Synchronicity

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Synchronicity is the phenomenon of experiencing two or more events as meaningfully related, though they are unlikely to be causally related. The are perceived as a "meaningful coincidence", although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time. A concept of synchronicity was first proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s. The concept does not question, or compete with, the notion of causality, but rather maintains that just as events may be connected by a causal relationship, they may also be connected by meaning without clear causal relationships — a grouping of events by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of cause and effect.

See also:
Coincidence
Kenosis
Serendipity
Alphabetized by author or source:
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P -Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · Anon · External links

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  • What reasons are there for accepting synchronicity as an explanation for anything in the real world? What it explains is more simply and elegantly explained by the ability of the human mind to find meaning and significance where there is none (apophenia). Jung's defense of acausal connections is so inane I hesitate to repeat it.
  • Sympathetic magic is probably the basis for such notions as karma, synchronicity, eating the heart of a brave but defeated warrior foe, throwing spears at painted animals on cave walls, wearing the reindeer's antlers before the hunt, having rape rituals to increase the fertility of the crops, or taking Holy Communion to infuse the participant with Divinity. Sympathetic magic is surely the basis for homeopathy and remote healing.
  • Carl Jung, like many people who have experienced an uncanny pairing of events, did not think such happenings are mere coincidence. He developed the notion of synchronicity to explain "meaningful coincidences." He described synchronicity as an acausal principle that links events having a similar meaning by their coincidence in time. However, if you think of all the pairs of things that can happen in a person's lifetime and add to that our very versatile ability of finding meaningful connections between things, it then seems likely that most of us will experience many meaningful coincidences. The coincidences are predictable and we are the ones who give them meaning. Given the fact that there are billions of people and the possible number of meaningful coincidences is millions of billions, it is inevitable that many people will experience some very weird and uncanny coincidences every day.
According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. ~ Deepak Chopra

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  • There are certain caveats when it comes to considering synchronicity in the light of creative possibilities. First, we cannot force a synchronicity, nor can we expect to find one on command. Ascertaining the difference between a true synchronicity and a psuedo-coincidence is the goal of forming good criteria. Second, we must always beware of "reading into" things and relying exclusively on personal, subjective meanings. In other words, some events may truly be synchronicity. Recognizing them and their significance can be highly beneficial. But attempting to see synchronicity in each and every event in our life is an almost certain prescription for paranoia and delusional pathology.

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  • As they entered the house intending to remove the unfortunate man against his will to a clinic, the lamp in the corridor shattered with a bang, so that suddenly they were all standing in darkness in the midst of the broken glass. The patient saw clearly that what had happened was a supernatural sign: just as the sun grew dark when Christ was crucified, this event was to him a confirmation that he was a savior who was being unjustly arrested. We, on the other hand, would say that he had projected his delusion into the event. Thus the synchronistic phenomenon, in itself meaningful, was instead covered up by a projection. To a person with normal consciousness the "meaning" of the occurrence would be quite different. A lamp, in contrast to the sun, is not a cosmic principle but an appliance invented by man; it usually symbolizes ego-consciousness in dreams and fantasies. The meaning of the unusual event would then more probably be expressed thus: In the moment of intense agitation caused by his imminent arrest the patient's ego-consciousness was shattered and a 'mental blackout' resulted. The patient, however, could not grasp this meaning.[...] Hence synchronistic events occur with conspicuous frequency at such times (although they also occur with normal people when an archetype is activated).
    • Marie-Louise von Franz in Projection and Re-collection in Jungian Psychology: Reflections of the Soul (1985) p. 196,197
  • We could all be mediums, and all have absolute knowledge, if the bright light of our ego consciousness would not dim it. … I have myself observed that in states of extreme fatigue, when I am really dangerously physically exhausted, I suddenly get absolute knowledge; …
  • As soon as we notice that certain types of event "like" to cluster together at certain times, we begin to understand the attitude of the Chinese, whose theories of medicine, philosophy, and even building are based on a "science" of meaningful coincidences. The classical Chinese texts did not ask what causes what, but rather what "likes" to occur with what. One can see much the same underlying theme in astrology, and in the way various civilizations have depended on consulting oracles and paying attention to omens.

