Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feng Shui Will vs Petition to Heaven

Mr. Szeto provided some details about the ceremony of Rebirth after Death 死後重生法事 in his report. When a person is in great danger in life, he can go through a process to shake off all the sins committed and live a new life. In this process, the person is required to sleep in a coffin for at least one day. For the other 48 days, his finger nail, hair and four pillars chart on a little tablet will take the place of the person. There is also to be a Petition to Heaven for Continuance of Life after Rebirth 死後重生续命奏章 drafted under the guidance of a certain god. This god (or a group of gods) will bring the petition to the Jade Emperor 玉皇大帝 who is supposed to be the supreme god in Heaven.

In the petition, the name of the petitioner together with his date and hour of birth is included. The request (winning a lawsuit, recovery from terminal illness, etc.) is stated. A promise is made to Heaven to bequeath a huge sum of money for charity purposes. The sum of money can be a substantial part of what the person possesses and the larger the amount shows the higher degree of sincerity.

Such a practice is quite common and popular in China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan). We have no doubt about this.

Mr. Szeto emphasized on the inclusion of asking for God's help is mandatory in the written document. This document is meant to be burnt to reach Heaven. This obviously is a traditional Daoist Religion 道教 teaching.

A Daoist Master incorporates Daoist technique into his Fung Shui practice is understandable. In the same way, some Feng Shui practitioners in the West also incorporates Dowsing into the practice. However, Dowsing and Daoist ceremonies should not be considered Fung Shui unless such practices can actually improve the principal purpose of the flow of qi to acquire results.

We cannot find any similarity between the 2006 Will and a Petition as described except for the phrase "guided with God help" in the Will. It is not a Petition. It is a Will.

I find it hard to be convinced that a Will is the same as a Petition. If Tony Chan wins this part of the lawsuit, it is because of Mr. Szeto's inability to prove that the 2006 Will is a so-called Fung Shui Will. It is not because of my ability to prove that it is not. In fact, I cannot and did not attempt to prove anything.

Outside the court, Mr. Szeto told the reporters that he wore white on the day he was cross-examined because white represents righteousness and it is righteous to help to win the case for charity. Well, he forgot that an expert witness is not there to help either the plaintiff or the defendant. It would be better if he said it is righteous to help the court to make the correct judgement. I could also say that I wore deep blue and blue represents wisdom. I was there to help the court to make a wise judgement.

JY

16 comments:

Foon said...

Dear Joseph

Thanks for sharing about this fascinating case.

I wonder if during cross examination, Mr. Szeto was asked if it was normal for such a petition/will to be signed by two witnesses?

Also, given that the petitioner should promise to bequeath a large sum for charity purposes, I wonder how it could be that in the petition/will, the beneficiary was an individual (who is not a charity)?

Best Regards,
Foon

Joseph Yu said...

Dear Foon,

It was not asked as such was not in Mr. Szeto's report. I think it will be pointed out in the closing argument.

The beneficiary being a person and not for charity can imply an allegation of abuse of the petition/will for selfish motive. It is up to the judge to rule.

JY

Fourpillars.net said...

Hi Foon, Joseph,


If the reasoning is that giving a lot of money to charity will please the gods in heaven and so they may grant to prolong the life, cure an illness or win a lawsuit...

Then doing the opposite, withdrawing money that was previously attributed to charity already, would logically have the opposite effect: it would displease the same gods, and they may shorten your life..

So Foon brings up a good point.
By this logic it would have been very absurd for Nina to create this second will that gives everything to a private person (TC), overriding an earlier will that gave everything to charity.
Unless she was hoping for a very bad rebirth after death.

This means that either this feng shui will was indeed forged.
Or it was not meant to be carried out.
Or NW did not have this Chinese DNA that made her fear these gods in heaven.
Or Nina had already lost her sense of reason.


Danny

Foon said...

Hi Danny

What you say makes sense if the petition/will was indeed a prop for a ritual.

However, what if the petition/will was a legal document(not a ritualistic prop) signed in front of two witnesses, one of whom was a solicitor?

Regards,
Foon

Fourpillars.net said...

Hi Foon,


It makes no difference.

Joseph says that it is not possible for a Chinese person to offend the emperor in "heaven". No one would do that.

And according to the logic of this ceremony, the gods in heaven are very happy when a person donates lot of money to charity.
Then conversely these gods must be very displeased when somebody pulls back money that was already devoted to charity and uses it for something else, in this case give it to a private person: Tony Chan.

