Synchronicity: acausal correlations & beyond

Synchronicity  is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events, including health or disease events, are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.[1]

This aspect helps to explain one major differences between the HM Institute’s happiness-holistic medicine paradigm and all of the other medical systems the WHO has categorized, over one hundred of them, conventional allopathic medicine being just one, one based on the ideology of the “radomized double blind clinical trials” in connection to symptomatology relief and capital accumulation.

In effect, just about all of these other more “alternative” and traditional medical systems I have explored, from homeopathy, to acupuncture, naturopathy, chiropractic, osteopathy, herbology etc, are based on rationality, finding the root causes of the diseases, what is also known as causative correlations. On the other hand, in the version of Holistic Medicine that I believe in, there are less root causes than meaningful coincidences or correlations that are directly linked to an unquantifiable “collective unconscious”,  the essence of which gives meaning to the carrier of the disease, meaning that he or she needs in order to fulfill Life’s purpose. This paradigm does not exclude the search of root-causes. It does. But often, what appears to be a root-cause is nothing less than a synchronistic and heuristic ontological happening in gestation. In other words, for lasting holistic healing, we need to side-step not only symptomatology, but we also need to go into beyond etiology, or the search for causation.

Because of depth complexity, during his career, Jung refined his findings into several different definitions of what he meant by synchronicity of it.[2] At the end of his Life, Jung felt confident to defined synchronicity as an “acausal connecting (togetherness) principle,” “meaningful coincidence”, and “acausal parallelism.” He introduced the concept as early as the 1920s but gave a full statement of it only in 1951 in an Eranos lecture.[3]. 

The element of “inter-connectedness” is significant. One could define synchronicity as acausal disconnecting or separation or entropic events. But he did not.

In 1952 Jung published a paper “Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge” (Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle)[4] in a volume which also contained a related study by the physicist and Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli,[5] who was sometimes critical of Jung’s ideas.[6] Jung’s belief was that, just as events may be connected by causality, they may also be connected by meaning. Events connected by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of causality, which does not generally contradict the Axiom of Causality but in specific cases can lead to prematurely giving up causal explanation.

Jung used the concept in arguing for the existence of the paranormal.[7] A believer in the paranormal, Arthur Koestler wrote extensively on synchronicity in his 1972 book The Roots of Coincidence.[8] The idea of synchronicity as extending beyond mere coincidence (as well as the paranormal generally) is widely rejected in the mainstream academic and scientific community.

Diagram illustrating Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity

During one period of his life, Jung coined the word “synchronicity” to describe “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” In his book Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung wrote:[9] “How are we to recognize acausal combinations of events, since it is obviously impossible to examine all chance happenings for their causality? The answer to this is that acausal events may be expected most readily where, on closer reflection, a causal connection appears to be inconceivable“.

In this perspective,  Roderick Main wrote:[10] “The culmination of Jung’s lifelong engagement with the paranormal is his theory of synchronicity, the view that the structure of reality includes a principle of acausal connection which manifests itself most conspicuously in the form of meaningful coincidences. Difficult, flawed, prone to misrepresentation, this theory none the less remains one of the most suggestive attempts yet made to bring the paranormal within the bounds of intelligibility. It has been found relevant by psychotherapists, parapsychologists, researchers of spiritual experience and a growing number of non-specialists. Indeed, Jung’s writings in this area form an excellent general introduction to the whole field of the paranormal”

In his book Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung wrote: “...it is impossible, with our present resources, to explain ESP, or the fact of meaningful coincidence, as a phenomenon of energy. This makes an end of the causal explanation as well, for “effect” cannot be understood as anything except a phenomenon of energy. Therefore it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity. Because of this quality of simultaneity, I have picked on the term “synchronicity” to designate a hypothetical factor equal in rank to causality as a principle of explanation.[9]

Archetypes, Instincts and the Collective Unconscious

Synchronicity is an epistemological principle which gives substantive evidence for Jung’s concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious.[11] It described a governing dynamic which underlies the whole of human experience and history — social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. It is the scientific and heuristic tool that we need to not only change most of the conventional and allopathic standards of care that are destroying the People’s health and welfare, but also the mercantile-militarist-predatory “modern” Society that is ravaging the Lifeblood of this Nation and beyond.

