Synchronicity (or “meaningful coincidences”) is a word that has become all to susceptible to new age gibberish and the pre/trans fallacy. But in this gem from the “Integral Post-Metaphysics” chapter of the Integral Spirituality: A Deeper Cut series, our own Corey deVos engages Ken Wilber in a lively and provocative discussion of synchronicity — demystifying much of the supernatural claptrap that so often surrounds this word, while reframing synchronicity as an entirely natural part of the evolutionary fabric.
“Enlightenment is an accident,” Ken often says, “and practice just makes you more accident-prone.” Listen as we take a closer look at the nature and the mechanics of these accidents.
Text by Corey W. deVos
Image by John Inglis
Synchronicity has been an important part of my own spiritual path ever since I can remember. It is something that I’ve come to relate to as a sort of “experiential faith,” an actual tested faith that has shaped the architecture of my own life story in dramatic ways. My experiences with synchronicity have been varied, seeming to come and go in waves, often accompanying times of great creativity, inspiration, and transformation. Sometimes they are flirtatious, like hearing an unlikely word just as I am typing it on my screen. There’s often no apparent meaning to these, other than maybe a playful reminder to pay attention to the Mystery. Other times they ambush my life and bend it in a completely different direction, like when I accidentally worked a bridal shower in a beautiful rose garden for an even more beautiful woman named Marci, who I later found out was marrying Ken Wilber that very weekend—which led to me setting up brunch for his wedding reception a couple days later, allowing me to meet Ken for the very first time, in his own home, on his wedding day. (This has become one of my most treasured memories of the man. He didn’t say a word to me; he just came downstairs with a cell phone pressed to his ear, offering a friendly grunt as he reached over the table to grab a raspberry scone, and promptly disappeared back upstairs. To this day I don’t know if there was actually anyone on the other end of that phone, or if he was just trying to avoid some of the overwhelm that surrounds days like these.)
Unlike many other spiritual writers, I’ve never actually heard Ken talk or write about synchronicity—with good reason, considering how evidence-based his work has been, and how woo-woo these conversations usually get. But my own “magic carpet” experiences have seemed so real, so immediate, and so self-evident that I just had to work it out for myself, and I knew that only the Integral vision could provide a more cogent understanding of how this thing we call “synchronicity” actually works, beyond the typical Jungian plum-pudding platitudes or the deeply confused interpretations offered by new agers, quantum meta-physicists, and peddlers of various consciousness-scams such as The Secret. So I took the opportunity during one of the Integral Spirituality: A Deeper Cut calls to ask Ken the following:
In the description of the “twenty tenets” in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality there is a wonderful description of the relationship that exists between junior and senior holons, namely that the lower determines the possibilities of the higher, and the higher determines the probabilities of the lower. In the second instance, “determining the probabilities” simply means that of all the things that could possibly happen, certain things become more likely to happen. Could this have something to do with synchronistic experiences? And if there is indeed a higher holon determining the probability fields of my human experience, what/where/who is that higher holon?
Further, might this relationship between “higher” and “lower” explain why there have been so many different names for synchronicity throughout history, with interpretations that range all the way up and down the spiral, including:
The Law of Attraction (e.g. The Secret)
So—if we take tetra-emergence, altitude, and the relationships between junior and senior holons all into account, might this suggest an integral post-metaphysical interpretation of synchronicity?”
Listen as Ken and I engage in a whirlwind discussion about synchronicity, suggesting a way to demystify these sorts of meaningful coincidences in a way that avoids mere selective attention, delusions of reference, and other traps of new age narcissism, but instead conceives of synchronicity as a natural part of the evolutionary fabric of the universe—a direct experience of the self-organizing, self-transcending currents or Eros-at-play, forever churning in all four quadrants simultaneously.
What do you think? Can the Integral map can help us to better understand the energetic mechanics of synchronicity? Is such an inquiry even useful for integral practitioners?
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About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is the proverbial "man behind the curtain". He is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996.
About Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.