Why would Nina Wang do that and anger the gods in heaven?

So no matter how we look at this case, we always bump into some absurdity here or there.


Danny

Joseph Yu said...

Dear Danny,

You misunderstood what Foon was trying to say.

You have assumed that the 2006 Will is a Fung Shui Will and not a legal document.

In fact, the Plaintiff tries to convince the court that the Will is not a legal document. It is only a piece of paper Nina Wang used to petition for long life and is not meant to be executed. In other words, the Plaintiff is saying that the piece of paper is an instrument in the ceremony.

The absurdity lies on the fact that while you are petitioning to Heaven you are writing something that you do not intend to do.

The fact that the beneficiary is a person and not a charity foundation already deviates from the Daoist theory of petitioning to Heaven. When questioned about this, Mr. Szeto replied that each priest can have his own wording as long as there is the phrase "guidance from god".

The question is, "Are you convinced that the 2006 Will is a Fung Shui Will or a legal document."

JY

Fourpillars.net said...

Hi Joseph,


I am not asuming anything.

Suppose the will is a legal document.
The reasoning stays just the same.

It would imply that Nina has replaced an earlier will that gave everything to charity, with one that gives all the money to a private person.

If the logic is that the gods in heaven are very pleased with donations for charity, then they must be very displeased when money committed to charity is pulled back and given to a private person instead.
They may then cut short her life, rather than prolong it.

So if she fears the gods up there, doesn't want to offend them, then it would be absurd for her to do that.

Your own argument actually lends credibility to the thesis that this second will cannot be real.
Something has to give: either this will is not real, or she didn't care about offending the heaven (which you say is impossible for a Chinese person).


Danny

Joseph Yu said...

Dear Danny,

I am afraid you still don't get the point. To the Chinese people, Heaven gives us freedom to do whatever - plant melons and you will get melons; plant beans and you will get beans 种瓜得瓜,种豆得豆. Heaven will just let things happen until there is a petition to Heaven. Then He may intervene.

The 2002 Will is a true legal document when Nina Wang stated that all her belongings were to be given to charity. This is not a petition to Heaven. Heaven is pleased for the good deed. When she changes her mind and gives her belongings to someone instead of to a charity foundation, Heaven may be watching, dispeased, but not offended as the first will was not a promise to Heaven. She has right to change her mind.

However, if the 2006 Will was a petition to Heaven, then she would be cheating Heaven as she did not intend it to be executed at the moment when she wrote the will. Heaven would be offended. If the 2006 Will is a true legal document, then she has not cheated Heaven although changing her mind may displease Heaven. It is not an offence to Heaven.

Do you see the difference?

JY

Fourpillars.net said...

Hi Joseph,


I didn't have problems to see the point you brought, but what I try to say is that it is not the only side of the coin. There are many other possibilities and facets one can look into.
And as you mentioned on the network, it is not good to draw conclusions based on only one of the arguments.


>....
> Do you see the difference?
---

Yes, I do.
But whether you prefer to call it "offend heaven" or "displease heaven" is mainly a question of what name you chose to give the baby.

But I see you get the point I was trying to make.
Now, if we agree that withdrawing money from charity will displease the gods.
Then the simple question becomes: why would somebody who is deadly ill and hopes to recover, do something that is sure to displease the heaven?
It would also be absurd (unless she wanted to cut her life short).

So as I say, this line of thinking gives credibility to the thesis that either the feng shui will was forged, or it was not meant to be carried out (at least not in her mind).

This method is used quite often in court. It is called "regress" from a known conclusion presuming it was true, and see if there is any logical path that could have led to it.

Here we see an illogical step is made. Why would Nina chose to displease heaven if she is desperate and wants to be helped by the gods up there?

See what I mean?

If only your argument is looked into, then the case would be extremely simple.
But a proper judge will look at it from many more angles.


Danny

Foon said...

Hi Danny

Then the simple question becomes: why would somebody who is deadly ill and hopes to recover, do something that is sure to displease the heaven?
It would also be absurd (unless she wanted to cut her life short).

If you were a childless woman who had bequeathed all her assets to charity and then found out that you had ovarian cancer, you might have some doubts about your earlier actions and change your mind!

Taking away money from charity would displease heaven, but why was heaven handing back such a rough deal after the virtuous deed of promising a donation to charity?

A simple question may not have a simple answer.

Regards,
Foon

Joseph Yu said...

Dear Danny,

"Offend" is not the right word. I should have used the phrase "committing a crime against".

