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Rumpelstiltskin and Synchronicity

Well, what a funny week last week was! It started with a message on another
list about synchronicity. Well, in my normal manner I decided that we
experience synchronicity when we gain new understanding and become aware of
things which are there the whole time, but are unnoticed.

Then someone was telling me about their computer problems, and guess what
happened? Well, I don't need to say, but I did get it fixed in an hour or
two! I still hadn't taken the hint, though.

I gave my views on synchronicity and mentioned how I was especially
surprised as a young person that when I learned a new word, I would begin to
hear it everywhere - even if it was a very specialised word. Of course, the
word was being uttered and I hadn't heard it because I didn't understand

Then, yesterday, I decided I needed to know about a new subject so I went
out to buy some books. I got home and opened one of them and saw a section
'Who should buy this book'. I thought that's a bit silly because I've
already bought it. But I read it anyway. And it was quite interesting.

The author told a story of how as a young girl she had a book on tree
recognition among her presents. She eventually got to look at the book and
the first tree was a Joshua tree. She was confident there were no Joshua
trees in her neighbourhood because it was such a weird tree she'd know if
she had seen it.

She went out on her tree search and noticed that the next-door neighbours
had a Joshua tree in their garden.

And as she walked through the neighbourhood, she saw Joshua trees

When she learned the word she noticed the thing! It reminded me of my
learning words and hearing them. My suggested explanation of synchronicity
could not fully explain this. The book had nothing to do with the subject of
synchronicity, and my buying it was for quite different reasons. (And I
never read the early pages of a book in a bookshop!)

My greatest experience of synchronicity was when I was writing an article on
my computer. The article was about a Buddhist idea that things do not exist
inherently - they are not permanent things, but everything changes. They say
we are surprised when, for example, our house falls down, because we believe
it exists inherently, whereas it does not and can change. I had got to a
thinking stage and I was gazing at the screen thinking about the subject
when the computer crashed. I got mad at it and was concerned about the loss
of data. And then I realised this was an exact illustration of the principle
of non-inherent existence. I had been writing about the subject but fell
into the trap of thinking that my program was 'permanent'.

This type of crash has never occurred before and has not occurred since. I
lost only about half a sentence of data. And this was I believe an almost
(or wholly) magical illustration of synchronicity.

Synchronicity is related to our increasing understanding but it is not
merely an increase in awareness. It is an increase in awareness, but many
examples experienced by many people are not explained solely in this way.

Synchronicity is related to intuition. And again, in part intuition is a
knowing (right-brained) without understanding how we know. For example, we
might meet a new person and have strong feelings that that person is good or
bad. We tend to cover these feelings as merely irrational. Yet they often
have some basis. I am not saying we would rely on these feelings, etc, and
take them to be truths, but they are to be taken into consideration.

Yet intuition too is more than just a clever knowing. Sometimes clear
thoughts and knowledge cannot be easily related to normal experience.

In the same way, synchronicity is a way of the world hinting and trying to
bring our awareness and understanding to some new level. Like intuition, we
often miss the hint and fail to learn the lesson.

We could all benefit if we gave more attention to certain intuitions and
synchronistic events. To weight them too highly is to be paranoid, but to
ignore them as we usually do, is equally damaging.

And Rumpelstiltskin? As you know he was the dwarf who helped the princess in
return for her promise to give him her first child - unless she guessed his
name. By learning his name she gained power over him.

I wonder what your experience with synchronicity is?

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Most Recent Revision: 4-Apr-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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