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Synchronicity, by Carl Jung

Have you ever had a dream that was later fulfilled? For example, did you dream about receiving a letter, and then actually received one the next day? Or, dreamed about somebody’s death a few days before it actually occurred? Or imagined you met a friend on the street only to actually meet that friend a few blocks later? Carl Jung says that these types of dreams, inclinations, and premonitions are more common than we suspect. In the first chapter of “Synchronicity,” he defines what he means by synchronicity and provides some examples. The most common examples are dreaming about a letter or somebody’s death. Carl Jung also gives two examples from his personal life. In the first example, one his female clients, who was extremely stubborn and difficult to treat, came for a regularly scheduled appointment and told Jung about a dream that she had about a golden scarab beetle. At the precise moment that she shared her dream, Carl heard a knocking sound on his window. He opened the window, and in flew a beetle. Catching the beetle in his hand, Carl noted that it was a scarab. He forever remembered this remarkable coincidence, because in addition to the beetle’s presence, the client opened up and they made extraordinary breakthroughs during that session. In a second case, a woman shared that at the time of death of two of her close relatives, she noticed that birds had gathered on her window. Therefore, their deaths were marked by the presence of the birds. This woman’s husband was ill, and when she saw a cluster of birds gather on her window, she knew that her husband had died. This was later confirmed. The scarab and the birds were both symbols that prefigured actual events, archetypically symbolizing re-birth and death, respectably. Jung defines “synchronicity” as the synchronous, or synchronistic, occurrence of a psychic state and an external event.

Jung also discusses research completed by the Duke University researcher, Rhines. Rhines conducted a series of experiments, during which he had participants guess the images on a set of cards. The participants were separated from the researchers by a wall, so that the images on the cards could not be seen. Thus, the participants had to guess what image was shown on the card. The results of these experiments showed that some people are statistically more likely to be able to predict the image on the card, despite the physical separation between participant and researcher. They found that neither physical distance nor time had any effect on the results. Participants, as long as they were emotionally invested in the experiment, were able to statistically guess the contents of the card with remarkable accuracy. Rhines coined this phenomena “extra-sensory perception (ESP).” Furthermore, the researchers conducted experiments using dice, and they found that by rolling a die and simultaneously stating the desired roll, the participants were statistically more likely to be able to predict the result of the roll. It appeared that the psychic prediction, from an emotionally invested participant, manifested in an externally favorable dice roll. Rhines coined this relationship, “psychokinetics (PK).”

From Rhines’s experiments and Jung’s experiences, it can be concluded that acausal relationships condense along time and space to a single point, meaning that time and distance are irrelevant. So then, how does synchronicity work? Is it real? Is extra-sensory perception (ESP) an actual phenomenon? In another example, Jung uses fishes. One particular day that stood out in his memory was characterized by fish. On that particular day, he was thinking about fish, because he knew that’s what he would be eating for dinner. Throughout the day, he experienced fish six other distinct times. Was this a coincidence? Or were his psychic perceptions somehow linked and therefore synchronous with external events?

In summary, Carl Jung defines 3 forms of synchronicity. In each form, a psychic state is linked with an external event via a meaning.

  1. The psychic state of the observer is coincident with a simultaneous external event that occurs within sight of the observer and would otherwise be considered improbable.

  2. The psychic state of the observer is coincident with an external event outside the perception of the observer. The separating characteristic is space.

  3. The psychic state of the observer predicts a future external event. The separating characteristic is time.

I also found it interesting when Jung described the phenomena of perceiving an external event from a vantage point other than your own body. This happens when the subconscious mind is dominant, such as during a dream or during a coma. For example, he tells the story about a woman who was in a coma, yet she witnessed the frantic actions of the doctor with great detail from the vantage point of the ceiling. After recovering from the coma, she described the events exactly as they occurred, although it was clear that she was not conscious during the events. From these examples, it seems that synchronicity occurs when the subconscious mind dominates. Only when the conscious mind is turned off, through a coma or through emotional investment, synchronicity can manifest.

Although the explanations provided by Jung seem a bit fanatical, I think that there is some truth in them. I’ve heard of similar events frequently enough, and have even had enough frequent personal experiences, to believe that there is some legitimacy to Jung’s claims. For example, the experience of observing external events from an elevated vantage point, during a dream-like state, has occurred to me several times. It is an odd feeling. It feels like I am elevated from my bed and placed on the ceiling. Everything below is far away and small, and at the same time I feel gigantic. I can look down and see myself sleeping peacefully, and I can see my surroundings. It’s a strange and foreign feeling. Also, I think that these experiences are not limited to myself, Carl Jung, or Carl Jung’s clients. I think that other people, if pressed, can explain similar situations, and I think that they always occur when the subconscious mind is most active. How does a person engage his or her subconscious mind?

A common term used to describe the link between the psychic state and an external state is “magic.” People have used the term “magic” since medieval times to describe this indescribable link between meaning and physical manifestation. I think that Jung makes a good case for synchronicity using creation and astrology. A good example of synchronicity is the woman’s cycle and the moon’s cycle. Both occur at the same interval, yet there is no physical explanation or link between the two events. Similarly with mathematics. Numbers and patterns are found with regularity in nature. We cannot provide any scientific or physical explanation for such “coincidences.” These types of astrological and earthological coincidents support an a priori creator. The probability of so many patterns existing in astrology, nature, and mathematics is so miniscule, that the only reasonable explanation is a Creator. It makes sense that a Creator, who is beyond time and space, could orchestrate miracles. Miracles are simply events that link a psychic meaning to an external event, and cannot be described via any scientific or physical theory. Miracles and synchronicity are possible, because the Creator, who created earth and the planets, does not exist in time and space. He is beyond those things. Earth, physical space, and time are God’s creation. As created things, they follow patterns, like the patterns we observe in nature, astrology, mathematics, and marriage. Additionally, what God created, he can also destroy; hence, time and space can be removed, and when time and space are removed we observe synchronistic events. Patterns and synchronicity support a Creator and God’s existence. This is so cool!

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