Archive for January, 2007

A Different Seven Star

I just got back from a trip to Dubai, where I had been invited as one of the guest speakers at the 2007 Wellbeing Show, officiated by the UAE Minister of Health, H.E. Humaid Mohammad Al Qutami, at the Dubai International Convention & Conference Center. Although I know I said I would be sharing with you this week the information about the positive stars for the year 2007, I’m still so excited about my Dubai trip that I just had to write about it. (Apologies to those of you waiting for the 2007 Flying Star information - I promise it will be here in time for Chinese New Year).

Before I left for my trip, I remember a student asking me how on earth the Feng Shui of a place like Dubai could be evaluated. As most of you will know, Dubai is quite a desert-like place and is largely flat, with very little land contour. Typically for almost completely flat areas (and from the pictures here, you can see it is quite flat), we use a Classical Feng Shui landform assessment technique known as ‘Flat Land Dragon’, which I will explain below.

Now when in Dubai, one cannot NOT check out the most famous hotel in the world, the self-proclaimed 7 star Burj Al Arab or Tower of the Arabs Hotel, which has hosted celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods, tennis players Andre Agassi and Roger Federer and a bevy of Hollywood celebrities the likes of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Naomi Campbell and Angelina Jolie. Built on a man-made island, the Burj Al Arab is the tallest building in Dubai, and the tallest hotel in the world. It is an architectural icon and engineering wonder and is also one of the most luxurious hotels in the world with over 8000 square metres of 22 carat gold leaf!

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And of course, the Burj has some truly fascinating Feng Shui features. So this week, I will be sharing with you my observations about the external Feng Shui of the Burj Al Arab and next week, the internal Feng Shui of the hotel.

When in flatland, a protrusion is worth ten thousand in gold.

The first thing when it comes to looking at the Feng Shui of such a large structure is to consider the landform. Because this is a completely flat area, the Flat Land Dragon principle applies. According to classical Feng Shui principles, when the land is completely flat (Yang), then the tallest structure (mountain - Yin) that protrudes, attracts in all the Qi of the area. At 1053 feet, the Burj is without a doubt the tallest building in Dubai and so it clearly is drawing and converging the Qi in the near vicinity.

Now, it is one thing to have the Qi pulled in, but it is equally important to lock the Qi in properly. For this, you need to have an embrace. Check out the Google aerial image of the Burj and the photograph from the top observation deck of the Burj. There is a wavy structure on the left hand side of the Burj. This is the Jumeirah Palm Beach Resort, another very successful beach resort in Dubai. This structure acts as the left embrace or Green Dragon for the Burj, locking in the Qi from the left side.

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Next, we must look for an Ann Shan (Table Mountain) to help keep the Qi from escaping out through the front. In front of the Burj, is the Wild Wadi water park. If you look at the picture, taken from the front entrance of the Burj, you will notice there is a small hill (not the roller coaster). This acts as the regulating mountain for the Burj, to lock in the Qi that is being collected. This setup conforms to the Huge Door star shape. Those of you who have been following my previous articles will know that a Huge Door Star mountain is the star that governs prosperity.

Interestingly, right at the front of the Burj, is a large fountain. This fountain not only serves to collect Qi at the front of the Main Door, but it also is shaped like a Huge Door Mountain, mimicking the macro Feng Shui, on a micro scale.

Intriguingly, the scenic bridge road that connects the Burj to the mainland has been constructed so that it is a gentle, meandering road (see Google aerial image) and also, it is not visible from the South facing Main Door! And, it also comes into the building at the correct angle, which is Sheng Hexagram, thereby conforming to the Direct-Indirect Spirit principle in Feng Shui. This mirrors the macro Feng Shui, wherein there is a Qi mouth in the South West’s Kun Da Gua Hexagram formed by the roads (see Google aerial map). It would seem the Burj’s architects and designers, avoided an important pitfall of having Sha Qi directed at the property, by making the road curved rather than straight and also, created a very nice Qi flow coming in at the correct South West direction.

