The 4 Pillars of Destiny
In Chinese society, time is not seen as uniform, it carries a personality. Marie-Pierre Dillenseger describes what these qualities are.
Miriam Gablier: Which technique are you using to name the future?
Marie-Pierre Dillenseger: I am using a Chinese technique, called The Four Pillars of Destiny or “Ba Zi”. The idea is that specific energy is associated with each component of a birth date (the year, the month, the day and the hour). These qualities are encoded in combinations of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig) and the 5 elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water). What I call an “energy profile” is associated with each timing element. For example, someone born in 2013 was born the year of the Water Snake. If you add the specific quality of the month, day and hour of birth, you will have an energy map. This technique is based on equivalence between timing data and energy tendencies. It allows individualized coaching. The objective is to match the person with his or her potential over time and to clarify the path for individual accomplishment using time as a guide.
Are you implying that time might have different attributes?
Yes, for Chinese people time is not neutral. In the West, the only time attribute we recognize is the season. When we say that someone is at the “spring of his life”, we imply that this person is young and has dynamic energy. The Chinese tradition gives a quality to each time unit. It is a system that considers time, not just as a series of numbers but as a succession of different energy states. In this perspective time is looked as Qi (vital energy). It pulses, has an effect and although it cannot be seen, it is not considered neutral. My scientific mind was intrigued by the Chinese solar calendar, recorded since 2637 BC. This gives us centuries and centuries to look at and study these time cycles. We can analyze, reflect and test the model against each year.
How is time perceived in this system?
This technique comes from Chinese classical thinking that considers time as cyclical. Instead of looking at time as linear like in the West, with a major milestone as the birth of Christ, time is seen as repeating itself. At the end of a cycle, things start over again. In the West, time is infinite, numbered but never associated with energy or given a name. Time is, in a certain way, anonymous. It has not color, no odor and it deploys itself indefinitely. Each year is a new one. It is never the repetition of something that existed before. In the Chinese system, you find 60 year, 60 month, 60 day and 60 hour cycles – there are 60 possible combinations of animals and elements. In one’s life, one has the possibility to live through a complete cycle (60 years) and most often the beginning of second one. For Chinese people time is not a ball of string that undoes itself. It is a wheel turning, with a definite number of slots, each of these having a specific color and texture, so to say. Each slot has a specific quality, interacting with us. The concept of favorable and unfavorable do not really apply, each quality has its plus and minus. For example, 2009 was the year of the Earth Ox. In the sixty year cycle, it is the “heaviest” combination of animal and element, the one associated with inertia and resistance to movement. It is also linked with rooting, staying in place. This is a year boosting roots and repositioning. Such a year would be valuable for anyone wanting to slow down and reflect. It does not provide new energy and would not boost new venture. If I have this information, will I absolutely want to push things forward while timing is not conducive to motion? As an entrepreneur I would realize that because time energy is very slow, it is best to concentrate on fundamentals versus growth and expansion. In the West we are not used to see time having a personality. In this way to look at the world, each day, each hour carry a different characteristic. We can’t see it but time is energy. It is not neutral. The more I know what is coming every day, the more I can adjust my posture for things to go as smooth as possible.
So you are giving to your clients the timing qualities best suited for them?
Yes, my role is to underline the match between the potential within a person and a precise moment or a favorable period, to spare the cost of a product launch, an investment or the start of a project for example, at a time energy is against it. I recently met someone coming out of an extremely difficult business partnership. He lost major shares in a company because of the partner. It was very clear in his chart that he is now at a turning point in his life where, if he continues to seek partnership, he faces major energy losses. He would run the risk of a repeat scenario. He has to understand that he has enough strength to handle his business himself, going solo. His accomplishment, and what will cost him the least amount of energy, is to dare to take ownership of his true potential. Time has come. The objective in the Chinese tradition is to save as little energy as possible while deploying our potential. If I manage to place myself in a natural movement, I will minimize the expense of forces. In the Daoist line of though, where I position myself as a practitioner, the goal is to last while preserving energy. You therefore have to identify soon enough in life the most vivid forces of life for a person. I mean the forces that make the person most alive. Once identified, it has to be nurtured. If you have an activity that makes you happy to get up in the morning, even if you spend many hours doing it, you will not get tired.
