The Ultimate Feng Shui Master Algorithm. Feng Shui = Intention + Relationship + Ritual. Top Feng Shui ‘Recipe’ for Success and Solving Problems.
Theories how feng shui works
There are many theories about how feng shui works and I have at least half a dozen. My favourite, because it’s so simple and it covers all aspects of feng shui, boils down to this: feng shui = intention + relationship + ritual. If you’re a beginner feng shui enthusiast this will give you a good initial understanding of how feng shui works.
Other classical feng shui theories of how feng shui works include qi/chi, yin and yang, five elements, bagua, compass approaches, form schools, time aspects and so on, but, by the logic of chunking up or generalisation, they all fall into the category of intention, relationship and ritual, which to me is the ultimate master algorithm. Let me be very clear, I’m not against any type of feng shui. My goal as a feng shui researcher and environmental psychologist is to gather all pieces of the feng shui puzzle, understand where and how they fit from multi-disciplinary perspectives, as well as being very mindful that none of the blind men can see the whole elephant and not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
“The grand aim of science is to cover the greatest number of experimental facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.” Albert Einstein
Does feng shui work?
Yes! But it all depends on the feng shui algorithm you use – or your assumptions if you like. In the same way, as “does a recipe for baking a cheesecake work?” it all depends on both the recipe and the way it is made. Even the worst cheesecake in the world, even if it’s inedible, is still a cheesecake – it’s just a bad cheesecake. Thinking how feng shui works in terms of algorithms is a very useful and instructive way of understanding how feng shui works as well as deconstructing and decoding it.
Feng shui = intention + relationship + ritual
What is an algorithm?
An algorithm is a process or set of specific rules to be followed to solve problems (and calculations, especially by a computer). Algorithms are step-by-step instructions give to a computer when you also feed it with date. In short, an algorithm is a very specific and unambiguous recipe. To be factual, I’ve used the metaphor of a recipe as a starting point to get a general idea across. A ‘cooking recipe’ may not be exactly an algorithm because quite often a recipe doesn’t exactly specify the precise quantities, or the order of the steps, etc. As experience shows, especially with new recipes, the outcome might be delicious or a mess. An algorithm always produces the same results if followed correctly in its context. And context is everything.
Machine learning algorithms are the future of humanity and are responsible for the future automation of every possible job. They’re behind all the technology you’re using and they are getting better and better because of machine learning or AI. Algorithms can make deductions that human brains cannot. For example, it takes about 10 000 hours (10 years for about 3-hours/day) for an eye specialist to learn to diagnose eye disease to about 90% accuracy. An algorithm developed by researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London is 94% accurate at diagnosing common signs of eye disease and it took less than one minute for the algorithm to learn that! Another algorithm developed by researchers in Los Angeles is 90% accurate at predicting suicides and again it took minutes to learn how to do it. There are machine learning algorithms that create new art and paintings and even whole films. Watch a video about master algorithm
It might be obvious, but a recipe for baking a cake is only good for that – it’s not good for building an electric car (maybe as a metaphor but not in reality). You’d be surprised that this is not so obvious to some feng shui enthusiasts who make false assumptions which is a basic category thinking error. For example, you’ve probably heard that some types of feng shui advise people to try to solve their financial problems by closing the toilet lid. This is very disempowering because it suggests that their toilet is responsible for and controls their finances. I resolve such nonsense with a simple question: who is in charge of your finances – you or your toilet?
“There are trivial truths and the great truths.
The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false.
The opposite of a great truth is also true.”
Niels Bohr, Nobel prize winner in physics
‘And’, ‘or’, ‘not’ and overfitting
At its simplest, every algorithm, no matter how complex, can be reduced to just three operations: AND, OR, and NOT, which will be relevant later when I discuss the ‘relationship’ aspect of this formula.
Whenever there is a pattern in the data that is not actually true in the real world, it’s called overfitting the data. Overfitting is a big problem not only in machine learning but in any learning situation, including feng shui. Overfitting arises when you have too many hypotheses and not enough data to tell them apart. If you have been studying feng shui and haven’t experienced the overfitting phenomenon you haven’t see enough of feng shui yet. Confusion and contradictions are very common in feng shui.
