Jung, Einstein and Synchronicity

Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and the Acausal Connecting Principle: A Case Study in Transdisciplinarity

Charlene P. E. Burns

Jung’s fascination with physics actually began early in his career as a result of a series of dinners with Albert Einstein between 1909 and 1912.

He later wrote that “It was Einstein who first started me thinking about a relativity of time as well as space, and their psychic conditionality…years later this stimulus led to my relation with the physicist Professor W. Pauli and to my thesis of psychic synchronicity.” His first public mention of the concept occurred 1928 during a seminar on the interpretation of dreams. Jung noted then that, in addition to the frequent appearance of common mythic motifs, dreams are often connected to coincidences in people’s lives. Taking a phenomenological stance, he said that while it would be “absurd” to consider the conjunction of dream material and life events to be causal, “it is wise to consider the fact that [these coincidences] do happen…The East…considers coincidences as the reliable basis of the world rather than causality. Synchronism is the prejudice of the East; causality is the modern prejudice of the West.” (Full Article)

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5 Responses to Jung, Einstein and Synchronicity

  1. While casually exploring information provided by the website http://jungcurrents.com., I encountered the article entitled “Jung, Einstein and Synchronicity.” This is a topic that has interested me for several decades; and which became personally significant to me during the 1990’s when I was involved in completing a dissertation on a Grimm’s children’s tale that was analyzed from a literary perspective, employing a von Franzian methodological framework for the analysis of fairy tales.

    During this episode of my life, what can only be described as a classical case of a-causal synchronistic experience literally ‘took hold’ of me by providing meta-psychological insights into an understanding of the tale being investigated, entitled “Liebe Mili” in German and “Dear Mili” in English. In effect, during the process of analyzing the tale of “Dear Mili,” (an investigation personal and private to me; and, hence, an ‘inner experience’), in the ‘outer world’ of my daily life — my working environment– the precipitous, seemingly unconnected, co-incidental occurrences of three women, all with the same first name of “Mili,” barged upon my world, appearing as secretaries in the office I worked at during that time.

    I somehow ‘knew’ that, upon completion of my dissertation, these three women would leave the office and find employment elsewhere; simply because, as I irrationally/emotionally concluded, there would no longer be need for me to comprehend the underlying message of the German tale I was analyzing. Indeed, these three women did leave the office — one at a time– upon completion of the thesis. For me, this represents a classical case of synchronicity. It’s as if Carl Jung were trying to provide me with a personal understanding of synchronicity.

  2. After my divorce I saettrd living very intense synchronistic experiences, one night I woke up around 1 am feeling that I had to go out to do something, I went to all clubs that normally visit but all were closed. At the last one, I saw a pretty artist that had a art show at my apartment complex that same morning. Talked to her for a couple of minutes and when I was just ready to live she bumped into me as if she had been pushed by someone.Anothe time I saettrd to drive in Jacksonville following a spiral pattern (inspired by G.O.D experiments book) for about three or four hours. When I felt really thirsty I pulled into a Mexican restaurant. It happens that the owner was an exgirfriend of my uncle back in Tabasco, Mexico about 30 or 35 years ago.Sometimes as I walked I felt as if was pulled by a force around the belt area and ended up always coinciding with this very pretty lady from Spain called Blanca.And my favorite, in Miami, as I was ready to go back to Mexico and had many things in the car that could not take with me, a guy pulled right by my me. The guy was Goliath, a folk artist from my neighborhood that I had seen many times performing. He ended up with my Bicycle and my computer with tons of music from around the world.There are more experiences around six degrees of separation and other synchronic events. From there my spiritual path took a very different approach. I was just reading that those 2004-2008 were under Neptune-Saturn, and the archetypal forces described for the period describe exactly my experiences back then.

  3. As an afterthought to my previous commentary on Jungian synchronicity, readers of this website might find it of some interest that, at the time of writing my dissertation (1988-1991),employing a Jungian-vonFranzian theoretical framework, I encountered what can only be described as a “typical” synchronistic experience (one of several that occurred during this period). In this particular instance, I was travelling on the subway “F” line from Queens to Jay Street, Brooklyn. Shortly after exiting the train at Jay Street, I noticed a nickel (coin) on the ground, picked it up (out of mere curiosity — or so I thought at the time), and started to place it in my pocket; when I decided to hold it in the closed palm of my hand placed in my trouser pocket — with the “irrational” (?) thought that this nickel did not belong to me, but was to be given to someone else, who, shortly, would be in need of it. Well, on the way to my office at the Department of Education, I stopped at a nearby coffee shop to buy tea and pastry. On the waiting line in front of me were two customers. Immediately in front of me on the waiting line, was a schoolboy of about twelve years old. I immediately “knew” that when it came for him to pay for his take-out order, he would be short of payment by a nickel. Surely, enough, when he was asked to pay for his take-out order, he was indeed “short.” I politely enquired: “By how much are you short?” And he answered, somewhat nervously, “A nickel!” Removing the nickel that I had held all that time in the closed palm of my hand placed in my pocket, I said to him: “Here is your nickel!”

