Synchronicity is an acausal but meaningful co-occurrence of events. It names and recognizes the fact that certain inner states or attitudes are reflected by outer world events. For example, if you are consciously pursuing a goal that is at odds with your true nature and calling in life, your inner psychological state will be characterized by conflict. You may have a dream of being chased, of driving out of control, or of fighting with someone. But this inner psychological state will also be reflected synchronistically in your outer life. You will encounter an increasing number of obstacles and frustrations in your efforts to achieve your goal. The further your conscious goal(s) and attitudes stray from those of your core being and destiny, the more resistance you face in your outer and inner worlds.
In Western society and culture we are very much attached to looking at the world in cause and effect terms. We tend to be very linear in our perspective. We focus on the chronology of events and the effects of preceding events on those that follow. The result is a very rationalistic, materialistic view of reality.
A part of us may be uncomfortable with the otherworldly concept of synchronicity. We don’t understand such a viewpoint. It is unfamiliar and turns our cause and effect perspective on its head. We may want to label it a mystical or metaphysical conjecture. We may also resist it because it challenges our egocentric preference. We like to see our lives as something we choose, and something we do to the world. From a strictly cause and effect viewpoint it is easy to strategize, plan, and enact the steps needed to reach our goals. Life is our nut to crack. If we know enough, plan well enough, and try hard enough we can accomplish anything for the universe is nothing more than a gigantic pool table and we hold the cue stick.
But synchronicity introduces a concept that defies our customary linear and logical ways of thinking and perceiving. It places cause and effect within a much larger, more mysterious, and humbling context. We are not alone. Our will is subject to a greater will. The universe has an interest in our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It comments on them. It delivers consequences. It rewards some and discourages others. And if we pay careful attention, we find that it is very consistent in the feedback it gives. Its feedback is particularized to each of us as unique individuals.
Sometimes we don’t want the universe to be so intimately aware of our real attitudes, conflicts, or psychology. We are reluctant to acknowledge that our lives are the domain of a Will that is larger and more encompassing than our own. Synchronicities–along with dreams, physical and psychological symptoms—are part of the language of this higher Will, and more encompassing “Other” in our lives.
Synchronicities are not causally driven, but reflect a psycho-physical foundation underlying material processes. Cause and effect reality, including the precepts of classical physics, exist within this larger context, but are secondary and subservient to it.
To live life with an eye towards synchronicity is to be attentive to events that cluster together. If you have a particular attitude or goal that you are pursuing, and you find that things are falling into place around you—for instance, you feel energized yet centered, people are helpful or encouraging, the stoplight is green and your dreams serene—you have a grouping of events that suggest harmony with your current path. But if, on the other hand, a storm is moving in, and your car won’t start, or your child gets sick, and your dreams are conflicted, and your check just bounced, and you got in an argument with a friend, then you have a different collection of events suggesting your current attitude or goals are not supported by the universe. None of these things may be causally related to anything you’ve done, and yet there they are, popping up in your life one after the other until you change course.
What research in the areas of quantum physics and depth psychology is revealing is that the processes of cause and effect themselves rest upon a psycho-physical substrate. The universe is not a machine or mechanical clock which can only move in fixed and predictable ways. Rather, it is an organic, living being, an evolving and dynamic process which is actually more meaning- and values-based, meaning- and values-driven, than we ever before realized. The universe is not value-neutral. It has a personality, or psychology. And the laws we seem to discover are not quite as immutable or defining as we tend to think. They wax and wane, arise and disappear, like mist over an ocean of mystery......
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D. Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.
Am just coming across your blog and appreciate your in-depth and clear approach to Jungian work. Thank you! Synchronicity is fascinating and I want to tune into it as a helpful guidance tool in my life. However, more often than not, when I stop to consider the ‘messages’ I’m getting they seem to be such a mixed bag that I have trouble discerning the overall point and am left still wondering, ‘Well, am I on or off my path?’ I recently tried a little exercise for myself that I called ‘red light, green light’–listing all the life events and dream symbols that I took notice of in recent days as feeling like either a ‘green light’/affirmation of being on-path/positive or a ‘red light’/block/negative. I thought perhaps I could sift out some meaning on a per-subject basis with a very little success–just as often as that seemed to be a meaningful solution to cutting through the confusion of mixed signals, a subject seemed to contain both ‘green’s and ‘red’s rendering a net ‘no answer’. Interested in hearing any suggestions for ways to get further clarification from what the Universe/Self is trying to tell us via synchronicity or simply being pointed in the direction of resources for additional exercises one can work through in interpreting synchronicities. Thanks again for your insightful writings.
That’s a tough one. I wonder if you might be over-thinking, “over-looking-for” so to speak, synchronicities. It is important to be open, receptive, and attentive to synchronicities in your life, but allow them to get your attention a little bit. If you’re trying to see them everywhere, if you are over-analyzing every moment or event in your life (not that you are necessarily doing this) you end up confusing yourself. Let life’s synchroniciies come to you a little more. They will announce themselves. They will catch your attention, especially if you are self-reflective of your own life and dreams. Synchronicities will help you understand your dreams and vice versa for they are cut from the same cloth. Remain receptive but don’t overthink. I hope this helps.
Yes, finding that balance in being conscious of synchronistic messages without over-braining them is always a challenge for me that I sometimes manage to strike and other times don’t. Always a good and valuable reminder to seek that balance, thank you. Sort of reminds me of surfing–gliding on the water, catching waves, you have to be just cognizant enough of the laws of physics but really let intuition and instinct lead. My dreams seem to really go off into loose metaphor-land and are chockful of symbolic images that don’t seem to easily relate but your suggestion to look for a synchronistic relationship between symbols in waking experiences and dreaming messages I bet will help me filter out some of the chatter and focus in on the essential message. Thank you!
That’s a great metaphor of the surfing-gliding and balancing the known with the intuition! Thank you.