Category Archives: Physics

Synchronicity: A reading of C.G. Jung’s work on an acausal connecting principle

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream

As a child, I had deep and profound experiences of Déjà vu to the point where I would purposefully try to act out of step with the sequence I knew was taking place in front of me.  Most often, any attempt to break the spell, to do anything which might stop the unexplained happenings which were affecting me was unsuccessful and even contributed to the effect.  I even went so far as to study C.G. Jung’s work on dream interpretation and to try practice lucid dreaming so that I could take an active role in my dreams and therefore in my waking life.  Performing a series of almost self-hypnotic practices as I lay in my bed just before sleep helped, as did writing my dreams down after awaking.  I reached a point of being able to, for example, remember the experience of controlling flight while in a dream.  I was able to achieve recognition that I could affect events unfolding up until the moment when my mind considered the fact that I was experiencing itself in a dream state.  Dreams seemed to be grouped into patterns and often were repeated nightly.  In my experience they were repeated to the point where I began in my conscious understanding to make sense of and interperate them.  Inexplicable dreams such as repeated and revisited dreams and nightmares were common.

A very significant set of dreams I had was of three separate pyramids; The first surrounded by desolation and desert as if I was witnessing the remains of the past, The second in the midst of vast jungle at the top of which could be seen a panorama of lush nature and beauty, and the third pyramid was made of glass and steel, inside which I wandered aimlessly until I was brought by my father to a room in which the rules of the game were presented to me as a giant chess match with peoples lives as the pieces.

It is in light of my attempts to interperate and affect my dream states when I was younger that I read C. G Jung’s work entitled Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle.

synchronicity

The book approaches a subject which in past centuries would have been the domain of mysticism, religion, or alchemy and with an eye toward the attempts of modern physics to begin to offer a psychological explanation for events such as precognition, powerful coincidences, “big” dreams, déjà vu, and even prayer.  Personally, my experiences with déjà vu, the non-local power of thought, and the presence of meaningful coincidences has diminished as I have become more and more a part of the social and economic milieu which is adulthood.  Perhaps it is a lack of sleep, perhaps it is the full demands and responsibilities of home and family, perhaps it is just for lack of trying, but I no longer have access to what I once was certain was my own personal connection to the collective psyche.  In modern adult life we seem in most cases to compress or even repress our exposure to events which do not fit the typical day to day understanding of the world.  Our exposure to such experiences is limited into smaller and smaller isolated incidents such as the birth of a child, a wedding, or the death of a loved one.  But being so disconnected to life outside of our conscious minds we tend to find ourselves out of practice when it comes time to recognize the presence of meaning beyond ourselves.  Most people pass off as juvenile the connection to this part of life, until of course we find ourselves faced with the inexplicable.  If we are lucky, we can at some point in our lives come face to face with this experience.  Most people will however either ignore such an opportunity or will take solace in the religion in which they were raised, seeing the experience as a sign of the power of God.  For the most unlucky of us, we go though life altogether unaware of meaning outside of our consciousness, and have our first (and last) experience with it at the moment of our own deaths.  For the majority of people in this situation however, the opportunity to recognize meaning in death is ignored just as it was repeatedly in life.  For those people the future seems uncertain, and for them we should try not to unnecessarily swat mosquitoes.

It’s not however just extraordinary atypical experiences that present meaning to our consciousness.  Jung is most famous for his idea of the “collective unconscious”, a sort of shared network of experience which each individual psyche draws from and contributes to.  In this work on Synchronicity, written in tandem with Wolfgang Pauli, Jung uses the findings of quantum physics and special relativity to provide the backdrop for an attempt to understand both the typical experiences of the psyche and the atypical events which we often dismiss as either coincidence or randomness.

As Jung begins the work he states:

“Modern physics has altered our understanding of the universality of natural law.  Very small levels of physics demonstrate that causality is a relative law, that it is only statistically valid.  We understand that psychologically the experiences of multiple individuals produce a consensus ominum out of the majority of similar observations.”

