Numerology is the ancient and contemporary belief that there’s an intimate connection between numerical quantity, the workings of the universe and, by implication, future events.
Numerology has roots in India, China and Greece.
Hindu culture was the birthplace of the concept of zero. The Hindus invented the base-10 number system used today, which was brought to the West by Arabs scholars, who further refined the decimal system.
The Mayans also used zero in a base-twenty numeral system.
The Chinese allocated numbers on a sacred board, the Lo Chou, and believed that even and odd numerals represented different objects and conditions (e.g. day and night, white and dark, hot and cold, fire and water, sun and earth).
The Greek philosopher Pythagoras advanced number theory to new heights, applying it to the study of ratios and geometry, often integrating this with the idea of cosmic interconnectedness.
In his discussion on his concept of synchronicity (the belief in meaningful coincidence), the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung cited the idea of recurring numbers as an illustration of one type of synchronicity.
While Jung points out that synchronicity refers to personally meaningful coincidences, he also warns against actively selecting stimuli from the environment to supposedly “discover” phenomena such as recurring numbers. In addition, he does not advocate a secondary interpretation based on (or distorted by) an unresolved complex.
But since it seems that no one is psychologically perfect, this creates a problem for Jung’s theory. At what point of mental ‘healthiness’ does genuine, unaffected synchronicity appear, and biased, false synchronicity depart?
One could argue that today’s physics is a kind of numerology. This is particularly easy to understand within the branch of astronomy called astrophysics. As Freeman Dyson points out in his book, Infinite in all Directions, many advanced theories about cosmic connections are still being worked out and incomplete. Also, they usually encounter rival theories that might better account for the phenomena they try to describe or predict.
In other words, playing with numbers, even at a very high level of abstraction and complexity, is still playing with numbers…
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