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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

Refining the Definition of Synchronicity

For a coincidence to be a synchronicity, it must touch the heart.

Laurence Browne proposes four explanations of coincidence:

  1. random chance (a probability that could be calculated mathematically)

  2. natural causal (accounted for by standard theories of physical and mental causation)

  3. supernatural causal (paranormal elements, for example, telepathy)

  4. synchronicity

In his book The Many Faces of Coincidence, Laurence deals with the extraordinary coincidences which occur within cosmology and quantum physics. They demonstrate that our existence on this planet relies on coincidences far more remarkable than anything we humans experience.

“A stunning array of cosmic coincidences set the stage for life on Earth”, says Browne. These coincidences are both intricate and profuse. The three categories of cosmic coincidences include:

  1. the finely-tuned precision of the constants of nature and the initial conditions of the Big Bang

  2. the confluence of "Goldilocks" conditions that made life on Earth possible

  3. just as we are arriving at an accurate conception of the physical universe, we find ourselves in real peril over the future of humanity and biodiversity

Research in high-energy physics seems to support the idea that there is an urge in nature to achieve regularity in the face of primal chaos. Synchronistic events could be a pointer to the existence of an underlying, congruous connecting continuum in the universe, perhaps the unus mundus that Jung himself conjectured, from which both mind and matter could arise. Laurence tells us that not all low probability events are synchronistic and that some medium probability coincidences can be synchronistic. By what reasoning does he make this claim?

He argues that for a coincidence properly to be called synchronistic, it should include three factors:

  1. an equivalence of meaning between an external event and deep psychological processes in the individual involved

  2. an accompanying feeling of numinosity experienced as an emotional charge

  3. a flash of total insight or, as Jung called it, ‘absolute knowledge’.

These elements, Laurence says, are evident in of the literature surrounding Jung’s development of the synchronicity hypothesis and are to be differentiated from a ‘wow’ factor coincidence which provides astonishment rather than meaning. When these three factors occur together, the heart is naturally touched In the moment that your inner and outer worlds come together through a synchronicity, you are more likely to experience oneness. As soon as you start thinking about it, the worlds of mind and matter separate from the oneness and re-emerge.

To hear Laurence Browne discuss the Goldilocks conditions and his various explanations for meaningful coincidences, please click here. Some of the comments in this post are adapted from Geoff Ward.

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