0000fortune1In traditional China, if a fortune-teller did not charge a customer, the customer likely would cry.  It was not tears of joy.  It was tears of fear.

Practitioners in the Chinese fortune-telling circle think they are in the business of “leaking heaven’s secrets“.   They have set up some business norms or code of ethics on how to charge, who should not be charged and who should be denied service.



  1. Charge the rich and famous more 富贵者多收

— because people in these social levels have more influence on society.  “Leaking heaven’s secrets” to them will create more unintended influence on the society. 

  1. Charge the poor less 贫穷者少收

— the influence of this group of people is less than the rich.  “Leaking heaven’s secrets” to them will create much less influence on society. 

  1. Reading cannot be free 算命不能不收钱

— according to fortune-telling business norms, free reading is like giving away one’s life to the customer. The fortune-teller may pick up customer’s karma debt for “leaking heaven’s secret” without compensation. This becomes interfering with others’ destiny for no reason.  It is also inauspicious to the customer who will owe a karma debt to the reader.  This karma entanglement may cause unnecessary reincarnations to repay debts.


  1. People whose life is about to end 阳寿将尽者不收

— because fortune-telling norm does not collect money from dead people (or soon-to-be-dead). 

  1. People who are facing unavoidable major disaster 大祸临身不可避者不收

— major disaster refers to major injury that may cause death or whole family may perish. 

  1. People who will not have good luck for remaining of their lives 再无好运者不收

— their lives will get worse and worse.  So no charge.


  1. No forecasting of other people’s private matter/ privacy 不测他人的隐私

— this is to avoid exploitation and prosecution of people unknown to the reader

  1. No forecasting of baby gender for pregnant women 不测孕妇怀胎性别

— with modern ultra-sound technology, this taboo is no longer relevant.  The original intention is to prevent abortion of female fetus.

  1. No forecasting for gangsters 不测凶徒

— the fortune-teller may get beaten up or killed if not careful when servicing these people.  Other than doing persuasion indirectly, it is not smart to “leak heaven’s secret” to these people.

  1. No service for insincere people 心不誠者不測

— some people treat fortune-telling as a joke or for entertainment only.  Stay away from these people and not waste your time.0000fortune2

Similar belief about fee payment also extends to Feng Shui, date-selection and other divination methods.  The practitioners believe in the exchange of energies– advice for compensation.  Without the exchange means:

  1. A karma debt is created which is negative to both parties. 
  2. The practitioner is interfering with other being’s business.

The amount of payment is not important but the flow and exchange of energies is.  Symbolic payment inside a red envelop is common if a practitioner does not want to charge a poor customer or close friend.

Some practitioners also believe that non-paying consultation will enrage customer’s karma creditors (ghosts/ spirits) for interfering with their karma debt collection (by inflicting pain and misfortune, but are stopped by the reader).  These karma creditors will collect their debts from the practitioner instead of the customer.  The practitioner will pick up customer’s the bad luck and misfortune.

Ken Lai

© 2016 Ken Lai, all rights reserved.
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