The Source of Synchronicity
By Sky Nelson
[Sky Nelson is a physicist, speaker and musician studying the natural laws of synchronicity. He is currently a post-Graduate scholar in Physics at the San Francisco State University. He is a lifelong student of disciplined spiritual practices. Having trained from childhood with the late Sri Swami Satchidananda and studied physics at UC Berkeley, he now speaks, writes and studies the connection between scientific and spiritual principles. He delivered an interesting Talk at SAND-14 on Deriving Special Relativity and QuantumMechanics from Consciousness . His book “What Are the Chances? Science, Serendipity, and Seizing the Moment” will be published by ICRL Press in the upcoming year.
I am grateful to Sky for readily agreeing to make this short contribution for our Blog and look forward to closer interaction with him in the future -- ramesam]
The Source of Synchronicity
By Sky Nelson
As conscious beings in a physical world, we would be forgiven if we find ourselves believing that physical reality is the ultimate “reality.” The illusion of definiteness that physical reality provides is so carefully woven that there are very few seams to give it away.
Yet there are seams that hold it together, and if you look carefully you can see them. Synchronicities can illuminate these seams where the illusion of the permanence of physical reality is not perfect. Synchronicity is an experience of meaningful coincidence where the events of the external world reflect the meaning in your internal world. Synchronicities are profoundly personal, in that they are typically meaningful for you but not for everyone. For this reason, they are elusive and hard to pin down. They don’t have many objective properties that can (as yet) be scientifically measured.
Consider this example: At the hardware store the other day, I was looking for a piece to plug one of my sprinklers at home. My six year old daughter was with me, and asked what I was looking for. At first I ignored her, but then I decided to open it up to the universe. After describing what I needed, she handed me a piece she had found. It was a sprinkler head, not a plug, so I smiled condescendingly and went to put it back. Then suddenly I gave it another thought. The piece she found was a better solution than my original plan. Thanks to a synchronistic idea from my innocent daughter, we found the best result.
Because synchronicities have to do with events in the external world, such as my daughter handing me something she had found on the shelf, we are again forgiven if we forget that the source of these synchronicitous events is inside ourselves. The “world out there” is a reflection of the “world in here”---the Self is the source of synchronicity.
What does this mean? We look out on a world that we feel has objective reality to it, independent of us. Yet we know from well-established scientific experiments that events do not have definite values in and of themselves, without some kind of interaction. Quantum mechanics is essentially the study of “what are things doing when we are not looking at them?” And the answer is: we can’t know. There is no definite state of things, before we come along and take a look. Immediately before you look, the world is a massive sea of possibility.
Where does that sea of possibility reside? I would say that it resides within the realm of consciousness---in other words, within the Self.
When a meaningful coincidence happens, how should one respond? Is it a message from God? Is it direction that tells us what we should do? Not exactly. The world is a reflection of our beliefs and actions. Synchronicities reflect the meaning that we are currently seeking in our lives. As such, they can serve as guidance to keep us on the path that we have chosen. Yet I think we should remember, it is the path we have chosen, not one appointed to us by an external higher being.
I like to say “Fate follows free will.” You set the direction by taking actions in your life, which define the meaning that you seek to manifest in your life. This meaning then creates the synchronicity. This can be done from conscious choices or unconscious choices, but it always comes from you.
So when that guidance comes in the form of a synchronistic event, examine it gently, and take it with a grain of salt. The universe (a.k.a. our inner Self) does not command us to go here and there. Rather, it trains us to think wisely and to see opportunities around us. A synchronicity can help us see the next step on our path---the path we have defined for ourselves. If we choose to change direction, the “world out there” says “yes” and brings us synchronicities that support that choice.
Two important features arise out of this. Firstly, since the world is a reflection of ourselves, we should not follow the world blindly. Rather we must find a balanced process of will and surrender, lead and follow, to elicit out the most beneficial of experiences. Secondly, we should not become immobilized by indecision.
Indecision is different from “not-knowing.” Whereas “not-knowing” is an important quality that allows us to see the world without our subconscious filters, indecision is the inability to act because we are looking around us for answers that really reside within. We should first look inside of ourselves for direction. Then synchronicity becomes an amusing sideshow that supports and empowers our actions. We remain above it because we are driven internally, not externally. Then, if we lose direction inside and cannot see our next step, we can turn momentarily to the outside world and look for the synchronicities that are guiding us. If we look carefully, there are probably events that have happened to us recently which we can examine to help us get back on our path. And once we have done so, we should once again follow our own internal guidance.