We have all heard of feng shui but many of us, especially in western culture, don’t know a great deal about it.

While people in eastern cultures may have a better understanding of it than those in the west, their understanding of feng shui too can be still quite limited.

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese study of harmony.  Many people think of it as a building thing.  While feng shui does address the built environment, this is only part of what feng shui is about.

Feng shui encompasses the hugely complex system of universal or cosmic harmony and order.  Somebody with a basic introduction to feng shui would be flabbergasted by the depth and complexity that feng shui explores and explains spiritual physical relationships.

For someone to be real expert in feng shui, they would likely need to firstly have a very high level of spiritual consciousness.  Then they would need to have studied feng shui full time for many decades preferably in a supportive monastic setting.  Finally, it would help to have a deep understanding of ancient Chinese culture.

The complexity of feng shui raises the question of the qualification of a feng shui practitioner.  There are recognized, relatively short feng shui courses available in Australia, so if feng shui was to be designed into a project, a qualified practitioner would of course be recommended.

How effective a practitioner is in feng shui is mostly a matter of due diligence.  Building owners however need to be mindful of the point when practical, explainable feng shui design concepts cross over to principles based on belief.

If a feng shui design concept is put forward and it can’t be backed up by reason, then the process has crossed from practical principles to belief.  Building owners should be careful accepting belief-based concepts.

A building owner living with a new building which incorporates expensive permanent components selected from a belief-based process may experience regret from the constant reminder that their decisions were based on ignorance.

Regret may come also when components selected from a belief-based process are found after construction to be a design failure.

To avoid any regret, only the practical explainable design concepts of feng shui may need to be incorporated.

Beliefs can be dangerous.  Believing in something means we don’t know about a thing and we are accepting what someone else says about it.  The many stories we hear of building occupant experiences going from failure to success after their building was changed apparently according to feng shui principles could be simply because the users believed they would be successful because of the changes.

This is called the placebo effect.  The same can happen when occupants know their building has been designed by a famous architect (but not necessarily a good design), or their building is unique in design (but not necessarily a good design).  The apparent success of a placebo can distract from real problems that need real resolutions.

How then do we in the world of commercial urban development, architecture, and building deal with feng shui?  Maybe it’s best just to keep to the practical explainable design concepts of feng shui.  When we build based purely on belief, we invite regret and possibly design failure.  Who do we turn to then for compensation when things don’t go as we believed they would go?