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The Edge, City & Country, March 23, 2005
What Feng Shui means to me

By Master Boon Yap

Because my father is feng shui Grandmaster Yap Cheng Hai, people often ask me if feng shui works. My short answer is "yes". Now, here is the four-part longer answer.

Feng shui is about the science of understanding the complex forces of nature and their impact on our lives

Feng shui is a systematic and formulated knowledge based on the philosophy of Tao and the I Ching Ba Gua. The fact that it has survived 5,000 years attests to its sustainability as a science and its value as an art.

Feng shui works and affects us whether we are aware of it or not, or even whether we believe in it or not.

A friend once said to me, "I don't want to know the feng shui of my home, because if I am not aware of the bad aspects, it won't bother me". On the contrary, it will.

Feng shui's effect is not due to a placebo, although for some of us, the placebo effect may lend a healthy boost. In contrast, any positive result from merely placing items in certain positions without the sound principles of the I Ching Ba Gua is due to the placebo effects.

Isn't it better to use an available science to better one's situation than not at all? What is so difficult about a change in your desk direction, bed position or entering by a different door? After all, the luck that manifests itself is yours not mine, and only you have the power to accept it or deny it.

Feng shui can promote personal health, harmony and prosperity

Possessing knowledge for knowledge's sake is worthless; its value comes from being put to a purpose. Let me explain some of the ways the art of feng shui supports its science.

For an elder in retirement, it may be better to harness his health and relationship energies, rather than total prosperity where the result may be a hyperactive 80-year young!

Typically, when we encounter a friend in need, we can only empathise. With feng shui, we are truly able to lend a hand.

My friends used to be surprised that as a practising scientist with an MBA, I not only believed in feng shui, but practised it. But they saw for themselves that it worked for me and soon began to ask for my help. As I continued to use my knowledge, I gained even more conviction of the indisputable effects that feng shui has on our lives, independent of our belief. Here are just a few examples.

A friend's son who has Down Syndrome was going through a very rebellious and unsettling time as he approached puberty. His mother described him as unsociable and disruptive with other children and adults. I initially deduced that as Down Syndrome was an illness, I would harness his tien yi (health direction) according to the ba zhai (system of feng shui) for the orientation of his bed. In my follow-up session, I realised this wasn't helping his behaviour. So thinking further, I tapped his nien yen (people relationships direction). His mother was so delighted with the result and informed me that her son was suddenly charming with adults, making friends in school and was more interactive with everyone just within the space of two weeks.

On another occasion, a dear good Samaritan friend of mine challenged me to help his disbelieving friend, a chef. My friend dragged the chef to me, practically kicking and screaming! The chef, in his late 50s, had been made redundant and had been jobless for a few months. On top of that, arguments between him and his wife were becoming quite heated.

My solution was for him to enter by the side door, his sheng qi (total prosperity direction). Sensing that they were willing to stay in separate rooms for the sake of peace, I selected good rooms and oriented the qi to suit each of them. I then decided to try out a new formula by orientating his bed at a slant to tap a particular southeast point to the accuracy of +1 compass degree. This took a bit of doing because of the electromagnetic effect from hidden wires in the cavity wall in that corner.

Two weeks later, my friend recounted incredulously that our disbelieving oriental chef had received a lucrative offer to be head caterer at the prestigious Kooyong Tennis Club (in Melbourne, Australia), an occidental establishment.

But the story did not end there. Three months later, I was informed that the chef had resigned because things at work were unpleasant due to personality clashes. On investigation, it was revealed that the chef had vacated his room for a visitor from abroad. He had changed the position of the bed, placing it against the wall, to avoid having to explain a slanted bed.

My friend challenged my feng shui knowledge again. I couldn't resist. However, I also could not resist giving our disbelieving chef a little lesson in respecting feng shui. As my father taught me, authentic classical feng shui is sacred, to be respected when done for you irrespective of the value exchanged. I firmly repeated this to the chef and said he was on his own if he moved his bed again! After realigning the bed in the midst of interfering electromagnetism from the hidden wires, I left him to his own devices.