Now, a luxury hotel, and one that charges a minimum of USD2000 for a night’s stay to boot, would definitely be an ambitious business venture to say the least. Well guess what? The Burj is almost consistently fully occupied. But hey, with such optimised Feng Shui, it is hard to imagine the hotel doing anything but good business.

Did they, didn’t they… Feng Shui it?

The 650 million dollar question indeed. Certainly, there is a tremendous amount of compliance with some of the key classical Feng Shui principles such as San Yuan’s Da Ling Zheng and the landform principles. It is difficult to say if it was professionally done but that’s not really the point. Whether it was accidental or deliberate, the fact of the matter is the Feng Shui at the Burj, is pretty good!

However, the setup is not perfect either in my personal opinion. Improvements certainly could be made to improve the Burj’s Feng Shui further, in particular, with regard to the problem of the lack of support at the rear of the structure, which exposes it to the Sha Qi from the sea. Generally, we like to have the building protected from Qi on all fronts and it is particularly important to have a solid backing, at the rear of any structure, as this is what ensures longevity of prosperity and long-term success, as well as return-on-investment.

The Burj brings forth an interesting point about the idea of man-made Feng Shui. Most of you will know that I have consistently indicated that classical Feng Shui calls for natural objects in the environment. You have to have the mountain and water in the right location. Usually you cannot “make” mountain and water.

There is a small exception to this rule. Or perhaps I should say large exception.

And that exception is when you have the means and capability to control the structure of not just the building, but the land structure, one hundred percent. When you can build the structure from the ground up, including the land in which the building sits on (the Burj sits on a man-made island), and you control the surrounding areas around the structure (the Jumeirah Resort is owned by the same owner as the Burj) and money is no object, then, man-made Feng Shui is an option. But how many people have the money to buy enough sand and concrete to make a real mountain in their backyard or dig a river and attempt to control the elements through engineering feats? Very few indeed.

For most ‘mere mortals’, man-made Feng Shui is not an option and simply not practical or feasible. So we have to rely on what nature has to offer. Which admittedly can be a bit of a challenge, but is not impossible to achieve.

Next week, we’ll take a peek inside the Burj and find out about the interior Feng Shui of the hotel.


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Good Luck In A Jar

Once I remember reading a quotation about the cosmetics industry, that make-up is essentially about selling ‘hope in a jar’. Well, these days, that seems to be the path that Feng Shui is taking, especially if you are to believe some of the annual Feng Shui books published in Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. These books, with the cure for every problem and ‘neutraliser’ for every bad star and negative form of Qi, and an enhancer for every positive sector give the impression that Feng Shui offers ‘hope, fortune and good luck in a jar’.

In the case of Feng Shui, the ‘jar of hope’ is a gold pagoda a resin rhino figurine or perhaps a three legged frog.

Whatever your problem is, there is a cure. Whatever the challenge, there is something you can purchase which can make it all go away. The message from these books seems to be this: having a bad year? Retail therapy your way to good luck!

Here’s the catch though: your cure has an expiry date. Yes, after 4th of February 2008, you have to toss away your cure or neutralizer or ‘Qi perk up’ and exchange them for a whole new bunch of stuff. And if you are thinking, perhaps there’s a cycle behind it (rhino figurine goes back to the Northwest corner after 12 years for example), no luck. Come next Boar year, you’re going to have to add to your collection of trinkets. In short, you not only have to spend money to get your good luck every year, you need a big closet to store your expired cures!

One has to admire the ingenuity of these New Age Feng Shui books nowadays. Their recommendations of remedies and cures are truly creative and imaginative - placing sweets in a corner to ‘sweeten’ the luck, some vase in danger zones (the word ‘vase’ in Cantonese’ that sounds like Peng – as in Ping On meaning safety in Cantonese) and placing a pak choy (a type of Chinese cabbage) to create wealth because the name ‘Pak Choy’ seemingly sounds prosperous.

But that is all they are. Imaginative and creative. If only all these items actually have something to do with classical Feng Shui. None of these were mentioned in classical literatures or has any historical records.

