Headline: 'Growing interest' in ancient Chinese arts
Byline: Amy Nip ( 5-1-2010 South China Morning Post)
Be it problems in the workplace or relationship woes, an increasing number of people are turning to fung shui and Taoist rituals in an effort to improve their lot, say masters of these ancient Chinese arts.
And they are not doing it as a business, but are learning these ancient rituals and practices for self-improvement or as a hobby, fung shui masters say.
Interest in fung shui and Taoist rituals have surged after fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen was named a beneficiary in the will of billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, fung shui master Szeto Fat-ching said. The probate battle that followed, during which fung shui practices were raised in court, further spurred interest.
Szeto, who says he has tens of thousands of followers, is looking forward to accepting about 30 new students at the end of this month. Most want to use the practices to have a better future.
Despite Taoism's long history, not many people know about its ancient rituals, Szeto said. He cited as an example the court case concluded yesterday in which a self-proclaimed Taoist Mao Shan master was convicted of tricking a model into having sex as a part of a ritual to improve her luck.
Fung shui master Ma Lai-wah said he had seen a 10 per cent to 20 per cent increase in students annually in the past few years. "Most learn it for self-protection or as a hobby," Ma said, adding that some were interested in the philosophy of Taoism, while others wanted to learn how to bring good luck.
The lack of professional qualifications made it difficult to tell if a particular practice was a proper Taoist ritual, but anything obscene was not acceptable, Ma said. Sex was never used as a ritual to change luck.
Taoist masters can seek recognition from the mainland's State Administration for Religious Affairs.
Liu Tik-sang, associate professor of humanities at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said rituals worked like local religions: whether people believe or not has nothing to do with their academic qualifications. Unlike organised religions like Christianity, there are no authorities to determine which practices are proper and which ones are not, Liu said, adding that people have to use common sense.