Post Birthday Thoughts

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Last week was my birthday. I received quite a number of messages wishing me well. One of them stands out, however, because it is not one of those at all. It stands out also because of who wrote it – my mother. Sharing it here because it is a classic example of the fusion of traditional thoughts and mythologies. It is kind of funny.

The Fusion of Astrology and Traditional Customs

My mother warned me that this year my birth year offends the year spirit (in Chinese 犯太歲) so I may have troubles and dangers ahead. Obviously, she is kind of concerned because of the Chinese practice of reading those yearly astrology books I mentioned before. She worries about me for a good reason as I jokingly told her I got into some sort of trouble thanks to one of my clients. She was thinking that I should perform the classic rituals to claim truce with the year spirit.

Classic Chinese astrology places a lot of emphasis on the birth year. This astrology based birth year has the same length as the Roman calendar at 365.24 days. The main difference is that the traditional Chinese astrology year starts when the sun reaches the celestial longitude 315 degree. It is called Lichun (in Chinese 立春). That usually falls on February 3-6 every year.

The concept of offending the year spirit is ancient concept that can be simplified into cycle study. Based on Chinese astrology, the day you were born is 1 year old. There was no zero in the Chinese numeric system back then. By the 7th birthday, that year is the year you offend the year spirit. In other words, the timing is half the 12-year cycle I mentioned in a previous article. This recurs every 12 years.

For example, if you were born between year 1990 February 4th to year 1991 February 3rd, the first time you offend the year spirit would be 1996. From there onward, every 12 years, you would offend the year spirit again in 2008, 2020, 2032, etc.

Ancient System vs. Modern Interpretation

The classic Chinese astrology was actually abandoned many years ago in favour of the modern Chinese astrology about 500-800 years ago. Yes, it took that long for the struggle to end, mainly due to the older practitioners died from old age in the process. The old system emphasizes a lot on the birth year while the new system (not so new by now) emphasizes on the exact birth date and time which is much closer to modern western astrology system.

The concept is still valid in the sense that many people do experience major changes in their lives at the half cycle and full cycle years like changing their jobs, moving into a new home, making major purchase commitment, etc. You can actually look back into your past to see if this happens to you too. The older you are, the more interesting it gets as you will find out that the recurrences can be quite consistent.

Such displacement events, when happening in ancient times, were most likely very unpleasant or even disastrous. As majority of people were living in very simple villages in the past, major changes were likely bad ones. For example, it could be the lost of your land (that’s why you had to move), or it could be your master in your craft giving you up (that’s why you had to change career). After generations of similar experiences, people developed the deep rooted beliefs that it is important to be careful when one is dealing with the half cycle years. But ever since the rise of modern life from 1900, such events no longer map to bad consequences only.

So, in my case, my birth year is not even offending the year spirit per se. I am actually experiencing the completion of the full cycle of 12 years and is now going into a new one. I told my mom that she does not need to worry – whatever it is, as long as I am prepared, things will be fine.

Awareness Matters as Usual

The so called displacement changes are just things that meant to happen. I am not saying in those mythical terms of fate or destiny. Whatever these events that are happening to you, they are the results of the accumulated effects of whatever you have done, based on your own decisions. In other words, it is very much your own doing that push you to these expected outcomes. You are playing a much bigger role in what is happening to you than you are willing to admit. Just that many of the decisions we made, we do not know the unintended consequences and the ripple effects from these decisions.

The problem of believing in the power of the year spirit and that offending it would cause you trouble is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you fear about bad things that are going to happen to you, the more likely you will fail to handle things objectively. First and foremost, your decisions will no longer focus on handling matters in a way to get the best possible outcome. Your thoughts would be tainted by your fear and approaches things defensively with no justification. The aggregation of such decisions can only result in, at best, not doing better, and at worst, every possible bad thing that you are not prepared to handle.

In traders’ speak, this is exactly doing the opposite of cutting your losses fast and letting your profits run.

What can change these displacement events from being disastrous incidents into opportunities for a better future, is that well before dealing with the events themselves, you have paved your way years ahead with the right mindset and decisions based on higher awareness of where you are and what you are. As a start, try owning the responsibility of your future as oppose to blaming fate or whatever causing your miseries. With the right mindset and discipline, you can be sure that these “offend the year spirit” stuff will be taken care of in the best possible way without you even knowing that they happened.

The 10 and 12 Year Cycles That Shape Our Lives

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Many people interested in astrology would have experienced “a reading” done for them by astrologers. The routines are similar for both Western and Eastern astrology by telling the person something about their personalities, what is happening now and what may happen in the future. After all, majority of those who want a reading are not doing it out of curiosity. Many of these individuals are standing at a crossroad for which some major decisions have to be made. Yet, these people are so confused and worried that they have to resort to ask for help from astrologers …

Note: Following writing assumes that you believe somehow astrology works.