Those of you who have been following my column will know that I normally focus on the long-term outlook for any classical Feng Shui prescription. This week, I’m going to talk about something different, which is the short-term outlook, or what is typically known in the Feng Shui industry as the ‘annual forecast’.

I’m going to share with you the Flying Stars for the year 2007, so that you can understand what the energies that are going to affect us in 2007, and also so that you can see why there’s no reason to press the panic button and reach for the bottled good luck. I hope that by explaining the energies of the year and how they work, people will understand why trinkets and items of good luck, hope and prosperity are not required, in order to update the Feng Shui of their property or simply to tap into the Qi of the year.

What do the stars say?

An annual forecast typically is a short-term outlook or analysis of the energies of the year. It is usually done with reference to the Flying Stars of the year. The outlook usually focuses on the negative stars and positive stars, and most importantly, their location, based on the sectors of the property.

In the year of the Fire Boar, the Main negative star for the year is the #2 Black Star (see diagram of the 2007 star chart). In 2007, the #2 Black Star occupies the central palace. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Flying Stars, don’t be alarmed by the names or numbers. They are simply a reference for the type of energy in a certain sector. They are not an indication of which numbers are more lucky or unlucky.

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As the #2 Black Star is also a star of illness, it is not surprising that many annual Feng Shui books predict a year of illness and disease. The other negative star is the #7 Red Star, which occupies the North sector. Generally, this star is regarded as a star of thievery and robbery. The #5 Yellow Star, located in the Northeast sector 2007 is also another star that is negative in 2007. Now, unless your house does not have a central palace, a Northwest or Northeast palace, these three stars are present in every property.

But this does not mean that everyone will get sick or that everyone has to ‘neutralise’ the #7 Red Star or cure the #5 Yellow Star. It’s like getting a vaccination - if you already have antibodies, why get the vaccine? That’s how we deal with the energies (positive and negative) of the year. Not everyone is affected the same way - some people are more susceptible to the energies of the year than other people.
The key here is to find out if there is a ‘trigger’ that causes the negative energies to be activated or exacerbated.

In classical Feng Shui, usually it’s an external trigger that causes negative energies to rear their ugly head. What is an external trigger? In classical Feng Shui, this usually refers to environmental features like a T-Junction, Pylons, a sharp neighbor’s roof or a lamp post. If there are no external ‘triggers’ , chances are, the negative Qi of the #2 and #7 stars will not affect your home.

In the case of the #5 Yellow Star, as long as there are no major renovations in the Northeast or if you are not using the Northeast for important activities, there is no need to install any cures or neutralize any energies. Leave the negative energies alone and they won’t bother you. It really is that simple.

The #7 - a good cop, in a bad cop uniform

Here’s something many annual books, in their fixation with gloom and doom and negative stars, sometimes leave out.
In the study of Flying Stars, the #7 Star, although it is a negative star, is actually a weak negative star when it’s in the North sector. Furthermore, there is a combination between the Northwest sector’s #3 Jade Star and the North sector’s #7 Red Star. This is a “sentimental combination” that neutralizes the effects of the negative star and actually brings about a positive outcome.

For those Flying Stars enthusiasts, #3-#7 yields what is known as the Combination of 10, in the 1-6 Hetu Combination in the LoShu chart.

You might be thinking - Joey, in plainspeak what does this all mean? It means, you don’t need to put anything in the Northwest or North sectors if they are connected by pathway. In fact, the #7 Star in this scenario brings about positive opportunities in improving communications and networking opportunities.

At my recent seminar on the Feng Shui of 2007, a few participants were puzzled as to why there were no cures for sale, or Qi perk-me-ups for them to buy and some were concerned that I was ‘keeping the good stuff’ and not telling them about what cures to buy and where to put them. The key to understanding Feng Shui is to first, not be fearful, and secondly, not approach it in a ritualistic fashion.

Fine you say. So I don’t have to neutralize the negative energies. But surely there’s no harm in ‘perking up’ the positive energies?

