Episode 108: The Destined

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In our past stories, many of them are related with the topic off destiny. Greatly influenced by the Buddhism and Taoism, Chinese people like to believe things happening for a reason and the reason is always the destiny. Today I want to share an interesting story about fortune telling.

This story is from the book called ChuJingShuSheLingMo 锄经书舍零墨 from the Qin dynasty 清朝. It says there was a man named Ma JingLiu 马敬六. One of Mr. Ma’s hobbies is learning I Ching 易经 and fortune telling. I Ching is also knon as Book of Changes, one of the oldest Chinese classics from the Western Zhou period 西周 around 3000 years ago originally used as a divination manual. The well-known hexagram 卦 and Ying Yang is from this book. From a broader perspective, it has influenced philosophy, religion, medicine, astronomy, music, art , literature, martial arts and etc throughout Chinese history. Today if you want to know about FengShui 风水, you definitely to learn about this book. But I am not sure how many people really understand the book.


This Mr. Ma liked to study the book and do fortunetelling. One time, he and his teacher named Tang ChaiXi 唐柴溪 Mr. Tang went to attend the Imperial Examination together in the capital. If you want to know more about Imperial Examination, please check out our episode 43. Before they left home, Mr. Ma conducted a fortunetelling for both of them and said, “sir, we can both get a great ranking. And you will be the first place in the exam. ”

On the day of reveling the results, the names were posted however Mr. Tang’s name wasn’t even on it. Other people laughed at Mr. Ma. Mr. Ma was still so sure about his fortunetelling. The next day, Mr. Tang’s name came out as the first place.

One day, Mr. Ma visited his friend. His friend felt like testing his skills of fortunetelling and covered something underneath with a cup and let Mr. Ma to guess what it was. After a while, Mr. Ma said, “it is made of bamboo and is shorter than two inches. The inside is hollow and the top of the head is red.” His friend laughed and said, “it is a bamboo made brush pen cover. You are right but the head of it is not red.” They moved away the cup and found the top was actually red. One of Mr. Ma’s friend’s students painted it that he didn’t know himself when he covered it up.


Although Mr. Ma got a great ranking in the Imperial Examinations, he didn’t want to work in the government. He stayed at home reading and kept studying I Ching. He sometimes did experiences to see how accuracy his fortunetelling skills were. One day, he predicated one of his china would be broken. He was curious if and how would it happen. So he put the china on the table and just watched it.

He watched it for hours until his wife came to ask him to eat lunch. He was staring at the china and ignored anything happening. Seeing her husband not giving any responses because of a piece of china, she was irritated. She grabbed the china and threw it on the floor. Mr. Ma saw it and laughed and nodded, “oh that’s how it was broken. The fortunetelling is so true. So true.”



易经 I Ching

锄经书舍零墨 ChuJingShuSheLingMo

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