The Chinese zodiac signs explained: ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition

Many people are renewing aspirations and vows that benefit others and the world. Millions, maybe billions, of people are praying for the well-being of others and that this world-shared situation will foster awareness, compassion, equanimity, and positive change in the collective consciousness of humanity.

Below is a newly translated prayer from 84000. If it resonates, please join me in saying it aloud daily. Here is the webpage of the translation.

May all beings awaken, be eased from suffering and its causes, and may we take our collective stand in illumined pure perception. OM

Protecting All Beings

I prostrate to the Buddha, to the Teaching, and to the entire Assembly.

Blessed buddhas and all bodhisattva great beings, please pay heed to me!

I confess all sins.I rejoice in all merits.I pray to all buddhas.

I dedicate all merits so that all sentient beings attain the unsurpassed wisdom of omniscience.

Just as by their truth and true words the blessed buddhas who teach the truth have dedicated their perfect roots of virtue, in the same way do I, too, make this dedication.

By that truth and those true words: whatever sins, nonvirtuous deeds, and evils that all sentient beings have committed; whatever falsehoods they have spoken and harmful thoughts they have had; whatever obscurations—afflictive obscurations, karmic obscurations, ripened obscurations, and cognitive obscurations—have obscured, veiled, and fettered them; that they have not correctly known their own and others’ aspirations, latent dispositions, constituents, or intrinsic nature; that they have not correctly known their differences in faculties and diligence or in their virtues and nonvirtues; that they have not correctly known those qualities that are blameworthy, not blameworthy, to be relied upon, or not to be relied upon; that they have not succeeded in encountering holy beings, listening to the holy Dharma, directing their minds appropriately, or practicing in accordance with the Dharma; that they have not correctly known the various methods of taming by which beings may be tamed however they are obscured, veiled, and fettered by obscurations: the taming of sentient beings, the taming of self, the taming of others, the taming of both, taming gently, taming wrathfully, taming with equanimity, taming threateningly, taming by exorcism, taming with censure, taming by means of acts of service, veneration, and worship, taming by explaining the Dharma, taming by smiling, taming by going into seclusion to meditate, taming by means of the ascetic disciplines and having few possessions, taming through the practice of the perfections of generosity, ethical discipline, endurance, diligence, meditative absorption, and wisdom, and taming by faith, ethical discipline, learning, renunciation, wisdom, and meditative cultivation; that they have not given rise to the causes of ethical discipline; that they have not made pure the causes of meditative concentration, the causes of mental focus, the causes of meditative absorption, the causes of calm abiding, the causes of transcendent insight, the causes of the superknowledges, the causes of the exhaustion of defilements, or the causes of the discernments; that they have not actualized the meditative absorptions, the liberations, the meditative concentrations, and the meditative attainments, and that when appearances arise they have allowed what has arisen to decline; that they have given rise in their minds to the wish for gain, the wish to be honored, the wish for fame, and the wish for followers; that they have harbored in their minds thoughts of desire, malevolent thoughts, violent thoughts, thoughts about immortality, thoughts about children, thoughts about relatives, and thoughts about the requisites of clothing, food, bedding, and medicines for treating illness; that they have experienced short lives, much ill health, bad complexions, poor figures, weakness, low status, meagre resources, stupidity, being reborn in the lower realms among the hell beings, in the animal realms, and in the realm of the Lord of the Dead, and that they have experienced many such kinds of suffering deriving from their bodies and mental unhappiness deriving from their minds; and that they have delighted in wrong aspirations and have not realized rightful aspirations—may everything that will ripen for sentient beings obscured and fettered by these and any other obscurations ripen for me! And may all sentient beings thus be liberated and purified.

Whatever extent the Buddha element may have, whatever extent the Dharma element may have, whatever extent the Saṅgha element may have, whatever extent the very limit of reality may have, whatever extent nonduality may have, whatever extent suchness may have, whatever extent sameness may have, whatever extent the elements of desire, anger, and ignorance may have, and whatever extent those who are bound and will be bound in saṃsāra may have—to that very extent may all sentient beings’ primary afflictions, all their secondary afflictions, and whatever elements of affliction itself there may be, all ripen for me! And may all sentient beings thus be liberated and purified.