Reliability of Asking for Divine Clues Through a Third Party

One of the weaknesses of having astrologers reading your charts is that they may not be able to understand your situation enough to project the possible outcomes based on your birth date and known conditions.  Here is a good example. If the astrologer is not knowledgeable enough to know that there exists technologies in the near future that your medical issues can be cured, based on limited understanding, the astrologer has to conclude that you may not be able to live through the ordeal.

By similar reasoning, how worldly the astrologer is will determine how good the interpretations of your charts will be. Your future are many possible outcomes based on your actions and decisions today. The more logical and knowledgeable the astrologer is, the more likely you will get sage advices. But that holds true too if you talk to someone who is not an astrologer. As long as this person is logical, knowledgeable about your situation and has deep understanding of human psyche, you are likely to get very good advice as well.

Suggestions from Expert Astrologers vs. Knowledgeable People We Respect

Most of the time, the problem of finding a solution is not that we do not have the answers. The problem is that we choose not to take the path that we know will solve the problem. Seeking for better understanding of a situation is a good move for solving all kinds of issues. However, seeking for approval of our choice from others is a form of evading responsibilities.

That’s why it is so appealing to look for help from astrologers. People will choose to listen to the astrologers because they represent clues from divine sources which can help those people seeking for help to overcome their irrational biases. It is kind of blame the others attitude should things goes wrong.

When we get advices and suggestions from people we respect on major issues, many people will eventually choose what they feel comfortable with, ignoring the warnings and good advices anyway with the additional bonus of creating false memory in their own minds so that they can blame on these people who offered their opinions in the future. I have seen so many people doing this type of self sabotage to themselves. They cannot help it because they lack awareness of their own weaknesses in the first place.

When You Need to Make a Big Decision Do This First

If you are at least 30 years old, here is a simple thing that you can do to get consistent answers to your tough questions about your life altering issues.

Just look back 10 years ago to see if you are affected by a similar situation. Sometimes the issue is not affecting the same area in your life but the overall scenario will pin you to the same position. For some people, it can be something that happened 20 years ago or even 30 years ago. The important thing is that you should be able to tell at once if you can remember what happened in the past because the timing should be very precise.

For example, 10 years ago you may have a troubling relationship with your partner at the time that you have to choose between breaking up or giving up your dream job. The current situation could be that you in a bad relationship with your coworkers who try to take advantage of you while the boss turning a blind eye.

Think of what you did back then. Reflect on the situation to see if you have chosen the right decision. Most important of all, did you make the decision back then that you are still regretting about. This will give you a good idea what not to do this time.

In short, you do not need an astrologer to tell you what to do. You can figure it out by yourself as long as you can be truthful to yourself.

10 Year vs. 12 Year Cycle

Majority of people are more sensitive to the 10 year cycle while others see repeating patterns in their lives on a 12 year cycle. Usually just one of these two cycles dominate a person’s life. It is easy to figure out which one affects you more. If you have married or that you have a child, just look back and forth 10 years and 12 years from those dates to see if other major events happening to your life. This will give you a baseline on how things happening to you in a cyclical basis.

In case you wonder, these cycles do not start from the day you are born. Everyone has a slightly different starting point up to 8 years old. The later the starting point in life, the more likely the person has a wandering mind before then. This starting point affects how people mature into adulthood as it usually takes 2 cycles before a person finally start to think about the future.

After 3 full 10 years cycles, if a person has not progressed enough in awareness, Eastern astrology points out the person will likely be locked-in by fate. What it means is that astrology will work so well on these people that they are expected to repeat all the mistakes they have made before. Notice that it has nothing to do with good fortune or bad fortune. It is just that what may happen in the future to these people are more predictable.

The Power of Virtues in Breaking the Cycles

When we choose to live by a set of virtues at all cost, we program our minds in a way different from the one driven by our character traits and emotional burdens that we know are a mix of our genetics and our upbringing during our childhood. Choosing to live by our virtues helps us to make hard choices and better decisions when fear and greed are affecting us the most. In short, we simplify our lives while improving them significantly in all areas by just following a set of ground rules we choose to believe in.

I am not saying we will make the best decisions in all situations we encounter in life if you follow your set of virtues. What I am saying is that having a set of virtues in place is like having a consistent strategy to manage our lives so that we can have consistent outcomes that we can count on so that we do not need to worry about every decision we make are good or bad. We know on average we will come out doing fine. That’s all that matters.

It is easy to see how such strategy can impact the outcomes from all the cycles a person has to go through.  Normally, a person reacts to the events in life with emotional swings. Many important decisions are made on-the-fly, at least partially driven by the emotions experienced. Such decisions are often made without considering all the facts hence are more likely to be bad ones with negative consequences. In contrast, someone lives by a set of virtues can limit the options to choose from and eliminate the ones that does not follow the principles. With fewer important decisions made badly, the so-called fate or cycles can no longer limit a person’s achievement and success.

