Have you ever been thinking about a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, only to have the phone ring and hear their voice on the other end?
At times like that you might have had a nudge from your intuition that caused you to be thinking about that person just before they rang, or it could be synchronicity at work.
Psychologist Carl Jung first started talking about synchronicity back in the 1920s as he was trying to make sense of how two or more events that don’t seem to be linked in any tangible manner happen in a way that we can meaningfully link together.
The meaningful element is very important; if you were to go on holiday to a remote island in Thailand and got chatting with someone who turned out to be from wherever you were living who offered you a job and you ended up working for them, that would have great meaning to you, but eating your breakfast in front of the TV and seeing an advert for cereal doesn’t really have the same kind of personal significance.
Jung became totally fascinated by synchronicity and believed that it could be explained by the Chinese understanding of how the cosmos works captured in the Tao, Greek theories that also sought to explain the working of the cosmos and the Hermetic idea that what happens in our outer world is a mirror of our inner state, expressed in the saying ‘as above, so below’.
In 1952 he wrote a book on the subject. In the book he recounted a story of treating a patient who was talking about being given a golden scarab in a dream when, at that precise moment, a beetle that was as close as equivalent that might be found in that part of the world tapped at the window of his treatment room.
Other examples he wrote about border the extraordinary. A certain M Fortgibu gave the poet Marcel Deschamps some plum pudding when he was young. A decade later, Marcel spotted the same pudding in a restaurant but on going in to order some was told it had already been sold to a M Fortgibu. Years after that, he was given the same pudding at a dinner, which inspired him to say that all that was missing was M Fortgibu and at that moment the man himself walked in, to what was apparently the wrong address.
For Jung, synchronicity happens when we are in a particular kind of harmony and balance. Reading what he said today it’s easy to see that what he was saying was that everything is linked and that at certain moments something happens that shows us that this is the case. Had he been writing just a few decades later, he might have added to that an understanding based on quantum or string theory that also suggests that everything is connected at a quantum level, putting a more scientific slant to his esoteric studies.
Maybe you are one of the many fans of James Redfield’s ‘Celestine Prophecy’ novel that came out in the 90’s. In the book, the main character sets out to track down insights recorded on ancient manuscripts in Peru. He always seems to meet the right people at the right time and get exactly what he needs which propels him forward through a fabulous adventure. This is what synchronicity can look like.
However there have been certain incredible synchronicities in my life which did not lead me in the direction that they appeared to. It’s important not to make assumptions about what happens but see them as a sign you are on your path.
So is there anything that we can do to harness it? The Taoist would say it’s all about finding out place at the centre of the flow and then tuning in to what appears, rather than letting things fly over our heads or around our attention. Just think – you might have been hurrying to work this morning with your head down and walked right past someone you would have loved to have met, but at the point where you could have bumped into each other, your attention was probably on all of the stuff you had to get done at work when you got there!
But as it was Jung who first talked about synchronicity, maybe it’s also worth reminding ourselves of the role that he thought it played in our lives.
As far as he was concerned, synchronicity served the same purpose as symbols appearing in our dreams; giving us moments where the true blessing isn’t on what happens or what we get as a result, but in the chance to experience our connection to the whole, a spiritual experience that can feed us at a soul level. After all, if you absolutely knew for sure that we were all one, how might that change your life from this moment onwards?
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