Monday, September 23, 2013

A Sad Story About Life Reading

A man went to a Chinese astrologer for a Four Pillars reading. 

The astrologer said, “Your day master is weak fire born in winter. Fire and wood are your favourable elements while metal and water are unfavourable.”

The man asked, “Is drinking water bad for me?”

“Well,” the astrologer said, “Everyone must drink water to survive. In your case, you can drink liquor instead as liquor is wood which is good for you.”

“Why is liquor wood?” the man asked. 

“Because you can burn it to produce fire,” the astrologer replied with a smile and continued, “this is according to five elements theory.”

The man became a drunkard and died of kidney failure. He even refused to have a kidney transplant because operation is metal which the astrologer advised is bad for him. 

The astrologer felt very bad but did not understand what was wrong with his advice. He vowed to find this out and continued to drill deeper into the ox horn hoping that he could see light eventually at the end of the dark tunnel.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Drilling into the Horn of an Ox 鑽牛角尖

This is a Chinese saying meaning getting into a dead-end. It occurs when some people are too particular into the details ignoring the big picture.

An example is trying to classify everything into the five elements. This will lead to a comical scenario:

A: Electricity is Water because it flows like water in a pipe.
B: Please prove it by drinking electricity.

One student also asked me whether electricity is Wood. Her information is that the Trigram Zhen 震卦 is electricity and thereofore electricity is Wood.

In the first place, her information is incorrect. The trigram Zhen is thunder while the trigram Li is lightning. This is according to Shuo Gua Zhuan 說卦傳.

Lightning is the visible picture due to the movement of electrons while thunder is the sound produced due to the sudden change of local atmospheric pressure (like the burst of a balloon). We can loosely call lightning electricity but we cannot call thunder electricity.

If we base on the Ba Gua to classify electricity, then it is Fire because Li is fire.

The argument can also be based on the generating cycle. In hydro-electric power plants, electricity is generated by water. Since Water generates Wood, then electricity is Wood. However, there is an error in logic in this argument. A generates B and also C does not mean that B=C.

Trying to classify electricity as one of the five elements is indeed drilling into the ox horn!