What is BaZi & Zi Wei Dou Shu’s Definition of A Good Life?

Posted On Last updated May 21, 2020 | Published on Nov 13, 2019

Hey everyone,

Turns out even though I don’t hold a corporate job now, I’m not as free as I thought! The Chinese New Year crowd is starting to come in and I’m noticing a spike in consultation requests and a lot of my attention is now on writing the books I was telling everyone about as well. The contract has been signed, so it’s really going to happen. I’ll talk about this another time in a more personal entry.

I’ve been getting some good rest recently and thank Heavens for that, but me being in a more relaxed mode is giving me a bit of a mental block with regards to what I should write for my blog entries, especially when I’ve covered most aspects of human life in my blog posts with wealth, relationships and career being the more popular subjects. That being said, to just see Chinese metaphysics as a mere tool for assessing how well different aspects of your life will go does seem a bit superficial to me. I make it a point to flex my technical expertise once in a while but I know the technicals aren’t what most of my readers want because they are irrelevant in most cases. It has always been the philosophical posts that are more well-received.

I’m not sure about everyone else, but the end of the year is drawing close and you can’t help but get into a contemplative mood. I always look back at how the year went and think about whether it was a good year spent. Now that my once side-gig is a full-time thing now, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey as a practitioner thus far and how I can try to truly help people with what I know. Chinese New Year is around the corner, so a lot of the garbage I am against is out there again with people selling jadeites as miracles cures or selling Chinese metaphysics and feng shui as a solution to life’s problems. The year-end period and Chinese New Year always serves as a reminder of my mission and what I hope to achieve.

Few people have an occupation like mine, and despite doing this for around 5 years now, people still consider me young to be in this field and I still constantly get the same reaction from others and the “Are you joking/serious!?” look. I do enjoy seeing such reactions and I guess I have a few more years to enjoy receiving such reactions. A lot of people are curious about what it’s like to do what I do, and the thing about Chinese metaphysics, at least for me, is that you can’t get people to appreciate or respect this field unless you get a bit philosophical about it. This field has been marketed too much as something it is not and people are viewing metaphysics completely wrong. I won’t go into how much I detest selling of items and packaging this field as something that will make you rich in this post because I’ve done enough of that.

This post doesn’t feel very well-thought-through and it’s going to feel like a stream of consciousness, so my apologies for that. I initially wanted to do a post on wealth and finances again and how I’ve been using it for some of my investment decisions recently, but I’ll leave that for another time.

This post is partly motivated by what I’ve been experiencing in the past few weeks because you could say I’ve reached a crossroads or milestone, and I’m assessing where I stand now and if my life is going the way I want it. I think back a lot about the times when life was tough and how things are different now, and more importantly, why it is different now. Everyone knows by now, and I’ve mentioned this before, that people usually come for a reading when things are tough and a lot of times, the people going through these things don’t understand why they have to go through these tough times. The good life always feels so elusive. I wanted to take this post to address this (again): Why we have to go through some tough times and perhaps how to approach how you define what a good life is while bringing Chinese metaphysics into the picture.

The difficult questions that are always the hardest to answer are the ones that start with “how”. When something isn’t right, how do you change it? The theory behind Chinese metaphysics doesn’t teach you the “how” and this is the gap I’ve been trying to fill by sharing my perspective of things. You’ll realize the Chinese classics on metaphysics do not teach you what to do and I’ve always wondered why. I’m guessing our ancestors assumed we will be able to easily figure it out for ourselves when the world was simpler in the past. It’s a lot harder to figure out things these days and it doesn’t help when a lot of superstitious beliefs are being propagated.

Knowledge of Chinese metaphysics gives you new perspectives

One of the greatest benefits of being a practitioner, and I believe I mentioned this before, is that it gives you a very different perspective on things and it helps you see things objectively. You’ll start to see things through a very different lens and having these new lenses helped me in a lot of the decisions I make, and it brought me a lot of inner peace as well.

Ever since I started studying and practicing this art, one of the questions that naturally come up is the definition of a good life. Of course, a good life comes with a good chart by theory, but then comes the question of how does this manifest exactly and how is it experienced by the chart-holder.

