Essay About Will Feng Shui Make It Into California Building Codes?

It was recently announced that there is a bill before the California Legislation to incorporate Feng Shui practices into the building codes. While the fundamental notion of such an act is not without merit, the practice of Feng Shui lacks uniformity or standardization between those who practice the ancient art.

Dating back some 3000-6000 years, it appears that the practice was based on simple observation of nature and assessment of those forces on humans. However, in looking at the modern practice of Feng Shui, as depicted in the popular literature on the subject, there appears to a split in the ideological principles that are fundamental to one’s worldviews – meaning that how one practices Feng Shui will depend heavily upon the fundamental beliefs of that person, which is why the practice itself often appears contradictory from one book to another.

As such, mandating such principles could prove not only costly, but could create a layer of chaos within the building industry.

When considering the predominating philosophies of China and many other Asian countries we see that the fundamental ideologies derive from Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucianist thoughts. To understand then how a Feng Shui Practitioner will approach and apply Feng Shui principles will depend heavily upon the belief structure of the individual. For example, Taoism is the belief in predestination and that our life’s journey is determined at birth. Therefore, many Feng Shui practitioners who subscribe to Taoist beliefs will use methods such as astrology, compass directions, and dates of construction while performing their assessment.

What this means, should the proposal pass for Feng Shui principles to be built into the building codes, is that an architect, contractor, or designer may be precluded from the job simply because of their date of birth, or the project itself could be delayed because certain days may be more auspicious than others for the actual construction to occur. This could translate into millions of dollars because cities could no longer accept the lowest bid simply because that contractor’s birth date (destiny) may be incompatible with the construction dates. Likewise, the project itself could encounter many delays because certain days may be considered inauspicious (unlucky) and hence construction could not occur on those days.

Another Feng Shui practice is based on the Buddhist religion, and is commonly referred to in western civilization as Black Hat, and Western Feng Shui. As mentioned, this form of Feng Shui is based to a great extent on Buddhism, which follows some of the basic tenets of Catholicism. The use of statues and other icons, religious ceremonies related exorcisms and clearing ceremonies, and the use of transcendental actions associated with the ringing of bells, burning of incense, and recanting mantras/prayers. While there are many more practices to this form of Feng Shui let’s suffice to say that it is heavily based on symbolic representations and ritual acts. How this form of Feng Shui could be incorporated into the building codes is unknown as it directly violates the separation of church and state.

The one area of Feng Shui that seems to make the most sense in terms of mandated actions into the building codes is that of Xiangdi, or observation and assessment. This practice is the most ancient of the three predominating practices. Based on Confucianism, which takes the approach that one should proceed slowly and methodically taking care to observe and learn from other’s mistakes as one proceeds through life, the goal of this philosophy is total enlightenment. However, the last vestiges of this form of Feng Shui have been reduced to a practice called land form. In a sense, this practice might not be a bad idea for the state of California because it would preclude people from building in areas where the structure could fall down a hill or off of a cliff, or be subjected to falling rocks, fires, flooding, or drought. But, depending on the verbiage, the incorporation of this form of Feng Shui into the building codes could preclude all building in Southern California where the climate is very dry and vulnerable.

Many of the basic tenets of the Xiangdi form of Feng Shui have long been made obsolete with modern building practices, and those that haven’t, have been studied and practiced by the field of environmental psychology for years. For example, in Feng Shui a practitioner will speak of the movement of wind and water; in environmental psychology we refer to this as wayfinding, or movement/traffic flow.

Because the practices of Feng Shui are not uniform, and because many of the professionals within the field lack consensus and standardization with regard to the practice, incorporating Feng Shui principles into the building codes at this time might be a bit premature. However, given that many of basic tenets of the original practices of Feng Shui are based upon observation and assessment, and because the field of environmental psychology also bases much of its research on this process in addition to other research modes, it seems as though these practices are better suited for legislative mandate, if such principles are needed.

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