I am a voracious reader and have been all of my life. I find enjoyment getting lost in a fictional world as much as I love learning new things in non-fictional read. The way I approach reading is the same approach I use for many things such as music, blogs I read, to even the things I eat and drink. I’ll check something out and if it clicks with me I’ll continue to read or listen, etc. Other times it won’t click. I’m looking for that spark something to pull me in and if I don’t find it I’ll put it down. It doesn’t mean I rule it out completely. They stay lost in the back catalogues of my mind waiting for an opportunity to be brought back out to the light.
Sometimes you have to live a little before something hits you the right way. Sometimes it’s book that just didn’t reach out and pull me in. Yet a year later I’m engrossed by the book. One of my favorite Bob Dylan albums is Blonde on Blonde (a must have album if you have a musical library, at least give it a whirl on Spotify for free).
I was seventeen when I first picked up the album and just starting my Dylan craze. Yet when I put the album on it was anticlimactic. I felt nothing. Yet through the years it has become one of my go to albums. It was actually years of listening to Dylan (a fifty plus year career and over 40 albums) that taught me to never rule anything out because you weren’t a fan of it the first time. Dylan throughout his career was known for abruptly changing direction in his music, folk, rock, country, alt country, confessional songwriter, big band, gospel, strange 80s overdubs, to crooning. This throws people off and they’ll say no thanks, I prefer the old stuff.
People are afraid of change.
Sometimes we don’t even realize its fear that is preventing us from enjoying something new. Maybe you and your girlfriend go to the same place for dinner every Friday night and you enjoy this place. You know what you like and you know what to expect. Well one week she decides to throw a curveball and wants to try out a new place. You begrudgingly go and because of this attitude after dinner you claim it wasn’t that great.
Could it be that you didn’t enjoy the meal because that was the outcome you wanted?
Going in to the restaurant with a negative attitude alerts your mind to find any little nuisance to be criticized. Yes, change is scary but letting the fear overcome you may lead you to miss out on something you might enjoy or benefit from. You have to remember sometimes that change takes a while to adjust to. How you feel in the beginning doesn’t always have to be how you feel in the end.
Today’s post we’re going to be talking about a book I came back to and what made it click this time.
Five or six years ago I was working at a country club with a friend I’ll call James. This wasn’t some rinky dink club either, this club had a few billionaires and anyone else had to at least be a millionaire. Well James becomes friendly with some of the members and in return they took an interest in his goals. One of them gave him a book and told him if he wanted to become rich he should read it. It was Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
James of course told me about the book and I listened. It seemed interesting and if one of the club members recommended it, there had to be something to it. Yet at the time I didn’t care for money. I was an “artist” and after the 2008 market crash I had a particular dislike for money. I may have turned a few pages but wasn’t inclined to continue reading. He told me later about some chapter about not having sex and we both agreed at our young age “that’s not happening.” (This was clearly a misreading of that chapter by the way.) We laughed though and went on about our lives.
I continued on reading various topics and then two years ago it seemed like the book’s name was popping up everywhere I looked. So I picked up the book curious to see if there was something I missed. I swear to you either my jaw was on the floor or I was laughing in hysterics while devouring the book. It spoke to me like never before.
Why did it all make sense now?
What was it that made Think & Grow Rich finally jump out of the page at me and knock some good ol’ fashion sense into me? Through the years that had passed since I had first picked up the book I had read through a vast amount of different topics. When gaining knowledge you must go one step at a time placing the building blocks to support each idea upon each other. One topic I had become engrossed in was the final piece of the puzzle to put Think & Grow Rich in perspective.
What is synchronicity? Type it in to Google and you’ll be given the definition as stated as “The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”
One might call them meaningful coincidences. Others say it’s all a game of the cosmic jokers.
I came to discover synchronicity while falling down the rabbit hole of the internet four years ago. I have found that I’m addicted to the strange parts of life and searching for some kind of truth. I’m not hung up on the truth aspect anymore but I still do enjoy the strange. When I found synchronicity I could feel my world turning upside down.
