Feng Shui Article as appeared in Combat Magazine in May 1999 - Yap Leong

I am honoured to be given the opportunity by Combat to provide readers with a regular column on Martial Arts, Chi Kung, Healing and Feng Shui, based on my own personal experience and expertise. In my first article, I will deal with the subject of Feng Shui with all its glories or follies.

Feng Shui has its origin in China and has been practised by the Chinese for thousands of years. It is now just as popular in the West. Like martial arts, Feng Shui comprises various systems, some bad, some good and some, a mixture of both. It is only through years of studies and practical experience that make a feng shui expert. Even then there are very few of them around.

Nowadays we find feng shui 'tabloid' experts.

'Just place a crystal here and your whole life will change.'
'A bonsai plant makes a whole lot of difference to my life.'
'I place a mirror to counteract the missing sector.'

The Tao speaks of the harmony of Man, Heaven & Earth. Feng shui is about that harmony. Man can changed his destiny through correct applications of feng shui, but heaven also has a way to counteract that, if it wishes to.

A good feng shui expert should be able to analyse what is good or bad in a situation and give proper advice. He should be realistic and not exaggerate just to please his client or 'his pocket'. The principles of Feng Shui should not be compromised, otherwise it may adversely affect or harm him.

Feng Shui has been well publicised. A lot of books have been written - some with complimentary views, whilst others are conflicting. It is not important whether a view is complimentary or conflicting - as long as it works, it is good feng shui. It is not important whether a technique is popular or not - as long as it works, it is a good technique.

In Martial Arts, we have 'Cowboys'. It is unfortunately also true in Feng Shui. A Kung Fu 'Cowboy' will eventually be exposed, as he may need to prove his 'Mouth Kung Fu' through actions. In Feng Shui there is no 'action', simply 'Mouth'.

More than five years ago, there were a number of feng shui workshops which catered for 'Gwailos' who were told that traditional feng shui was not suitable to them. They were taught simplified feng shui. For example the wealth sector is usually where the 'toilet' is. If you place a windchime in the toilet it will take away the bad 'Chi' Give me a good aerosol anytime. I had a sneaky feeling that this had something to do with the runaway success of Chop Suey more than 30 years ago in the West. I remember it because I saw the film with Nancy Kwan, which mentioned Chop Shui a lot. (Not the World of Suzie Wong, which I also seen, but another musical. It was 'Nancy Kwan' which compelled me to watch the movie as I hated 'Musicals'). The 'Gwailos' were conned for 30 years. Now, do we find any more 'Chop Suey' takeaway? Ask any 'Gwailo' now and he will rather have a 'Siew Ngarp Farn' or simply 'Roast Duck Rice' in Chinatown anytime. To counteract the Chop 'Feng' Shui takeaway mentality, I decided to organise traditional workshops at that time. Since then it has been a success as more and more traditional masters are also coming out of their shells and doing their bit.

The Authenticated 'Cowboys'
In kung fu a cowboy authenticated himself by simply going to an obscure master in China and have a picture taken with him. The poor Old Man does not even speak a word of English, except to smile and allowed his picture to be taken. He smiles further still, when the big red packet is offered to him. He nods to his every request, about the need to spread the art, to appoint him the next guardian of the art or as a sole representative in a foreign country. In feng shui, it is even much simpler than that. There is no need to go to the Old Man. All you have to do is just read plenty or books and attend seminars, which offer a practising certificate after two days. Next bring in other unrelated systems such as analysing dreams, reading tarot cards, water dowsing, interior designing, intuition to give it a mystic flavour and printing a business card to say you are a consultant.

