My husband came back from his morning run- smelly, sweaty and….intrigued. He had just seen an old friend we have not met, heard from, or even heard about for years. But that was not the reason for his intrigue. Just the previous day her name had come up on his Facebook page as a friend recommendation and after having remembered her for the first time in years, he had seen her today!
How does this happen? Some people might dismiss such incidents as mere “coincidence,” meaning that there is no common link between these two separate events. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, however, called it Synchronicity, and described it as, “the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.”
Over the years I have heard and personally experienced many, many, such moments. In fact, not only have their numbers increased, the bizarre and unexpected places in which they show up continue to blow my mind. For example, I frequently arrive at a certain idea or insight in my personal reflections, only to find the exact same revelation occurring in a book I am reading or a message forwarded to me by a friend, on the same day. At times, even the words are the very same ones as in my journal!
Synchronistic events such as these take us out of the comfort of the cause-effect paradigm and the mind struggles to make sense of reality.
Take another instance- the other day I was setting out on a walk when I saw my neighbor putting up a large movie screen in his backyard. As we chatted across the fence, he shared that he was hoping to organize some outdoor entertainment for friends and family in these days of social distancing. It reminded me of a time in India before we had televisions in our homes, when such public screening took place in the downtown area of my neighborhood. I shared that with him, revisiting in some detail, fond memories of a time, very long ago, before taking off on my walk.
Later the same evening I saw a post on the page of a private Facebook group that I belong to, a group of people who are all originally from India; someone had shared the memory and a picture of a public movie screening in India from the 1970’s! Never before had I come across such a post or such a picture and here it was, just a few hours since I had reminisced about it.
I could hardly believe my eyes! It reminded me of the time I was doing a Google search for something and soon after found my screen crowded with various advertisements and offers for the very item I had searched for. At first I thought it was an interesting coincidence but soon learned it was a very clever ploy using software ‘cookies’ to get interested consumers to buy things- intentionally and intelligently orchestrated.
If mere humans can set up a system that can track our searches and catch our attention, what can the Universe with its incredible secrets create? How can we dismiss the synchronistic manifestations in our “real life” as coincidences without considering the possibility of yet another intentional and intelligent orchestration? A single Cause behind the varied experiences, that, from time to time, reveals itself through these tell-tale signs?
Faith traditions of the world believe in the unseen presence of the Creator, but for most part, they point to heaven or places of worship or “energy vortexes” on earth as the epicenters for this mysterious force, creating a distance between us and “Him/Her/It”; a “here” and a “there.”
In the present times, given the difficulties we are facing, many are questioning their faith. Where is the loving God who we are waiting for to put an end to our struggles? Where is the sign that there is even one?
Perhaps our disillusionment with God itself is our cue to start a new relationship with the unknown. Maybe synchronicities are invitations for mankind to get curious and understand the Mystery in a whole new light, with each of us looking at it in ways we did not before, both Believers and Non-Believers letting go of their relationship with their old beliefs and moving from blind faith or blind denial to begin a more conscious exploration of the relationship between the inner and outer events and their observer.
In this regard, it is Buddhism that offers us a vocabulary and concept that is more open and workable. Buddhists do not talk of a God as such and many people think of it as a religion without one. But their concept of a “Non-Dual Inter-Being,” unites God’s presence within our humanity, expanding our deepest identity from being limited and separate, to being an Interconnected Self, a single common database that is shared by all that is known and unknown and enlivened through our thoughts, feelings, choices, and connections.
Maybe even the original creators of the English language acknowledged the existence of a single Being in us when they used the word One as a suffix in Someone, Everyone and None!
Looking deeply without bias, we could birth a new empowering faith with its epicenter everywhere, in everyone, and everything, right in the midst of our messy inner and outer worlds. To use the words of the 13th century mystic, Meister Eckhart, “We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
I am reminded of an old Bollywood song- where a man sings to a beloved with whom his relationship has soured. The lyrics translated would mean,” Come, let us start over and become strangers to each other once again. Dropping all expectations and judgment between us, let us see where this takes us. And if this relationship is not meant to be, let us give it a beautiful new form.”
Now could be the time for us to question old restricting beliefs and start all over again to create a new, more expansive relationship to the unknown, giving it a beautiful new form.