To do something that Heaven is not pleased to see is not a crime. Cheating Heaven is a crime. Heaven will not punish someone who displeases Him.

The idea of a Fung Shui will is to write something to fool Heaven if it is not meant to be executed because it is a promise made to Heaven. The absurdity lies on the fact the person is petitioning to Heaven with a promise to be broken.

JY

Fourpillars.net said...

Dear Foon, Joseph,


>A simple question may not have a simple answer.
---


That's exactly my point.
When we look into something we bump into obvious questions.
But these simple questions rarely have simple answers.
That's why there are many different facets and the question cannot be decided on the base of just one angle of thinking.

We hear Joseph with his idea that this will must be a real will, because Nina would have never dared to "fool heaven".
But that's only one angle of thinking.

Personally I don't buy into this "no Chinese would ever dare to..." idea.
Because it is equivalent to e.g. "no catholic priest would ever dare to abuse a child". Appears logical, but we all know what happened with it in recent decades.

So, the problem is that Joseph's "no Chinese would dare.." is an assumption, a generalization, and you cannot make judgment based on assumptions.
It may be true for most Chinese, but it cannot be proven or assumed that it must be so for *all* Chinese.
There are no less than 1.3 billion, do you know all of them..?
And Joseph's reasoning also assumes that Nina Wang was still thinking straight, that's another big *if*..

***

The idea that Nina may have been very displeased with the gods responses to her attributing all the money to charity, is an interesting and valid line of thought.
She may have lost trust in heaven all together, after she learned she had this cancer.
It leads to a variety of possibilities, including not caring anymore about fooling or cheating heaven..
So much for "no Chinese would ever.."


Danny

Fourpillars.net said...

>To do something that Heaven is not pleased to see is not a crime. Cheating Heaven is a crime. Heaven will not punish someone who displeases Him.
--


Dear Joseph,


The heaven may not punish her, but will it help her?
That's what we are talking about here.

If I hope for somebody's help (and provided he is one of few that can help me with something), then I better not displease that person.
He will no punish me, but he may decline to help, he may turn indifferent to me.

If Heaven is supposed to extend equal help to the people that displease them with their activities, then why would anyone on earth bother to please heaven? Then the whole idea of Man Luck becomes futile.

So why would Nina displease Heaven, if she desperately hopes for help from that corner? It is still not logical.


Danny

Foon said...

Hi Danny

There are indeed many facets to this case, and the arguments need to be supported by evidence.

Anytime the word 'must' is used there is indeed an indication of an underlying assumption or generalization.

Regardless of NW's state of mind, there has not been any evidence presented that she followed the petitioning procedure of sleeping in a coffin, then placed her hair and fingernails with her birth chart in the coffin for the next 48days.

The petition/will does not include her date and hour of birth which is what is normally included. The document was signed in front ot two witnesses, which is not the norm for a petition, but is the norm of a legal document.

When you weigh up the evidence, does it speak to you strongly enough to say without any doubt that the document was a petition and absolutely not a legal will?

Best Regards,
Foon

Foon said...

Dear Danny

If Heaven is supposed to extend equal help to the people that displease them with their activities, then why would anyone on earth bother to please heaven? Then the whole idea of Man Luck becomes futile.

*******
I see it that accumulating good deeds without the need to boast about it is how it works. I may displease Heaven in big or small ways each day without intention to do so. I might have a busy life and what Heaven thinks might not be on my mind all the time. But that's just me and not everybody thinks in exactly the way I think.


So why would Nina displease Heaven, if she desperately hopes for help from that corner? It is still not logical.
**********
Maybe Nina didn't think in exactly the way you think. Maybe she just changed her mind about her will. That doesn't rule out the allegation that the will is a forgery (the solicitor signing the document claims what he signed only gave Tony Chan a remainder of the estate, not the whole estate), nor does it rule out the allegation that she was not of sound mind. Evidence for those arguments still needs to be considered.

Best Regards,
Foon

Fourpillars.net said...

> Maybe Nina didn't think in exactly the way you think.


Hi Foon,


She probably didn't.
But that has been my point all along: we don't know how her thinking was.

Was she still "thinking" at all? Maybe she was responding emotionally or even panicky...

And that's why it is a premature conclusion to say the will "cannot" be fake because as a Chinese she would "never" fool heaven.

No matter which line of thought we try in this case, we always bump into something illogical.
But that's of course the judge's problem to solve.


Danny