A month later, the chef found a restaurant for rent and started his own Singaporean eatery, which is still a roaring success to this day. My friend often remarked of the chef, who was totally new to owning a restaurant, that he had "damn good luck" — top chefs would walk in off the street to seek work there or customers would end up helping him with licences and regulations, and so on. Having said that, he is also a hard worker with a positive disposition, a case of "man luck" lending a helping hand to his good earth luck (feng shui).

On the first anniversary of his restaurant, there was a ceremony to thank us and written on the menu chalkboard for all to see was the name of my friend as "business manager" and mine as "feng shui master".

The chef was heard to exclaim that he now understood why a friend of his did not allow anyone to even touch his desk. And I learnt that since his experience, he has not allowed anyone into his bedroom!

Feng shui is about the practice of harnessing beneficial forces and avoiding the harmful

As with any skill, practice does make perfect. So the more one uses one's knowledge to practice feng shui, the more it helps improve one's performance.

A critical point to note in the practice of feng shui is to first avoid harmful forces. As my father often says: "No matter how many vitamins and tonics you take, you will not fare well if you also drink poison."

The practice of feng shui is about how to apply the knowledge, as with an apprentice in a craft, or an intern in medicine. Without this pointer, for instance, you may have drawn on all your knowledge of san he, san yuan, xuan kong da gua (the different schools of classical feng shui) and so on to harness beneficial forces, but if you did not pay any attention to negative forces and avoid them, then you or your client would still be in for a fall.

Another aspect is when to practise and consider feng shui. It is important to be sensible about its use. Armed with the knowledge, it is wonderful to be able to take feng shui with us and use it, whether it is to invoke a situation that commands authority, to create a conciliatory atmosphere, be in the controlling position of power, or winning negotiations in the boardroom.

Once again, an easy but effective system to use in this situation is ba zhai. My partner, who is an Australian metallurgist, has now been trained to carry a compass to use in important discussions.

But remember, the practice of feng shui has to be sensible and not obsessive or excessive. It should be a map/blueprint/guide and not a crutch.

The art of aligning and positioning our living and work spaces

Feng shui has the ability to not only safeguard the well-being of your family, but also the power to truly enrich your life, bringing good health, harmony and prosperity.

Authentic classical feng shui is about:

  • Compass direction and location of "forms", that is, mountains, buildings, rivers, roadways, the shape, size, appear ance and lay of the land;
  • Determining energy flows in and around a property;
  • How the five elements are carried in these energies and interact with the surroundings; and
  • Time influence on all of the above.

The skill or ability to do feng shui well depends equally on having the knowledge as much as how well you are able to apply that knowledge. This will depend on the individual, his or her motivation and conviction, intelligence and ability, and analytical and intuitive skill to absorb, internalise, and come up with a practical and pragmatic solution.

So yes, feng shui works — but only if done properly. First, practitioners must possess the right knowledge, one that has been tried and tested over time. This is getting the science of feng shui right. They must consider carefully and keep in mind the purpose. And just as importantly, they must practise over time to get the art of feng shui right.

So would you leave your chances to mere colours, wind chimes, mandarin ducks or money frogs?

It is difficult for me to understand why some of my friends are embarrassed to admit that they believe in feng shui, especially when they have personally benefited from its effects.

I believe, and I gladly tell the world in order that others may share in its benefits.

If one had any reason to be embarrassed for believing, it would be someone in my profession, where my technical capability, analytical prowess and strategic know-how might be questioned by my western science clients from San Francisco's Bay Area for dabbling in "mysticism".

But I know that my father's lifetime of knowledge and experience, coupled with the teaching of many grandmasters stretching back over 5,000 years — and now put under rigorous experiment and observation based on my own scientific training — is valid.

I look forward to the day when these friends will be proud to acknowledge the benefits they received from feng shui, because they would then help give credibility to this ancient science and art that is timeless in its ability to enrich our lives, so that others might revel in its goodness.

Yap is the director of "Feng Shui for Enriching Lives", a series of feng shui practitioners' courses to be held on April 2-4 (elementary level) and April 8-10 (intermediate level) at Holiday Villa, Subang Jaya. For details, call (012) 303 1991 (Boon) e-mail enquiry-at-MasterBoon.com or visit www.MasterBoon.com.

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