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psychic elements covering the inner stone;47 but there is no human life in which an experience of the Self does not break through at least once. A religious attitude toward life would be one in which one sought to recover this unique experience and gradually to get a firm hold on it (after all, the stone is precisely a thing that lasts) in such a way that it gradually becomes something to which one can relate continually. The fact that the highest and most frequent symbol of the Self is a thing made of inorganic matter, however, points to a further problem that awaits exploration—the still unclarified relationship of the unconscious psyche to matter. This is an issue with which psychosomatic medicine in particular is struggling.48 It may, however, well be that what we call psyche and matter represent the same unknown reality seen from the inside and the outside. Jung introduced a new concept into this problematical area, which he called synchronicity. This refers to a “significant temporal coincidence” of an inner with an outer occurrence where the two are not causally dependent on one another. The emphasis is on the word “meaningful,” for obviously there are lots of meaningless coincidences. If an airplane crashes in front of me just as I’m wiping my nose, that is a coincidence without the slightest meaning, but if I order a blue dress in a shop and they send me a black one by mistake just on the day that one of my close relatives dies, that strikes me as a meaningful coincidence. The two occurrences are not causally related; they are connected only by the meaning that the color black has in our society. Whenever Jung observed such meaningful coincidences in the life of a person, he also saw by his or her dreams that at that very time an archetype was activated in the unconscious. In the example above, it was the theme of death that expressed itself simultaneously in the two events. The common denominator is a symbol, a message of death. When we begin to note that certain type of events seem to “like” to cluster together at certain times, then we begin to understand the ancient Chinese, who based their entire medicine, philosophy, and even architecture and statecraft on the science of coincidence. The ancient Chinese texts do not ask how to do things in terms of cause and effect, rather they ask what is attracted to coincide with what. The same idea is encountered in astrology as well as in the divination techniques of the most varied cultures.49 By introducing the concept of synchronicity, Jung opened the door to a new way of understanding the relationship between psyche and matter, and it

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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