What’s The Difference Between A Good BaZi Chart And A Bad One?


Posted On Last updated May 17, 2022 | Published on Sep 9, 2017

The Reason Why I Wish To Talk About Bad BaZi Charts

I’m going to talk about a very uncomfortable topic today which is the existence of bad BaZi charts. We’re far too accustomed to hearing only about good BaZi charts and a lot of assuming that there’s always something good to say about a chart. I wish to clarify, here and now, that that is not true. Some charts can be so bad that a practitioner will immediately know this is going to be a life of pain and suffering. We don’t need a Chinese metaphysics practitioner or feng shui master to tell us this because we just have to look around us to know life is not easy for a lot of people. The big question is always “why” bad BaZi charts have to exist.

It’s important that I address harsh truths in Chinese metaphysics once in a while and continue my efforts in educating people who are interested in metaphysics and laypeople who are vulnerable to the misconceptions blatant in this field. Readers who follow this blog closely know me as someone who speaks his mind, and that I don’t sugar coat things. I say it as it is because I really wish to drive a certain point across, and really let my readers see things from a different perspective.

I want to orient everyone a little first and talk about why I wish to write this post. I understand some practitioners out there will always put a positive spin to things and will promise you the stars and infinite possibilities after you get a chart reading. It’s not that they are doing something wrong, and I do admire that intent and spirit, but as a realist, but it becomes wrong if their real intent behind all the positivity is to sell you something. There are world-famous practitioners who claimed that there is no such thing as a bad chart, which I categorically disagree with. I personally don’t care how famous a practitioner is, but if someone wants to say something contrary to what our ancestors passed down, there better be a very good reason.

As a practitioner myself, I genuinely feel there are certain things that need to be addressed because the state of Chinese metaphysics is spiralling out of control because of the need to sell, sell, and sell. The topics that I’m about to discuss are not easy to bring up because they are cruel, and I never saw myself as a person qualified to talk about such things. That being said, they are also what I feel are the necessary catalyst to real, long-lasting change.

The BaZi Slogan You’ll Always Hear Me Say

Anyone who has gotten a consultation with me will always hear me say this: “Our ancestors would not spend centuries developing this field of Chinese metaphysics, just to tell us we can’t do anything to change our lives.” The whole point of getting a reading is to hope you identify blind spots and areas where you can improve on, and why you to go through certain things. Why in the high heavens would our ancestors spend so much time observing the stars and nature’s laws, develop the Chinese metaphysics field, just to tell us in the end “Oops! Sorry! You can’t do anything about it. I guess life sucks and you die?”

You guys get my point right? In fact, there are so many Chinese classics on metaphysics that keep stressing about personal cultivation so that we can transcend our charts. The founders of metaphysics said it themselves and it is written in the books on BaZi and Zi Wei Dou Shu.

In the eyes of metaphysics, there are definitely charts of different qualities. This is a fact, in fact, these are laws, and there is no such thing as subjectivity when it comes to this. We don’t need to be a Chinese metaphysics practitioner to have such revelations. There are a Yin and Yang to everything; there is always a duality or dichotomy to things. That applies to humans as well. If you’ve ever picked up a Chinese classic on BaZi to read before, you will definitely hear the word fu gui (富貴), which means wealth and nobility. You will find a lot of modern-day books on BaZi and Zi Wei Dou Shu that focus on what makes a chart worthy of wealth and nobility. How about the flip side then? If you’ve gone through the Chinese classics before, you will also often see the world pin jian (貧賤), where pin (貧) means poor and jian (賤) means a lowly status (it can also mean cheap but in a different context). You won’t find a lot of modern-day books that talk about bad chart under the ‘poor and lowly status’ category (貧賤),because no one likes reading about such things and I doubt such books will sell. No one wants to pick up a book just to find out their chart falls into this category. Selling hope is easier and more profitable.

