The ancient Greeks had two terms for time – ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos.’ Chronos refers to the human-made, measurable and predicable chronological or sequential time. It is associated with clocks and calendars.
Kairos, on the other hand, means the ‘right or opportune moment’ – a moment of undefined time in which something special happens. It is mysterious, unpredictable and often occurs in the ‘nick of time.’
Kairos, the youngest child of Zeus, was the god of opportunity; thus, kairos is the opportune time and/or place to do the appropriate thing.
Caroline Myss describes kairos time as “soul time.” When you work in kairos time, situations flow, synchronicities occur and there exists the opportunity for you to “restructure, resettle, reorganize and heal yourself.”
When we are in kairos, we are working from abundance, acceptance, trust, wonder and hope. There is a trusting that something beyond ego is at hand and we often feel as if ‘something is in the air.’
We cannot force kairos or the right moment, we merely know it will happen when it is suppose to. As the inventor of the frozen French fry, Jack Simplot stated, “When the time is right, you just got to do it.”
When we are aligned with the universe, we overcome our fears and intrinsically know, as singer Rick Springfield noted, “If the timing’s right and the gods are with you, something special happens.”
No matter how much ego thinks it knows what and when events should happen, this way of directing life never works. When we force events, trickster energy will balance this rigidity and control with chaos or misdirection.
Recall times in your life where jobs, people and items appeared ‘out of the blue’ and in a truly appreciative and synchronistic way. In most cases, they transcended what your ego was striving for.
On a collective level, Jung saw kairos as a changing of the fundamental societal principles or worldview. He viewed this change as happening with a kind of evolutionary necessity, beyond our conscious choice, and occurring at critical times in human existence.
Currently, we find ourselves in a place of kairos – a time where existing worldviews that have shaped the current understanding of how we see the world and ourselves are undergoing a radical change. It is a time that summons a ‘just in the nick of time’ shift.
Jung also viewed the outcome of this collective shift as being dependant upon how each individual grapples with his or her own making sense of or finding meaning in life.
During the task of individuation (next week’s topic), we are asked and required to move against ego’s habitual ideas about how things are and to reject many of the accepted norms of society. The cracks in our previous cultural and societal myths begin to appear, prompting the formation of new ones.
Today, both chronos and kairos times are prompting us to shift our individual and collective thinking. As the scholar Hillel wrote, ‘If not you, who? And if not now, when?’