The emergence of the synchronistic paradigm was a significant move away from Cartesian dualism towards an underlying “unification” philosophy. Different authors have argued this shift was essential to bringing theoretical coherence to Jung’s earlier work.[12][13]

In this perspective,  collective unconscious refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts and by archetypes: universal symbols such as The Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Tower, Water, the Tree of Life, and much more.

Jung considered the collective unconscious to underpin and surround the unconscious mind, distinguishing it from the personal unconscious of Freudian psychoanalysis. He argued that the collective unconscious had profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences. The psychotherapeutic practice of analytical psychology revolves around examining the patient’s relationship to the collective unconscious. Evidence does suggest that this collective unconscious frequency is supported by findings of psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology. (Source) Dreams, active imagination are way to explore this vibe.

Subsidiareily, Jung suggested that parapsychology, alchemy, and occult religious ideas could contribute understanding of the collective unconscious. Based on his interpretation of synchronicity and extra-sensory perception, Jung argued that psychic activity transcended the brain. In other words, he intuitively resolved the “hard problem” of consciousness in physics, a  scientific problem that is still debated today. Jung found that seawater corresponded to his concept of the collective unconscious.( (Cf. Shelburne, Mythos and Logos in the Thought of Carl Jung (1988) pp. 15–27. Quoting Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 8 (1960), “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle” (1952), ¶947 (p. 505) : “We must completely give up the idea of the psyche’s being somehow connected with the brain, and remember instead the ‘meaningful’ or ‘intelligent’ behavior of the lower organisms, which are without a brain. Here we find ourselves much closer to the formal factor [synchronicity] which, as I have said, has nothing to do with brain activity.”

Moře (Sea), Eduard Tomek [cs], 1971

Parallels with Quantum Mechanics and Relativity Theory

Even at Jung’s presentation of his work on synchronicity in 1951 at an Eranos lecture, his ideas on synchronicity were evolving. On Feb. 25, 1953, in a letter to Carl Seelig, the Swiss author and journalist who wrote a biography of Albert Einstein, Jung wrote, “Professor Einstein was my guest on several occasions at dinner. . . These were very early days when Einstein was developing his first theory of relativity [and] It was he who first started me on thinking about a possible relativity of time as well as space, and their psychic conditionality. More than 30 years later the stimulus led to my relation with the physicist professor W. Pauli and to my thesis of psychic synchronicity.”[4]

Thanks to his discussions with both Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli,  Professor Jung believed there were parallels between synchronicity and aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. Jung believed life was less a series of random events rather than an expression of a deeper order, which he and Pauli referred to as Unus mundus. This deeper order led to the insights that a person was both embedded in a universal wholeness and that the realisation of this was more than just an intellectual exercise, but also had elements of a spiritual awakening.[15] From the religious perspective, synchronicity shares similar characteristics of an “intervention of grace”. Jung also believed that in a person’s life, synchronicity served a role similar to that of dreams, with the purpose of shifting a person’s egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness. HM Institute’s Holistic paradigm is consistent with this finding.

Cases in Point

Relevant in medicine, Jung invokes the following story as an example of a synchronistic event, one that is highly relevant in the art of healing.

“My example concerns a young woman patient who, in spite of efforts made on both sides, proved to be psychologically inaccessible. The difficulty lay in the fact that she always knew better about everything. Her excellent education had provided her with a weapon ideally suited to this purpose, namely a highly polished Cartesian rationalism with an impeccably “geometrical” idea of reality. After several fruitless attempts to sweeten her rationalism with a somewhat more human understanding, I had to confine myself to the hope that something unexpected and irrational would turn up, something that would burst the intellectual retort into which she had sealed herself. Well, I was sitting opposite her one day, with my back to the window, listening to her flow of rhetoric. She had an impressive dream the night before, in which someone had given her a golden scarab — a costly piece of jewellery. While she was still telling me this dream, I heard something behind me gently tapping on the window. I turned round and saw that it was a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the window-pane from outside in the obvious effort to get into the dark room. This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, “Here is your scarab.” This experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results.[16]

On a more existential note, Jung recounts another highly synchronistic continuum:

