It happens to people all the time these days. Something prompts you to look at a digital clock at exactly the same time of day or night—1:11, 3:33, 4:44. You think of someone and soon thereafter that person contacts you. Or you’ve just read an article, you get into your car, and while driving along you notice that the numbers and letters on the license plate in front of you reflect the subject of the article you’ve just finished reading. Or, you see spelled out on the truck in the lane next to yours the actual words or names that appeared in the article.
The odds against such occurrences are so great that when we notice them, they tend to stop us dead in our tracks. Like scenes of exquisite beauty, they take our breath away. Playing back the sequence of events in our minds, we realize that had we left home one minute later, or had the red light lasted 30 seconds longer, we would have missed the license plate or the sign on the truck. The more we think about it, the more we realize that such perfectly choreographed events cannot happen randomly. And if we think about it long enough, we come up against the limits of the rational mind.
Interestingly, it was the power of synchronicity to overwhelm the rational mind that held significance for Carl Jung (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist who coined the term and brought the phenomenon to light. Jung recognized that synchronicity, which he defined as meaningful coincidence, had the effect of breaking through the “rationalistic shell” of the modern scientific mind. It is a form of coincidence powerful enough to shatter the notion that material science has discovered all there is to know about the universe. To the person having an experience of synchronicity, the realization dawns that a mysterious force is at play in the world—a kind of “cosmic clock” whose gears operate on a more subtle plane.
Modern science—based on the physical laws of cause and effect—measures and validates the relationship between cause and effect in the dimensions of time and space. What fascinated Jung about synchronicity was its acausal nature. He defined it as an “acausal relationship of events,” as there is no apparent explanation for the occurrence of two simultaneous events, one subjective and one objective. Further adding to the mystery, Jung noted that the occurrence has special meaning for the person who experiences it. This implies that unknown forces in our universe have the capacity to make visible, in the world of concrete form, the contents of the invisible realm of consciousness.
A classic illustration of synchronicity presented by Jung involved one of his patients, a woman with a highly developed rational mind— a fact that made her psychoanalytic treatment difficult. One day she was telling Jung about a dream she had had in which she received a golden scarab, a beetle with significance in Egyptian mythology. Just at that moment, Jung reported, he heard a noise “like a gentle tapping” on his window. When he opened the window, a scarab-like beetle flew in. Jung caught the beetle and presented it to his patient saying, “Here’s your scarab.” The stunning impact of this synchronicity overwhelmed the defenses of her rational mind and led to a breakthrough in her treatment.
Remarkably, Jung’s pioneering exploration of the phenomenon of synchronicity appears to have been an extraordinary synchronicity itself with regard to the unfoldment of human consciousness. His first writings on the subject were published in the 1950s, a pivotal time in the evolution of consciousness, when individuals around the world first began to report experiences that surpassed the limits of the concrete mind. Jung’s ideas on synchronicity added fuel to the revolution in consciousness that exploded in the 1960s, as growing numbers of educated people began to glimpse (whether through spiritual methods or psychopharmacological drugs) invisible dimensions of reality.
By the 1970s, the idea of synchronicity had begun to filter into films and novels, and by the 80s, into popular music and games. The extraordinary worldwide success of The Celestine Prophecy, published in 1993, revealed that millions of people on our planet were by then familiar with the experience of synchronicity. The first of the book’s nine “Insights,” presented by author James Redfield as fundamental to the process of spiritual unfoldment, was the importance of meaningful coincidences. He wrote:
The First Insight is a reconsideration of the inherent mystery that surrounds our individual lives on this planet. We are experiencing these mysterious coincidences, and even though we don’t understand them yet, we know they are real. We are sensing again, as in childhood, that there is another side of life that we have yet to discover, some other process operating behind the scenes.