Each of us shares and communicates information about the world which functions according to a set of laws, at least according to the majority of human experience.  There are of course always those rare experiences which are unique.  According to Jung we use words like “chance” or “coincidence” when describing events which do not fit within the sensible understanding of normal causality.  For Jung, these are “acausal” events we cannot explain as chance and ignore.  It is important that everything that happens is not either A) completely predicable and causal; or B) Completely random and the result of pure chance.  The fact that in general, existence is a mix of the two points to the fact that in the world it is the statistically valid which rules; it is the “predominance of the probable”  which seems to best describe reality.  In this world when we make statements of fact or observations from experience we can at most say that we know the statistically true.  Everything around us points to the dominance of it; nothing is absolute, yet everything isn’t relative.  As Jung says “It is the occurrence of the statistically improbable, rather than the statistically probable occasional randomness which points to the flaw in our predominant understanding of events.”

To well documented occurrences such as improbable sequences of occurrences (events, symbols, numbers, etc..); to the appearance of a series of events which are causally unconnected, but which each express similar meaning to an observer we ascribe the title of “meaningful coincidence”.  To events of this kind we attribute luck, both good and bad, without requiring or seeking out a full causal explanation.  Generally, as long as these events do not exceed the limits of probability we are comfortable with assuming the nature of reality.  However, the very existence of order instead of randomness, of laws instead of chaos is itself however something of an improbability.  Why something instead of nothing?  Why this reality instead of an alternative?  Why is the probable probable and the improbable improbable?  Various explanations throughout history from a “preexisting harmony” to the operation of fate, to the free exercise of matter in a void, to the constant battle of competing wills have all been used to attempt to explain why reality is the way it is.

In an attempt to begin to answer some of these questions Jung states that to the equation of space, time, and causality a fourth principle must be introduced, that of synchronicity, or the “acausal psychically conditioned relativity of space and time”.  In other words the existence of events which are simultaneous in either time across space or in space across time, but without a causal connection can be seen to exhibit a meaningful presence in relation to the psyche.  Like the effect that the observation of subatomic particles has on their position in space according to the principles of quantum physics, so to psychologically a person’s psyche does not just passively observe events unfolding according to a chain of cause and effect.  Instead, the psyche conditions the relativity of time and space.  Experiments with phenomenon such as ESP point to the influence of one’s positive or negative expectations, ones preconceptions or beliefs, and ones level of interest or boredom, in the outcome of events which are not the result of a causal connection and which do not necessarily require a proximity in space or in time in their effect.  Traditionally, the acausal effect of the psyche was reserved for beliefs such as the practice of magic or the power of prayer.

The experiments of JB Rhine with “Extra Sensory Perception” and “New Frontiers of Mind” for Jung provide evidence for the non-local (that is acausal across space and time) nature of the effect of the psyche on the results of the physical world.  Not to be confused with a belief in a sort of energy transfer, synchronicity is posited to be a kind of simultaneity.  In other words, the psyche, what we normally call “our mind”, but which for Jung is both our conscious mind and its unconscious state, is able to have an effect across space and time, not through some sort of energy moving at the speed of light, but though the relativity of space and time itself.  Just as an electron can be said to be in two locations at once across a spectrum of potentiality until such time as it is observed and the wave spectrum of potentiality collapses into a focal point in space; so to does the psyche inhabit an unconscious spectrum of potentiality until such time as the focal point of consciousness observes the unconscious.

“In themselves, space and time consist of nothing, they are hypostatized concepts born of discriminating activity of the conscious mind, and they form the indispensable co-ordinates for describing the behavior of bodies in motion.  They are, therefore, essentially psychic in origin, which is probably the reason that impelled Kant to regard them as a priori categories.  But if space and time are only apparently properties of bodies in motion and are created by the intellectual needs of the observer, then their relativization by the psychic conditions is no longer a matter for astonishment but is brought within the bounds of possibility.  This possibility presents itself when the psyche observes, not external bodies, but itself.” (pg 20)

As Jung suggests, an understanding of the nature of reality according to the findings of quantum physics and special relativity forms the basis on which an understanding of synchronicity is possible.  Synchronicity is not just the occurrence of two events at the same time, but the simultaneous occurrence of two meaningfully but otherwise unrelated events.  Synchronicity is “the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state – and in certain cases, vice versa..” (pg 25)  In other words it is a relationship, however subjective, between a psychic state and a corresponding external event.

