Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Preparatory to Anything Else...Synchronicity

Synchronicity. I've mentioned the term here a few times now, most recently in light of the recent coincidence that occurred to me a few weeks ago, but I haven't taken the time to discuss the topic or its importance. Since it will probably recur pretty often on this blog and especially because it's a main theme of Ulysses (although Joyce wrote about these "epiphanies," as he called them, years before Jung coined the term) which I'll be exploring soon, I would like to orchestrate a brief introduction to synchronicity here. Instead of my own ramblings, I've assembled a collection of quotes from my personal library and my notebooks, presented in a format similar to that of DJ Fly Agaric. Enjoy.

"Most of us in the course of life have observed coincidences in which two or more independent events having no apparent causal connection nevertheless seem to form a meaningful pattern. On occasion, this patterning can strike one as so extraordinary that it is difficult to believe the coincidence has been produced by chance alone. The events give the distinct impression of having been precisely arranged, invisibly orchestrated.
Jung first described the remarkable phenomenon he named synchronicity in a seminar as early as 1928. He continued his investigations for more than twenty years before at last attempting a full formulation in the early 1950s."
---Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, pg 50

"...a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a 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."
---from Carl Jung's "Foreword to the I-Ching or Book Changes" translated by Richard Wilhelm

"...the meaningful coincidence or equivalence (a) of a psychic and a physical state or event which have no causal relationship to another. Such synchronistic phenomena occur, for instance, when an inwardly perceived event (dream, vision, premonition, etc.) is seen to have a correspondence in external reality: the inner image of premonition has 'come true'; (b) of similar or identical thoughts, dreams, etc. occurring at the same time in different places. Neither the one nor the other coincidence can be explained by causality, but seems to be connected primarily with activated archetypal processes in the unconscious."
--from the Glossary on pg 400 of Jung's autobiography entitled Memories, Dreams, Reflections

"It seems, indeed, as though time, far from being an abstraction, is a concrete continuum which contains qualities or fundamentals which can manifest themselves in relative simultaneousness in different places and in a parallelism which cannot be explained, as in cases of simultaneous appearance of identical thoughts, symbols, or psychic conditions...Whatever is born or done at this particular moment of time has the quality of this moment of time."
---Carl Jung, Collected Works, vol. 15,  pg 56

"Struggling with this phenomenon, Jung became very interested in the developments in quantum-relativistic physics and in the radically new worldview to which they were pointing. He had many intellectual exchanges with Wolfgang Pauli, one of the founders of quantum physics, who was his client and personal friend. Under Pauli's guidance, Jung became familiar with the revolutionary concepts in modern physics, including the challenges to deterministic thinking and linear causality it had introduced into science. Jung was aware of the fact that his own observations appeared much more plausible and acceptable in the context of the new emerging image of reality. Additional support for Jung's ideas came from no less than Albert Einstein who, during a personal visit, encouraged Jung to pursue his idea of synchronicity because it was fully compatible with the new discoveries in physics. Toward the end of his life, Jung became so convinced about the important role that synchronicity played in the natural order of things that he used it as a guiding principle in his everyday life."
---Stanislav Grof, When the Impossible Happens, pg 5

"Jung believed that synchronicities generally seemed to serve the same role as dreams, psychological symptoms, and other manifestations of the unconscious, namely, to compensate the conscious attitude and move the psyche from a problematic one-sidedness toward greater wholeness and individuation. Not only did the unexpectedly externalized pattern of meaning seem to represent more than mere chance coincidence; it also appeared to serve a definite purpose, impelling the psyche toward a more complete psychological and spiritual realization of the individual personality. This self-realization was achieved through a deeper integration of conscious and unconscious, which ultimately required of the individual a discerning surrender of the usual conscious attitude of knowing superiority."
---Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, pg 53

"Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics. It is only the ingrained belief in the sovereign power of causality that creates intellectual difficulties and makes it appear unthinkable that causeless events exist or could ever occur. But if they do, then we must regard them as creative acts, as the continuous creation of a pattern that exists from all eternity, repeats itself sporadically, and is not derivable from any known antecedents."
---Carl Jung, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, pg 102

"...I think Joyce has a feeling that you live this way if you are open enough inside. Somehow you have premonitions of what's to come, and events unfold in mysteriously appropriate ways, with what Jung called 'synchronicity.'"
---Joseph Campbell, Mythic Worlds, Modern Words, pg 69

"It appears to have been Jung's growing recognition of the magnitude of these implications for the modern world view that impelled him to labor so strenuously, even courageously, to bring critical awareness of the phenomenon of synchronicity into the intellectual discourse of the twentieth century."
---Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, pg 60

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