In this edition of Interview with a Master we sit down and chat with professional Feng Shui Researcher and Practitioner, as well as author and founder of the Yap Cheng Hai Academy, Grand Master Yap Cheng Hai.
Grand Master Yap Cheng Hai has more than 50 years of experience in Feng Shui and is one of the world’s most sought after speakers and master trainers in Classical Feng Shui. His reputation as a Feng Shui Master began in the 1960’s when he did Feng Shui readings for family and friends. As his reputation grew, he consulted for private clients and corporations all over the world and was also the first Feng Shui Master to lecture in English when he started giving seminars in Europe during the late 1970’s.
His life-long study of Chinese traditional arts also makes him well versed in Chinese medicine, martial arts (especially Wu Shu), Qi Gong, metaphysics, palmistry and philosophy. Grand Master Yap is now in his 80’s and is a successful corporate figure with various business enterprises. He continues to travel around the world to give consultations, lectures and seminars and with the establishment of the Yap Cheng Hai Academy effectively addresses two key issues: direct access to authentic classical Feng Shui courses and the availability of an internationally used medium of instruction – English. This is timely as there has been a growing interest in this ancient art across the globe in the past decade. http://www.ychacademy.com
- How did you first become interested in Feng Shui? Please share some of your path of learning with us.
I have always been interested in the various Chinese arts since I was young. When I was young, I was always interested in bettering myself whether physically or mentally.
I first started by learning Chinese martial arts when I was in school to protect myself from the local bullies. I became very interested in martial arts and studied altogether under 8 different masters and learned 11 different types of martial arts.
When I was in school in Singapore, I read everything in the library. Amongst them there were books and stories on divinations, destiny reading, medicine and spiritual practices. This started my journey in learning more about these arts that can better a person. After learning destiny (命) reading, I realised that this cannot help me to improve my lot in life. To put it very simply, I did not come from a wealthy family and I wanted to be rich. I realised that feng shui can help me improve my life to become rich when applied to myself. This started me on the path of learning feng shui.
My studies continued and I realised that feng shui can also help my friends and family in various ways. This progressed till today where I still perform consultations to help my clients to better their lot in life, which fits in with my Buddhist beliefs of helping the people around you.
- Many Feng Shui consultants feel that the further they study Feng Shui the more confused they become. Did you experience this during your own journey, and if so how did you overcome it?
I am fortunate that this only happened in the beginning; I was told to read this book on feng shui. For more than a year, I read the book from the start to the finish many times. I could read every word but still could not understand what it was trying to say. One day it all suddenly became clear. I then confirmed this with my master. From this I learned two things;
1. To learn something in depth, it will take time, sometimes years. During this time, it is common to be confused. With perseverance, clarity can be achieved
2. You need someone with whom you can seek for clarification/confirmation.
This is the traditional way of learning in the Chinese culture. The western teaching likes everything to be explained whereas the traditional Chinese teaching is one of self discovery. Both have their benefits but the traditional Chinese way is more frustrating but more rewarding in the end. Of course it is important that you have a master or mentor that can guide you in the right practises. Even then, confirm for yourself that you have understood. I always tell my students; “do not believe everything I say, test it out for yourself to understand how it works”
- What made you turn Feng Shui into your profession?
Actually, feng shui is not my main profession. I am still primarily a businessman and am still running my uncle’s successful hardware business.
I started on the path of feng shui by first applying it to myself to test that it works and how it works. Slowly, as I understood more and more, I started to give feng shui advice to the people around me. I found that the right application of feng shui could help to resolve many problems they encountered.
One of the first cases I remember was when a friend’s young child was always ill. No matter what medicine was tried or which doctor this child was brought to, he was always falling sick. Western doctors and their medicine, Traditional healers and their medicines, all did not work. When I suggested that the child sleep in a different room with a different head direction, my friend was more than ready to try it out. After implementing these simple changes, the boy very quickly recovered and the intervals between falling sick became much longer till he no longer fell sick.
From this, I realised that I could help the suffering of the people around me and through the recommendations of my friends that I had helped, I found that I had more and more people calling on me to help them.
- Is Feng Shui widely accepted and applied in your country and do you face any difficulties explaining Feng Shui to your clients?
I am based in Malaysia, a multicultural country with a large Chinese population of around 30%. As such feng shui has always been accepted and practised especially by the Chinese community in Malaysia.