It’s no surprise that most people see things superficially or on the surface. We have natural assumptions like:

  • This person is rich, he/she must be really happy with his/her life and everything must be going well and he/she is just lucky.
  • This person has a high title in the company, so he/she must really be enjoying what he/she is doing and must be feeling good about his/her life.
  • This person is always out partying and at cool events all the time, he/she must have a really great, interesting life with a lot of friends.

I’m sure you can think of a few examples yourself. The point I am trying to make is that these assumptions a lot of us have are all mere illusions. There’s nothing wrong with having these assumptions (I have them too until I get hold of the subject’s birth details). It’s a natural social phenomenon and we can’t help but be a bit curious about other people’s lives and do a bit of comparing.

The pity here is that I find that a lot of these assumptions are not only false, but they end up being a huge distraction. A lot of us like to measure what a good life is while using someone else’s life as a benchmark or reference and we end up vexing about why we don’t have such a life while neglecting our own. The funny thing is that a lot of these references aren’t even a true reflection of reality to begin with.

The main point I wish to bring across to my readers is that whatever that you define as a good life, don’t let something outside of you define it for you. If someone has a high title, it really doesn’t mean anything in the eyes of metaphysics especially in this day and age. If you are single, it doesn’t mean that a married friend of yours has a better life. If someone is rich, it doesn’t mean they are worry-free and that their life is perfect. If someone keeps posting pictures of him/her partying, it doesn’t mean he/she is popular or loved.

Whatever example you can think of as a symbol and manifestation of a good life, I’m sure I have an anti-thesis for it. I’m not saying all these as a form of a notion or idea – I’ve seen it in my consultations and the people around me. I’ve lost count of the number of clients who have broken marriages; I’ve seen young clients born into wealthy families but are suffering from confidence and mental issues and I’ve seen high-flying corporate professionals who, despite being highly paid, aren’t happy and their personal lives are in shambles.

I’ve seen so many people with absolute crap BaZi and Zi Wei Dou Shu charts pretending to be someone they are not, or living a lie. Or it may be that their whole lives are just about that next bigger pay-cheque or higher title and for the sake of it. No surprise – it’s precisely the reason why they have bad charts in the first place.

So, what is the definition of a good life?

I graduated from business school and I never really enjoyed any of the classes I took there. It’s an uninspiring degree course that turns you into a corporate drone and I certainly hope things are a bit different now.

The best days of my university life were spent with the University Scholars Programme where the curriculum really gets you thinking because, for the first time, education was not about rote learning and you are actually taught to think for yourself. I particularly enjoyed the modules on philosophy I took where we explored moral concepts, ethics and were challenged to ask ourselves really difficult questions.

The frustrating thing that puts most people off about philosophy is that it doesn’t give you a concrete answer most of the time, or rather, all the time, but I personally find it to be the most appealing thing about this field. Philosophers who existed since the dawn of civilization have debated and proposed what a good life is and you’ll be surprised what kind of answers some of these philosophers came up with.

For philosophers like Jeremy Bentham, pleasure or hedonism is the highest measure of what’s good, but the world would be in a mess if we were to measure everything purely based on utility and pleasure. That’s where the works of philosophers like Immanuel Kant would come in because he said otherwise, bringing in the concept of the “moral imperative”. Aristotle defined a good life as having the ability to reason and for Plato,  a good life that is well lived was achieved by the pursuit of higher knowledge and the social obligation to the common good

You’ll be surprised to see how the philosophies from different civilizations are still applicable in this day and age. For Plato, he felt that power, status, fame and wealth pursued for its own sake is misguided, and what I wish to say here is that Chinese metaphysics concurs with this. People who start a business for the sake of starting a business, or want to be famous for the sake of wanting to be famous, usually are the ones with the troubled charts and they end up not getting what they want and I’ve come across a lot of such cases.

I know I say this all the time, but I’ve seen the whole spectrum of chart qualities, and these unnoticeable differences in the way people view the world and what motivates them can lead to such different outcomes. It has always been a fascinating observation for me because despite what’s happening on the surface is the same, the intent makes all the difference, which is why I don’t want people to always see it from the perspective of “luck”, because once we do, the paradox here is that it removes the need to study metaphysics in the first place. All the successful people I’ve met did not pursue power, status, fame nor wealth for its own sake – it was always a by-product of what their purpose is and what they devote their lives to and they are often things with a noble purpose. It could be anything – it doesn’t have to be a sexy, glamorous job.

