The Synchronicity Principle
Last article, we examine how time-honored divination systems like Tarot and the I-Ching are, in modern psychological terms, balanced collections of human archetypes and we shed some light on what archetypes are, according to the great founder of depth psychology, Carl Jung. It was also pointed out that these archetypes (the 78 cards of classical Tarot and the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching) are “acted upon” by TIME — specifically by means of a principle called “Synchronicity” by Jung, who studied these systems for some 30 years.
The breathtaking scope and depth of Carl Jung’s work commands the highest respect in psychological and academic circles. As we have noted in the previous issue, his postulation of universal principles or archetypes, operating within the collective unconscious makes for fascinating study.
As for the synchronicity theory, in his work Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung explained:
“This … involves a certain curious principle that I have termed ‘synchronicity,’ a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers.”
According to Jung, synchronistic thinking is “field thinking,” the center of which is times specifically, a moment in time. From a synchronistic point of view, the important question is not why has something occurred, or what factor caused this effect, but rather which things like to happen together at the same moment. What types of events, including psychological events, have a tendency to happen together in time?
We have a notion that events tend to cluster around a moment in time, as evidenced by folks sayings like “Good things (or accidents) happen in threes.” In our own culture today, this exists as a superstitious kind of popular awareness.
Nevertheless, a tendency has long been evident for several scientists or inventors to make the same discovery, completely independently, at the same time. And, in these days of global media, it is easy to observe that ideas and inventions tend to crop up in different places at the same time. On a more personal level, one has been known to wonder why the obscure, but needed, library book is always the one already checked out?
Although belief in synchronicity might seem to fly in the face of scientific method, which adheres to an ability to objectively pinpoint, measure and predict cause and effect, the principle was indirectly validated by the physicist Werner Heisenberg’s discovery in 1937. In the proof of his Uncertainty Principle, which still stands, Heisenberg demonstrated that, in the realm of sub-atomic particles, the act of perception influences what is being perceived, such that any accurate measurement becomes impossible. This can loosely be interpreted to imply the essence of the Synchronicity Principle, which is that everything that happens in a given situation at a given time participates with, and affects, everything else.
Ultimately, if one extends Heisenberg’s proof beyond the realm of subatomic physics, one can conclude that there is no such thing as scientific objectivity, statistical probabilities notwithstanding. As Jung put it, “every process is partially or totally interfered with by Chance, so much so that under natural circumstances a course of events absolutely conforming to specific laws is almost an exception.”
In his book, “New Directions in the I Ching,” mathematician Larry Schoenholtz points out several scientific theories that seem to validate the synchronicity theory:
“Since I have mentioned the connection of synchronicity with the better-known theories of mainstream physics, I shall mention other parallels as well. The phenomenon of radioactive decay has been particularly baffling from the causal viewpoint. The spontaneous disintegration of certain atoms through radioactive emission is an event for which modern physics cannot provide an answer. But it is quite in keeping with a synchronistic view of things. No less a figure than the physicist Sir James Jeans says of this mystery, ‘Radioactive break-up appeared to be an effect without a cause, and suggested that the ultimate laws of nature were not even causal.'”
If we add to the radioactivity puzzle related puzzles such as those found in the quantum theory, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and most of the tenets developed in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, an impressive argument can be made for incorporating the synchronicity principle into mainstream physics.
When the unified field theory is finally worked through–the evidence is mounting–the entire clockworks of the cosmos will have been brought under a set of unifying equations, and the synchronicity principle will come into full recognition among scientists.
The application of synchronicity is based on the strategy that looking for the meaning in coincidental events is more pragmatic than striving to predict things according to notions of causality, surmised from statistical probabilities. Perhaps ancient observers, who lacked our record-keeping technology, found it easier to realize this and devised the Book of Changes to put their observations to work. Using the magic of numerical chance within an ingenious system of archetypal readings, they believed they could follow the convoluted patterns of how things tend to go together in time. Perhaps now, using a personal computer, anyone can take advantage of their prescience in order to realize better decisions, better relationships and less stress.