Sunday, March 23, 2008

Synchronicity

Synchronicity is defined as a coincidence that is so meaningful and unusual that it can hardly be attributed to chance alone.

What could very well be the most famous tale that illustrates synchronicity is Dr. Carl Jung's story of a patient who was recalling to him a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. As he was listening, Jung had his back against the window of his office, when a flying scarabaeid beetle came knocking on the window right behind Jung's back. "I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in." The scarabaeid beetle was the most closely resembling insect to the scarab in the patient's dream that lived in their physical proximity and the coincidence ended up helping Jung's treatment of his patient.

What is even more interesting is that the scarab in ancient Egyptian mythology was a symbol of rebirth and his patient needed a transformation, or rebirth, in consciousness in order for her treatment to be successful. Specifically, her difficulty was related to her inability to accept the irrationality of the unconscious. And the blatantly meaningful connection of the synchronicity was enough to sway her perspective.

I personally believe the synchronicity phenomenon to be an essential bridge between the perspective of a skeptic, who sees the world as largely mechanistic and random, and an awareness of the interconnectedness of life and what is considered to be paranormal phenomenon. Thus, I am always on the lookout when I am around a skeptic to introduce the concept when I feel an internal radar going off to give me the go ahead. In addition, there is a concept called the "synchronicity of synchronicity" (Alan Vaughan) which states that when one becomes interested in synchronicities, they are more likely to occur. Thus, introducing someone to the concept typically causes a synchronicity to be experienced in the near future if the individual is interested.

From my own experience, when I introduce synchronicity to someone who is not at all open-minded about such subjects, and indeed a synchronicity does occur, it often surfaces in a very obvious manner, just like Jung's scarab example, for his patient was quite close minded about such phenomena.

One evening, I was hanging out with someone who was very much a skeptic at the time. I had just had some very profound series of synchronicities occur to me which I was dying to talk about. So, I decided to tell my story to him, since it was a good way of introducing him to the concept. I will not recount the entire story I told him, but it involved reading a line of poetry on a bathroom wall which was incredibly meaningful in relation to what I had been going through. To the best of my abilities, I recited the poem from memory to him.

Later that evening, we decided to go have a drink at a pub and, to our surprise, as we walked in we found the same line of poetry etched in gold at the top of the bar!

Over the years, I have come to perceive synchronicity as a blanket term that describes a wide variety of unusual phenomena with a coarse granularity. For example, with the case of the line of poetry etched into the bar, I had been to that pub before, perhaps a couple times, but I never consciously noticed any poetry for it was close to the ceiling and I had sat in a different section. It could very well have been that the poetry had been unconsciously registered in my psyche and this bloomed within me the desire to visit that specific pub that evening.

Similarly, in Jung's story, the dream of the scarab could be interpreted as a divination of the future. The patient's deeper, unconscious self could have been aware of the future event of a scarab-like insect knocking on the window behind her psychiatrist's back and therefore the dream surfaced as an opportunity to demonstrate the potential interrelatedness between the unconscious and physical reality we perceive while awake.

In Synchronistic Conditioning and an Emerging Portrait of Vitality, I used the term "synchronistic conditioning" to denote the mental and emotional conditioning we receive from dreams and by living/thinking/acting intuitively that helps us perceive synchronicities more clearly and more frequently. For example, Jung's patient, having dreamed of the scarab, received the mental conditioning of giving the scarab a degree of importance. Had the scarab-like beetle entered Jung's office without his patient having dreamed about it, Jung may or may not have discussed the scarab as a symbol of rebirth. And even if he did, the patient would most likely not have been convinced of the relevance of the coincidence to her treatment.

Similarly, in my story of finding the poetry in the pub, it could have been synchronistic conditioning that led me to suggest to my friend that we go to the specific pub in question that evening, because somewhere in my subconscious I knew that the synchronicity would help my friend develop awareness of the inter-connectedness inherent in life.