And yes, I said it, there are some charts that fall into this pin jian (poor and lowly status) category. It’s something I find it hard to bring up myself because no one wants to be told that their charts fall under this category. This is not something I’m making up and I’m sure everyone agrees. It’s just that people shy away from such topics so much that they fail to see the importance is thinking about the flip side of things. This is just life and hard truths. It sounds morbid, yes, but at the same time, it makes success much sweeter should you choose to attain it.

I repeat: “Our ancestors would not spend centuries developing this field of Chinese metaphysics, just to tell us we can’t do anything to change our lives.”

BaZi is not everything. It’s just a small part within the grand scheme of things. It represents nature but it does not take into account nurture and what we can do about it.

Simplifying Things: Good BaZi Charts vs Bad BaZi Charts

So you might be asking, what happens if I have a low-quality chart? Before I get to that, perhaps let me break down charts into 4 major categories before I talk about the difference between a good and bad chart. Please note that this is an over-simplification of things and it’s to introduce some basic concepts to newcomers.

The definition of “good” and “bad” has a wide range, but we’ll leave that for another discussion. Please just remember this is a very broad categorization, and within each category has its own spectrum of assessing chart qualities too. Imagine the Category 1 chart of all Category 1s where they are the best of the best; and Category 4 chart of all Category 4s which are the worst of the worst. There is still a range within these four ranges I’m mentioning.

When you assess a chart, you need to look at both the natal chart and the luck phases or what is more commonly known as the “Luck Pillars” in mainstream BaZi. You never, ever decipher a chart without looking at both of them at the same time.

We can roughly break down the chart categories as such:

  • Category 1: Natal Chart + Good Luck Phases (命好,運也好)
  • Category 2: Poor Natal Chart + Good Luck Phases (命不好,運好)
  • Category 3: Good Natal Chart + Bad Luck Phases (命好,運不好)
  • Category 4: Bad Natal Chart + Bad Luck Phases (命不好,運也不好)

There’s a common saying that that it is more important to have good “Luck Pillars”/Elemental Phases that a good natal chart. There is a reason for this and I don’t entirely disagree, but please do not dismiss the importance of a natal chart just because of this. Bear in mind one’s elemental phases span many years, and keeps changing every 10 years, so one of the major factors of a chart’s quality is to see how many positive 10-year phases the chart-holder can encounter.

BaZi charts in category 1 and category 2 stand the most chance at success because their luck phases are on their side. Clients and people who get a reading tend to underestimate the importance of your Elemental Phases phases, and I’m talking about your 10-year luck phases (大運). When you flip through the Chinese classics, you’ll always see cases studies focusing only on the 10-year Elemental Phases because it holds a lot more weight than your Annual Elemental Phases (流年运). Having good Annual Luck (流年運) is rather meaningless if your 10-year luck phase is bad.

What’s The Difference Between Your BaZi Natal Chart & “Luck Pillars”?

Your natal chart as referring to your inner world, the talents you are born with and your character. It’s basically nature’s description of you the moment you were born.

Your Luck Pillars or Elemental Phases describe the changing environment around you and how you interact with it. These two aspects will interact with each other and paint a story of how your life will unfold. If you studied BaZi in Chinese, you will hear that your natal chart is your ti (体), meaning your foundation, and your Elemental Phases is your ‘yong’ (用), meaning how you use it. ‘Ti’ (体) and ‘yong’ (用) are two terms you will keep hearing in Chinese metaphysics. The fact that these two terms exist means Chinese metaphysics was never about predeterminism.

Please pay close attention to what I just said: Your luck phases describe how you interact with the world around you. In other words, it refers to your attitude and how you deal with things as well. The word “luck” is not a very good word to use in Chinese metaphysics, because it implies good things will happen on their own and we don’t have to do anything about it. If you feel metaphysics is about getting “good luck” and you expect good things to happen to you with no effort put in, I’m pretty sure you fall into category 3 or 4.

People love getting their fortunes told, but it never comes with the inquisitiveness of asking what the natal chart and “Luck Pillars”/Elemental Phases truly mean and how it shows up in real life.

