Chance, coincidence or, in the word of Carl Gustav Jung, “synchronicity,” defined as “the simultaneous occurrence of two unrelated or acausal but meaningful events,” definitely presents a serious challenge to the most fundamental assumptions or principles of science regarding the nature of reality.
Newton believes we live in an orderly universe, one that is governed by predictable and immutable laws of physics, such as, “For every effect, there must be a corresponding cause,” or his famous Third Law of Motion: “For every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.” One physicist was quoted as saying, “God does not play dice with the universe.”
What is baffling and often leaves scientists scratching their heads are the numerous occurrences of coincidences which cannot be logically explained by any accepted principles of mechanistic Western science.
Here is an example:
“George D. Bryson, an American businessman, made a trip from St. Louis to New York, stopping at Louisville, Kentucky, a town he had never visited before. At the station, he inquired for somewhere to stay and was directed to the Brown Hotel. He went there, found they had a room No. 307 and registered. Then, just for a joke, and because he had nothing better to do, he idly asked if there was any mail for him. To his astonishment and consternation, the receptionist calmly handed him a letter addressed to Mr. George D. Bryson, Room 307.
“On investigation, it turned out the previous occupant of the room had been another George D. Bryson, who worked with a firm in Montreal.” (From the Supernatural Series, in the book “Magic, Words and Numbers,” by Stuart Holroyd, published 1975 by the Danbury Press, a division of Grolier Enterprises, Inc.)
There has never been a universally acceptable explanation for the occurrence of coincidences. But several scientists, researchers and scholars have proposed the following theories:
Jung believes coincidences happen as a result of the workings of our unconscious mind. The connection may lie between one’s psyche and the physical world. When we look at the causal connection from a purely physical standpoint, we face a blank wall.
Another researcher and thinker, Arthur Koestler, in his book “Roots of Coincidence,” proposes a principle well-known to mystics of the East, namely, that everything is connected to everything else; and that coincidences are not chance events but belong to a long series of connections in which we see only the beginning and the end and not the in-between.
The Chinese have a saying that when a person opens and waves a fan, a whirlwind takes place in another part of the world. Or when one sneezes, somebody else gets a cold on the other side of the globe.
Koestler, quoting Kammerrer, a follower of the Lamarckian theory of evolution, says that “coincidences, whether they come singly or in series, are manifestations of a universal principle in nature which operates independently from physical causation… Single coincidences are merely tips of the iceberg which happen to catch our eye.”
Secret laws of nature
Asian mystics and philosophers have long held that there are four secret laws of nature. One of these is the Law of Causality, meaning “nothing happens without a cause.” Just because we do not see the causal connection between events A and B does not mean there is no inner or invisible connection between them.
The Law of Causality denies the existence of coincidence or synchronicity. According to this law, everything has a cause.
Our problem is to find out where the cause of a certain effect lies. Western science has no clue how to answer this logical puzzle. Coincidences are like those Japanese koans or mental puzzles which cannot be explained by logic or reason.
Here is a koan: Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping?
To understand that seemingly absurd question, one has to bypass the logical mind which creates a barrier between things beyond physical reality. To understand a koan, one has to embrace the absurd, the ridiculous and the impossible as mere parts or cogs in the wheels of reality.
Most scientists dismiss coincidences as mere anomalies of nature which are not worth studying seriously. But Jung says: “I refuse to commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.”
Jung tries to explain all phenomena that cannot be accounted for in terms of physical causality as manifestations of the unconscious.
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