Archive for October, 2005

Acute case of symbols paranoia ?

It is not uncommon to see people obsessed with Feng Shui. Everything in their lives are Feng Shui-ed and they become paralysed with so many different ‘Feng Shui things’ to do that it becomes impossible to find anything in their home that hasn’t got a ‘Feng Shui significance’.

Our article today will focus on what you really should look into when applying Classical Feng Shui and conversely, what has no real bearing on the Feng Shui of your property.

Does everything that looks Oriental in your home have Feng Shui significance? The straightforward answer to this is a resounding No. But this answer doesn’t always satisfy some very paranoid ‘Feng Shui enthusiasts’ out there.

Does Everything Have to ‘Symbolize’ Something?

You hear it everywhere; ‘gee, that looks like a “Wealth Pot”, it represents Money flowing into my home!’ or ‘hey, look, a money plant, this must symbolise money growing in my home everyday!’. And a painting of a ship carrying gold? ‘wow! A ship sailing with gold! If I now put this in my home, it becomes a harbour for ships of gold, thereby making me wealthy’.

In this way, every painting, every oriental item now becomes a symbol or representation of ‘good luck.’

Perhaps this has really been taken too far. What began as nothing more than art has now been misunderstood and generalised as ‘Feng Shui’. You see, the Chinese culture is rich with motifs and positive symbolisms, people in the old days revelled in surrounding themselves with positive affirmations. Even if they weren’t rich, it reminded them of prosperity and good fortune and made them feel better.

None of these was ever meant to be anything more than cultural designs; all of these are now misconstrued as part of Chinese Feng Shui. Chinese Cultural Arts (like furniture design, ornaments and interior design) and Feng Shui are actually TWO very different worlds apart.

Feng Shui is actually a skill of studying the Qi flow in the environment, planetary influences, contours of the land, river and mountain formations in relation to a property. In Feng Shui, four key factors are often considered – Environment, Building (shape, layout and structure), Residents and Time.

How About Garden Feng Shui?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; some people actually consider Chinese Gardens as being part of Feng Shui. Is this actually true? You can all say it with me now – NO.

The only two things in a Chinese Garden even remotely connected to Feng Shui would be the rocks and if it had one; a pond. Other than that, all the moon-gates, the types of tree and any sort of Oriental flower has no significance in how the Qi flows around your property.

A considerable amount of resources and time is spent by people trying to figure out just what plant in their garden will bring them good luck. As I mentioned before, money plants seem to rank highly in this list amongst a few other varieties. Cactuses, I am told, are a supposed no-no in Feng Shui.

Any Qi a plant may generate is so negligible as to be insignificant in the greater scheme of things. So there is no reason to be paranoid over what plants you have in your home or garden.

If you study the ancient classical Feng Shui literatures, none of them mention or even discuss a reliance on ornamental objects and symbols as Feng Shui.

Nothing such as this has ever been suggested, from the times of the Yellow Emperor (2700bc) until the Qing Dynasty (1641 – 1911), the principles of Feng Shui have always dealt with direction and location in determining the flow of Qi.

Yet today, the paranoia is on. To the extent that they feel they MUST have a certain décor in a certain location of their home, otherwise the sky may very well fall on their heads in an angry Feng Shui wrath.

What’s really important in your garden should just be the location of your rock mountains and ponds, if you have any of these. Based on the Period 8 Ling Zheng Shen principle (the macro picture), the following table will show you where in your garden you should locate each of these. It’s a general guide and obviously a more personalised Feng Shui Consultation with a skilled Feng Shui practitioner will allow you to hone these further based on your own individual property.


The above represents the basic understanding for ‘water’ placement in accordance to Xuan Kong San Yuan Feng Shui from the start of Period 6 (1964) until end of Period 9 (2043). Meaning, the generally accepted ‘location’ for water features (like lake, ponds and swimming pool) in the external environment would be Southwest, East, SouthEast and North. Of course, this needs to be further qualified by each individual house’s Xuan Kong Flying Star chart.

Are there exceptions to this general principle? Yes of course. That’s when we consider the Xuan Kong Da Gua chart of each house and find out the exact position where water placement is needed to stimulate the Qi for the entire house. This concept is similar to the concept of stimulating meridian points in the practice of Chinese Acupuncture – the idea is to identify the ‘meridian point’ of the house and stimulate the flow of Qi accordingly. All this can be achieved with the simple strategic placement of a water feature.

