INTO THE WIDER DREAM
Synchronicity in the Witness Box
by Michael Cocks
Review by Prof Steven Rosen, Vancouver.
Review by Prof Steven Rosen, Vancouver.
The term “synchronicity” was coined by the psychiatrist C. G. Jung, who had observed with fascination how an objective event and a subjective experience can come together meaningfully in a manner that defies the conventional laws of cause and effect. One example Jung gave was of a patient of his who was describing to him an impressive dream she’d had of receiving an expensive piece of jewelry formed in the shape of a golden scarab. As the woman related her dream, they heard a sound of tapping at the window pane of the therapy chamber. Investigating this disturbance, Jung discovered that a green-gold scarabaeid beetle was seeking entry to the room. It was obvious that the woman’s account of her inner experience did not in itself cause the beetle to materialize in the external world. In this synchronistic experience, inner and outer converged in a way that goes beyond physical causation to give an intimation of nature’s indivisible wholeness. Synchronistic happenings can therefore act as windows into wider dimensions of meaning and consciousness, says Cocks. And if these experiences convey a sense of intimate connection with others, they can be windows into "deeper dimensions of Love."
Into the Wider Dream centers on such remarkable synchronicities. The author recounts in detail many of his own experiences and their entwinement with the experiences of those in his network of friends and colleagues. I might have been more skeptical about the author’s claims were it not for the fact that I myself was involved in one of them.
In 1982, I was working on a philosophical novel that explored the theme of synchronicity, among other things. On October 6 of that year, I had a striking experience that unexpectedly connected me with Michael Cocks (of whom I had no prior knowledge) and prompted me to contact him. Here are excerpts from the letter I sent him:
I have been writing a “metaphysical novel” that deals essentially with the synchronistic linkages attending the evolution of consciousness. Last Wednesday afternoon, I was working in the basement office of my New York suburban home, feeling enthusiastic about approaching the climax of my project. The three central characters, in the course of their development, have just listened to the theme “Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “Sandy” remarks that it reminds her of the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” I wanted to portray her as singing the five-note musical signature phrase of the film. Could I use musical notation in my manuscript? Specifically how would it be done? (I don’t know musical notation). At that moment, my father-in-law called down to me, telling me that the mail had just arrived. I opened an envelope from the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research and removed the latest issue of its Journal. Thumbing through the pages, I happened upon your article on synchronicity and was startled to discover your splendid musical staff featuring the five notes from “Close Encounters”!
In the last line of your article, you speak of the “network of synchronicity” and that is precisely the thrust of my novel, the goal I’ve set myself as I enter the climatic sections: to describe the emergence of such a network on a global scale. Since I began work on the concluding phase of my project, the literary problem has been to merge the fictional narrative with a non-fictional account of the synchronistic formation of the global network, and the effect this non-linear, transpersonally inspired network would have on the critical world situation. Little did I expect to get the taste of fiction-become-fact that apparently has been given! [The novel, titled The Moebius Seed, was published in 1985.]
Woven into Michael Cocks’s personal accounts of synchronicity are the writings of many holistic scientists and transpersonal consciousness researchers (these include Karl Pribram, Rupert Sheldrake, Lawrence LeShan, Arthur Koestler, Dana Zohar, and Victor Mansfield). The work of physicist David Bohm is particularly important to Cocks. He asserts that “Bohm’s theoretical physics, or Bohm’s philosophy underlying his physics, is compatible with synchronicity, and gives us a physical theory which is in line with synchronistic events.” According to Cocks, “the temporal, sensory and physical world with all its events, is in some way projected, brought into being, from another level of reality, which quantum physicist David Bohm calls ‘the implicate’.” Cocks sees Bohm’s notion of “implicate order” as a deep source of meaning and wholeness that we can directly glimpse in the occurrence of synchronicity.
The author also draws from the work of C. G. Jung, bringing out the value Jung placed on dreams and the significance of Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious. In addition, Cocks calls attention to several alchemical themes that were of central interest to Jung. Perhaps most noteworthy among these are the related notions of “squaring the circle” and the Philosopher’s Stone. In alchemy, both ideas symbolize the union of fundamental opposites such as matter and spirit, heaven and earth, and masculine and feminine. Alchemists see the fusion of these opposites as a critical step in realizing wholeness.
Cocks is an Anglican clergyman so the subject of religion of course figures prominently in his presentation. Despite his personal commitment to Christianity, his approach is broadly inclusive, encompassing many other spiritual traditions. Under Cocks’ generous umbrella, even the old polytheistic religions have their respected place.
Another aspect of the book that impressed me is the author’s humble bearing and sincere motivation. Acknowledging the highly speculative nature of some of his conjectures, he repeatedly questions himself, always looking to keep himself honest, and to avoid a mere regression into superstitious or irrational patterns of thought.
Into the Wider Dream is a thought-provoking work written in an engaging style that brings to life the author’s personal experiences and ideas about synchronicity. Here Michael Cocks makes no claim of providing a systematic philosophical analysis of his subject or of going into technical detail and depth on the issues of theoretical science he raises. Rather, his intention in citing the literature of science and philosophy is to support his experience of synchronicity and his intuitions of universal meaning and undivided wholeness in a manner that can readily be grasped by a lay audience. To that end the author clearly succeeds. I thoroughly enjoyed this enchanting book and recommend it to all readers interested in the phenomenon of synchronicity.
Steven M. Rosen