Whatever you’re experiencing in your life right now is a result of previous intentions, conscious or unconscious. Intention is a mental state that embodies a commitment to a future action or actions and involves planning and forethought. Every dream, every goal, every action, big or small – starts with an intention. The Upanishads states, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” Intention is driven by a simple question: what do I want? Goethe reminds us about the power of intention, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Dr William A. Tiller, a physicist at Stanford University has proven through studies and experiments that human consciousness ‘changes space’ and ‘conditions space’. Feng shui and space clearing are space conditioning technologies – a brilliant way of explaining how actually feng shui works. And once space or building is conditioned (or as Winston Churchill pointed out, shaped), the building or space shapes us. Tiller says, “The power of intention alters matter – scientific proof that human intention raises local symmetry in the substratum of space.” Another discipline, epigenetics, states that a perception of the environment will affect the expression of your genes and your health. “Is the universe a friendly place?” asks Albert Einstein and how you answer this question will have a direct impact on your life. In short, feng shui is a physical intention or affirmation.
The observer effect
Another aspect of intention is that attention, change and novelty direct energy and information flow as was discovered in the famous Hawthorne effect/observer effect study. In a nutshell, there was the alteration of behaviour by the subjects of a study due to their awareness of being observed. Every parent is aware of this phenomenon when they give extra attention to their children.
So, how do environmental conditions shape you? In environmental psychology this is called ‘priming’ and it refers to the passive, subtle and unobtrusive activation of relevant mental representations by external, environmental stimuli. Priming research has shown that the mere passive perception of environmental events directly triggers higher mental processes in the absence of any involvement by conscious, intentional processes. “Over 200 studies have shown such priming effects on impression formation as well as on social behaviour. An extraordinarily wide range of behaviours can be affected by subtle environmental stimuli, such as walking speed, speech volume, academic performance, economic decisions,” says John Bargh, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale University.
For example, studies have shown that crime rates are famously linked to the number of broken windows, and the amount of litter and graffiti in the area. But even asymmetry, clutter and wonky edges promote bad behaviour because such visual disorder primes and activates negative mental metaphors such as ‘crooked politician’, etc. As the old English nursery rhyme suggests, “There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile…And they all lived together in a little-crooked house.” On the other hand, studies suggest that if you surround yourself with photos of smart people like Einstein, your creativity and intelligence will be boosted. Of course, the biggest priming effect is how we think and talk to ourselves that makes the difference. You could be living in a perfect feng shui environment and lead a miserable life because of negative thinking and limiting beliefs and vice versa. The feng shui of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell clearly didn’t affect him in a bad way.
Placebo (self-fulfilling prophecy) and nocebo (self-defeating prophecy)
Feng shui works because of the placebo effect or a self-fulfilling prophecy or positive thinking if you like. Your belief in the efficacy of feng shui ritual will direct your energy, attention and focus and will dictate how it might work. The function of feng shui is to give you clarity, focus, energy and confidence in your own resourcefulness. Your inner self-belief that you can achieve your goals is activated by feng shui rituals. However, the miracle-working property of feng shui is not the ritual but the placebo effect behind it. Although, Niels Bohr, Danish quantum physicist, Nobel Prize winner in Physics said categorically when asked why he used feng shui, “I understand that it works whether you believe in it or not.” Obviously, there are environmental stressors such as electromagnetic pollution, dirty electricity, geopathic stress, air pollution and so on that will affect you whether you believe in them or not.
The opposite of placebo is nocebo or self-defeating prophecy or negative thinking. People struggle with manifesting their goals and dreams, usually, not because of the lack of resources but because of lack of resourcefulness, limiting beliefs and negative thinking.
Externalisation of the problems, focusing and anchoring
Feng shui works partly because it helps people to get a healthy perspective and distance from their problems or desires. The external environment becomes a metaphor for understanding the issue. Focus is the key to the realisation and execution of our goals and plans. And it also becomes an anchoring solution to the problem. With physical changes that are visually present, we anchor the positive intentions and focus to feng shui rituals which are basically physical affirmations.
