Synchronicity 4

In his correspondence Jung offers further comments about synchronicity – meaningful coincidences – and the probability that ‘the collective unconscious coincides in a strange and utterly inconceivable way with objective events’. Here Jung means that an archetypal situation will reflect itself also in physical processes. He quotes a 2nd century dream book from a Greek soothsayer Artemidorus who writes of a man dreaming that his father perished in a fire, and a few days later the dreamer himself dying of a high fever – Jung adds that he himself has observed such things.

The difficulty in looking at synchronistic events from a scientific perspective or through experimental means is that as Jung writes, ‘when we observe statistically we eliminate the synchronistic phenomenon, and conversely, when we establish synchronicity we must abandon the statistical method.’ Jung is in part drawing on medieval thought to understand contingencies beyond mere probability.

He is also looking at his idea that in the archetypal there is no time – it is eternal – in other words outside time, and is everywhere. In the archetype there is no limit to space and place.

‘In our ordinary mind we are in the worlds of time and space and within the separate individual psyche. In the state of the archetype we are in the collective psyche, in a world-system whose space-time categories are relatively or absolutely abolished.’

Synchronistic events are outside the usual and acknowledged limits of ordinary time and space – they link to the deep unconscious and the archetypal: ‘When an archetype prevails, we can expect synchronistic phenomena’.

In a letter written in 1954 Jung sees synchronicity as comparable to the idea of ‘pre-established harmony’. This leads him into discussions of astrology and predetermination – in other words has everything already taken place? This is the same as with ESP (extra sensory perception such as telepathy and precognition etc) which all have the same underlying principle which is ‘the identity of a subjective and an objective arrangement coinciding in time’. The subject takes Jung to what he writes of as ‘the frontier of transcendence, beyond which human statements can only be mythological.’