By Nandini Sarkar
What we think of as coincidence is nothing but an intervention of grace from a caring universe to guide and support us in the journey of life.
The great Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, coined the term, ‘synchronicity’, back in the 1920s. In recent times, this concept has been revived by the ever stimulating Dr Deepak Chopra, as, ‘synchrodestiny’. In his inimitable style, Dr Chopra also calls this the Seduction of Spirit. The truth is, most of us, at various times in our lives, have experienced premonitions or significant dreams. We may have dismissed such events as coincidences, but not so the sages of this world, who have found a method to the madness of life. Such seemingly unrelated events or coincidences have been researched and converted into a synchronistic tool for daily living. And why not? After all, we are all searching for that elusive magic formula, which can make life more pleasant or livable. So, from the spiritual perspective, synchronicity is seen as an ‘intervention of grace’.
Synchronicity states that all human experience, whether historical, material or spiritual, unfolds as a series of correlated incidents. The universe, ever concerned about our welfare, sends us subtle signals, prior to an event, and patiently waits for us to interpret these signals. Sometimes, there are repeated signals. So, if we are mindful, we can actually be alert about making the correct decision for impending crises or situations. This means, we can actually come out of depression, mental, spiritual or economic, take correct career choices, overcome health issues, choose the right partner, know whether the current relationship is good for us, forge the right friendships or the right business relationships, invest in the right property or assets and so on.
Interestingly, synchronicity is linked to the Buddhist concept of “mindfulness”. The Buddhist urges you to live in the heart of each moment, a phrase which I love to churn in my mind, for its strong imagery. It makes me feel that I am actually entering into each situation through a door, supported, strong, and able to face difficulties. By touching the heart of the moment, you are called upon to play the role of a watchful observer or a neutral witness, calm in the face of pain or pleasure, ups or downs. If you lose your mental equilibrium, you are out of the game, and have to start over. At a recent workshop, I was struck by Nithya Shanti’s observation that the Buddha attained enlightenment by watching his breath. So, if you observe every moment of your life with love and patience, without judgment or pain, you are soon adept at using the power of synchronicity that the universe is gifting. Indeed, researchers such as Ray Grasse have suggested that instead of being a ‘rare’, phenomenon, synchronicity is more likely all-pervasive in our lives.
In his book, Synchronicity, Jung tells the following story as an example of a synchronistic event: “A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly, I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.”
Malini, a family friend, related a very poignant story to me. She had recently lost her young husband of 42 to cancer. It was even more painful to bear because the couple had just had a second child, and now she was left alone with an infant. She recalled that the year before, during the Durga Puja, she was doing Likhita Japa, prior to the deity’s immersion. Suddenly, she heard a feminine voice – it was loud and clear – echoing in her ear: “You are in great trouble, great pain is coming your way,” the voice said. She felt very disturbed for a while, but left it at that soon after, because life was good and they were really prospering.
|The universe, ever concerned about our welfare, sends us subtle signals, prior to an event, and patiently waits for us to interpret them|
A year later, she was kicking herself; she felt she should have done some form of tapasya or taken immediate note of the powerful message that had echoed in her ear. As a young girl of 10, I recall a guest at our house reading Autobiography of a Yogi. An avid reader, I remember picking up the book, gazing at the yogi’s cover picture, being strangely drawn to it, and then stupidly putting down the book, without browsing the pages. Years later, at the age of 17, this was the book that completely changed my life. I wondered why I hadn’t been mindful at 10 – it could have saved me years of agonies and blunders.
I also recall the time when my company was a small start-up, with a handful of employees. One night, I had a dream in which I saw three of the employees leaving the company together – but I was unmindful. Over a period of a year, the three young men indeed left the company under a cloud, causing a lot of disruption to our fledging operations and even leading to the loss of a major account. Had I been mindful, I could have taken advance precautions and set up a back-up plan for those three men.
On another front, my husband had recurring nightmares, as a child and as a youth, of losing his mother. He, however, was mindful, and made consistent efforts to be by her side, foregoing outings with friends, taking utmost care of her health and happiness (his mother did not have a particularly happy relationship with her husband) and even had a Mritunjaya Japa done for her, stretching over several days. She lived till 60, dying just a year after our marriage, and I am compelled to believe that the power of my husband’s prayers kept her alive for so long, despite her suffering two cerebral strokes in the intervening period. In fact, she was pleased with the care that she perceived I was taking of my husband, and once remarked to me that she had happily handed over his charge to me.
