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Reply To: On Synchronicity and Meaning


I’ll begin with James’ last sentence, which is, “Marianne; your setup was a great startup for this topic. Well done and looking forward to more!” Yes indeed Marianne, your introduction of Jung’s “Synchronicity: An Acausal  Connecting Principle”  set me on a road to getting his book and reading it but it was not easy, still reading and trying to make sense of it.  James your conclusion is what I had in mind even before reading your post….synch or no?)


Jung’s idea that data that appears irrational should not be dismissed, gave birth to the concept of ‘synchronicity’. He described synchronicity as a ‘meaningful coincidence’. He writes that he came to understand the concept fully by reading Wilhelm’s version, and defined synchronicity as a “phenomenon that seems to be primarily connected with psychic conditions, that is to say with processes in the unconscious.” (Jung, C. G.. Synchronicity: 08 (Jung Extracts) (p. 95). Princeton University Press.)

Another way of explaining the “meaningful coincidence” is that synchronicity occurs when one’s  inner landscape (A)  meets an event in outer space (B) when there can be absolutely no causal connection between A and B. What caused this connection? Per  Jung,  A and B are connected through meaning.

Jung believed that many occurrences labeled as “coincidences,” are not actually due to chance. Instead, he believed that these occurrences are directly related to the observer’s mind, and serve to provide powerful insight, direction and guidance. (carl-jung-synchronicity)

Phil Cousineau in his book, “ Soul Moments: Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity–Meaningful Coincidences from a Seemingly Random World” writes on Jung, “By the end of his life he was convinced that Synchronicity was such a potentially powerful experience it should be taken as seriously as dreams, as messages from the unconscious world, and an example of “individuation,” the unfolding of the unique life of each soul.”

Phil’s book is full of powerful stories of wonder and  of unimaginable coincidences that change people’s lives permanently. He writes, ” in these remarkable stories, we learn of newfound respect for connection to a life greater than one we have been living and that the mystery of our lives can be revealed with the asking of the fateful question, What is the meaning here? “

My personal  synchronicity-story is profoundly inexplicable and intensely meaningful, where my inner world (A)  witnessed  an event in outer space (B) that had no causal connection whatsoever, yet, there is NOTHING as meaningful as that event B — a coincidence that stirred my soul and  asked for me to  pause and take a look at the mystery of my own life.

Sorry, I won’t be able to write that story today but  one day, I might,  and  won’t have to explain all that which appears as mere fantasy, strange, unrealistic, and incredible to many.

Some of the stories in Phil Cousineau’s  book connected me with Peter Fenwick’s stories on Near Death Experiences.  Phil writes, “It often seems that even inanimate objects cooperate with the unconscious in the arrangement of symbolic patterns. There are numerous well-authenticated stories  of clocks stopping at the moment of their owner’s death; one was the pendulum clock in the palace of Frederick the Great at San Souci, which stopped when the emperor died. Other common  examples are those of a mirror that breaks…..”

Similarly, Peter Fenwick says (in his interview with Peter McNay)

Peter:  So deathbed coincidences are enormously interesting.  The next thing – this is the last thing that happens – is the phenomena at the time of death are amazing, absolutely amazing.  How people could not talk about it and just negate it is amazing once you start looking at the range of the data.  First of all, clocks do stop.  Yes, clocks stop!  Only these slow pendulum ones?  No, even the electronic clocks; they will flash the time of the person’s death.  Amazing.  You get alarms going off in the hospice; you get mechanical malfunctions – the television set- all at the time of death.

In his splendid essay called “On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual,” Schopenhauer points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot?”

from Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (pp 283 -4) (1988)