theorists have argued for many years about whether psychological processes
function in terms of mechanism or teleology. Mechanism is the idea that
things work in through cause and effect: One thing leads to another which
leads to another, and so on, so that the past determines the present.
Teleology is the idea that we are lead on by our ideas about a future
state, by things like purposes, meanings, values, and so on. Mechanism
is linked with determinism and with the natural sciences. Teleology is
linked with free will and has become rather rare. It is still common among
moral, legal, and religious philosophers, and, of course, among personality
Among the people discussed in this book, Freudians
and behaviorists tend to be mechanists, while the neo-Freudians, humanists,
and existentialists tend to be teleologists. Jung believes that both play
a part. But he adds a third alternative called synchronicity.
Synchronicity is the occurrence of two events
that are not linked causally, nor linked teleologically, yet are meaningfully
related. Once, a client was describing a dream involving a scarab beetle
when, at that very instant, a very similar beetle flew into the window.
Often, people dream about something, like the death of a loved one, and
find the next morning that their loved one did, in fact, die at about
that time. Sometimes people pick up he phone to call a friend, only to
find that their friend is already on the line. Most psychologists would
call these things coincidences, or try to show how they are more likely
to occur than we think. Jung believed the were indications of how we are
connected, with our fellow humans and with nature in general, through
the collective unconscious.
Jung was never clear about his own religious
beliefs. But this unusual idea of synchronicity is easily explained by
the Hindu view of reality. In the Hindu view, our individual egos are
like islands in a sea: We look out at the world and each other and think
we are separate entities. What we don't see is that we are connected to
each other by means of the ocean floor beneath the waters.
The outer world is called maya, meaning
illusion, and is thought of as God's dream or God's dance. That is, God
creates it, but it has no reality of its own. Our individual egos they
call jivatman, which means individual souls. But they, too, are something
of an illusion. We are all actually extensions of the one and only Atman,
or God, who allows bits of himself to forget his identity, to become apparently
separate and independent, to become us. But we never truly are separate.
When we die, we wake up and realize who we were from the beginning: God.
When we dream or meditate, we sink into
our personal unconscious, coming closer and closer to our true selves,
and the collective unconscious. It is in states like this that we are
especially open to "communications" from other egos.