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 Feng shui, phooey?

The Star Newspaper > Lifefocus - Saturday June 20, 2009

Feng shui, phooey?

It’s not hocus-pocus or spiritual - it"s science.

Feng shui has been around for a long time, but I"ve always been a bit of a sceptic. I mean, how can you change your life by moving furniture around? Or improve your fortune by purchasing ornaments for the house?

Total hogwash.

So when I was asked to speak to a feng shui master, I was dubious, to say the least. But feng shui master Joe Choo was far from what I had expected.

I had the image of an elderly Chinese lady dressed in traditional costume in mind. Instead, I was greeted by a young and trendy 35-year-old. It made me chuckle inside. The stereotypes people come up with sometimes are amazing!


Choo had a delightful personality and began our session by dispelling the myths about her practice.

"Contrary to popular belief, feng shui is all about science — geomancy to be exact. It has nothing to do with the spiritual world, superstition, mysticism or religion,” said Choo, who is president of the Malaysian Institute of Geomancy Sciences (MINGS), an organisation that promotes knowledge of ancient feng shui studies based on science.

MINGS emphasises geomancy, a simple yet profound idea about energy forces or qi in the cosmos, whereby earth and humans interact with one another.

For centuries, the Chinese have practised feng shui, the Malays Tajul Muluk Ilmu Ramal, and the Indians the ancient science of Vastu Shastra. These look into the effects of the environment on our lives, and how the effects can be harmonised.

"Feng shui is a serious profession. If you look back to ancient times in China, the emperor was the only one allowed to receive the benefits of feng shui. The practice was not attainable by common people,” said Choo

"The feng shui masters who provided weather forecasts and determined auspicious dates for ceremonies were only one step lower than the Prime Minister.

"During the revolution, the last emperor burnt all the books because he didn’t want the scholars to go against his crumbling dynasty. These scholars ran away, taking their knowledge with them. Unfortunately, most of the scholars didn’t pass their full knowledge to their disciples, keeping about 20% to themselves.

"What we learn today is diminished. Commercialisation of feng shui has resulted in the promotion of chimes, statues and ornaments.

"If you study the old text, there was never any encouragement to place objects to enhance the energy of a place. Energy can only exist in living, growing things such as crystals, plants or fish. The ornaments, chimes and statues are not alive, so how can they enhance energy?” asked Choo.

The ancient text Choo was referring to was the I-Ching or Book of Changes written by Fu Hxi 5,000 years ago. I-Ching studies the idea of change — changes in the life span of man, of earth and the cosmos in a continuum of cycles.

It explores the sources of cosmic, earthly and human energies. It postulates that the union between yin and yang gave rise to the five elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal.

Choo explained that each of us are born under one of these five elements and that our lives are governed by the forces of these elements.

She said I was a fire person, and as such, required lots of water elements to keep me balanced.

Based on my date of birth, Choo determined the directions that were good for me, which are north, east, southeast and south. She used a Chinese compass (the copper needle points south instead of north) to determine the direction and detect energy.

"The needle will shake or point to the north if it detects a strong presence of unusual energy activity. I had a case where I visited a client who kept having dreams of a recently deceased family member. The compass detected the presence of unusual energy activity at his house.

"I have no doubt that spirits exist but I try not to mix feng shui with the supernatural. Most of the time, the shaking needle is because of electromagnetic fields caused by computers or electrical equipment,” explained Choo.

She went around my home with the Chinese compass to determine the exact spots that were good for me. She told me to place certain crystals at these spots to enhance and harmonise energy, which in turn would bring me better luck, wealth and love.

"You can get the crystals from any crystal shop, and they don’t have to be expensive. The crystals will work as long as they are genuine,” said Choo.

Fortunately, I knew someone who made jewellery using semi-precious stones and, yes, the small crystals were not expensive, being roughly RM10 each.

It is common practice for developers and private owners to apply feng shui in residential and commercial projects. Even Hong Kong’s Disneyland made several changes after consulting a feng shui specialist. Besides feng shui consultation in residential and commercials projects, Choo provides life-profiling services that read your life chart based on your date of birth.

Life-profiling charts your life from the day you were born till you die.

"Feng shui is one arm, and life-profiling is another. It is good to know both to make your life better. Life profiling is again all about science. The readings are based on statistics that have been compiled for centuries. If an individual is born under certain elements, his or her life will most likely turn out a certain way.

If you have a twin, your twin will most likely have the same life. What makes a difference would be the business the person is in and where the person goes from the place of birth. The readings are 99.9% accurate, provided the date and time given are correct,” said Choo.

Choo cautions that an individual shouldn’t be governed by feng shui as the practice is only meant to enhance your life, not change your luck.

"You learn about your life chart so that you can optimise opportunities and recognise potentials. Many feng shui masters say that they can change your luck. Do ask them if it has changed theirs? Some even say they can give you 4D numbers. If they can, why don’t they use it for themselves?”

Choo shares that there are no sure ways of telling if a feng shui master is the real deal or not but there are a few checks you can do before consulting one.

"Enquire into their background of study and practice. Find out who they learnt from. Their lineage should link somehow to the original feng shui masters.

"Ask around for their track record. Who are their clients? What kind of cases have they handled and what’s the success rate? Recommendations from trusted sources and friends are good too as word of mouth is a very powerful testimony.

"Finally, real feng shui masters should only give feng shui consultation and shouldn’t push you into purchasing items from them. They should also be able to give you reasonable explanations and not just say that their knowledge is a ‘secret from Heaven’,” said Choo.

I’m not sure if I believe everything my life chart says because I always thought that you could change your future by charting your own destiny, but I see no harm in heeding Choo’s advice with the placement of crystals.

The way I look at it is if it doesn’t inconvenience you and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, why not? The power of the mind is extremely strong, after all, so some positive vibes in my life could only do good.

● For feng shui consultation and life- profiling, call Joe Choo at 012-216 3343. Learn more about MINGS at



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