Chance is an essential part of the divination process of the I Ching, but what is Chance anyway?
My understanding of it is this: Chance is nature, at work, shaping uniqueness in the multitude; it is separating the individual from the dizzying array of the ideal. In a stormy maelstrom of winter snow drift, each single snowflake is an individual creation of its own right and not a clone of another. Likewise, you will only find one Mai Lan in a world made up of 6.7 billion individuals. What does this have to do with the I Ching?
Just as we must be able to adapt our communication to any and all specifics by using the same 26 letters of the alphabet, so does the I Ching, with her 64 guas. So that the I Ching can communicate with us in a unique manner for each unique situation in, she must use chance to address our individual needs. After all, we are limiting her to the same 64 guas to answer an infinite array of questions and concerns with different shades of meanings specific to the individual who is consulting the I Ching.
To these 64 guas is added the heaven, which is ever-changing, and the earth, which is fixed. Throw chance into the mix and, voila! You have her answers and wisdom, created specifically to suit your individual need at any given moment, because the chance of the die or the coin toss, fixes that moment in time to a specific set of changes in the heaven, and the same reciprocal set of conditions on earth.
According to Wilhelm in his I Ching translation, ‘Suprahuman intelligence has from the beginning made use of three mediums of expression—men, animals, and plants, in each of which life pulsates in a different rhythm. Chance came to be utilized as a fourth medium; the very absence of an immediate meaning in chance ermiteed a deeper meaning tocome to expression in it. The oracle was the outcome of this use of chance. The Book of Changes is founded on the plant oracle as manipulated by men with mediumistic powers.’
Having established Chance as an equal to the powers of men, animals, and plants, it therefore lifts Chance up to that same force that resides within all life. It lifts Chance up to being an integral part of the Tao.