The French writer Émile Deschamps claims in his memoirs that, in 1805, he was treated to some plum pudding by a stranger named Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, the writer encountered plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant and wanted to order some, but the waiter told him that the last dish had already been served to another customer, who turned out to be de Fontgibu. Many years later, in 1832, Deschamps was at a dinner and once again ordered plum pudding. He recalled the earlier incident and told his friends that only de Fontgibu was missing to make the setting complete – and in the same instant, the now-senile de Fontgibu entered the room, having got the wrong address.[17]

Jung wrote, after describing some examples, “When coincidences pile up in this way, one cannot help being impressed by them – for the greater the number of terms in such a series, or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes.[18]

Another illustration: George Gamow, in his book Thirty Years That Shook Physics – The Story of Quantum Theory (1966),  writes about Jung’s scientist friend, Wolfgang Pauli, who was also deeply into. nurturing the Synchronistic belief.  Gamow talked about the “Pauli effect”, a mysterious phenomenon which can not understood on a purely materialistic and rationalistic basis.

“It is well known that theoretical physicists cannot handle experimental equipment; it breaks whenever they touch it. Pauli was such a good theoretical physicist that something usually broke in the lab whenever he merely stepped across the threshold. A mysterious event that did not seem at first to be connected with Pauli’s presence once occurred in Professor J. Franck’s laboratory in Göttingen. Early one afternoon, without apparent cause, a complicated apparatus for the study of atomic phenomena collapsed. Franck wrote humorously about this to Pauli at his Zürich address and, after some delay, received an answer in an envelope with a Danish stamp. Pauli wrote that he had gone to visit Bohr and at the time of the mishap in Franck’s laboratory his train was stopped for a few minutes at the Göttingen railroad station. You may believe this anecdote or not, but there are many other observations concerning the reality of the Pauli Effect!” [19]

Discussion

To better understand Jung’s synchronicity paradigm, it is necessary to review the body-mind connection idea, which is in large part subsumed by the notion called “Philosophy of Mind”. Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology, nature, and relationship of the mind to the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body. (20)

Dualism and monism are the two central schools of thought on the mind–body problem, although nuanced views have arisen that do not fit one or the other category neatly. Dualism finds its entry into Western philosophy thanks to René Descartes in the 17th century. Substance dualists like Descartes argue that the mind is an independently existing substance, whereas property dualists maintain that the mind is a group of independent properties that emerge from and cannot be reduced to the brain, but that it is not a distinct substance.

As for neutral monism, in the philosophy of mind, this notion is based on the postulate that the mental and the physical are two ways of organizing or describing the same elements, which are themselves “neutral”, that is, neither physical nor mental. (21) This view denies that the mental and the physical are two fundamentally different things. Rather, neutral monism claims the universe consists of only one kind of stuff, in the form of neutral elements that are in themselves neither mental nor physical.

When analyzing the notion called  collective unconscious, i immediately think of the monkeys and their own monkey experience  propelled by their own species “collective unconscious”.  In this perspective, the hundredth monkey effect is a real phenomenon in which a new behaviour or idea spreads to other like monkeys from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members (ie critical mass) of one group exhibit the new behaviour or acknowledge the new idea. We also see this “signaling” in plants. When some danger appears, plants exude signaling molecules that are captured by other plants, including trees, in this way, they protect themselves preemptively. Whatever the name we give to this reality. collective unconscious, signaling molecules, God or something else, the facts show that Life is far from being fully understood and that there are deep energy layers that impact evolution, health and diseases.

To be continued later.