For many awakening souls, the phenomenon of synchronicity provides a direct and unmistakable encounter with the mysteries of the spiritual realm. Because the experience has particular meaning to the individual involved, it has the power to open a portal to “the world of meaning,” which is the world of the soul in the wisdom teachings. Through a dramatic convergence of internal and external realms—in time and space—a kind of rending of the veil occurs for the one experiencing it. It is as if a “wormhole” into the realm of the soul and the invisible dimensions of the universe suddenly appears.
The invisible, subtle dimension of spirit that is closest to our personalities (on the other side of the veil) is the realm of the soul, a realm technically related to the higher dimensions of mind, but one which also provides access to the plane of higher intuition. While the personality exists in a world of constantly changing circumstances and events, the soul dwells in a world of meaning. From the perspective of the soul, the world of outer circumstances is a kaleidoscopic collection of symbols. Everything that we experience on the material plane is symbolic of something hidden within the deeper folds of consciousness.
As the soul awakens, it turns to the “task” of uncovering the meaning of life experiences, attempting to discern what each new circumstance may be trying to teach us. The discernment of meaning is integral to advancement in this schoolhouse of life. Once the needed learning has been extracted from difficult lessons, they no longer have to be repeated. By observing synchronicities and trying to fathom their meaning, we are drawn into the world of the soul, thus accelerating our progress on the path of transformation.
Just as the material world functions according to physical laws of cause and effect, the laws that govern physical science, there exist spiritual laws of cause and effect—on subtle levels of consciousness—that govern our existence as souls. What we experience on this earth, as individuals, communities, nations, and civilizations, is conditioned by the law of karma, or cause and effect. With the soul’s awakening, we become aware of the functioning of this law, and we learn to mitigate the effects of causes previously set in motion. We do this by learning to see the contents of our outer lives as symbols, distilling their meaning, and assuming responsibility for changing harmful patterns.
Given the present state of our world, the wisdom of the soul is more urgently needed than ever. Could it be that increasing incidences of synchronicity are intended to direct the attention of awakening humanity to the realm of the soul? By rending the veil between the world of material living and spiritual realms—even for a fleeting moment—these experiences appear to be catalysts for spiritual evolution, acting to accelerate our transition into the new era. Inexplicable by physical laws, they draw our attention away from the outer world, towards the more subtle realm governed by spiritual laws. These happenings are propelling us forward to the time when the soul will emerge into the foreground of human consciousness, to become the foundation of a truly new civilization and culture.
The fact that synchronistic phenomena are growing and spreading seems irrefutable. Compared to the era when Jung first wrote about them, a half century ago, the occurrence of these mind-bending experiences has become almost commonplace. Recently, a radio program that features cutting-edge topics devoted two hours to a discussion of them. People called in to share uncanny incidents, many of which involved numbers, such as 1-1-1. One caller, a trucker, said that he saw three ones everywhere he looked—on digital clocks, license plates, restaurant checks, street addresses. His tone of voice conveyed a sense of wonder, like all the other callers, sounding like awestruck 21st century mystics.
The how and why of these events remain great and unsolved mysteries. But we do have some hints about how synchronicity may work, both from physical science and esoteric science. In the science of electricity, one of the meanings of the word “synchronous” is “having the same frequency.” In esoteric science, we learn that the key to opening a portal to a higher dimension of consciousness lies in attaining the same frequency as that higher dimension. The Tibetan Master has written: “Only synchronous vibration to that which lies on the other side of the door produces its opening."
In some mysterious way, synchronicity seems to be heightening the sensitivity of large numbers of human beings to the reality of a higher dimension of consciousness. When the experience occurs, it causes us to register the objective reality of a more subtle plane of existence. When it occurs in our lives repeatedly, and with growing frequency, we realize that an invisible, intelligent force is trying to attract our attention. This force, by whatever name we call it, appears to be actively involved in thinning the veil between spirit and matter—for those who are responsive to it. Perhaps the phenomenon of synchronicity is serving to smooth the way from an age mired in the vibration of dense matter into an age that will flower in resonance with the vibration of the Soul.