What About Symbols?

Can we stimulate the Qi in the house with a symbolic object? Symbols that you may see have largely to do with religious or cultural practice. If you look at most religious practices, they emphasize a lot on the usage of symbols and rituals during prayer.

Feng Shui is not a religion. It is a metaphysical science of environmental energies and how to make the most of it. It does not place any reliance on the use of symbols. If it did, why weren’t this important concept mentioned in ANY of the ancient classical literatures of Feng Shui?

Bagua Me Baby

Then how about the BaGua Mirror you ask? Isn’t this a Feng Shui tool?

Sorry to disappoint you again there but the BaGua is nothing more than a diagram indicating a mathematical model of the universe. In this model, the universe is based on the polarities of Yin (Negative) and Yang (Positive). By itself, the BaGua has no special ‘powers’.

It is not uncommon to see the BaGua mirrors used for SPIRITUAL purposes – mostly after a host of prayers and rituals are done to them. Some Chinese believe that BaGua mirrors could be used to ward off spirits in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this is not part of Feng Shui and people have confused spiritual practices with it. In Feng Shui, we only use the BaGua (without the mirror) as a diagram for calculations and to derive formulas.

Symbols have power only in the minds of those who believe in them.

In Feng Shui, all calculations and assessment is based on the natural Qi (energy) flow from the environment, how it courses from the external to the internal of the home. Symbols are only good to the extent of creating positive thoughts in the minds of people; they do not generate any Qi of their own.

The BaGua is akin to a country’s flag. A flag inspires patriotism. But on its own, a flag is just a piece of coloured cloth with no special powers or Qi.

But then, why do we hear complaints when the opposite neighbour puts up a BaGua mirror outside their house, facing ours? Why suddenly a series of mishaps?

Simple – it’s all in the mind. There are thousands of people who have houses facing a BaGua mirror, why are you the only one facing problems? Because you’ve been told that this is ‘bad’ Feng Shui. This subsequently affects your thoughts and anything negative that befalls you immediately gets blamed on the BaGua opposite your house.

Because Feng Shui is only concerned with the Qi in the environment and how the house or office taps into this, you should not allow your mind to ‘believe’ that some symbol or item is true simply based on what others say.

Once you understand that Feng Shui is all about harnessing Qi flow, then there’s no more paranoia over the décor inside your home.

If you are an avid Chinese art and ornament collector like me, then you should purchase these wonderful works for their artistic value. Not because you are hoping they will bring you ‘good luck’ or miraculously fix all your mundane problems.

So don’t be panaroid and have fun with your collection.

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When the qi flows well

We are quite lucky here in Kuala Lumpur we are blessed with a variety of gastronomical delights. And as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I am a big fan of good food.

So, it was only natural for me to happily accept a friend’s invitation to dinner – he is a Feng Shui enthusiast and we always have interesting discussions when we get together.

Halfway through my bak kut teh, the proprietor of the restaurant approached me and introduced himself. My friend was a long-time customer of his and apparently the restaurant owner had begged him to bring me to his restaurant. Caught a little off-guard, I only had a chance to mumble a ‘hello’ before he told me he had seen my show on 8TV last week and wanted my opinion on the Feng Shui of his restaurant.

Before I could reach into my bowl for another mouthful, he was already pointing out a Lucky Cat he had on the corner of his restaurant. As my friend had already whipped out a travel Luo Pan he had brought along and was urging me to do him a favour, I decided the only way to eat my meal in peace was to settle this once and for all. I don’t usually undertake Feng Shui Consultations unless professionally engaged by the client and come prepared but considering the circumstances, I decided it might seem rude to both my friend and the restaurant owner to decline.

So out came the travel Luo Pan for a quick measurement of the premises. He said the Lucky Cat generated some good luck when he first put it in the corner but after a few months, his business wasn’t doing as well as it once was and even his usual customers visited less frequently.

His question was, ‘does the Cat have the correct paw up?’.

