There are many types of coincidences, from something as small as seeing an old friend in an unexpected place, to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand that started World War One. For those who aren’t too versed in History, Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke (nobleman) in the Austro-Hungarian empire which was one of the world powers at the time. When Ferdinand decided to take an open roof car ride in Bosnia, a previously annexed territory, a group of peasant rebels finally had the chance to plan their hit so they placed men all along the route with various bombs and guns. After the first bomb missed and alerted Ferdinand’s escorts, their route was averted only to pass by a cafe where one of the assassins was sitting. The assassin took his chance and ran out of the cafe to kill Ferdinand, the political uproar following this strange coincidence sparked World War One.
Especially strange coincidences were labeled “Synchronicities” by psychologist Carl Jung after experiencing one of these mind-bending events for himself. During a psychotherapy session, a woman was describing a dream she had where she was given a very specific piece of jewelry, a golden scarab (beetle) and she asked Jung what it meant. Jung knew this lady was an extreme rationalist and realist so he had been trying to find a way to show her that reality isn’t as clear cut as she thinks. Just as the woman got done the explanation of her dream, they were both drawn away from the conversation when they heard a tapping at the window. Upon opening the window, a specific species of the scarab beetle (that’s coloring makes it look like a gold scarab) flew into the room, so Jung handed it to the lady and said: “Here’s your scarab”. The experience put both Jung and his patient in a state of extreme disbelief, Jung said he never saw anything like it, and that he would never see anything like it ever again. Could the phenomena of synchronicities be one of the channels through which humans can get in touch with the untouchable?
One of the most renowned science fiction writers, Philip K. Dick, tells of how he personally got in touch with the untouchable in his essay “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later”. Dick recounts in his essay a previous book he wrote in 1970 called “Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said”, where a nineteen-year-old girl named Kathy is secretly part of a criminal underground all while having an affair with the chief of police. The same year on Christmas Day, Dick ends up meeting a nineteen-year-old girl named Kathy, who had a boyfriend named Jack (same as the novel), and Dick finds out that she’s actually a drug dealer. Even more strange, Dick also discovered that Kathy had been having an affair with the chief of police after she refused to enter a restaurant he was sitting in and had to explain why. A few years later, Dick was talking to this priest about a specific scene from the same book, where a guy named Jason picked up a black man who needed gas and drove him to the gas station to help out; The more detail that Dick went into about the scene in the book, the more frustrated the priest seemed to get, until after the story where the priest angrily proclaimed it was the same story as the “Book of Acts” in the old testament. It was crazy enough that Dick never read the Book of Acts before writing the story, but things got even crazier when Dick spotted a suspicious looking man across from his apartment building when he was getting mail one night. Dick reluctantly approached the man feeling drawn towards the interaction, the man said he needed gas so Dick drove him to the gas station. Dick was left completely speechless after realizing that the gas station, the black man he was helping, and even the conversation they had directly mirrored the scene in Dick’s book and the Book of Acts verbatim. Dick obsessed over this paradigm-shifting experience for years and even ended up developing the theory that everyone is actually living in the Book of Acts and made to think reality is real through an illusion instilled in them by a demon; Though his theory is debatable, what isn’t debatable is that this synchronicity completely changed Dick’s life.
Many people write off the phenomena of synchronicity by preaching about the tendency of the human brain to draw connections between unconnected things. It seems realistic that small everyday coincidences could be a mere byproduct of the human brain making faulty connections, but when an experience arises that completely shatters a person’s grasp on reality, is it so easy to draw the same conclusion? When people experience extreme synchronicities they always describe the same sort of feelings associated with mystical experiences: the air in the room becomes thick, there’s the sense of an outside presence, they almost feel as if reality isn’t real. Could the power of synchronicity really be blurring the lines between the material and spiritual worlds?