Let’s go over a few examples.
My cousin when she lived in Minnesota would drive the same way home, at the same time, every day. She’s like that, very schedule orientated and sticks to her routine. One day after work for no particular reason she decided to stay behind and leave a little bit later than usual. At 6:05 pm when she would’ve been crossing the I-35 W Bridge over the Mississippi, the bridge collapsed. A few years later she and her husband had been planning to attend a local event. At the last minute her husband had to cancel the plans due to work. The event they were going to attend was The Boston Marathon. She had wanted to watch at the finish line. And yes, the year was 2013. Twice she had escaped death. Was it just a mere coincidence? An act of god? Synchronicity?
A date most people remember well is September 11, 2001. It was a Tuesday and I was 13 years old. I’ll always remember it was a Tuesday because Tuesdays were the day of the week when new albums were released into stores. The albums that came out that day were quite strange.
Slayer – God Hates Us All – I can still remember seeing the title to that album on Sunday the ninth in the Best Buy Catalogue I’d always read with the Sunday paper. I couldn’t help but remember the title when I watched the events of that day.
Mercury Rev – All is Dream – it certainly seemed like it that day
Bob Dylan – Love & Theft – Listening to this album today you would’ve thought he had recorded it after September 11th. Lyrics like “High water rising, six inches above my head. Coffin’s dropping in the street like balloons made out of lead. Water poured into Vicksburg, don’t know what I’m gonna do. Don’t reach out for me she said, can’t you see I’m drowning too. It’s rough out there, high water everywhere…”
System of a Down – Toxicity – another album that just seems made for the post 9/11 world.
Uncivilization – Biohazard
Dream Theater – Live Scenes from New York – The title and the album cover!! Come on
The Coup – Party Music – This album cover was instantly pulled from the shelf..
Explosions In The Sky – Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever* — this album was released on September the 4th but a rumor was started that it was released on September 10 since the linear notes inside the album said “This Plan Shall Crash Tomorrow.”
What strange coincidences that all these albums were released during this time. What does it all mean though?
Carl Jung & Synchronicity
Carl Jung, a great mind of the 20th Century, was the man who came up with the first model of synchronicity. He became interested in defining this phenomenon when studying one of the oldest classic Chinese texts called the I Ching, translated to be The Book of Changes. (for sake of space read how to use the I Ching here) Jung became fascinated by the apparent accuracy of the I Ching. How out of random events (usually throwing three coins) did the verses produce meaningful information to the question you had in mind? He came to believe the symbols were part of an unconscious language. He then reasoned that the images somehow transcended human experience and connected with the source of the nature itself.
In his book, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, he wrote,
“…It is impossible, with our present resources, to explain ESP, or the fact of meaningful coincidence, as a phenomenon of energy. This makes an end of the casual explanation as well, for “effect” cannot be understood as anything except a phenomenon of energy. Therefore it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity. Because of this quality of simultaneity, I have picked on the term “synchronicity” to designate a hypothetical factor equal in rank to causality as a principle of explanation.”
He believed an archetype, a pattern of force that caused external and internal events to constellate around it in specific patterns of meaning were behind synchronicity. When internal and external events constellated around an archetype a person’s psychological state and the external events of the environment seem to mirror each other.
An archetype, he wrote, existed in a continuum outside of space and time, in an eternal present moment that encompassed all of the past, present, and future. It was to him a highly developed element of the collective unconscious. Because of this he claimed that the possibility of knowing the way synchronicity operated was “unthinkable”.
Yet research has showed that this is a flawed theory.
What if we tried a different approach to understanding synchronicity?
- Break a mirror and get seven years bad luck
- Spit when crossing a black cat
- Don’t open an umbrella in the house
- Don’t walk under a ladder.
- Throw salt over your shoulder to prevent bad luck
Every culture has their own superstitions, their own do’s and don’ts that may bring good or bad luck. We are taught that they are just funny little things that really mean nothing. Yet, if they mean nothing then why are they so prevalent and have managed to be passed down through generations? Perhaps there is a common message among them that we don’t see.