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  • 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!
    • George Gamow, in Thirty Years That Shook Physics : The Story of Quantum Theory (1966), p. 64
  • People with schizophrenia develop thinking based on synchronicity, a term coined by psychoanalyst Carl Jung to describe thoughts connecting to outside events. Prophetic dreams are an example of synchronicity. People often observe synchronicity early in their illness and are intrigued by the spiritual and practical possibilities they pose. We believe that synchronicities indicate the possibility for the mind to magically affect the world, and often seek to do things that increase synchronicity in our lives. We begin to see connections--real or imagined--behind these events. The real events of synchronicity give strength to a mystical or religious view of the world that becomes the basis for our new way of thinking.
    • Milt Greek in Schizophrenia: A Blueprint for Recovery (2012)

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  • Synchronicity is an attempt to come up with an explanation for the occurrence of highly improbable coincidences between events where there is no causal link. It’s based on the premise that existing physics and mathematics cannot explain such things. This is wrong, however – standard science can explain them. That’s really the point of the improbability principle. What I have tried to do is pull out and make explicit how physics and mathematics, in the form of probability calculus does explain why such striking and apparently highly improbable events happen. There’s no need to conjure up other forces or ideas, and there’s no need to attribute mystical meaning or significance to their occurrence. In fact, we should expect them to happen, as they do, purely in the natural course of events.
    • David Hand in Why Coincidences, Miracles And Rare Events Happen Every Day (Forbes) (2014)
  • Although they look remarkable and entirely unpredictable, in fact these events are to be expected. No mysteries are required to explain them—no superstitions, no miracles, no gods, no supernatural interventions or psychic powers, no synchronicity, seriality, morphic resonance, or any of the host of other imaginary imps. All that’s needed are the basic laws of probability.
    • David Hand in The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day (2014)

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  • We've all had the experience of talking about a long-lost friend with someone, and then out of the blue the phone rings and it's that same long-lost friend. Famous psychobabble quack Carl Jung called these occurrences "synchronicity." Skeptics regard these synchronicities events as mere coincidences. Others posit a pie-in-the-sky cosmic connection linking all things. Take a guess on which side of the argument I fall.
    • "Mary Shannon" in In Plain Sight, Season 1, episode 6: High Priced Spread (6 July 2008), written by Matt Ward

