A direct translation of feng shui is "wind and water," and is so called "because it's like wind, which you cannot comprehend, and like water, which you cannot grasp."
Wind is something we avoid if we want an auspicious setting, as Guo Pu, Jin Dynasty master of feng shui, advocated.
For him, "kind energy [qi] is dispersed by wind and stored in water."
So what feng shui intends to bring is kind energy that is condensed and concentrated rather than loose-ended, dispersing energy that is unkind.
Feng shui is, however, just another name for natural science.
Setting the site for one's home with the mountains at the rear serves to break the wind to protect it.
Mountain peaks serve to receive and repel kind and unkind energy.
The surrounding peaks would serve as left dragon, right tiger, front finch and back turtle, which corresponds to the sky map of stars and constellations.
Mountain peaks receive signals from natural satellites, or stars.
Since ancient tombs were often buried with treasures, raiders often used feng shui techniques to identify their sites. They knew that affluent elites would make preparations for their departure by choosing sites traditionally regarded as offering an ideal feng shui setting.
Archeologists have often arrived at the site of a major tomb only to find it has been raided.
An ideal feng shui setting avoids gusty winds and is a place where energy is concentrated to provide an environment for harmony.
Such energy creates prosperity and fosters good relations for the family. Please refer to a previous column on mountains governing health and water governing wealth.
So next time someone asks you if feng shui is kind, you should say feng is unkind while shui is kind. Better still, feng shui should be called san sui, or mountain and water.
Kerby Kuek has published 15 books on feng shui, inner alchemy, Taoism and metaphysics. He can be contacted at www.kerbykuek.com