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Friday, August 5, 2011

Many people believe it's a very random world we live in where good and bad things happen unaccountably every day. It's a world where some folks live into their 100s while others die as infants. We inhabit a planet ruled by Mother Nature where tornados, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and droughts strike indiscriminately, destroying the lives of many while having no effect on the lives of others. Terrible diseases invade the bodies of many while others live a lifetime without any disease at all. We hold intellectual discussions about why bad things happen to good people. We should also turn this philosophical quibble upside down and ask why good things happen to bad people.

This planet we inhabit that we call earth is part of a universe that is almost 14 billion years old and 93 billion light years across. Very few people can understand or even comprehend the size of a billion but it's a one followed by nine zeros. So for a person to journey across the universe, it would take 93 billion years if you were traveling at the speed of light which is 186,282 miles a second. The earth seems pretty small and insignificant when compared to those kinds of numbers.

But scientists, theologians, and philosophers have spent lifetimes trying to offer some substantive proof that goes beyond simple faith or belief that the world isn't as random as we might think it is. One of those was Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung devised a unique concept in the 1920s called synchronicity but didn't develop it fully until 1951.

The idea of synchronicity is that the conceptual relationship of minds, defined as the relationship between ideas, is intricately structured in its own logical way and gives rise to relationships that are not necessarily but could be causal in nature. These relationships can manifest themselves as simultaneous occurrences that are meaningfully related. Synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework that encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems that display the synchronicity. According to Jung, a larger framework is essential to satisfy the definition of synchronicity.

Now, what does all that mean? Simply put, it means that some things that appear to be random are in fact related and sometimes causal. The girl I fell in love with told me one day that she had dreamed about me years before we met when she lived in another place and that for some reason my image had stayed with her. When she finally saw me several years later for the first time, she immediately knew I was the person in her dream. We had already fallen in love with each other before she told me this and although I had not had a similar dream, at least that I'm aware of, when I saw her for the first time, it was almost love at first sight. That love endures to this day while earlier loves have not. Jung would call this synchronicity.

Most of us have experienced a phenomenon called déjà vu where it seems like we're doing something we've already done because for just a few seconds, we know exactly what's about to happen before it does, even though we know we've never been in this exact situation before. Some believe we are repeating an experience we have no memory of, others believe that we're briefly allowed to see into our own future. Regardless of the reason, we know it's real because it's happened to us.

All of us dream. Some people dream vividly, in color, and remember everything that happened in their dream, like the girl I fell in love with did. Others wake up knowing they dreamed, but can't recall anything about the dream at all. Whatever the reason is for our dreams and whether we remember them or not, we know they're real because they happened to us.

Jung and Freud were the two most prominent psychiatrists of our time. Freud believed that everything we do has some basis in our sexual drive while Jung tied his concept of synchronicity more to religion.

Whatever the reason and whatever the source, it seems that that life on this planet isn't as random as some think it is.

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Mike Hendricks
Mike at Night