examining the external Feng Shui. We’ll split this topic into two lessons. In this lesson, we shall look at the natural environment and objects, i.e. mountains, trees, rivers, etc. The next lesson will be completely focused on artificial objects such as roads and buildings.
Mountain / Hill
Is it good to have a mountain / hill outside your house? Well, it depends. Generally speaking, we love mountains and hills behind your house, and dislike those in the front. By saying “front”, I mean the location where your house’s entrance door faces. “Behind”, would mean the opposite.
Why a mountain / hill at the back is good? Because the back is supposed to be the support, and with an object bigger and taller than your house is effectively a good support. It means you could get support in real life when you are in trouble.
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The photo below shows the model of the Forbidden City in Beijing China, which was the palace of 24 ancient emperors in two dynasties. I downloaded this image from Wikipedia. The blue arrow I added points to the front of the working place of the emperors. The red arrow points to a hill, which is located behind the palace. You probably know that Feng Shui was used by ancient Chinese emperors as a tool to strengthen their power. So you know why when they chose the location of their palace, they selected such as place with a hill behind.
So if you work in the office, you’d better have a seat where there is a wall behind you, because the wall is just like an artificial hill. If you cannot find a wall, at least you should get yourself a high cabinet to create this effect.
On the other hand, a mountain / hill in front is not good, because it blocks the view of your house. It is always good to have a large space without obstruction in front of the house. This makes the accumulation of wealth more easy. Besides, it is also good to health.
How about a mountain / hill on the left / right of the house? In this case, usually we prefer a mountain / hill on the left than the right. It is believed that, generally speaking, the left is a good position while the right is not.
River / Stream
In traditional Feng Shui, water means wealth (水為財). Generally speaking a house with water nearby should have good Feng Shui. However, if there is a long and straight river/stream pointing directly to the entrance of your house, it is not good.
Imagine a water hose with strong running water pointing to your face. You won’t feel comfortable since the splash of water goes into your mouth and nose. For the same reason, a long and straight water stream creates a movement of Chi (氣的流動) which is too strong to the occupiers of the house.
How about water going in front of your house? Well, it depends. If the water stream does not go straightly but bend to embrace your house, it is good Feng Shui. On the other hand, if the water runs like a sickle against your house, it is bad.
Let’s have a look at two parcels of farmland, A and B. With the river running in this shape, A and B receive “embracing water” (環抱水) and “sickle water” (反弓水) respectively.
As time goes by, sediments in the water naturally accumulate along the perimeter of A while the soil of B would gradually be washed away by the movement of water. It turns out the farm land size of A would grow and that of B would shrink. In the past farmland is the source of income, so the income generated from A would increase while that from B would drop. Now you know why a house with an embracing road is good!
If you want some proof about this natural phenomenon, the following photo downloaded from Wikipedia shows the accumulation of sand and mud on only one side of the river at Mississippi River. The soil on one side is eroded by water while the other side has a sand bar formed.
Similar to modern living science, in traditional Feng Shui trees are considered good for people in general. However, trees are not always good in Feng Shui.
The location of vegetation in relation to your house could have significant impact on the occupiers. For example, Flying Star 3, when meeting “wood” elements, would cause interpersonal disputes. If there is a tree outside your house in a direction where the Flying Star 3 occupies, you may have quarrels with people or even get involved in lawsuits easily. We will learn Flying Star Feng Shui in this course soon, you’ll know what how trees could affect Feng Shui in detail.
For now, you should remember that trees are not always good. When trees are in close proximity to windows and doors, they shelter natural sunlight. Houses with insufficient daylight are believed to attract spirit of the departed easily.
You may not believe in the existence of ghost. Let’s say “seeing dead people” is simply a psychological phenomenon. Modern science has already proven that always living in a dark environment could cause depression more easily. No matter what, if your house is blocked from access to sunlight due to trees, it is definitely not good.
