21. The Placement of Shrines
Written by Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu
Translated by Janny Chow
21. The Placement of Shrines
When I first arrived in the United States, I received many invitations to give feng-shui consultations. One was a request to inspect a `very good` restaurant that had excellent feng-shui. Many geomancers had inspected the locale before me, and they all concurred that the site was very good.
After inspection, I too found the feng-shui very good. However, the reality was that business there was bad. Not only were all the staff sluggish, even patrons appeared to become infected by a miserable dreariness upon entering the restaurant. There were never more than a few customers in the restaurant, and at the time I arrived, the owner could barely afford to pay his bills.
As I looked around the restaurant, I noticed a shrine set up directly above the upper ledge of the door leading from the kitchen into the dinning room. This door happened to be the passageway through which waiters brought dishes into the dinning room.
I told the owner, `The set up of the shrine is wrong.`
`Why is it wrong?`
`There is nothing below the shrine.`
`Why is this bad?`
`The shrine is set up with nothing beneath it; this makes it impossible to bring in the money chi. The door below constantly opens and closes, making banging noises. How can a deity sit still at such a spot? This deity ran away a long time ago.`
`The deity may have run away, but couldn’t the customers have stayed?` the owner said with a laugh.
`The deity running away had a negative influence on business causing customers to also run away.`
The owner of the restaurant did not actually believe in the existence of gods or deities, and the installation of a shrine had merely been a customary cultural practice. But after listening to my advice, without further comment, he moved the shrine to a money-reserve spot in the dinning room. At the new location, the shrine had solid back support with walls to the right and left preventing chi from slipping away. This new location was also warmer and quieter. I also requested that the owner place a few more lights on the shrine to brighten it and suggested he make regular offerings.
I then told the owner to place an advertisement announcing that, in celebration of the restaurant anniversary, each party of customers would receive one complimentary dish and a plate of fruit. I also suggested he hire a new assistant chef to prepare some specialty dishes.
After moving the shrine and following my suggestions, business suddenly turned around. Every day, a long line of customers waited outside. The line stretched from the door all the way to the main road, and inside, the restaurant was always jam-packed. There were so many customers that the owner could hardly believe his good fortune.
Thereafter, each time I visited him, the owner would come out to greet me with a large smile, `Welcome, Living Buddha, my lucky star, welcome.`
In this case, by simply moving the shrine from above the kitchen door to an auspicious location where regular offerings were made, the problem was solved. These actions resulted in spiritual protection and prosperity for the entire restaurant.
The owner of the restaurant saw a huge increase in profit and has since opened two additional restaurants. He also consulted me for the remodeling and installing of shrines in these new restaurants. All three restaurants are currently doing very good business and bringing in a great deal of money.
During my feng-shui readings in Taiwan, I remember coming across two shops that also set up shrines directly above passageways. Below the shrines, people walked to and fro. I warned the shop owners against having empty space or traffic below the shrine and suggested they relocate their shrines or close up the passageways. They both said they would do so, yet they never carried out my instructions.
Recently, I learned that one of the owners had declared bankruptcy, and the other was very much in debt and looking for someone to take over the business.
I consider it best not to have any empty space above, below, or on either side of the shrine. If there must be windows in the establishment, these can be installed in the center of the left and right walls. An empty space above or below the shrine is inauspicious because the shrine will not receive money chi. The reason for this is very simple: an opening above, below, or on either side leads to great dissipation of chi and the instability of the chi of the deity.
Even in ordinary households, shrines must be set up in proper locations with no empty space above, below, or on either side. If the shrine is installed correctly, it will accumulate positive energy from the residing deity and compensate for minor feng-shui problems in the home.
In the past, I had written that there should be no empty space above, below, or on either side of the shrine. Many students misunderstood these directions to mean there should be no windows on the three walls. Actually, the only wall that should not have any windows is the wall that forms the shrine’s back support. The right and left walls may have windows in the middle as long as these walls still give rise to the form of two `protecting arms.`
I have seen cases where shrines were installed besides doors. This is also improper as the opening and closing of the door creates much noise and a draft that leads to unstable chi. Take care to ensure that the back wall of the shrine is strong and solid. If the wall is rickety, the shrine will not sit comfortably and securely. It will eventually fall, and once the shrine falls, bankruptcy will follow.
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