This is one of the reasons why I really detest the notion of selling Chinese metaphysics as something that can “10x your life and business” which is what some ‘practitioners’ are advocating, because if your intent is wrong in the first place, this ancient art and feng shui isn’t going to help you at all. We all know who these nonsensical ‘practitioners’ are because Chinese New Year is near and they are running advertisements again.

How will I know what a good life is if I have not experienced it?

This is a rather sensitive topic, because it may come across as dismissive or reductive to people who were dealt a bad hand and life was simply just plain unfair to some of them. I would like to leave them out of this discussion for now and focus on the rest of us.

If I were to bring in the concept of Yin and Yang into the picture, you could say that you’ll never know what a good life is like unless you’ve tasted what a bad one is like and vice versa. There’s no need to envy people who are born into a comfortable life. A lot of them do end up being empty, soul-less and unhappy individuals. I had a very old blog post discussing what Yin and Yang means, and that reality cannot exist without duality or dichotomy to it, and this applies to our little debate here as well. It’s as though you have to experience what is bad to know what is good. This is the law of Yin and Yang. The happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve met in my life have all gone through extremely tough times and they are in a good place now – immensely fulfilled and happy.

For the Chinese readers, 《鬼谷遺文》states「君子不刑定不发,若居仕路多腾逹;小人到此必为灾,不然也被官鞭挞」。What it means is that it doesn’t matter what kind of chart quality you have – we all go through tough times just the same, but what eventually separates people with a good chart and life with those who don’t is the way they handle these tough times. The people will handle their difficulties by blaming others and taking it out on people is the “小人“ you so often hear of in the Chinese classics, and if I may propose an English equivalent to the term “小人”, it would be “scum”.

Bringing in the technicals, you’ll read that the best charts are those where the peak and best Elemental Phases (大运) are when someone in their middle age. If it comes too early, it’s only natural law that the decline will come early as well. As an example: Some of these people who decline early are the top students who do not know what it means to fail or know what resilience is, and one day you find that their lives have gone totally off course because of some setbacks. I’ve witnessed the lives of such people and have even worked under them before and it makes you realize coming from a top school or having an MBA really doesn’t mean anything. Perhaps it just gives employers the reassurance that one will work hard to earn the school fees back.

A lot of the what we observe in society now is, in fact, a manifestation of the laws of metaphysics and these laws are impartial. There will come a point where your degree, past achievements all count for nothing.

Perhaps the important message I’m trying to bring across is that, if you had a difficult life, especially at the start, don’t see it as a bad thing, because you are in the best position to achieve and experience what a good life is and one that is to your own definition and once you are there, you won’t feel a need to show it off to the world. The laws of metaphysics support this argument because every element needs to go through some form of forging by the element which opposes it for its value to manifest, but the key question is whether you survive the forging process. I can’t emphasize this enough.

At the end of the day, your own reality determines what a good life is.

I mentioned this story a long time ago in one of my blog posts. There was a story that Emperor Zhu Yuan Zhang (朱元璋) was afraid that someone with a similar BaZi as chart as his would come and snatch his throne away from him and he ordered his officials to hunt down this person with a similar BaZi.

The officials found this person, and before the execution, Zhu Yuan Zhang asked him what was his background and what he did for a living. He was a bee farmer with 9 bee farms, just like how the emperor had 9 provinces to look after back in feudal China. This is the reason why I said not to let things outside of yourself define what a good life means to you – it is a distraction. This poor bee farmer had no idea he had a BaZi chart equivalent to that of a king.

This bee farmer was an ’emperor’ in his own right. This is also the reason why your title, especially in a modern-day context, does not mean anything. You can be a Managing Director of an MNC but with a life of a beggar, and you can be a ramen seller with the life of a king.

Perhaps to put in another way, what I’m trying to say is this: It really doesn’t matter what kind of family you’re born into, or your title. All these are superficial labels that society has come up with. Yes, they do mean something in real life, but in the eyes of metaphysics, they hardly matter at all. I’ve met millionaires and even billionaires whose lives are not enviable at all, and despite the number of zeroes in their bank account, they live no better than those with financial struggles.

At the end of the day, Chinese metaphysics theory will manifest in real life in an abstract form, which we why we often use the word 像 because it’s roughly translated to “essence” or “form”. The physical manifestation will be different.

Why do some bad people have seemingly good lives?

