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Synchronicity and its relationship to Buddhism

  • 09-03-2006 1:38am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 6,740 Asiaprod


    I wonder has anybody taken time out to ponder on how Synchronicity as coined by Carl Jung does or does not relate to Buddhism. It is a fascinating subject that has caused some incredible differences to arise in the understanding/acceptance of the collective unconscious.
    Anybody have any opinions on the subject?

    For those unsure of what Synchronicity is a short explainer follows.

    Carl Jung describes Synchronicity as the "temporally coincident occurrences of a causal events". Jung also spoke of synchronicity as being an "acausal connecting principle" (ie. a pattern of connection that is not explained by causality). Plainly put, it is the experience of having two (or more) things happen simultaneously in a manner that is meaningful to the person or people experiencing them, where that meaning suggests an underlying pattern. It differs from coincidence in that synchronicity implies not just a happenstance, but an underlying pattern or dynamic that is being expressed through meaningful relationships or events. It was a principle that Jung felt compassed his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious, in that it was descriptive of a governing dynamic that underlay the whole of human experience and history—social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidence were due not merely to chance, but instead, suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances reflecting this governing dynamic.

    A well-known example of synchronicity involves plum pudding.

    It is the true story of the French writer Émile Deschamps who in 1805 is treated to some plum pudding by the stranger Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, he encounters plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant, and wants to order some, but the waiter tells him the last dish has already been served to another customer, who turns out to be M. de Fontgibu. Many years later in 1832 Émile Deschamps is at a diner, and is once again offered plum pudding. He recalls the earlier incident and tells his friends that only M. de Fontgibu is missing to make the setting complete, and in the same instant the now senile M. de Fontgibu enters the room.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,493 ✭✭✭ Goodshape


    I've read a bit about syncronicity myself and find the subject fasinating. I read somewhere that "Life can be seen as a series of coincidences, some of which we choose to ignore, others we ignore by default, but anyone of them can - with a choice - change your life", and that idea has kind of stuck with me since.

    The idea being that these synchronicitys happen all the time, every second of every day. Most of them we don't even notice, or just dismiss as 'normal' or nothing worth thinking about. Others we dismiss as 'mere coincidence'... but then theres a few occassions where the seemingly random occurence makes us skip a beat and stop to think. Maybe I should talk to the girl with the plum pudding?

    I often like to think there is some significence behind these things -- some collective unconscious telling me that now is the time to take notice. I find they usually lead in interesting -- if not neccessarlly the 'right' -- ways.

    As far as synchronicities relationship to Buddhism, I can't really offer any words of wisdom from the inside but as an outsider looking in, Buddhism has cropped up for me again and again in ways that could be thought of as synchronicities. It seems to have allways been there as a source of knowledge, intregue and inspiration whenever I come to need it -- I don't feel I've ever saught after Buddhist teachings or philosophys, and yet I keep 'bumping into it' again and again.

    To relate one recent personal story -- I spent a year in Prague last year. Picked the city almost at random and new nothing and no-one bar my traveling companions when I arrived. Before we left Ireland we were given a number to ring to try and find accomodation.. it was for an Irish friend-of-a-friend who might have a few apartments going. The number turned out to be useless and we headed off not knowing what to expect.

    First night in Prague and we book ourselves into the first hostel we come accross. Second night there we go to the pub around the corner and eventually start chatting to a group of Czech lads. As it turned out -- coincidentally -- these lads worked for the very same Irish friend-of-a-friend we were looking for.

    Prague turned out to be good like that, with things just happening to fall nicely into place. At the start of the summer and a few months into the trip at this stage, the release and freedom of being 'away from home' became substantial enough and I finally decided to 'come out'. I met a guy and we got on well -- my first boyfriend.... and a practising Zen Buddhist to boot :)

    Something up there seems to be leading me towards it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,740 Asiaprod


    Goodshape wrote:
    I've read a bit about syncronicity myself and find the subject fasinating. I read somewhere that "Life can be seen as a series of coincidences, some of which we choose to ignore, others we ignore by default, but anyone of them can - with a choice - change your life", and that idea has kind of stuck with me since.

    Good description, Just an idea, but maybe this is how Buddhism works. All these events are taking place around us all the time and as good Buddhists we have the good fortune to be made aware of the coincidences that are important for us. There must indeed be some significance behind these things. Many I have talked to (that I look up to) all agree that synchronicity and Buddhism are firmly connected. I am going to pursue this more as I think there is a very important key hidden here. Maybe I too should talk to the girl with the plum pudding?

    As far as synchronicities relationship to Buddhism, I can't really offer any words of wisdom from the inside but as an outsider looking in, Buddhism has cropped up for me again and again in ways that could be thought of as synchronicities. It seems to have always been there as a source of knowledge, intrigue and inspiration whenever I come to need it -- I don't feel I've ever sought after Buddhist teachings or philosophies, and yet I keep 'bumping into it' again and again.

    What can I say other than: When the student is ready the teacher will appear. I hold so much faith in this quote. There is not one person that I know who did not come to Buddhism in a round about way. It is almost as if Buddhism demands that we experience other beliefs before we are capable of embracing it, then it calls to us.

    What a fib story about Prague, hard to believe your success was all down to just `coincidences`:rolleyes:
    And congratulations on Coming Out, how fortuitous that you could be away in a different country and so be free of social pressures to realize something so important. And you partner is a Buddhist (excuse me while I have a quite snicker to myself here). Could this be your teacher?
    By the way, many many of my Buddhist friends over here are Gay. You are in good company.

    Something up there seems to be leading me towards it.
    That's an understatement to be sure.;)


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,493 ✭✭✭ Goodshape


    Asiaprod wrote:
    Good description, Just an idea, but maybe this is how Buddhism works. All these events are taking place around us all the time and as good Buddhists we have the good fortune to be made aware of the coincidences that are important for us.
    Well, I like Buddhism primarily for the methods it has for relaxing, training and, maybe, purifying the mind. I think these things do indeed help us to become more aware of the happy syncronicities in the world around us. Of course there are also other, non Buddhist, methods of doing this (I could name certin drugs which have been known to help).
    What can I say other than: When the student is ready the teacher will appear. I hold so much faith in this quote.
    Yea, I love that quote myself. Seems to hold true for many things and again, not just Buddhism. A closed mind can not be taught no matter who the teacher.
    What a fib story about Prague, hard to believe your success was all down to just `coincidences`:rolleyes:
    Heh, and I barely even scrached the suface of my experience there. The entire year seemed to consist of one fortunate (and/or fun) 'coincedidence' after another.
    And congratulations on Coming Out
    Thanks :). It's offered me great clarity of mind and an underlying happiness I've not felt in years. Repressing one's desires is not a healthy thing to do.
    And you partner is a Buddhist (excuse me while I have a quite snicker to myself here). Could this be your teacher?
    We're no longer together actually (he is in Prague and I am in Ireland, for one thing), but while we were together he did indeed teach me quite a bit -- and I have little doubt we'll meet again in the future, so you never know :)


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