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Reply To: On Synchronicity and Meaning


    Drewie; so glad to see you joining this discussion with your own vision of this very unwieldy topic of “synchronicity” that always seems to stirs up healthy debate whenever and wherever it comes up concerning Jung’s ideas. Joseph has probably done more to add some credibility to these ideas I would suspect than anyone. And indeed his phrase: “Follow your Bliss” has a direct connection to this subject; at least for some of us who have been so deeply influenced by his work. So let’s stop for a moment and add a quote from: “Darryl Sharp’s Lexicon”; one of the most trusted sources that Jungians refer to for concise definition:

    Synchronicity. A phenomenon where an event in the outside world coincides meaningfully with a psychological state of mind.

    Synchronicity . . . consists of two factors: a) An unconscious image comes into consciousness either directly (i.e., literally) or indirectly (symbolized or suggested) in the form of a dream, idea, or premonition. b) An objective situation coincides with this content. The one is as puzzling as the other.[“Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,” ibid., par. 858.]

    Jung associated synchronistic experiences with the relativity of space and time and a degree of unconsciousness.
    The very diverse and confusing aspects of these phenomena are, so far as I can see at present, completely explicable on the assumption of a psychically relative space-time continuum. As soon as a psychic content crosses the threshold of consciousness, the synchronistic marginal phenomena disappear, time and space resume their accustomed sway, and consciousness is once more isolated in its subjectivity. . . . Conversely, synchronistic phenomena can be evoked by putting the subject into an unconscious state.[On the Nature of the Psyche,” CW 8, par. 440.]

    Synchronicity was defined by Jung as an “acausal connecting principle,” an essentially mysterious connection between the personal psyche and the material world, based on the fact that at bottom they are only different forms of energy.
    It is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing. The synchronicity phenomena point, it seems to me, in this direction, for they show that the nonpsychic can behave like the psychic, and vice versa, without there being any causal connection between them.[Ibid., par. 418.]


    I think one of the most difficult ideas to contend with in most discussions about this idea is: “what directs this phenomena?” Then there comes the second part of this idea of: “why did this occur to me?” Now we get to interpretation of “what it means” which is extremely subjective and personal so we look at symbolism as a reference point. For most people; at least in the west I think is this notion that “Fate” has this mysterious connection to the “other” world; which world this belongs to can start a whole other heated debate inhabited by clerics and scholars alike because each has their own version. And what controls how this influence makes it’s appearance in one’s life is always at the center even up to today with science becoming a big part of the debate. So you have this notion of “God” as the controller of everything and all these versions of what God is, and what costume he or she wears, and whether this deity is real or not; and then there is this idea that things may happen because of this Deity’s desire to communicate it’s wishes in some kind of mysterious way that may have to do with one’s Fate or Destiny. And  as you made reference to in your reply here is a quick definition combining the two terms I pulled off Google from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary that may help keep us on track:

    “Fate and destiny are both words dealing with a predetermined or destined future. … However, while fate is concrete and determined by the cosmos, destiny depends on your choices in life.”


    Now if anyone wants to start an argument with a cleric about whether God actually exists or who is in control of the individual’s fate or destiny then this is a perfect place to start. But Jung looked at this differently; and 2 of his closest friends just happen to be Heinrich Zimmer and Richard Wilhelm who were two of the world’s most highly respected authorities on Eastern religions. Joseph has stated that he considered Zimmer one of his most important influences in his thinking and along with Jung’s influence all this played very heavily into Joseph’s interpretation of myths and symbols so that all these different themes about God and religion and symbols and the individual sense of their own life and brought him to the idea that it is within the individual psyche out which many of these manifestations occur; but may or may not be aware it. But like the idea of this debate between science and God these are not really something explainable in the same sense that the mystic or the cleric or the scientist might be able to provide. So to add to the discussion about this phenomena of “meaningful chance” I’m going to add a short clip from Joseph’s lecture series where he makes the distinctions between where some of these misconceptions may reside. This does not address synchronicity per say; but it will help to add some extra clarity to the role symbols and religion concerning fate and the individual may lie which returns back to your original reference.