However many roots of virtue I have created and accumulated from cyclic existence’s undiscoverable beginning, I dedicate them to all sentient beings.

Attached to desire, tormented by anger, confused by ignorance, and yoked to the primary afflictions, secondary afflictions, and affliction itself, I do not correctly know, see, or understand how to dedicate the roots of virtue.

But the blessed buddhas do know, see, and understand such things, and just as they dedicated their roots of virtue, so too do I dedicate mine. I dedicate them in accordance with the mind of the tathāgatas.

Just as they tamed sentient beings; just as they ripened their roots of virtue; just as they multiplied their roots of virtue; and just as they knew suffering, abandoned its origin, realized cessation, cultivated the path, attained the unsurpassed wisdom of omniscience, abandoned all roots of nonvirtue, possessed all roots of virtue, vanquished the latent tendencies, and attained the state of non-forgetfulness and the knowledge of all aspects—in just the same way that all the buddhas appearing in the past, the present, and the future dedicated their roots of virtue when they were bodhisattvas, so too do I dedicate mine. I dedicate them through sameness; I dedicate them through nonduality; I dedicate them by means of the dedication that completely protects all beings; and thus I recite a second time, and thus a third time.

May sentient beings see me in whatever manner will tame them, without their having any such thoughts in mind. And may I always engage in physical, verbal, and mental actions in whatever ways sentient beings will be purified.

In whatever time, whatever place, and whatever way sentient beings will be tamed, may the sphere of reality be thus revealed to them without confusion!

The Noble Dedication “Protecting All Beings” is concluded.

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ॐ Namasté – Blessings!

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ShaoLan: The Chinese zodiac, explained

The Chinese zodiac signs explained: ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition

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Have you ever been askedby your Chinese friend, “What is your zodiac sign?” Don't think they are making small talk. If you say, “I'm a Monkey,” they immediately know you are either 24, 36, 48 or 60 years old.

(Laughter) Asking a zodiac sign is a polite wayof asking your age.

By revealing your zodiac sign,you are also being evaluated. Judgments are being madeabout your fortune or misfortune, your personality, career prospects and how you will do in a given year.

If you share you and yourpartner's animal signs, they will paint a picture in their mindabout your private life. Maybe you don't believein the Chinese zodiac.

As a quarter of the world populationis influenced by it, you'd be wise to do something about that.

So what is the Chinese zodiac, exactly? Most Westerners thinkof Greco-Roman zodiac, the signs divided into 12 months. The Chinese zodiac is different. It's a 12-year cycle labeled with animals, starting with a Rat and ending with a Pig, and has no associationwith constellations. For example, if you were bornin 1975, you are a Rabbit.

Can you see your zodiac sign there? Our Chinese ancestors constructeda very complicated theoretical framework yin and yang, the five elementsand the 12 zodiac animals. Over thousands of years, this popular culture has affectedpeople's major decisions, such as naming, marriage, giving birthand attitude towards each other.

And some of the implicationsare quite amazing.

The Chinese believe certain animalsget on better than the others. So parents choose specific yearsto give birth to babies, because they believe the team effortby the right combination of animals can give prosperity to families.

We even refer to the zodiacwhen entering into romantic relations. I'm a Pig; I should have perfect romancewith Tigers, Goats and Rabbits. Chinese people believe some animalsare natural enemies. As a Pig, I needto be careful with a Snake.

Raise your hand if you are a Snake. Let's have a chat later.

We believe some animalsare luckier than the others, such as the Dragon. Un the Western tradition, the Chinese Dragon is a symbolfor power, strength and wealth. It's everyone's dreamto have a Dragon baby. Jack Ma's parentsmust have been very proud. And they are not the only ones.

In 2012, the Year of the Dragon, the birthrate in China,Hong Kong and Taiwan increased by five percent. That means anotherone million more babies. With a traditionalpreference to baby boys, the boy-girl ratio that yearwas 120 to 100.

When those Dragon boys grow up, they will face much more severecompetition in love and job markets.

According to the BBC and the Chinesegovernment's press release, January 2015 saw a peakof Cesarean sections. Why? That was the last monthfor the Year of the Horse. It's not because they horses so much, it's because they try to avoidhaving unlucky Goat babies.