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We cannot imagine events that are connected non-causally and are capable of a non-causal explanation. But that does not mean that such events do not exist. ~ Carl Jung
I handed the beetle to my patient with the words "Here is your scarab." ~ Carl Jung
  • Your question concerning synchronicity and ideas of reference is very interesting indeed. I have often found that synchronistic experiences were interpreted by schizophrenics as delusions. Since archetypal situations are not uncommon in schizophrenia, we must also suppose that corresponding synchronistic phenomena will occur which follow exactly the same course as with so-called normal persons. The difference lies simply and solely in the interpretation. The schizophrenic's interpretation is morbidly narrow because it is mostly restricted to the intentions of other people and to his own ego-importance. The normal interpretation, so far as this is possible at all, is based on the philosophic premise of the sympathy of all things, or something of that kind. [...] If synchronicities occur in these cases it is because an archetypal situation is present, for whenever archetypes are constellated we find manifestations of the primordial unity. Thus the synchronistic effect should be understood not as psychotic but a normal phenomenon.
  • We Shall Naturally look round in vain the macrophysical world for acausal events, for the simple reason that we cannot imagine events that are connected non-causally and are capable of a non-causal explanation. But that does not mean that such events do not exist... The so-called "scientific view of the world" based on this can hardly be anything more than a psychologically biased partial view which misses out all those by no means unimportant aspects that cannot be grasped statistically.
  • A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.
    • Carl Jung, in Synchronicity : An Acausal Connecting Principle (1960), p. 22
  • Naturally, every age thinks that all ages before it were prejudiced, and today we think this more than ever and are just as wrong as all previous ages that thought so. How often have we not seen the truth condemned! It is sad but unfortunately true that man learns nothing from history.
    • Carl Jung, in Synchronicity : An Acausal Connecting Principle (1960), p. 33
  • This grasping of the whole is obviously the aim of science as well, but it is a goal that necessarily lies very far off because science, whenever possible, proceeds experimentally and in all cases statistically. Experiment, however, consists in asking a definite question which excludes as far as possible anything disturbing and irrelevant. It makes conditions, imposes them on Nature, and in this way forces her to give an answer to a question devised by man. She is prevented from answering out of the fullness of her possibilities since these possibilities are restricted as far as practible. For this purpose there is created in the laboratory a situation which is artificially restricted to the question which compels Nature to give an unequivocal answer. The workings of Nature in her unrestricted wholeness are completely excluded. If we want to know what these workings are, we need a method of inquiry which imposes the fewest possible conditions, or if possible no conditions at all, and then leave Nature to answer out of her fullness.
    • Carl Jung, in Synchronicity : An Acausal Connecting Principle (1960), p. 35
  • 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 burst the intellectual retort into which she had sealed herself. Well, I was sitting opposite of 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 from outside in the obvious effort to get into the dark room. This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window and immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer, whose gold-green color most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words "Here is your scarab." This broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results.
    • Carl Jung, in Synchronicity : An Acausal Connecting Principle (1960), p. 109
  • While Freud was going on this way, I had a curious sensation. It was as if my diaphragm were made of iron and were becoming red-hot -- a glowing vault. And at that moment there was such a loud report in the bookcase, which stood right next to us, that we both started up in alarm, fearing the thing was going to topple over on us. I said to Freud: 'There, that is an example of a so-called catalytic exteriorization phenomenon.' 'Oh come,' he exclaimed. 'That is sheer bosh.' 'It is not,' I replied. 'You are mistaken, Herr Professor. And to prove my point I now predict that in a moment there will be another such loud report! 'Sure enough, no sooner had I said the words that the same detonation went off in the bookcase. To this day I do not know what gave me this certainty. But I knew beyond all doubt that the report would come again. Freud only stared aghast at me. I do not know what was in his mind, or what his look meant. In any case, this incident aroused his distrust of me, and I had the feeling that I had done something against him. I never afterward discussed the incident with him.
  • 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.
    • Carl Jung, in Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal (1977) edited by Roderick Main, p. 91

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Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real;
  • Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real; at deeper levels, everything -- atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people -- participates in a sensitive, flowing web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other.
    • Meg Lundstrom in A Wink from the Cosmos, Intuition Magazine (May 1996)

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  • Any parapsychological effect that depends upon volition, upon the subject's intent, must differ from synchronicity.
    • Victor Mansfield, in Distinguishing synchronicity from the paranormal in Synchronicity, Science, and Soulmaking: Understanding Jungian Syncronicity Through Physics, Buddhism, and Philosophy (1996) p. 12
  • Synchronicity's lack of an adequate theoretical structure; its uncontrollability; and its reliance on subjectivity, feelings, and scientifically suspect terms such as meaning make it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to test scientifically.
    • Victor Mansfield, in Distinguishing synchronicity from the paranormal in Synchronicity, Science, and Soulmaking: Understanding Jungian Syncronicity Through Physics, Buddhism, and Philosophy (1996) p. 178
  • Perhaps most of the people who have, or read about, such experiences accept them as being very unlikely, very uncommon, but not otherwise unusual. Most people seem to feel no need to appeal to supernatural explanations for these events. But we frequently encounter in pseudoscience the claim that such events are in fact miraculous, and that some mysterious force or influence is required to bring about the event at all. Instead of accepting such events as normal events of low probability, there are in fact international organizations devoted to the collection, preservation, and dissemination of examples of such “strange” occurrences, which the organization find highly significant, mysterious, and certainly NOT due to “mere coincidence.” There are even religious cults based on coincidence, or “synchronicity.” Often the examples are rendered more dramatic than otherwise by involving some famous person or media personality, or being part of some famous event in history.

