I’m beginning a new category here entitled ‘Synchronicity’ as it’s becoming an ongoing theme.
For the past week or so, I’ve engrossed myself in C.G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity by Robert Aziz (it’s not exactly beach reading). I’m going to make an extensive quote here as it’s directly pertinent to recent life experience. I should note that, though I’ve read Jung for the past year and kept my eye open for anything on Synchronicity theory, I did not specifically seek out this book. I came across it in the library whilst looking for something else—which is how Synchronicity works anyway (though that is arguably the sister concept of Serendipity).
For those of you not familiar with the theory, here is a brief definition (though there are many more layers as, at its heart, it delves into how everything is related to everything else—from oneself to the cosmos). The Wikipedia definition (which is as good as any) follows: Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which are causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. In order to count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance. There is a larger related question regarding the timing of the events that I’ll not go into here (as simultaneous Synchronous events might not actually occur at the same moment because we have a limited understanding of time in the relative sense. We are talking about the underlying order of the universe and, basically, though the universe is coherent, it doesn’t necessarily meter out time from one moment to the next. Something can happen in my grandfather’s childhood and my old age at the same moment ...but that’s for another posting).
Jung speaks of synchronous events as if they are a way for the Universe to ‘course correct’ an anomaly in the stream of things; there is a natural imperative to bring a ‘compensatory effect’ into play. These occur, in an individual’s life, to aid in the process of individuation (the becoming of a whole person—or development of a harmonious connexion with the order of things). However, the key thing is to become aware of the presence and meaning of Synchronicity. It’s important to foster a keen sense of recognition:
The ability, for example. to recognise at the earliest possible point when one has drifted, either consciously or unconsciously,from the more comprehensive pattern of one’s individuation is particularly important, because it is not uncommon when one is so floundering for the synchronistic compensatory response of nature to become increasingly aggressive until the situation is satisfactorily corrected. It is, therefore, very much in one’s interests to catch such developments in their beginnings and to take the appropriate action
as quickly as possible. Jung refers to such a situation in a letter to Philip Metman dated March 27. 1954. Metman and his wife, apparently had just narrowly escaped serious injury in a car accident. In writing to Metman, Jung very notably, as we shall see in the following drew Melman’s attention to the possible synchronistic relationship between their narrow escape from injury and some writing Metman was engaged in at that time. Jung’s essential point was that Metman may not have been giving his creative energy sufficient freedom in his writing, and consequently he found himself at odds with the synchronistic flow of outward nature. “I gather with great concern,” Jung writes, “that you have had a hair-breadth escape from a car accident. The accident has affected only the outer shell, but evidently you and your wife were not affected physically by this broad hint. Naturally this may have an inner connection with what you are writing, for experience shows that accidents of this sort are very often connected with creative energy which turns against us because somehow it is not given due heed. This may easily happen; for we always judge by what we already know and very seldom listen to what we don’t yet know. Therefore we can easily take a step in the wrong direction or continue too long on the right path until it becomes the wrong one. Then it may happen that in this rather ungentle way we are forced to change our attitude.”
Much as is the case with dreams, synchronistic experiences, such as the above, tend to repeat themselves, as Bolen explains, “until the inner psychological conflict or the conflicting external situation changes,” that is to say, until the desired compensatory effect is realised. Bolen, interestingly enough, presents a case that is rather similar to the above, only with her example, not one but three car accidents took place before things were put back on course. Bolen relates how a woman with a perfect driving record found herself in the very awkward position of having to make two “it’s me again”—type calls to her claims adjustor. Particularly troubling about these accidents was the fact that in each case the woman herself was blameless. In the first collision, she was hit from behind while stopped at a traffic light by a woman who failed to brake quickly enough on a rain-wetted street. On the second occasion she was hit again by a woman who was changing lanes. The third accident was similar to the first, only more serious still. She was again struck from behind while stopped at a traffic light, but in this instance by a woman whose brakes had failed. This time the impact of the accident was so great that her gasoline tank ruptured. fortunately without igniting, and her vehicle was dangerously pushed forward into the intersection. After this third collision, the analysand, we are told, finally began to give serious thought to a possible synchronistic connection…
... We see from the above examples, therefore, that when one is at odds with the compensatory flow of one’s individuation, it is very much to one’s advantage to discover as quickly as possible how the subjective position is not right, and then to make the needed adjustments immediately, lest the compensatory synchronistic pattern take an even more sinister turn.” (Aziz 161-62)
I sat in an armchair on Thursday evening reading this; for a moment, I put the book aside and considered the import of the words. My mother looked over at me and said, “Did something strike you?” Yes—indeed; I think I’ve been stricken.
There is a pattern; and we can even take the notion of a triad as described in the example above. Over the past year, there have been three occasions where I’ve been severely stricken off course. First was an issue with my MSc; I was not able to finish the program as I had hoped (for reasons I’ll not go into here as the discussion on this has swirled round in other quarters). Second, was my inability to obtain a UK visa and stay in Europe. Third, of course, was the road accident that could have easily taken my life. All three incidents were, in many ways, ‘beyond my control’; however, in all three, I was in some sense ‘in the driver’s seat’. At the time of each incident I felt that I had control of the situation till it was clearly and suddenly made evident that I was not. Each incident pivoted on the narrowest of margins; a few points, a few Pounds, a few centimetres one way or the other and the outcome would have been different. (As an aside, though I was not listening to music at the time of the accident, I looked at my iPod the next day and the last song I had listened to beforehand was Lose Control by Evanescence.)
I am at the threshold of something significant in my life—it may have already happened and I’ve just not yet come to comprehend all the pieces; but, I know it has begun. And, the mind boggling thing is, as I hinted at above, I think it’s possible that the beginnings of it may have been long before I was born. It’s a continuum of events. Everything happened just as it had to happen. Every decision of mine—and everyone before me—leads on to here.
Or, perhaps, rather than say, ‘I’m at the threshold of something significant’, I should say that I realise there may be more significant than previously comprehended.