Friday, May 15, 2009



A cluster is like a string in that it involves a series of linked synchronicities, but its pattern is richer and more complex: It involves many different types of synchronicity with multiple levels of meaning that coalesce over time around a particular theme. Out of a cluster you may draw not just a single message or a specific direction but a broader and deeper understanding of some basic dynamic in your life.

Let’s go back to that street you were walking down. You’re amazed to see the old friend you haven’t talked to since high school, and the coincidence is even more amazing because he’s in town for only two days, and for the first time in years. He invites you to join him and some friends for dinner that night. You just happen to be free because a few minutes earlier, the meeting you were supposed to attend was canceled. Struck by the timing, you say yes. You don’t mind being away from home for the evening because you’d had words with your spouse the night before: You had seen Apocalypse Now together, and you got into another heated argument over politics.

At dinner that night, it turns out that your friend’s two friends are Vietnam veterans. Here, you think, is a chance to get some information you can bring back home to enlighten your spouse. You bring up the movie and find out the two disagree about it and everything else about the war. As they launch into a discussion of their differences, you realize they’re exactly mirroring your fight from the night before. One of them says a phrase over and over that really hits you: "Let’s get to the heart of the matter." You try to figure out why you feel tense, and then you recall that your father used to say those exact words to your mother when they were fighting. In fact, you notice that the man’s name, Don, is the same as your father’s. It brings back to you how much you used to hate to hear your parents arguing—and you start to wonder how much of your parents’ dynamic is affecting your current relationship.

But as the two talk, you see something remarkable happening: they come to common ground, a realization of how they’re bonded by the impact of their war experiences. On the way home, the radio plays, "Give Peace a Chance," a song you haven’t heard in years; for the first time, you don’t think of it politically but as a song about relationships, especially your own. It makes you thoughtful, and when you arrive home, you’re no longer angry.

Let’s look at the synchronicities here: the significant encounter, the timely cancellation, the mirroring argument, the repeated phrase, the key song. These could all appear singly or in a string, but when they appear in a cluster, they can be particularly revealing.

The overall theme that emerges is conflict. Jungians might say that your fight of the night before aroused in your psyche a need for a deeper understanding of the issue, and that this created a kind of psychic energy that drew to you the synchronicities. You can derive many meanings from the cluster, including that you need to handle conflict better in your life.

The more deeply you understand synchronicity, the more you’ll be able to see the myriad ways that the Universe talks to you. Full comprehension of the language of synchronicity prepares you to recognize it in all its manifestations. In the next chapter, you’ll see how to use this knowledge to actively access flow.

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