Synchronistic conditioning can help explain the mechanics behind many synchronistic phenomena, given that we find it plausible that the future can be intuited ahead of time. Lately, I find the act of divination to be nothing out of the ordinary, especially if it originates from the unconscious realms where time seems to take on a non-linear form. I have been finding a large number of parallels between the nature of consciousness in relation to time and the space-time fabric Einstein's theories explain (in addition to all the various phenomena such as time wormholes that the coupling of space and time theoretically creates). (Please visit Black Holes and the Art of Transformation for an in-depth discussion on this lengthy topic.)

In earlier posts, I have written about reaching states of mind in which there is an ongoing dialogue between my conscious self and visions/intuitions originating from the depths of my being which shift my perspective or feelings in such a way that I see synchronicities left and right as if they were an integral part of the "discussion". In normal states of mind, such conditioning is less frequent and the number of synchronicities I detect similarly decreases, but much can be explained when exploring the mechanics of each synchronicity while looking inward for subtle shifts in perspective and intuitive/creative thinking.

Still, the question remains: "Can we attribute all synchronistic phenomena to synchronistic conditioning and divination on the part of our deeper selves?" My answer is that we can't. Synchronicities sometimes point to a far more mysterious and enigmatic order that underlies our reality.

Take, for example, the following story my uncle recently told me. While at home one day conversing with a friend, whose name happened to be the same as his, Nadeem, another friend who he has not seen or heard from for a long while popped into his head. He even asked his wife to phone his friend's wife in order to enquire about his whereabouts, he lived overseas and he wanted to know if he was coming home for vacation any time soon. Minutes went by and another Nadeem showed up at his house so that there were now three Nadeem's. Neither do these three men normally meet, especially not simultaneously, nor was the name common in his culture. Just a few minutes later, the friend he had been thinking about who lived overseas actually arrived at the scene completely out of the blue, unannounced, unexpected, and unexplainable.

In this story, it would be perfectly plausible to consider that my uncle intuited the future appearance of his friend at his house and that was why his friend popped into his head out of nowhere that day. But, how would one explain that, while this synchronicity was brewing, there happened to be two other men visiting him with the same name as his, especially since the symbolism of such a rare coincidence points at the inherent interrelatedness of all things, that which synchronicity symbolizes as well. In a similar way to how the people and the objects in our dreams can be interpreted as projections of our own psyche, so does the meeting of three men with the same name suggest the mirror-like projections of the self in our physical world.

In Michael Talbot's classic of a book, titled "The Holographic Universe", synchroncities are discussed from the point of view that the physical reality which we perceive, also called the explicate order, unfolds from an implicate order which is interconnected like a hologram. Our apparent separateness is an illusion and synchronous occurrences serve as evidence that the physical world and our own inner psychological processes are interconnected. In the words of physicist F. David Peat, when we experience synchronicity, we are really experiencing "the human mind operating, for a moment, in its true order and extending throughout society and nature, moving through orders of increasing subtlety, reaching past the source of mind and matter into creativity itself."

In the mysterious world of quantum physics, scientists have observed quantum particles behave in coordination with each other in a manner that defies the laws of physics in that the effects suggest movement faster than the speed of light, which is considered by scientists to be the upper speed limit, hence the name "non-local effects". Physicist Paul Davies states: "These non-local quantum effects are indeed a form of synchronicity in the sense that they establish a connection--more precisely a correlation--between events for which any form of causal linkage is forbidden."

Synchronicities in our everyday lives can be seen as non-local, yet related, events at the macro-cosmic level and that was why Jung labeled the concept of synchronicity "an acausal principle", since synchronous occurrences lack the usual cause-and-effect relationship.

In conclusion, synchronistic phenomena points to an underlying order beneath life that is highly elusive and enigmatic. What is the nature and purpose behind this order? When do synchronicities happen more frequently? Do we affect the frequency of synchronicities? These are all questions to ponder...

1 comment:

wilbau said...

Relating to the subject of Synchronicity I want to share this short memory:

As a young fanatic, dogmatic and continually prayerful novice christian, I was supposed to get my leadings through prayer anytime at anyplace.

So now, if praying in public places, for example train stations, some of the public announcements would get a special meaning and would get me asking myself, or maybe 'doubting', if these announcements would have a special meaning:

"Does god want to tell me something through the speakers?".

I knew of some 'brethren' that could get really confused by this.
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Great post! Wish you well.