Is It Coincidence?

Life keeps me on my toes. For instance, I stay alert to observe instances of coincidence. And lately there’s a whole batch of them!

Synchronicity is a concept the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung first introduced in 1932. His 1952 essay was titled Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. As he defined it, synchronicity is more than simple coincidence.

Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.

Carl G Jung

Yet long before I learned Jung’s explanation, I repeatedly experienced—and still do—something similar that I’ve called synchronicity: related and unusual images, concepts, perspectives, or ideas coming into my awareness from different, completely unassociated directions. And it typically startles me.

I don’t really know what to make of it when it happens. As I mentioned in an earlier post on the I Ch’ing, I have chosen to understand these concurrent events to confirm that I’m in sync with the universe and should keep going on the path I am on.

But is there additional, more personal, deeper meaning to my events than that? I don’t know.

To Jung, to be synchronous and have meaning, there should be an inner event that concurs with an outer one. Like a dream of an unusual thing that manifests in some form. This he found helpful in his work with his patients.

Since I don’t remember my dreams, I rarely get a pairing like that. It’s typically two or more simple events. Like the time a friend gave me the novel The White Tiger to read and a few days later, a real white tiger appeared on my screen; I’d never heard of this animal before.

Mostly, I admit I am a rationalist; I go with the scientific method and cause-effect analysis. Maybe these events are just instances of confirmation bias, our “tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs.” Or maybe statistician David Hand was right when he wrote in his book The Improbability Principle, “Extremely improbable events are commonplace.”

Yet I’ve come across too many inexplicable things (like the fengshui and other paranormal stories told in my honey’s memoir) to believe this—rationalism—is the only right perspective or worldview.  

We must remember that the rationalistic attitude of the West is not the only possible one and is not all-embracing, but is in many ways a prejudice and a bias that ought perhaps to be corrected.

Carl G Jung

There are so many big questions we don’t have answers to. And I’ve already shared that I am at peace with not knowing. I’m more comfortable wondering than I would be in a cloud of self-righteous thought.

That’s a long introduction to the concurrences going on in my little bubble right now.

I’ve come to an age when I know that there are more years behind me than ahead of me. My cancer scare has perhaps made more salient my awareness of my mortality, but probably not—I do not fear death (another topic for me still to cover?).

How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.

Elizabeth Lesser

I feel in my bones that I’m in transition again, yet I can’t see to where.

Back in late October, near the start of my anti-cancer treatments, the I Ch’ing reading signaled that I was entering a new stage: “Completion and beginning are deeply connected. Only one part of your journey is ending.” I didn’t—and don’t—yet know how to interpret or apply this.

I thought the change might relate to the significant experience of undergoing the monstrous treatments. I created this site to explore whether that might be so. Now, nearly six months after the last session, I’m not sure this assault on my body had a meaningful effect on my psyche. It just was what it was. And that part of the journey is done.

Young people searching for their “real self” must learn that the real self is not something one finds as much as it is something one makes; and it is one’s daily actions that shape the inner personality far more permanently than any amount of introspection or intellection.

Sydney J Harris

Then, quite suddenly, over the past weeks, messages started to appear to show me options for viewing my life and maybe creating my future.

First, I received a message on how to prepare for future emergencies, including my death. A friendly member of an online business community I belong to, Judy Guertin, published an important guide: Beyond the Estate Plan Guide: Important Details Your Family Needs When You Are Not Here To Tell Them. I got the book (and highly recommend you do, too) and intend to use it to put my affairs in order. Step by step.

I consider this groundwork as a gift to loved ones I will someday leave behind, not as my preparing to die.

So, then I must prepare to live. To live as a Crone—meant in the best way possible, the archetypal figure of a Wise Woman.

And for that, I recently received not one, but two invitations to join online programs to review where I am and prepare for where I am going. One convener leads the Project Eldering, which focuses meaningfully on self-compassion. The second convener asks participants to take a closer look at their needs, values, tolerations, and passions, as a means to lessen feelings of overwhelm as they move into the final stage of their lives.

I’m enjoying both of the still ongoing programs and may share more of what I discover about myself in future posts—this one is long enough.

It doesn’t really matter to me whether these messages are instances of coincidence, synchronicity, or the universe just handing me what I am telling it I need. It’s just really cool that they keep coming.

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.

Thomas Huxley

Do you experience coincidences or synchronistic events? Are they meaningful to you?

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  • Might we consider that synchronicities related to us and which we have become aware of are manfestations resulting from interactions between the conscious and unconscious? In other words we create synchronicities by attracting meaningful (to us) events into our energetic field. Would we consider that this perhaps is how we are as humans, gifted and therefore enabled to reconstruct reality as we know it through experience from two platforms of observation: the inner and outer dimensions of existence?

    • Thanks for reading and your meaningful questions, Jon. If I’ve understood correctly, Carl Jung would answer both in the affirmative. I’m not wise enough to know for certain, but I sure like the ideas and in fact live my life as though that is true.

  • This entry encouraged me to look up and ponder the difference between serendipity and synchronicity. I discovered that I really should be using the term synchronicity instead of serendipity (a word I have been using a lot these past years). After all of these years! Still learning. That is a good thing.

    And you remind me of when I feel that the universal energies have aligned to bring synchronous information/happenings/situations/beings/thoughts together for me. At those moments, I usually feel waves of joy and exhilaration and wonder. And it seems to me these alignments tend to happen when I am ready for a change of some sort. Or simply am in a space where I am able to take a few breaths and enjoy the moments. It makes me question if the synchronicity is always there, but in my Western training of strive strive strive, for much of my self-imposed harried life I have not been aware of as many synchronous moments as I could have? I think one of your quotes refers to this.

    Thanks for once again pushing my brain outside of the box(es)! Love you, Cisca.

  • I am glad to be in your orbit, dear Francisca. Thank you for your kind comments and recommendation for my book. I tell people all the time it is a gift you give to yourself and to your loved ones. You are a great writer and I very much appreciate the effort and deep thought you put into each entry. I am happy to see you emerging from your cancer treatment, and to see the return of your energy and your beautiful curls.

  • Synchronicity. I have always loved this word. To me it signifies harmony, it means things falling into place rightly, it means affirmation.

  • Yes wonderful post Francisca. Synchronicities are silent acts of “God”, our Divine sacredness. For. me they tell me I am in the flow, consciousness and if it feels right, follow the path. Death and rebirth, completion and beginnings are but nanoseconds away from each other.

      • Yes being in tune with both the cycles of the sun and moon, the regenerative abilities of the flow of Source.

  • I think this is your best post yet. Growth comes from embracing that we don’t know what we don’t know. Your openness to accepting the universe as it is rather than demanding it be as you want it to be is the root of the great wisdom you possess. 💜

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