Feng shui bias
Your mostly unconscious biases will influence much of your thinking, decision making and behaviour. In feng shui, confirmation bias, cause-effect, recognition/observation, feng shui ingroup bias and other biases will shape your feng shui outcome. Knowing them, can set you free and allow for greater and richer thinking, being and doing as well as creativity. The confirmation bias is the most common bias that people fall for because they want to believe what they already know by preferentially seeking and recalling information the confirms their preconceptions. This bias is behind the biggest mistake you can make when using feng shui ie putting your life into feng shui. Once you put your life into feng shui, you’re going to be a slave to it. I get emails from people who “fearful of lighting a candle or drilling a hole or even putting a vase of flowers in the wrong place” without asking a feng shui expert for advice. That is a fear-based feng shui which is highly unethical. Ethical feng shui suggests putting feng shui in your life and using it as a useful tool, reasonably with common sense and checking if the advice is evidence-based. Read why people believe in feng shui and astrology
|Anchoring||Focusing on one factor, often the first encounter, when making a decision|
|Clustering illusion||Seeing phantom patterns in random events|
|Confirmation bias||Preferentially seeking and recalling information the confirms your preconceptions|
|Congruence bias||Testing ideas by seeking evidence that supports rather refutes them|
|Endowment effect||Valuing things more highly simple because they belong to you|
|Fundamental attribution error||Attributing people's behaviours to their personality, not the situation|
|Gambler's fallacy||Believing the past random events alter the likelihood of future ones|
|Hyperbolic discounting||Overvaluing what's available now relative to what you can have later|
|In-groups bias||Overestimating the abilities and values of your own group relative to others|
|Negativity bias||Paying more attention to bad news and feedback than good|
|Projection bias||Assuming that most people think like you and hold the same beliefs|
|Status quo bias||Favouring decisions that will leave things just as they are|
Watch this TED talk about the confirmation bias
Semiotics is the study of meaning-making, sign process, and meaningful communication. “We anthropomorphise everything,” states Eleanor Sandry, Curtin University, Perth. Humans project intent, emotions and identities on anything from dolphins to homes to Microsoft’s paper clips to LEGO blocks to koi carp, money plants and compass directions. We imbue everyday objects and activities with special meanings. Humans are meaning-making machines. We invent stories to make sense of the world around us. We prime ourselves with beliefs, myths, stories and perceptions about how things work and then we believe in them as if they were true. Yuval Noah Harari in his 21 Lessons for the 21st Century demystifies and de-constructs some of the basic stories that humans have been telling themselves for the last 2000 years. Distinguishing truth from belief and the difference between fiction and reality is an important skill when deconstructing and decoding feng shui and how it works.
Relationship in the context of feng shui means inter-connection and interaction. It also means energy or chi or active force. And potentiality. Once you have a clear intention, you need to affirm it physically with a ritual. You need to actualise it in the material realm.
How do you do it? Don’t position yourself in yin-yang or duality paradigm, because then, whenever you want to do something about your life, the opposing reactive force will get activated. For example, if you position yourself to improve your health and boost wellness – the opposite reactive forces will get activated, ie illness, etc. That’s how duality works.
Position and align yourself with all potentiality or oneness which has a separate path. It has transcended duality (but doesn’t deny it). Many cultures talk about oneness or immanence and have gods to embody that force. Follow the path of active force and your problems won’t be so relevant – actually, they will become false problems because you’ve chosen a different developmental path. Einstein suggests, ‘move to a level where the problem doesn’t exist’ because ‘you can’t solve a problem with the thinking that has created it in the first place.’
This is how it works ontologically. History is driven by conflict, usually dualistic between active forces and reactive forces. But active forces are not in conflict with reactive forces. It is only the reactive forces which are in conflict with the active forces. An active force is the force of creation. It works by following its own path. Creativity is an active force. It has a morphogenic field that has a function and does what it does, ie simply create. We have a choice as to what path of development to follow. A reactive force doesn’t follow its own path – in fact, it doesn’t have its own path at all. A reactive force works by stopping the active force. It reacts to an active force. That’s all it can do.
