A Democratic California legislator has introduced a resolution that would urge state officials to include the principles of feng shui in the California Building Standards Code, which is used in the design of public buildings.
The legislation, ACR 144, was introduced last week by Assemblyman Leland Y. Yee of San Francisco.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice that encourages the correct design of living spaces so people can experience “a positive energy environment,” according to the bill. The legislation would urge the California Building Standards Commission to adopt building standards that “promote feng shui principles and publish these standards in the California Building Standards Code.”
While detractors of feng shui link it to the New Age movement and spirituality, supports claim it is strictly a science.
The website of the American Feng Shui Institute states: “Feng shui is not related to any religion or belief system. It is a scientific discipline based on the analysis of energy.”
The Skeptic’s Dictionary’s Robert Todd Carroll criticizes the practice.
“Feng shui has become a kind of architectural acupuncture: Wizards and magi insert themselves into buildings or landscapes and use their metaphysical sensors to detect the flow of good and bad ‘energy,’” Carroll writes. “These masters for hire declare where bathrooms should go, which way doorways should face, where mirrors should hang, which room needs green plants and which one needs red flowers, which direction the head of the bed should face, etc. They decide these things on the basis of their feel for the flow of chi (universal life force), electromagnetic fields or whatever other form of energy the client will worry about.”
Stating the practice began with the royal families of China thousands of years ago, Yee’s resolution claims “feng shui advocates living in harmony with the Earth’s environment and its energy lines, so that there is a proper balance between the forces of nature.”
The text of the legislation says several designers and companies have used feng shui principles, including Citibank, N.M. Rothschild, Shell and Sime Darby.
“The structure of a building can affect a person’s mood,” states the proposed legislation, “which can influence a person’s behavior, which, in turn, can determine the success of a person’s personal and professional relationships. … The aim of feng shui architecture is to study how the environment in which people live may affect their lives and influence their quality of life.”
Adam Keigwin, press secretary for Yee, emphasized the bill is simply a “recommendation” to the California Building Standards Commission, not a directive.
Keigwin says the benefits of feng shui have been “scientifically proven.”
“We’ve seen evidence that it creates a more productive work environment,” Keigwin told WND.
The spokesman said he wasn’t aware of any religious connections to feng shui, saying it was “more the architectural aspects” that Yee is interested in promoting.
Keigwin predicts that since the legislation is only a recommendation in resolution form, it will not “get much debate” in the California Assembly.
Yee’s website features a photo of the assemblyman and feng shui expert Jian Jun Lee.
A colleague of Yee had a good laugh when asked about the resolution.
“This is California. What can you say?” said Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Temecula, after an extended chuckle.
“I love Leland Yee; he’s a nice guy,” Haynes told WND. “But he’s really stepped out there on this one.”
Haynes said downplaying the impact of the legislation by saying it is only a “recommendation” is disingenuous.
“[The California Building Standards Commission] ignores our request at their own peril,” he said, noting the Legislature is the “boss” of the panel.
“The purpose of building codes is to promote public safety and public health,” he said. “Whether or not someone follows the principles of feng shui should be an individual choice and not the subject of regulation.”
Marcia Montenegro believes feng shui has a strong spiritual component and warns Christians about the practice on the website Christian Answers for the New Age:
“Feng shui operates entirely on the belief in balancing yin and yang and in the belief of chi. To seek harmony through a balance of yin and yang energies is at odds with trusting Christ and with the peace we have through Christ. To accept chi, one must discard the Christian God who is a personal God, not an impersonal force. There is no biblical evidence for a force permeating the universe. It is entirely inconsistent with Christianity to believe that harmony and balance result through the manipulation and channeling of a force based on the placement of objects, or through any other method. In fact, techniques to manipulate or channel such a force belong to the world of sorcery.”
Other Christians are less concerned about feng shui. Writer Julie McGuinness says Christians can use the “practical hints” offered by the philosophy.
“Finding ways to bring order and harmony into our surroundings can certainly help us to express our God-given creativity. Through a beautiful and thoughtfully arranged home we can offer a welcoming and peaceful place for others to enjoy,” McGuiness writes in Woman Alive magazine.
Haynes mentioned he puts together “Nosey Awards” each year, “honoring” what he sees as the most intrusive legislation introduced in California. He says Yee’s resolution is “vying for the most intrusive bill this year.”
Concluded Haynes, “This makes California look like a bunch of flakes to the rest of the nation.”