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Synchronicity – A concept that may become increasingly important in our emerging quantum worldview

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Chambre de glace dans le pays

Chambre de glace dans le pays by Sýn En via Flickr

Synchronicity is a term coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung to represent the idea of meaningful coincidence. Implicit to Jung’s idea of synchronicity is the belief that all of creation is somehow interconnected, not only through space but also time.

Whether or not synchronicity is a truly scientific concept remains open to debate. If science is understood as something that must be predictive, then synchronicity can probably never be a scientific concept. If science, however, is understood as acquiring knowledge and wisdom though trial and error, then synchronicity might play into a new kind of scientific rubric, one that believes in an essential connection between consciousness and the world in which it resides.

Synchronicity takes three main forms:

  • The coincidence of a psychological state with a corresponding, simultaneously occurring external event with no evidence of causality
  • The coincidence of a psychological state with a corresponding, simultaneous external event that occurs at a distance, beyond the observer’s normal range of perception
  • The coincidence of a psychological state with a corresponding event that will occur in the future and which may be verified after its occurrence

Also a point of debate is whether or not synchronicity is a causal or acausal phenomenon. Jung says it is acausal but also suggests that the archetypes of the collective unconscious can lead us toward synchronicity, implying some kind of causality.

This uncertainty might result from different understandings about the nature of consciousness—particularly, what constitutes the locus of consciousness. From the perspective of the ego, synchronicity is acausal. But from the perspective of the unconscious, particularly the collective unconscious, synchronicity could have seemingly causal elements. Jung touches on this ambiguity but, as far as I can see, never fully resolves it. Some might see this as a weakness or, more favorably, as a reflection of our essentially mysterious world.

seaorange by shannon kringen

seaorange by shannon kringen via Flickr

Concerning ethics, synchronicity is ambiguous in the sense that nasty people, even murderers, experience synchronicity along with saints, seers and holy people. Because the concept of synchronicity bears some similarity to the notion of the religious sign, it is not surprising that various attempts have been made to link this aspect of Jungian thought to theology.

The following represents an attempt to synthesize Christian belief with the concept of synchronicity:

The natural universe, in the Jungian sense of the term natural, contains physical and spiritual dimensions. A person who acknowledges only the reality of the physical realm is incapable of recognizing how synchronicity operates in the New Testament and in our world and cannot see the power of the spiritual. By contrast, a person who goes to the other extreme, who sees reality only in the spiritual realm and denies reality in the physical world, will not spend much time bettering the world and will fall readily into superstition.¹

Some philosophers dismiss the entire notion of synchronicity with the idea of “confirmation bias.” Confirmation bias is described in Wikipedia as

the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.²

However, we can turn the idea of confirmation bias right back on those who adhere to it as if it were some kind of sacrosanct universal principle. The idea of confirmation bias is certainly worthy of consideration; nevertheless, Jung stressed that one doesn’t look for synchronicity but simply witnesses it. So people who actively seek out “signs” in every bird that flies across the sky, for instance, are not really candidates for the legitimate experience of synchronicity, as defined by Jung.³

Synchronicity (album)

Synchronicity (pop music album) via Wikipedia

Moreover, some theologians consider the possibility that a biased mind, which we all most likely have, could be informed by supernatural influences transcending one’s psychological makeup.

So to reduce all synchronistic experience to a humanly constructed idea of “confirmation bias” is arguably limiting and not scientific in the fullest sense of the word. This is especially so since Jung says synchronicity often involves the inner experience of numinosity along with the observation of external data.4

The following graphic about synchronicity came up through the Zemanta blogging assistant plugin. I haven’t fully reflected on it so am hesitant to say it accurately depicts Jung’s vision. But it is thought-provoking and might help to illustrate some, if not all, of the issues that synchronicity could involve:5

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

¹  Morton T. Kelsey, Christo-psychology, New York: Crossroad, 1982, p. 131.

² Compare to the Wikipedia definition provided at the time of the last update for this entry: a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs (2009/04/15).

