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Dec-24-2009 13:05printcomments

Behind the Blue Door

The conclusion for me is that we are all part of a universal flow and often times objects and events that have meaning to our particular life will line up and appear to us, either in consciousness or in the outside world.

Blue Train of S. Africa

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Last July, I wrote a piece called "Freedom's Just Another Word for, Nothing Left to Lose" and at the end I said it was to be continued in a future installment. Well, this is the future installment but I hope you will read it first, before going on here.

Now, December

What I am about to share with you I call an intellectual bummel, a bummel coming from a German word meaning a journey, long or short, with no specific destination or time of ending.

A couple of months ago I was riding the train downtown and I noticed a man wearing a jacket that said "Labatt’s Blue" (a Canadian beer) on the back. Later, coming back on the train, I saw a woman carrying a shopping bag from a store called "Blue Note". At the time, I only thought it curious to run across "blue" in two instances like that in the space of an hour or so. But, just a meaningless coincidence.

But, my worldview has shifted. A few nights ago I was at the library and I walked up to the counter where there was a sign that said: "Ask questions." So, I spontaneously said to the librarian: "Why is the sky blue?" She said she didn’t know. Smiling, I pointed to the sign and she said, "Yes. But it doesn’t mean you’ll get answers." So we shared a brief laugh and I asked the real question I had come for.

A few minutes later I was in the science section, browsing the books. I picked one off the shelf and was flipping through it when I noticed that one of the chapters was called "Why is the sky blue?"

This intrigued me and I thought about it when I got home. Then I remembered something strange from my childhood. I had overheard the adults and learned that my mother had gone outside a night or two before. She looked up at the sky and saw a blue door, which opened and closed as she watched, then faded away. She got a phone call an hour or two later telling her that, at about the same time as the blue door, her father (my grandfather) had died.

Other than the colour, I saw no connection to the earlier events. Later in the evening I went back to the book I was reading, John D. MacDonald’s Murder for the Bride. The reading was ordinary until, a couple chapters along a blue door figured prominently in one scene.

Roads not travelled

Synchronicity (not the album by the Police) is a term coined by the non-Freudian psychoanalyst Carl Jung. He defined it as a "meaningful coincidence." It is meaningful, however, only to the person involved. So, my references to "blue" mean nothing to anyone else.

Synchronistic events are internal events that become manifested in the external world. As quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli said: "From an inner centre the psyche seems to move outward, in the sense of an extraversion, into the physical world." Jung described it as a "mutual attraction of related objects" and described it from one of his own experiences.

"I was sitting opposite (a young woman patient) one day, listening to her. She'd had an impressive dream the night before, in which someone had given her a golden scarab — a costly piece of jewellery.

" While she was still telling me this dream, I heard something behind me gently tapping on the window. I turned around and saw that it was a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the window-pane from outside in an obvious effort to get into the dark room.

"This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window at once and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab.

"I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, 'Here is your scarab.'” The analysis, which had been going badly to that point, immediately became productive.

Synchronicity is all around us and we ignore its manifestations either at our peril or to our loss. Here’s an example of the latter.

In 1977 I went into business and sublet some office space from a woman named Fay Gorbous. More than twenty years later, in ’99 or 2000 I was at my bank. One of five or six tellers became free and I walked up to do my banking. As I was standing there, I noticed a business card lying to the side. Idly, I picked it up and turned it over. "Fay Gorbous". (She was by then a realtor.) In the real world, I could have gone to any one of the other tellers, but the flow of the entire universe took me to that teller at that moment.

I didn’t call her and now will never know what, if anything, might have come of it. I thought of calling her over several days, but what restrained me was my recollection that we had parted on somewhat unfriendly terms. So I did nothing.

In another instance I did call. In elementary school my best friend was a kid named Steve Kurta. He moved away, and I never saw him again. More than 35 years later, I opened up a phone book and it fell open to a page with the name "Kurta" in the upper left and his name and phone number right below it.

This first instance was evidently a coincidence, so I gave it no thought. Then it happened again-probably a dozen or so times in succession. Let me say that it wasn’t just the phone book that was crimped in some way to fall open to that page. The same thing happened when I used other phone books.

So, I did the necessary thing and called him. I told him what prompted the call but he was incurious. We talked for perhaps fifteen minutes and it became clear fairly quickly (probably to him as well) that any connection we might have had, was long gone. I did learn one interesting thing, however. He had moved away in grade four and his family had moved to the Ramsay district of Calgary. As we talked I learned that the house I was living in (and was actually calling from) was next door to the house he had moved to at the end of grade four.

A potpourri of experiences

In 1999 I was living in an apartment at 1717-x St. I reconnected with my ex-wife who I hadn't seen in three years. Her phone number was xxx-1717. A nephew I’d stayed in touch with, moved and his new address was 1717-x Road. A brother out of town had the phone number xxx-1717. What does this mean for me? Is the important number "1717", or is "17" extraordinarily important, that's why it's doubled? I don't have a conscious understanding but I do have some ideas in terms of the flow of my life to that point.

