Friday, February 01, 2008

Name Analysis? Can It Really Help?

After the passing of actor Jimmy Nah (commonly known as MC King), it was reported in yesterday’s Chinese newspaper that many Mediacorp artistes have decided to change their so-called “auspicious” name back to their original Chinese names.

Jimmy Nah changed his name after consulting a local famous feng shui master and his career apparently improved there after. Unfortunately, he suffered from heart failure (I think) few weeks back and passed on. Fellow actors like Christopher Lee, Edmund Chen and a few others who have consulted the same master for their name change started to have second thoughts and quickly abandon their “auspicious names” and embrace the old ones. While success did came to them, it was short-lived like in the example of Christopher Lee who was imprisoned last year from driving offences despite the use of the new name which is supposed to bring him good luck.

Could it be the method used, that causes it? In Chinese name analysis, there are quite a number of methods and most masters use a combination of these methods. Each master would claim that his method is the genuine ancient Chinese method but it is hard to verify the claims. One of the most common methods in the feng shui market now is the counting of strokes in the character. It is known as the 5 Formations method 五格.

姓氏 筆畫 A 天格= 1 + A
名一 筆畫 B 人格= A + B
名二 筆畫 C 地格= B + C
總格= A + B + C
外格= 1 + C

This is a questionable method and seems rather unconvincing. How many strokes a character comprises of is not consistent. For example, the character eight, is made up of two strokes (this counting is straight forward and applies to most characters) but if I am not wrong, strokes of numeric characters are not counted but based on the value it carries, e.g. eight is taken as eight strokes instead of two. What is the rationale for this? Another thing is the External Formation 外格, where it equals to 1+ C above. Why the need for an External Formation? Why plus 1? Where the 1 comes from? If you do some research, you will realize that this method originated from Japan. It is not a genuine Chinese name analysis method. Name analysis techniques were lost back in China and its practice was most likely passed down and kept by only a small handful of people.

This method was created for Japanese name which is normally of 4 characters, unlike the Chinese names which is normally 3. A Taiwanese learned the technique and brought it back to Taiwan. From Taiwan, the rest was history and name analysis craze was started. So how he adapted the Japanese method for Chinese name? He added the External Formation 外格 for the missing fourth character. Why plus 1 and not 2 or 3? There’s no logic here. For those who can read Chinese, do a search online and you should be able to find tons of information on this and verify for yourself.

I remember I once saw a Chinese book of case studies on the validity of this method. One case study mentioned was of an excellent name, using the method above to analyze. The interpretation indicates a man who enjoys good wealth and health. But in reality, who does the name belongs to? A young man who drowned and passed away.

So how much influence can a name make? Master Dong Nong Zheng once said on a television talk show that it has less then 15% influence (or was it 12%? Can’t remember the exact percentage but definitely not high) on our lives and this level of influence is lesser unless the person uses the name since birth. Changing our names in adulthood won’t help much as psychologically you have been conditioned by the original name for years and society knows you by that name also.

I remember a case in the book Freakonomics (Chapter 6: The socioeconomic patterns of naming children), which talks about a real account of a New York City father named Robert Lane who named his son Winner in 1958. The parents probably ran out of names to give their next son, the seventh one three years later and they simply named him Loser Lane. Mind you, according to the book, this actually happened in the United States. And so what happened to them after they grew up? One became a criminal and lives a miserable life, with more than 30 arrests for burglary, domestic violence, trespassing, resisting arrest, and other mayhem while the other went to prep school on a scholarship, graduated from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and joined the New York Police Department, where he made eventually got promoted to become a sergeant. So who is this successful one? His name is Loser. In the end, the message to bring across is that our name is an indicator—but not a cause—of our life path. There’s a blog which the writer wrote about this same story but analyzing their names using Numerology:
Pretty interesting.

Life is a card game. God dealt you the cards but it’s up to you to play the game.

Alvin Chua

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