Describing The Four Categories Of BaZi Charts

(Update: At the point of re-editing this post for clarity, it’s been 6 years and 3,000 readings). I’ve started this consulting sideline around 3 years now (don’t mistake this for how long I’ve studied metaphysics), with more than 3,000 readings done professionally, so I’ve definitely encountered clients from all 4 categories before.

If you’re wondering what people from these categories are like, let me describe them to you, because I think it’s important for everyone to know, and perhaps ask yourself which category you fall under. Note that the descriptions aren’t from Chinese classics, but my own portrayal of what I’ve experienced thus far:

Category 1:  Good Natal BaZi Chart + Good Luck Pillars/Phases (命好,運也好)

These people, by the fact that they have a good natal chart, are born into good families. They have a solid foundation and their environment is a very positive one, helping them develop as a person. My experience with them is that they are very grounded, hardworking and extremely intelligent. They have families that people will envy. Because their Elemental Phases are supportive too, they keep developing themselves and the environment they operate in as they grow is positive.

Wealth and success come naturally to these people. They make up the smallest proportion of my clients because they simply don’t need a reading. Their lives are going well and they are enjoying their lives. In fact, I can learn more from them than they can learn from me.

Category 2: Poor Natal BaZi Chart + Good Luck Pillars/Phases (命不好,運好)

People under this category start off with a tough life and have everything against them. Perhaps their environment is not as ideal, they come from a broken family, or maybe they are not as talented – it could also be a mix of reasons. But through sheer hard work, resilience and a positive attitude, they got their breakthrough and they attained success. They never give up and they create their own opportunities. People under this category are constantly adapting and growing which is why you’ll not feel that their environment is on their side which is also a reflection of their positive Elemental Phases.

You could say Li Ka Shing falls under this category. He had a really tough start to life, but look at where he is now. Remember, the word “luck” is not exactly the best word to use when it comes to metaphysics. People with good “luck phases” work extremely hard to get to where they are. It’s not that good things happened to them while they were standing still and doing nothing. Metaphysics is but a way to describe cause and effect.

Have a deep think about what your Elemental Phases mean. They do not represent arbitrary events.

Category 3: Good Natal BaZi Chart + Bad Luck Pillars/Phases (命好,運不好)

They are the ones who are fortunate to be born into a good family, are naturally very talented and intelligent, but got complacent and things start to dwindle. They assume things always will go their way and tend to make really bad life decisions. Some end up becoming irrelevant as the world around them changes and their competitive advantage dwindles. As one’s 10-Year Phases is also a reflection of their mindset, their negativity starts to get to the people around them benefactors start to distance themselves. To be fair, it’s not entirely their fault because sometimes the world changes without them and they fail to adapt. The fact that they have a good natal BaZi chart means they will possess good character, so no major calamity will occur as a result.

People under this category usually can’t reach their full potential and their later years can get a little rough. Why? Because they aren’t growing. The degree of how tough their life gets depends varies from chart to chart, but the road is generally bumpy for them and it’s often a huge waste of good talent. They may be wealthy, but they aren’t necessarily happy. They don’t necessarily have bad lives, but often live life feeling unsatisfied and significant achievements are difficult. Their good natal charts still provide a good buffer for them to get by.

Category 4: Bad Natal BaZi Chart + Bad Luck Pillars/Phases (命不好,運也不好)

I’m not going to be politically correct here because we all know this is the uncomfortable truth. Destructive, toxic individuals exist. They take away everything that is good from the people around them.

This is the group that you will never find people in Category 1 and Category 2 hanging around with for obvious reasons that don’t need a lot of explaining. Their poor natal charts already suggest character flaws. Toxic, negative and always finding someone or something to blame. They lack complete self-awareness. The is a wide spectrum of Category 4 and their character and behaviour manifest differently. Some are self-entitled and disrespectful, and some simply think too highly of themselves. They expect things to go their way without putting in any effort and when they’re actually not that talented in the first place. For others, they might simply be too lazy and unmotivated to do anything. They want a shortcut solution to their problems and they have the sort of naivete that is self-destructive.

