Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe

Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe

Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe

Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe


In 1952 C. G. Jung published a paradoxical hypothesis on synchronicity that marked an attempt to expand the western world's conception of the relationship between nature and the psyche. Jung's hypothesis sought to break down the polarizing cause-effect assessment of the world and psyche, suggesting that everything is interconnected. Thus, synchronicity is both "a meaningful event" and "an acausal connecting principle." Evaluating the world in this manner opened the door to "exploring the possibility of meaning in chance or random events, deciphering if and when meaning might be present even if outside conscious awareness."

Now, after contextualizing Jung's work in relation to contemporary scientific advancements such as relativity and quantum theories, Joseph Cambray explores in this book how Jung's theories, practices, and clinical methods influenced the current field of complexity theory, which works with a paradox similar to Jung's synchronicity: the importance of symmetry as well as the need to break that symmetry for "emergence" to occur. Finally, Cambray provides his unique contribution to the field by attempting to trace "cultural synchronicities," a reconsideration of historical events in terms of their synchronistic aspects. For example, he examines the emergence of democracy in ancient Greece in order "to find a model of group decision making based on emergentist principles with a synchronistic core."



Everything is connected and the web is holy.

—Marcus Aurelius

In my back yard there is a Japanese garden with a pond containing numerous koi. Shortly before Joseph Cambray arrived to give his Fay Lectures in Analytical Psychology, which became this book, a snake caught and swallowed a koi. When I saw figure 1 of “Jung’s carving of a snake swallowing a fish,” I wondered if this was an example of synchronicity. By the lakeshore at Bollingen, Jung had found a snake that had choked in the act of swallowing a fish; both animals died. At the time Jung had been working on the symbolic relationship of the fish in Christianity and the snake in Alchemy. This incident struck a chord with me as the snake in my garden was at the edge of the pond but managed to swallow the fish, which was alive for several hours as its tail fin moved back and forth. I had not observed such an event before or after this occurrence.

In the introduction to this book Cambray defines synchronicity and links it to Jung’s discovery of a science of the sacred, when nature and psyche come together. He describes synchronicity as a unique moment “falling together in time.” Since I write haiku, I’m familiar with such moments when psyche and nature connect in a meaningful way. We actually characterize these as “haiku moments.” For example, the haiku below was written when I was on a sabbatical at a Buddhist university in Japan. I was leaving the school to go home and stopped by a fishpond on the grounds; I saw that the koi made a moving circle, or mandala, which symbolizes wholeness.

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