Lillian Too - Fame and Feng Shui

New Straits Times-Sunday Style,
27th April 1997

The nondescript-looking bungalow in Pantai Hills with its plain black gate is unremarkable save for to two blue ceramic lions perched on the gateposts. One is chipped and looks rather battered.

A few chimes of the doorbell bring a Filipino into view from between the closely wrought slats. I enter the compound and note the manicured lawns and pretty foliage. Three cars in the porch, two Mercedes and a Porsche, a painting of another lion on the wall.

Nothing out of the ordinary so far.

I'd been told to look out for the "odd" stuff - this was, after all, the home of one of the leading practitioners of feng shui in the country. Entering the house proper, my prickle of disappointment evaporates with the ripple in the indoor pond as the colorful Koi surge to check out the stranger. Sunshine filters in through the skylight, throwing dancing shadows from the lush plants all over the cool marble floor.

I am led to the sitting area, and admire the electric blend of antique and modern furniture set before a huge family portrait and several photographs of a young lady on horseback.

The sound of female laughter is carried over from the recesses of the house, and a minute later Lillian walks into the room. She is clad in a simple floral shirt and plain white skirt with long double strings of pearls for adornment; - a far cry from the corporate power figure she is so often depicted as.

"So nice to meet you, Cynthia," she says. Before I have a chance to reply, she delves under the coffee table and produces several copies of he feng shui books and a recent publication in which she has monthly write-ups, and launches into a stream of publishing facts and figures.

"Do you know, when I first started writing books, I had to publish them on my own... .

We are interrupted by the arrival of photographer Goh, and I inquire after her daughter Jennifer as we had wanted to include her in the pictures. As if on cue, a young lady in a stunning Moschino outfit walks in. We ponder on the backdrop to be used and Lillian wonders aloud if she should freshen up. "Yes, do, mommy," Jennifer urges.

Back home from Cambridge University on holiday, Jennifer says she has a year to go for her Economics degree, and wants to go on to Harvard "just like mom", and maybe join her mother's firm. Goh and I ask for a tour of the house. Lillian graciously accedes, telling us how important a family portrait is to the well-being of the unit. "Make it big, and put it up in a central position in the most important room in the house," she advises. "Everybody must be shown happy , smiling!" she adds.

I make a mental note to ask about hubby Too Wan Jin; Lillian had said earlier that he was partial to his privacy, and all I could unearth from press reports was that he was a retired engineer. We go out to her garden, where she shows us her "white tiger" of the west and points to the embattled guardian lion at the gate. "Look at the cracks," she says. "this means that it have been doing it's job, protecting us from some misfortune or other. Also, never hang pictures of wild life inside the house or they will 'eat' you up," she says.

We are brought to the back of the garden to see Lillian's stupa, a shrine which were made to circle three times. My husband is very supportive of me. I wouldn't be where I am today if he wasn't. "Dad's wonderful," Jennifer says staunchly. "He's a fun kind of guy. We have great times together.

"When I first came home from Hong Kong, all I wanted was to lead a queit humble life. ....thats how i became a writer. But why feng shui? "Ah, feng shui is very close to my heart. It turned my life around. It saved my marriage, and gave me my Jennifer. Did you know, we were childless for nine years! "When my friend and mentor Master Yap Cheng Hai first introduced me to the science, I told him: " all I want is a baby. When I became pregnant, then maybe I'll believe it works.

"Feng shui has brought me so much personal happiness, I just want to share it with others. The wonderful thing is you don't even have to believe in it, it works regardless! "And now, on top of it all, it has brought Lama Zopa Rinpoche into my life."

Lillian is a Buddhist, which accounts forthe numerous Buddhist statuettes and thangkas displayed around the house.Lama Zopa is the Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, is involved in the building of the Matreya Project, an ambitious plan to build a 50 story high statue of the Buddha Maitreya, the Buddha -to-come within a massive complex of meditation centers and park in Bodhgaya, India. One of her readers had given lama Zopa a copy of her book, and the lama had contacted Lillian for feng shui advice for the project. "Can you imagine, ME of all people! I told him: 'I'm not good enough, . But he was persuasive so finally, I went with MR Yap and we assisted in the design of the complex." She is very proud of the honor, and showed us photographs and a personal scrapbook she compiled of her trip to Bodhgaya. "Lama Zopa is a very very beautiful person, you cannot imagine. I am completely taken by him. He exues such compassion, such serenity, yet he is so warm and real.

"My life is so rich, so fulfilling, and now at,50, I have found spiritual sustenance as well. I feel very blessed."
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