People under this category will see no significant achievements in life. If they are lucky, they get to live paycheque to paycheque and survive. There is a high chance that the people they hang around with also fall under this category because higher-quality chart holders make them feel inadequate. In other words, they are your Donald Trumps and basically what society labels as “losers”.

There is something about Category 4 chart-holders that prevents them from growing or developing into fulfilled and wholesome individuals. Do not assume that Category 4 chart-holders only come from certain backgrounds or families because they can come from wealthy families too. Some may even hold a higher title at work, but their personal life is in shambles.

Do not ask me which category you fall under during the consultation. It’s more important that you ask yourself which category you wish to fall under.

Put A Category 2 And Category 4 Person Together And See The Difference

I want everyone to believe me when I say this. But I have read enough charts in my lifetime to know what someone is like and how they will eventually be like just by looking at their charts. This section is the most important one in this whole post.

When you’ve read enough BaZi charts, you’ll naturally see a pattern forming.

Why do I want to compare Category 2 and Category 4 chart holders? It’s because they are the perfect thought experiment for me to convey what I’m trying to say in this post.

Two people can have an equally bad natal chart, but what separates thems is their Elemental Phases which are simply a reflection of their mindsets and path of growth. Do you think Li Ka Shing, Jack Ma and Oprah Winfrey have good natal charts? They don’t! Most of the Category 4 people I’ve met didn’t even go through a quarter of what they’ve gone through and they’re already complaining.

If you’ve spoken to enough people under both categories, you will notice that the one under Category 2 is always the positive, resilient one that is always seeking to improve. This is the reason why they eventually end up in a good environment. There is no need to discuss which came first and a chicken-and-egg scenario. The point is: If you want to be in a good environment, change yourself first. Stop blaming the environment. You are not an inanimate object that cannot move.

On the flip side: Our Category 4 friends are always the ones who are blaming the environment and saying it’s so hard to grow when life is so tough, yet, they still want to be like a Li Ka Shing and a Jack Ma.

A lot of people would come up with the argument that it is hard to grow or have a positive mindset when life is so harsh which I do agree. But the fact is that successful people have never once said something like that. They simply continue to grow no matter what. There are a lot of people out there with much tougher lives than ours, yet, they managed to achieve more and go further in life.

The reason is simple: Some people are just better, stronger, and smarter. When compared to them, some of us are ‘lesser’ human beings. I know it is a harsh thing to say, but we need to have the courage to accept this before things can get better. There will always be a Yin to a Yang. Dichotomies will exist and so will comparisons. Yin Yang is the basis of reality.

The Biggest Irony In The BaZi Consulting Industry

The biggest irony of all is that you’ll see a lot of Category 4 chart holders pay thousands to learn BaZi, hoping it will change their lives. In the end, not only are they extremely bad at it, they are no different from when they first started. It’s as though the commercialized practitioners know they are the best cash cows for the industry because the last person to need a BaZi consultation is the one who is already doing well. Some of these chart holders even step out to declare themselves “masters” and start reading charts for others, coupled with the touting of items and charms, treating this purely as a business.

I’d like to point out that this is not a skill you can pick up just by attending a few courses, especially when the motivation comes from the novelty of being able to read someone’s fortune, and not from an appreciation for Chinese history and culture.

I’m not saying this to mock Category 4 people although I have to admit they aren’t the easiest to deal with and my patience often wears thin with them. It’s just that the state of the industry and how people are approaching Chinese metaphysics is so convoluted that I have to say something about it and get it off my chest.

BaZi does not change your life. Only you can change your life. Just because you went to study BaZi or you got your chart read does not change a single thing.

Why Do “Luck Pillars” or Elemental Phases Feel So Different For Everyone

Many people can experience a positive or negative elemental phase at the same time. Ten different people can experience a positive 10-year phase but their achievements and successes will vary – there will be people with significant achievements and those where their progress doesn’t seem like a big deal. Similarly, ten different people undergoing negative 10-year phases will experience it differently too.