Another example: Sometime in late 2000 I saw reference somewhere to a book, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy. I saw a copy in my online public library catalog, so I put a hold on it. When it didn’t come to my branch after about six weeks, a trace was put on the book and it was determined to be lost. The library obviously felt that it was a book the library should have, so another copy was ordered. By mid-2001, it had arrived and I took it out. I was very busy at the time, however, and never had a chance to look at it.

On July 6, the day it was due, I idly flipped through the pages during my lunch hour, before taking it back. I didn’t read very much, but my attention was caught by a chapter on Peter the Great. I had heard of him, but knew virtually nothing about him. I read that he had traveled abroad incognito, in order to study reforms that he could apply to Russia. I also read that he had banned the wearing of beards. This was all new knowledge to me.

At home that evening I was heading into the bathroom and grabbed a Time magazine at random off the coffee table and was browsing through it. It was the Dec. 31, 1999 issue. I flipped through until I got to a page on Isaac Newton, and began reading it. As I read it, there was a box on the bottom titled "Best Makeover". This caught my attention, so I started reading it. I was amazed to see that it was about Peter the Great describing his touring of England and forcing the boyars in Russia to cut off their beards. I have no explanation of this, but I ran across a piece of new, obscure knowledge, twice within about eight hours.

In my apartment I had a cat that liked to sleep in the bathroom sink (Bill, from Cat House).

I have had cats as pets all my life and had never heard of or seen such a phenomenon. The lady who lived in the apartment above me had three cats and when I mentioned this to her, she laughed, because it was new to her, as well. A few days later, however, she called me in great excitement. One of her cats was sleeping in the bathroom sink, something that had never happened before. Meaning?

These kinds of things happen to everyone, all the time. The difference is how aware we become of events that fall significantly out of our ordinary experience. Some people notice such things, some people don’t. That’s all.

Here are a couple more examples from others.

British essayist J. B. Priestly has this story:

"My wife bought three large coloured lithographs by Graham Sutherland. At bedtime she took them upstairs and leant them against a chair, deciding to hang them the next day. The one facing outwards was of a grasshopper, a glorious magnification of that humble creature. Once in bed my wife felt something skittering around, pulled down the clothes to discover a grasshopper. No grasshopper had ever invaded her bed before; no grasshopper had ever been seen in her bedroom before; no grasshopper had ever been seen before in the house; and I for one have never noticed a grasshopper even in the garden. Coincidence? Mere chance? I wonder."

Jungian psychoanalyst Jean Shinoda Bolen tells of how she met her husband:

"Just before I met my husband…I had been feeling that a phase of my life was over and that it was time to move on. I responded to this inner state by deciding to actually move. I arranged to leave San Francisco and move to New York city to complete my last year of psychiatric residency before going on to London for a post-residency year. Just before the move, a chance meeting changed the course of my life.

"Thanksgiving was coming up, and I decided to go to Los Angeles for the holiday. One of my roommates, Elain Fedors, had been planning a Thanksgiving party in our Sausalito apartment. This party had been inspired by Dick Rawson, a psychiatric resident who had wanted to introduce a friend of his to Elaine. Two days before Thanksgiving, I found out that I was expected to be at the San Francisco clinic the Friday afterward, making a long Los Angeles weekend impossible. I was 'grounded' and would be in Sausalito for the party after all. As a consequence, I met James Bolen, whom I married six months later. Coincidentally, Jim had also planned to have Thanksgiving with relatives in the Los Angeles area, when he unexpectedly had to remain in San Francisco because of work. Consequently at a loss for Thanksgiving plans, Jim called Dick to see if the invitation extended and declined some weeks before was still open. It was, and that’s how Jim came into my life.

"Dick and Jim had been in the Air Force together as enlisted men, some twelve years before. After all those years intervening, they had just crossed paths again. In the interim Jim had gone from engineering into journalism and public relations, moving in the process from Iowa to Southern California before coming to the San Francisco Bay area; Dick had gone from Berkeley to medical school in Los Angeles and then to Philadelphia before returning to San Francisco."

A last example

Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene) is an archscientist, one who believes that science and materialism can, in principle, explain everything. He tells this story:

"Here's an actual coincidence where, although it is a little harder, we can make a stab at estimating the odds approximately. My wife once bought for her mother a beautiful antique watch with a pink face. When she got it home and peeled off the price label she was amazed to find, engraved on the back of the watch, her mother's own initials, M. A. B. Uncanny? Eerie? Spine-crawling? Arthur Koestler, the famous novelist, would have read much into it. So would C. G. Jung, the widely admired psychologist and inventor of the 'collective unconscious', who also believed that a bookcase or a knife might be induced by psychic forces to explode spontaneously with a loud report. My wife, who has more sense, merely thought the coincidence of initials remarkably convenient and sufficiently amusing to justify telling the story to me-and here I am now telling it to a wider audience."