Isn’t this way to look at the world somewhat determinist?
Yes and no. It opens up the possibility for change. This system serves the evolution of what it focuses on: a person, a company, a country. It serves the energy needed for accomplishment. What should be said is that this vision of the world goes with the idea of successive lives. This needs to be clearly stated. One could say “reincarnation” but I would use “evolution”. For the Chinese we are Qi incarnated, Qi in a body. At death the yang part of that Qi goes back to the universe and goes to get incarnated elsewhere. At no time is it said that life is set,determined. But the notion of evolution is there. What is mainly implied is that, if you do not take into consideration external forces, related to space or time, you have the illusion of a freedom that does not exist. You are reminded of that every time you hit a wall. This is where we have a paradox. In this line of thought that appears to say: there is determinism - we are the year of the earth Ox therefore things will not move forward – this knowledge is actually providing a greater realm of freedom, because if I know what is coming I can adjust my position and better edge my bets. Destiny is not written. What I see when I work on the chart of someone is what is available in the toolbox to move forward. Some might have a great canvas, an incredible paintbrush, and top of the line ink but who says their painting will be great. Someone who might just have a broken pencil and a paper napkin might create a much better drawing. The person draws his or her destiny. The tools available to draw are these energy qualities I described earlier. We have a responsibility to know them and use them. My practice is about saving people time and energy.
So “Ba Zi” would be the art to see what is the most feasible and to do the right thing in the right time?
Exactly! It puts us in contact with reality and the present. Going back to the example of the person who lost his shares, the fact that I told him: “If you continue to dilute your strength in a partnership, your force will turn against you”, allowed him to stop doing things that had nothing to do with this life anymore. I inserted the energy of “here and now” and made him more available for what had to be done now. People might say: “Oh, this is limiting”. But we should look at it from a different angle. This system, that may appear simplistic and determinist, brings the freedom to be fully connected to the present reality. Of course, it clashes with the Western belief that everything is possible and doable. This Chinese vision may makes us feel little. The reality though is that we cannot do everything everywhere all the time. The way to think about free will in the West is an illusion. We have put aside time and space and over stated the individual. We think ourselves as all powerful. But who can still believe that? There is some sort of determinism, not absolute, but more a determinism of tools. We are limited by the tools (the energy) available to us. The same way our DNA functions as a set frame. Most people are ok with that. My position is that, yes, there is a determinism of the energies we are made of and that the more we know of them, the least risk we will run to waste ourselves in paths that are not ours.
So indeed the connection with time is quite different?
Yes. An example: in the West when we set up a meeting, we look for the time when everyone is available. It is the same in China but they also look for the day in line with the objective. The energy of day should match the energy of what needs to be accomplished. Another point is that if you are open to the idea of successive lives, your relationship with time changes. The idea of more than one life removes the challenge of doing everything in only one! I will not try to do it all in this life because I have other ones coming. I can then better center myself on who I am now and feel less pressure to achieve what I am not equipped for. There is definitely less pressure in terms of time. They accept to concentrate on what needs to be done in this life in hope of moving forward, doing other things, in the next life.
Does the future already exist in this cyclical view of time?
Yes and no. Future is fed by the quality of the logs each year brings to the fire. Our past, our present nourish our future so, in some way, the future already exists. In my lectures, when I describe the energy of a coming year, one could say that I am describing the future. It is not there yet but the seeds of that energy are already present and give hints to what is becoming. In the next 3 coming years, fire energy will grow. All of us will not be impacted the same way of course but this re-emerging force will feed new consciousness. The energy of the fire will feed any activity which has to do with higher level of clarity and awareness. It is a metaphor of expansion, radiance, spirituality. Not everyone will be sensitive to it or will benefit from it and it does not mean that humanity will reach ultimate consciousness, but it gives the tone of the time to come.