Where do the differences come from? It comes from your natal chart.

The saying that your Elemental Phases are more important than your natal chart does not mean we ignore the natal chart completely. The saying if founded on the notion that, regardless of what kind of lives we are born into and what capabilities we are imbued with, we would want our lives to go smoothly because no one enjoys a tumultuous life.

“Luck Pillars” or Elemental Phases feel different for everyone because the way we react to it and what can contribute during these phases are different, and this is determined but our natal charts. In other words, it doesn’t mean everyone can become a Li Ka Shing just because one is experiencing a positive phase, and a negative phase shouldn’t be underestimated because it can be severe for some people.

A BaZi analysis always involved looking at both your natal chart and phases, because they are constantly interacting with each other. There is very little point in indulging in personality profiling using BaZi and the Ten Gods just by looking at your natal chart because the information you derive from it is hardly useful.

“Luck” Has Nothing To Do With Chinese Metaphysics

A lot of people mistakenly think that ‘yun’ (运) means “luck”. It is not. These two terms are not meant to be interchangeable. “Luck” implies you don’t have to do anything, and positive things will just happen to you. The mainstream translation for ‘yun‘ (运) is “Luck Pillars” which I often hesitate to use, which is why I’ll always add in Elemental Phases instead.

Yun (运) is not “luck”. Yun is thought, action, and environment. It is everything else but “luck”. The only thing that separates people with the good charts from the bad ones is their thoughts and actions.

When someone has a better life, the simplest way to explain it is that they have a better BaZi chart. People often assume that it just means they have better “luck”. Is it really about “luck”? Or is it because this person with a better BaZi chart is simply a better, more hardworking, and smarter person who is more deserving of success?

If you think Chinese metaphysics is about “luck”, then you are completely missing the point.

Only People With Bad BaZi Charts Believe In Feng Shui Items And Charms

If you think your life’s problems can be solved by placing crystals in certain areas of your home or wearing a certain colour to work, you really need to take a good look at yourself and try to think critically – do all these things even make sense? What makes you think life is so simple? Some of you might already have a good chat with good luck phases, so these tricks seem to work and some practitioners ride on it and make a killing selling you an expensive item, but how about the people in the other categories? Do you really think by wearing a ring that costs 5 figures can turn your life around?

I’ve done enough consultations to see a pattern in people who are naive enough to think mere items and crystals can change one’s life. The forces of nature aren’t manipulated so easily. Yes, feng shui does help, but there is a proper way of applying it and even the proper way isn’t that easy to execute. I don’t like saying such things, but have you ever noticed that people who fervently believe in such things always feel a bit ‘off’ and as though they can’t think for themselves? If you can’t think for yourself, you’re not going to go very far.

Prospective and current clients know I get people to fill up a form first as part of a screening process because certain expectations need to be aligned before the consultation starts, especially if the client falls under a Category 4 BaZi chart. It’s not that I reject clients outright the moment I see that their charts aren’t good – but anyone who approaches a BaZi reading thinking it’s a feel-good session or that the practitioner has a magical solution to dish out will definitely not get anything out of it and the whole consultation just becomes a painful process for both sides.

It’s only normal that my most problematic clients fall under Category 4 because they are the ones that no matter what I say, they won’t be happy with the reading. They want a magical pill for their problems and they assume Chinese metaphysics a magical tool that can make this happen.

Reading books, talking to people and getting honest feedback from others would benefit them a lot more than getting a BaZi reading. Please remember that I am also human and I have my limits, and frankly I really don’t like dealing with people under Category 4. I try my best to be compassionate and uplifting but some people are really just downright toxic, and frankly, I have no patience with them because I did not allow myself to be that way and I don’t have friends like that. I refuse to have people like that around me and neither am I obliged to serve people who are like that.