One of the positive stars in 2007 is the #8 White Star. In 2007, it resides in the South West sector. The #8 Star is a Wealth star in Flying Stars Feng Shui. If you have a house entrance or door at the South West, the natural positive energies of the year are already entering your house and your Main Door is already doing the job of ‘stimulating’ the flow of Qi. This is because in Feng Shui, stimulating the Qi, is done through bringing about Yang energies. Yang, at its most basic level, is energy that is moving, not still. When people enter and exit the house through the Main Door, they are engaging in a Yang activity and are already helping to activate the Qi.

Next week, I’ll share with you more on the positive sectors for 2007 and how you can tap into these positive sectors in your home and office.


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To Title or Not To Title

Happy 2007 to all my readers. The change over to a new year is always a good time for personal reflection and to give some thought to the path forward, as it were. In Feng Shui and BaZi, the solar calendar determines the change of energies for each year. So for those of us in the Metaphysics field, the new year begins on February 4th rather than on January 1st. So there’s still time for reflection, contemplation and resolutions. I thought this week I would share some of my reflections about the Feng Shui profession here in Malaysia.

A Master by Any Other Name

Of late, it seems, there seems to be a clear lack of ethics, integrity and a loss of professionalism in the Feng Shui industry. It’s sad to see such practices perpetuated by those who claim to be classical Feng Shui practitioners, when these are the very practitioners who should be striving to improve the image of Feng Shui.

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The first thing I want to talk about is titles. Not the official kind, but the kind that is commonly found in the Metaphysical fields and in particular, Feng Shui and Astrology. I’m talking about the title of Master or Grandmaster.

There is a huge fixation in this profession with the title of Master or Grandmaster and it is not just an Asian thing. Even my western students want to know when they will be accorded the title ‘Master’ and when I will ‘grant’ them this title. I always tell them, you can call yourself ‘Master’ when you think you’re ready to be a Master.

The fact of the matter is that the title is hugely impressive to clients and students but really, it’s not a testament to anything. This is because unlike the title of Master or Grandmaster in chess, which is awarded by a sanctioned world chess body, FIDE, the title of Master or Grandmaster when it comes to Feng Shui, is not awarded by any centralised body or international body. Basically, you can call yourself master if you want and who is to question you on your right to call yourself a master? Heck - call yourself grandmaster or great grandmaster. How is anyone to challenge your right to call yourself that?

Hence, the term ‘master’ and ‘grandmaster’ can be hugely misleading and cause people to assume that the person is highly skilled or experienced. This is especially the case when the titles are self-awarded.

Personally, I don’t use the title ‘master’. I do have clients who call me Master but I try my best to dispense with that kind of title. I ask my clients to call me Joey or if they prefer to keep things formal, Mr Yap will be just fine. I prefer to refer to myself as their consultant or I say I manage their Feng Shui and BaZi needs and concerns. You could say, I prefer to take my cues from the industry’s approach in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, the cradle of Feng Shui, Feng Shui practitioners don’t call themselves master. There simply is no equivalent Cantonese or Mandarin word for that term. Most of my masters in Hong Kong (and I’m using the word masters here in the context of schoolmaster or academic master) ask me to call them sifu or lao shi or even ‘Ah Sir’ (sir in Cantonese).

Of course, there are some true long-dead famous figures in Feng Shui, who post-humously have been called Grandmaster by the Feng Shui community as a whole. Yang Yun Song, author of the Green Satchel Classics, Han Long Jin and Yi Long Jing is often referred to by today’s students of Feng Shui as a grandmaster simply because his books are considered the classical texts and groundbreaking works on Feng Shui.

In this business, it is important to maintain a healthy sense of reality and have one’s feet firmly planted on the ground. If you are an expert, you don’t need to add a title to affirm that. Your results will speak for themselves and how you speak to people, will tell people you are someone with substance and skill.

Walking the Talk

The Feng Shui profession in Malaysia has come a long way of late. But it seems there is much more to do before those in the profession can move closer towards ‘walking the talk’. We’ve come to a stage when marketing Feng Shui, and approaching feng Shui as a business practice, is quite acceptable to the lay public. People now understand that feng shui practitioners are merely consultants for hire, like specialists and consultants in any other field.