Text under construction

  1. ^ Tarnas, Richard (2006). Cosmos and Psyche. New York: Penguin Group. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-670-03292-1.
  2. ^ Bernard D. Beitman (2009) “Coincidence Studies: A Freudian Perspective…”
  3. ^ Casement, Ann, “Who Owns Jung?”, Karnac Books, 2007. ISBN 1-85575-403-7. Cf. page 25.
  4. ^ Jung, Carl G. (1993) [1952]. Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. Bollingen, Switzerland: Bollingen Foundation. ISBN 978-0-691-01794-5. Since included in his Collected Works volume 8.
  5. ^ Roderick Main (2000). “Religion, Science, and Synchronicity”. Harvest: Journal for Jungian Studies. Archived from the original on 2006-12-08.
  6. ^ Metanexus Institute Charlene P. E. Burns (2011) Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and the Acausal Connecting Principle: A Case Study in Transdisciplinarity
  7. ^ Jump up to: a b Rushnell, S. (2006). When God winks. Atria Books.
  8. ^ Koestler, Arthur (1973). The Roots of Coincidence. Vintage. ISBN 0-394-71934-4.
  9. ^ Jump up to: a b Jung, Carl (1973). Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle (first Princeton/Bollingen paperback ed.). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-691-15050-5.
  10. ^ Main, Roderick (1997). Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal. Princeton University Press. p. 1.
  11. ^ Jung defined the collective unconscious as akin to instincts in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.
  12. ^ Brown, R.S. (2014). Evolving Attitudes. International Journal of Jungian Studies, 6.3, 243–253.
  13. ^ In Synchronicity in the final two pages of the Conclusion, Jung stated that not all coincidences are meaningful and further explained the creative causes of this phenomenon.
  14. ^ Igor V. Limar (2011). “Carl G. Jung’s Synchronicity and Quantum Entanglement: Schrödinger’s Cat ‘Wanders’ Between Chromosomes”. NeuroQuantology. 09 (2): 313. Archived from the original on 2011-06-30.
  15. ^ Main, Roderick (2007). Revelations of Chance: Synchronicity as Spiritual Experience. The State University of New York Press.
  16. ^ Jung, C.G. (1969). Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-0-691-15050-5.
  17. ^ Emile Deschamps, Oeuvres completes : Tomes I–VI, Reimpr. de l’ed. de Paris 1872–74
  18. ^ C. G. Jung Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal, p. 91
  19. ^ Thirty Years That Shook Physics – The Story of Quantum Theory, George Gamow, p. 64, Doubleday & Co. Inc. New York, 1966
  20. Kim, J. (1995). Honderich, Ted, ed. Problems in the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  21. Craig, Edward. (1998). Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge. 816. ISBN 0415-07310-3

 Readings

  • Aziz, Robert (1990). C.G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity (10 ed.). The State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-0166-8.
  • Aziz, Robert (1999). “Synchronicity and the Transformation of the Ethical in Jungian Psychology”. In Becker, Carl. Asian and Jungian Views of Ethics. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-30452-1.
  • Aziz, Robert (2007). The Syndetic Paradigm: The Untrodden Path Beyond Freud and Jung. The State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-6982-8.
  • Aziz, Robert (2008). “Foreword”. In Storm, Lance. Synchronicity: Multiple Perspectives on Meaningful Coincidence. Pari Publishing. ISBN 978-88-95604-02-2.
  • Carey, Harriet (1869). “Monsieur de Fontgibu and the Plum Pudding”. Echoes from the Harp of France. p. 174.
  • Cederquist, Jan (2010). Meaningful Coincidence. Times Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-0-462-09970-5.
  • Combs, Allan; Holland, Mark (2001). Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster. New York: Marlowe. ISBN 978-1-56924-599-6.
  • Franz, Marie-Louise von (1980). On Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance. Inner City Books. ISBN 978-0-919123-02-1.
  • Jaworski, Joseph (1996). Synchronicity: the inner path of leadership. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc. ISBN 978-1-881052-94-4.
  • Gieser, Suzanne (2005). The Innermost Kernel. Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s Dialogue with C.G. Jung. Springer Verlag.
  • Haule, John Ryan (2010). Jung in the 21st Century: Synchronicity and science. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-83360-5.
  • Koestler, Arthur (1973). The Roots of Coincidence. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-394-71934-4.
  • Main, Roderick (2007). Revelations of Chance: Synchronicity as Spiritual Experience. The State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-7024-4.
  • Mardorf, Elisabeth. Das kann doch kein Zufall sei (in German).
  • Mansfield, Victor (1995). Science, Synchronicity and Soul-Making. Open Court Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8126-9304-1.
  • Peat, F. David (1987). Synchronicity, The Bridge Between Matter and Mind. Bantam. ISBN 978-0-553-34676-3.
  • Progoff, Ira (1973). Jung, synchronicity, & human destiny: Noncausal dimensions of human experience. New York, Julian Press. ISBN 978-0-87097-056-6. OCLC 763819.
  • Wilhelm, Richard (1986). Lectures on the I Ching: Constancy and Change Bollingen edition. Princeton University Press; Reprint. ISBN 978-0-691-01872-0.
  • Roth, Remo, F., Return of the World Soul, Wolfgang Pauli, C.G. Jung and the Challenge of Psychophysical Reality [unus mundus]. Pari Publishing, 2011

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