I am not a counsellor, and I don’t intend to be one. My job is to decipher charts and educate people on this field. I can give my opinion as a person or friend, but I can never solve anyone’s problems and you should not see me as someone who can. Only you can solve your own problems.

Metaphysics isn’t some mystical skill to generate good luck so that one can sit back and wait for good things to happen. Successful people are successful because they make good decisions, to the extent that even the way they feel and their attitude is a decision. You use metaphysics to make better decisions, but don’t let metaphysics make the decisions for you. You are supposed to turn into an empowered, self-actualized individual with the help of metaphysics, not some superstitious goon asking for quick fixes and solutions. If you are truly interested in metaphysics and want to benefit from it, go read up on Chinese history and philosophy, the theory of Yin and Yang and how our ancestors viewed the universe because that is the foundation of metaphysics.

I promised everyone that I will always remain genuine and authentic, but I hope I have everyone’s understanding that sometimes I need to say things that are uncomfortable but I always have good intentions. If you are serious about transcending your chart, then these are the things that you have to accept. Pretending bad BaZi charts don’t exist and choosing to ignore them isn’t going to change anything. It doesn’t matter who you consult because this fact is not going to change. Whoever you go to, I do hope he or she is a good practitioner who can help you see things from a different perspective. Please approach a BaZi consultation with the right mindset.

I know I talk a lot about transcending charts, so what exactly does one need to do to transcend your chart and change things if you happen to have a bad BaZi chart? All you need is self-awareness, willpower and humility. We don’t ask whether we deserve the things we desire.

Everything is interconnected, and everything has a cause. Your chart tells a practitioner how you are, how you think, and what your mindset is like. The moment you develop the self-awareness and humility needed, practitioners will not be able to get your chart right. Out of all the chart readings I’ve done, I have only met ONE such person who seems to have transcended her chart. Your chart is not everything, and if your luck phases are a description of your mindset and how you interact with the world, all you need to do is to change your mindset and the way you deal with things to ‘change your chart’, but please be mindful that there will still be limitations you need to take note of. Transcending charts and altering the course does not mean you gain the ability to do whatever you want.

This sideline of mine has allowed me to lead a much more comfortable life, and I’ve made a lot of new friends through this, but I will never ever say things that aren’t true to my heart just because I am making money out of it. I am not that kind of person and I am not that kind of practitioner.

– Sean

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Written by Sean Chan

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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  1. Alina

    C’est vraiment intéressant.
    J’ai découvert le feng shui par l’intermédiaire d’une élève de L.Too. Lorsque je lui ai dis: “ok, je vous achète tous les objets, pouvez vous m’assurer que rien de m’arrivera?” Depuis j’ai arrêté le contact mais je continue m’intéresser au sujet

    • Sean Chan

      Feng shui is not about items! =)

  2. Eduardo

    Hi Sean

    Tried to boon an appointment but the form is no longer available.

    Are you still practicing?


  3. Kelly Yow

    Thank you for your generous sharing. Is that such a thing as someone with my Ba Zi can use it to borrow my luck and life? I have a colleague who can read Ba Zi and volunteers to read Ba Zi for people who work with her, including me. I shared with her my date of birth and the time period but not the exact time.

    • Sean Chan

      Not something I believe in.

  4. Jay Loo

    Hi Sean,

    How would you determine good natal chart n good 10 year luck phase? Or Bad natal chart n bad 10 year luck phase? What are the criteria for determining good or bad?

    • Sean Chan

      Hi Jay,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. It’s a bit hard to answer your question because every chart is unique, so there’s no template to analyze what’s good or bad where you can apply to every single chart which seems like what you’re asking. If someone wishes to assess the quality of the chart, then he or she must have a good grasp of the laws and theory behind BaZi. I’ll give a quick example: We often hear that 七殺 (7-Killings) is considered a negative ‘god’ in BaZi – this is only partly true. Weak Daymaster charts will definitely not welcome 七殺,but there will also be situations where we actually welcome the strengthening of 七殺。 Everything depends on how the chart is structured.

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