Carol* has both her hands on the sides of a small, decorative pot. Eyes closed, she is the picture of calm. The room, filled with some 60 people, is silent.
Breaking the silence, feng shui master Leong Weng Suen asks Carol and the other eight who have also been holding their respective pots to start clipping their nails. Once done, Leong then goes around the room, snipping a lock of hair from the nine.
The respective nail clippings and the lock of hair are then put in a ziplock bag, which is then placed in the pot along with other personal items – ready to be buried in a plot about 2 sq ft in size, as part of the practice of Sheng Ji.
A branch of feng shui, Sheng Ji seeks to harness the energy of an auspicious site or location for the betterment of the person whose nails, hair and personal possessions are buried. “Feng shui is rooted in the idea of the cosmic trinity – the energy of the universe, the earth and the people. Sheng Ji represents one aspect of spiritual feng shui, in that we are using the energy of the universe and the earth to benefit us, whether it’s for wealth, health, enhancing longevity, marriage harmony or avoiding misfortune,” Leong explains.
Once only used by emperors to consolidate their power and position, many proponents and believers of feng shui are now also embracing Sheng Ji, from Hong Kong celebrities such as Nancy Sit, Charmaine Sheh and Gillian Chung to ordinary folk like Carol. Although much of the literature on Sheng Ji centres on it being a so-called live burial – with the same plot later used for one’s remains – Leong eschews this term. He also prefers a site devoid of human remains so grave sites are a no-no in his books.
So does it work? For Carol, a day after she carried out Sheng Ji, she was called in for an interview with a major multinational tech company. This, she says, was after years of submitting applications to no avail. “I got past the screening interview with the headhunter and then the first interview with the company itself.”
Although she was unsuccessful in getting that dream job, Carol is nonetheless optimistic. “I felt a kind of sensation and energy from the pot when my hair and nails were placed in, and whenever I look back on that experience all I see is light, so I am hoping for good things.”