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Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

Carl Jung on “Synchronicity.”

“Certain phenomena of synchronicity seem to be bound up with the archetypes.” Synchronistic events nearly always occur during, or because of heightened emotion.

It’s as if the threshold of consciousness is lowered, which then allows the unconscious and its contents to show themselves in conscious life.

These spheres of heightened emotion occur within archetypal situations such as death, mortal danger, catastrophes, mental or
physical illness, or relationship crises, which demonstrate innate “patterns of behavior that are universal in character, arousing the
same feelings in everyone.”

Similarly, close-bonded archetypal relationships such as those between mother and child or between lovers often produce synchronistic telepathic communication.

For lung, the archetypes are “an imprint which presupposes an imprinter”; “the archetype is only the name of Tao, not Tao itself.”

And “just as the physicist regards the atom as a model I regard archetypal ideas as sketches for the purpose of visualizing the
unknown background.”

We . . . have to expect a factor in the psyche that is not subject to the laws of time and space, as it is on the contrary capable of suppressing them to a certain extent.

In other words: this factor is expected to manifest the qualities of time- and spacelessness, i.e., “eternity” and “ubiquity.”

Psychological experience knows of such a factor; it is what I call the archetype, which is ubiquitous in time and space, of course relatively speaking.

It is a structural element of the psyche we find everywhere and at all times; and it is that in which all individual psyches are identical with each other, and where they function as if they were the one undivided Psyche the ancients called anima mundi or the psyche tou kosmou [cosmic psyche].

This is no metaphysical speculation but an observable fact, and therefore the key to innumerable mythologies, that is to the manifestations of unconscious fantasy. . . .

It may be, from a psychological point of view, a mere similarity and not a unity in essence. . .

But here parapsychology comes in, with its psi-phenomena that unmistakably show an essential identity of two separate events, as for instance the act of prevision and the objective precognized fact.

These experiences show that the factor in question is one and the same inside and outside the psyche.

. . . In our ordinary minds we are in the worlds of time and space and within the individual psyche.

In the state of the archetype we are in the collective psyche, in a world system whose space-time categories are relatively or
absolutely abolished.

This is about as far as we can go safely.

I see no way beyond, since we are not capable of functioning in a four-dimensional system at will; it only can happen to us.

Our intellectual means reach only as far as archetypal experiences, but within that sphere we are not the motors, we are the moved objects.

Experiment in the ordinary sense therefore becomes impossible. . . .

There is no regularity between archetype and synchronistic event. . . .

I think you are correct in assuming that synchronicity, though in practice a relatively rare phenomenon, is an all-pervading factor of principle in the universe, i.e., in the Unus Mundus, where there is no incommensurability between so-called matter and co-called psyche.

Here one gets into deep waters, at least I myself must confess that I am far from having sounded these abysmal depths.

In this connection I always come upon the enigma of the natural number.

I have a distinct feeling that Number is a key to the mystery, since it is just as much discovered as it is invented.

It is quantity as well as meaning.

For the latter I refer to the arithmetical qualities of the fundamental archetype of the self. . . and its historically and empirically well documented variants of the Four. . . .

It seems that I am too old to solve such riddles, but I do hope that a young mind will take up the challenge. It would be worth while. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 398-400.


The Four Brains Aboriginal painting by Rachel Napaljarri jurra, Waadpiri people, Central Australia, 1992.

Aboriginal philosophy posits four brains for the human experience, four levels that describe our
relationship to our world:

  1. Story brain (Tjukurrpa), myths/thought;
  2. Family brain (Walytju), relationships/emotions;
  3. Country brain .(Ngurra), geography/environment;
  4. Body brain (Kurunpa), physical/molecular.