Chi for Too

Malaysian Tatler
May 2000

As would be expected, feng shui supreme Lillian Too lives in a world of wind and water. Billie Ooi gets to grips with geomancy on a grand scale

Photography by Peter Wan

Her latest book 'Fengshui for Love' hit the stands on Valentine's Day and made record-breaking sales. New hopes and inspirations are presented in a bouquet to courting lovers and no doubt many broken hearts will be mended, but for Lillian Too, home is where the heart is. Aesthetic values come hand-in-hand with feng shui as the expert gives her bungalow in Bangsar a liberal application of the ancient science.

Like her life, her house is a busy one - a celebration of feng shui, positively charges with good chi and humming with excellent vibrations. It is also booming with her powerful voice as she addresses throngs of people coming to her house for consultations or simply to do business with her. Occasionally a cutting remark can be heard above the din. Lillian Too is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Because she attends to so many visitors, the bungalow in Pantai Hills contains one sizeable foyer and two large sitting rooms. The lobby is transformed into a place of worship with a medicine Buddha on a bright altar to keep the family healthy.

Going into what must be the most important area of her house, the west living room is appointed in a minimalist manner that does not really conform to the statue of Buddha and the multitude of offerings placed there. Here designer couches from B. International and a Philippe Starck chair share the limelight with a majestic standing Buddha and holy paintings to one corner. Glass shelves on the side offer refuge to crystal bowls containing offerings to the Buddha - some of them very imaginative, for example expensive fragrances, precious stones and flowers. The fashionable table at the centre, also from B. International, bears the responsibility of churning wealth and prosperity in the household. A sailing ship carrying gold nuggets is arranged to sail into the house instead of out, doubtless to bring in wealth and prosperity. Six crystal balls keep the family in harmony and any dissension at bay. "But of course feng shui is not about money at all," Lillian reminds.

The east living room is a more restful place. The energy here is of a soothing nature. The soul is immediately calmed and the mind becomes meditative and reflective. While religious art occupies the wall, one of the most interesting objects is the antique Korean bed which has been ingeniously turned into a comfortable pair of chairs. With the silkiest fabric covering the 'mattress', it is a perfect lounging divan. On the desk table a yellow porcelain bowl is left empty intentionally, the significance: to herald in more wealth and values of life. Another masterpiece displaying horses carved out of jade depicts her daughter's love of these beautiful creatures. Three generations of emperors known as the 'chien loong' also reside here. They portray longevity, a blessing Lillian fervently hopes for her family.

The laughing Buddha dominates another corner of this room. "The laughing Buddha is an object of love and reverence for me. He helps me practise humility and prevent arrogance. We are only human. Sometimes fame and fortune spiral to our heads. He keeps me in line," the Harvard graduate confesses. A stranger combination here would be the colourful Ikea couch thrown alongside the antique wood and rattan armchair that used to belong to Lillian's father. More unusual is the huge white crystal bowl that sits on a Persian rug. "This is my singing bowl. It allows you to hear and feel energy." She demonstrates by knocking the bowl with a wooden stick at four points, then using the same stick she circles the circumference of the bowl. After a while a slow and soft vibration can be felt which in time becomes more audible until it reaches a crescendo, with a resonance which fills the room and seemingly one's heart. "When I feel depressed I do this to purify my energy; clear the bad and allow the good to flow in."

A space is created between the foyer and the two living rooms to allow for a Buddhist stupa. The castle-like pagoda stores one million rolled-up mantras written with blessings of all kinds. Four heavenly kings stand guard protectively at its four corners. Nearby, lively Japanese carp swim in a pond beneath a flowing waterfall. Water and mirrors, along with Tibetan thangkas and Buddha statues are ubiquitous features of the house. They are the staple of every room.

The kitchen offers a rather different ambience. Wood paneling and chandelier lighting gives it an adventurous cabin feel. Dark wood furniture with mother-of-pearl inlay sets off the attractive forest-green cushions on the seats. The colour of green, which serves to brighten up this area considerably, and all the wood promote growth and nature. The lazy Susan on the table is made out of glass with drawings of fish sand-blasted onto it. A miniature Buddha and five fish can be found on the table too. "The Chinese love fish, it is a symbol of abundance," she reports.

A prolific writer, Lillian's international best-sellers are neatly arranged in an alcove affixed with glass shelves and parquet panels beside the kitchen. The full display of her titles is treated with more vigour than the window dressing of any bookshop: a bowl of water is believed to encourage the popularity and sales of her books.

Outside, in the garden she landscaped herself, all living creatures thrive and live in a state of auspicious blessing. The fish in an aquarium swim busily around a Buddha statue. "I am sure Buddha blesses them and, practicing dharma, the Buddhist way of life, I also want to pray for all creatures big and small," she says.

As if to prove her point, a few fat terrapins in a pond swim to greet Lillian when she saunters near their watering hole. Other, less-animated creatures such as three-legged toads and blessing stones are positioned with a purpose. 'Om mani peme hone' is the mantra inscribed on those stones meaning 'to bless all living creatures'.

She must be doing something right after all. Cynics may smile, but Lillian's smile proves to be broader. They should also learn from Tan Sri Vincent Tan, who was not just looking for advice on love when he bought a controlling stake of 60.8% of Lillian's website at RM16.8 million.
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