We can see this in our dreams.  In a case such as lucid dreaming which I mentioned earlier the mind or psyche inhabits a spectrum of possibility such as flight until such time as the conscious mind observes itself dreaming.  But a question arises.  If in dreams the unconscious mind exists potentially across a statistical spectrum of space and time, does it necessarily cease to exist as such when consciousness collapses it into a single local point?  If it is possible to lucid dream is it possible to tap into the unconscious while awake?  Surely dreaming is just imagination right?  Surely all that we dream simply takes place among neurons in our brains right?  What then of experiences of people who dream or see premonitions of events?  What then of the waking experience of intuition where no reason can be given but which compels people to choose previously unknown possibilities?  If you’ve ever had, or been struck by the story of someone close to you who has had one of these experiences, it becomes more and more difficult to dismiss this line of thinking as just naive mysticism.

Jung relates examples from his experience analyzing patient’s dreams and psychic states, cases where material events inexplicably coincide with a patient’s dream imagery or psychic state.  Most often, it seems to Jung, the unconscious mind is able to manifest in situations where a patient has reached a dead end using their conscious mind to understand their situation.  Often the seeming impossibility of coincidence between say a dream of a volcano erupting and the realization that upon waking that there was a volcano eruption half way around the world, is enough to propel the patient past their preconceptions of what is possible and impossible and begin to open their mind to the unconscious.  Interestingly, Jung states that a person’s emotional state has a significant determining factor in the manifestation of the unconscious in our lives

“The observer can easily be influenced by an emotional state which alters space and time by “contraction.”  Every emotional state produces an alteration if consciousness… that is to say there is a certain narrowing of consciousness and a corresponding strengthening of the unconscious which, particularly in the case of strong effects, is noticeable even to the layman.  The tone of the unconscious is heightened, thereby creating a gradient for the unconscious to flow towards the conscious.” (pg 30)

Throughout history instruments such as astrology, or the Tarot, or the I Ching have been used as a material canvas or symbolic language by which the presence of non causal, synchronistic events might occur and be interpreted.  Each method, used for the purposes of creating randomness by which the non-randomness of the acausaly connected can appear, has numbers at their source.  It is Jung’s contention that numbers are formative part of reality.  In his words “numbers were as much found as invented.” (pg 41)  The basis of all divination, all dreams, all religion, all thought could said to be numbers.  The concept of numbers even belies our need to visualize, categorize, and observe reality.  First there was One.  And then two appeared, a splitting of the unity.  Then a third or fourth and so onward into infinity.  This process underlies every material or psychic construction to such a degree that reality, without these categories is by definition, inconceivable.  We have only to witness the still unexplained “miracle” of the first cell division at conception.  Two individuals, an egg and a sperm come together to create one cell, which divides into another, and so on…  Patterns of thought, individuals among species, organic DNA, and inorganic chemical structure all are examples of a simple numeric process repeated in variation to infinity.

Taking this logic and applying it to our study of the psyche we can postulate that if the unconscious exists as a field of statistical probability and consciousness exists as a single focal point it should be possible to express the relationship in terms of numbers. If our psyche and everything that exists have at their source numbers, we can also postulate that that it should be possible that dreams, thoughts, people, animals, objects, planets, galaxies, and “God” express their relationship in terms of numbers.  We see then the possibility that we have within us the means for an intimate connection with all that exists.  These ideas are of course ancient and lay at the root of most human cultures.  Jung, however was one of the first to begin to apply the lessons of modern science to the understanding the psyche, of the world at large, and of our place within it.  From his single focal point on the idea of synchronicity, which Jung advanced at the very end of his career and life, a large horizon of possibility opened up for future decades and centuries of the evolution of our understanding of reality.

