Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Some thoughts on the Celestine Prophecy's first insight:

The First Insight concerns becoming “conscious of the coincidences in our lives” and the fact that “these coincidences are happening more and more frequently”. We are instructed to take notice and act accordingly. Every individual has experienced some sort of highly improbable event that, most likely, has seemed meaningful to them and Redfield uses this ubiquity to begin the manuscript, to stimulate interest. As Poe observes as he introduces The Mystery of Marie Roget: “There are few persons, even among the calmest thinkers, who have not occasionally been startled into a vague yet thrilling half-credence in the supernatural, by coincidences of so seemingly marvellous a character that, as mere coincidences, the intellect has been unable to receive them.”

It is indeed fascinating. The First Insight is an explanation and simplification of what Carl Jung called synchronicity. Through his experience in analysis, he found “‘coincidences’, which were connected so meaningfully that their ‘chance’ concurrence would represent a degree of improbability that would have to be expressed by an astronomical figure." The most famous example he gives is that of the golden scarab. As a patient detailed her dream of an unusual image, a golden scarab, there was a tapping at the window. Jung opened the window and a rose chafer, or Cetonia aureate, flew in, the beetle which could be said to be the closest to the golden scarab, Egyptian symbol of rebirth. The patient, needless to say, made great progress with her problem of excessive rationality.

Jung dubbed synchronicity “the acausal connecting principle”, dispensing quite radically with the causality paradigm, stretching reason as palpably as Redfield. In his introduction to the I Ching, referring to the moment of throwing the coins, he writes: “The matter of interest seems to be the configuration formed by chance events in the moment of observation, and not at all the hypothetical reasons that seemingly account for the coincidence. While the Western mind carefully sifts, weighs, selects, classifies, isolates, the Chinese picture of the moment encompasses everything down to the minutest nonsensical detail, because all of the ingredients make up the observed moment.”

“This assumption involves a certain curious principle that I have termed synchronicity, a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance. Namely, it is a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers.”

Koestler dealt with this in his “Roots of Coincidence”, speaking of the mind’s ability as a kind of “cosmic resonator” as did Castaneda, albeit in a Shamanistic setting, when Don Juan speaks of the world “agreeing” with him. Ken Wilber (in Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality, 1995) uses the term "network logic" and suggests that it is the first necessary stage in the next phase of the evolution of our species. John Lilly uses the metaphor of the Earth Coincidence Control Office, an extra-terrestrial bureau of synchronicity who have engineered much of his life, as detailed in his autobiography.

In Jung’s studies, the experience of meaningful coincidence comes at a psychological impasse and is a jolt to the psyche. As such, the numinous experiences of many, interpreting them as signs from god, visions of the sympathy of all things, are understandable. Synchronicities are part of a self-correcting mechanism, much like dreams, part of the psyche’s eternal search for equilibrium. These compensatory measures are enacted unconsciously to act as a counter balance to the dominant actions of the self. Rationality often overrides these experiences’ beneficial effects by neutering them as chance. “Since we cannot conceive how this could be possible without recourse to positively magical categories, we generally let it go at the bare impression, leading to acausal connection - acausal order and archetypes: contingencies?” (The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche) Jung found that, by studying dreams, fantasies, synchronicities over a period of time that there existed, often, a meaningful pattern of unconscious compensations resulting in a path, a trajectory, specific to that individual.

The First Insight steers the willing reader towards an acceptance of these realisations and of the trajectory, an acceptance that is natural and empowering. Robert Graves, in “The White Goddess” writes of “more-than-coincidences” occurring “so often in my life that, if I am forbidden to call them supernatural hauntings, let me call them a habit. Not that I like the word 'supernatural'; I find these happenings natural enough, though superlatively unscientific.” As an understanding of something which goes beyond the laws of causality, the Celestine Prophecy’s First Insight has come as a great revelation and inspiration to many of the book’s avid fans. The presentation is arbitrary, the purpose admirable. As Dr John Lilly said in a recent interview on the subject: of course the coincidences are in your own construction, your own language construction of the events. So that's all a fake too. As I say at the beginning of my workshops, "Everything I say here is a lie -- bullshit, in other words -- because anything that you put in words is not experience, is not the experiment. It's a representation -- a misrepresentation."

Do you have the patience to wait
Till the mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?
Tao Te Ching

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