Years ago when I returned to Buddhism and began meditation, I opened a door which, even after ten years, remains open. We can call them synchronistic events (SEs), meaningful coincidences. They come and ping in my environment especially when I’m working intensely on something. The easiest examples to share have to do with my writing. When I was writing INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, all manner of Tibetan symbols and objects showed up in my environment. Where before I knew nothing about Tibet, and relatively little about Buddhism, I started to see various things each and every day. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was alarming- what did it mean? Why was it happening? Thankfully, my immediate family was supportive and I explored various ideas before finally embracing the idea that these events were like warm embraces from the universe.


Enter psychologist, Kirby Surprise who has written a book called Synchronicity- The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind. He was about to challenge my warm, fuzzy world. Has he won or can we come to a… middle way? Some believe these coincidences are tied to archetypes and Jung’s collective unconscious. Others see the hand of God or some unifying force at work. In Surprise’s career, he has seen clients attribute these “signs” to Gods, saviors, demons, devils, nature spirits, people with extraordinary powers, ETs, ghosts, and/or secret agencies or governments. Our psychologist proposes an alternative. We cause our own SEs because the universe mirrors us. Therefore, what we project is what we get. Many mystical traditions (becoming co-creators) and science itself seems to support the idea.

Current theories of quantum physics play with the idea that the universe has 11 dimensions. In N Space, there are an infinite number of parallel universes. And then there is M Space which has probable universes. Brain activity as thoughts and powered by emotion, move across these spaces creating change. In a sense, we exist in in infinite number of alternative and probable universes all at the same time. The changes we create in these universes ripple back to us as SEs. We are indeed very powerful- but limited according to Surprise, because we can only travel so far. Rhine’s early parapsychology experiments at Duke University seem to suggest we influence our world by 3-5% and that may reflect a typical SE. However, there are exceptional cases of SE which are life changing and may be more in line with a 60-90% change.


All well and good. So what can we do with SEs? Why are they important? SEs give us insight into who we are and how the world functions. For those attuned to SEs, they shake up our world and force us to look at the big questions- who are we, what is the nature of reality? Surprise cautions us here because whatever our belief structure is, meaningful coincidences will conspire to confirm it. Believe a loving, powerful God underlies everything, he shows up. Believe the devil is at the heart of your misery, he’s there too. How about a shadow government conspiring with aliens to take over the world? Suddenly, conspiracy theories are everywhere and intruding into your daily life. While SEs are often fun and exciting, they can also be scary and throw your world into chaos. The trick here is to maintain a sense of humor without believing everything we are being shown. We are the actor on the stage as well as the playwright.

Not that everyone is happy with the book. Surprise does explore the idea that SEs point to deep connectedness, but he is pretty tough on organized religions sometimes putting it on the level of his patient’s other delusions. And while he does admit that SEs can be powerful at times, he tends to dismiss their overall importance. I think he’s done a good job in opening up some speculation on how the mechanics of SEs work, but he may have only part of the story. We need magic and mystery.

Image by: Kevin McGill

Image by: Kevin McGill

Surprise’s book gives some exercises to try so that you can create thoughtforms and see what happens. He goes to great length stressing that everyone has this ability, but many aren’t aware of it. You can live a full life and never recognize SEs- but for those of us who do, it will permanently shift your frame of reference. All spiritual paths tell us this, once you open the door and step through, you can never go back. Some are not up to the journey.



Filed under Book Review, Books, Spiritual/Mysticism

53 responses to “A LOOK AT SYNCHRONICITY

  1. Thank you for this link Ellis. 🙂 It’s nice to hear what Psychology (or a representative of it) has to say regarding SEs. It seems now that we are becoming more and more open to the harmony between Science and Spirituality.

    “We cause our own SEs because the universe mirrors us” I love this line. When I said in my blog post that Synchronicity is like ‘having a conversation with God’, I actually meant ‘connecting with our higher mind.’ And I guess having something ‘miraculous’ manifest in our lives and consciously seeing it as guidance from inside our own being tells us that we are coming to a phase wherein we can now access and explore the deeper facets of our minds, and use them for our development. 🙂

    • I know what you mean by having that conversation. Early in my experience (before I knew anything about SEs), I’d ask to be shown a specific message. So it was like, “Hey, Universe show me this.” And I’d see the rather rare message in my daily life. The only time it didn’t happen was when I asked to see a rose as a symbol of my physical healing. And guess what- no physical healing. This went on for years and it was quite scary in the beginning. I don’t really ask for these messages anymore because I don’t need he same kind of hand-holding. I think there’s a maturing process going on. But I’ve found that people who haven’t experienced this kind of thing, think it’s nuts. It’s one of the reasons mystics in all traditions are told to keep their silence.

  2. I find this whole subject exciting and fascinating. Today I have been blown away by synchronicity, which began as soon as I was woke up.
    I have recently been thinking a lot about writing a children’s yoga book. So far I have created three characters for it, but since I am also in the middle of Yoga teacher training, whilst working full time, I was thinking last night that perhaps I should leave it and continue at a later date.