If you are a Goat, please don't feel bad. Those are Goat babies. They don't look losers to me.

Tiger is another undesirable animal, due to its volatile temperament. Many Chinese regionssaw a sharp decline of birthrate during those years. Perhaps one should considerzodiac in reverse, as those Tiger and Goat babieswill face much less competition. Maybe they are the lucky ones.

I went through the Forbestop 300 richest people in the world, and it's interesting to see the most undesirable two animals,the Goat and Tiger, are at the top of the chart, even higher than the Dragon. So maybe we should consider, maybe it's much betterto have less competition.

One last but interesting point: many Chinese people maketheir investment decisions the zodiac sign index.

Although the belief and traditionof the zodiac sign has been over thousands of years, the trend of using itin making major decisions did not really happenuntil the past few decades. Our ancestors were very busysurviving poverty, drought, famine, riot, disease and civil war.

And finally, Chinese peoplehave the time, wealth and technology to create an ideal lifethey've always wanted. The collective decisionmade by 1.

3 billion people has caused the fluctuation in economicsand demand on everything, from health care and educationto property and consumer goods. As China plays such an important rolein the global economy and geopolitics, the decisions made the zodiacand other Chinese traditions end up impacting everyonearound the world.

Are there any Monkeys here? 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. Monkeys are clever, curious,creative and mischievous.


Chinese Zodiac: Find Your Zodiac Sign, Personality, Fortune

The Chinese zodiac signs explained: ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition

2020 is a year of the Rat, starting from January 25th 2020 and ending on February 11th 2021. It is an Gold Rat year. 2021 will be a year of the Ox.

The Chinese zodiac, or shengxiao (/shnng-sshyao/ ‘born resembling'), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes.

In order, the 12 Chinese horoscope animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 2020 is a year of the Rat.

12 Zodiac Signs

Chinese zodiac animals have lucky meanings. Chinese people associate each animal with certain characteristics. It's believed that people born in a given year have the personality of that year's animal. Click the animal signs below to learn more about each zodiac animal.

Each zodiac animal's year comes around every 12 years, and each year is associated with a zodiac animal. The most recent zodiac sign years are shown below.

Each Chinese zodiac animal has personality traits assigned to it by the ancient Chinese. Chinese people believe these traits will be embodied in people, according to their zodiac sign.

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility — Is he/she right for you?

People born in a certain animal year are believed to have attributes of that animal, which could either help or hinder a relationship.

An important use of the Chinese zodiac is to determine if two people are compatible, in a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship. 

In ancient times people were faithful to Chinese zodiac compatibility and often referred to it before a romantic relationship began. Even nowadays some people still refer to it.

Enter Your Name, Date of Birth and Test Now

  • Rat: Ox, Dragon, Rabbit
  • Ox: Rat, Monkey, or Rooster
  • Tiger: Dragon, Horse, or Pig
  • Rabbit: Rat, Goat, Monkey, Dog, Pig
  • Dragon: Rat, Tiger or Snake
  • Snake: Dragon, Rooster
  • Horse: Goat, Tiger
  • Goat: Rabbit, Horse, Pig
  • Monkey: Ox, Rabbit
  • Rooster: Ox, Snake
  • Dog: Rabbit
  • Pig: Goat, Tiger, Rabbit

The 12 animals were chosen deliberately, after many revisions. The zodiac animals are either closely related to ancient Chinese people's daily lives, or have lucky meanings.

Chinese zodiac uses the principles of yin and yang. Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac sign can occur only as either Yin or Yang. 

Get to know Chinese Zodiac story.

Ben Ming Nian (Zodiac Year of Birth)

As the Chinese zodiac recurs every 12 years, your animal year will come around when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, etc. According to ancient Chinese superstition, in your birth sign year, you will offend the God of Age, and will have bad luck during that year.  Read more on How to be Lucky in Your Zodiac Year.

Chinese Zodiac Hours — Every hour has an animal

It is widely known that each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal, but the animal signs are also assigned to months, days of the week, and hours.

According to professional Chinese astrology, a person's personality and life is more decided by his/her birth hour than year. Zodiac hours, days, months, and years are used together for in-depth character and destiny analysis. In popular astrology, by contrast, only the birth year is used.

