morrisonA Theological Interpretation of Synchronicity, and other paranormal phenomena

Rev. Dr Keith Morrison

Pastor, St Isaac House of Prayer

Coordinator, Sustainable Community Development Research Institute Director, Ecological Engineering Solutions Ltd 52 Ollivier Ave, Upper Selwyn Huts, RD4 Christchurch 7674 New Zealand

1. It may be helpful to interpret the meaning which unnervingly irrupts from synchronistic events as the merciful intrusion by the Creator to providentially facilitate and to provide an opportunity for “repentance” in an area in life, and hence to prompt personal /spiritual growth. Clairvoyance is for example well known in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but its function is recognized as providing spiritual counsel to others so as to help them thoroughly “repent”. ‘Repentance” needs to be probably redefined however with new words as it does not or should not have the legalistic or judgemental connotations it has in the West. It is not, or should not, be to make others feel guilty, but rather, to be able to focus on areas that we have had to until then been in denial about; it is to face up to them and to grow out of them; to heal and become reconciled with others and/or to grow into new relationships and areas of relationships – to grow in communion and breadth of heart. N.B. it is also recognized that all authentic gifts of grace through such meaningful (synchronistic) events are followed by trials and tribulations, and this needs to be seen as good thing also, as it is what allows the fruit of the initial grace of synchronistic irruption to be gained, which is always humility, compassion and communion. Otherwise it can easily lead to mere pride and self-esteem, which is to go backwards, and so the grace becomes in effect a curse… The trials are usually in the form of testing emotional times through condemnation or unjust judgment by others.

2. It sees to me that in the wider view of things, listening to messages from mediums is a type of neo-Shamanism. From this perspective, probably some care is required as Shamanism recognizes that there are evil spirits, which instead of enhancing communion have as their motivation the attempt to break down communion. Some synchronicities therefore need to probably to be seen as demonically coordinated. They can be recognized by whether or not they inspire compassion, forgiveness, love and humble reconciliation with others and hence deepening and expanding of communion. If so then they are from the Creator Spirit or created spirits in communion with the Creator Spirit. If however they inspire passions or “moods” then they are merely socially enfolded manipulation (demonic inspiration through the medium of culture/institutions). It is often said therefore that the key to spiritual growth is discernment. Many become fooled by social enthusiasms, especially ideologies, including religious fundamentalism, as if they were divine energies, when in reality they are mainly demonically influenced institutional practices driven by collective moods and animalian passions.. These are what let people down and usher in bitterness. It is I believe what causes a lot of mental/emotional illness among youth in particular, as their naturally occurring hope is misdirected and so becomes shattered. Hence I believe that there is a great need for rigorous spirituality-education to facilitate the learning of discernment between merely natural “moods” and authentic spiritual inspiration. It is what I have come to term preventative mental health care and is what I am attempting to learn to facilitate in (wilderness) retreats.

3. What seems to be philosophically implicated is that there is inter-penetration / participation of subjects and their/our energies in a non-materialistic field that includes those who have died (good and bad), other spirits (good and bad angels), and the (all good) Creator of them all as the absolute backdrop and source of all energies and spiritual subjects (good and bad). Beyond this however there are of course any number of ways in which it has been attempted to be visualized and conceptualized. A few key themes however seem to be agreed upon, namely:

a. All is essentially good, both the material and the spiritual. Evil only emerges as a particular mode-of-being involving mistaken and/or bad free-will – this applies to both angels and people.

b. Material embodiment of spirit is valuable in and of itself, including for spiritual/personal growth.

These two can provide I suggest another touchstone for discernment as to whether or not what is ‘”speaking” is evil or good. Personal/spiritual growth is always in praxis, which is of course what we do and can only do as embodied beings – it is to take responsibility for and to participate constructively and co-creatively in the evolutionary process. This is how spiritual growth occurs. Not only is our bodily health linked to our spiritual health, but also our spiritual health/growth only occurs as an outgrowth from our “repentance” in our embodied praxis – socio-ecological health if you like. There is a positive feedback between praxis and spiritual insight, which brings simultaneously personal/spiritual growth and socio-ecological development. This is the foundation of the psychosomatic practices of meditation and yoga. It is also of prime significance in our present concern for our global socio-ecological crises. We need to learn to live within our means and this requires an appreciation of the need for self-discipline or ascesis, which is the essential mode-of-being of “repentance”. The tradition I mainly follow (Eastern Orthodox Christian) has its own yogic method, hesychasm, which is explicitly assisted by using psychosomatic methods. In essence the practice is to become aware of the intrinsic bodily manifestation of spirit, in particular passions and moods, in how they affect the breathing rate and heart beat rate. By then controlling the breathing rate (not the heartbeat rate) with the mind in the heart where spirit resides, insight into what is spiritually going on is gained. The insight provides learning about how to change the spiritual state (through “repentance” within the realm of praxis) so that the bodily manifestation can maintain a slow and steady heartbeat and breathing rate. The main point is that this requires “repentance” within our socio-ecological praxis as well as the learning of discernment. The specific process involves the focusing on breathing whilst saying the divine name (Jesus within our tradition) slowly and attuned to the heartbeat, to consciously slow the breathing rate whilst visualizing the mind entering into the heart, slowly leading to the replacing of any passions and “moods” with the loving, compassionate and forgiving presence of the creator in non-judgemental communion with all others. What emerges practically from this is not the “emptying of the mind” but the use of what I term iconographic visualization of the personal growth of others in the unfolding of their unique potentials, which affirms them in their growth and healing, even in the thinking/praying of it, but even more so in the embodied communication of it. Once again, practically, learning to do this requires “repentance” in our everyday life to become ever more sensitive to and accepting of and to listen more attentively to others etc.

Finally, it interested me that some of my friends are using scientific theories metaphorically in the attempt to explore the above pre-scientific understanding. The task seems to me to be to incorporate what as been learnt from, and will continue to be learnt from science, with indigenous/shamanic understanding, and then to work on integrating this synthesis with the rich symbolic systems of the world’s religions, namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism among others. It interests me a lot as this task is also pretty much what we are also attempting in my research institute, the SCDRI.

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