Facing Directions, Structural Layouts: Why Most People Don’t Get To Benefit From Feng Shui

March 23, 2020

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TLDR) Summary:

  • The kind of house you stay in is, in a way, fated. The feng shui of a house can impact you, but whether you get to benefit from feng shui has a bit to do with your life story or karma. You will never see someone with a bad chart living in a good house.
  • Houses paint a story of how your life is like and will unfold. People who are meant to do well will naturally end up somewhere good. It’s just the law of nature.
  • Feng shui is not interior design. It’s not about colours or furniture arrangement. If you’re talking about ergonomics, just use common sense.

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone is well and safe. What a way to start the year. I think no one expected the virus to hit, and this badly.

I know everyone’s wondering if metaphysics can be used to predict such events, and based on what I know, the best method to use is 六壬 (liu ren) which falls under one of the three 三式 which includes 太乙 (tai yi) and 奇门遁甲 (Qi Men Dun Jia). In the past, 六壬 and 太乙 are the techniques used for matters related to the whole country, whereas Qi Men Dun Jia is focused on military expeditions so it’s more micro and tactical. I did not use Qi Men Dun Jia to forecast how 2020 would be like, and BaZi or Zi Wei Dou Shu does not have the ability to forecast such events.

I won’t blog about the Covid-19 situation as I would be making things up if I did. My application of Chinese metaphysics has always been on individuals instead of global, macro-events and it will likely stay this way for some time to come.

I wanted to blog very quickly about feng shui. I know I don’t blog about it much, but frankly speaking, it’s because I don’t really find it very interesting to blog about because it’ll end up being repetitive. The legitimate things you hear are often the same – 8 Mansions, Flying Stars, Sitting & Facing Directions and what not. It’s just a different micro-configuration every year, with a major one coming in 2024 which we refer to as Period 9 (第九运) where the Flying Star arrangements change on a macro-level and this happens every 20 years. The falsehoods you’ll hear are also often the same, revolving around colours, placing items around the house and tidying up your desk.

Feng shui is fun, though, when it comes to case studies.

Feng shui is not that complicated, but don’t make it look stupid either

I say it’s not that complicated because our ancestors have already done the hard work and simplified it for us. All we have to do is to apply it correctly during a feng shui audit.

The thought process and structure behind picking a house can be broken down into a few simple steps. For example:

  • Look at the landscape and pick an area that has general no taboos and pay attention to misconceptions. For example, having a river nearby is not always a good thing. It depends on not just the direction it is flowing, but where it comes from and where it gos. If you’re living on landed property, the shape of the house and land also matters.
  • Pay attention to the Facing Direction of your home. If you’re living in a landed property, getting the Facing Direction is easy. If you’re staying in an apartment, the Facing Direction is not determined by your main door or entrance and many people make this mistake. I blogged about this a really long time ago.
  • The layout matters too, but unfortunately, almost all houses are templated now and are unable to tap into the best structures. A related blog post can be found here: Feng Shui Flaws Of Modern Apartments

People are still making the mistake of thinking you can pick a house blindly, and then expect a legitimate feng shui master to go in and fix things either by placing items around the house or shifting some furniture around.

Please don’t be such a person. It does not work this way.

Also, feng shui is not interior design. If you are mostly concerned about how your house looks and feels when it comes to the colour scheme or furniture arrangement, just get an interior designer and don’t waste time and money on ‘practitioners’ that can only suggest colours and what furniture to buy. There’s this trend of packaging feng shui as a mere application of colours or tidying up your desks, especially in certain parts of the world. It’s an odd trend, but not surprising.

Why do layouts or facing directions even matter?

If you were to ask me to be perfectly honest, I do not have a scientific answer to this, similar to how I do not have a scientific answer to why BaZi or Zi Wei Dou Shu is accurate.

But what I do know is that for layouts, we’re drawing from the theory of the 8 Trigrams or 八卦,which is the Chinese (or Taoist) representation of the fundamental principles of reality. Everything you see in real life, according to the Chinese, follows these principles and the houses we live in are a natural part of it. It forms the basis of why you always hear that the key rooms – main door, master bedroom, kitchen – need to be in the right place. When you hear of 8 Mansions, the 8 comes from these 8 Trigrams (八卦), because you ideally want to follow these natural laws and minimize the clashes or friction. Your house and how it is built are bounded by these laws too, and as an organism living in such an environment and your own little ‘universe’, you will be impacted by these laws.

As for Facing Directions, it gets a bit more complicated.

A lot of people are Googling about Period 9 now which starts in 2024. If you didn’t already know, in feng shui, there are 9 Periods. Each period is made up of 20 years, so altogether there is a 180-year cycle in feng shui. This is further grouped into three 60-year cycles we call 三元 (60-year cycle) so you’ll often hear of the same 三元九运 referring to the three 60-year cycles and nine 20-year cycles. There are astrological reasons why the cycles are 20, 60 and 180 years and they are determined by the conjunctions of other planets. In other words, when you talk about feng shui, we are also looking at planets like Jupiter, Saturn, and even Mercury.

