Synchronicity

	I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known:
	therefore I created the creation in order to be known.
						-- Sufi creation myth

Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer. -- Carl Jung

Consider a series of random events. An event occurs, some time later, I do not know when, or what, another event occurs.

I flip a coin. I do so again. I get a series of heads. Does that mean the next is likely to be tails, so in the long run, I get an equal number of heads and tails? The answer is no. To answer otherwise is to imply my coin has memory, or the past influences the future. When I toss the coin the first time, there is equal probability of heads or tails. How does the coin know I am flipping the coin the first time or the umpteenth time?

With a gently undulating sine wave, knowing the starting conditions, the amplitude and the frequency, I can predict the state of the wave at any time in the future, right up to infinity. I can do the same, looking back into the past. That is why the sine wave conveys no information, all that can be known about it is already known.

Events mark time. Without events, there is no time.

If I look at series of events and perceive a pattern, this implies the events are somehow related in time. One event leads to another, if not, then there can be no pattern.

Chaos theory is often interpreted to mean random. No. The conditions are too complex to predict leading to seemingly random, unpredictable events. If I can see a pattern, then I have imposed order on the chaos.

We can often see a pattern in seemingly random events, though some people seem to be more capable of seeing than others. Maybe you have to know how to look.

Luck doesn't just happen. Some people are luckier than others, because they intuitively know how to take advantage of seemingly random events.

Time flows, but to say it flows implies it has direction, that it only flows one way. Like a stream that flows downhill, we would be very surprised if one day we saw it flowing uphill.

If we see pattens in seemingly random events, does that imply an intelligence behind the pattern? Communication across the transition zone?

Deepak Chopra believes it does (see Deepak Chopra How to Know God):

The scientific viewpoint worldview tells us that events are not organised by any kind of outside force. A coincidence says otherwise; it is like a momentary reprise from chaos.

If an aircraft takes off at Gatwick outside of London and lands at Larnaca in Cyprus, an event has taken place, but we do not call it a random event. There was an intelligent force guiding the event which we call the pilot.

Carl Jung called these meaningful coincidences in seemingly random events synchronicity.

To quote Deepak Chopra again:

My own life has been touched often by synchronicity, so much so that now I get on an airplane expecting the passenger in the next seat to be surprisingly important to me, either just the voice I need to hear to solve a problem or a missing link in a transaction that needs to come together....

... I believe that all coincidences are messages from the unmanifest they are like angels without wings, so to speak, sudden interruptions of life by a deeper level ....

Consider

material world - - - - transition zone - - - - God

Which we can reinterpret as

We are on the boundaries of religion, metaphysics, and quantum physics. All three merge making it difficult to disentangle one from the other. [see Fritjof Capra The Tao of Physics or Gary Zukav The Dancing Wu Li Masters or Deepak Chopra How to Know God]

We can see synchronicity as communication across the transition zone.

Deepak Chopra again:

These messages come from a level of mind that knows life as a whole, and ultimately we would have to say we are really communicating with ourselves the whole is talking to its parts. Synchronicity steps outside the brain and works from a larger perspective.

Eliminating mind from the equation won't work because the only alternative is chance. ... One reason Jung invented a new word for these meaningful coincidences is that the normal rational way of explaining them turned out to be too unwieldy. If I sit next to a stranger on a plane who is looking for a certain book idea to publish and that happens to be the very idea I am working on, the explanation of statistical probability does not apply.

Although not easy to calculate, the odds of most synchronous events are preposterous. Anytime two people meet and discover that they have the same name or phone number, the odds are millions to one against their encounter. Yet this occasionally happens, and the simple explanation that they were meant to meet makes more sense than random numbers, but it isn't scientific. In spiritual reality, however, literally everything happens because it is meant to. ... At synchronous moments, you get a peek at just how connected your life is, how completely woven into the infinite tapestry of existence.

Like Chopra, I found my life being touched so often, I began to wonder why I was getting so many signs, who was sending them and why. Why was I getting special attention? I also noticed that once you become alert to synchronicity you notice all the more meaningful coincidences.

I met my lovely friend Estie whilst travelling on a train to London. When I met Estie, I was chatting on a cell phone to my Russian friend Lilia in Moscow. The odds on both of these meetings was pretty low. Was it chance or was it destiny? Were we destined to meet?

I called a Russian friend and we had a brief chat. I then turned on the radio to find I was just in time to listen to a dramatisation of a Sherlock Holmes tale. The friend I had just called is an avid Holmes fan. Much to her delight I had recently given her a collection of Sherlock Holmes tales.

