Sunday, March 03, 2024

Jung's Synchronicity

I am currently reading a book on Carl Jung, called Decoding Jung's Metaphysics, by Bernardo Kastrup. In a chapter on 'synchronicity' (what most people might call coincidence), Jung is quoted as saying:

It is perfectly possible, psychologically, for the unconscious to take complete possession of man and to determine his fate down to the smallest detail.

That stopped me in my reading tracks. I was immediately reminded of a thought which occured to me whilst in my late teens. It was whilst pondering my future career possibilities, and went something along the lines that I should be best placed psychologically as a 'doctor without any patients, a priest without a parish, or a don without any students'.

Now, in my 7th decade, I find myself as a retired GP, a priest without any parochial affiliation, and a Visiting Fellow at a university (which is at least included within the Wikipedia definition of what constitutes a 'don').  

I wonder what Jung would have to say about that?

So, some years ago, when I wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek comment in one of my newspaper columns regarding the idea that I am going to live to 120 years, perhaps that was more than just an arbitrary thought? Perhaps it was another case of synchronicity? Only time will tell...

Reading further, I found Jung saying:

The world surrounding you right now presents itself physically to you as an integrated whole. Moreover, this whole has a message: it is interpretable as the dream of a greater and more comprehensive consciousness. Every bit of the physical world, across space and time, may express global archetypal meaning; it may be telling a story. From this perspective, it is entirely legitimate for you to ask yourself: 'What does the world around me mean? What does its imagery symbolically represent? What is it saying?'

As with Jung, I am inclined to believe that there is a force at work in this world that is determinate. 'Divine Providence' is perhaps another way of looking at it - that being God's timely preparation for future eventualities. Of course, as a priest, you would expect my belief in God, and I do believe that God speaks to us in a wealth of ways. However, what is more important in this context is that we should truely 'watch the signs', just as the prophets of centuries past did. For some reason, probably because of the increase in scientific understanding, humankind has become less inclined to consider matters of prophecy as being relevant. I think we do that at our peril. Or, to put it another way, if we do 'watch the signs', we might take courage and reassurance from having an insight as to how our story is going to unfold. 

Perhaps the Oracle of Delphi (and such like) was less of the 'myth' that we now assume her to be. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a marvellous summary of Jung in 'Psychology of Religion' by David Wulff (1997) that I think you can and should read, as it is along the lines of your thoughts and more. The summary condenses Jung's work and thought magnificently, and reveals the importance of myth and mystery in our lives as well as the empirical! The references within are well worth following. Best, Karen.

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