When you are at a loss as to where to go next, or what to do with your life, decoding your destiny with ancient methods like the BaZi, WuXing and I Ching is one way to find some direction. However, it’s what you do that will change your destiny. It’s the 6Cs – Choices, Chances, Changes, Courage, Commitment, and Confidence.
Divination + Counselling = 6Cs + Action Plan = Desired Reality
This is how I would approach divination as a tool to understand oneself
For us Asians, we carry the tradition of turning to an oracle for clarity for those times when we hit a wall or want an auspicious date. Be it Chinese astrology where it calculates your BaZi or Purple Star Chart, to Vastu or Indian astrology, I myself have given it a try. The same way I have slept in a park for 3 days to experience what homelessness was like. As such, I will never deride or discount what a divination reading can do for someone who is in a real fix. However, it’s what you do after the divination that is the most important thing.
As a trained social worker and counsellor with a MSW, I would be very concerned if someone returns again and again to the oracle but takes no action in the meantime to change his life. As a trained worker, I always press the point that real change happens only when things improve in tandem to a change in thought, speech, or behaviour. So, with chart in hand, my question to you would be: what is your next step? What are you going to do now that you know what you know?
Your next step is really to sit down and think hard to formulate an action plan with clear identified goals. No matter if you began with a baby step but step by step you will have to do the work. We counsellors have different models of change to help folks do just that. And in that sense, I wish more diviners are trained counsellors as well. Because there is a role that divination plays in a person’s subconscious. If used properly, divination can help someone to face his challenges with grace and fortitude and when you top that up with counselling, to me that’s a seriously powerful combination.
Let me share in this article why I think divination fills a gap in people’s lives especially when it seems to help someone come to terms with who they are and why things happen the way they did because of who they are, or to be more specific, what they have been born with. Is this considered their destiny? If not, then what does a divination reading really say about a person? Can it foretell the future? Can they do anything to change things? Does a divination emphasise that it is their choices that created their present predicament?
Based on my experience with divination, the following elements of the divination chart are there for a reason. They describe certain aspects of a person’s character and innate traits. These are likely to be fixed but there are other aspects that one can control and this is where the divination reading reveals possibilities of what might come to pass. If you were to sit down with a diviner, some of the recurring questions asked would be: “so, you are saying….” “what do you suggest I do….”. Frankly, it’s really not what he/she suggests you do but what you do as a result of what you think the chart is saying based on what the diviner has told you. So what happens is that your actions will be influenced by the diviner’s interpretation. How accurate is that? You’d never know because it all boils down to interpretation.
So, is divination the answer to your questions? Will you allow yourself to be bound by an interpretation? Let’s begin by taking a closer look starting with this perennial question….
WHO AM I? 我是谁
This question is probably one of the toughest to answer. Short of asking others what they see or think of you, it can be answered to a certain extent by the BaZi, 八字. BaZi means Eight Characters and it is formulated using one’s date of birth and time of birth as well. It tells you about your character, the one you were born with. It can also tell you what to expect over the years to come albeit in a general way. It can point out certain major events that might occur at a certain age, and to take precautionary action but it cannot be specific as to time, date and exact nature of the event. Together with the Tong Shu or Almanac, the diviner can also help you construct better Feng Shui using the BaZi. At this point, I will have to say purchasing certain gilded items or paying huge sums to appease some god doesn’t quite get you what you want. If only life was that simple!
The Eight Characters – BaZi, 八字 – a case study
This is a sample of the BaZi, a section within the wider divination chart. The querent’s primary element is Yang Water and it describes his character and inclinations. This person is certainly more than just a placid lake. Water is by far the most powerful element and an important one that sustains life. One can live for some time without food as long as they have water. Water also erodes and can certainly wear down a mountain. Thus the Yang Water speaks of a strong character who is intelligent, capable and fluid, able to rise up to challenges and knows how to bend and flow with a situation. The flip side is that he may run ahead of the others. The rest of the BaZi indicates that he likes his alone time yet has the knack of working with others in a team. This is someone whom others can depend on because he is honest, trustworthy and down-to-earth. As someone who is in touch with his feminine side, he will come across as a gentle and sensitive soul. But don’t be fooled. He can be strong-willed as well which may be to his disadvantage.