In ancient times, in order to tell the time, people divided a day into twelve 2-hour periods, and designated an animal to represent each period, according to each animal's “special time, according to an ancient mnemonic and common observations.

Chinese Zodiac Years are Chinese lunar calendar

There are two dates a Chinese zodiac year could be said to start on:

  • Chinese New Year (day 1 of the lunar year), which is somewhere in the period January 21 to February 20
  • Start of Spring (day 1 of the solar year), the first day of the first solar term in the traditional Chinese solar calendar, which falls in the period February 3–5.

Most Chinese people use lunar new year as the start of the zodiac year. But for professional fortune telling, Chinese astrologers use 'Start of Spring' or solar new year as the beginning of the zodiac year.

Chinese Zodiac is Used to Predict People's Fortune

To make a relatively correct Chinese fortune prediction, people take many methods into consideration, such as face characteristics, palmistry, and more involved Chinese astrology including birth month, day, and hour, gender, etc.

Zodiac fortune prediction by birth year is only one of these methods. So you may only take Chinese zodiac birth sign horoscopes as a general reference.

See more on Fortune Telling in China — Methods, Benefits, and Tips.

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The Chinese zodiac signs explained: ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition

The Chinese zodiac signs explained: ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition

In a world full of misfortune and worry about our future, many people are focusing on becoming better human beings, and many are turning to traditional means to help them determine certain choices in life.

The Chinese Zodiac is one of the ways people are making meaning of their lives, their love and their paths in life.

ShaoLan Hsueh, a technology entrepreneur, explains in an upbeat TED talk about how millions of people — Chinese or otherwise — are influenced by the Chinese Zodiac calendar and how it can impact major decisions in your life.

It’s a powerful philosophy that offers something for everyone.

Watch ShaoLan’s TED talk here to understand it better:

For those of you who can’t watch the video, here it is in text:

ShaoLan Hsueh describes the differences between the Chinese Zodiac calendar and the more familiar Western astrological calendars that many people follow and subscribe to.

The Western calendar is based in Greek and Roman beliefs and is a 12-month calendar that we use around the world to track time. You may be more familiar with signs such as Sagittarius, Pisces, or Leo.

The Chinese Zodiac calendar, however, is animals, not stars, and follows a 12-year cycle instead of a one year trending cycle. This cycle is so powerful and meaningful to Chinese culture that expectant mothers will schedule c-sections to prevent a baby being born in years that are less desirable than others.

all things in life, there is hierarchy present in this calendar, and when the year of the dragon rolled around again in 2012, the birth rate jumped in China producing almost one million more babies than previous years.

Decisions this don’t just impact China and the rest of the world today: one million more people is a lot to feed and house. But it also impacts those children born in 2012 into their adult years; ShaoLan describes the fact that these children will be fighting for less space, jobs, and relationships than their parents ever had to.

So whether you believe in your Zodiac sign or not, there are millions of people who do and that means that meeting someone who believes in the Zodiac sign brings about assessment and maybe a little bit of judgement too, because they are sizing you up whether you are a pig or a sheep or a goat…or a dragon.

The Chinese Zodiac can be a fun way to validate what you think you already know about yourself as well.

If you’ve ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant that had images of the Zodiac on the wall or placements, you know that people love to read about what the universe sees them as.

It’s a way of sizing ourselves up against a population of people and while many people don’t want to be a goat, according to Hsueh, there are just as many people out there that are perfectly happy with their goatish ways.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering…What Zodiac sign are you?

Here they are:

Rat: 1900 1912 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008 2020                                                                                 Element: Water
Partners well with: Dragon and Monkey
Characteristics: Intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic, sociable.

Ox: 1901 1913 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009 2021                                                                                                     Element: Earth
Partners well with: Snake and Rooster
Characteristics: Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined

Tiger: 1902 1914 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010 2022

Rabbit: 1903 1915 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011 2023

Dragon: 1904 1916 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012 2024

Snake: 1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013 2025

Horse: 1906 1918 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014 2026

Sheep/Goat: 1907 1919 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015 2027

Monkey: 1908 1920 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016 2028

Rooster: 1909 1921 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017 2029

Dog: 1910 1922 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018 2030

Boar/Pig: 1911 1923 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019 2031

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TED Education

The Chinese zodiac signs explained: ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition

TED: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). This section contains talks generally related to education.

