How to make superstitions work for me

As a student of life, I’ve come to embrace certain superstitious concepts, despite considering myself a rational person. I believe that denying these beliefs at face value would be foolish, and have found two specific superstitions that have proven useful in my life.

The first is fortune-telling, a common form of superstition. While many may scoff at the idea of predicting the future, I have found that reading the ancient Chinese book, I Ching, has offered valuable insights into life’s different states. For instance, the book’s first state, 潜龙勿用, translates to “the hidden dragon should not exert too much effort.” This state suggests that we should withdraw our efforts and be less engaged with external pursuits. In a complex world, it’s often impossible to know with certainty what we should do, so having benign statements we trust can help us navigate confusing situations. By following these statements, we can often extricate ourselves from difficult scenarios sooner than if we relied solely on our own calculations.

The second superstitious concept is 缘, or Yuan, a Chinese Buddhist belief similar to karma. Unlike karma, which focuses on each individual, Yuan is more about the interactions between people. I’ve found this concept particularly helpful because it acknowledges the insatiable and often unrealistic desire we have to know and control other people. However, human interaction is incredibly complex, and each person has their autonomy, with internal states that they may not wish or be able to articulate through language. Rather than blaming ourselves for not having done enough to influence someone’s behavior, it’s often more helpful to tell ourselves that “it is ok, the Yuan is not here yet.” By attributing outcomes to a lack of Yuan rather than our own shortcomings, we become kinder to ourselves and cherish every moment and interaction as a gift from Yuan. This mindset allows us to move on from lost friendships or missed job opportunities, accepting that sometimes things simply aren’t meant to be.

In conclusion, while superstitions may seem irrational, embracing certain concepts can offer valuable insights into life’s complexities. By using fortune-telling and Yuan as tools to navigate the world around us, we can gain greater perspective and compassion towards ourselves and others.


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