What is synchronicity? It is
the occurrence of events which have the following characteristics:
The events are simultaneous. There could be:
Two internal events, e.g., two people having a
corresponding thought at the same moment.
Two external events, e.g., two people committing a
corresponding act at the same time.
A combination of an inner event (i.e., a thought or
feeling) and an external event. Carl Jung, who developed the
concept of synchronicity, offered this example: During a
therapy session, a patient was describing her dream about a
golden scarab (a beetle which was notable in Egyptian
mythology); when a similar beetle suddenly flew in through an
open window, the patient was so astonished by the coincidence
that she experienced a breakthrough in her therapy.
The events are meaningful. We intuit a special significance;
the event "glows," and it resonates deep within us, and perhaps it
stirs a profound realization regarding some aspect of our life.
This meaningfulness differentiates synchronous events from mere
coincidences. For example, we might be reading a newspaper article
about a politician when his or her campaign ad starts to play on a
nearby radio; if we do not intuit any particular importance to the
concurrence, then it was just a coincidence. Whenever we
mistakenly view a coincidence as a synchronous event, we are
indulging in superstition; we are falsely believing that there is
an implication (or even a cause-and-effect relationship) in the
fact that the two events occurred together.
The events are not connected by cause-and-effect; i.e., one
event does not cause the other. Jung theorized that synchronicity
is a universal force, like gravity, which somehow presents
parallel occurrences due to a quirk in the time-space continuum.
Jung said that the concept of synchronicity explains the workings
of astrology, I Ching, and similar phenomena; for example, he
believed that the lay of the coins in I Ching is synchronous with
personal events in the person's life. Synchronicity -- Jung's
"acausal connecting principle" -- is a separate principle from
that of cause-and-effect (i.e., "karma"), so it provides another
way in which to view the dynamics of the universe; in
synchronicity, two events appear to be related but we do not
detect a causal, karmic relationship between them. But perhaps
another force lies behind synchronicity. Jung and other authors
have detected no cause-and-effect link between two
synchronous events. But we can speculate that there is a third
element which precipitates the two events. Consider this analogy:
In a room, we have one person who is deaf, and two persons who can
hear. When a firecracker explodes, the two hearing people jump in
surprise. From the viewpoint of the deaf person (who did not hear
the firecracker), the jumping was a synchronous event; one
person's jump did not cause the other person's jump -- but the law
of cause-and-effect was indeed occurring, with a cause which was
simply not perceived by the deaf person. Perhaps all synchronous
events are caused by a force which we do not detect. (This
possibility is explored further in our study of the synchronicity
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