I find that there has been a slight change in the acceptance of feng shui though. In the old days, almost all my clients were Chinese or of Chinese origins. To them, feng shui was accepted as part of the requirement in buying a house, building a house or to rectify a problem that they may encounter. They may not understand it but the acceptance was always there. Nowadays, the acceptance is still there but there have been some changes. The main change is that feng shui is not only accepted by the Chinese but by many more different cultures.
Another difference is that the clients are more questioning. When I first started providing consultations, the clients would follow the recommendations and not ask for alternatives or explanations. Today, clients will ask many questions to check on the reason for the feng shui recommendations and on whether there may be alternatives to the original recommendations.
- What is the most common reason that people engage you for a consultation?
The most common is of course when they have a problem, be it financial, family quarrels or children not behaving. The second common reason is to be on the safe side. This normally applies to clients who are considering purchasing a new home, building their home or renovating their home.
- Do you practice Yin House Feng Shui and if so do any of your clients engage you to select an auspicious burial site?
I have done extensive research into Yin feng shui, especially in my early days to prove to myself that the feng shui I am learning is correct. When it comes to the actual application and practice, I do provide consultations but only to people who are close to me personally.
This is because Yin Feng Shui is very involved and if done for the wrong person can affect the practitioner detrimentally. If the consultant is strong and not affected, it may affect the children of the practitioner. Because of this, I very much pick and choose my Yin Feng Shui clients.
Yin Feng Shui is very immersive and when agreed to take on the case, it is from the selection of the site right through to the consecration of the tomb and the burial. At all important stages, the practitioner has to be present and for example, involves flying back from overseas to oversee the burial event.
- What analysis methods do you use during your consultation process?
I use many different methods during a consultation. It depends on what is required for the client. If he is in dire straits and needs his luck to change quickly I would use one method. If the client is generally OK and just wants to be conservative, then I would use something else. It is about the right method to provide the best solution. If pressed, I would say that I am generally a San He practitioner.
- From your point of view, do you think the knowledge of destiny analysis is important when it comes to Feng Shui?
No, destiny analysis is not necessary for a feng shui consultation. Both destiny analysis and feng shui belong to different classifications of the 5 arts and serve different purposes.
Destiny analysis is the diagnostic tool. Feng shui is the supplement and medication. Moreover, the destiny of a person cannot change. What can be changed is the quantitative effect of a person’s life. If a person is destined to fall sick, he will. The difference is that with the proper application of feng shui, the illness is not as severe as with neutral or bad feng shui.
This is the reason that I have concentrated on feng shui. Only through feng shui can something be done to improve a person’s life. Also, don’t forget every property has feng shui, be it good or bad. Feng shui, when properly applied, can serve to improve all aspects of a person’s life enhancing the destiny of a person. I guess, you can say that feng shui will help a person achieve his best potential for good and the lightest potential for bad regardless if you know his destiny or not.
Please share with us a case study you have done which you found to be most interesting.
One of the most interesting cases was for a local financial institution about 12 years ago. This institution took over an abandoned construction project and decided to turn it into their corporate office. At the time, the financial scenario was in turmoil due to the recent Asian financial crisis and the government was trying to force a rationalisation of the financial industry through mergers and acquisitions. The client was in danger of being taken over by another financial institution that was smaller but backed by the government.
When I arrived at the premise, I saw that it was situated with the back to a river and that it was facing a major cross junction with many killing structures around it. My major recommendation was to turn the main entrance to face away from the killing structures and landscape the front garden to not just mitigate the cross junction but to convert it to provide a benefit to the new entrance.
I myself was a bit sceptical of the recommendation as I knew it may not look aesthetically pleasing at all. On top of this, the client was very conservative and I was afraid that the adjusted entrance would not be acceptable. To my surprise, the boss told his staff: “Just do anything Master Yap says”. All the recommendations were therefore put in place and the client not only managed to avoid being taken over, but in fact became a star in the Malaysian corporate world.
- What are your Top Feng Shui Do and Top Feng Shui Don’t?
1. Believe in feng shui but do not be superstitious about it
2. Do not cause harm. The purpose of feng shui is to help others. Be sincere and honest in your skill. If the situation is beyond you, admit it and do not take on something beyond your ability which can cause much harm to others.