Synchronicity: Meaningful Coincidences in Everyday Life

Posted on 15th November 2004 by Ryan Somma in Enlightenment Warrior

I used to enjoy reading Tarot Cards. These are a deck of cards that a person draws from randomly, placing them into various positions. Each card has a meaning and each position modifies that meaning. The idea is to think on an aspect of your life and the cards drawn into their various positions will advise you on how to approach the issue in question. The cards were very effective, the advice seemingly supernatural in its appropriateness.

Tarot cards are relegated to that realm of New Age mysticism that includes runes, crystals, remote viewing, astrology, and other occult practices; but the tarot cards’ apparent ability to speak to those who read them is not a supernatural phenomenon, but a psychological one. It involves exercising the pattern-recognition talents harbored in the brain’s Right hemisphere, allowing us to create relationships between abstract concepts. Our mind relates the generalized advice given by the cards to various aspects of the complex situation in our life, creating apparent “coincidences.”

Coincidences occur all of the time in life. The traffic lights were all green or all red on your ride to work. You got an unexpected income when your bank account was about to go negative or you incurred an unexpected expense that made you put off a large purchase. You and a friend simultaneously say the same thing.

Carl Jung called this phenomenon Synchronicity, and he theorized that it was possible for an individual to become intuitively aware of and act in harmony with the forces of co-incidence, a state he called “individuation.” As we are incapable of Scientifically testing synchronicity, due to its complex and personal nature, I will leave this seemingly supernatural theory aside and focus on fact of coincidences and what they mean for us in everyday life.

Nature and the Mind

Nature reveals nothing to us about whether the Universe loves or hates us. Some argue that nature works against us. Lions and sharks, viruses and bacteria, spiders and snakes, starvation, disease, disasters, and all of the other terrible things that can happen to us seemingly at nature’s whim are indisputable proof that the natural world is at odds with our welfare.

The flipside of this argument is observing all of the wonderful things nature provides for us. Beneficial bacteria thrive in our digestive tract, helping to process food. We harvest far more from lions, sharks, and other predators than they harvest from preying on us. All of the detrimental effects of the natural world are nothing in comparison to the fact that these same mechanisms brought the human race to its present status.

Good, bad, and indifferent aspects to the Cosmos exist simultaneously, with only our mind’s talent for pattern-recognition emphasizing one aspect above the other two. Emphasizing one by choice according to our personal needs is fine, so long as we remain mindful of the other two’s existence.

Reading tarot cards is an exercise in mindfulness, a form of guided meditation on a topic. Each position represents another way of looking at our situation and each card represents a variable to consider in the equation. The powerful insights that often arise are the result of the process. The exercise is certainly metaphysical, but any supernatural aspect remains wholly debatable.

Understanding all of these dimensions to our thought-processes provide a clearer understanding of existence and our place in it.

Characterizing Coincidence

There are two types of coincidences, good and bad. Murphy’s Laws are examples of bad coincidences. Miracles are examples of good ones. It’s no coincidence that the type of coincidence occurring more often in a person’s life usually reflects their attitude.

People who focus on the deleterious happenings in their lives will find more of these hindrances. They will come to expect them. People who focus on the advantageous happenings will also come to expect them. It’s like Omar’s observation on one of Principa Discordia’s rules, “I find the Law of Fives more manifest the harder I look.” Either of these expectations, good or bad, will affect the individual’s characterization of the Cosmos.

Whether we believe in a benign, pernicious, or indifferent Cosmos, we are making a characterization of it. None of these characterizations are Scientifically testable, and arguments can be made any which way based on Empirical observations. If we keep in mind that conceptualization is an art where we are the artists, how should we conceptualize the Cosmos?

The first answer, of course, is that we are free to conceptualize any way we desire. The second answer is, because of the personal nature of conceptualization, we must each characterize the Cosmos in a way most pleasing to our psyches.

For people living in an indifferent Cosmos there are no good or bad aspects to events. Things simply happen and life continues. There are also no meanings to events, which contradicts the purpose of the left hemisphere–to find meaning. Finding a pattern of indifference in our lives is still a pattern. If a human mind is the Cosmos observing itself, then the Cosmos’ indifference relies on our own. Does this make the belief in an indifferent Cosmos a paradox?

That one makes my head hurt, so I’ll move on.

Believing in a Cosmos that works against us may provide some comfort as a means of deflecting blame from our shortcomings. The problem with this perception is when we encounter a fortuitous coincidence. In a Cosmos that works contrary to our ends, good fortune must be viewed as a trick meant to bring disaster upon us at a later date. There is nothing comforting about living in an existence where we must strive for infinite skepticism of all things.

Believing in a Cosmos that works with us provides the comfort that there is a reason for all things, even the bad. Every misfortune becomes a lesson with a light at the end of the tunnel called wisdom. The exersise of finding a positive meaning in all situations, whether in something to rise above or something reaffirming a good characterization of nature, provides an incentive for personal improvement.

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