    Then to be woken up this morning to an alert on my phone that someone had liked a blog post I had just written (For a blog I am trying to get right before I even tell my family and friends I am doing it) and for the first post I see of yours to be about your book under publication (Congratulations!!!). Followed by a post of Synchronicity! Mind blown and butterflies in my stomach.

    Love your blog and I cannot wait to read more of it x

    • Happy to be part of your synchronistic series of events. Extending it one step farther in my direction, the book I’m currently finishing up is a book where my main character is swept along by his own series of bizarre, synchronistic events. I call it my synch book, but the title will be The Greening of the Laurel. Good luck with your children’s yoga book. I’d love to do an author interview when you release it.

  3. Sebastian Hayes

    Dear Ellis Nelson, Many thanks for this, you apparently read some of my posts on ultimateeventtheory.com It is encouraging to see someone else who is to some degree working the same terrain, Buddhism, modern physics, synchronicity…. Will look out for your book and Surprise’s. The question about synchronicities is not whether they exist (they certainly do) but how they can be put to work. They indicate that connections are being made and we are involved in this connection-making somehow because it is usually only in certain states that they happen. But the trail they apparently blaze often leads nowhere. I know a woman who is remarkably subject to synchronicities but they don’t seem to do her any good, her life is not very well-organised or goal directed. What is needed today is to pass from theory to practice, though to do this may involve a better theory in the first place. The angle via quantum possibilities is tempting, but I certainly reject the many-worlds hypothesis as being little short of lunatic. Anyway, I can see you’re on the right track and thanks for this post. Sebastian Hayes

    • Sebastian Hayes

      Stimulated by this review I have written an article on Synchronicity that can be found on the website http://www.ultimateeventtheory.com It does not mention the Surprise book as I have not readm it yet, but deals with Jung’s ideas and famous synchronicities. Thanks to Ellis for reviving my interest. Sebastian Hayes

  4. i love this post and not surprisingly i have found it at a time when i’m exploring the synchronicities in my own life. i’ve started a synchronicity journal, where i note when these events happen. it’s quite powerful and makes me see just how prevalent they truly are, if we only pay attention! thank you, aleya

    • The journal is a great idea and mentioned in Surprise’s book too. He especially encourages you to note down what was happening at the time of the event and how you felt- to make additional connections. He thinks it’s especially useful to see connections amongst different events, as well as having a record so you can go back months later and see things in a deeper context. I’ve tried to journal them too, but it takes so long to explain the circumstances surrounding the events, I soon give up. Thanks for adding to the conversation, alohaleya!

      • interesting. i don’t think i’d be as likely to do it if i had to go deeper. in fact i find that synchronicities happen more if i am in a detached, neutral state. thank you! (and is ‘surprise’ his real last time? also interesting!) 🙂

    • Sebastian Hayes

      Dear Alohaleya, Let us know how you get on! Yes, idea of journal is very good. The big question is what to do about these synchronicities, how to put them to work, I don’t mean in an ego-driven way. No one I know of seems to have ever really profited by synchronicities in their life except maybe to have come across books or ideas they need at the time and don’t know about. Be a pioneer into the handling of synchronicity! Yours, Sebastian Hayes

  5. Thanks for liking my post. Your ideas are adorable too. I hope I could get it all……thanks

  6. Great post and thanks for liking mine. SE always happens when I am writing intensely. I seem to find just the information I’m looking for to flesh out the scene and characters.

  7. This post is ‘Synchronicity’ in itself, at its best—love it!!! I too opened that door years ago, and I would not take it back even if I could….great post.

  8. The way I read Jung, synchronicity occurs when the causal sequence drops away and, marveling at the chance element in a situation or arrangement, you begin to see a different dimension of meaning completely unrelated to any objective causal nexus.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog and liking my post 🙂 This is a great post on synchronicity. I love your blog and I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  10. Excellent post Ellis! I have seen synchronicity at play in my life many times and it always leads me to another level of learning and experiencing. I’ve come to appreciate the value in SEs and look forward to them. Om shanti

  11. Fascinating. I ignore a lot of SE’s because some are so ridiculous, I feel the universe has a weird kind of humor.

    • It does, indeed!! Sometimes you do feel like you’re being played with. Or at the wrong end of a joke. But some are loving too.

      • Yes true! I always laugh and say who wrote this script because they are sick funny! I guess we choose which ones we want to pay attention to, and which ones we just laugh off.

      • Sebastian Hayes

        Yes, it is curious and sometimes unnerving that ‘the universe’ or whatever/whoever is out there really does seem to play tricks and even practical jokes. I don’t quite know what to make of this but it certainly happens. Thankfully, so far they don’t tale the joke too far. Sebastian Hayes

  12. Simply- LOVE THIS! Thank you.

  13. I am certainly not a Buddhist, my roots are firmly planted in Christianity, but i do find meditation useful at times and i don’t believe in coincidences, everything happens for a reason even if we have to move past it to see it.