He goes on to say, "there are about 55 million people in Britain. If every one of them bought an antique engraved watch we'd expect more than 3,000 of them to gasp with amazement when they discovered that the watch already bore their mother's initials."

But, in this case we are not dealing with statistical theory, but with an actual incident. There are not 55 million antique watches available. There are at most perhaps a few hundred. Even if there were a few thousand, the chances of any person finding a watch that is: 1. engraved, and 2. with their mother's initials, would be vanishingly small. This is not saying that the initials have some "cosmic significance", but just that the incident cannot be casually dismissed as within reasonable probability and so being meaningless or random.

I called Dawkins an archscientist. This is because his belief in the power of science is so great that if he finds anything that goes against his entrenched beliefs, he will deal with it by either distorting the situation or making things up. In this case he distorts by suggesting that his wife has more "sense" than Jung. And he makes up his statistical argument out of whole cloth. As journalist Andrew Brown notes: "Dawkins' confusion between argument and polemical definition is pretty strong evidence against the intrinsic rationality of scientists."


Here’s what quantum physicists know.

There are no boundaries and everything in the universe is interconnected. They call it entanglement.

Albert Einstein’s great insight was that nothing in the universe can go faster than the speed of light. Physicists call this "locality", as in, we live in a local universe. Yet consider a particle that decays into two photons and each flies off in an opposite direction. Because of their initial interaction, these two particles remain forever linked. Whatever happened to one particle would instantaneously affect the other particle, wherever in the universe it may be, whatever the distance between them. Einstein called this "spooky action at a distance." It has since been experimentally verified, particularly by physicist Alain Aspect.

Their connection is called entanglement. This is because the two particles are not really two particles — they only appear that way to us. They remain forever parts of the single original system. Quantum entanglement, says Cornell physicist N. David Mermin is "the closest thing we have to magic."

Astronomer John Gribbin describes it this way.

"Virtually everything we see and touch and feel is made up of collections of particles that have been involved in interactions with other particles right back through time, to the Big Bang in which the universe as we know it came into being. The atoms in my body are made up of particles that once jostled in proximity in the cosmic fireball with particles that are now part of a distant star, and particles that form the body of some living creature on some distant, undiscovered planet. Indeed, the particles that make up my body once jostled in close proximity and interacted with the particles that now make up your body."

In life, says philosopher Alan Watts, "your soul, or rather your essential Self, is the whole cosmos as it is centered around the particular time, place, and activity called John Doe. Thus the soul is not in the body, but the body is in the soul, and the soul is the entire network of relationships and processes which make up your environment, and apart from which you are nothing."

Gribbin concludes that "we are as much parts of a single system as the two photons flying out of the heart of the Aspect experiment."

The conclusion for me is that we are all part of a universal flow and often times objects and events that have meaning to our particular life will line up and appear to us, either in consciousness or in the outside world. To get bigger meanings from synchronicity, we have to make more of an effort to get in tune with them, and apply our inner awareness to come to a larger understanding of our lives in this universe. I lean to the conclusion reached by mathematician Rudy Rucker:

"This is a first-class universe we’re in. It’s loaded with symbolic events, deep meanings, and heavy coincidences. There are events that, for want of a better word, some people call telepathy. But there is a better word: the word is synchronicity. 'Telepathy' suggests the idea of being able to exert control over coincidences. But surely the rough and tumble of life has taught all of us that any hope of full control is chimeral. Telepathy is a paranoid fantasy; synchronicity is a fact of life. As one 1960s slogan put it: 'We don’t have to get it together. It is together'".

Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class — a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably on a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves — writing and trying to make the world a better place

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Daniel Johnson December 25, 2009 12:31 pm (Pacific time)

You've got it, Josh. Unfortunately, the vast, vast majority of Westerners remain under the umbrella of materialism and reductionism.

Josh A, December 25, 2009 10:24 am (Pacific time)

In Buddhism this 'synchronicity' is well documented... All is one. This is the basis for developing compassion. If I cannot truly separate myself from any other person or even from a table and chair, I must practice compassion for myself and toward everything around me to achieve happiness. There can be no happiness for one person in reality when there is actually no such thing as one person. Any happiness we think we possess is not lasting, and very unsatisfactory in the long run. Buddhism teaches the 4 noble truths including the truth of suffering being inescapable (called Samsara), but at the same time there is a path which leads to the cessation (stopping) of all suffering. Separateness and individuals do exist, but even then it is only based on how deep you dig down the rabbit hole. In order to achieve this true happiness you have to give up the lie that you are separate. Science actually has some catching up to do with Buddhism (taught 2500 years ago), especially when it comes to why do we need compassion for others? It's simple really, because you can't escape them! You are your own worst enemy, really! -Josh A.

Todd Laurence December 25, 2009 6:56 am (Pacific time)

"such is the nature of reality, that anyone can experience that which is least understood." Bx Times Reporter

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