³ (a) See https://epages.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/carl-jung-a-complicated-guy-in-a-complicated-world

(b) Not unlike religious people and their signs, believers often feel that synchronicity confirms choices they’ve made, that they are still on the right path, even if they’ve been through a trying time. I must admit that I have felt this way in my life. But we should keep in mind the possibility that had we made different choices along the way, we still might have experienced synchronicity. A friend once suggested this possibility to me. And although I still do feel comforted by synchronicities from time to time, I think my friend’s suggestion is a good, healthy reality check to keep in mind.

4 I am fully aware that using the term “external ‘is problematic, especially in this context. But a discussion of this complex philosophical issue is beyond the scope of this entry.

5 Compare to Jung’s own diagram, reproduced on p. 197 here http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/ftp04/nq21958.pdf

On the Web:

Related » Akashic Records, Causality, Divination, Shakti Gawain, David Hume, I Ching, Joachim of Fiore, Melanie Klein, Arthur Koestler, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Miracles, Morphogenetic Fields, Ram Dass, Michael Talbot

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One thought on “Synchronicity – A concept that may become increasingly important in our emerging quantum worldview

  1. a)The Jungian Theory of Syncronicity, is a clear demonstration that
    everything in this Universe is predeterminated.The Heisenberg’s
    Indetermination Principle comes from the human ignorance
    (we cannot see the reality in its totality)…so only an ignorant,can believe in Free Will.

    b)Matter is a complex form of energy; Energy
    is a complex form of Information; Information…is God’s Thought.

    The Universe is God…so we are parts of God.

    c) Every kind of “human desire”,is followed by a Chain of “Electron wave
    functions collapses” (in agreement with Schrödinger’s Theory) which will not
    follow ours expectations! …So the paradox is: if we want to get hold of
    something,we shouldn’t have to search for it. (Men stay still,and the mountains move…).
    A curiosity: The connection between the electron
    wave-function and the human intent has to do with the fact that
    experiments have proved that the intentions of the operator of a radio
    transmission facility, directly and instrumentably alter the
    “footprint”, the radiation pattern of the antenna. It has also been
    shown that the intent of the human being causes a divergence in
    the quantum field (which is the information field).
    Any divergence in the information field results in
    alterations of “probability”, which directly influences
    the outcome of any system which contains any element
    of chance, directly influencing the resulting observable
    events. (See the work of Princeton Engineering Anomalies
    Research at http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/).

    Notes:

    “In agreement with Henri Bergson’s thought (see the last pages of “Entre
    le temps et l’éternité” of Ilya Prigogine ,Librairie Arthème Fayard,Paris),
    we can accept the idea of a “Space-time absolute value”, where
    all the “Space-time relativ values” are incorporated (in agreement with Einstein’s
    theory of relativity); the conclusion is that there is only one Real
    Matrix of the Universe…so every other possible /potential parallel
    “event/dimension/future” it’s only a human illusion.

    All the other parallel Universes (or Multi-Universes,as Phd. Everett said)
    can only exist in our minds…perhaps whilst dreaming.

    Unfortunately several physicists are conditioned by Heisenberg’s Principle of
    Indetermination…which, as you will know, is enough explain the
    existence of Free Will.

    Well, the Principle of Indetermination is hardly bound by the limits of
    observations made by the human brain.

    (We cannot see the reality in its totality…Bohm taught).

    If we accept the idea that our Universe really is God,well,in a infinite
    Caos of Energy too, there must to be a logical (but not for human
    brain),exact,specific,and perfectly organized …Plan.

    How many significant (important) coincidences can happen to a person in his
    life,living in a unorganizated and stupid Universe?…I think no-one.
    Every synchronism in our life, is like an open-eyes-dream (Jung
    taught)…and we can thank the fine intelligence of our Universe…if
    they happen.”

    Fausto Intilla
    (Inventor-scientific divulger)
    http://www.oloscience.com

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