Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Interpreting synchronicity

June 30th, 2015 by Bruce Charlton

Synchronicity is usually described as something like ‘meaningful coincidence’ which means that it must be meaningful or else it is not true synchronicity!

Therefore, since it is meaningful, we ought to try and understand what it actually means when we experience synchronicity – that is indeed one reason why we experience it.

However, experience is never self-interpreting (because we are free agents, so we can and must choose interpretations – and where there is choice there is room for alternatives).

So, there is another reason for synchronicity – which applies even when we do not know its meaning, and whatever interpretation we settle-upon; and we may not be able to settle on one meaning- or the meaning may not be apparent until long after the incident. Or we may – by wishful thinking, despair or any other cause of error – guess the meaning wrong. for our own good in some kind of way

Nonetheless, the sheer fact of synchronicity is – or should be – interpretable as evidence of purpose in life, and of both the wide range and specific detail of the nature of divine providence.

Because an incident of synchronicity typically involves (or must involve, if considered deeply) a very wide range of divine interventions in multiple systems of the world over a considerable period of time, and also that these interventions be directed at me-specifically – which is evidence of God’s personal concern for me.

Since God loves us, personally; a synchronous event is invariably in its potential, for our own good in some kind of way (that is, it is intended to be for our good – although by bad choices we may sabotage this) – but that ‘good’ must be considered to be a long-term, post-mortal good – not merely our pleasure and comfort here-and-now.

Comments (7)
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June 30th, 2015 02:49:31

June 30, 2015

There is a danger in confusing noetic for psychological phenomena, or phenomena whose purpose is to fixate us on the Psuche, as opposed to those which can lead us deeper.
Mental illnesses (OCD, paranoia, etc) often proliferate the perception of meaningful coincidence, and religious literature is replete with examples of untoward spiritual influences weaving their own signs around the deceived. Be on guard.

(Of course ultimately all is of God and our struggles are redeemed.)

June 30, 2015

Good point, Santiago.

There are certain classes of prayers that are answered by events. You wonder why some tragedy happened to you and later another event occurs that makes the purpose clear. Synchrony is in the same class. The events validate themselves.

Of course, as with dreams and visions, there is no reason why they can’t be validated spiritually while they are happening, or later in response to prayer and inquiry.

good point. At the same time, excessive search for meaningfulness is a childlike characteristic, and we’ve been told to be childlike.

Bruce Charlton
June 30, 2015

There is no path without dangers, none at all! – but the big problem for the mass of modern people is regarding life as meaningless and purposeless; taking synchronicity seriously can point a way out from this.

June 30, 2015

Amen. Synchronicity, or “divine appointments,” is one of the themes of my blog. (link under my name/handle on this comment header.)

C. S. Lewis described it well for a subset of the overall topic:
“But in Friendship… we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting – any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say ‘You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.’ The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Bruce Charlton
June 30, 2015

@Books – Yes! This is a neglected but important aspect of Christianity.

The phenomenon also implies that there are many sources of divinely-inspired help all around us, if we would but notice them and work with them.

At any rate, Christians should reclaim synchronicity from Jung (who noticed and named it) – not least because Jung never did anything with his observation, never followed through the implications, and indeed generally muddied the waters about the whole topic!

June 30, 2015

I really like the concept of ‘divine appointment.’ Are there any scriptures or prophets you base it on? (Post them, if so).

June 30, 2015

An evangelical preacher taught me the “divine appointment” phrase for a meeting that is apparently arranged by God, either by giving directions (revelation/inspiration) to one or both parties, or through entirely His own behind-the-scenes/unseen arranging.

Ammon et. al. meeting Alma Jr on the trail/road at the end of their mission is an example, seemingly a coincidence, as no revelatory directions were mentioned.

Alma meeting Amulek, where divine directions were given on both sides.

Acts chapter 8:26-39 where Philip was given one-step-at-a-time directions to encounter the Ethiopian who was already reading Isaiah in his chariot.

Acts chapter 10, where the Lord gives directions to both Peter and Cornelius.

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