Meet the other Lillian Too

Sunday Mail,
Thursday, September 10, 2000

The woman who usually speaks her mind is humbled by her spiritual guru. FELICIA CHONG meets a self-deprecating wife and mother whom few would recognise.

By Felicia Chong

If you have met THE Lillian Too of GREAT feng shui fame and former hotshot in the corporate world of banking and if you have ever had a brush with her LOUD straight-from-the-shoulder talking, you would be forgiven for agreeing (with none other than herself) that she is given to arrogance and impatience.

Many viewers of the TV forum on feng shui that featured her with one other geomancy practitioner and former Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaya Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz would find it hard to forget her rebuttal of the academician's declaration of his disbelief in feng shui.

She stated outright that feng shui is there whether he believed it or not and wondering aloud for all to hear why he was on the panel if he did not believe in it.

Certainly, I suspect, Too is not one who subscribes to the belief that to be a woman is to be soft and gentle and not one to give in to a situation just to give 'face'.

Then I met the other Lillian Too and believe me, I was almost floored by her confession that she could be 'an arrogant bitch'. It takes a huge dose of humility to acknowledge such a trait in one's character.

I felt like a padre in the confessional as she went on: "I wish I had been kinder and more patient. Believe me, I am striving towards this.

That's why I am so glad I met my spiritual guru. He is so perfect, so compassionate and humble."

On the day of my visit to her Pantai Hill home, workers were busy outside carrying out some construction work. It so happened that the world renowned Lama Zopa Rinpoche is visiting Kuala Lumpur this month. She is adding on a new wing to her home for his stay s that he will enjoy privacy. Expectedly, there will be many Buddhists who will want to consult this high Tibetan lama who is tagged 'a living boddhisatva' (the closest Western equivalent of living saint).

Reportedly, this monk has been known to give away the robes on his body to the poor, leaving only his undershirt, much to the trepidation of his attendants. There is another story about him keeping absolutely still while a swarm of mosquitoes feasted on his blood so that these little creatures would not go away hungry!

What we hear of Too is usually of her successes. Yes, she had it all. She used to be driven around in a Rolls Royce, wore designer clothes, rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty and the rich and famous. She had dined with the world's most renowned Iron Lady, former British Premier Margaret Thatcher.

We don't hear of the lowest ebbs in her life. There have been many, she said. Her life had not always been a bed of roses, she said. "I have had a lot of negative karma (suffering) too. Oh yes, I have been to hell and back."

"Lama Zopa Rinpoche has picked me up from the depths of my depression. He has also brought me down when I was up there in all my arrogance."

So, today, what does she value most in her life?

Her family, is her answer. "The greatest thing in my life now is the fact that I still have my family. My husband is a great guy and I have a lovely daughter."

"I nearly lost them three times because of my career. I have decided that success in life is just and illusion. Above all else, I cherish the fact that I am a woman and a mother."

I took this as the cue to talk about women - a subject she is not particularly fond of. Discrimination? Hasn't she occupied the top seat in a bank? Yet... said emphatically, whether it is justifiable or not is debatable. "I've been at the very, very top of a business career which means I was also a decision maker. Having been up there, I see both sides of things. When it comes to appointing someone to a top position, preference has been for men."

"It's not about capability here. It is more about how committed a woman can be in her job. A woman can't run away from her matriarchal role of bearing babies and breast-feeding them... chores that men can't do."

Isn't that unfair? "Of course, it's unfair. But whoever said life is fair. There is no equality in this world...the very nature of existence is unequal. This is karma."

Ah, karma. This is another subject about which you don't argue with her because she totally believes in it.

"Whether you believe in it or not doesn’t matter. I have believed in it as long as I can remember... long before I became a Buddhist. Buddhism only confirms my belief in karma."

However, she does not say it is bad karma to be born a woman. Someone has got to take on the role... an important one that nurtures babies and bringing up the children.

If there is one woman-related issue she would campaign for, it would be for recognition of those women who sacrificed their careers in order to spend more time with their children.

"A woman's role is under-appreciated. When I was in business, I used to envy my male colleagues. They had their wives to look after them and the children. I know many women who opted out of their careers but who could have made it to the top. They put their family first. It's about time some recognition was given to the role of women."

She considers her success as a feng shui writer outweighs her corporate success because feng shui reaches out to more people and enchances their lives for them.

Her feng shui website scores 20,000 hits a day, making it the world's biggest feng shui website. is so successful that she is thinking about worldwide lisitng. It is her charity project. All profits will be donated to charity.

Right now, her favourite project is her guru's project to build the biggest statue of the Maitreya Buddha, believed by Buddhists to be the next Buddha to come to the world. The mammoth project is sited at Bodgaya in India.

For now, she feels lucky to be alive. "Life is so great, so precious." There is no other country that she would rather live in than Malaysia. And again, it has to do with karma.

"Malaysia has collective good karma because her people are generous and devout. That is why we have enjoyed 50 years of peace and freedom from major natural disasters. I love the vibrations and chi of this country." On this very positive note, we parted company.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche will be bringing relics of the Buddha and great Buddhist Masters for exhibition in the Tien Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur on September 23 and 24.

There will also be public talks and pujas.

For more information contact the Lobsang Dragpa Buddhist Society

Tel/Fax: 03-4573194

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