Synchronicity: the science behind significant coincidences

To see the world in a grain of sand, and the sky in a wild flower, reach infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.

“William Blake.

Some clues about synchronicity or important coincidences

We all lived it coincidences of facts to which we generally do not give more importance than that of a striking curiosity. We think of someone, and just then we got a call from him; we remember someone we haven’t had in mind for a long time, and then we meet them on the street, or they’re playing a song on the radio that’s very related to something that’s going on right now. Some people relate experiences that may seem even more surprising to us, such as dreaming about events that occur later or perceiving an accident or the death of a loved one in the distance.

From an eminently rational perspective, these facts are a matter of chance, Coincidences to which it is not necessary to give more importance than they have. For their part, extraordinary facts are seen as inventions of people who want to attract attention or misinterpretations of objective facts.

However, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung saw, in the coincidences of highly improbable events, the expression of a phenomenon that deserved to be studied rigorously. In this sense, he coined the term synchronicity, which he defined as the simultaneous presentation of two facts which are not linked by a cause and effect relationship, but by their meaning.

What is synchronicity according to Jung?

The development of the concept of synchronicity stems from the collaboration between Carl Gustav Jung I Wolfgang Pauli, Nobel Prize in Physics and one of the fathers of quantum mechanics. It is therefore a concept in which the approaches of physics and psychology converge. The collaboration of these authors was shaped in 1952 with the publication of the joint book Synchronicity as Principle of Acausal Connections. In this book, synchronicity is mentioned as a key element in understanding the relationship between psyche and matter.

Jung describes three categories of synchronicity: The first presents the coincidence between a mental content (a thought, a feeling, a dream) and an external event (a call is received from someone who was thinking). The second is the coincidence between an inner vision and an event happening far away (dreaming of an accident or the death of a person occurring in reality). The third is to have a picture of something that will happen later in the future. It is emphasized that the images upon which synchronicity is based are not necessarily presented literally but can manifest themselves symbolically.

Rational thinking does not accept this type of phenomenon, so when developing the concept of synchronicity, Jung uses what is often called oriental thought. This type of thinking is related to what we usually hear when we talk about intuition.

Western thought vs Eastern thought

The rational, mechanistic and materialist thought on which the Western worldview has been based since the Enlightenment, and which is the basis of our beliefs, presupposes the linearity of time and the causality of phenomena.

From this paradigm, science questions the cause of phenomena with the intention of controlling and predicting events. In its methodology, it is essential to build models and abstractions based on statistical generalities. Isolated cases, those that deviate from the norm, as is the case with synchronicities, are incomprehensible from a statistical approach, so they are not considered by science, nor by our belief system built under the same logic and the same influence.

Yet this has not been the predominant way of thinking in human history, and it is not yet the case today in various cultural contexts. Jung viewed synchronicity as a phenomenon consistent with Eastern worldviews, such as the Chinese from whom Taoism was born or the worldviews of millennial India, who have a different conception of time and space from ours.

the oriental thought, In which many indigenous worldviews are also to be included, considers all elements of the universe to be linked together to form a unit. Concrete reality, that is, what we observe, is seen as an illusory manifestation of an underlying principle. Every element in the universe is seen as a reflection of something higher around it. The universe is seen as a large organism in which each element that composes it is intrinsically linked and at the same time is a mirror of it. The individual is therefore seen as a microcosm that reflects the dynamics of the macrocosm, the entire universe..

From the logic of a universe seen as a whole, composed of interdependent elements, operating under the influence of an underlying principle, to the occurrence of an event, the natural questioning would not relate to its origin or its origin. cause, as we usually do. , but on what other events can occur simultaneously.

From the eastern point of view, it is understood that each moment in the universe has a special quality, with which rthey ring all elements synchronously. This kind of logic would be the support of astrology or oracles. At the time of an individual’s birth, the stars are in a certain position and symbolically there is a record of this in each person, who is conditioned for it.

Likewise, when consulting an oracle, tarot cards, turtle shell signals, etc., are not presented at random, but correspond to the particular time and situation from which the questioning. and by this relation a symbolic meaning can be given to each of these facts. In this diagram, synchronicity would be this phenomenon which would make it possible to understand this link between the consultant’s question and the composition of the elements of the oracle.

