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TitleVictor Mansfield Et Al. - The Rhine-Jung Letters
TagsSynchronicity Parapsychology Analytical Psychology Causality
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The Rhine-Jung Letters:

Distinguishing Parapsychologica l From Synchronistic Events
by Victor Mansfield, Sally Rhine-Feather, James Hall

Nautis Project –

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Later, when I spoke to my teacher, Anthony, abou t this experience, he only said, "Unless we can

learn to forgive others, we'll never forgive ourselve s." Perhaps that is the best lesson. (pp. 41-44)

This synchronicity experience shows the psychic relativity of space and time. The inner

psychological state (the two dreams of his estranged father) and the outer event (the fatal sickness

and the psychological healing) are acausally connected through their shared meaning. The dreams

surely did not cause the sickness nor is it likely that his father's sickness caused the dreams.

However, it is possible that a causal telepathic link occurred. If there were such a causal link

between the father's guilt or sorrow about his son and the son's dreams, then this is not an example

of acausal synchronicity.

We stress that parapsychological phenomena commonly accompany synchronicity phenomena, but

there are many synchronicity experiences without parapsychological phenomena (see Mansfield,

1995). Besides an acausal connection between an inner content and an outer event, an archetypal

meaning—the sine qua non for synchronicity—must be present. Such transforming meaning is

evident in the present example.

If we follow Jung, we also cannot say that the unconscious or an archetype caused the

synchronicity. Instead, both the inner psychological state and the corresponding outer event

embody the same meaning crucial for his indivi duation. Such synchronicity experiences also

numinously express the underlying unity of mind and matter. Von Franz (1992) stresses the meaning

and unity that are both so central to synchronicity:

For Jung, individuation and realization of the meaning of life are identical—since

individuation means to find one's own meanin g, which is nothing other than one's own

connection with Universal Meaning. This is cl early something other than what is referred

to today by terms such as information, su perintelligence, cosmic or universal mind—

because feeling, emotion, the Whole of the person, is included. This sudden and

illuminating connection that strikes us in the encounter with a synchronistic event

represents, as Jung well described, a momentary unification of two psychic states: the

normal state of our consciousness, which moves in a flow of discursive thought and in a

process of continuous perception that creates our idea of the world called "material" and

"external"; and of a profound level where the "meaning" of the Whole resides in the

sphere of "absolute knowledge." (p. 258)

It is precisely this unification of our image of the material world with the deepest levels of our

being that makes synchronicity such a revolu tionary idea, with repercussions far beyond

psychology. Whatever the archetypal meaning in a synchronicity experience, the expression of

unity is always paramount. As von Franz (1975) says:

The most essential and certainly the most impressive thing about synchronicity

occurrences ... is the fact that in them th e duality of soul and matter seems to be

eliminated. They are therefore an empirical indication of an ultimate unity of all

existence, which Jung, using the terminology of medieval natural philosophy, called the

Unus Mundus." (p. 247)

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his Tarot cards and horoscope. Then the results of all these procedures should converge to the

same archetypal meaning.

Such an experiment fits our description of not being forced, controlling, or manipulating, but it

presents its own difficulties. How, for example, can we convincingly show that the divinatory

procedures in fact converge, that appropriate subjects were chosen when an archetype was

actually constellated, that the data was taken wi thout biasing the interpretation, and that other

extraneous factors are not distorting the outcome? These problems are not insurmountable, but to

do more than "preach to the converted," this expe riment or any other must be done with sufficient

rigor that the larger scientific community would be satisfied with all aspects of the data taking,

analysis of the data, and so forth. This is a fo rmidable task, but learning from the successes in

parapsychology, it would be done most convincingly if, at the beginning of any synchronicity

experiment, a group of outside skeptics were extens ively consulted to help with the design of the

experimental protocols. They could also be consulted regularly to en sure a high level of integrity

throughout the experiment.

Depth psychology teaches us not to project the Shadow (the Jungian archetype of negative or

repudiated qualities denied in ou rselves, but unconsciously attributed to and criticized in others)

on our skeptical and critical colleagues. Instead, right from the beginning of our studies we can

learn from them and integrate them into our efforts to understand the mysteries of synchronicity.

If, with their help, we do this well enough, then we have a chance of experimentally establishing

synchronicity and thereby moving toward reinstatin g repressed issues like teleology into science.

Even more importantly, we might make progress in overcoming the Cartesian fantasy which,

despite its early success in guiding science, is now a burden in many areas of science. This would

truly honor Rhine and Jung, who both strove mightily to expand the scientific view of mind.

We thank the Rhine Research Center for their help with the collected letters of Rhine and Jung. V.

M. especially thanks his spouse, Elaine, for her care ful reading and comments on early drafts of this

paper. V. M. offers special thanks to the Jungia n analyst Dr. Jan Marlan, and an anonymous referee

for many useful comments on an earlier draft of the paper.

6 References

GRIMM, J. & GRIMM, W. (1972). Brother Lustig. In "The complete Grimms' fairy tales (pp. 367-377).

New York: Pantheon Books.

JUNG, C. G. (1973). C.G. Jung letters: Vol. 1: 1906-1950 (Adler, G., Ed., & Hull, R. F. C., Trans.).

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

JUNG, C. G. (1975). C.G. Jung letters: Vol. 2:1951-1961 (Adler, G., Ed., & Hull, R. F. C., Trans.).

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

JUNG, C. G. (1978a). General aspects of dream psychology. In G. Adler, (Ed.) & R. F. C. Hull

(Trans.), Collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 8, pp. 237-280). Prince ton, NJ: Princeton University


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