Holding Shui Over Energy Flows

The Age , Australia,
Wednesday 1st June 2005

No NUDES in the bedroom (paintings, that is). Paint main doors that face east green. Never buy red flowers long stemmed red roses with thorns are the worst for a love one. Display the figure of a wish-fulfilling cow in your office to invite success. Calculate your nien yen direction, based on your date of birth, and use it to create happiness and love luck.

For the uninitiated, the principles of feng shui a system of laws in Chinese thought that govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy can seem a tad cryptic. For Lillian Too, author of 80 books on the subject including 365 Feng Shui Tips: A Tip a Day to Get You Auspiciously Through the Year, from which the above advice is drawn feng shui is both a life skill and a passion.

It's also a premise upon which to build a thriving business. Visit her World of Feng Shui website and you'll find workshops, books and solutions to problems from sibling rivalry and fertility to marriage quandaries and learning difficulties. (Energise your study desk with a crystal in the north-east corner.)

Surf to her online feng shui mega-mall and you'll find yourself in a universe where rings promise instant wealth, Power of Eight pendants deliver luck and "horse running upwards" figurines elicit fame and recognition.

This week, Too, touted as the "public face of feng shui worldwide", visits Melbourne for a series of seminars, workshops and a book launch. Chances are she'll also pop into her stone, the World of Feng Shui, which opened with a flurry of lucky energizers and wealth enhancers at Crown Casino last year.

Too brings with her the conviction that feng shui offers its practitioners a viable and effective means to reconceptualise their worlds. She says that while the disciplines might once have been dismissed as esoteric and superstitious, people in the West are embracing feng shui because, "it makes then feel better".

"People in the West are beginning to realize, through holistic sciences and meditation, that there are different ways of looking at life," she says. "I find fertile ground among educated Western people, because they can be very curious about different ways of thinking.

"As a Chinese speaker I am in a unique position to simplify and unravel the codes of feng shui, to offer people an alternative way to arrange their space and their lives.

"Despite its growing popularity, skepticism does, she says, continue to colour people's perceptions of feng shui in the West. But, with the fervour of an adept businesswoman, Too insists she welcomes such challenges.

"People shouldn't accept everything that comes to them. Being wary of new ideas is vital. I like people to question me, because it gives me a chance to explain, to appeal to their sense of logic."

Too says that, while feng shui might be perceived as spiritual discipline, it's more a living skill than a faith. Like cooking, she explains, feng shui is a set of principles that, once mastered, can be tailored to an individual's needs.

"With a recipe, you must learn to buy the right ingredients, chop them, bring the fire to the right heat and then cook. Feng shui is the same. Once you master the basic recipe, it can be changed according to your taste."

Contrary to the advice proffered on her website, Too won't be arriving in Australia with a three-legged toad buried in her purse. She will, however, come brandishing a compass, feng shui jewellery and a wardrobe comprised of specific colours that correspond to various weather conditions.

"I know instinctively what colours to wear when it's hot or cold. And if I'm doing a talk or meeting someone, I will always sit facing my best direction.

"As for shopping online at the World of Feng Shui, Too suggests that, while a set of Wish Fulfilling Birds ($100) is unlikely to change your life, it may enable you to harness the strength of your own "all powerful" mind.

"Don't buy a three legged toad and expect to win the lottery tomorrow. That's not the way it works, " she says. "Still, you never know. Sometimes, it can help."
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