My mother had also recounted a dream to us siblings, when we were very young. She saw that the Divine Mother Kali had come to her and wanted to take her away. My mother pleaded to be left behind, to take care of us. This incident had a profound impact on my brother. He was especially devoted to mother, and he became even more mindful after this dream was related. Who knows, but perhaps the great power of his devotion, which has made mother feel so loved and wanted, could have acted as a vital force that has kept her with us until today. My friend Mala was very intuitive. In college, she told our common friend Sohini, that she did not feel that her magnificent obsession, Chetan, would stick with her. She had a strong feeling about this, the first time that she saw them together. Sohini was madly in love and refused to see other tell-tale signs that also came her way, repeatedly. The universe stood aside as she refused to listen and it all ended in pain and separation, six months later, Nervous and shaken, she went through the agony of a forced marriage, at the young age of 21.
Jiten was a spiritually inclined person who went through a dark night of the soul for several years. Even though happily married, and a principled person, he fell for a lady client. She too was married, a smooth talker and very charming. Though there was no physical intimacy, there was a strong mental connect, which was mutual, a strong attraction that both felt and nurtured in different ways. Finally, confronted by his long-suffering spouse, Jiten broke out of his stupor and broke away from the relationship. But he was left with a lifelong guilt for the betrayal of a loved spouse and for causing her so much hurt. Jiten recounts that on the fateful date of meeting the lady there had been ominous signs – there were howling winds and a severe dust storm had arisen, delaying his very first appointment with her. It was as though the forces of Nature were expressing dismay at the future turn of events.
A final anecdote. Before I met my husband, I had seen red veils floating before me in a dream. When my husband was first introduced to me as a colleague, I heard a distinctive voice in my ear which said, “What a nice person!” However, it took me two years to understand the synchronicity. My maths has always been poor.
Synchronicity also manifests through certain physical traits or characteristics such as moles on your body, certain characteristics of your eyes, nose, feet or the shape of your fingers. I remember the advice of a reputed face reader, who was also a family friend. After my marriage, in a bout of idealism, I had quit my banking job, and joined my father-in-law’s school for underprivileged children, as a volunteer teacher. Mr Mukherjee told me that I was wasting my time and that my destiny was to be in business. He also predicted that I would “waste” five years of my life in this manner. Well, five years later, I did quit the school, finding the environment too politicised for my liking. Soon thereafter, I met a businessman who offered me seed money to set up my company. But five valuable years had been lost due to my un-mindfulness.
So, synchronicity is life trying to help us. It is grace in action. Synchronicity is there because none of us is condemned to suffer the whips and lashes of fate unless we choose to – that is the message coming our way.
Synchronistic events are nudging us to be mindful of our behavior or actions and to take corrective action in advance. The way out of signalled disasters is simple: tapasya or atonement. The Bhagavad Gita tells us that karma is mathematical in nature: as we sow, so shall we reap. It is tapasya which can counter the effects of evil karma and which can bring sustained happiness through good karma.
|When I first met my husband, a voice in my ear said, “What a nice person!” However, it took me two years to understand the synchronicity|
Tapasya is to love and serve. You look at yourself first, lovingly analysing your mistakes or your aberrations, forgiving yourself and then engaging the mind in a spiritual practice to keep it pure. You are ever mindful and you practice a technique such as the Hong Sau taught by Paramahansa Yogananda, to watch the breath and to attain concentration. You invoke the power of positive thinking as you begin your day and inevitably remember to pray for others. You practice “tithing” or the art of giving. Indeed, giving becomes your second nature, you feel so much love for all. You care for the environment and conserve precious resources such as water and fuel. You are never prejudiced or violent in speech, thought and actions. You forgive others as easily as you forgive yourself. You do not gossip or criticise others. Each time you fall, because of Maya, the great illusion, you bounce back, seeking forgiveness from the universe for your mistakes and seeking fervent help to fight your battles. Remember the power of synchronicity to transform your life. Reach out and touch the heart of life. Be mindful.
Nandini Sarkar is an entrepreneur and director of C-Quel Management Services Pvt Ltd. She is also an ardent seeker and follower of Paramahansa Yogananda.
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