Looking back on the experiences of déjà vu in my youth I wish I had learned to incorporate those moments into my life instead of consciously seeking to reject them.  I wonder if  the dreams of the three pyramids weren’t symbols of paths I was to take in the future: my education, my marriage, and my work.  I wonder if the pyramid in the desert wasn’t Egypt to which I traveled when I was in college, I wonder if the pyramid in the jungle wasn’t Coba in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico which I visited on my honeymoon.  Finally I still wonder if the dream of the pyramid of glass and steel wasn’t an archetypal representation of how I would spend hours, days, and years inside man made towers laboring at seemingly abstract and innocuous numbers.

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The Hand of God, The Mind of Man

To my mind there appear to be only two explanations for the below photo.  Either 1) God is left handed, or 2) A group of evolved primates living on their ball of rock and water used reflective tools to look far out into space and saw a pulsar which their brains interpreted as resembling their hand.

The Hand of God, The Mind of Man

The Hand of God, The Mind of Man

The Brain is an Electrical Organ

The brain is an electrical organ.  That is a fact.  Another fact is that one of the fundamental forces of the universe is electro-magnetism.  The following article from MSNBC entitled Magnetic device aims to treat depression patients raises some fundamental questions in my mind as to the nature of our brains and our environment.

 

As stated in Wikipedia  “A changing magnetic field produces an electric field… Similarly, a changing electric field generates a magnetic field.”

 

We can witness this force in something as mundane as a microphone or a speaker.  The same force is also surrounding the Earth with a field created from the independent movement of the liquid iron core of the planet. 

 

Some questions:

 

  • If both the Earth and our brains are producing electromagnetic fields can the two interact?
  • If our brains produce an electromagnetic field do all the animals of the earth as well?
  • How do people’s electromagnetic fields interact with one another?
  • Can the electromagnetic field of our brains extend outside of the physical body?
  • Can we control the electromagnetic fields which our brains produce? To what effect?
  • Do the modern electric devices we use such as computers and cell phones affect our electromagnetic brains? 
  • We know magnetism can act remotely in space, and that electricity can travel very quickly given a conductor. Are there parallels in our brains? Can this explain powers of telepathy and extra-sensory perception?
  • Is there a correlation between the electromagnetic field of the earth and the chemistry in people’s brains?
  • Does the shifting of the magnetic north and south poles affect us?
  • Are we surrounded by an electromagnetic field that is influenced by our moods, emotions, and mental state?
  • Can we use the field to influence our own moods, emotions, and mental state?
  • What are the physical effects on and from the electromagnetic field?
  •  Is our consciousness an electromagnetic field?  If so, how is it similar to and different from those of animals and the earth itself?
  • Does the movement of all the matter in the universe create its own electromagnetic field? Does this field approach what we would conceive of as God, or a universal consciousness?

 

The Brain as an electrical organ

The Brain as an electrical organ

Wanna forget about politics or the economy for a minute?

Check out these truly mind expanding articles:

There is an unknown massive gravitational force beyond the limits of the universe pulling galaxies toward it at 2 million mph.  What is it?

http://tinyurl.com/4g8t6a

The solar wind is at its lowest recorded level ever?  Is it the calm before the storm in 2012?

http://tinyurl.com/3nr956

 

Jah Guide (Originaly posted 6/11/07)

Think of time and space as having a similar relationship to that of a seed grown into a tree.  Both are in reality one entity begun as a spec of pollen on a flower.  Just as the same point in space cannot co-exist, so the same point in time cannot.  The adaptation of space through time is represented through birth and death, from one to the next.  On the other hand, the relationship of time to space would be of the child to its future adult self.  Neither can co-exist yet neither could exist independent of the other.

The concept of self arises as we experience this reality through our lives as human beings.  Just as it is foolish to think the child as completely the same as the parent, so it is equally foolish to think of the child as completely the same as it’s self in the future.  It is only the illusion of experiencing this reality from one perspective in space at one moment in time that we assume there is separation where there is not and sameness where there is diversity.