The symbolic dimension of synchronicity

Jung highlights com in Eastern thought, numbers receive, in addition to their quantitative function, a qualitative and symbolic dimension.. To illustrate this, he tells a short story from Chinese lore about the history of a kingdom that had to decide whether or not to go to war. As there was no consensus, the council of elders held a vote; the result was 3 votes for and 5 against. However, the king decided to go to war because 3 was the unanimity number. Numbers, like synchronicity, are seen as intermediaries between the everyday world and the spiritual world.

The conception that there is a unifying principle in the universe, a strange force which is the origin and the engine of all, and which provides harmony and structure in chaos, has been present in various philosophies and visions. of the world. This unifying principle has been called Tao, Logos, Sense and with similar characteristics is the foundation of major Eastern religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen. Although it has been given different names, all of these descriptions support that reality, that is, the concrete and observable elements, as well as our double abstractions, are the external manifestation of the U. the history of the The universe and humanity would be an unfolding of the different aspects of this unifying principle.

It is also considered that the different cycles and rhythms present in nature are an expression of this underlying principle. For Eastern thought, time does not pass in a linear but circular way, the image of the spiral, like that of the snail shell. Thus, time was seen as an expression of the eternal cycles of birth, death, and regeneration. These cycles are present in nature, in the history of peoples and individuals.

Many models and Conceptions of Eastern mysticism that have accompanied humanity for thousands of years began to have resonances and parallels with the descriptions of the composition and dynamics of matter, provided by physicists who pioneered quantum mechanics around 1920 . Jung he realized these parallels and saw them as an opportunity to give solidity to his plot observations and intuitions on synchronicity. Therefore, he decided to delve into these studies, exchanging correspondence, ideas and discoveries with several of the pioneering physicists of quantum mechanics, including Albert Einstein and Wolfang Pauli.

Quantum physics, oriental thought and synchronicity

the Quantum mechanics it is this branch of physics which is responsible for describing the behavior of subatomic particles, that is to say the smallest parts of which the universe is composed.

A confusion similar to what we can experience when we experience a powerful synchronicity, that is, one that shakes our rational and structured viewpoint, was what physicists experienced at the turn of the last century, when began to discover the strange, even the strange. magical way, in which subatomic matter behaves.

Albert Einstein himself, who with his theory of relativity revolutionized science and was a forerunner of quantum physics, has spent the last 20 years of his life trying to highlight inconsistencies in quantum theory, such as he found it amazing that the world works in such a unique way. Subsequent studies have shown that at the subatomic level, the world behaves largely in unpredictable and paradoxical ways, squarely questioning our common sense.

Experimentally, it has been verified that if one of the particles is affected, the other is changed synchronously. If, it seems, all the elements that make up the universe, including us, are the result of a large explosion of very dense mass, it can be inferred that at the subatomic level we continue to maintain a link with the entire universe.

Similarities with Eastern Thought

The relationship between quantum physics and eastern cosmology is a complex and controversial subject.

It is well known that subatomic particles can sometimes behave like waves and sometimes like particles. Perhaps most striking for our Cartesian mentality are the experimental results in which it is proved that an atom can be and not be in the same place, or be in two places at the same time. In addition, it can rotate in one direction and at the same time in the opposite direction. All this recalls the world of mystery that Jung and the mystics tell us about by referring to the unifying principle and its manifestations.

Physicist David Bohm postulates that in the universe there is an implicit order, underlying the deployed order, reproduce the differences that Buddhism makes between the illusory Mayan world and the unifying principle. Physicists also describe that much of the make-up of matter that we observe is empty, which is one aspect the Tao alludes to.

Synchronicity, Fractals and Unus Mundus

Spontaneously, nature forms certain geometric configurations which come in the form of leaves, the spirals of snails, in caves, in the form of bones, hurricanes. This type of pattern configuration, also known as fractals, is sometimes seen as a manifestation in matter of this underlying principle. Fractals or archetypal geometric shapes are also present in some works of art and architecture.

the archetypal configurations in addition to being seen as a manifestation of synchronicity, i.e. a link between the physical and mental world, they can be an element that affects the aesthetic pleasure generated by both nature and art . Few have experienced that contemplating nature, a painting or a sculpture, listening to a certain melody gave them more than aesthetic pleasure and gave them a sudden irrational understanding of the interdependence of themselves with the rest of the world. the elements of the universe.

