Different schools of feng shui
There are many different types and schools of feng shui. Many feng shui schools don’t agree with each other and sometimes they even propose completely conflicting solutions. This is usually because they address different levels of thinking about space and time in different times and places Think about feng shui as a form of art or cooking – no art/cooking style is better than the others – they’re just different expressions of the same function and the form follows the function depending on circumstances. There are universal feng shui truths and there are local/cultural feng shui truths. It’s best to follow a checklist of how to choose a feng shui consultant for your needs, a person-centred feng shui consultant (read about how to choose your feng shui consultant).
There are basically two approaches in feng shui at the moment:
1) Classical feng shui which includes form school and compass school based on ancient Chinese classical feng shui texts and
2) Modern or contemporary feng shui includes and transcends the classical feng shui and also utilises modern, evidence-based environmental sciences and approaches such as environmental psychology, Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), electromagnetic pollution and radiation, dirty electricity (DR), geopathic stress, ergonomics, cognitive ergonomics, space conditioning (in feng shui called space clearing and clutter management) and more.
As a rule of thumb: follow modern developments in feng shui. Be aware of dogmatic, divisive, traditional, ‘authentic’ or ‘real’ feng shui which can give you all kinds of ‘false problems’. A lot of traditional feng shui is culture-specific and may not apply to life in the modern western world. Would you use an old map of China to navigate your journey in the UK? Most traditional, ‘authentic’ feng shui doesn’t take into account modern problems such as electromagnetic pollution, geopathic stress and sick building syndrome which research suggests can cause all kinds of health problems (watch this video about the dangers of electro-smog). If there was such a discipline as an ‘authentic’ feng shui, it wouldn’t call itself that in the first place. It’s only unauthentic feng shui that calls itself ‘authentic’. Don’t follow any feng shui tradition that doesn’t make sense to you and is fear-based. Find out what type of feng shui resonates best with you and your belief system and your culture. For example, I offer vastu shastra consultancy (which is an Indian system similar to feng shui) for people who come from that culture, although strangely enough, many Indian clients prefer feng shui to vastu shastra. Horses for courses.
Criticism of classical feng shui
Before I explain what’s problematic with classical feng shui, please let me be clear – classical feng shui works and I use different aspects of classical feng shui but I don’t stop there.
1) Classical feng shui hasn’t evolved
On many levels, classical feng shui is archaic because it hasn’t taken into account the environmental changes that have occurred in the last 4000 years. Classical feng shui hasn’t evolved a modern vocabulary and in some ways, it is like candle makers who missed the electricity boat. Electricity put candles out of business. Candles are a niche and there is a small need for them but electricity (progress) rules. Classical feng shui hasn’t got a word ‘progress’ in its vocabulary and uses obscure, outdated vocabulary that needs to be explained.
Modern feng shui borrowed and embraced the needed and related vocabulary from other modern disciplines, such as environmental psychology, semiotics, biophilia, quantum theory, etc. Modern feng shui is progressive and evolves by including and transcending.
2) Classical feng shui is not evidence-based
We live in the age where science rules. People don’t believe in superstitions or because a book says so. Unfortunately, classical feng shui hasn’t been researched extensively as opposed to modern equivalents of feng shui such as environmental psychology, etc. There is a time in any discipline that it has to scrutinise itself and become evidence-based – classical feng shui hasn’t done that (yet).
Modern feng shui is evidence-based and there is research that supports how different aspects of feng shui work.
3) Classical feng shui can be divisive and exclusive
Unfortunately, the language of classical feng shui can be interpreted as divisive and exclusive, especially when it claims that it is the only ‘authentic’ way to do feng shui. For example, many classical feng shui teachers and authors translate ‘feng shui’ as ‘wind and water’. This is divisive and shows the lack of understanding the whole concept and gives people a false problem. ‘Feng shui’ means ‘wind-water’ or better still ‘windwater’.
Modern feng shui sees reality as one continues spectrum, as one whole interconnected system that doesn’t need a conjunction ‘and’ to unite or connect ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ or ‘spirit’ and ‘matter’ or ‘wind’ and ‘water’. Modern feng shui includes and transcends classical feng shui.
In short, contemporary feng shui is a more comprehensive, inclusive, progressive, evidence-based and flexible way of addressing modern environmental problems.
Find out more about the difference between compass bagua and modern three-gate bagua
|Classical feng shui||Modern / contemporary feng shui|
|Form school||Form school|
|Compass school||Compass school|
|Space conditioning (in feng shui called Space Clearing and Clutter Management)|
|Geopathics and geopathic stress|
|Electromagnetic pollutions and stressors|
|Plus evidence-based related disciplines and multi-disciplinary modalities such as:|
|Ergonomics and cognitive ergonomics|
|Sick Building Syndrome|
|Holistic wellness disciplines|
|Neuroscience (especially to do with good sleep habits and environmental stressors)|
|Design and interior design|
|Semiotics (the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation)|
|Ecology & Biophilia|
|Practical Spirituality Practices|