Zen in the den

Is a closed toilet the path to spiritual harmony? Dallasí feng shui followers think so.

During his first checkup, Kuo discovered a huge problem with the restaurant's front doors. The restaurant faced the parking lot of a since-defunct Tom Thumb supermarket, and cars' headlights burned through Anzu's entrance. Kuo solved the problem by advising that a second door be built in front of the first, with the foyer--outfitted with plants and a small fountain--encased in a glass atrium with an angular roof. This was also done, in part, so the entrance would symbolically resemble the head of a dragon rising up, which is supposed to be reflected in the front of every building, according to feng shui principles. Finally, the front door was designed at an angle rather than parallel to the original front door. The result looks rather odd, but it was done to prevent headlight glare and to allow for optimal ch'i to enter the restaurant.

Nakamoto has to have the doors reset each year, because they fall out of alignment and don't close properly. "It's a small price to pay for good feng shui," she says with a shrug.

Kuo also suggested that Nakamoto install a rosewood carved statue of the Buddhist fire god, Kwang Ingo. Her parents got one from a Buddhist temple. Kuo placed Ingo, which Nakamoto calls the food and beverage god, on a ledge overlooking the bar. Employees give the god offerings of food and sake and fresh flowers each day. And woe unto the cynical staff person who makes fun of him.

The last staffer who was disrespectful to him learned the hard way. That night, his car was involved in a hit-and-run in the restaurant's parking lot. Nakamoto warned the staffer that he needed to apologize to the god. He did so, and a few days later, the woman who hit his car called the restaurant to confess her transgression.

Kuo also claims to have a gift of being able to read people's auras, the personal ch'i we each emanate in different ways. And he occasionally gives aura readings to Nakamoto's staff. "Some companies have drug testing. We have ch'i testing," she says with a laugh.

Nakamoto considers herself a "pretty modern person," and acknowledges that some people think feng shui is hokey. "But when you understand the reasoning behind it, it all makes sense really. Besides, why risk it?"

Why risk it indeed? That's the conclusion I eventually came to when I decided to bring feng shui into my home--much to the chagrin of my husband, who nonetheless decided to humor me.

With pad and pen in hand, Cohen walked slowly through our house, assessing our feng shui strengths and weaknesses. She implored us to shut the doors between our living room and kitchen, to keep our ch'i inside the kitchen where god knows we need it, and between the kitchen and utility room, where the ch'i of drudgery can be kept from infecting the rest of the house. She instructed us to keep the bathroom doors closed, to keep out negative energy, as well as the toilet lids, as a symbolic gesture to keep our wealth from being flushed away.

"While you're at it," my husband suggested, "why don't you put the Neiman's credit card down there before closing the lid. That would really help our financial situation enormously."

With cracks like this, it came as no surprise that the marriage sector of our house was in big trouble. It turns out, by Cohen's calculations, the marriage sector winds up being the garage.

"I told you we should do it in here," my husband quipped.
That wasn't what Cohen had in mind. She suggested we place something substantial in the corner of the driveway, such as two huge rocks we picked out together. Or perhaps a loving picture hung on the garage wall.

Cohen admonished us to remove assorted flotsam--toys, books, etc.--from the floors, because ch'i stagnates around it, and to remove anything stored beneath our beds for the same reason. I assured her there was nothing beneath the bed in the master bedroom except dust bunnies.

Cohen brightened at hearing that. "Dust bunnies are good luck in feng shui if you're trying to have a baby," she said. With two children already in our lives--and two college tuitions looming on the horizon--my husband looked slightly unnerved about the dust-bunny situation.

We had some other problem areas we needed to fix, but I won't bore you with the details. I do plan to implement Cohen's suggestions in the near future. As for my husband, despite his professed skepticism, he now closes the doors to all the bathrooms before retiring for the night. And I have a feeling he'll be vacuuming up the dust bunnies under our bed any day now.

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