Go and Fortune Telling

Hi all,

I have been reading up on the history of Go and found that in ancient times, Go was used/played as a form of fortune telling. How and where exactly they went about this, I do not know.

I just thought that anecdote was really interesting, and coupled with the well-known fact that there are more possible moves in Go than atoms in the known universe, I felt like there was some sort of esoteric connection that could be made between these two observations on the game itself.

I always felt like Go was a way to teach yourself metaphors on life. Does anyone feel the same way?


Geomancy, perhaps?

I certainly do, but at the same time I also think that this is a case of Apophenia, the tendency to perceive art of perceiving meaningful patterns within random data :smiley:

By this I mean: If you are seeking meaningful metaphors on life, you’ll probably show a tendency to find such metaphors wherever you look, and the closer you look at something, the more you may find.

So, for some people Go has become a tool for improving themselves, while for others it becomes a tool for competition against others, for others again a tool for mathematical insight, for even others a challenge for their programming skills … (and I think most of us are “mixed calculations”).

But IMO what I said above about Apophenia doesn’t invalidate the value of Go for self-improvement … because of the many possibilities in Go it may really be an ideal tool for this, it’s not accidental that there’s a lot of philosophy around Go … see also:

So … I think it’s all about how you look at things, about attitude :slight_smile:

Reminds me of a person who once was my “guru” (don’t ask who, he was a “no-name guru”), and I wondered …

  • … whether I was perhaps “only” projecting all my wishes for answers onto him, or …
  • … whether he perhaps was “only” an ideal screen for such projections …

Maybe it was both? And the “guru” phenomenon is defined by the interaction between us two?
Like … he also told me, “the student is the teacher’s teacher” … and my experience formed my belief that there is no such person like “a guru”, that there can only be my or your or maybe your AND my guru, because it is a phenomenon that happens between two people. If somebody is my guru, I may not generalise him to be a guru because other people may not experience the same interaction with her or him.

I think it’s all about what we make of it, how we look at it.

(I edited a bit here and there, jumping back and forth, so pls forgive any inconsistency)


Please forgive me for replying to myself, but since I just shared this quote from “Shibumi” at another place, I’d like to do so here also:

“Go is to Western chess what philosophy is to double-entry accounting.”
— Trevanian, “Shibumi” (1983), p. 158

(and remember, “Shibumi” is sort of a crime story, a thriller :smiley: )

And another quote, not that closely connected to the topic of life metaphors, but since you mentioned the universe … :wink:

“While the baroque rules of Chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play Go.”
— attributed to Edward Lasker (but not confirmed)


John Fairbairn’s article “Go In Ancient China” may also be of interest here.


Thank you! Awesome stuff


Thanks for the reference to Fairbairn’s great article. I found it especially exciting because it confirms speculations about the significance of the 361 points and a possible connection to magic squares that Weston and I were discussing in another thread Tafl game Alea Evangelii hints at 11th century go influence in Europe?


I know that the topic is more than a year old, but i thought i’d give my input. Fortune-telling with various games has existed for many many years since ancient times. The oldest one I can think of is divination with Dominoes and playing cards. But don’t just go for the street cons (psychics and the “artists” alike). Find something that is free and online (like https://fortune-telling-online.com/)… that way you’re guaranteed to not be scammed, because people have actually put work into bringing some magic into your life without asking for money. I actually use this site on a daily basis when I need to make up my mind about something quickly (their magic 8 ball and yes/no oracle are great at this)… not for something super important, just regular daily stuff, like should I go to this party, does my dog like me… LOL.
And then there’s also the Tarot readings they offer such great insight if you choose to “read between the lines”. Even if you don’t believe in fortune-telling you should check it out and see that there’s a deep psychological side to all of these divination methods. Quite fascinating IMO. Whatever your choice is I believe that you should always try and have some fun. Love to you all xX :hugs:

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Yes, these methods have psychological effects that can be beneficial from a strictly materialistic viewpoint. This has been widely discussed with regard to the I Ching, in particular. The I Ching is really a book of wisdom that is general enough to have wide application of its proverbial statements. Hence, people who receive “answers” to their questions are forced to think about their problem in relation to a piece of general wisdom. Since it is usually better to think about a problem, than not think about a problem, this process can produce good results. It’s like the psychologist who asks a client, “And what do you think?”