Soldotna dentist Jerry Hu moved into his new offices last month. The move was not out of the ordinary. But the manner in which he initiated his new building was unusual.
The morning he was to begin seeing patients there, he embarked upon a Chinese ceremony called Tun Fu. Although Jerry would not disclose the actual events that took place during the ceremony, the following description comes from a similar such ritual witnessed more than 60 years ago.
One morning, a man arrived at the place of his new business just before day break. He carried with him a case, a young rooster and was followed by a group of villagers. Onto a table there he unpacked incense, six cups, a rice bowl, a water container, several pieces of bamboo paper, some red string, a book of Chinese, a red cloth, a bottle of wine, a nail, a jar of tea and a red packet from the case he carried.
The man then lit the incense and poured water into the rice bowl. He lit two pieces of bamboo paper, then placed them into the rice bowl of water along with the nail.
He took one of the pieces of wet bamboo and passed it over the burning incense until it was dry. Then he began writing a secret inscription on the paper from the book he had. He turned the paper over, the written side down, and passed it over the incense again. He repeated this for each piece of bamboo.
Feng shui tips for the office
The location of your desk is the single most important feng shui consideration in the work place. It should be in a commanding position: you should always face the door and you should sit far enough inside the office to see the whole room from your desk. If you sit with your back to the door, you will not be sufficiently aware of your surroundings and may be surprised by people entering your office as well as by the things they have to say. If it isn't possible to arrange your desk to face the entrance, hang a mirror over the desk so you can see behind you.
The most favorable site for the manager's or boss's office is farthest from the front door. This way, the manager is distanced from distractions in the office, and is able to see the "big picture." Also, this distance allows the manager to be able to make decisions that might otherwise be rushed if he or she were closer to the rest of the activity in the office.
Workers whose desks are farther inside the office than the manager's are likely to be insubordinate because they will feel more in command than their superior.
For a more powerful presence at meetings, take a chair that is facing the door. This position will make you more aware of the dynamics of the room. Sit with your back to a wall rather than a window. The wall will offer solid backing to your ideas and lend authority to your presence.
Move desks so that you do not directly face your co-workers. Face-to-face seating can lead to confrontation between colleagues.
Jutting corners, especially those pointing toward your back, can contribute to disruptive office politics. If possible, interrupt the angle by placing a plant or some other non-angled object between yourself and the jutting corner.
Plants with flowers make for good feng shui. Your working environment will be more harmonious, and you will benefit from healthy, smooth-flowing ch'i if you add living things such as plants or goldfish (which symbolize money) to the office atmosphere.
-- From "Feng Shui -- Arranging Your Home To Change Your Life" by Kirsten M. Lagatree.
The red cloth was cut into strips and tied with pieces of string to the top of the bamboo pieces. Then he poured wine into three cups and tea into three more cups. The man then took his place at the head of the table and began giving incantations.
He took the rooster, and fighting to keep hold of the animal, pierced the cockerel's eye with the nail from the rice bowl and drove it through front of the socket and out the other eye. The bird immediately stopped protesting and its head fell limp.
Two villagers produced two pots of sand into which the man placed the pieces of bamboo, three in each pot with a cup of tea. He then sprinkled blood from the rooster's eyes on the bamboos and nailed the bird to a nearby tree with the nail through its eyes.
After pouring out wine at the bottom of the tree, more bamboo papers were burned. The man wet his fingers and put water from the bowl into the cock's blinded eyes. Firecrackers were set off and the bird was set on the ground, and the man put water from the bowl into the bird's mouth before reviving it.
The rooster actually woke up.
Jade plants adorn the doctor's office. The plant is known as the "good luck tree" in China, according to Celia Hu.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The two pots with the bamboos were taken to hillsides at far ends of the village and buried under trees selected by the man. Then he declared that work could start in the new building in three days, and the ceremony was over.
This account was recorded in 1960 by a G.C.W. Grout in a book called Chinese Geomancy. Tun Fu is a ritual to appease Chinese spirits before moving into a new home or work place and is an important initial precursor to feng shui, the Chinese art of placement.
Jerry performed a similar ritual early in the morning on Sept. 19. He downplayed the ceremony, however, and indicated the rites he performed were very different from the aforementioned ritual.
"It's just a gesture," he said.
But he said the ceremony, along with the placement of the all the dental and office equipment and the design and actual placement of the building, were done according to the laws of feng shui (pronounced fung shway).