There are indications that his early years may not be easy with many challenges but his strong will to make good will see him through. The chart also reveals that things will begin to improve from age 52 onwards. Overall, this person is capable of a great deal of creativity and always on the go but success to see projects through to the end depends on him being able to nourish the Fire element. He will find that no challenge is too great. This person belongs to the Philosopher Archetype which explains the need for alone time to ponder on the meaning of life. To this person, meaning in life is important. That is how he lives his life. It has to have meaning. He will need to learn to balance this need for quiet and meaning which if taken to extreme can result in reclusiveness and giving up on the world.
The Five Elements – Wu Xing, 五行
As you have seen from the BaZi above, the Five Elements or WuXing, 五行, are represented in the divination chart. The elements play an important role because they tell us what to expect in our innate character and if taken further into Feng Shui, what we can do to create balance and harmony with nature, our surroundings and life in general. It has less to do with what colours you must wear on a certain day or which number is your lucky number but more to do with how your character manifests itself in terms of the qualities of the elements present or missing.
Let’s return to the BaZi above. As you can see, Fire is missing at birth and if Fire is associated with career and a job, would that indicate a need to pay attention to challenges that could jeopardise his success in holding down a job? Does it imply he has to wear more red, to introduce more Fire into his life? This reminds me of folks who would wear red underwear for more luck! Well, given what we already know of his innate character, he may need to learn to tone down that strong will, be more ready to consider a co-worker’s input, and to slow down so others can catch up with him.
There is a reason why the Five Elements are a big deal. These are the building blocks of the universe and are also referred to as the five major planets or moving stars of Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Inter-connected and existing in a never-ending cycle of change – creation and control, one element is always responsible for the creation of another and the control of yet another. Depicted as a five-pointed star hence the name WuXing or Five Star, this never-ending process of change is what life is all about. The ancients knew this and called it the Tao and it is a profound area altogether. For a start, and if you are a yogi as well, you might want to read OSHO’s Secret of Secrets where his take on the Tao Te Ching goes to show there is very little difference to what we call the spiritual goal. The ancient Chinese knew what the ancient yogis knew.
In the diagram above, the black arrows form a cycle of creation. When we burn Wood or rub two pieces of wood together we get Fire. Think of a wood stove where you will add or remove the wood as the cooking progresses or comes to an end. From the Fire, we get ash which we rake out and toss it onto the ground creating Earth. Think of how farmers slash and burn the previous year’s plantings after the harvest is over to create new soil. Earth in turn creates metal ores like iron, or the diamond which is compressed carbon. Metal in turn creates Water as it allows for condensation. Water in turn is needed to create Wood. Imagine trees and rain or drought and famine. So, the black circle is is the perpetuating or creation cycle which goes on and on in the scheme of things called Nature.
On the other hand, the white arrows represent the cycle of control or destruction. Let’s take Fire for instance. Fire can melt metal for sure when you think about a blacksmith and his work. Fire on metal can create some amazing things from the ring you wear on your finger to the knife you use in the kitchen. Metal in turn controls Wood when you think of an axe that a woodcutter uses to chop down a mighty tree. Wood controls Earth when trees are planted to prevent soil erosion. Earth controls Water as one thinks of the amazing steppes of rice plantations where bunds keep the water inside the plots. Finally, Water controls Fire by putting it out. Hissss.
“What’s in it for me?”