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  • Pauli effect
  • Earlier I suggested that true synchronicities are relatively rare events and should not be confused with the trivial coincidences of daily life. However, there are special occasions when, for a time at least, an inexplicable series of synchronicities appear to cluster around a person. This can happen when someone is in a time of crisis, close to a mental breakdown, pushing creativity to a limit - or when they have fallen head and heels in love! In such liminal states the hard and fast boundaries between subjectivity and objectivity temporarily dissolve and a constellation of synchronicities act to precipitate a major change in a person's life.

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Synchronized Sacred Music
  • Synchronicity is at work when something occurs that substantiates a belief or philosophy of life.
    • David Richo, in "The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know", p. 18
  • Synchronicity is [thus] a major tool of soul-making, divulging immortal meanings through personal events so that we can find our way towards integration. We can find his way through practices.
    • David Richo, in "The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know", p. 18

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A connecting principle
Linked to the invisible
Almost imperceptible
Something inexpressible ~ Sting
It's so deep, it's so wide
You're inside
Synchronicity ~ Sting
  • With one breath, with one flow
    You will know
    Synchronicity

    A sleep trance, a dream dance,
    A shared romance
    Synchronicity

    A connecting principle
    Linked to the invisible
    Almost imperceptible
    Something inexpressible

  • If we share this nightmare
    Then we can dream
    Spiritus mundi
    If you act as you think
    The missing link
    Synchronicity
    • Sting, in "Synchronicity I", on Synchronicity (1983)
  • A star fall, a phone call
    It joins all
    Synchronicity

    It's so deep, it's so wide
    You're inside
    Synchronicity

    Effect without a cause
    Sub-atomic laws, scientific pause
    Synchronicity....

    • Sting, in "Synchronicity I", on Synchronicity (1983)
  • Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration
    But we know all her suicides are fake
    Daddy only stares into the distance
    There's only so much more that he can take
    Many miles away something crawls from the slime
    At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake
  • Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
    He knows that something somewhere has to break
    He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights
    The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
    Many miles away there's a shadow on the door
    Of a cottage on the shore
    Of a dark Scottish lake
  • Jung believed there was a large pattern to life, that it wasn't just chaos. Our song Synchronicity II is about two parallel events that aren't connected logically or causally, but symbolically.
    • Sting, on the song Synchronicity II, as quoted in "Official Police business" by Jay Cocks, in TIME magazine (15 August 1983), p. 50


  • Synchronicity has long been described as an ‘acausal’ connecting principle. However, the use of this descriptor is not only misleading, but also outright false on any seriously considered picture of synchronicity due to admissions of multiple types of causes. Furthermore, previous attempts to clarify the ‘acausal’ label have served only to further muddy the waters of discussion. A ‘multi-causal’ conception of synchronicity is proposed to ease and encourage future discussion in many disciplines.
    • Zachary Stinson in A Multi-Causal Approach To Synchronicity (2011) Stance 4 p. 49

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  • I have tried to distinguish a variety of forms of causality and synchronicity. I think it is important to make these distinctions conceptually, even if it is not clear how we can make all of them in practice. Not only should it improve the clarity of our communication about these matters; it might also protect us from a danger inherent in the concept of synchronicity. This danger is the temptation to mental laziness. If, in working with paranormal phenomena, I cannot get my experiments to replicate and cannot find any patterns in the results, then, as attached as I am to the idea of causality, it would be very tempting to say, "Well, it's synchronistic, it's forever beyond my understanding," and so (prematurely) give up trying to find a causal explanation. Sloppy use of the concept of synchronicity then becomes a way of being intellectually lazy and dodging our responsibilities.
    • Charles T. Tart in Causality and Synchronicity - Steps Toward Clarification (1981)

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External links[edit]

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