Synchronicity and the Collective Unconscious

Synchronicity
is a term coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung which he defined as the
“temporally coincident occurrence of acausal events.”  In other words, synchronicities are
meaningful coincidences – highly improbable, highly significant, serendipitous happenings.  When it is clear that there is no
cause-and-effect connection between two events, yet a meaningful relationship
nevertheless exists, this is synchronicity.
Jung believed synchronicity is an acausal connecting principle of our
collective unconscious through which we are shown mystical glimpses of
meaningful connections between our subjective and objective worlds, divine
bridges between our inner and outer experiences.
Synchronicities are revelations of the
absence of any division between the physical world and inner, psychological
reality. Synchronistic events are ‘lucidity stimulators,’ neon-signs from the
dreamlike nature of the universe to help us wake up to its, and our, dreamlike
nature. Just like a dream, mind and matter are not separate, distinct
realities, but rather, are seemingly different fundamental components of the
same deeper, underlying reality that has both an external-matter aspect and an
internal-mind aspect
.”  –Paul Levy, “God the Imagination”
The blurring of boundaries between
consciousness and matter challenges everything we are taught in traditional
Western thinking. From a very early age we are urged by our parents, teachers,
and religious leaders to draw clear lines between the ‘subjective’ and the
‘objective,’ the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal,’ the existent and the non-existent, or
the tangible and the intangible. However, a reality that is very similar to
Jung’s acausal universe is becoming recognized in modern science, notably in
quantum-relativistic physics … It was Jung’s recognition of phenomena that
exist outside cause and effect that led him to define synchronicity as an
‘acausal connecting principle.’
Meaningful coincidences between the inner world – the world of visions
and dreams – and the outer world of ‘objective reality’ suggested to Jung that
the two worlds were not as clearly separated as we might think
.” 
-Stanislav
Grof, “The Holotropic Mind”
(169)
Have you ever
experienced visions or emotional pangs related to some person or incident
outside your sensory experience?  Have
you ever had déjà vu or coincidences so meaningful yet improbable that it
boggled your mind?  Have you ever had a
friend or relative pop into your head and then seconds later the phone rings
and it is them?  Myself and many others
have experienced such synchronicities, all of which can only be seen as
chance/coincidence in a Newtonian world, but have special meaning in a Jungian,
consciousness-based world.
How
many times have you gone to call someone on the phone, and found that he or she
was already on the line when you picked up the receiver … or when you dialed
the number, you discovered that the line was busy because your pal was calling
you?  On how many occasions have you
found yourself enjoying time with friends in a busy street, mall, or airport,
only to have the eerie feeling that you’ve already been in that place or with
those people before, doing exactly what you’re doing at that moment?  While these simple examples are fun to talk
about, they’re more than random coincidences.
Although we may not be able to prove scientifically why these things
happen, we all know that they do.  In
such moments of connectedness and déjà vu, we find ourselves spontaneously
transcending the limits imposed by physical laws.  In those brief instances, we’re reminded that
there’s probably more to the universe and us than we may consciously
acknowledge
.”  -Gregg Braden, “The
Divine Matrix” (57-58)
I have
personally experienced many synchronicities, déjà vu’s, and prophetic dreams
which have convinced me that something like Jung’s acausal connecting principle
truly does exist within consciousness outside of space and time.  For instance, one night in college I actually
dreamed of a conversation that I would be having the next day and experienced
paradigm-shattering déjà vu as I found myself enacting my dream in
reality.  Stunned in revelatory
paralysis, the dream came flooding back to me and I realized that I was
standing in the exact place, wearing the exact clothes, and having the exact
discussion that I had dreamt.  Suddenly
it occurred to me that I knew exactly the entire next sentence my friend was
about to speak, so I quickly snapped out of the reverie and said the whole
sentence along with her verbatim simultaneously.  My friend then stared at me dumbfounded as I
laughed and tried to explain.
Another time, a few years ago I was
meditating and started to feel a tight clenching at my solar plexus so I tried
to relax, took a deep breath and exhaled with an Om.  The very second I finished my Om breath, the
electricity in my  3rd floor
apartment room, all the lights and my digital clock, went dark for 2 seconds
then came back on.  Shocked, I phoned my
friends on the 2nd and 5th floors to see if their power
had gone out and it hadn’t.  This meant
at most the power went out only on my floor and perhaps only in my room!  Perplexed and curious I then said a little
prayer to “God,” my “higher self,” or whatever aspect of the one consciousness
was listening, and said, “it seems like that was more than just a coincidence,
if that was some kind of sign, could I please have another one?”  And so the next day I was downstairs in my
girlfriends’s room watching the cartoon South Park on DVD, the episode where
Cesar Millan comes to deal with Cartman.
Just as Cesar finished saying the words “you must express the dominant
energy,” the lights, the television, everything went dark once again, then came
back on 2 seconds later and the DVD somehow skipped back and said once again
“express the dominant energy.”  “Express
the dominant energy” coinciding with 2 power outages, my meditation, and my
asking for a sign was quite an odd, memorable and mysterious synchronicity for
me.  
Most of
us have encountered strange coincidences that defy ordinary explanation. The
Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer, one of the first to be interested in the
scientific implications of this phenomenon, reported a situation where his tram
ticket bore the same number as the theater ticket that he bought immediately
afterward; later that evening the same sequence of digits was given to him as a
telephone number.  The astronomer
Flammarion cited an amusing story of a triple coincidence involving a certain
Mr. Deschamps and a special kind of plum pudding. As a boy, Deschamps was given
a piece of this pudding by a Mr. de Fortgibu. Ten years later, he saw the same
pudding on the menu of a Paris
restaurant and asked the waiter for a serving. However, it turned out that the
last piece of the pudding was already ordered—by Mr. de Fortgibu, who just
happened to be in the restaurant at that moment. Many years later, Mr.
Deschamps was invited to a party where this pudding was to be served as a
special rarity.  While he was eating it,
he remarked that the only thing lacking was Mr. de Fortgibu. At that moment the
door opened and an old man walked in. It was Mr. de Fortgibu who burst in on
the party by mistake because he had been given a wrong address for the place he
was supposed to go.
 
-Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (171)
Jung was treating a woman whose
staunchly rational approach to life made it difficult for her to benefit from
therapy.  After a number of frustrating
sessions the woman told Jung about a dream involving a scarab beetle.  Jung knew that in Egyptian mythology the
scarab represented rebirth and wondered if the woman’s unconscious mind was
symbolically announcing that she was about to undergo some kind of
psychological rebirth.  He was just about
to tell her this when something tapped on the window, and he looked up to see a
gold-green scarab on the other side of the glass (it was the only time a scarab
beetle had ever appeared at Jung’s window).
He opened the window and allowed the scarab to fly into the room as he
presented his interpretation of the dream.
The woman was so stunned that she tempered her excessive rationality,
and from that point on her response to therapy improved
.”
-Michael
Talbot, “The Holographic Universe”
(78)
These kinds
of anecdotes are not exactly “scientific” but due to the very nature of
synchronicities, science and the scientific method are unfortunately
ill-equipped to offer any insight into such intangible, immeasurable, and
subjective phenomena. However, for many people who have personally experienced
such highly improbable, unbelievable synchronicities, confirmation from science
is unnecessary because like a glimpse behind the veil, they are given a kind of
gnosis, an intuitive recognition of the subtle interplays between
consciousness, space, time and matter. 
In a
mechanical universe where everything is linked by cause and effect, there is no
place for ‘meaningful coincidences’ in the Jungian sense. In the practice of
traditional psychiatry, when a person perceives meaningful coincidences, he or
she is, at best, diagnosed as
projecting special
meaning into
purely accidental events; at worst he or she is
diagnosed as suffering from hallucinations or delusions. Traditional
psychiatrists either do not know about the existence of true synchronicities or
they prefer to ignore the concept. As a result they may wrongly diagnose
‘meaningful coincidences’ as the result of serious pathology (delusions of
reference). In many cases of spiritual emergencies, where valid synchronicities
were reported, people have all too often been hospitalized unnecessarily. Had
those experiences been correctly understood and treated as manifestations of
psycho-spiritual crisis those same people might have been quickly helped
through approaches supporting spiritual emergence, rather than undergoing all
the problems that unnecessary hospitalization entails
.”  -Stanislav
Grof, “The Holotropic Mind”
(173)
Physicist
F. David Peat believes synchronicities are very real phenomena which provide
circumstantial evidence for an absence of division between the outer physical
world and our inner psychological worlds.
He states that “the self lives on but as one aspect of the more
subtle movement that involves the order of the whole of consciousness.
  It has been an arduous process, but as
explored in the first chapter, quantum physics is slowly dragging the world of
“rational science” kicking and screaming to the realization that staunch
materialism is untenable, and concepts like Jung’s collective unconscious are
not so fantastic or fanciful after all.   
Jung
himself was fully aware of the fact that the concept of synchronicity was
incompatible with traditional science and he followed with great interest the
revolutionary new worldview that was emerging from developments in modern physics.
He maintained a friendship with Wolfgang Pauli, one of the founders of quantum
physics, and the two of them had a very fruitful exchange of ideas. Similarly,
in personal communications between Jung and Albert Einstein, the latter
explicitly encouraged him to pursue the concept of synchronicity because it was
fully compatible with the new thinking in physics.  Sadly, however, mainstream psychologists and
psychiatrists have still not caught up with the revolutionary developments in
modern physics and Jungian psychology
.”
-Stanislav Grof, “The
Holotropic Mind”
(173-4)

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