The ancient Chinese philosophy behind the I Ching held that “The Will of Heaven” (translation of the original Chinese by Richard Wilhelm) is revealed to us in 3 ways: Through Holy men (and presumably women), through Dreams, and through randomness, chance and co-incidence.
This philosophy led to the use of the I Ching as an oracle, the randomness or chance element being provided by the random division of yarrow stalks, or simply the throwing of a coin.
The idea that random events hold meaning within them is prevalent right across the world, and all cultures have their own oracles, symbolism of omens, and soothsayers.
Many people use oracles such as the I Ching, or the Tarot, as a means to know the future. For my assessment as to why this might be folly, click here.
Oracles can be much more useful as “contrived dreams”, giving us another point of view, a challenge, an affirmation, a window onto the unconscious, rather than being seen as a window onto the future. Either packed with beautiful and powerful imagery (I Ching, Tarot, etc.), or a randomness into which we can throw our own unconscious (Goat’s intestines, etc.), oracles can stimulate “waking dreams” which we can explore in the same way as a dream from sleep.
Whether this process is purely one of unconscious projection, or one of the “Universe coming half way” is open to speculation, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. If we can find wisdom using the process … a kind of wisdom that opens up possibilities, inspires us, and gives us emotional and spiritual strength … then it is helpful. But if we seek only a predestined future, then all we will find is a cage.
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