I was reading and reviewing a series of books and whilst doing so noticed a whole series of examples of synchronicity. Once we notice a few examples of synchronicity, our minds become focused and we are much more alert to examples of synchronicity. Or is it a case of us simply imposing patterns on events that are not really there?

I was in the middle of writing a web page on Surrey writers, one of whom was the playwright John Osborne. I tuned into BBC World Service to find they were broadcasting The Entertainer, one of two plays from the 1950s which established Osborne's reputation as one of the original 'angry young men'.

I updated my web page on Surrey writers to include J M Barrie who wrote Peter Pan (1904). The adventures of Peter Pan were based on the adventures James Barrie had with his sons in an isolated cottage deep in woodlands in Surrey. I ate at the Guildford Institute in Surrey, where I had my inspiration for the web page on Surrey writers from an exhibition at the Guildford Institute. Whilst I was there I picked up a programme for the Guildford Summer Festival 2004. On my way home, I flipped through the programme. I saw that during the Festival the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre was running a musical production of James Barrie's Peter Pan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first production of Peter Pan.

For the last couple of days I had tried contacting someone who I needed to speak to. On my way home from lunch in Guildford I was nearing home and walking along a road around the corner from my house. As I crossed the road, the person I had been trying to contact drove past and waved to me.

I was inspired by synchronicity to write about the use of the cross, an instrument of execution and torture, as a fashion icon. As I did so, an amazing series of meaningful coincidences appeared. Why?

Reading and reviewing Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code, it happened again, an amazing series of meaningful coincidences!

These coincidences occurred so often, I had to keep rewriting what I had written to keep pace with them!

I found I was writing 'synchronicity' so often, that I felt obliged to write this discourse to go into a little more detail as to exactly what synchronicity is.

Whilst I was writing down my thoughts on synchronicity, I spoke to my father and asked him if he liked the Norah Jones' CDs I had sent him. Yes, he replied. Had you heard of Norah Jones before I asked. No, he replied, but what was strange he said, he had turned on the radio that day, to find there was some discussion of her, but he could not recall what. She's Ravi Shankar's daughter I said. Oh that was it, my father added, it was Father's Day, and the question asked was: who is the father of Norah Jones?

I wrote an argument against the building of a superstore in a town centre as it would destroy the town. I looked through my recently delivered copy of The Ecologist to find the book review of the month was on the damaging impacts of supermarkets (Joanna Blythman Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets), and that the next issue of The Ecologist was to be a special issue on the negative impacts of supermarkets.

I was walking down the road and thinking of a girl I had not seen for a while. I did not know her, but had seen her a few times, and each time I thought of her, I saw her. I crossed the road, then I looked across to the other side of the road. There, walking along the other side of the road, was the girl I had been thinking of. I don't know why, but I had a feeling I would see her that day.

I met my lovely Chinese friend Janna in Guildford. We got chatting about Lewis Carroll and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Did you know he lived in Guildford, I asked, and took her to his house. A couple of days later I was at the Ambient Picnic in Guildford, an annual mid-summer green festival, where I had arranged to meet Janna. She called me to say she could not make it as she was with friends. As I took her call, I was at a stall run by Green Dragon (they recycle books into woods) looking at The Annotated Alice, thinking Janna would love this book. [The Annotated Alice edited by Martin Gardner]

Search this site for many more examples of synchronicity.

Closely related to synchronicity, is that of an idea occurring at the same time to more than one person. It could be the environment is ripe for that idea, but it often happens when this is not so, where there is no apparent rational explanation. Does one person have an idea and it radiates to be picked up by more receptive minds? Is there a global mind that some of us are more attuned to than others?

When Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), developed calculus, it was also developed elsewhere by Leibniz (1646-1716). It was not called calculus, its derivation was not the same, and yet it was calculus. Why did calculus appear when it did, why not a 1,000 years before, why not a hundred years later?

After writing of Newton v Leibniz, I turned on the radio a few days later to find an entire programme devoted to the acrimonious dispute between Newton and Leibniz. Newton discovered calculus and then kept quiet about it for twenty years. It was only when Leibniz published a paper, did Newton come forward with his discovery, and only then to claim Leibniz had stolen his ideas.

When I read Deepak Chopra's How to Know God, I had a very strong sense of deja vu. He had put his thoughts down in a published book, mine were notes on my computer.

When Newton 'discovered' gravity, did it not exist before? Did gravity come into being at the moment he discovered it? Was gravity lying around waiting to be discovered?

Carbon rings, which explain the structure of all hydrocarbons, came in a dream, serpents chasing each other's tails.

Do those of us who are creative have better tuned receptors to communication across the transition zone?

I often think of someone, then that day I bump into them. I may not have seen them for ages. Does my thinking of them, conjure up their existence, or does my mind get some advance warning of our meeting?

