feng shui, vastu, wabi-sabi, and wu wei
Feng Shui (pronounced "Fung Shway") is a popular interior design system from China that is literally translated as "wind and water." Ancient China had strong traditions of geomancy and ancestor worship. Feng Shui was originally intended for ideal placement of gravesites so people could gain the most benefit from their pleased ancestors. This developed into a system of placement for homes and other buildings.
Vastu, which is thousands of years older than Feng Shui, is part of Feng Shui's origin. Emperor Ashoka of India sent scholars to Southeast Asia and East Asia to spread the great wisdom traditions of India as a gift to enhance local traditions.
Like Vastu, Feng Shui's intention is to enable beneficial results in life and the healthy, unobstructed flow of ch'i, or "universal life energy," within a space. Vastu's Sanskrit name for chi, this sparkly life energy, is prana. In Japan prana has traditionally been known as ki.
There are several schools of Feng Shui and more books than one could possibly read, many of which seem to contradict each other. Feng Shui has much to offer; however, after careful study, research, and practice, Sherri Silverman, the founder of Transcendence Design. vastly prefers Vastu, the sacred space system from the Vedic tradition. Vastu is both spiritually and scientifically based and universally applicable. Vastu works with the subtle laws of nature that govern creation. Vastu aligns buildings with universal energies: the five elements, beneficial earth energies, and cosmic forces.
There are some overlaps between Feng Shui and Vastu. There are also major differences. Transcendence Design uses only those practical elements of Feng Shui that are harmonious with Vastu and that Sherri has found to be effective in her own home and those of her clients.
Vastu is compatible with the goals and intentions of Wabi Sabi, the Japanese aesthetic philosophy that values elegance, beauty, serenity, simplicity, authenticity, cleanliness, a meditative quality, and appreciation of and connection with nature. Both systems view beauty as an essential component. The sadness and melancholy sometimes associated with wabi-sabi is not something supported by Vastu, but its true underlying meaning of serenity and alignment with nature is realized even more through application of Vastu principles.
Wabi Sabi's embrace of the impermanence of this world is a spiritual and physical truth. Vastu acknowledges that everything is always changing. Vastu connects your home with the unchanging source of all manifestation and even considers that buildings have a lifespan. As the spiritual energy of Wabi Sabi suggests, there is no true "perfection" in this life; yet buildings designed according to Vastu retain the precise perfection inherent in the laws of nature and the subtle mechanics of creation. This mathematical perfection allows us greater connection with nature and greater inner freedom and spiritual experience -- a truly authentic life -- the underlying goal of wabi-sabi. Beauty, honoring of nature, and use of natural materials are necessary ingredients of both Vastu and Wabi Sabi.
Likewise, Vastu guidelines support the less well known Taoist concept of Wu Wei. Wu Wei is based on the ability to intuit placement that creates a good flow of energy and is in alignment with the Tao. The Tao is the "Way." It refers to the natural order. Wu Wei advocates going with the flow of nature; it is a non-action approach of following the laws of nature. Since the Tao and pure consciousness / the source of creation / the laws of nature, are simply different cultural expressions of the same universal consciousness, Vastu is in agreement with Wu Wei and can help fulfill its intended goals.
If you appreciate Chinese, Japanese, or any style, there is no conflict with Vastu. All cultures around the world value serenity, spirituality, connection to nature, and beauty. The aesthetics, textiles, and furniture of China, Japan, or any tradition can be incorporated into a Vastu home. How you decorate your Vastu home can involve the expressive variations and "imperfections" of handmade objects revered by Wabi Sabi. Likewise, Transcendence Design can consult on Japanese, Chinese, or other styles of gardens that comply with Vastu recommendations, honor the laws of nature, and thus create greater support, abundance, success, tranquility, and harmony in your life.
"Move over, feng shui; vastu shastra is on the rise." Read this 2006 article from The Santa Fean Magazine: