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Steve McSwain

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The Wink From the Cosmos

Posted: 11/28/11 04:55 PM ET

Carl Jung coined the word "synchronicity" to refer to the "meaningful coincidences" of your life and mine. He was engaged in psychotherapy with a woman who was deeply depressed. She told of a dream she kept having in which a certain breed of a beetle bug would show up in her dream. One day while Jung was counseling her, he heard a scratching noise on the window of his office. He walked over to the window and, to his surprise, there was the beetle itself. But not just any beetle -- the precise breed of beetle, hardly indigenous to their region, that the woman had seen in her dreams. In time, the woman got better and largely because, or so Jung believed, she regarded the coincidence as a sign that she would indeed improve.

As a consequence of this experience, Jung coined the word "synchronicity" to explain these inexplicable occurrences. He viewed them as "glimpses into the underlying order of the universe."

This raises an interesting question. Are such inexplicable coincidences merely random or just one's "selective perception" and, therefore, meaningless? Or might there be something to them? Have you yourself ever had the experience of thinking of someone you haven't seen perhaps in years only to have your phone ring and it's their voice on the other end of the line? Is this merely coincidental.

Bernie Seigel, the medical doctor who pioneered research in the study of cancer survivors, says, "A coincidence is God's way of remaining incognito." Deepak Chopra says that they are "messages from the non-local domain" and may contain something you need to know about.

I have come to believe that a coincidence is a portal into a deeper awareness of Presence itself. In "The Enoch Factor," for example, I tell the story of waking up in the middle of the night. I was having a vivid dream in which I saw a couple I knew entering the corridor of a nearby hospital as the young lady was in labor and ready to give birth. While I knew this couple, I had not seen them in weeks. Further, I had no idea as to when she was expected to deliver. I got out bed, feeling strongly compelled to go to the hospital and see them. Since it was only four in the morning, my wife vigorously objected, certain I was the last person they cared to see. While I'm sure she was correct, I felt the need to go nonetheless, if, for no other reason, to better understand why I would have had such a dream.

I arrived at the hospital about 30 minutes later. Although I had never been to the maternity ward, I knew exactly where to go as I had witnessed the entire scene in the dream only an hour or two earlier. I took the escalator to the lower area of the hospital, rounded a corner and headed straight for the birthing unit. Just as I stepped through another set of doors, I met with the couple I had seen in the dream. A nurse was preparing to guide them to their private birthing room.

Of course, they blurted out in unison, "What are you doing here?"

I responded, "I'll tell you the unbelievable story later. For now, be assured of our thoughts and prayers for both you and your baby."

That was many years ago now but we still laugh whenever we remember the absurdity of the whole episode.

I have wondered for years why I had the dream and whether any significance could be assigned to it. It was not, however, until I wrote "The Enoch Factor" that its meaning became clear. The event served to remind me, and perhaps you too, that the inexplicable experiences of life we often disregard or presume are merely random or coincidental could in fact be portals into consciousness itself.

Today, I pay attention to these experiences, rare though they are. I regard nothing as purely coincidental for two reasons: First, by giving attention to the coincidences of life, instead of passing them off as purely random events, I am more alert to what is and more connected to the present moment. Such is the place of peace. It is also the place where I am more fully human and connected with what is. Second, I have discovered these experiences are almost always portals into a deeper experience of presence itself, a presence I call grace, even God. They almost always contain a message from beyond, a message I would likely miss if I did not give attention to the mysterious or, as someone put it, "the wink from the cosmos."

 
 
 

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