What if all they were saying was that our thoughts and actions have an effect on events in our environment? Perhaps superstitions are connected with synchronistic events and perhaps those events are an innate part of the human experience.
How would they become innate? Evolution. Not following, well keep on reading. Let’s get dirty with it.
Let’s take a look back in time around 50,000 years ago. Walking around then is the modern human being like you or I. Physically we are a weak species in the wild, small with no claws, teeth mostly useless as weapons, almost blind in the dark and a poor sense of smell. How the hell do you survive back then? What was the advantage of the human?
We did one thing better than any other creature. We are able to recognize patterns because of our complex brain.
To have such a complex brain though, we had to make sacrifices. Our brain made up of neural tissue consumes up to four times the glucose and oxygen of muscle, and needs a complex specialized biological system to be maintained. Our brain also needs protein which made hunting a requirement. On top of that our young have to be born underdeveloped to accommodate for our head size. If we did have a body that matched the brain size of other mammals, we would weigh in around 2,000 pounds. Pretty intense, right?
Yet these sacrifices are worth it because we are able to remember and process vast amounts of information with more flexibility; thus allowing us to match patterns in complex, changing, and uncertain environments.
Imagine our ancient ancestor in a field of grass up to their waist. Somewhere in there is an animal that will provide the necessities to survive but so is a predator looking for the same, who wouldn’t mind munching on our ancestor for lunch. So they must look for patterns in motion, texture, and contrasts of the grassland. Matching from experience and memory which patterns mean food and which means death allows our ancestor to be able to pass on their genes.
Yet modern computers have found this pattern matching problem unsolvable. The information given is too vast and the problem too complex to solve. Even for our evolved brains of today the problem is too complex to solve with certainty. So evolution came up with a solution.
Humans have developed through evolution a highly specialized area of the brain whose job is to “guess”. It is about the size of a walnut and located on the frontal lobe of the brain. This area can be considered, I or me. It can place itself in a mental mode of the world around you. Your senses, memory, emotions, and motor control systems are processed by other areas of the brain. When they finish processing the information it is brought to this area on massive bundles of data-conducting neurons for you to be able to make a decision.
Let’s try and make sense of this.
Imagine standing at a doorway. Outside the doorway is the outside world. This world stretches beyond any of your senses and even some of what your senses report is far too complex to experience in its entirety. Behind you, inside the doorway, is your personal inner world. This world is your brain and the mind that comes from it. Like the outer world your inner world is also too complex to understand in its entirety. To survive in the outside world you must listen to your inner world, process all the information, and use it to get what you want from the outside world.
On top of matching patterns and assigning meanings your brain also looks for the way patterns behave over time. Your mind plans and imagines what it wants to find in the future then it decides what patterns it wants to look for. It will then be on the lookout for patterns that allow it to predict future events.
You are the part that decides what the patterns mean. The problem is that we will always be working with incomplete information. What we experience is often deleted or lost in translation. Yet, our minds add to our memories to make up for the information that is not available. Your mind at times can be quite the editor. Sometimes we even ignore experiences because they are too cumbersome to process. These become repressed memories.
Still in life you must make decisions and we take our best guesses with incomplete information. You take your memories and match them with your experience with the patterns of the outside world. You assign the patterns meanings and you gamble that your guess is correct.
Developing this way of thinking and matching patterns gave humans an evolutionary edge. It is this thought process and pattern finding that synchronicities come from. It is only a mirror that reflects what is happening in your conscious and unconscious thoughts. You see your own internal process, your hopes, your dreams, your issues, and your spiritual life.
If there is an energy that drives Synchronistic events into action, it is the energy of emotions.
In 1939 a man came into the office of the psychologist Dr. R.B. Rhine. The man claimed to be a gambler who had the gift of controlling dice with his mind. He claimed he couldn’t do it every time but enough to swing the favor his way. Instead of turning the man away Dr. Rhine asked him to prove it, so they set up an experiment.
