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Record Type: Review   ID: 310

Synchronicity, Science, and Soul-Making: Understanding Jungian Synchronicity Through Physics, Buddhism, and Philosophy

Mansfield, Victor

A physicist sets forth a meaningful theory of synchronicity with "a philosophic view that heals the traditional split between mind and matter" (p. 3). He presents several examples of synchronicity that "seem to offer a glimpse of a higher reality or knowledge" (p. 6). Furthermore, he adopts Jung’s view that "synchronicity is soul-making in action" (p. 6). In order to account for the meaningful connections between humans and nature suggested by synchronicity, Mansfield proposes that we consider that Jung’s Unus Mundus, or the unity between objective and subjective worlds, "requires us to transcend the psyche, to consider ourselves more than finite psychological beings" (p. 7). First, he proposes that a combination of acausal synchronicity and the principle of nonlocality that a new view of quantum physics is revealing remove our grounds for believing that nature and humans are separate. He then connects this "recent deepening of our understanding of quantum mechanics" to "the Buddhist view of emptiness," which "directly challenges the deception of separate or independent existence" (p. 9). It is Mansfield’s hope that the view he sets forth, "with its nonmaterialistic worldview inspired by Eastern thought, will contribute to the paradigm shift needed for the next great advance in science" and "toward the renewal and healing we so desperately need" (p. 11). His approach itself is refreshingly integrated, in that he attempts to appeal to (and presumably use) both feelings and intellect.

Mansfield takes pains to point out that he does not think a parapsychological factor is implicated in synchronicity. What is of greater interest, it seems to me—is what he does think is involved in synchronicity: "the self and the process of individuation" (p. 27). Synchronicity, he says, is "soul-making in action." This could also apply to any EHE. I have said they help the experiencer to realize their fuller human potential, but the term soul-making may say it better or certainly as well.

In discussing one of 20 cases of synchronicity, Mansfield in effect defines exactly the difference between an exceptional and an exceptional human experience: "Without connecting these experiences, and the ones that follow, with the details of soul-making, the events would only be anomalous experiences—freaks of nature. Instead they are revelations of the self in both the inner and outer world, revelations of meaning seeking to transform the individual" (p. 44). Thus the accounts Mansfield presents are what we call EHE accounts, with synchronicity as the EE/EHE.

What he does throughout the book is show how "the rich tapestry of synchronicity is woven with threads of meaning, spacetime transcendence, acausality, and the unity of psyche and matter. I’ll develop these threads into cables that bind together the analyses from psychology, physics, and philosophy, "interweaving cases of synchronicity between the theoretical chapters. The Bridge to Physics consists of 5 chapters with 6 synchronistic interludes. The Bridge to Philosophy consists of 6 chapters and 5 interludes. Perhaps the most important chapter is the last: "Synchronicity and Individuation." This is a very important book. I am sorry I cannot do justice to it in this limited space.

Publisher Information:Chicago: Open Court, 1995. 260p. Bibl: 247-250; Chap. notes: 239-246; 66 illus; Ind: 251-260
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