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The Real Alternative


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Abbey Road (street)

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“Look Both Ways”

A woman named Annabelle dreams of a beautiful angel who says, “always look both ways before you cross the road.”

The next morning Annabelle is rushing to her bus stop, about to cross a busy intersection. She judges the traffic velocities, all set to dash across the road.

Seeing an opening in the oncoming traffic, Annabelle begins to run  for it. Suddenly the angel of her dream vividly comes to mind and she stops on the center line. A speeding car whizzes by, as if from nowhere. Had Annabelle not stopped at the center line she would have been killed.

In this analogy Annabelle represents the ego perceiving synchronicity. The dream angel is a positive archetypal force. The archetypal force is aware of future possibilities. It provides valuable information to the ego so as to contribute to a positive outcome.

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The Fortune Teller, by Art Nouveau painter Mik...

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“I See A Secret Admirer”

A lonely man called Lorenzo visits a fortune teller. But the fortune teller is a scam artist. She extracts all sorts of details from Lorenzo, including his home address. “I see love for you in the near future. A secret admirer… flowers in the mail…”

Meanwhile the fortune teller’s husband is secretly recording the entire session. Later that week the fortune teller’s husband drives by Lorenzo’s house in the middle of the night and drops a flower with an attached “From a Secret Admirer” note in his mailbox.

Lorenzo is impressed and delighted. He’s hooked and returns to the fortune teller for many more visits.

In this analogy, Lorenzo represents the ego that has been duped into perceiving a contrived synchronicity. The fortune teller and her husband represent dark archetypal forces. These archetypal forces manipulate individuals by providing the ego with deceptive information, thus influencing their ego-choices in such a way as to seem to bring about synchronicities.

The ego has been manipulated by the archetypes but doesn’t know it. So it sees only wonderful and amazing acausal connections.

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Officer at periscope in control room of a U.S....

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A German WW-II submarine officer looks through the periscope at night for enemy battleships. The crew of a nearby Allied vessel believes they’re in safe waters. The ship’s decks are well lit. The German submarine officer sees the Allied ship’s lights through the periscope, reports to his commander who fires a torpedo. The torpedo makes a direct hit.

Meanwhile, the captain of the Allied battleship is deep in his quarters and muses, what terrible luck, we’ve hit an iceberg. He notes with bitter irony that he was just getting some ice for a shot of whiskey at the very moment that his ship struck (what he supposed was) an iceberg.

For the Allied captain, the ice cubes and the impact of the wrongly imagined iceberg were acausally connected. He radios his base commander and tells the sad story. The radio transmission is overheard by the German submarine officers. They laugh. They know it’s no iceberg.

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17th century representation of the "third...

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Jung’s take on acausality can be confusing.

When consciously recognized by the ego, synchronicity is supposedly an “acausal connecting principle.” But Jung also says that the archetypes, as primordial patterns of the collective unconscious direct us to the experience of synchronicity.

If observed from a deeper, archetypal level of consciousness, synchronicity might appear somewhat more causal than acausal. Jungian scholars still debate this apparent casuality/acausality paradox.

Perhaps part of the problem arises from different beliefs about the nature of consciousness. Some of the related questions are:

  • Do we perceive from the vantage point of the ego, the archetypes or the self? Are these loci discrete or connected? If they overlap, how might the different loci be weighted?
  • Do psychological conditions and parameters influence our perception and interpretation? Assuming the ego is the high achievement of consciousness, do we ever not identify with some other agency?
  • What about individual differences? Might different people have qualitatively different centers or norms of consciousness? Might some people have several alternating norms of consciousness, each one being different (i.e. multiple self theory as found in philosophy)?
  • How well do Jung’s concepts correspond to reality?
  • Is Jungian theory shaped by European and North American cultural assumptions?

By way of contrast, the Asian theory of chakras indicates seven different centers of consciousness.

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