Don’t call Joey Yap a fengshui master.
He is many things – principal consultant of the Joey Yap Consulting Group, speaker and author of over 179 books on Chinese metaphysics – but fengshui master is the one thing he rather you not call him.
“If I use the term fengshui, you have a limited view of what I do,” he explains. “When I don’t, that’s when your mind opens. It’s expanded to receive, understand and accept more.”
Such is the way of the human mind – our thoughts and wisdom are very limited to what we identify with. This particular consciousness is important because that’s exactly what fengshui and its counterparts of bazi and qimen are: they are elements affecting one’s identity, and ultimately, destiny.
It’s more than just the placing of some water element in an area or a couple of toads in a corner. All these branches of Chinese metaphysics Joey specialises in are but different pillars of a bigger picture, and that is of yourself. And the more you associate with yourself, the deeper a well you dig into, the more you benefit.
“Metaphysics is an ability to create life transformation through empirical science,” he breaks it down for us. “It requires experiential studies and practice, not theoretical. You’ve got to experience it.”
He adds, “That transformation, that shift in your mind and how you feel, that’s metaphysics. We can’t prove it but you know it’s there.”
He cites the human mind as the best example. “Science can prove a lot of things, but can it prove you have a mind? Which cell is your mind? The brain is not the mind. The heart is not the mind. So the mind does not exist according to science, but you and I know it exists. We experience it. That’s the same with fengshui.”
“I can’t prove fengshui, but we know it’s there.”
He is as sure of it as the first time he came to be acquainted with it 23 years ago.
Destiny: Pre-written or to be re-written?
An unassuming walk down Sungai Wang Plaza in downtown Kuala Lumpur in the 90s changed things forever for Joey, then all but a naïve 14-year-old. He strolled into one of the two stores offering fortune-telling services and, out of curiosity, asked about his future.
He remembers his supposed fate that was told to him to this day. “The old gentleman said, ‘You’re going to be poor until you’re 45,” he shares.
In disbelief, Joey then asked what happens after 45. “He said, ‘You’ll get used to it.”
Rather than helplessly accept it, the grim fate stirred in Joey an intrigue to study more into it. “I wanted to know if this is fated or can I change this,” he expounds. “I discovered that the old style of understanding metaphysics is that life is fated, but only in what is given to you.”
Being an out-of-the-box thinker, he got to thinking what if he used what was given to him (all that is fated) and did with it what others wouldn’t (rewriting that path)?
Such was how he re-wrote, metaphorically and literally, the old understanding of fengshui into a new style upon which he made his career. “The new style – my style – is to understand what you’re given, make use of whatever the creator of this universe has given you, and make the best out of your life. Therefore I redesigned the course.”
Is he allowed to do that? Who’s to say he’s not. Has it changed anything about his own destiny? Every little bit of it.
“I didn’t set out to challenge it. I set out to understand it a bit more,” he clarifies. “I realised that when you’re born, your creator already created you. The creation is done when you’re born, the rest is up to you.”
The manual: The 5 factors to rewriting destiny
It took a lot more than just a decision to change his life to have it actually happen. In the next 20-something years, Joey invested his life savings to fly to Hong Kong to learn from various gurus and masters, some from whom he learnt indispensable knowledge, others from whom he learnt to filter fiction from truth. He studied everything from fengshui to astrological reading. He learnt the most from good old trial and error.
“If I had been right all along, I would not have delved so deep into it,” he reflects. “I was just a student so it didn’t matter if I was wrong. I had no fear of making mistakes. I got better and overtime I built a clientele.”
From that journey, he’s come up with his version of the five factors to master to change destiny.
“The biggest struggle I see with people knowing who they are and what their full potential is, is that we’re not born with an instruction manual. I found that metaphysics is a form of manual. If you understood the features of your life and self and use it to its best ability, you become good at it.”
The five elements are simpler, and much easier to be acquainted with, than one thinks.
The first thing to master to change your destiny is your own thoughts. If you have power over your thoughts, your mind, you have power over your life because no one else dictates your everyday decision-making as much as your mind. “How you structure your thoughts, the way you align your mind, is independent. You are not your mind. You converse with your mind everyday. If your thoughts, the internal, does not give you any problems, you’re already a very happy person.”