For example, impressionists in France (Monet, Degas, Renoir) were quite controversial at the time when they started their unique way of painting based on the idea of how changes of light affect your changing perception of physical reality – or, more simply, the visual experience is a product of light. Their art was rejected for exhibition by the previous generation of realists who had a monopoly on who could exhibit at the art salons. So what did impressionists do? They organised their own salon exhibition called the Salon des Refusés. So as a new art movement, the impressionist set themselves not to be in opposition to previous art, and rather than write their artistic manifesto in opposition to realist art, they formed their own path and followed it.
In short, ask yourself ‘what do I want?’ and go for it while transcending dualistic opposites and connecting to it with a ritual. And this where the three algorithmic operations: AND, OR, and NOT become relevant. Reject ‘or’ and ‘not’ commands and use only ‘AND’ commands. So feng shui = intention AND ritual and that’s how you connect it and make it relational. Connect, connect and connect. Y becomes X, or more specifically Y is X. Follow Michelangelo’s advice on creating: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Relationship = energy/power
The relationship is also your power relation and your personal energy. The more energy you have the better – to manifest whatever you want to manifest and manage your life. Feng shui is important and environmental stressors can affect your energy, can drain your energy. But you have the most power unless you give it away. People give away their power, their life force in different ways: by living in the past or future too much, by not being present, by holding to false beliefs or false problems, holding on to ‘wounds’, by having unhealthy attachments, by addictions, by ‘dead’ thoughts, by blaming others, by holding on to superstitions, by living in illusion, etc, etc. When something throws you off your centre or something engages your power in a negative way it will cost you your life force, your power and then you can’t create. When you’re disempowered you also stop trusting your instinct and your intuition because you’re fractured and clarity is gone – and it’s all because you’ve attached yourself to an illusion. The good news is that you have the power to decide if something is a spectacle and not attach to it. By changing your perception about it or reframing it or even just renaming it you can disengage from any disempowering spectacle or perception or news. Buddha reminds us not to engage with an illusion because it will cost you your power.
When you have all your power, your energy, your charge in the present moment, you can achieve anything, you can create anything. When you’re centred you trust your power, your own judgement, your gut feelings. Then the ritual can be anything and it will work. Feng shui is a way of ritualising power.
Rituals – which can also become customs – are part of every culture and they are used to celebrate key life events such as birth, marriage and death. Rituals connect and bind people together. A ritual is an activity you do once or several times in a specific and prescribed way (conscious or unconscious). Feng shui is a ritual. A ritual can be seen as an algorithm (X is Y). It can also be seen as a useful or not so useful habit. Up to 40% of our behaviour is habitual. To break a bad habit, a new habit needs to be established and that’s where rituals are very handy. Any ritual has the potential of breaking the pattern of a bad habit. What rituals do is force you to become a different person or perform a different behaviour or interact with others in a different manner. You enter a ritual space of ‘as if’ when you act as a different person and intend a different outcome for your situation. What matters here is that a ritual breaks your habitual pattern in order to get a different response from the world around you. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what ritual you use, as long as it works.
What is a ritual?
Rituals marks transition and change for, hopefully, better times. A ritual is a kind of ‘magical’ performance that makes the abstract concrete and the imaginary idea actualise in reality. The essence of ritual is the magical spell ‘Hocus pocus, X is Y!’ (Hocus pocus arose from the garbled ‘Hoc est corpus! in the Christian mass.)
Anything can be turned into a ritual, just by taking ordinary activities, such as lighting candles, ringing bells, hanging crystals, walking in the woods (forest bathing) and even consuming food, and imbuing them with symbolic meaning. Rituals have been used for political and militaristic purposes. Napoleon noted that people are willing to sacrifice their lives for a ribbon. In today’s China offerings to the spirits of people’s ancestors include paper models of computers and electronics, luxury goods and even wi-fi routers that are burnt ritualistically in the hope that the smoke will transfer the special object or gift to the spirit world and the spirit of the deceased person.
