Last fall, I went on a road trip with my boyfriend. We stopped to buy groceries before reaching the cabin and I noticed two linked puzzle pieces on the ground. Just a moment earlier, I had made a comment about how I felt we were made for each other, like two adjacent puzzle pieces finally snapping together. When we returned to the car, the next podcast in queue was on synchronicity.
“Synchronicity is 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.” ― C.G. Jung
During my second semester of college, my English teacher exposed me to the likes of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Plato. I became fascinated with these great thinkers, deeply exploring both relevant and esoteric ideas. The topic of synchronicity, in particular, caught my attention. I was familiar with the term and had certainly experienced such unpredictable moments of meaningful coincidence. However, Jung explained it in a way that gave power to that invisible governing dynamic underlying the whole of human experience. I came to believe that the personally meaningful coincidences in my life represented much more.
I met my boyfriend through online dating a few short years after studying Jung’s theory on synchronicity, and was astonished by the number of synchronous events that occurred within those first few weeks of meeting. He mentioned an obscure and outdated article I had read the same day, I brought up a book which he happened on have in his car, and we learned that we had been in the exact same place at the same time 15 years earlier.
Despite being a huge skeptic when it come to things like “fate” and “destiny,” the neon flashing lights were too obvious to ignore. In big, bold letters, it read: This is it, he’s the one! Nearly five years later, I am still in awe of those inexplicable coincidences. To this day, our lives are still filled with those small signs that we’re moving in the right direction.
“A certain power to alter things indwells in the human soul and subordinates the other things to her, particularly when she is swept into great excesses of love or hate or the like. For a long time I did not believe it…[but] I found that the emotionality of the human soul is the chief cause of all these things.” – Albertus Magnus
One of Jung’s key teachings was that of a collective unconscious, a universal pool of knowledge, independent of culture and belonging to us all. This idea closely aligns with what the ancients call the “sympathy for all things.” We are all swimming around in the same cosmic waters and feel the reverberation of each others’ movements. I believe that synchronous experiences are derived from an acute awareness, even at a subconscious level, of this commonality.
Earlier this year, I read The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby. The author is a trained PhD in anthropology and, after noticing that the isolated tribe had a very advanced understanding of plant medicine, sets out to research the hallucinogenic drugs used by shamans in the Western Amazon. After extensive research across numerous disciplines, Narby comes to the conclusion that the psychoactive ayahuasca gives its users access to medical information through knowledge coded in DNA. The plants “communicate” to users through meaningful symbols and measurable frequencies, offering indigenous tribes across the globe access to the same universal knowledge.
“What if DNA, stimulated by nicotine or dimethyltryptamine, activates not only its emission of photons (which inundate our consciousness in the form of hallucinations), but also its capacity to pick up the photons emitted by the global network of DNA-based life? This would mean that the biosphere itself, which can be considered “as a more or less fully interlinked unit, is the source of the images.” – Joseph Narby, The Cosmic Serpent
In the 17th century, Christian Huygens–inventor of the grandfather clock–famously set a room full of pendulum clocks in motion at different paces and returned to find they had all fallen into sync. He called this phenomenon entrainment. Though the material in the clock pendulum is inanimate, the matter within and around the object communicate via energy waves, effortlessly achieving synchronicity. It’s as if the globe is resonating at a particular frequency and actively working to bring all living being and non-living objects into the same, shared vibration.
Huygens’ findings reminds me of Jim Rohn’s quote: “You’re the average of the five people your spend the most time with.” If physics dictates that two interacting oscillating systems assume the same period, perhaps the same can be said with humans. If you’ve ever been in the presence of a deeply calm spiritual figure, you may have noticed you heart rate and breathing slow as your body relaxes. Conversely, the presence of an angry and negative coworker may spike your blood pressure and make you lose your cool. Perhaps our reactions to those around us are signposts of synchronicity, informing us whether entrainment is possible or unlikely.
“If you mount two clock pendulums side by side on the wall, they will gradually begin to swing together. They synchronize each other by picking up tiny vibrations they each transmit through the wall.
Any two things that oscillate at about the same interval, if they’re physically near each other, will gradually tend to lock in and pulse at exactly the same interval. Things are lazy. It takes less energy to pulse cooperatively than to pulse in opposition. Physicists call this beautiful, economical laziness mutual phase locking, or entrainment.
All living beings are oscillators. We vibrate. Amoeba or human, we pulse, move rhythmically, change rhythmically; we keep time. You can see it in the amoeba under the microscope, vibrating in frequencies on the atomic, the molecular, the sub-cellular, and the cellular levels. That constant, delicate, complex throbbing is the process of life itself made visible.
We huge many-celled creatures have to coordinate millions of different oscillation frequencies, and interactions among frequencies, in our bodies and our environment. Most of the coordination is effected by synchronizing the pulses, by getting the beats into a master rhythm, by entrainment.
Like the two pendulums, though through more complex processes, two people together can mutually phase-lock. Successful human relationship involves entrainment — getting in sync. If it doesn’t, the relationship is either uncomfortable or disastrous.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
Like the pendulums, humans may unknowingly fall into sync with a dominant personality, mimicking body language, intonation, and style. This leads to the uncomfortable or even disastrous relationship that Le Guin mentions. If the rhythm is not reset to one that resonates, allowing both in the relationship a chance to lead the beat, the relationship cannot remain healthy.
It takes less energy to work in harmony with another body than to work against it. If it’s true that successful human relationships are subject to the laws of entrainment, the sense of harmony (or lack thereof) within our interactions may be clues meant to lead us towards a deeper resonance. Perhaps the coincidences of our daily lives are opportunities to look more deeply into our own existence, ask our inexorable questions, and gain confirmation of right effort.
More and more, I am coming to believe that an acute awareness of universal energy, paired with an openness to whatever may present itself, is the key the attracting and then recognizing the people who are meant to enter our lives and then remain a permanent fixture.