The second is your emotions. Whether something is good or bad has everything to do with how we perceive it, which stems from our emotions. “95% of pain in this world is not external. It’s internal. How many physical pains do we have? Did someone beat us down or cut us open? No. Most of the unhappiness is internal – struggles, fear, lack of courage, uncertainty. So why can’t we control it? Because we don’t know how. No one taught us how.”
The third to master is your physical body. They are literally our eyes and ears and arms and legs to getting life work in the way we want to. Therein lies the importance of taking care of oneself above all else. “Our physical body is ours, but what if it works against us, like if we get sick. You want to get up and work but it isn’t cooperating. What is yours should be under your control, but for some, that’s not the case.”
The fourth thing to master is your energy levels. When you consider how everything is an energy from feeling happy to birthing ideas that can change your life, you’ll start to see the importance of doing things that only contribute positivity to your energy tanks. “Most people are tired for no reason, they are sad and depressed for no reason. Happiness is a energy, sadness is also an energy. Why can’t we use this energy for good?”
The last factor is perhaps the smallest and most insignificant yet the one most people invest in the most – the environment. Fengshui in its most literal sense, refers to this harnessing of the environment to bring out the best of the other four elements.
Collectively, these are the five things that make you, your identity, your destiny.
“People always ask me how do you change destiny. Destiny is all this stuff. As a result of you changing these variables, you have a different outcome,” he explains. “It’s simple cause and effect. It’s got nothing to do with putting the colour blue or green in this room, or whether I put some toads in this corner.”
“People go around searching for a higher intelligence, but it’s in you to begin with. It’s in you and it’s everywhere,” he continues. “If you can just connect and align, you can manifest. Reality is as such. But people focus too on the fifth factor, which is external.”
That’s not saying there’s no truth to it. It just means fengshui is but one part of many other parts that hold much greater weight to help you achieve greatness.
Joey explains: “I would say metaphysics is a science that allows you a bit more control in your life. Does everyone need it? Not necessarily. But do people benefit it? Definitely. If you are unhappy or lost direction, it’s like Waze. It’s a tool to help you get somewhere. But you need to know where you want to go. And you definitely should not be attached to the voice. You should be focused on the direction.”
More often than not, that direction is already in the back of your head, albeit slightly hidden from your view for the time being. In that area, fengshui might also be helpful in shedding some light.
The power: It’s in your hands
The most common inquiry Joey has encountered from his many talks and shows and consultation sessions boils to “how can I have an easier life?” It may come in different questions and in different areas, but they all lead to asking for a better life.
“Everyone wants an easier life. I can tell you how. You become better,” Joey tells matter-of-factly. “Everything becomes easier when you get better. The reason things are hard is because you’re not good enough. When your problems are bigger than you, life is a hassle. When you’re bigger than your problems, life is a bliss.”
How does one become better? Certainly not by glorified water fountains and bronze twin toads, which Joey makes clear “are just CNY decorations that’s lasted the year” and “have zero impact”.
You get better by investing in yourself, by watering and nurturing the other four elements that are within your control. “You get bigger than your problems by improving your life skillset, mindset, heartset and general abilities,” Joey specifies.
Having said all that, it may seem like fengshui doesn’t play a role at all in helping one figure out one’s life. Such is not the case. Again, they are but tools to help you navigate your elements.
“Think of it as your life instruction manual. You’re born in this life with all your capacities but without a manual,” Joey explains. “The bazi describes your features and abilities. With it, you can start to figure out how to maneuver and harness the best of your features. It’s not to tell your fate or fortune. Your fate is based on how well you wield this chart.”
Fengshui or not, bazi chart or not, there is one thing everything can start practicing to see immediate benefit to their lives as we take on the new year.
“Just be conscious of your thoughts and emotions,” Joey lets on. “A lot of people aren’t aware of their thoughts. They converse mentally on the daily but they don’t know who they’re conversing with. Just realise it when you’re unhappy, when you’re happy. Take note of what you’re feeling inside. Just by doing this you’ll come to learn a lot about yourself and be in control.”
To learn more, log on to Joey Yap’s official website here.
Photography: Edmund Lee/Vinca Photography
Videography: Felix Khu
Art direction and styling: Anson Siau
Grooming: Jacquelyn Tan