  4. As can be gleaned from my two previous commentaries on “Jung, Einstein and Synchronicity,” it can be argued that there appears to be substantive (empirical) evidence that there are multiple examples of ‘synchronistic’ phenomena that, in their own unique manner, seemingly “confirm” the relativity of time as well as that of space (E=MC2); a theory independently confirmed by Wolfgang Pauli and substantiated by analytical psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in his thesis of psychic synchronicity– the notion that occurrences of a-causal phenomena, separated by “time” and “space,” are occasionally manifested in a manner that appears to be beyond mere “coincidence” or “chance;” and, more particularly, that appear to demonstrate some teleological objective. These a-causal synchronistic events appear to be goal-oriented, in the sense that they appeal not so much to the observer’s intellect, as to the aim for a metacognitive (possibly transcendental) learning experience that is emotionally charged.

    I recall some years ago, while travelling on a Trailways cross-country bus from New York City to Butte, Montana, I engaged in conversation with a ‘stranger’ who soon became a travelling companion. In the course of our conversation, we covered several topics, including music (He was a jazz musician from Holland visiting the United States that Summer), language, philosophy, science, and psychology. In time, our topic moved to the thought of synchronicity; and immediately I encountered a linguistic impasse. I quickly realized that I had some difficulty explaining the concept of synchronicity, partly because our young Dutch-speaking companion spoke English not fluently, but as a second language. So I decided to ‘explain’ to this young man how Carl Jung and Albert Einstein had had several occasions to meet socially and discuss their different theories, seeking, at the same time, to find some common ground.

    Now this hour-long discussion on the cross-town bus traversing mid-western states, occurred with me and my Dutch companion sitting across from each other (the bus aisle in-between) in such a manner that I could see the outside (street) view from his back; and he, in turn, could do the same from my back. At one particular time during the conversation, my young Dutch companion became suddenly excited and yelled at me: “Look, look, look!” inviting me to turn around and look “behind me’ at the outside scenery — at what he could easily see facing him that I could only see by turning around. As I turned to face the outside scenery, I saw a huge billboard with a smiling, even beaming face of Albert Einstein. My young Dutch companion gleefully announced: “I got it; I got it! Now I know what synchronicity is!

  5. Making observations about synchronistic phenomena, and documenting their appearances, are both important to the collection and subsequent analysis of empirical data. However, when such data are considered to impact more than one field of discipline (in the case at hand, analytical psychology, metaphysics, quantum physics, and astrophysics), the need for making and documenting observations, as well as the subsequent analyses of these observations become even more critical.

    In this regard, I would like to provide some baseline analysis of the last sample of observational data (“The Synchronistic Einstein Billboard Experience”) that was recorded by the website http://jungcurrents.com on January 25, 2016 at 6:18pm> To recall briefly, this synchronistic event involved an attempt to illustrate to a young foreigner (Dutch) what synchronicity meant, by illustrating how the Swiss analytical psychologist Carl Jung, and the quantum physicist Albert Einstein had met socially on several occasions in the effort to explore possible common ground between Einstein’s theory of relativity of time and space (E=mc2), and the corresponding proposal of synchronicity, argued by Carl Jung as an a-causal phenomenon in which two distinct events, seemingly disconnected by “time” and “space,” are brought together in an ‘a-causal relationship’ in such a manner that the ‘effect’ of one does not observationally succeed or follow the corresponding ’cause’ of the other. Both ’cause’ and ‘effect’ are observed to be in ‘mutual’ simultaneous occurrence, despite the observation that each separate phenomenon is situated in its own independent ‘time’ and ‘space.’ What brings these two distinct phenomena together is the observer’s or observers’ acute awareness (Is there a hidden Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” somewhere there?) that something rather special (numinous?), unexplained as mere “chance” or “coincidence” has occurred.

    This tentative observation has led me to determi9ne whether so-called synchronistic phenomena display any meaningful contrast in ‘time’ and ‘space’ of the a-causal events apparently ‘coincide’ with each other, or with one another (in the case of more than two simultaneously-occurring events).

    In the case of the Einstein billboard experience, we are able to objectively contrast the “space-time” event on the Trailways bus (time occurring, or passing, or ‘waving’ in a relatively narrow, compressed, ‘inner’ space — inside the bus), with the “time-space” event in a much more open, expanded space (time occurring, or passing, or ‘waving’ in a much more expanded, open or ‘outer’ space — the entire space or atmosphere outside). I choose to call the first instance “space-time” and the latter “time-space,” to suggest and to observe that synchronistic phenomena, in general, invariably depict important contrast between seemingly compressed space-time (more earth-bound gravitationally — relatively ‘grounded,’ so to speak), and more expanded “time-space” (relatively, even to minute degrees, less earth-bound gravitationally>

    I am not an astronomer; nor am I a physicist, or psychologist. I am simply a lay person with a generous amount of curiosity about the register of physical reality, and of the phenomena of “time” and “space.” Synchronistic phenomena need to be carefully observed, documented, and analyzed. Even with the paucity of data available to me, I find it necessary, or at least helpful, to make a distinction between “time-space” and “space-time” (time ‘waving’ in a relatively contracted, compressed space) and “space-time” (time equally ‘waving’ in a much more expanded, ‘outer’ space) phenomena in a-causal synchronistic events.

    Does or can analysis of a-causal synchronistic phenomena provide any ‘evidence’ of a universe that is functionally both ‘contracting’ and ‘expanding’ at the same time — although perhaps at significantly different rates? Perhaps this question is quite premature; and is both highly conjectural and speculative as well. Then, again, perhaps ‘time’ will tell.

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