Synchronicity in Depth
Jung's castle on Lake Zurich
People recognized synchronicity long before Carl Jung coined the term. It was called names such as ostenta, moira, and destiny. There have been theories about what causes these sudden 'coincidental' occurrences for millennia. Heraclitus, a Greek phlosopoher in the fourth century B.C., saw all things being inter-related, or following 'cosmic reason.' He believed that events were not isolated happenings but had repercussions across the entire fabric of existence. All things were linked by a web of organization created by the Logos.
Hippocrates, who was born twenty years after Heraclitus died, expressed similar thoughts in a unique way. He said: "There is one common flow, a common breathing. Everything is in sympathy. The whole organism and each one of its parts are working together for the same purpose. The great principle extends to the most extreme part, and from the extremest part returns again to the great principle.
Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus, perpetuated Heraclitus's concept of the Logos as an intermediary between God and humans. As such, he more or less saw meaningful coincidence as the way the Creator interacts with his creatures. The self-evidence of these acts proved the existence of God, he argued, but conceded these acts of providence didn't reveal the enigma of his existence or his identity. It's believed that Philo found his ideas in the mystery schools that existed during and before his time.
Like Heraclitus, he used the term enthusiasmos, which means having God within oneself. The term also dismissed the notion of God as a bearded, autocrat wielding omnipotence and enthroned in the clouds. Instead, God is the unifying spirit of existence that dwells within everyone and everything, the invisible thread tying everything in the universe together.
Frank Joseph in Synchronicity and You in referring to enthusiasmos says: "The term certainly helps define synchronicity, which operates on the principle of meaningful connections established by some unseen force between our inner being and our outer experience.
Two centuries later, the Roman scholar Agrippa referred to a Fifth Essence, something beyond earth, air, fire and water that held existence together. He also referred to it as the World Soul, which penetrates all things and is a thing in itself. Agrippa's contemporary Plotinus, wrote: "Chance has no place in life, but only harmony and order reign therein."
In the Middle Ages the idea was known as 'unus mundum' - a collective knowledge that exists independently of us, yet available to us. Meaningful coincidence hence existed beyond our conscious awareness and egos, located at the place where our psyche or spirit and the outside world touch.
Carl Jung first devised the term in 1949 when he wrote the introduction to the Richard Wilhelm edition of the I Ching. He brought the term synchronicity into wider use after he presented a paper in 1952 discussing meaningful coincidence. Amongst his findings were the idea that numbers have much deeper significance than simply for counting items. He said that this is why so many divination systems like the I Ching use numbers to synchronously provide the knowledge and answers we need to know.
Jung also saw synchronicity as the reason why independent researchers can come up with the same results or knowledge at the same time. Congealing in the unconscious is the need for answers. So, searching for a solution in their own ways, researchers resolve the problem at the same time. This is known as 'simultaneous discovery.'