The Chinese wisdom of caring: Feng Shui
One advantage of globalization, one that is not only economic-financial but also cultural, is that it enables us to access values that are not well developed in our Western culture. Here, we will touch on the Chinese Feng-Shui. Literally, it means wind (feng) and water (shui). The wind carries Qi [pronounced, chi], the universal energy, and the water retains it. On a personal level, it means “master of the prescriptions”: the wise one who, starting from the observation of nature and of close harmony with Qi, would point out the path of the winds and the flow of the waters and, this way, how to properly construct a dwelling.
Beatriz Bartoly, in her brilliant thesis of philosophy, of which I served as advisor, at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), writes: «Feng Shui gives us a form of loving jealousy» –we would say caring and tenderness– «with respect to the banality in our existence, that in the West has long been discredited and underrated: to care for the plants, for the animals, to arrange the home, care for the cleaning, the maintenance of the bedrooms, preparation of meals, to adorn daily life with the prosaic, and simultaneously, with the majestic beauty of nature. However, more than buildings and human endeavors, the principal objective of this philosophy of life is conduct and action, because more than in the results, Feng-Shui is interested in the process. The value is in the action rather than its effect, in the conduct rather than the end result».
As is deduced, the philosophy of Feng-Shui is centered more in the subject than the object, more in the person than the environment and the house itself. The person must be involved in the process, to develop the perception of the environment, capture the energetic flows and the rhythms of nature. The person must assume a conduct in harmony with others, with the cosmos and the rhythmical processes of nature. The person who has created that interior ecology will be able to successfully organize its exterior ecology.
More than a science or art, Feng Shui is fundamentally a wisdom, an ecological-cosmic ethic of how to correctly distribute the Qi throughout our environment.
The multiple facets of Feng Shui represent the final synthesis of care in organizing the garden, the house or apartment, with a harmonious integration of the elements that are present. We can even say that the Chinese, as the classic Greeks, are tireless seekers of the dynamic equilibrium of all things. The supreme ideal of the Chinese tradition, that found its best expression in Buddhism and Taoism, represented by Lao-tzu (VI-V century a.C.) and by Zhuangzi (V-IV century a.C.), consists of procuring unity through a process of integrating the differences, especially the known polarities of yin/yang, masculine/feminine, space/time, celestial/terrestrial, among others. The Tao represents that integration, the ineffable reality with which it attempts to unify the person.
Tao means path and method, but also the mysterious and secret Energy that produces all the paths and projects all the means. It cannot be expressed in words. Before it, only respectful silence suffices. It underlies the polarity of yin and yang and manifests itself though them. The human ideal is to reach such a profound union with Tao that the satori, the illumination, results. For Taoists, the supreme good is not found beyond death, as it is for Christians, but here, in time and history, through an experience of non-duality and integration in the Tao. A person who dies is submerged in, and unified with, the Tao.
To reach this union, harmony with the vital energy that courses through heaven and Earth, called Qi, is essential. Qi can not be translated, but is equivalent to the ruah of the Jews, the pneuma of the Greeks, the spiritus of the Latins, the axe of the yoruba/nago, the quantum vacuum of the cosmologists: expressions of the supreme and cosmic Energy that underlies and sustains all beings.
Through the strength of Qi, all things are transformed (see the I Ching, the Book of Changes), and permanently remain in process. The Qi flows in the human being through the meridians of acupuncture. It circulates in the Earth through the subterranean telluric veins, composed of the electromagnetic fields that lie along the meridians of ecopuncture that are interwoven along Earth’s surface. The expansion of Qi means life, when Qi retracts, there is death. When Qi acquires weight, it appears as matter, when it turns subtle, as spirit. Nature is the wise combination of the distinct states of Qi, from the heaviest to the lightest.
When Qi emerges in a given place, a harmonious scene is created, with soft winds and crystalline waters, sinuous mountains and green valleys. It invites the human being to build his abode, or locate an apartment there, where he can find himself “at home”.
The Chinese vision of the world favors the space, in contrast to the West, that favors time. Space for Taoism is the place of encounter, of confraternity, of the interactions of all with all, because all of us are carriers of the Qi energy that envelopes the space. The supreme expression of space is realized at home, in the garden, in the well cared for apartment.
The human being who wants to be happy must develop topofilia; love of the place where one lives and where one’s home and garden, or apartment, is found. Feng Shui is the art and technique of building well the house, the garden, and of decorating the apartment with a sense of harmony and beauty. In the face of the dismantling of caring and the present ecological crisis, the millenarian wisdom of Feng Shui helps us rebuild the alliance of sympathy and love with nature. That remakes the human presence (that the Greeks called ethos), based on caring and its multiple facets, such as tenderness, charity and cordiality.
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org,
done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.