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Walking the Dragons Reviewed in NST

Saturday, October 11, 2008
NEW STRAITS TIMES
By: Fong Leong Ming

Behold, the Dragon tombs
By Fong Leong Ming

A SERIES of excursions abroad, principally to China and Tibet, by student of Feng Shui resulted in this compilation.

Led by Joey Yap and organized by Mastery Academy (which he founded), they visited actual landforms alluded to in ancient classics and toured burial spots as well as tombs of historical figures, including those of kings and members of royalty.

Click here to learn more about Walking the Dragons book.

Along the way, they inspected villages, places of worship, hills, mountains and streams as well as the famous pugilistic centre of Shaolin.

From diaries entries, Yap expanded his notes into this travelogue of sorts which, naturally, is guided primarily by the principles of Feng Shui. His purpose - to show how events in China of yore had been influenced to a large extent by this art of geomancy.

The entries are arranged by place rather than in chronological sequence; thus one can go straight to any particular chapter that catches one's eye.

My interest was quickly piqued by such familiar names as the Forbidden City in Beijing, Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Mausoleum in Nanjing, Chiang Kai Shek's birthplace in Zhejiang province, Confucius's tomb in Qu Fu, Shaolin Temple in Henan province and Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Who will this book target? After all, Feng Shui (literally "wind" and " water") seems like such a niche area with limited appeal to most of us except for those rare instances when, say, one intends to purchase a house. With Yap's photos plastered all over this compilation, this also seems like a narcissistic exercise in gratuitous self-promotion.

Not necessarily so. Walking the Dragons must be read in the right light - here, in one volume, is a physical journey to the ancestral tombs of respected philosophers, political leaders and emperors of famous dynasties.

It is a journey that Yap clearly intends to share with his readers. The inclusion of numerous pictures of himself and his students on tour is deliberate-it is a conscious effort to make it seems as if the reader is on the same tour throughout. It makes the journey vivid for those who, for reasons both personal or financial, cannot undertake such a trip.

With a knowledgeable Feng Shui guide leading the way, such places are at once alive with meaning, with the benefit of history almost instantaneously unfolding through the centuries to add to the significance and even drama.

For me, Yap has outdone himself by leading such excursions to seek out, apply and understand further the principles of Feng Shui. After all, it would have been so easy for Yap, who also conducts well-attended seminars regularly, to stay in his comfort zone and just be an armchair Feng Shui exponent spouting commonsense or commonplace rules.

With page after page analyzing different locales, Walking the Dragons is quite an effective way to learn more about Feng Shui which, after all, is the study of the qi flow in the environment in relation to a property. Think land contours as well as river and mountain formations. And China definitely boasts all these and more.

Glossy, high quality paper throughout, with plenty of pictures to look at, this travelogue reads more like a mini coffee-table book. Its Feng Shui focus aside, this can be seen as a quick guide to famous burial spots of emperors, kings and heads of state in China.

Of course, sometimes what Yap describes can be beyond the grasp of the ordinary reader who is not well-versed in feng shui terminology. Phrases such as "application of House Gua in Yin House Feng Shui" and "North Dipper Seven Star wells" are sprinkled liberally but I suppose he writes on the presumptions that keen Feng Shui students comprise most of his avid readers.

At times too, Yap, with the hindsight of history, seems to go out of his way to look for signs that explain why, for instance, a dynasty fell. Is that like knowing beforehand what happens at the end of a story and then trying to justify the circumstances leading to that conclusion? You tell me.

Walking the Dragons adds another dimension to understanding the principles of geomancy. Certainly it is much more substantial than numerous other "normal" Feng Shui books in the market with their mere regurgitation of commonplace theories (which, notably the much-maligned and misunderstood T-junction house, are sometimes wrong!)

Perhaps the one aspect that stayed in my mind long after I finished the last chapter was the fact that the beautiful sculptures, stone carriages and impressive d├ęcor at imperial tombs - awe-inspiring they may be - were never Feng Shui elements. Much like the Ba gua mirror symbol, I guess.

Click here to view the review in full.
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