Placed to Your Advantage

The Star,
October 4th 2002
by Geoffrey Lip

Put a wind chime in the east side of your house this year to ward off illness, and put a picture of a mountain or have a mountain at the back of your work area or bed to give you support in all you do.

Sounds like pure superstition, yet this is the kind of advice you would expect a feng shui master to give in a house appraisal.

What is odd is, in this day and age of self-empowerment and scepticism of all things supernatural or unseen, feng shui is one of the fastest growing areas of interest in the world.

"Today, feng shui has become so popular," said feng shui author Lillian Too, at the launch of her latest book in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 24.

"In the past, all the bookshops did not know how to categorise feng shui. Now if you walk into all the top bookshops in the world, they have a shelf specifically for feng shui books."

With over 50 books to her name, Too is one of feng shui's biggest advocates and bestselling authors. Most of her books have been translated into 26 languages.

Her new book, Feng Shui for Interiors, examines how the individual can practise feng shui within the interior of his house, apartment or office, and is exclusive only to Malaysia and Singapore.

"What is good about interior feng shui is that while your house may be very small, even just a one-studio apartment, you can still activate it," said Too.

"There is a lot of new stuff (in this book), like how to arrange your furniture, how to put symbols in the right places in your house, and also tips about art and colour.

"Feng shui has so many colourful names like Grand Duke Jupiter, Five Yellow, Three Killings, Six Killings…all the explanations are in the book. It's great fun to learn how to overcome their effects.

"I have also included a lot of pictures of my own house, and all the meanings of the flying star chart and annual members, as well as how to use Taoist Feng Shui, a ritualistic feng shui."

However, there is a warning for those looking for an easy way out. "This book is not as easy as my earlier books, because it is a little bit more advanced, and Flying Star Feng Shui is the most powerful feng shui of all, so you must invest some time to study it!"

Having written so many books on the topic, Too is naturally elated at the popularity and interest in feng shui now.

"Even some of my own students have started writing books on feng shui, and I encourage them to do so," she enthused.

"When I published my first feng shui book, I approached MPH and asked them to distribute it. They were not sure if anyone would read it and I had to persuade them to take it. They did not know whether to put it under interior decorating, architecture or Malaysian or Chinese studies.

"Now there are over 300 authors of feng shui books worldwide, with some in Australia, the United States and Europe, and feng shui is being investigated together with aromatheraphy, meditation, qigong and all these things.

"It is simply all about the study of energy," she explained. "If you get the energy of your house right, and the energy is very good, then everybody is very happy. When the energy is very quarrelsome, it is very bad."

However, the impression of feng shui is still one that draws scepticism, especially from those who believe it to be mere superstition.

"You can say it is part superstition," Too agreed, "but we must respect our superstitions, because many of our superstitions have a reason. They are the wisdom accumulated from the time of our forefathers, so we should not look down on them. Of course if the superstition is so ridiculous and old-fashioned, then we do not have to use it, but if it does not cost us anything, we should investigate what is behind a superstition."

This is what she did and, after doing a lot of research, she found out that many of the original impressions of feng shui were false.

"Feng shui is not spiritual and is not a religion; it is a living skill, like cooking, gardening, the study of geography, history and economics. If you look at feng shui that way, you will see it as a knowledge thing.

"Our government is very much into the knowledge-based economy. Feng shui is additional knowledge, and also a wonderful part of Chinese culture which should be revived.

"In the old days, it was very hard to learn about feng shui because you had to pray and go to the sifu a thousand times before he would teach you. Now it is available, and that is what is so great about the subject.

"And it works!" she exclaimed. "I have so many personal experiences of feng shui working. It works fast, as fast as within nine days, because the cycle is nine days.

"So why not give it a chance? What have you to lose? All it will cost you is the price of a book."

Wind In The Pillows

Passion is what drives Lillian Too to write so much about feng shui.

"I am not a feng shui master," she admitted at the launch of her new book, Feng Shui for Interiors. "I don't do other people's feng shui. I am just passionate about the subject."

Her association with the subject was casual at first. "Many years ago, I used feng shui to get a scholarship to do my MBA, but at that time I did not take it seriously."

It took the arrival of someone very special in her life for that passion to take root and grow, being proof of just how real a difference feng shui could make in her life.

"My husband and I had been married for nine years, but we still had no children, despite trying very hard to have one," she recounted. "Finally, a friend who practised feng shui said to me, 'No wonder you can't have a child. Your house has such bad feng shui, with the tree in front of it, and your main door made of glass. On top of that, the moment I enter your house I already see a staircase.

"He then said that if I didn't do something about it, even my marriage would be affected. And true enough, my marriage was going through a very hard time.

"So when we were building our own house, we decided to do a lot of research into feng shui. We did not do it for money, career or success. We really wanted a child very badly. And four months after moving into the house, I conceived. I told myself that this feng shui really is something powerful."

This was the start of her serious journey into the use and practice of feng shui.

"In 1982, I decided to 'feng shui' my office," she revealed. "I rearranged my desk, activated my career corner, put a mountain behind me, put a plant in the south-east and east corner, and so on."

It worked wonders for her. "In that year, I got promoted so many times it became embarrassing!"she exclaimed. "Every three months I was promoted, from ordinary senior manager to executive director, and from that to managing director. And my promotions were very real, with more money, a bigger office and a bigger title.

"That was also the year when I became managing director of a public-listed company in Malaysia and was also offered the CEO-ship of a bank. Then I went to Hong Kong to become the head of a bank."

This proved to be a good move for her, especially for developing her passion in feng shui.

"When I was in Hong Kong, all the doors were open to me because I was a banker, and I could meet any feng shui master I wanted.

"I used my position and skill to learn more. I went to China and Taiwan. I met all the feng shui experts and Taoist masters of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and learned a lot."

With all that, it is little wonder that she chose to write about it. "I saw it as my personal goal to revive interest in this subject, and I am very happy to say that today I am the world's highest-selling author on feng shui," she proclaimed. "And I am happy that wherever I go in the world, I am recognised, and I have people around the world coming to Malaysia to attend my courses.

"Even now, I have people from the United States, Belgium, Russia, Oman, Bahrain, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Colombia attending one. They come from everywhere and, of course, also from Malaysia and Singapore."

Despite her years of researching feng shui and her entrenchment in it, she admits to slipping up at times.

"Sometimes you forget!" she said. "Do you think I always remember? Last year, the Five Yellow was in the south-west, and my bedroom was in the south-west. I kept telling the whole world to put wind chimes in the south-west yet I forgot to put it in my own bedroom!

"I fell sick and my daughter reminded me that I had forgotten to put up the wind chimes so we quickly went to my shop, got the wind chimes and put it there. Since I was really ill, we had to put six wind chimes.

"Last February, I was diagnosed with a serious level of diabetes and high blood pressure, and nearly had a stroke. We found out in time and put the wind chimes where they should be. I started to exercise and take medicine, and got better. Of course, don't expect to get cured without working at it."

This bout of illness only served to strengthen her belief. "Learning feng shui has helped me and thousands of others. That is what is so nice about this subject. It grabs you."

- By Geoffrey Lip
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