Such experiences can also be seen as an expression of synchronicity, when our everyday physical world is sometimes linked to a transcendent and mysterious reality.

Jung uses Unus Mundus by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus to refer to it unifying principle which is also in some way present in its concept of the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious can be understood as this “soul of the world” from which emerge the symbolic patterns present in the mythologies of all peoples, and which, like fractals, tend to shape not forms but typical modes of performance. . The so-called archetypes of the collective unconscious. Synchronicity for Jung can be a manifestation of a constellation archetype, a way in which the collective soul affects our lives, fostering a certain experience, a certain perspective.

For Jung, synchronistic phenomena were linked to moments of great affectivity. This is why, he says, they often present themselves in moments of transition such as death, falling in love, travel, situations in which we are at odds within ourselves or in a dilemma facing a decision. fundamental. They can also be catalyzed by exalted affectivity in psychotherapy and in altered states of consciousness, generated by natural or chemical elements.

Some people are more likely to experience or be aware of synchronicities, but sometimes present in skeptical and mostly rational people, opening their perspective and sensitivity to a symbolic dimension of life.

For Jung, synchronicities could also be part of collective life, as when scientists without maintaining any exchange of information make discoveries simultaneously, being the most recognized case, the postulate is almost in parallel with the theory of evolution. by Darwin and Wallace.

Synchronicity and “power of the mind”: the creator of rain

Positive thinking and visualizations (by the imagination) they can be effective in achieving specific goals in some people. However, neither quantum physics nor synchronicity are in themselves scientific arguments for what is often described as “the power of the mind to create realities”, “to believe is to create”, and things like that, which have more to do with thinking than with science. The power of prayer and good energies, on the other hand, always remain in the respectable ground of beliefs and faith.

Quantum physics has shown the subject’s participation in physical reality observed at the micro-physical level, and an interaction of the physical and mental realm, but it does not follow that this incidence can be manipulated by subjects to obtain manifestations in reality. . In the field of micro-physics, quantum logic works, but in our observable world, Newtonian physics continues to function and large dimensions are guided by Einstein’s logic of relativity. These logics are linked but cannot be extrapolated. Physics is always in search of a unified theory which integrates and accounts for the different fields.

For its part, synchronicity, as well as the Tao, refers to complex and paradoxical phenomena, impossible to reduce to personal growth of sentences and manual recipes. In all cases, they move away from the logics of control, mastery, entrepreneurship and progress with which visualizations are usually linked to achieve goals. The logic of synchronicity is closer to letting go, resonance and flow with this underlying principle, and is usually best expressed through poetic and literary imagery.

The following story in Chinese tradition was Jung’s favorite for conveying the essence of synchronicity and Tao.

The creator of rain

In a certain Chinese village, it had not rained for several weeks, so we were sought rain maker. When the old man arrived, he went straight to the house they had prepared for him and remained there without performing any ceremony until the third day of the rains. When asked about this as he had done, he explained that when he arrived in the village he noticed the lack of a state of harmony, so that the cycles of nature did not work. in such a convenient way.

As this state of disharmony had affected him as well, he was locked away to restore his balance, and when that balance was restored according to the natural pattern, the rain fell.

Bibliographical references:

  • Bolen, Jean Shinoda. The Tao of psychology. Barcelona: Kairós, 2005.
  • Capra, Fritjof El Tao of physics. Malaga: Syria, 1995.
  • Francesc, Marie-Luise von On divination and synchronicity: the psychology of significant coincidences. Barcelona: Paidós, 1999.
  • Jung, CG The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche: Synchronicity as a Principle of Causal Connection. Barcelona: Edicones Paidós, 1991.
  • Peat, F. David. Synchronicity: bridge between spirit and matter. Barcelona: Kairós, 1989

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