So does it mean that my house must be very bright inside? No. If your house does not have sufficient shading and the windows are large, the sun light may go directly into the house through windows. The interior may be too bright, which is not good. Bright is Yang (陽) and dark is Yin (陰), we do not want the two extremes but a balanced condition. People living in a house with over-strong natural lighting may have anger easily. It is also not good for health. So a house should not be too dark or too bright. Sometimes trees are good to provide some shading to your house.
Another case you need to beware of is tree outside entrance door of your house. In the following top view, you could see that there is a tree right in front of the main entrance door of a house. Is this good? No, certainly bad.
Why? To have a tree in front of the door is like a gun pointing to your mouth. You won’t feel good if this actually happens. Besides, this may also bring bad health according to Feng Shui theories.
Is wind good? What if my house is located up on a hilltop where it is windy? Same as lighting, we want a house in balance. It is not good to live in a house without natural wind. However, a windy place is not a good place for living.
The first problem with wind is sound. In windy places you can hear the annoying sound of the wind blowing through windows, tree leaves and other objects. The constant noise is not good for health.
The second problem with wind is temperature. Usually when wind blows over a house it takes away the heat. This makes the house cooler. It would be nice if the house is located in hot and humid places, but not so good if the place is already cold.
What if I live in a windy place? Should I move? Well, if you cannot afford moving, the best thing to do is to build a fence or plant some trees in the yard as wind shield.
Odor is definitely bad Feng Shui. If you live in a place with bad smell, your health is in threat no only according to medical science but Feng Shui as well.
Usually the origin of bad smell is man-made. We will cover these locations in more detail in the next lesson. However, there are some places that are natural odor generators. For example, some dried streams may have sludge accumulated. The sludge is a good place for microorganisms to breed, and bad smell may be generated easily. Avoid living in such places.
Similarly, noise is not good for health. Living in a noisy place is not easy, I had this experience before. It would be difficult to fall asleep. Insufficient sleep could make you feel drowsy during the day (of course), besides it also means losing temper easily and poor concentration.
What are the natural sources of sound? Well, it certainly depends on the sound level. If you live at a distance from a water stream you may think it is nice to hear the sound of the water. But if you live right next to a river, the sound may be too loud.
It also depends on the quality of the sound. High pitch sound produced by wind blowing through a narrow slit is definitely bad. It takes some judgment to decide, but the rule of thumb is if an ordinary man would hate the sound.
Takeaway Feng Shui
In the “Trees” section above, we mentioned having a tree right in front of the entrance door is bad, because it looks like a gun pointing right towards the mouth. In fact, personification is commonly found in Feng Shui theories. Just consider your house as a person, you could easily think of many Feng Shui principles by analogy.
If you say the facade of your house/flat is the face of a person, than having a lift (elevator) right in front of the door is just like looking at a pair of scissors everyday. In ancient times there is no lift, so no Feng Shui master in the past would imagine any Feng Shui theories about lifts.
By analogy, you may consider the lift doors as medical scissors that are used in medical operations. Believe it or not, according to my observation over the years, for flats in a multi-storey building which faces a lift directly, the occupants may have bad health conditions easily. Many of them may need to have operation.
Another interesting observation I made over the years is the impact of air ducts and air conditioning louvres. Some residential flats, especially those in the densely populated areas in Hong Kong, faces the air duct openings and air conditioning louvres of the opposite buildings. It is already not so good to see one or two of these, but what if you see many of them right outside your window?
My find is that, since these openings looks like mouths, it seems like there are many opened mouths in front of you. In Chinese we call quarrels “口舌” which literally means “mouth and tongue”. People living in such a place may have disputes with people easily. The problem would be aggravated if there is a blowing fan inside the air duct or behind the louvre.
These are just a few of the examples of personification in Feng Shui. We will come across some other examples in this Feng Shui course. In fact, if you can imagine, you can think of some other Feng Shui principles. Everyone could be a Feng Shui master!