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Synchronicity New Age Fantasy or Face of the Future

Synchronicity New Age Fantasy or Face of the Future

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Published by: Pingus on Sep 01, 2008
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UntitledSynchronicity: New Age Fantasy or Face of the Future?Parts relate to whole, the chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown – Alexander Pope, An Essay on ManIntroductionMost people have some inkling as to the meaning of the word synchronicity.“Chance? Coincidence? Signs?” they’ll usually reply if asked.Religious fundamentalists and conservatives tend to have a knee jerk reaction to theidea synchroncity, seeing it as the workings of the devil.Meanwhile, materialistic skeptics usually dismiss synchronicity as some kind of flakyNew Age fantasy.More mature psychologists, theologians and thinkers, however, are seriouslyconsidering the implications that synchroncity might have for cosmology and ethics inthe 21st century and beyond.BackgroundThe term synchronicity was coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung(1875-1961).At one time Jung was a close friend and colleague of Sigmund Freud. But these twogiants of modern psychology had a falling out in 1914, mostly due to Jung’s rejection ofFreud’s dogmatic insistence on the primacy of the libido.Before their split, the two corresponded a great deal about the emerging school ofpsychoanalysis. One of the topics mentioned in their letters was Jung’s idea ofsynchronicity, which at that time wasn’t clearly defined.Freud mostly ridiculed the idea but Jung’s personal encounters with synchronicity alongwith his study of quantum physics provided him with solid empirical and theoreticalgrounds to advance this cutting edge concept.DefinitionSynchronicity suggests that mind and matter, along with past, present and future existin a potentially meaningful continuum. As such, it compels us to rethink everydayassumptions about self and environment, causality and time.Page 1
UntitledBy the 1950s, Jung had outlined three types of synchronicity:1. The meaningful acausal coincidence of a psychological event and an externalobservable event, both taking place at or around the same time.This first type of synchronicity could be illustrated as follows: You’re driving home andbegin to think of a friend whom you haven’t seen in years. Upon entering the front dooryou find that the very same friend had just phoned and left a message on youranswering service.2. The meaningful acausal coincidence of a psychological event and an externalobservable event, the latter taking place outside the individual’s range of sensoryperception.The second type of synchronicity is illustrated by the documented vision of the Swedishscientist and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Jung says Swedenborginwardly saw a devastating fire that raged approximately 100 miles away in Stockholm,representing what psi researchers now call remote viewing.3. The meaningful acausal coincidence of an internal psychological event with anexternal observable event, the latter taking place in the future.Also called precognition, one finds this type of synchronicity throughout the history ofreligions. In the Biblical tradition, for instance, Jesus accurately predicts Peter’s findinga coin in a fish’s mouth, as well as his own betrayal, death and resurrection (Matthew17:27; 26:23; John 2:19).One could argue, however, that Jesus was absolutely certain that this precognitionwould come about. He knows because he’s God.Jesus’ predictions might be construed as ’synchronicities’ by non-Christians but not byhimself and his followers.For Christian believers, Jesus’ accurate predictions are sure evidence of God’s plan ofsalvation. And this is a bit different, theologically speaking, from the notion ofsynchronicity as set forth by Jung.The Chicken or the Egg?Jung says that synchronicity involves an acausal relationship between egoconsciousness and the outer environment. That is, synchronicity just happens, notcaused by any single event.He also cautions against actively searching out instances of synchronicity. In thisregard, Jung says synchronicity is never sought nor anticipated, but discovered.1Page 2
UntitledJung also suggests, however, that the conscious ego is guided toward the experienceof synchronicity by the archetypes of the collective unconscious.If this sounds confusing, it is.The difficulty may in part be attributed to Jung’s theoretical limitations along with thesomewhat mysterious nature of space-time.In fact, the issue of causality vs. acausality is much debated within academic,theological and scientific circles.Ethics and SynchronicityIt’s important to realize that synchronicity is ethically ambivalent. Neither good nor badin itself, synchronicity may be experienced by saints, devil-worshippers and theinsane.2In cases of psychological inflation,3 individuals may act in horrendously cruel wayswhile believing they’re God’s special gift to humanity. Indeed, synchronicity may beextremely dangerous when experienced by a demented person who interprets it so asto inflate the ego.In such intances the immodest identify with archetypal forces and adopt a false anddestructive sense of superiority.Jung says this kind of self-aggrandizement usually arises when psychologicalcomplexes remain unresolved. Thus an Adlerian inferiority/superiority complex may bereinforced by the alleged experience of synchronicity.4Arrogance and SynchronicitySynchronicity isn’t exactly he most popular topic of conversation in contemporarysociety. And it likely wouldn’t be a great opener at cocktail parties.It’s difficult to know if this taboo arises from fear, ignorance or some combination of thetwo. But it seems reasonable to say that not too many Western people experiencesynchronicity on a regular basis.While this may be the situation in most so-called developed nations, the paranormalwriter Colin Wilson inverts Western wisdom by suggesting that the healthy mind, notthe weird or deranged one, experiences synchronicity on a regular basis.Page 3

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