That being said, feng shui is not just about the planets, but the stars as well and they are used in conjunction. You’ll often hear that Flying Stars involve 9 stars, and these 9 stars come from the Big Dipper. Each 20-year cycle will have a particular star that is in command (当令),so the major events of that 20-year period will revolve around that star. For example, we are currently now in Period 8, or Star 8 is in command.

A lot of people think that Facing Directions is to do with the wind and the sun, which is not entirely wrong although it’s a superficial way of looking at things. You’ll see a lot of articles talking about why a North-South facing home is good and they often explain it saying it doesn’t feel as hot during summer or as cold during winter.

When it comes to Facing Directions, we pay attention to a particular major Period, or the 20-year cycle. By that logic, favourable Facing Directions are expected to change too. The layman’s way of putting things is that we want the star in command (当令星) to be on our side, and by “on our side”, I’m referring to how the stars do not clash with the sectors they fly into and the way they fly paints a picture of a harmonious cycle from start to end.

I know it sounds fluffy, but I really don’t wish to get too technical here. If I were to explain every detail behind it, I’ll have to explain what the picture below means and also bring in the concept of the Mountain Star (山星) and Water Star (向星):

Each Period has a cycle and the Flying Stars will move in a particular order every year, so the thing we’re trying to achieve here is to make sure while the Flying Stars do their thing and move where they’re supposed to, we are aligned with its changes.

I’ll explain this another time if or when I have the mood. You’d find it dry too, trust me.

The Chinese sages spent centuries documenting the planets’ movements and documenting how things on Earth changed. To dumb it down to the level of managing colours and furniture arrangement feels preposterous.

The house we end up in is fated and not everyone will get to benefit from feng shui

There is a Chinese saying called 福人居福地,meaning someone who has good fortune or karma will naturally end up in a place or house that is good.

You’ll often hear me talk about how everything is interconnected and that a lot of things are fated. If you want a good job or a good spouse, you’ll have to deserve it. By “deserve”, I am also referring to the fact that your BaZi or Zi Wei Dou Shu chart must be of a certain quality, because your chart, after all, is an indication of what kind of person you are and how your life unfolds.

The same logic applies to houses. The kind of houses we end up in is fated.

Ideally, a feng shui practitioner comes into the picture by making sure that no matter what your chart says, you’ll end up in a good house but this is not a guarantee. It’s not about fixing a bad house because we all know changing the layout, erecting a mountain or digging a canal or river is not possible.

A lot of people will misinterpret what I just said and assume that a house will not have any effect on you since it’s fated anyway and people can just do whatever they want and leave it to fate – that’s not exactly the right way of interpreting it. I’ll leave it to everyone to define what “fate” means for themselves.

In any case, a house will impact you, it’s just that your astrological charts and house, and as I always mentioned, even the practitioner you end up engaging, has a bit of fate involved. It’s like how some of my clients don’t end up getting an auspicious c-section date for their child. If everything was left to the natural progression of things, regardless of whether you engage a practitioner or not, you will still somehow end up in a house meant for and a house that paints the same story as your astrological charts. Do be reminded that your astrological charts still take precedence, so two families living in the exact same kind of house will still experience different things.

Ideally, a legitimate practitioner will help you get, or rather, increase the chances of getting a good house no matter what your chart says, but whether you’re successful or not depends on factors like:

  • If such a house event exists in the first place, especially when every single new apartment being built these days has the same layout.
  • Whether houses with good feng shui are within your budget.
  • If you’re lucky and wealthy enough to build a house from the ground up and fully customize the house.

Most of us assume that a house with good feng shui something that anyone can have access to – I don’t really agree with this. As much as I advocate transcending charts and doing better than what your chart says, a lot of things are still out of our control. Feng shui is marketed in such a way that anyone can apply it because it is easier to sell.

How about those Annual Flying Stars that I keep reading every Chinse New Year?

My sentiments on the Annual Flying Stars that you hear so much about during Chinese New Year is the same as what I think of Chinese zodiac forecasts.

The kind of information you are getting just from the Annual Flying Star chart is extremely limited, sort of like looking at your Annual Elemental Phases (流年运) in your BaZi chart without even first finding out what your beneficial elements are. The information you are getting and what you can do with it is severely limited and it’s not the proper application of things.

If someone was living in a 绝命宅 (the name for the worst structure for my English readers), and on top of that, also faces the worst direction, it’s already telling us something serious about this person’s life. Applying the Annual Flying Stars here mostly tells us what kind of events will ‘trigger’ in a particular year, it doesn’t mean that your life will change just because you decided to spend more time in a particular sector where an auspicious star lands.

Most laymen don’t appreciate the concept of 体 and 用 which is crucial for the application of Chinese metaphysics. Put it another way, most don’t realize you look at the macro-level of things first before going into the individual years. BaZi, zodiacs, feng shui – you see the same mistakes being made. Why? Perhaps it’s the flaw of wanting instant gratification. You cannot change your life just using one single year.

Moving into a new Period and an example of how things unfold


These days, whenever clients come to me to hunt for a house together with them, I focus a lot more on Period 9’s configurations as we’re about to move out of Period 8 in a few years.

