The Feng Shui Detective


Scarlet in a study

Printing errors

A kitchen god’s life

The lion’s share

Mysterious properties

Ghost in the machine

Spice of life

The taxi driver

An imperfect enclosure

Scarlet in a study

Recently, one thousand years ago, a sage lived on the Plain of Jars. His name was Lu Hsueh-an. He said, ‘The trappings of a man’s life are not his life. Yet the trappings of a man’s life are his life.’

Is this a contradiction? Yes but also no. Please consider this image.

It is a hot day. You sit under a very small tree. This is good. There is shade. You can see all around you. Nowhere can hide an interloper.

But there is shade for one person only. You have no visitors. You become lonely.

You move to a bigger tree. It has room for two-three guests to share the shade.

This is very nice. But the trunk is a little bit wide. There is a space behind you. You cannot see who is there.

Some of us we grow older. We move to much bigger trees.

You find a banyan tree so big that a whole village can sit in the shade. You have a very big world now. But there is danger. Behind you there is an unknown space as big as the space in front of you.

Some people never get to a large banyan tree. Others move from small to big worlds. But something in their lives shocks them. They go back to very small worlds.

Blade of Grass, when you meet someone you must silently ask them a question. How big is your world? This is one of the most important things you can know about a person.

There are times when you meet someone and you realise that your own world is not big enough to fit them. Then you have a decision. Do you say there is no room? Or do you move to a bigger tree?

Again Lu Hsueh-an said: ‘Do not ask the Immortals how big the world is. You make the world.’

From ‘Some Gleanings of Oriental Wisdom’

by C F Wong, part 73.

C F Wong shut his inky journal and put it and his pen into the drawer. Then he flexed his fingers and stared out of the window. Although he affected the role of the wise old sage when he wrote, there was often a moment when he found himself helplessly transformed into the admonished pupil.

He felt his own world was big, but it was his office that was small. It was the second of these factors that he used to justify his immediate hostility to a request from a person who was above him, in the temporal, corporate sense.

Wong’s secretary and office administrator, Winnie Lim, had delivered the bad news in her broad Singapore-Hokkien accent. ‘One of Mr Pun’s contack, he wan’ a favour. M.C. Queeny or something. He wan’ you to fine a job for his son, you know already, is it?’

‘M.C. Queeny? I have never heard of him.’

‘M. C. Q. U. I. N. N. I. E. The boy’s name is Joe. His daddy is very good client of the company. Friend of Mr Pun. Mr Pun’s secretary, she phone me to tell me. You must give the boy a job for his school holiday, okay or not?’

He sighed. Incursions into his private space always caused discomfort. He knew it was extremely common in this city, as probably in most modern places, for persons in power to find jobs for each other’s sons. The phrase, he thought, was ‘Old Boys’ Network’, or was it ‘Young Boys’ Network’? He must look it up in his dictionary of English idioms. But his office was just two rooms, and his