The gambler’s task was to roll the dice and come up with the number six more than would be expected by chance. After rolling the dice over and over the amount of chance over random hovered at about three percent above chance. Rhine concluded that events could be changed in the direction of the subject’s desire and attention.
Here’s something interesting. Rhine found that emotional states, such as interest or boredom affected the subject’s ability to change the randomness of events in their desired direction. Boredom and anxiety decreased their chances while focused attention and positive expectations increased the occurrence of the targeted events. Don’t you see why the right mindset is so important in life?
How does this work? I did an exercise a while back that I’m going to share with you here. For twenty minutes I focused my mind on the bird, Nightingale. For the next week Nightingale popped up everywhere. I went to check my phone which was playing music and for some strange reason the lyrics were being shown along with the song. (My phone will randomly do that sometimes) I look down and see the next line has the word Nightingale. That week I also decided to finally pick up F. Scott Fiztgerald’s Tender is the Night and read it. Lo and behold on the first title page is a poem by John Keats titled Ode to a Nightingale. I decided to write a letter to a girl I was seeing that was a nurse. It was nurse appreciation week and in my research I find the woman known as the pioneer of nursing, Florence Nightingale. On and on it went.
Had I been unaware that I had done this with my own mind I may have looked for the symbolic meanings of Nightingales popping up. What’s funny is that when I did look it up for this article I come to find that the Nightingale during the Romantic era was looked as a “master of superior art that could inspire the human poet.” It could also refer to someone who has taken up the responsibility to bring about a transformation or reformation or a creative individual who is unearthing his/her potential. I had picked the bird nightingale for no particular reason yet it seems my subconscious had picked something that would actually have meaning for me.
What happens is when we focus our mind on something our subconscious is still searching for patterns. After September 11th our minds we’re ingrained with what we saw on the News that day, almost everyone had spent more than 20 minutes thinking about it. The music that was released that day would’ve just been a normal release day but our minds we’re searching for the patterns and found them everywhere. Your subconscious will find the patterns and if you aren’t aware of this power it can seem eerie or divine almost. Think of the movie Beautiful Mind or anyone that goes delusional. The mind is a powerful thing.
Can I create my reality then?
You cannot create your reality but you can influence your reality to your advantage. The influence follows the patterns of your thoughts and attention. Where are your thoughts and attention focused on?
So let’s get to the whole point of this article and think about the book Think & Grow Rich. In the chapter Desire they lay out a method by which your desire for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent in six steps.
- Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.
- Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire.
- Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.
- Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action
- Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
- Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. As you read—see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.
With these six steps you create a money conscious mind. Remember what we were talking about earlier in the post, “Your mind plans and imagines what it wants to find in the future then it decides what patterns it wants to look for. It will then be on the lookout for patterns that allow it to predict future events.” Your mind is so hooked on finding money that when an opportunity arises that others may not see you will jump on it because your subconscious has been looking the whole time.
After reading so much on synchronicity and the power of the mind nothing seemed strange or out there about Think & Grow Rich. It made complete sense to me. It wasn’t any magic but the power of the mind. It’s the same pattern finding process that let our ancestors survive in the wild that allow us to influence our reality to find what we are looking for whether money or anything else. The mind is a powerful tool in our kit to survival. On that note let’s give a quick warning.
The Danger of Synchronistic Events
Synchronistic events can confirm any assumption you make. It is a mirror of the content of your psyche. Different beliefs cause corresponding patterns of synchronistic events. The belief system of a culture or individual is often used to provide an explanation for such events, which take on the pattern of the belief, seeming to falsely provide confirmation.
These events are like dreams that reveal bits of ourselves and leave us curious. It can be very seducing to interpret such coincidences. People can be told they are Jesus, or God, or victims of cosmic conspiracies. The mirror shows what you look for.
The universe is not simple so being open to synchronistic events in a healthy way means never being fully sure of their meanings. Yet if you focus your attention and positive emotions towards something you can perhaps influence the reality you want.