Success Without Fulfilment is geared to a specific audience: readers who understand the theory behind Ba Zi, a complicated form of Eastern astrology, but aren’t sure how to apply it in practical, life situations.
Ba Zi is based on 10 “Heavenly Stems”—the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) with yin and yang attributes—and 12 “Earthly Branches” (the 12 symbols of the Chinese lunar year). Together, they produce 22 Chinese characters that can be applied to specific hours, days, months and years in a person’s life. The book is devoted to nuances of reading those 22 characters, using the histories of various famous people to determine why there’s often a gap between success and fulfillment in life.
Although the author devotes an opening chapter to novices, this is not a book for beginners, as the preliminary explanations are mostly indecipherable. Of Harrison Ford’s birthdate, he writes: “He was born on a Ding Mao (Fire Rabbit) day. The day master was the Ding fire, not the Rabbit Earthly Branch.” The terms are not previously defined in a digestible manner.
Even intermediate or advanced students of Ba Zi may find some of the author’s reasoning puzzling. For example, in a chapter about Rosa Parks, the author questions why Parks never had children “despite having the children element in abundance in her chart.” He reasons that because she was born on the first day of spring, the soil wasn’t fertile enough for planting, noting that this could be interpreted to mean Parks was barren. Yet he never mentions the obvious possibility that Parks’ husband may have been infertile or that they didn’t desire children.
Despite such lapses, the life stories of people ranging from Sun Yat-sen to Jim Henson are interesting, and the narrative is written in a conversational style, with plenty of easy-to-read, detailed charts. While beginners should steer clear, those with a background in Ba Zi will certainly find points of interest here.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.