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January 24, 2021 4 min read

How do you decide when you cannot make up your mind, especially when you like all options?

Chicken or beef for dinner?

Theme park A or theme park B?

Supermarket in suburb A or B?

You come to my house, or I go to yours?

How do you decide?

Generally, you flip a coin—Head for option A and Tail for option B.

Here is the catch

Flipping a coin will give you an option to choose. But how do you know the option you choose is good or bad?

Most of the time, you don’t know until you experience it. 

In some culture, they try to predict an outcome of the action before making a decision, and this is what I would like to share with you.

Disclaimer: the way I am sharing with you does not base on science but culture. So if you are looking for proof, I do not have it for you. But if you are interested in how other people do it when they want to “predict” an outcome, then you can read on to find out. 

In The Evergreen Taoist Church


Source: self taken

The Church (or Temple) is around 30 minutes drive from my place, and it is open for public visit daily.
Inside the temple, you will find Kwun Yum (Guan Yin), Buddha.


Near the altar, you will find a wooden can with multiple bamboo stick.

It is a a fortune-telling practice called Kau Chim 求籤.

How it works

Here was what I witnessed

A gentleman came to Kwun Yum Altar. He kneeled and prayed. Then he picked up the wooden can and started shaking. After several minutes, a stick from the wooden can fell out. On that stick, there was a number. He then went to a wardrobe nearby and looked for the location of that number. Inside this wardrobe was 100 scrolls which he can read and interpret the outcome. If he was unsure, he could ask a temple staff for help. Recently, I believe there are online apps too. So, just in case you are curious, here is one of the online version of Kau Chim.

However, people still want to do it at the Taoist Temple, as they want the ambience, the setting of the environment, the smell of incense, the physical touch of the can, the sound of the stick when being shaken, At the temple, they feel more holy, more "real". 

But what if there was no temple close to where they live, is there another way offline to predict an outcome, that could give them a similar feeling?

Except for coin-flipping (only two outcomes: Good or Bad) , there is another way to predict the "future" (has 9 outcomes at least).

Introduce the Tibetan way - using mala as an oracle

Depending on your belief, first, you visualise your deity in front of you. Then at the same time, you ask for his or her guidance. Next, you hold the mala on your hands

Your left thumb will place on one bead and your right hand will place on another bead


Please note that the guru bead (the largest bead of the mala) must not be between your two thumbs.

Then the thumbs of each hand move towards each other counting three beads at a time . (if you start from the left, then your left hand will count the odd numbers 1,3 and your right hand will count the even number 2).

Your left thumb is moving to the right and your right thumb is moving to the left.

If you use left hand first, the sequence would be Left, Right, Left, Right, Left ,Right, Left,... until you are left with three, two or one bead

If you use right hand first, the sequence would be Right, Left, Right, Left ,Right, Left, Right ... until you are left with three, two or one bead



Here is the symbol and meaning

  • Three beads: Snow Lion: Generally positive meaning, slow but stable process, achievable in a longer run compared to the usual.
  • Two Beads: Raven: Bad luck. But if you have good karma, your luck will improve
  • One Bead: Falcon: Everything is favourable

 You stop when there are remaining of three beads or less. And you will do for two or three set. The third set is optional, it is for visitors

First Set

Second Set

Third Set


Support from Deities and Protectors. Luck and success rate 

The outcome of the immediate environment

In the past, Tibetan people travelled regularly. People visited each other frequently. Back then, there was no phone or pager. So when people worried, they tried to predict the outcome. This divination would give them some clues about an expected person arriving from elsewhere

Three Beads Remained  (Snow Lion)

Slow but stable accomplishments

Things may get difficult but they will be resolved

Visitors will

arrive late but safely

Two Beads Remained (Raven)

A Raven on the first pass means the protectors are not on your side: there will be no accomplishment, the lawsuit will be unsuccessful,

and there are enemies present

would caution against

starting on any new enterprise


Raven indicates

health issue, and a de­cline in the life force; things may get lost or get lost or stolen

Visitors will have some obstacles on arrival. They may not arrive or they may be some challenges when travelling.

One Bead Remained (Falcon)

Falcon at the first attempt would indicate sup­port from protector.

Generally, you are blessed with luck. If there is any misfortune, it will be small.

Expect to hear the great news.

Will hear news about visitors shortly or visitors arrive safely

I also found an article of Nicholas Breeze Wood , and below is the extract from the magazine. The result is from two sets of try

Falcon: 1 bead remained

Raven: 2 beads remained

Snow Lion: 3 beads remained

If you have another way of using mala, let me know so I can share it with others.

Since you are here, you can check out our sustainably cultivated agarwood mala here 

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