Think about it – just the anxiety and worries you saved yourself from by having a good strategy in place to manage your life can do magic already. Being able to sleep without all these wandering thoughts put you way ahead of many others in terms of quality of life. With reduced stress, better clarity of mind becomes possible and in turn better decisions are made more often. Cycles, whether they exist or not, no longer matters.

Year of the Rooster and General Ignorance in Chinese Astrology

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One of the favourite things Chinese people (and now Westerners who somehow love the New Age stuff) is to read about their fortune for the coming year. There is really no harm done if you take this lightly as a fun event. However, the practice itself, for which originated from commercializing the astrology knowledge for profit, has profound negative effects on people who needs real guidance.

The Economic Aspect of Yearly Forecast Books

First thing first, using whatever year a person is born in to map into a 60 year cycle for predictability of personality and other matters is stupid already. It should take no time for any normal person to reject the idea completely. Yet, every year you can find tons of Chinese horoscope yearly forecast books selling on the street starting December. I asked around when I was in Hong Kong to see how good these books are selling. From what I gather, the more depress a year has been, the more forecast books are sold.

I also asked around to see how people usually buy these books. I wonder if they have certain preferences or patterns that I can uncover. It turns out the psychological behaviours and motivations behind the purchases are very interesting.

Some people will always buy the forecast from the same astrologer, until one year the forecast no longer feels right. These people will then purchase an additional forecast book from another famous astrologer to compare the predictions. Eventually, these people would purchase multiple forecast books every year. As I learned, much of the profits for bookstores and newsstands in Hong Kong during December and January are coming from sales of these forecast books.

In general, it is those people who have a pretty bad year (in their own minds) will more likely to start the habit of buying these forecast books. Once they have bought the first one, however, it is very likely that they will buy another one next year. By random, even if the forecast are complete nonsense, there is always 50% chance of these new readers who find the materials meaningful thanks to skilful writing styles. Just like smoking, the big business of these forecast books is the accumulation of long term consumers.

The Psychological Aspect of These Astrology Yearly Forecasts

Those people who had a not so stellar year are always feeling down at the end of the year. It is a reasonable thing. Just like anyone who look around at their friends all hooked up with someone would feel blue themselves, these people will seek for comfort, specifically psychological comfort, by various means. Astrology forecasts are one of these products that serve this huge market.

The problem though, is that those who seek comfort this way is doing this wrong. To get out of a ditch you work your way out, not sitting there crying and do nothing. These forecast books, in a way, jailed these lost souls in the same bad place by giving them false hope. When they hope that things will get better instead of creating the necessary change to make things to better, they are stripped the chance to fight back.

I am not judging whether the Chinese astrologers are doing a bad thing or not. I am sure many people do find encouraging messages from these forecast books for which positive impacts can happen. But that all depends on the original personality of the readers and how they interpret the information which can be very subjective or biased.

If You Do Believe in Astrology …

Then you have to learn that the year you are born in cannot help you to figure out your fortune based on all the known Chinese astrology methods. In other words, those yearly forecast books are not going to help you. All those common methods based on the year you were born that are passed around on people compatibility, romantic compatibility, etc. are all bullshit.

In this aspect, Western astrology actually works a bit better, but only if you at least dividing up the Zodiac from 12 signs into 36 parts for decent precisions.

For Chinese astrology, a proper yearly forecast has to be done with accurate birth date including the time and location. This will usually cost a lot of money as famous Chinese astrologers command a lot of premium on their services. However, if the Chinese astrologer is not a responsible practitioner, you will still not get the precise forecast you are looking for.

A good Chinese astrologer has to analyze your birthdate in detail with lots of questions on your current status so that your actual situation can be mapped out properly based on the specific method in use. After that, the astrologer has to find out the context of your situation as well. What I mean by context is how you get to the current situation over the years. Without knowing that, the astrologer can only provide very general forecast that may or may not be applicable.

Higher Awareness Matters

The so-called forecasts made with astrology methods are forecasts based on patterns. These patterns exist not because there is a divine order for which our future is predetermined. Instead, it is our inability to think clearly, objectively in a calm manner that sent us into making the same mistakes over and over again.

I have seen many people whose higher awareness helped them to break away from the expected path based on astrology analysis. Their higher awareness is learned or trained over time. Many people invest in themselves by getting a professional degree. Some others figured out they need certain skills and went to study in programs to acquire the skills. But, rarely do people realize the most important thing to learn is training your mind so that it can protect you from your own physical body, with all these defects in terms of personality weaknesses and bad habits.

With higher awareness, everything can change, including your fortune.

Stop buying these astrology yearly forecast books can be the start of great fortune already!