At the beginning when Feng Shui was popular, a lot of people attended seminars and paid ridiculous amounts for something, which they could just obtain from a book. They mistakenly believed that they were studying genuine & traditional feng shui. Instead it was chop shui. Naturally they gained their certificates and became practitioners very quickly. Most of them do not even know how to use a feng shui compass. There was no need to, as their systems did not require one. As more traditional masters came out to teach, these very practitioners realised their shortcomings and tried to authenticate themselves by attending one or two seminars. Naturally feng shui is a complicated art, and such practitioners should be honest enough to put aside their worthless certificate and start all over again. Instead they stuck to them and became more and more chop shuied in their approach- instead of using 'soya sauce', they were using 'tomato ketchup'. Instead of suggesting proper remedies, they were suggesting remedies, which are in conflict with the feng shui of the place. The consequences did not end there. As practitioners, they had to offer advice and to make their clients happy, they provide written reports. No amount of written report can compensate for a worthless practitioner.

Initially both the clients and practitioners were happy. The clients got what they wanted to hear - guarantee of success within a short period of time and the practitioners - the cheques in their pockets. As time passes, the clients got more and more disillusioned, as they began to realise that they had been 'Chop Shuied'. The practitioners thought they had got away with it, but instead suffered a rebound. As more and more clients became dissatisfied and disillusioned, they spread the negative news through their friends and contacts. The news was like a disease, which spread very fast, but cannot be seen. The result is that within the last two years Feng Shui has fallen just as fast as it has risen. The market is now almost dead. For the genuine and well established practitioner that is very good news, as it means that the cowboy is less able to exploit the situation of the moment.

The Ancient Sage he says: 'Enlightenment' can be achieved by an 'Instant Thought'

The modern sage he says - An 'Instant thought' can evoke 'Enlightenment' just as it provoke 'Madness' in others

Feng Shui as appeared in Combat Magazine 1999 - Yap Leong

The instant expert with instant cures.

The instant overnight expert was selling Feng Shui like hot cakes. 'If I do the feng shui of your house, I will guarantee that your feng shui will improve or change for the better within three weeks'. These ridiculous claims were obviously made to suit both the instant expert and the client. It enriches the instant expert within minutes and the client hopefully wait for something to happen within three weeks. By then the instant expert would have found another trusting client with the same forlorn hope.

Another instant sales pitch is to inform prospective wide-eyed clients that they are disciples of famous masters. One instant disciple suddenly became visible and told his client that he was a disciple of someone's famous and charged a hefty amount for his feng shui consultation. He has barely left elementary level but his mouth was advanced level. Once again the ancient sage sighs with consternation.

Many years ago, in Malaysia, I happened to watch a street performer selling his amazing instant cure medicine. To attract the crowd, he said he would demonstrate the breaking of a brick, not with the palm, but with the wrist part, which happened to have a swollen bit. I was obviously not interested in the medicine, otherwise I would have bought it and gone home straight away. So I stood there from 8pm to midnight, just to see how he could break that brick with his wrist. As I was young, naïve and also very patient, I thought the performance would eventually arrive. Unfortunately, he was only selling medicine, and the demonstration was just to lure the next lot of crowd to his medicine pitch. At 12 midnight he finished his job and gathered his tools, including the brick, which was still intact. I left smiling, contented, became a bit wiser and dying to go to the loo.

Throughout the years, it is common for someone unknown and useless to claim that he is the next generation up on someone famous and skilful. In other words he is the Si-Suk (Uncle Master). It is also not uncommon for someone to jump levels by going straight to the Grandmaster instead of training with the Master. One big red packet will do the trick.

One unlikeable master even claimed that he had become a great, great, great Grandmaster, even though he was just about forty years old. The reason is that his student taught someone, who immediately taught someone who immediately taught someone and so on and so forth. Even I myself have become victim to this 'kung fu system'. Unfortunately, my status keeps on dropping. Instead of the other way up - up - up, it was down - down - down.

The Ancient Sage he says: You must believe in Heaven & Hell
The Modern Sage he says:

In 'Heaven' there is no 'Hell'. In 'Hell' there is no 'Heaven'.

How on Earth can there be Heaven and Hell?

The Ancient Sage he says: Man should not indulge in superstition.
The Modern Sage he says: Only when he is desperate.