If you are wondering what this Lucky Cat is, this is a small porcelain statue of a cat that is shown standing on its hindquarters waving. The electronic version o f this has the paw actually moving up and down – as if waving at customers to come in. I remember seeing it only at Japanese restaurants but the trend seems to have caught on all over the place.

After checking the facing direction of his premises, I quite easily told him his Cat was in the wrong position. And that it should be in the Southwest corner of his restaurant. I pointed out the spot in the back where it should go.

“Why is the front of the shop the wrong place for it? Is the paw wrongly placed?”, the owner, Loong, asked me.

I shook my head. ‘No, you see Mr. Loong, you had this Lucky Cat in the Northeast sector last year – in front of the shop. And this year, the business has not really been as expected, am I right?’, I asked him.

He nodded in agreement.

Well, last year (2004) the Annual Star #8 was in the Northeast sector – most of you may already know that the #8 Star is the Wealth star in Period 8 (2004-2023).


Which paw the Cat is holding up, has no bearing on the Feng Shui of the property – it had more to do with the slow moving object (the electronic swinging of the Cat paw) that helped stimulate the Qi in the area.

You see, annually there are changes in the Qi of the property that we can tap into or activate to help us in our endeavours. This year, 2005, the Wealth Star #8 is in the South and so the Cat no longer stimulated the flow of Wealth Qi when it was still kept in the Northeast.

“Okay, I see how it works now, but shouldn’t the Cat be in the South for this year? Why did you ask me to move it to the Southwest then?’, Mr. Loong quickly asked me.

My reply was already on the tip of my tongue, ‘the Southwest has the Star #1 this year(2005), the star #9 in 2006 and the star #8 in 2007. If you have your ‘moving’ object there – you are set. For the next three years, it will help stimulate the flow of Qi without you having to worry about it.






These numbers you see in the charts above, represent bodies of Qi in a particular sector during these years. As a general guide, the positive Qi areas are represented by the numbers #8, #9 and #1.

“So, it really doesn’t matter what direction the Lucky Cat faces or which paw is up?’

I smiled and explained, ‘Of course not, your Lucky Cat is just a cat statue made of porcelain. No different to any other. It’s a man-made object with no possibility of generating any Qi on its own. The idea that it can create ‘wealth’ is just a Japanese lifestyle invention. It’s usually used for ‘fun’ and not for any Feng Shui purpose’.

‘But a Taiwanese customer told me to put it up saying that it was a very popular Feng Shui symbol’, he weakly protested. ‘Is your customer a Feng Shui Master?’, I asked him. Mr. Loong shook his head when the obvious dawned on him.

People often listen to some random advice disbursed by a friend without really knowing what it’s about or how their friend came to know about it. More often than not, it’s a superstitious titbit their friend would have picked up from some unreliable source. Why then does some superstition seem to work at times?

Well as you can see from our story today, sometimes the placement of a moving object helps stimulate the existing Qi within that sector – AT THAT POINT IN TIME. It is NOT the object that is generating the Qi but simply acting as a catalyst for the Qi that is already in that area.

If you kept an open window or door in that sector and used it often, it would serve the very same purpose. No need for any items of an ‘auspicious nature’.

Where businesses are concerned, Feng Shui especially needs to be implemented in a subtle fashion. Have you ever seen a major corporation with lots and lots of Good Fortune items in their lobby and around their office buildings? Of course not, think about it.

Then how do large corporations apply Feng Shui? It’s all done by strategically placing their Main Door, their walkway / passages and ideal location of key management offices.

Once the Qi is flowing, your Feng Shui is already good. No object is needed. Now that’s the real art of Classical Feng Shui.

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Who’s Best Directions?

I had just landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, strolling out of the arrival lounge in my usual glad-to-back-home fashion when I caught a man intently peering at me.

I don’t consider myself a particularly good looking person, so I smiled at him politely. He took this as an invitation. ‘Are you Joey Yap?’ he asked me.

I was trying to think if somehow I owed him money when I answered with a cautious, ‘yes, good to meet you’.

‘I am Mr. Chow, I sent you a question and you have yet to answer me’, he said, sounding very much like I owed him money. It seems he was a big follower of my TV show and also the weekly columns in the New Straits Times.

I explained to Mr. Chow that as much as I would like to answer the questions sent to me, my mailbox has been piling up and I may not be able to answer all of them.

