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Have you ever experienced repeated words, signs or images that occur in different settings and at different times? Have you seen patterns come up in your life? Is it déjà vu, voodoo or magic? Perhaps it is just a coincidence? Or maybe it is synchronicity. All those coincidences, where you see something in one venue and then it repeats over and over again in other venues, converge into something meaningful.
For example, you first dream about enthusiasm and wake up feeling enthusiastic. Throughout the day you keep seeing and hearing the word “enthusiasm” in very unusual venues and media, like in a magazine you picked up to read while waiting for an appointment, then you hear it on the radio, and then you see it in artwork displayed at the local library when go to renew your book. You wonder if there is any significance in these coincidental events. The next day at work you decidedly engage in your duties and responsibilities with more “enthusiasm”. After lunch, your supervisor sings your praises and gives you the honor of being “employee of the month”. This is synchronicity.
The talented music artists, The Police, weaved Carl Jung’s concept of “meaningful coincidence” into a song entitled Synchronicity I (they also wrote and performed Synchronicity II, which provides an example of this idea). The concept of synchronicity is explained pretty well in the lyrics (excerpt below; also see video at the top of this page in the right margin):
With one breath, with one flow
You will know… Synchronicity
A sleep trance, a dream dance
A shaped romance… Synchronicity
A connecting principle
Linked to the invisible
Logic so inflexible
Yet nothing is invincible…
Synchronicity is defined as an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated. In 1952 Carl Jung produced a detailed account of what he called “meaningful coincidences” in Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, written in collaboration with Wolfgang Pauli, a physicist. In daunting scholarly language, it is about unrelated connection of two or more psycho-physic phenomena. This concept was inspired to him by a patient’s case that was in situation of impasse in treatment. One night, the patient dreamed a golden scarab. The next day, during the psychotherapy session, a real insect this time, hit against the Jung’s cabinet window. Jung caught it and discovered surprisingly that it was a golden scarab; a very rare presence for that climate. So, the idea is all about coincidence: in this case, between the scarab dreamed by the patient and its appearance in reality, in the psychotherapy cabinet. (from: http://www.carl-jung.net/synchronicity.html)
The concept of synchronicity is based on the idea that the individual, through the subconscious, has access to an “absolute knowledge” which is not bound by the limitations of space or time. Jung’s primary source of material for this hypothesis was to be found in his study of dreams especially those which were of a parapsychological nature.
The synchronicity phenomena show that the subconscious is able to transcend the factors or space and time. With respect to the former, it would seem that space has been transcended when, for instance, one has an accurate inner knowledge, possibly in the form of a dream or fantasy, that a friend, who is living hundreds of miles away, has suddenly taken ill. This type of synchronised experience is not at all uncommon. With respect to the time factor, it would seem that it too can be transcended. The synchronised experiences, which are of a pre-cognitive character, show this quite well.
Jung’s concept of synchronicity provides an image of a psyche, which is not restricted by the limitations of space and time and participates in the overall events of nature. With the hypothesis of synchronicity, Jung felt he had achieved, from the point of view of psychology, an understanding of the nature of the phenomenal world that was analogous to that of modern physics. Both had achieved an understanding of reality that went beyond our everyday notions of solid bodies, empty space, cause and effect, space and time. Physics understanding of this new frontier was for the most part quantitative in that it was expressed mathematically. Jung’s understanding was, in contrast to this, principally qualitative in that it addressed the problem of “meaningful parallels.”
Both views, Jung had hoped, would eventually come together creating a new unified scientific model — a new world view linking the psychic and the physical. It is a scientific goal which, given the limited knowledge of psychology and physics, is at present unattainable. Or is it? What do you think? Are we in a new age of understanding?