Our worldview, which usually explains happenings using the scientific concept of cause and effect, tends to doubt experiences that are not measurable and verifiable. Thus, when events coincide in intriguing ways, we often attribute these to mere chance or state, “It’s just a coincidence.” However, in some cases, the happenings may truly be synchronistic.
According to Jung, “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.” Synchronistic events are often archetypal bringing the additional sense of awe not found in ‘mere coincidences.’
The key factor that separates events from being either synchronistic or coincidence is the meaningfulness.
Take for example bumping into a friend on the street. Although you may have been thinking about the person the day before, this chance meeting has little significance or meaning – it does not resonate with any inner or psychological state. In this case, the crossing is merely a coincidence.
However, during the talk your friend mentions that her new neighbour is a hairstylist. This fact now strikes you as interesting as you have been contemplating making changes in your life. On a psychic level, you are ready for the ‘trimming’ and altering of ideas that the hair symbolically represents due to its heady location. This meeting now reflects a meaningful glimpse into your current psychic state.
Another synchronistic happening might be that while thinking about making contact with an unhealthy ex-partner, we may ‘just happen’ to stumble while walking, have ‘a slip’ on the stairs, or cut ourselves. We reflect upon this outer event by asking, “What am I thinking about that would be seen as a stumble, “slip up” or be hurting myself?”
Jung believed in the ‘unus mundus’ – one unitary world – where everything is holistically and deeply connected, with no difference between psychological and physical realms. In this psychoid (partly psychic partly physical) state synchronistic events occur – where matter matches psyche.
Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli believed that there were parallels between synchronicity and aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. Like Jung, they felt that the unconscious psyche and the material work were simply different forms of energy representing similar ideas.
Jung explained: “It is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing. The synchronicity phenomena … show that the nonpsychic can behave like the psychic, and vice versa, without there being any causal connection between them.”
Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen stated, “Synchronistic meetings are like mirrors that reflect something of ourselves.” As with any symbolic material, a good place to start is to ask, “Why now? Why was this dream image, this ‘accident,’ or this information presented to me now?”
Bolen further noted, “Synchronicity holds the promise that if we want to change inside, the patterns in our external life will change as well.” When we change our thoughts, our lives do shift.