I know this is a hot question, but this goes back to what I said about us only looking at things superficially and seeing what’s on the surface. We assume that their lives will be happily ever after.

Bad people can be identified by their natal charts of course. If they are lucky and have good Elemental Phases, they will somehow survive and do well despite having questionable character, but the law of Chinese metaphysis dictates that soon or later, we will reach a difficult Elemental Phase and this is the period where the bad people will have to answer for their actions.

I assure you – bad people will not have good lives and I’ll save everyone the philosophical debate on this. Just know that harmony comes from balance, and if you’re someone who is constantly upsetting the balance by leeching on and harming others, you will be taken out of the equation sooner or late so that balance can be restored.

Bad people can flaunt all they want or pretend to lead lives that we can only envy, but really, don’t get distracted by those things and just focus on yourself. If you are still upset with someone who has wronged you in the past, just know that justice will be served. I’ve seen enough charts to know karma exists, so please, focus on transcending your own karma instead.

How do I know if I deserve a good life and will I have one as long as I work for it?

If I were to be brutally upfront and frank about it, a practitioner will know whether you deserve it the moment he or she looks at your chart. An experienced practitioner will immediately know if you are destined to be successful.

A BaZi and Zi Wei Dou Shu chart really can tell you A LOT of things. Laymen are usually unable to appreciate the significance and magnitude of the message a chart can convey. But that’s beside the point. What I’ve been trying to do all these while is to get people to stop associating success and a good life with the stars and the charts and avoid the ‘predestination trap’ because, at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to change the chart you’re born with. What you can do is transcend the chart you have, and one way of doing it is to learn from people with good, high-quality charts. 

I would like to believe that as long as you work towards it, you will get a good life. I personally do not believe that Heavens will be so cruel to wish to torture you for the sake of it, and no practitioner will want to tell you that your efforts are going to be fruitless after all the effort you put in. This goes back to the fundamental theory in Chinese metaphysics that everything needs to go through some forging process, which is why I’ve always argued that no matter how difficult things are, you simply just have to grow from it. Several of my blog posts address this, so feel free to browse through them. If you’re new to this blog and have not read my post about good charts vs bad charts, please do read it.

That being said, it’s not as simple as I make it sound and I’ve tried addressing this before too. Behind the words “working for it” are many factors that need to be put into consideration, but that is for every individual to decide for themselves and I do not have a template answer that is going to apply to everyone. I really do believe that as long as you work for it, you will eventually get a good life. Though, what I realized is from my consultations is that a lot of people think they are putting in the right work towards it, but in reality they aren’t. I’ll give a very simple example: A lot of my (annoying) clients with troubled charts often like to ask why can’t they get wealthier, but they never once asked themselves if they had anything to offer – no upgrading of skills, no personal development, and Heavens know when was the last time they even read a book or newspaper. Spending 8 hours in the office every day and going home tired and feeling as though you’ve worked very hard isn’t my definition of working towards a good life. I’m sure you get what I mean.

Also, Chinese metaphysics isn’t going to just tell you to go to a ‘favourable’ industry and you suddenly find yourself becoming successful one day. Yes, you can find an industry that suits your personality more, but at the end of the day, if your chart is bad, it really doesn’t matter which industry you are in and I don’t care what the other ‘practitioners’ out there are selling.

***

Now that I’ve reached the end of the post, I do feel somewhat silly, because this post doesn’t really answer any question, especially the difficult ones. Whatever I write, argue or propose, I will never have a satisfactory answer to the people who are kind and with good character, and yet, still have to suffer. But heck, I am no one to decide what a “good life” means to them or how it is defined. I just wish good people didn’t have to suffer.

Perhaps I just wanted to get people to start thinking a bit more, because although the laws of Chinese metaphysics will not change, how to apply it or use it needs to adapt to the changing world. Maybe a good life in feudal China and a good life in the 21st century isn’t very different after all, just that there’s a lot more clutter to deal with these days.

– Sean

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Sean Chan is Asia's leading Chinese metaphysics consultant specializing in BaZi, Zi Wei Dou Shu, Qi Men Dun Jia, and Feng Shui. A thought-leader in the field, Sean's been featured on Channel NewsAsia, The New York Times Style Magazine and other local media. He blogs regularly about various topics surrounding Chinese metaphysics and aims to educate the public about the field.

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