"It's all about harmony with nature," Jerry said of the principles upon which his new offices on Binkley Street were designed, built and decorated. "It's just like in biblical terms. You don't build your house on sand."
But the principles of
feng shui go deeper than just a good foundation. The Chinese believe feng shui -- literally meaning "wind" and "water" -- are forces responsible for determining health, good luck and prosperity. Following the principles is said to give good ch'i, or human energy.
The practice evolved from the observation that people's environments can have an impact on their lives -- for better or for worse.
Examples include moving a desk to face an office door so a person's back is not to the door. This keeps the person at the desk from being surprised by people entering the office. Or placing a fish tank in the office to enhance finances: the flow of water represents cash flow and fish represent abundant wealth. Sharp angles aren't good, because they can direct energy toward places it may not be needed.
Rounded shapes and pastel colors prevail in Hu's new office. "If it's pretty, it's feng shui," Hu's mother Celia said.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The front doors of businesses should not directly face or oppose neighboring businesses, because this symbolizes conflict. Within a work environment, office doors shouldn't face, lest there be internal strife.
Managing one's environment according to such principles can generate good ch'i, or fortune, while not keeping good feng shui could lead to misfortune.
"When you don't believe, you think whatever happened just happened," said Celia Hu, Jerry's mother. "But when you believe, and something bad happens, you look in the books for answers and you're like, 'Oh, that's why.'"
Celia moved to San Francisco from Taiwan in 1978 with her husband, Tom, and sons Jerry and Peter. The family moved to Soldotna in 1980 and opened Golden International Chinese Restaurant in 1984.
Celia said she tried to reflect many of the same feng shui principles in the restaurant. That meant soft, curved angles on much of the furniture and a running fountain with fish to greet customers. Paintings of fish and horses are said to bring good fortune, as well, so there is plenty of art depicting the animals.
Celia said the layout of the restaurant was meant to be relaxing to guests.
"How does it make you feel?" she asked as she showed off her business.
Jerry said he is not a scholar of feng shui but was eager to follow his parents' lead when he began planning the new building. Moving his practice less than a mile east of his previous location, he had the opportunity to get what he wanted -- and he wanted good ch'i.
"We wanted as many rounded angles as possible," he said, motioning to the reception desk at the entrance to the office. "If you think about it logically, rounded corners are safer. When (someone) bumps into them, they're not going to hurt themselves."
Jerry saw his first patient that afternoon, at an office that had been designed specifically around feng shui, with the latest in dental technology interspersed in the interior layout.
A Chinese symbol for happiness adorns a vase in the doctor's waiting room.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"We didn't want to have the front entr-ance going into something the same size," he said.
He said the entryway to a work place must open into a space that was larger because it was a gateway to more good luck.
In the waiting room, paintings of a flock of geese landing, ships coming into harbor, or rivers churning down valleys are hung against periwinkle-colored walls and a fledgling orange tree greets patients. These paintings all represent signs of good fortune coming into the business, and the tree's leaves are rounded, continuing the concept of softly moving energies. Purple shading spans the walls throughout the office, because the Chinese recognize it as a noble color, Jerry said.
"It gives a trustworthy feeling."
The three work bays are done in earth tones with new dental chairs that have foot and knee controls hidden into the design. This allows Jerry and the technicians to work on patients without risking picking up bacteria from the metal sinks.
Celia said feng shui is popular in her homeland, but she admitted she was not as adroit in assigning feng shui principles to her son's office. She said she enlisted the aid of a family friend.
"All the Chinese people more or less know feng shui," Celia said. "Because we've lived in America for 24 years, we forgot. So I had a friend from Taiwan come in to help."
Jerry said the concepts of the practice were applied first to the architecture and followed up in the construction. He said he hoped his new office would not take anything from the neighborhood's appearance.
"We wanted to enhance the area," he said. "We wanted the community to feel that it was a positive addition.
"The designer was really sensitive to what I asked for and the contractors went out of their way to make sure they worked with us to make it come together."
Rounded corners and careful placement of office furniture, like this sink in one of Hu's exam areas, is important to followers of feng shui.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
He said he did make an effort not to become too wrapped up in putting everything in the building according to feng shui, however. In the long run, he wanted to have a place he and his employees were comfortable with, and more importantly, one his patients would feel comfortable visiting.
"My folks told me feng shui wasn't something to get carried away with," Jerry said. "It's supposed to make life go smoother and make blood pressure go down. I thought about it. That's what you want at a dentist office."
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