Feng shui, for example, might suggest hanging a prismatic crystal in the wealth area of your home or office to boost your money prospects. This ritual does seem to work for most people, creating an aesthetically pleasing rainbow effect when the sun shines on it. Over the years, I’ve experimented with this feng shui remedy and for fun, I got the same positive results, by hanging a piece of chewing gum, or, when a crystal wasn’t readily available, a piece of paper with a word ‘crystal’ on it. How come? Because the ritual is only the servant of the intention. It works because of the placebo effect. Having said that, some rituals work better because they have a stronger morphic field (informational, conscious memory or habit) ie they’ve been used for centuries and they have their active, creative force better established.
“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking about them.” Alfred North Whitehead
The importance of rituals in enhancing self-control
Enacting rituals which are defined as “a fixed episodic sequence of actions characterised by rigidity and repetition” can boost feelings of self-discipline, according to a study done by Allen Ding Tian (in the Journal of Personal and Social Psychology). Further research is needed to explore the difference between rituals created by individuals for their own purposes and those adopted from or imposed by the surrounding environment or culture. Also, does the effectiveness of the ritual depend on the amount of effort put into it? These questions are also relevant in the context of feng shui rituals.
‘As if’ principle
William James, the father of psychology, suggested this principle, “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” This is another explanation for how feng shui interventions or rituals work. By performing a physical act of changing your environment with a specific intention you follow the ‘fake it, till you make it’ heuristic.
Horses for courses
Most people don’t know how the electricity works but this doesn’t stop them from using a toaster. And there are many ways electricity can be used – just as there are at least 365 ways of washing up. There is an infinite number of feng shui interventions, in the same way as different cuisines can be combined in an infinitely creative number of ways.
“Information is physical.” Rolf Randaur
Design your own feng shui algorithm
Feng shui is a living discipline and art that evolves and changes. Once you understand how the feng shui master algorithm works, you will be able to see this pattern in other disciplines and be able to creatively transfer it to feng shui – in factual or metaphoric ways. For example, Andrew Taylor Still, the father of osteopathy, taught a simple, introductory rule of thumb/algorithm to his osteopathic students: “If it is obstructed – unblock it. If it is tight – loosen it. If it is lax – strengthen it.” This osteopathic algorithm can be translated into feng shui as: unblock the energy flow, clear the energy flow and strengthen the energy flow, or in short: moderate the energy flow (one of the key principles in feng shui). So whatever your expertise is, you can translate it into a feng shui algorithm.
In the future, machine learning algorithms will do a much better job than all feng shui consultants combined because they will be more accurate and faster. A feng shui machine learning algorithm will be able to do everything given initially enough data from different sources, consultants, books, clients, etc. For example, if you give a computer enough data about a particular health condition, it will learn in less than a minute how to diagnose a patient for that condition much better than any top doctor can do. The interesting question will be, though: will machines have the necessary intentional force, or is that purely a human quality? For the time being, you can still call your feng shui consultant.
As a feng shui consultant, you want to be as accurate as possible. The feng shui process is 90% information gathering and 10% intervention. Be aware that there is a difference between observation and interpretation. Good observers focus on what is relevant in particular contexts and they notice:
• what is exaggerated most
• what repeats the most
• what changes the most
• what is missing the most
Avoid interpreting because it is always incomplete, limited and ‘contaminated’ by your own personal judgment, biases and history. Asking key questions and the perception of different factors (such as appearances, sounds, feelings, objects and smells, vibes) helps you assess the situation more accurately.
Feng shui = intention + relationship + ritual
The key operations for a good feng shui algorithm are
Intention: what do I want?
Relationship: how can I connect and actualise my desire/goal?
Ritual: what can I do physically / feng shui-wise in my home or workplace to affirm and represent my want, purpose, goal, desire?
I want … a new car (you can be specific as to what type, Tesla, etc)
I affirm my desire with a picture of a new car which I stick on my fridge, in my kitchen which is in the success area of the bagua (as a reminder to focus on what I want and the first step in physicalising my dream).
I want … better sleep and more energy
I affirm this intention with a new organic latex mattress.