You meet a complete stranger on a train. You are immediately attracted to them. Only later do you find your initial reaction was correct. This happened to me when I met my lovely friend Estie, who sadly I no longer see.

Genetic code, DNA, determines how we develop. Buried deep inside every cell is our DNA, it lies well protected and is difficult to destroy. It can even repair itself. There are long strings of redundant information.

As a cell divides and divides from one single cell, what causes the cells to differentiate into different types of cells liver cells, brain cells, blood cells, bone cells etc? We are tempted to say it is the DNA, the genetic encoding, but it is not that simple. Each cell carries an identical genetic code, so why, reading the same identical genetic sequence, should one cell be different from another? We could postulate the passage of time, that each cell maintains a count as to when to differentiate, but this does not answer our question. How can a count or the elapse of time, which is the same for each cell and carries no additional information, tell each cell to differentiate into specialised cells?

We know what the brain is a spongy mass of convoluted grey cells, locked away in our skull. What is mind? It may be rooted in our brains, but does it extend to infinity? Do our collective minds form a global mind? Is the global mind what we call God?

What is God? Does God exist because we believe? Is the presence of believers necessary for God to exist. Without believers would God cease to exist?

Jesus rarely performed miracles in his home town. It isn't miracles that create believers, it is believers that create miracles.

Deepak Chopra mentions a friend who suffered an injury to his heal. The pain would not go away. Eventually he sought the help of a Chinese healer. The healer asked a few questions, examined the injury. He then stood behind the man, waved his hands about, and the pain was gone. When asked what he had done, the healer said he had adjusted the man's energy field, explained to him that it was the mind that created the body and kept the energy field balanced, but the injury had caused it to get out of kilter. Following his adjustment, the mind would be able to maintain balance again. What surprised the man even more than the relief from pain was to be told that he too could become a healer, all that was necessary was to discard the belief that it was impossible.

Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus. His entire belief system was changed by the sudden input of knowledge, his exposure to the infinite we call God, when Jesus spoke the words: 'Why do you persecute me?' An experience that left Saul blinded for days, such was the shock to his system.

Our belief system, what we perceive as reality, is an earthly prison. It prevents us passing across the transition zone, a journey it seems only saints and sages and mystics are capable of making. Maybe, as Deepak Chopra says, they are better quantum navigators. But unless we can change our belief system, we can never follow in their footsteps.

Jesus told those for whom he performed miracles, that all it took was belief. He even told his followers, that they too could perform miracles, all it took was belief.

Niels Bohr, speaking of quantum mechanics and the subatomic world, stated that quantum physics is not only stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think. It is the observer who creates what he 'sees' in the quantum world, without the observer, there is no existence.

As we move beyond time and space, through the transition zone, through quantum reality, there is no time and space. All that can exist, does exist, as there is no time, there can be no past, present or future, it is all now.

Are synchronicity, simultaneous ideas, examples of communication across the transition zone? Is it evidence of the existence of God? Shadows on the wall, a brief glimpse of the infinite, the unknowable, the unfathomable?

web

further reading

Robert Aziz, C G Jung's Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity, State University of New York, 1990

Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Flamingo, 1983

Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life, HarperCollins, 1996

Deepak Chopra, How To Know God, Rider, 2000

Paul Davies, God and the New Physics, Penguin, 1984

Paul Davies, The Mind of God, Simon and Schuster, 1992

Michael Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, Natural Grace, Doubleday, 1996

James Gleick, Chaos, Cardinal, 1987

Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

Valerie V Hunt, Infinite Mind, Malibu Publishing, 1996

Carl Jung, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972

Carl Jung, Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal: Key Readings, Routledge, 1977

Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Princeton University Press, 1981

Arthur Koestler, The Roots of Coincidence, Vintage, 1973

Carolyn North, Synchronicity: The Anatomy of Coincidence, Regent Press

Keith Parkins, The Cross, June 2004

Keith Parkins, Truth, June 2004

F David Peat, Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind, Bantam, 1987

Wilder Penfield, The Mystery of the Mind, Princeton University Press, 1975

Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind, Vintage, 1990

Roger Penrose, Shadows of the Mind, Vintage, 1995

Robert M Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Corgi, 1974

Rupert Sheldrake, A New Science of Life, Tarcher, 1981

Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past, Times Books, 1988

Rupert Sheldrake, Seven Experiments That Could Change the World, Riverhead Books, 1995

George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, Abacus, 1995

Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Rider, 1979

Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul, Simon and Schuster, 1989


Books Worth Reading
(c) Keith Parkins 2004-2005 -- August 2005 rev 2