In that light, it is important to ensure that as practitioners, a strong sense of integrity, ethics and professionalism are maintained. There’s nothing wrong with taking a traditional approach but taking a professional approach; providing written reports, letting the clients know what they can reasonably expect from the consultation(rather than making wild statements about striking the lottery) and ensuring that we provide a high quality of service to clients will do much more to improve the image of Feng Shui than any title can ever achieve.

Claims like being able to change a person’s life overnight, especially in the bank balance department, is definitely not what one might call ethical.

It is time that the feng shui profession move away from this mentality as a whole. Money of course is important and wealth solves lots of problems in this lifetime, but it also makes people hugely susceptible to hiring a Feng Shui practitioner purely on the basis of which Feng Shui master claims to be able to make the client richer. Although it is easy to get business by telling people you can make them billionaires, claims such as this overlook the fact that in the end, the real results created are a result of the clients hard work and entrepreneurial spirit.

Remember that Feng Shui can only help you achieve your endeavours, it certainly won’t drop a bag of money on your doorstep and you will still need to work hard to achieve your goals. Any practitioner telling you different really needs a conscience-check.

As a simple rule of thumb, when faced with such a claim, consider things logically. If it really was so easy to make the millions, wouldn’t your Feng Shui practitioner be laughing all the way to the bank in a Rolls Royce? You don’t have to doubt Feng Shui, but you should have a healthy curiosity about the practitioner you’re about to engage and any extravagant claims.

Most of my Feng Shui studies was done in Hong Kong and having studied with a number of Feng Shui Masters there, I admire the level of professionalism and integrity of practitioners in a country where Feng Shui is employed extensively.

So although not my New Year’s resolution, it is my sincere hope that come the year of the Fire Pig, things will change. Ding Hai, the pillar for 2007, invokes the image of stars over the night river. Ding, the shining stars, represents Fire-related industries which includes Feng Shui. Hai is the Officer, denoting the finding of a new path that is just and virtuous. Ding and Hai are a combination, indicating progress and evolution for the better, for these industries. Next week, I’ll share with you more about the Year of the Pig and what it holds in store for all of us.


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An Apartment Audit

A few weeks ago, I wrote a case study of Feng Shui of the famous Soo Kee Restaurant in Jalan Imbi. ‘Where’s the Beef’ wasn’t just fun to write (if anything it provided a great excuse to visit Soo Kee more than once!) but also garnered a tremendous response from the public. Feng Shui and good food in one location it would seem, really gets people’s attention. I decided to write about real-life examples, not just because it makes for more interesting reading, but because it helps the public understand how a typical Feng Shui consultation is done.

Why should the public know about our ‘trade secrets’ as it were? I’ve always maintained that for Feng Shui as a practice to thrive and grow in the 21st Century and new millennium, it needs to be practical, scientific (to the extent it is a metaphysical science) and in tune with modern thinking and demands. And that means, getting rid of all the mystique and mystery and telling people what it is really all about.

Also, as the interest in Feng Shui grows, so increases the amount of information about Feng Shui available to the public. It’s often very hard for people who are interested in getting the ‘Feng Shui Advantage’ to know what is real and what is not, with all the information clutter. By sharing practical, behind the scenes information about Feng Shui, and how audits are done, I hope to help with the information clutter so that people are able to distinguish for themselves, what’s real classical and what’s New Age and alternative.

So this week, I’m going to take you behind the scenes of an apartment audit. This audit took place at a new high rise development in Damansara Perdana.

Driving there

The first step of any audit, apartment or landed property, begins on the journey to the client’s place. Usually, a practitioner will observe the land formations from about 5km from the client’s property and sometimes, may circle the area more than once, to get a varied perspective and vantage point.

As I neared the client’s property, I observed that the road curved around various hills and noted the shapes of the hills and mountains. I also noted the contours (whether the land tilts up, or curves down) of the road as we drove to the apartment, as roads are considered virtual water in Feng Shui. Once we parked in the car park of the building, I took some time before meeting the client, to observe the immediate land formations while my assistant took some photographs of the key land formations and the building for reference.