Lots I would say. By now, you’d have realised that the Five Elements is about rhythm and the constancy of change. Have you ever done the Taijitu move in Qigong with your hands and arms tracing this never-ending circle called the Yin Yang – a symbol of ‘have’ and ‘not have’ – the Tao – the perpetuating Wheel of Change? This cycle of creation and control exists to bring about harmony and balance in the macrocosm, the universe, as well as in the microcosm we call human beings and other creatures. The wheel is ever-spinning. Throughout our lives we will have many opportunities to experience the high points of a creation cycle and the challenges and obstructions gifted by a control cycle. When you understand your own BaZi and how the cycle of the Five Elements can impact on your life as you journey on, you can then face up to anything with grace, fortitude and resoluteness. Like a kung fu master, you can kick ass. Like the Buddha, you can maintain calm and equanimity because you know “all this will come to pass”.
Truly, the Buddha said, “All shall come to pass.”
The Book of Change – I Ching, 易經
Personally, I find the BaZi and Five Elements are the perfect complements to Pythagorean Numerology. When I combine the three together, I get a combination that reveals very clearly the 3C’s – Choices, Chances and Changes. This is really what life is all about. We are in the driver seat controlling chances and changes with the choices we make with the aim of restoring balance and harmony. It’s when things don’t add up that we find we need some help. Let me give you an example.
Say, you, a primary Yang Wood element, are contemplating marriage with someone who is a primary Yang Metal. This union will never be boring. Chips are bound to fly but would you still do it? Of course, if you loved her enough. Now that you understand that Metal controls Wood, you two will sit down to see how two different and strong personalities can make a harmonious life together. You like her strong character and take-charge manner but you won’t like her running your life 110% of the time (that’s her Yang Metal on overdrive) which means you (with your go-getter Yang Wood) will learn to ask for what you need in the marriage in a way that helps you both to thrive. So that instead of a clashing of wills and egos, both of you can learn to give and take where necessary. This will apply in the way you set up your home so that you have a balance of elements that would nourish the elements in both of you and not having one overcome the other.
So… at the end of the day, aren’t we really talking about how to make life work with chances and choices we have, changes we make, and the courage, commitment and confidence we give to it?
3 + 3 = 6
Chances, Choices, Changes, Courage, Commitment, & Confidence
This may seem very simplistic but it does boil down to just that in most cases. When all is said and done, our lives are a mirror of the cosmos. A microcosm of the macrocosm. You too would realise this as you gain insight from a divination reading. Just as the Five Elements have shown, similarly, our life is in a constant flux. The ancient Chinese realised this with the I Ching, 易經, or Book of Change. The foundation for this book rests on the primordial BaGua, 八卦, or Eight Trigrams within which you will once again find all the five elements. Man is the offspring of Heaven and Earth and together with his five other siblings control or are controlled by the cosmos in 64 permutations. These 64 hexagrams form a pictorial representation of all the choices, chances, and changes that can confront us at any time. It’s what you do with them that matters.
Your future is truly in your hands when it’s the choices you make that will shape your future. The divination tools can give you a running start and if you add in counselling as well, you can begin to identify unused potential and unfulfilled possibilities in your life. With the 6Cs and an action plan, it will be like a compass that always points to True North. In Chinese divination, we refer to it as the North Star. It provides you with a reference point to chart your course. Whether it’s Chinese astrology, Indian Vastu, I Ching, or the Tarot, your divination reading is just a start. Your divination reading is just a start. The rest is up to you.
6 + 1 = 7; the last C = Creativity
In conclusion, as a trained social worker and counsellor, I honour and respect a person’s choice in seeking comfort and solace in a divination. However, I take a step further and encourage that person to sit down with me and work out an action plan. Let’s start the creative juices going to further break that down into SMART goals so that baby step by baby step, he or she can make changes to her daily life so that overall, the goal is to create opportunities and seize chances to live life to its fullest potential. So the final and last C is Creativity. Thinking out of the box, seeing solutions where there were none previously. So take a leap of faith and work with me.
As for us yogis, staying true and diligent to your yoga sadhana is vital. Your sadhana and meditation practice are essential tools that will light the way for you. Your spiritual practice has its place in the scheme of things and it will bring you ‘home’ as surely as any of the other roads that ‘all lead to Rome’.
Related reading: 3Qs – a roadmap for your soul path.
Related reading: True goal of yoga – transcend, transform, and transmute.
~ ॐ ~