Why coincidences are maybe not coincidental

Why coincidences are maybe not coincidental

Each of us has sometimes been in a situation when he or she simply can’t explain some coincidence to themselves. You think about an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time and in the next moment you meet at the street. Or you have asked yourself a certain question for a long time just to find the answer in the form of a sign on the street.

An example of such a coincidence is Anthony Hopkins’s story related to his part in a movie based on the novel The girl from Petrovka by George Feifer.

A few days after signing contract for the movie, Hopkins went to London to buy a copy of the book. To his surprise, however, it turned out bookstores in London did not even have one piece of the novel. While waiting at the Leicester square for the subway, which had to take him home, he noticed a book that had been discarded on one of the benches. To his amazement it was The girl from Petrovka. It was an inexplicable coincidence alone but it didn’t even stop there.

Two years later, during filming in Vienna, Hopkins was visited by George Feifer, the novel’s author. While conversing, Feifer mentioned he didn’t have a copy of the book with him. The only copy he had had been given to a friend of his, who had lost it somewhere in London. Then Hopkins showed his book to Feifer, who, with great astonishment, noticed his own notes on the pages of the book. In the end, it turned out it was the same book.

How could that be?
It seems as if all events in the world, all people and the whole information are joined to each other by invisible threads, which sometimes all of a sudden gleam. And according to renowned psychiatrist and philosopher Carl Gustav Jung, this is actually true. He called the phenomenon “synchronicity”. If we accept that it did exist, then this is one of the most mysterious things in the Universe.

Jung reached the conclusion that a correlation exists between things – between space, time, consciousness and the unrealized- that is not casual. Significant coincidences are its most vivid manifestation. Here is what he wrote in his book on synchronicity, which was published in 1952.

“My example is related to a young patient girl, who despite the effort from both sides, turned out psychologically inaccessible. Difficulty came from the fact that she always knew more about everything. Her excellent education had supplied her with a weapon, which was perfectly built for the purpose, which was more specifically refined Cartesian rationalism with invariably “geometric” idea of reality.

After a few futile attempts to sweeten rationalism with somehow more humane understanding, I had to restrict myself to the hope that something irrational and unexpected was going to appear – something that will break intellectual retort, in which it closed itself. And so, one day I was sitting opposite her, my back to the window, and listening to her rhetoric. The previous night she had had an exciting dream, in which someone had given her a golden scarab – a pretty expensive jewel.

While she went on telling that dream, I heard something behind me, knocking on the window. I turned around and saw that it was a fairly big flying insect, which was trying to enter the dark room. I found that very weird. I immediately opened the window and caught the insect in the air. It was Cetonia aurata, a scarab-like beetle, whose golden-greenish most resembled golden scarab. I handed the beetle to the patient girl, saying “Here is your scarab”. This experience made the hole in her rationalism that we had longed for and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. Now, the treatment could go on with satisfactory results.”

In certain moments, under the influence of reasons that matter to a specific person, elements of their inner world may appear in the outer one in the form of unexpected incidents, accidents, coincidences, “luck”, or even miracles. According to Jung, this is due not simply to our interpretation, but to an actually existent relation which he called “synchronicity”.

It is important to note that the concept of synchronicity has a large number of critics, who deem it is not only vaguely defined, but also counterproductive from a scientific point of view. Sceptics tend to attribute the phenomenon to the so called “apophenia” or the tendency we have to discover schemes or sense in absolutely accidental and not-related events. Pareidolia, a condition when we see faces everywhere, is an example of visual aphophenia.

Disillusionment or no, sometimes synchronistics help us act, take a decision or even change our lives dramatically. We chose what kind of interpretation we should give to things. If unusual concurrence of circumstances attracted your attention to something you have previously ignored, maybe it is time to start thinking.

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