Immediate Exterior

The key feature in the area obviously is the superb Huge Door Mountain right in front of the property. Whether or not the client will be able to make use of this Huge Door Mountain will depend on the unit’s location but the presence of the mountain in front of the property is a positive feature. The land formations in the area are generally quite good, with mountains on the left and right, to function as the right and left embrace.

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There was a small set back in the form of a slight windgap on the right hand side but as it is quite a small wind gap, it’s not a major problem. The problem posed by the windgap is also easily tempered with the correct and appropriate usage of water. It’s worth remembering that it is not easy to find a place that is totally flawless - even Imperial Palaces in China, built at the height of the Qing and Ming Dynasties, have flaws. The key, as I always say, is to minimise the unfixable flaws, manage the fixable flaws, and maximise the good points.

In short, the big picture Feng Shui set-up is overall a good one and the building is located in an area with positive Qi. The next question would naturally be: is the building and the client’s unit successfully tapping into the positive Qi in the area, and the formations?

Once the immediate external landforms have been evaluated, we moved on to the Main Door of the apartment block itself. After checking the Main Door to the apartment block and getting a reading of the facing of the building, it was time to look inside the apartment.

Interior Layout

With the direction of the apartment block, the Flying Star chart of the apartment is obtained. This is then super-imposed onto the individual unit itself.

As we made our way to the unit, one of the important things to observe is the entrance to the unit itself. This is because the elevator functions as a ‘Qi mouth’, carrying Qi from the lower floors, up to the unit. This particular unit that I was visiting was the first unit on the floor, closest to the lift. The lift lobby was also spacious and broad, functioning as a mini-Bright Hall (or Ming Tang) for the floor.

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I met the client at the unit and after explaining to him the external situation, we proceeded into the unit. On the way in, I noticed a Money Toad on the stoop next to the door. The client was most curious to know more about the toad. His wife it seems is a Feng Shui enthusiast. I told him that if he liked a gold toad next to his front door, it was fine but if he decided to lose the toad, it would also be fine as it doesn’t do anything for the Feng Shui of his property.

The first thing I checked was the Unit’s Door for obstructions that could affect the flow of Qi into the duplex unit. I gave the client some suggestions for modifications that would help with the internal Bright Hall inside the unit, which is slightly affected by the location of the staircase in the duplex. This would help improve the quality of the Bright Hall inside his apartment unit. Having the spacious lift lobby is a positive for the floor as a whole, but you want to also have a spacious Bright Hall within your apartment, otherwise, the Qi that’s collecting outside the unit, isn’t going to benefit you.

After checking the door, we went over to the balcony to take a look. Now, most people when they buy an apartment are interested in the view. Yes, the view is important but from a Feng Shui context, beautiful is not always good. A fantastic view of the skyline is nice, but it might not be giving you any Feng Shui benefits, and instead, sending Sha Qi your way.

The client’s balcony opens to 2 layers of mountains in the distance, in the Geng direction, with a Moth Mountain formation in the far distance. The mountains are at just the right height to function as Table Mountains. Below, a tennis court is visible, which acts as a secondary Bright Hall to collect the Qi. Both left and right embrace are visible although I noted some sharp environmental features on the right embrace, which I informed the client, would pose some challenges during certain years.

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The client had installed his own water feature. The water feature was a little small and positioned in the wrong area so I advised him to move it to the appropriate sector and to make it a little bigger. We then moved onto the kitchen, where I suggested he make a small change to his stove, in order to align it in the right direction, in accordance with the Flying Star chart and Eight Mansions chart of his apartment. We then went upstairs, where I checked the bedrooms and suggested he change some of the bed positioning, to better attune it with the personal Gua of the occupants. I also made a note of the best room to be used as a study, by the client.

So, contrary to popular misconception, a Feng Shui consult doesn’t have to be a long-winded affair, or one that involves plenty of shopping for trinkets and then figuring out what to do with them when you haven’t got a convenient nook in your South West corner for a pair of marble Mandarin Ducks. It’s really just as straightforward as checking the landform, making sure the area is receiving good Qi and then tapping into that Qi!


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