That would have been the end of the discussion if he had not grabbed my hand and said, ‘I NEED you to answer just this ONE question. My marriage depends on it’.

In the interest of his family’s happiness, I asked him what I could do to help.

‘My wife is an East Group and I am a West Group Gua, we were told we need to sleep in separate rooms! What should I do? My wife has threatened to stop cooking if I go ahead with this Feng Shui technique. And if you know my wife, she is not a woman to be trifled with’, he lamented.

So what REALLY is the Eight Mansions System of Feng Shui?

This is not an uncommon question that I get and I did take some time to address this in my TV program but Mr. Chow most likely missed that episode. So let me address it again in this column.

For those of you who are new to classical Feng Shui, the 8 Mansions is one of various systems of classical Feng Shui. And many of you may have already heard of your best ‘personal direction’ concept. Basically it categorizes people into East Group and West Group – each with positive and negative directions based on the 8 cardinal directions of the compass (North, Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest and so forth).

And many of you may have been told that East group people must make use of the East, South, North and Southeast as their good sectors/directions; while for West Group people, the West, Northwest, Northeast and Southwest holds true. You can refer to the table below for a clearer picture:


Now, it is invariable that at some point, a wife will discover she and her husband are not of the same Grouping or vice versa. And then the debate about sleeping in different beds, facing different directions or studies in different parts of the house becomes an issue. I have even heard of couples who sleep in the same bed, but with their feet facing each other, in order to achieve their best personal directions. Should a Feng Shui system really divide a happy couple in such a fashion?

If it sounds like hogwash, you are right. It is.

This whole situation stems from a lack of authentic education on classical Feng Shui and also a lack of proper literature on the 8 Mansions system of Feng Shui. The truth is: the 8 Mansions system of Feng Shui has another important piece of information that is often less discussed - the House Gua. Just as a person has a Life Gua, the House also has a distinctive Qi map and is classified as one of the 8 types of Guas.

This knowledge is actually clearly written in the original 8 Mansions Feng Shui classics:

1. Eight Mansions Bright Mirror Classics
2. Golden Star Classics

The ‘Secret’ of the House Gua

You simply cannot practice 8 Mansions Feng Shui without knowing the House Gua. It would be like trying to play tennis without a tennis racket! This piece of information is so crucial as to be considered the missing link in your practice of 8 Mansions Feng Shui. There is a huge relationship between your personal Life Gua (think of it as your personal energy map) and House Gua (house’s energy map.)

Many people make this mistake of buying or renovating their house based solely on their personal Life Gua (or Ming Gua). This can often cause friction between a husband and wife; in today’s situation where both the husband and wife work, who is to be regarded as the breadwinner and whose Gua then takes precedence?

How can two people get along like this when one person’s best direction is the other person’s worst? And which East is the best? Will facing East in Bangsar or Kepong or Subang Jaya deliver the same results? Of course it won’t!

Why? Because you will be living in a different house that has its own HOUSE Gua and each House Gua has a different Qi map that alters or determines the quality of your individual Gua.

Hence why the ancient classics clearly taught us, the need to consider the quality of Qi in the house and to make doubly sure they even labeled it 8 MANSIONS system of Feng Shui in reference to 8 different types of House Gua. Somehow along the way, this crucial piece of information was lost and everyone came to know only about the personal Life Gua. Leading to many an unhappy wife or husband who felt they had to ’sacrifice’ for their partners wellbeing.

Some students are even unclear on some of the terminology used in the 8 Mansions system of Feng Shui. They refer to a person’s third best direction as Nien Yien when it should correctly be referred to as Yan Nian . I am not sure how this came to be or who propagated this but the translation must have been lost when it was translated into English. Ironically, when you pronounce the words incorrectly like this – it means something else altogether.

In fact, the 8 House Gua and the 8 Life Gua work hand-in-hand as the two key information required when applying the 8 Mansions system of Feng Shui.

Good for Both Parties

Even if a loving couple belongs to ‘different life gua’ groups, all you need to do is to identify which sectors of the house that are suitable for BOTH of them based on what’s good in the house! A house has its own good and bad sectors too! Thus, irregardless of whether you are East or West group, all you need to do is to identify which are the good sectors of the house and use them accordingly! Then your problem is fixed!

