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Consciousness Plays with the Physical World

by Cynthia Sue Larson

Carl Gustav Jung
Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961)

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect
but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.
The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."
-- Carl Jung

Swiss Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung coined the term synchronicity to signify "the simultaneous occurrence of two meaningful but not causally connected events," or as "a coincidence in time of two or more casually unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning... equal in rank to a causality as a principle of explanation." Synchronicity is the occurence of a physical event in the world which occurs at or near the same time that it is being discussed or thought about. The essence of synchronicity is felt, for there is often significance and meaning associated with it. When you consider that this kind of interplay is one way that your eternal spirit and your physical self engage in dialogue, you may find yourself looking forward to experiencing more frequent synchronicities in your life.

This playfulness we so often feel in creativity allows us to find connections between ideas without a structured, rational, mechanical process -- discovering that what we need comes to us when and where we need it. Jung describes an amazing experience he once had with a scarab beetle in an article he titled, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle:
    "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 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 that one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt an urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment." [The Collected Works of Carl Jung, Volume 8, page 843]
As Jung treated this particular patient, he realized that she required a change of perspective from her overly-rational view of the world to one which allowed greater freedom of thought and feeling. Jung was intrigued to notice that this kind of rebirth that he considered so important for his patient was also indicated by the timely arrival of the scarab beetle at the window!
    "The scarab is a classic example of a rebirth symbol. The ancient Egyptian Book of What Is in the Netherworld describes how the dead sun-god changes himself at the tenth station into Khepri, the scarab, and then, at the twelfth station, mounts the barge which carries the rejuvenated sun-god into the morning sky." [The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche: The Collected Works of Carl Jung, Volume 8, page 845]
Jung's concept of synchronicity has graced the world with a holistic alternative to the philosophies of mechanism and reductionism, allowing for tremendous freedom and playfulness between consciousness and the physical world.

Science & Synchronicity

Wolfgang Pauli Wolfgang Pauli (1900 - 1958)

Swiss physicist and Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli first discussed the concept of synchronicity with Carl Jung in the 1930s, when he consulted with Jung for psychotherapeutic help. Pauli knew that Jung had discovered something important with the concept of synchronicity, because he began to find deep meaning in his dreams. Symbols from his dreams would synchronistically appear in letters from colleagues and statements made by fellow researchers and friends -- and Pauli was pleased to find that great scientific insights could be made through allowing his mind to follow such non-mechanistic and intuitive paths.

One kind of synchronicity that Pauli particularly enjoyed was the way that experimental equipment was widely known to fail in his presence. Pauli delighted in this phenomenon, which became known as the "Pauli Effect." All kinds of breakdowns occurred in technical equipment, experimental apparatus, and machines. Otto Stern is said to have forbidden Wolfgang Pauli to enter his institute, in order to prevent such malfunctions. As one friend of Pauli noted about him shortly after one such incident:
    "... he senses the mischief already before as a disagreable tension, and when the anticipated misfortune then actually hits - another one! - he feels strangely liberated and lightened." [Enz, Charles, P., No Time to be Brief, A scientific biography of Wolfgang Pauli, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002]
Learning from Synchronicity

When you experience synchronicity in your life, you can sometimes gain deeper insight into what you intuitively know to be true by taking a closer look at the synchronicity in question. Could it be true that the universe is trying to tell you something? To find out if there may be deeper meaning to a given synchronicity, ask yourself:
    o What symbols does this synchronicity contain?
    o What do these symbols mean for me, personally, at this time?
    o How do I feel about this?
Since your consciousness is constantly interacting with all levels of yourself, some synchronicities will have more personal significance than others in your life. You can generally gauge how important a given synchronicity is for you by feeling how you respond emotionally and physically to it. For example, if you were just thinking of an old saying such as, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," that your mother used to tell you when you were growing up, and then you open the newspaper and see that exact same phrase printed on the page -- notice how you feel both emotionally and physically as this synchronicity occurs.

Synchronicity References

You can read more about synchronicity in Jung's books, The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche: The Collected Works of Carl Jung, Volume 8 and Synchronicity.

Conscious Acts of Creation
The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche: The Collected Works of Carl Jung, Volume 8


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