By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology
Everyone has had a meaningful coincidence happen to them -- the classic example is thinking of someone's name and the next minute that person telephones, or seeing an unusual word in your mind's eye and then running across that word the next time you open a book. It's spooky that the outside world can be synchronized with our inner world, yet the bigger question is about reality itself. Synchronicity, the common term for meaningful coincidences, doesn't tend to change anyone's life -- but it could.
Instead of passing off such experiences as incidental, what if synchronicity is telling us something crucial about reality, linking the inner and outer worlds because in the long run, they are completely unified? If inner=outer, a tremendous shift in the Western materialistic worldview would follow. Let's see how far the trail of clues takes us.
We already saw that in the quantum world time and distance are not fixed properties. Both are malleable, and even more importantly, they can be erased. Two particles separated by light years can react immediately to changes of state in one of the pairs, so that Part A somehow "knows" what is happening to particle B instantaneously, without any visible connection. This phenomenon, known as non-locality, is verified physics even though it cannot be explained, only calculated as a key aspect of highly complex equations.
Non-locality needs to be understood on a human scale to have any meaning in everyday life. Synchronicity does just that: it joins two events that have invisible connections. For example, when highly successful people are asked about how they achieved their success, they often say that they were somehow the right person in the right place, not once or twice, but throughout their careers. If they are religious, they say, "God was on my side." Luck is often invoked, but the one thing you almost never hear is that their success was random. There's a wide gap between the meaning we experience in our lives and the randomness of scientific explanations.
It goes beyond a single instance of synchronicity when many things fall together perfectly, as if being in sync overrides the ordinary notion of cause and effect. When the link between inner and outer is strong enough, intuition strikes so deeply that the world of appearances turns transparent, revealing an underlying structure that is perfectly organized. The unity experiences, which have occurred in every culture, gave rise to the world's wisdom traditions. From that perspective the tables are turned, and what are anomalous are random events.
Collectively, the world's sages, seers and mystic repeat the same conclusions, which can be stated in modern secular terms as three principles:
- The universe is conscious; therefore, human intelligence is a single outcropping in an infinite field of intelligence.
- Reality functions as a unified whole. Everything from subatomic particles to galaxies operates as one.
- Because it is sentient, the universe is constructed as layers of consciousness that parallel different levels of reality. "Consciousness stuff" transforms into waves, particles, planets, living creatures, the human brain, and beyond. Our senses are attuned to the appearance of physical things, but if we have sufficient self-awareness, the mask of materialism drops away, and we see the invisible nature of reality as it truly is, not as it appears.
Seeing the universe as mind first and matter second is the position of every spiritual tradition; introducing God is actually secondary, in that some traditions accept the three principles without needing a personal God to personify them.
We can say, then, that synchronicity lifts us momentarily into a state of awareness where the universe is pervaded by order, harmony, beauty, truth, love, balance, equanimity, creativity, and the other qualities essential to consciousness. Human beings didn't invent or imagine these qualities. We possess them by drawing on an infinite reservoir -- in this way, without introducing religion, we understand why omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence are undeniable features of an all-pervading consciousness that pervades the cosmos.
Human evolution isn't chiefly materialistic, even though the fossil record without a doubt gives us the physical traces of our ancestors. What these physical traces only hint at, however, is the invisible progression that all evolution depends upon. There are three principles at work here, too.
- Simple forms evolve into complex forms.
- As complexity proceeds, so does self-organization.
- As self-organization evolves, so does self-awareness.
These principles are obviously at work in human evolution, because the brain of Homo sapiens is the most complex entity on the evolutionary ladder. Its complexity serves a purpose, to organize the nearly infinite synchronicity that binds billions of neurons and trillions of other cells into a wholeness. And this wholeness, having transcended physiological functions common to all higher life forms (e.g., digestion, respiration, reproduction, healing) focuses its energies on consciousness itself.
The reason we notice a moment of synchronicity, then, is that we are looking into a mirror. Unable to see with our eyes the incredible synchronicity that binds trillions of cells at every moment of life, we need outer reflections to remind us that the invisible forces holding reality together are constantly present, upholding the highest stage of evolution that exists today, while preparing the foundation for our next evolutionary step.
In the next post we will see how this whole scheme is directed to make the universe a human universe, not a whirling, random, physical machine.
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.