A FAVORITE JUNG STORY

COSMOS AND PSYCHE

Synchronicity, even when it doesn’t entail spirit communication, is a kind of kind of alchemy that transforms us or a decision we’re making in an essential way. The alchemy occurs because of what the synchronicity says to you, its impact on you. This was certainly the case for Carl Jung during a visit in the 1950s with Henry Fierz, a chemistry professor with whom he had become friends over the years.

Friez had dropped by at five o’clock one afternoon to talk with Jung about a manuscript by a scientist who had recently died. Friez felt the manuscript should be published, but Jung, who had read it, thought otherwise.  Their debate about the manuscript apparently became somewhat heated and at one point, Jung glanced at his watch, as if he were about to dismiss Friez.  Then he seemed puzzled by the time and explained that his watch had just been returned from the repair shop, but it read five o’clock, the time that Friez had arrived.

Jung asked Friez the time; it was 5:35. As Richard Tarnas recounted the incident in Psyche and Cosmos, Jung apparently said, “So you have the right time, and I have the wrong time. Let us discuss the thing again.”

In the ensuing discussion, Friez convinced Jung the manuscript should be published. “Here, the synchronistic event is of interest not because of its intrinsic coincidental force,” Tarnas wrote,  “but because of the meaning Jung drew from it, essentially using it as a basis for challenging and redirecting his own conscious attitude.”

Many of us might not draw a correlation between a stopped watch and a discussion. But synchronicity, by definition, is the coming together of similar inner and outer events in a way that is meaningful to the individual and can’t be explained by cause and effect. This means that the outer world – and all of nature and our surroundings – can carry meaning just as the inner world does. Jung, who was accustomed to perceiving and thinking symbolically, recognized the synchronicity and changed his thinking accordingly.

Tarnas noted that Jung recognized all events as “sources of potential and spiritual significance.” It didn’t matter to him whether they originated from human consciousness or from the “larger matrix of the world” because he saw nature and a person’s surrounding environment as a living template of “potential synchronistic meaning that could illuminate the human sphere. He attended to sudden or unusual movements or appearances of animals, flocks of birds, the wind, storms, the sudden louder lapping of the lake outside his the window of his consulting room…as possible symbolic relevance for the parallel unfolding of interior psychological realities.”

In other words, Jung used everything in his environment as potential signs and symbols. It seems that once you recognize coincidence as meaningful, once you’re in the flow of it, the inner self and the larger outer matrix chatter constantly to each other. We only have to listen.

This entry was posted in synchronicity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A FAVORITE JUNG STORY

  1. c.j. says:

    I agree with DJan…great post! I tend to also have an almost unconscious awareness of seemingly insignificant “things” happening in my environment and when I pay attention, recognize they are synchros. One of the most profound and memorable for me, and I’ve mentioned it on the blog previously, is the story about my Dad’s and Mom’s anniversary clock. They would have been married 22 years on May 15, and Dad knew he wouldn’t be there to celebrate with the love of his life. So, he purchased one of those beautiful “mantle” clocks with a glass dome and swinging pendulums, and gave it to my aunt, (my Mom’s sister), along with an exquisite and heart-breaking love letter, to give to Mom in the event he was gone. May 15th arrived, but Dad was in the deep terminal coma, so Aunt Frances gave the clock and love letter to Mom. The clock was perfect, and it ticked the Time away sitting on the mantle of the fireplace. Daddy transitioned at 9:55 on May 24th. When we all returned to the house from the hospital, my sister glanced at the clock. It was no longer ticking; the pendulum no longer swinging; it had stopped at 9:55pm. My Granddad tried to re-set the clock at the correct time, but it continued to stop at 9:55pm. For a very long time, my Mom carried the precious anniversary gift to several clock repair shops. but no one was ever able to make it work again, It sits on my sanctuary shelf now, with the hands at 9:55pm, and it has been over a half-century since that night in May. For me there has never been a more apparent and striking synchronicity.

  2. We only have to listen …. yes, great post.

  3. DJan says:

    Having studied Jung many decades ago, and having stumbled onto your work with synchronicity, I think I have something similar in my own view of the world I live in. And I do listen, and sometimes the things I learn are mind-blowing. Good post! 🙂