  14. I love this! Things I have thought, and experienced, you say so well.
    When I am writing my story, synchronicity sneaks into my existance, I call it ‘story leakage.’ lol

  15. “… what we project is what we get. Many mystical traditions (becoming co-creators) and science itself seems to support the idea.” A theory of creation from advaita vedanta (‘perception is creation’), called ‘drishti-sishtri vada’, has it that the entire world is the fabrication of the individual’s intellect. Before the objects of experience are perceived, they are held to be non-existing. The world is create by an imaginer who imagines it. You can tie this in with another doctrine: there is only one self or individual (‘un-divided’), a reflection of the Absolute (Brahman). Ultimately there is only one Consciousness.

  16. It’s a real treat to see discussions over such topics about strange events that people know happen, yet they tend to dismiss like wind wailing around a corner. Treating Synchronicity to a scientific and a spiritual perspective, places once thought of ‘fringe’ elements into the common fold, where anyone can understand and ultimately appreciate what true wonders we experience everyday.

  17. Thanks for the kind and thoughtfull review.

  18. A focused mind and heart is SE’s dancing floor. Sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious … it depends whether we are awake to perceive it! I think it happens all the time. And we tune in to the synchrony, at different levels of expression. States of mind, images and sounds make “echoes”. They ripple.

  19. Thanks for liking my blog. Your book looks really intriguing and I hope to check it out soon!

  20. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I find your writing very interesting and insightful. Looking forward to your posts!

  21. Yes… i live my life being sensitive to synchronicity…

  22. Thanks for the Like on my blog! What a wonderful blog you have here. You have accomplishes a great deal. All the best to you!


  23. Piqued interest, evolved into questions; questions stimulate the journeys. SEs?

  24. Bob Edward Fahey

    My little poetic thoughts were so popular in “The Mourning After” that I’ve decided to include some with a more spiritual bent to open chapters in my latest book, “The Gardens of Ailana.” Here is one:
    I guess I still believe in coincidence.
    But only for everyday folks.
    Once you step fully into your Quest for Spirit, though,
    commit to it with all of your being,
    your whole life becomes a mesh of synchronized miracles.
    You can’t call that coincidence anymore.

    • Having my undergraduate degree in math, I marvel at the unlikely statistical probability of these things being coincidences. Here’s an example. Surprise has a Rumi quote to begin one of his chapters. I tweeted it out yesterday. Today, a FB member posted that same quote with a photo from another site. She is not a twitter follower of mine, and as far as I can tell, she doesn’t post spiritual quotes. Most of her stuff is about her books. Why now, why this quote, why not another Rumi quote? I only have about 100 friends on FB and not everyone posted everyday… Anyway. That’s a low level SE.

      • Sebastian Hayes

        Yes, the probabilities are so enormous as to essentially rule out ‘coincidence’ — though rationalists won’t have this. But the question is what sort of force is at work? It seems to be intelligent — Koestler talks of the Library angel — and yet I do not think it is, it is more a ‘mechanical’ force operating at a higher level, bringing disparate items together. Synchronicity seemingly involves deeper issues and greater forces than materialistic physics, but no one seems to know how to do anything with synchronicity, we are just subjected to it. ‘Magic’ inasmuch as it was something other than hocus-pocus only makes sense as some sort of handling of synchronicities, bringing about favourable connections between widely separated systems. Tibetan monks allegedly developed certain magical powers (warming yourself in the snow, making rain) though these were seen as mere bye-products and potential hindrances to further development. There’s something very deep here humanity is only just beginning to get a handle on. Sebastian Hayes

      • Thanks Sebastian for all your comments. You are also deeply involved in questioning!

  25. Interesting! 🙂 Serendipity is somewhat of an art… and somewhat of universal intelligence sharing itself with itself.

  26. Thank you so much for your great post, Ellis. I turned to Buddhisms many years ago and find great peace in it. I shall finally get your book. Namaste.

  27. universalpeacepipedreamer

    Just finding, this post was a big SE, for me, not 5 minutes ago I was writing to someone about this very topic, it is spooky, at times. Peace J.A.M.

  28. Algorithms by Google, Amazon, or whatever will all also intensify the synchronicity. I’m curious how all the computer match matchmaking will program people. Liberals will get more drivel and Conservatives will get more block-headed blather.
    India seems to be the religious heartland of the ancient world. The Asuras link to the Norse; Zoroastrians came from Hinduism and the spread to make Jews, Christians, and Muslims.. Linguistics also seems to flow through India — a crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Arab territories. Hinduism is interesting and confusing.

    • Sebastian Hayes

      Dear mbracedefreak, Would like to pick up on your remark that India seems to be the religious heartland of the ancient world. Not only that, it was a promising avenue towards the scientific understanding of reality, but was perhaps too advanced and could not be taken further at the time. We follow the Greeks with a spatially oriented world-view, Democritus said “Nothing exists except atoms and void”. With the addition of Force we get Newtonian Mechanics. But this world-view is in crisis. The Eastern viewpoint emphasizes time rather than space and Hinayana Buddhism believes, I think correctly, that all phenomena are transient (there is no matter) held together by Causality (karma). This is the world-view I am trying to develop in my theory of ultimate events, see http://www.ultimateeventtheory.com is you’re interested. But thanks for this insightful remark. Sebastian Hayes

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