As you progress further in your study of 8 Mansions Feng Shui, you will learn more advanced methods like Xing Gong Sheng Ke (Star versus Palace Growth and Counter Relationship) and the 8 Wandering Stars of 8 Mansions method (Ba Yao Xing). All advanced systems of 8 Mansions Feng Shui.

So the next time you come across someone looking to split you and your partner up, remember, it is not called the 8 LIFE Gua system of Feng Shui, it is rightly called the 8 ‘MANSIONS’ system of Feng Shui.

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Don’t sweat the small stuff

I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in Feng Shui for most of my adult life. What is unfortunate about this though, is the tragedy of how people can take the smallest things in Feng Shui and blow it out of proportion.
Things that have a miniscule or non-effect in Feng Shui are made to look like scary monsters that will eat your liver if given a chance. And you see them everywhere these days. Couples going crazy over the Feng Shui effect of having a certain colour for their curtains, trying any technique to ‘energize’ every nook and cranny of their house with oriental décor….some even secretly resorting to hiding stones under their bed or tying tassels on their doorknobs.

What has the world come to? Who wants to live life in such paranoia? What was the reason you started with Feng Shui in the first place?

Feng Shui is about bringing harmony to the home and to the family, peace of mind to the occupants. Instead, you now have innocent housewives frantically trying to hide a stone underneath her bed thinking that if not, her husband will have an affair. Or worse, losing hair and sleep over worries that some ‘water on the right side of the door’ will be causing her husband to stray.

This not what Feng Shui is about!

Certainly not in Classical Feng Shui. In fact, far from this - Classical Feng Shui generally focuses on how your house is receiving the Qi (energies) from your external environment. If your house is aligned correctly to receive this Qi, then everything else falls into place and you can have any décor or colour in your home. Isn’t that a nice revelation?

Any object or decoration in your house, does not generate any Qi, so there is no necessity to sweat over this small stuff. Other than affecting you psychologically, if you worry too much about it, this has no effect on the Feng Shui of your home.

Too many couples seem to get into unnecessary arguments over the smallest of décor in the house, caused by this misguided notion that it is ‘Feng Shui’. I even had an e-mail recently from a lady who strained her relationship with her husband because she went on a ‘Feng Shui decorating’ spree and put up many Chinese artefacts in her house. Her husband thought she was bordering on insanity and wasting money. The irony of this story; the poor lady was just trying to apply ‘Feng Shui’ to ensure a happy home and good relationship with her husband.

Just because you place some decorative item in some corner, it won’t ruin the Feng Shui of your home and bring you bad luck. If you enjoy collecting these, go ahead, there is nothing to worry about. The only way anything ‘bad’ can happen is if you imagine the item as having a wealth or romance attribute to it and worry over where to place it. But this is not Feng Shui, it’s plain simple psychology.

When applying Feng Shui, observe the external environment and measure the Qi flow from the external to the internal environment of your property. The main factors to consider here is the Main Door, Kitchen and Bedroom.

If these key factors of your home are located correctly, tapping into the right direction, then your Feng Shui is done. Conversely, if these three factors are wrongly aligned, no amount of décor is going to help improve the Feng Shui of your home.

There are various special techniques a serious Feng Shui practitioner would advocate to tap into the Qi in the environment – Xuan Kong Da Gua, Xuan Kong Flying Stars or Ba Zhai methods. All which, depending on the situation, are techniques focusing on the alignment of your house to receive beneficial Qi. Every house has it’s own Qi map that is unique. If you want to find out how to get your houses Qi map, you can plot your house charts here :


If you have this Qi map for instance, and your door is located at the Southeast sector and your bedroom at the South or West sectors, your home already has good Feng Shui. Because the Qi in those areas of the house are positive and your positioning of your main door and bedroom already utilizes these energies naturally.

So remember, don’t sweat the small stuff. If you enjoy your China ornaments but have been plagued with worries over placing it ‘wrongly’ or if it might bring you bad luck if placed in a certain corner, don’t worry. They can’t harm you. If you enjoy collecting them, go ahead. Indulge in your collection and feel good. If you do not feel that you need them, you don’t! Feng Shui is all about the natural Qi in your environment

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Copyright © 2008 by Joey Yap. All rights reserved worldwide.