We experience reality subjectively, that is from our small vantage on a small planet within an ocean of space-time looking out through space and through time.  Can the entirety of space and time be said to exist? In the sense which we understand life and death, no.  The space-time cannot exist in time or space. 

What is space-time if not the sum of all that exists, across all space in all time?  We understand it must be true that the sum of space-time exists since we exist in it.  So the question is in what sense does it exist if it cannot be said to exist in any way we can conceive?  I tend to think it’s a limitation of our primate monkey brains rather than of the whole of reality.

Do we then exist in non-existence?  Or is this very experience of reality we call life in the same relation to the whole of space-time as is a dream to its creator.

In what sense does the dream truly exist?  In what sense does reality as we know it exist? In what sense does space-time exist? The closest analogy is of the parents to the child and of the child to its future self. 

 Genesis 1:29   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Alex Grey

Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit (Originaly posted 7/10/07)

From nothing, nothing comes.  This expression is an ancient form of what today we call the laws of conservation of mass and energy.  These laws express that neither mass not energy can be neither created nor destroyed.  We may dismiss these statements as mere artifacts of science, removed from our lives here on earth.  The expression of literal truth in these statements does not affect only physics or even the study of science in general.  The transfer of mass or matter into energy and visa versa underlies the very existence of the planets, the evolution of life on earth, and the life of the human species.

When our father Parmenides first taught of the nature of change in what we now call the universe, humans had already understood the logic of the stars in the sky.  We forget today that humans have evolved with the book of life literally written in the night sky above.  As Plato envisioned in the allegory of the cave found in The Republic, humans would someday find themselves experiencing life by looking at shadows projected on a wall.  Unaccustomed to the light of the day above, we spend our lives interacting with the products of other human’s creation. 

In humanity’s short time in the cave we have used our tools to dissect reality to almost incomprehensible scales of size and of speed.  We have learned that there are more stars in the universe than individual grains of sand throughout the entire Earth.  We have learned that there are more molecules in a drop of water than there are drops of water in all the world’s oceans.  We have spread over the face of the globe, affecting every biological and environmental system. 

Yet, for all that we have gained by entering Plato’s cave, we have by eating the apple of the tree of knowledge blinded ourselves to the world beyond our own perceptions.   What is it exactly you may ask that we have given up?  What was this secret that humans living as mammals under the stars had that we have lost? 

When Einstein stated in his equation E=Mc2  in a literal sense, he expressed a universal truth, not just for physical objects, but of our very everyday lives. The transformation of matter for energy and energy for matter may seem remote; however, it is the very logic of life.  When we eat we transform the matter we eat into energy.  When we breathe, sleep, think, fight… we transfer energy into matter. 

What is death then other than a transfer from matter to energy?  What is birth other than the transfer of energy into matter?  Is there something lost in death?  What is gained in birth?  In a very real sense, nothing is lost and nothing gained.  In the entire universe.. the vast sum of all that exists, has existed, or will ever exist.. nothing is created and nothing destroyed.

What of the Big Bang you may ask?  Did not the universe at one time not exist and then come into being and continues to expand?  Did not God create the world in seven days?  Do not Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva dance? 

All I ask is please think of what you believe when you think of the above paragraph.  If the universe came into being from nothing, if God created existence from nothing, truly in what sense does the universe of God exist?

There can only be two possible solutions.. Either in a very real sense God, the universe and everything in it do not exist; or the way we understand the question is a matter of our perspective and perception.  The members of the cave are blinded by the light when the look at reality.  

How can we then take even humanity’s greatest understanding of the physical and spiritual world and think that we have grasped reality?  The understanding of existence as a transfer of matter and energy where nothing is lost and nothing gained points at our highest potential as humans as well as our inescapable limitations.  There is cosmic irony in this; yet, it is the very dissatisfaction with this explanation that has driven humanity forward.  It is yet to be seen whether we as humans will choose to fulfill its destiny, or whether we sink back into the trillions and trillions of years and light-years of dark, lifeless space.  It is a choice for each of us to make each moment.  It is this very choice which we know as existence.

Map of the Universe from Cobe infra-red satilite