ENGLISH United States Health & Fitness

12 min

Think you're good at guessing stats? Guess again. Whether we consider ourselves math people or not, our ability to understand and work with numbers is terribly limited, says data visualization expert Alan Smith. In this delightful talk, Smith explores the mismatch between what we know and what we think we know.


14 min

Why should a good education be exclusive to rich kids? Schools in low-income neighborhoods across the US, specifically in communities of color, lack resources that are standard at wealthier schools — things musical instruments, new books, healthy school lunches and soccer fields — and this has a real impact on the potential of students. Kandice Sumner sees the disparity every day in her classroom in Boston. In this inspiring talk, she asks us to face facts — and change them.

watch the video here

14 min

Seema Bansal forged a path to public education reform for 15,000 schools in Haryana, India, by setting an ambitious goal: by 2020, 80 percent of children should have grade-level knowledge.

She's looking to meet this goal by seeking reforms that will work in every school without additional resources.

Bansal and her team have found success using creative, straightforward techniques such as communicating with teachers using SMS group chats, and they have already measurably improved learning and engagement in Haryana's schools.

watch the video here

18 min

On any given day we're lied to from 10 to 200 times, and the clues to detect those lie can be subtle and counter-intuitive. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and “hotspots” used by those trained to recognize deception — and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.

watch the video here

6 min

A quarter of the world's population cares a lot about the Chinese zodiac. Even if you don't believe in it, you'd be wise to know how it works, says technologist and entrepreneur ShaoLan Hseuh.

In this fun, informative talk, ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition and describes how it's believed to influence your personality, career, marriage prospects and how you'll do in a given year.

What does your sign say about you?

watch the video here

14 min

How often does technology interrupt us from what we really mean to be doing? At work and at play, we spend a startling amount of time distracted by pings and pop-ups — instead of helping us spend our time well, it often feels our tech is stealing it away from us. Design thinker Tristan Harris offers thoughtful new ideas for technology that creates more meaningful interaction. He asks: “What does the future of technology look when you're designing for the deepest human values?”

17 min

When the Taliban closed all the girls' schools in Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi set up new schools, in secret, educating thousands of women and men. In this fierce, funny talk, she tells the jaw-dropping story of two times when she was threatened to stop teaching — and shares her vision for rebuilding her beloved country.

17 min

On Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s first day as principal at a failing high school in North Philadelphia, she was determined to lay down the law. But she soon realized the job was more complex than she thought.

With palpable passion, she shares the three principles that helped her turn around three schools labeled “low-performing and persistently dangerous.

” Her fearless determination to lead — and to love the students, no matter what — is a model for leaders in all fields.

Watch a video of this talk here

12 min

For six months, Suki Kim worked as an English teacher at an elite school for North Korea's future leaders — while writing a book on one of the world's most repressive regimes.

As she helped her students grapple with concepts “truth” and “critical thinking,” she came to wonder: Was teaching these students to seek the truth putting them in peril? (This talk was part of a session at TED2015 guest-curated by Pop-Up Magazine: or @popupmag on .)

Watch a video of this talk here

5 min

As kids, we all get advice from parents and teachers that seems strange, even confusing. This was crystallized one night for a young Clint Smith, who was playing with water guns in a dark parking lot with his white friends. In a heartfelt piece, the poet paints the scene of his father's furious and fearful response.

Watch a video of this talk here

18 min

Nearly 1000 “honor” killings are reported in Pakistan each year, murders by a family member for behavior deemed “shameful,” such as a relationship outside of marriage.

When Khalida Brohi lost a close friend to the practice, she resolved to campaign against it. Yet she met resistance from an unly source: the very community she hoped to protect.

In this powerful, honest talk, Brohi shares how she took a hard look at her own process, and offers sharp insights for other passionate activists.

Watch a video of this talk

5 min

In some parts of the world, half of the women lack basic reading and writing skills. The reasons vary, but in many cases, literacy isn't valued by fathers, husbands, even mothers.

Photographer and TED Fellow Laura Boushnak traveled to countries including Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia to highlight brave women — schoolgirls, political activists, 60-year-old moms — who are fighting the statistics.

Watch a video of this talk