The word “synchronicity” was coined by Jung to flag patterns of meaningful coincidence. He defined “synchronicity” as “the coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same meaning”, the work of “an acausal connecting principle.”
Things come up at the same time, or in a certain sequence, that feel as if they are closely connected, but cannot be attributed to any linear sequence of cause and event. Dreams and waking events may interweave closely, and may have the same quality. Coincidence is at work, but it cannot be shrugged off as “mere” coincidence. Synchronicities mean something. Sometimes they nudge us towards the perception of a deeper meaning in our lives than our everyday habits and attitudes have made room for. They can feed that hunger for meaning that is a defining characteristic of any human who is truly alive. They move us beyond our tendency to put fences around possibility.
Benign synchronicities tend to come thick and fast at times of change, moments that stir the soul, when our passions are aroused – when we fall in love, or make a leap of faith, or are embarking on a new creative endeavor, or are close to birth or death. Benign synchronicity may provide powerful confirmation of a path we are testing – or open a path of which we were previously unaware. Synchronicities can strengthen us in the determination to follow our deepest intuitions even when they run counter to conventional wisdom and logic and cannot be subjected to rational explanation. Like the exchange of secret handshakes between members of a secret fraternity, these signals alert us to the fact that we are not alone, that we have invisible sources of support, and that we are on the right course even when the whole world seems to be going the other way.
Negative synchronicities and counter-currents tend to multiply when we are resisting change, or insisting on following an ego-driven agenda.
Synchronicities carry us beyond stolid distinctions between inner and outer, mind and matter. They may arouse the suspicion that, when we are most deeply alive, we somehow call up from the depths of soul the events and situations that are played out around us.
Synchronicity helps us awaken to the fact that beyond the surface of things, everything is alive, animate, conscious. By making it our game to enter actively into the play of synchronicity, we move towards conscious engagement with the powers of the deeper world.
Synchronicity is the grammar of epiphany. An epiphany is literally a “showing forth”. The epiphanies of life, those numinous “show times” when we glimpse the deeper reality behind the manifest world, and derive insight into the larger meaning of our personal existence, come with the intersection of a hidden order of events with our seemingly linear progression through space/time.
The play of synchronicity helps us to move into a creative flow state, and invites us to step outside linear time and history into kairos time, the “jump time” of creative opportunity.
As English physicist F. David Peat writes lyrically, through synchronicity, as well as peak experiences, “creativity breaks through the barriers of the self and allows awareness to flood through the whole domain of consciousness. It is the human mind operating, for a moment, in its true order and extending throughout society and nature, moving through orders of increasing subtlety, reaching past the source of mind and matter into creativity itself.”
A conscious engagement with synchronicity, like a conscious relationship with the dreamworlds, enables us to connect with a multidimensional perspective and become co-creators of what is manifested from a deeper reality in our physical worlds.
Dreaming and synchronicity are the warp and woof of our experience of a deeper reality. In dreaming, we go there. Through synchronicity, the forces of that deeper world leave their mark on our surface world and give us a spur to live juicier, more magical lives. Though Jung described synchronicity as “acausal”, sometimes we feel the work of a hidden hand, the play of forces beyond the curtail walls of our ordinary perception.
For anyone who has been suffering from a “dream drought” – lifelong or just recent – paying attention to coincidence can be especially helpful and healing. I learned that dreams come back when we pay attention to synchronicity in one of my first public workshops. A woman told us she had had no dream recall for months. In discussion, she acknowledged that she was probably blocking her dreams because she was scared they were telling her something she did not wish to hear – that she was going to lose her job. I gently suggested that she might want to write down her concern, carry that piece of paper with her, and pay attention for the first unusual or unexpected things that entered her field of perception on the chance that they might give some insight. She got her response from the world right away. That same evening, after the workshop, she found herself driving the wrong way down a one-way street, in a neighborhood she knew well. She accepted the message that she was probably going to lose her job. Now her dream gates opened again, and in night dreams she found the solution for her job situation; the full story is in my book Conscious Dreaming.