What is synchronicity?
The term, synchronicity was first coined by Carl Jung in 1934 during a lecture at the Tavistock Clinic in London, England. Subsequently, Jung published an article entitled, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, in 1952. In defining the difference between causality and synchronicity, Jung once stated: “Synchronicism is the prejudice of the East, causality is the modern prejudice of the West” (Jargodzki, 2010). Causality is defined by Merriam-Webster (2017) as “the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena” while they define synchronicity as “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality”. According to Jung, synchronistic events occur as meaningful coincidences if they occur without causality and seem meaningfully related. Jung posited that synchronicities happen more regularly to people who are in a lower state of consciousness as when lost in thought. This is due to the fact that during a lower state of consciousness, more energy is consolidated within the unconscious allowing for the unconscious to transcend into the conscious. Jung understood that events can be connected via causality; however, they can also be connected via meaning without a need for causality. This, for Jung, was synchronicity, often using the term to explain paranormal events. Jung’s lifelong experiences with paranormal events concluded with his theory of synchronicity, seamlessly connecting the two.
How did Jung view synchronicity?
Jung saw synchronicity as evidence of his theories on the collective unconscious and archetypes; however his theory regarding synchronicity continued to evolve later stating “Professor Einstein was my guest on several occasions at dinner. . . These were very early days when Einstein was developing his first theory of relativity [and] It was he who first started me on thinking about a possible relativity of time as well as space, and their psychic conditionality. More than 30 years later the stimulus led to my relation with the physicist professor W. Pauli and to my thesis of psychic synchronicity” (Jargodski, 2010). His beliefs regarding synchronicity soon encompassed the ideal that synchronicity, relativity theory, and quantum mechanics were connected. Jung believed that life was not a series of random events but was; in fact, the reflection of a deeper framework, which he referred to as Unus mundus. According to Jung, this deeper framework triggered insights in a person that he is both a part of this framework and is also the focus of it and was a spiritual awakening of sorts. Just as dreams serve as a platform for revealing the unconscious, synchronicity is also responsible for helping to shift a person’s thoughts from ego to greater wholeness.
What do synchronistic events look like?
Jung enjoyed a quote from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass as a representation of synchronicity:
“The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.”
“It MUST come sometimes to ‘jam to-day,'” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”
“That’s the effect of living backwards,” the Queen said kindly: “it always makes one a little giddy at first—”
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.”
“I’m sure MINE only works one way,” Alice remarked. “I can’t remember things before they happen.”
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the Queen remarked.
Jargodski (2010) outlines four characteristics of synchronistic events:
- Such events are acausally connected, rather than connected through a chain of cause and effect that an individual can discern as intentional and deliberate on her or his own part.
- Such events always occur with an accompaniment of deep emotional experience, usually at the same time of the event itself, but not always.
- The content of the synchronistic experience, what the event actually is, is always symbolic in nature, and almost always related specifically to the fourth aspect of the synchronistic event.
- Such meaningful coincidences occur at points of important transitions in our lives. A synchronistic event very often becomes a turning point in the stories of our lives.
How has the ideal of synchronicity changed in modern times?
Robert Perry, author of Signs: A New Approach to Coincidence, Synchronicity, Guidance, Life Purpose, and God’s Plan (2009), describes synchronistic events in more modern terms:
Perry defines a sign as a CMPE (Conjunction of Meaningfully Parallel Events) which “consists of at least two events occurring within hours of each other that, seemingly by chance, are strikingly similar—they share an impressive list of parallels. Through the relationship between the two events, the CMPE highlights a situation in our lives and communicates a definite perspective on that situation” (Jargodski, 2010).
Perry outlines CMPE via a four point model (Jargodski, 2010):
- Events: Two or more distinct events that are independent of each other and strikingly similar occur within hours.
- Parallels: These two events share a long list of objective similarities. This list will be composed of specific, unlikely parallels surrounded by more general parallels.
- Subject situation: The CMPE is about a situation in your life that fits the overall story told by the parallels and is probably current, uncertain, unresolved, or at least needing confirmation.
- Interpretation: The parallels and symbolic situation will together frame the subject situation in certain way, a way that addresses your specific concern.
What is the purpose of synchronicity?
In his book, Perry describes synchronicity as “a phenomenon in which events converge in ways that are so incredibly improbable that chance seems out of the question. Rather it appears as if some unseen presence is mysteriously orchestrating events so as to shape them into a message for us. This presence seems responsive to our needs, since it speaks to situations in which we need counsel. By giving us this counsel, it displays the characteristics one would associate with a counselor, a guide, or a parent. It seems to have our welfare in mind, since it apparently tries to move us in the direction of achieving successful outcomes and realizing our highest potentials” (Jargodski, 2010).
Synchronicity is; thus, evidence of spiritual growth. Jargodski (2009) describes a four step model to increase spiritual growth:
- Quiet the mind, i.e., quiet the voice of the ego which is characterized by fear, anxiety, blame-seeking (emphasized in Buddhism and Yoga)
- Open the heart or change the heart by eliminating the bitterness blocking the expression of agape (emphasized in the Gospels as the metanoia and often mistranslated as repentance)
- Unite the mind with the heart so all intrapsychic divisions are healed
- Transform your relationships, relationships understood here in the broadest sense of the word so one lives in harmony with the Universe
Jargodski (2009) describes that synchronistic events begin to happen more regularly as one becomes more at harmony with the universe. He suggests that synchronicity could; in fact, be a new measure of ethical righteousness with actions being classified by presence of synchronicity rather than by the labels of right or wrong. Jargodski (2009) posits that the degree to which one follows his synchronistic guidance could further determine the extent of relief from accidents, sickness, and even transformation of physical body into what Buddhists would refer to as Nirvana.
As Jargodski (2009) states: “It appears that a single ego-bound individual is incapable of achieving this sort of invulnerability for the simple reason that the ego-level mind is by definition unable to join with others on a deep level. To achieve a collision-reducing relationship one needs at least two individuals who are connected on a deep level as a result of lowering their ego defenses.”
Where is the ideal of synchronicity headed?
The research into synchronicity is far from over. Hyland (2004) has conducted research in which he believes that synchronicity is caused by quantum entanglement (Limar, 2011). The belief that quantum entanglement exists on a very microscopic level, signifies the importance of such a concept. Synchronicity is part of our DNA, as Hyland (2004) describes that meiosis is guided by this quantum entanglement. In the expansion of synchronistic thought on the level of quantum physics, researchers are discovering even more about how the universe and living being may be connected, allowing us to use these connections to improve upon ourselves and our role in the world.
Jargodzki, C. (2009). Changing views of synchronicity from Carl Jung to Robert Perry. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from http://c4cp.org/Synchronicity2010.pdf
Lamar, I. (2011). Carl G. Jung’s Synchronicity and Quantum Entanglement: Schrödinger’s Cat ‘Wanders’ Between Chromosomes . Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/39cc/77e947e2593390aaa5d992be35fd5aa2aaa1.pdf
Wikipedia. (2017, February 17). Synchronicity. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity
What do you think?