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  • January 24, 2021 4 min read

    How do you decide when you cannot make up your mind, especially when you like all options?

    Chicken or beef for dinner?

    Theme park A or theme park B?

    Supermarket in suburb A or B?

    You come to my house, or I go to yours?

    How do you decide?

    Generally, you flip a coin—Head for option A and Tail for option B.

    Here is the catch

    Flipping a coin will give you an option to choose. But how do you know the option you choose is good or bad?

    Most of the time, you don’t know until you experience it. 

    In some culture, they try to predict an outcome of the action before making a decision, and this is what I would like to share with you.

    Disclaimer: the way I am sharing with you does not base on science but culture. So if you are looking for proof, I do not have it for you. But if you are interested in how other people do it when they want to “predict” an outcome, then you can read on to find out. 

    In The Evergreen Taoist Church


    Source:  Evergreen Taoist Church Facebook Page

    The Church (or Temple) is around 30 minutes drive from my place, and it is open for public visit daily.
    Inside the temple, you will find Kwun Yum (Guan Yin), Buddha.


    Near the altar, you will find a wooden can with multiple bamboo stick.

    It is a a fortune-telling practice called Kau Chim 求籤.

    How it works

    Here was what I witnessed

    A gentleman came to Kwun Yum Altar. He kneeled and prayed. Then he picked up the wooden can and started shaking. After several minutes, a stick from the wooden can fell out. On that stick, there was a number. He then went to a wardrobe nearby and looked for the location of that number. Inside this wardrobe was 100 scrolls which he can read and interpret the outcome. If he was unsure, he could ask a temple staff for help. Recently, I believe there are online apps too. So, just in case you are curious, here is one of the online version of Kau Chim.

    However, people still want to do it at the Taoist Temple, as they want the ambience, the setting of the environment, the smell of incense, the physical touch of the can, the sound of the stick when being shaken, At the temple, they feel more holy, more "real". 

    But what if there was no temple close to where they live, is there another way offline to predict an outcome, that could give them a similar feeling?

    Except for coin-flipping (only two outcomes: Good or Bad) , there is another way to predict the "future" (has 9 outcomes at least).

    Introduce the Tibetan way - using mala as an oracle

    Depending on your belief, first, you visualise your deity in front of you. Then at the same time, you ask for his or her guidance. Next, you hold the mala on your hands

    Your left thumb will place on one bead and your right hand will place on another bead


    Please note that the guru bead (the largest bead of the mala) must not be between your two thumbs.

    Then the thumbs of each hand move towards each other counting three beads at a time . (if you start from the left, then your left hand will count the odd numbers 1,3 and your right hand will count the even number 2).

    Your left thumb is moving to the right and your right thumb is moving to the left.

    If you use left hand first, the sequence would be Left, Right, Left, Right, Left ,Right, Left,... until you are left with three, two or one bead

    If you use right hand first, the sequence would be Right, Left, Right, Left ,Right, Left, Right ... until you are left with three, two or one bead



    Here is the symbol and meaning

    • Three beads: Snow Lion: Generally positive meaning, slow but stable process, achievable in a longer run compared to the usual.
    • Two Beads: Raven: Bad luck. But if you have good karma, your luck will improve
    • One Bead: Falcon: Everything is favourable

     You stop when there are remaining of three beads or less. And you will do for two or three set. The third set is optional, it is for visitors

    First Set

    Second Set

    Third Set


    Support from Deities and Protectors. Luck and success rate 

    The outcome of the immediate environment

    In the past, Tibetan people travelled regularly. People visited each other frequently. Back then, there was no phone or pager. So when people worried, they tried to predict the outcome. This divination would give them some clues about an expected person arriving from elsewhere

    Three Beads Remained  (Snow Lion)

    Slow but stable accomplishments

    Things may get difficult but they will be resolved

    Visitors will

    arrive late but safely

    Two Beads Remained (Raven)

    A Raven on the first pass means the protectors are not on your side: there will be no accomplishment, the lawsuit will be unsuccessful,

    and there are enemies present

    would caution against

    starting on any new enterprise


    Raven indicates

    health issue, and a de­cline in the life force; things may get lost or get lost or stolen

    Visitors will have some obstacles on arrival. They may not arrive or they may be some challenges when travelling.

    One Bead Remained (Falcon)

    Falcon at the first attempt would indicate sup­port from protector.

    Generally, you are blessed with luck. If there is any misfortune, it will be small.

    Expect to hear the great news.

    Will hear news about visitors shortly or visitors arrive safely

    I also found an article of Nicholas Breeze Wood , and below is the extract from the magazine. The result is from two sets of try

    Falcon: 1 bead remained

    Raven: 2 beads remained

    Snow Lion: 3 beads remained

    If you have another way of using mala, let me know so I can share it with others.

    Since you are here, you can check out our sustainably cultivated agarwood mala here 

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