I conducted an audit last weekend for an ex BaZi-client who recently purchased a landed property. It was a rather interesting one because you get to see how people’s lives unfold and how their surroundings change accordingly. I usually end up having to tell a few clients that they bought a bad house and I’ll never hear from them again (because they get angry that I could not magically turn the house into a good one), but this is one of those times, the first time in fact, where I get to witness the impact of what it was like to live in a house with the worst Facing Direction. 

The family of the previous tenant has stayed in this house for around 9 years which is more than enough time for the impact of Period 8’s configurations to kick in. I don’t have the details but it turns out that health, business and marriage all took a hit. The saving grace of this house is that the structure and layout is pretty good as it falls under this:



Structural layout-wise, this house is excellent, so despite facing the worst direction for Period 8, the impact was somewhat mitigated. Had it been a house with an inauspicious structure, I’m pretty sure the situation would have been different.

Now, the thing about this house is that its quality will change in 2024, so my client, technically speaking, should be safe in the long to medium term. I know some people believe that a house will stay ‘stuck’ in a certain Period depending on when it was built, but that goes against all Chinese metaphysical theory and its something I do not believe in.

The above is another interesting example I’ve had the opportunity of auditing recently. It belongs to a good friend of mine. My wife and I attended his wedding in Jakarta in early January before the whole Covid-19 issue went out of control.

We took some time off after the wedding banquet to do a quick visit to the house. This house’s layout is excellent and the Facing Direction is acceptable too – not the best direction but not the worst either. Turns out the previous owner was a senior executive in a mining MNC and his wife is an artist. Both of them did really well in life and are already retired.

Try to look at it this way: Similar to BaZi and Zi Wei Dou Shu, when we assess a house, the house itself is already telling a story of the tenants’ lives because the house is a reflection of nature’s laws too. You’ll often hear of the saying「在天成象, 在地成形, 在人成事」which is basically referring to the ‘Cosmic Trinity’. Roughly translated, it means whatever signs, symbols and the essence of something symbolized by Heaven will have a physical manifestation on Earth, which Humans then come into the picture and events unfold from there. You can sort of see the house as the Earth aspect of things trying to reap the benefits of Heaven. This theory or belief is the foundation of every Chinese metaphysical technique.

We were both half-expecting major changes required, the changes required are considered minor and only the kitchen has to shift a little.

Landed properties are interesting before so much more can be done. The shape of the house, the elevation of the land both within and outside of the unit, and even the pipes can be taken into consideration.

Of course, most of us who live in apartments will not get to tap onto this. You wish to shift your main door or kitchen, or shift the whole orientation of the building? Well, good luck.

Which school of feng shui or method should we apply?

That’s up to you.

Personally, I’m someone who likes to synergize knowledge across different fields and I like to combine different methods when making an assessment. I focus mainly on Eight Mansions and Flying Stars. To me, the structural layout of the house is like the ‘natal chart’ of the house because it won’t change. The Flying Stars method is like the ‘Elemental Phases’ (运) of the house and changes according to the cycles.

I’ve found that both methods give me great insights when assessing a house. Take the above case, for example, a practitioner can assess that the family does have a strong foundation and it’s a house meant for a family who is doing rather well in terms of finances, education and social standing, just that the Facing Direction of the house suggests the path and how things unfold from this foundation might be a little rough. In other words, yes, they might be wealthy, but there may be a lot of obstacles along the way that make the acquiring of wealth cumbersome.

We have the benefit of easily accessible information and materials that people in the past do not, and I personally feel it’s a good thing that we can study different schools of feng shui and see how things can be synergized. I don’t think people in feudal periods had the opportunity to do so.

Think carefully about your next house purchase

I’ve said this time and again. Don’t assume that just because you ‘upgraded’ to a condominium, it means a better quality of life and I mean this in both the logical and metaphysical sense.

I’ve seen a lot of people with challenging astrological charts living in condominiums. By challenging, I refer to things like wealth, finances and health being a struggle.

I think most people don’t realize that getting a condominium doesn’t mean you’re wealthier. People seem to pay attention only to their savings and cash-on-hand, but not their liabilities. Yes, you might have been able to sell your condominium a few years later for a profit, but is the profit worth it? How much are you actually making? You could have been spending your years doing or building something else instead of chasing that paycheque and making sure you can pay your mortgages. How do you quantify the intangibles and the disruption of having to move houses multiple times?

I’m not the expert in real estate investments here and I’ve not done the numbers myself, but personally, unless I could own two properties (one where I reside in and one purely for investment), I really wouldn’t be trying to flip properties and shifting houses every few years and tiring myself out. To me, there is value is in staying put in a good house and using the time and energy freed up to do something else.

A lot of my clients whom I foresaw will have problems are starting to feel the pressure. The Covid-19 virus is sending us into a recession and there is a real risk of people losing jobs. That house you ‘upgraded’ to might just end becoming a burden instead of a home you can rest in.

– Sean

P.S. My birthday just passed and I’ll be writing one of those personal, reflection blog entries next. Meanwhile, stay in good health and be safe, everyone! Till then!

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