Today we’re going to go over an important feature of our consciousness. We shall discuss the way we perceive a chain of events that seem to appear by accident yet are somehow connected. Perception of coincidences can be either unhealthy or fully conscious. In the first case, one tries to find some underlying logic and prompting for further actions behind a set of circumstances. In the second case of conscious perception, one tries to see the hand of fate behind all events. One tries to comprehend what fate wants to tell him, where it directs him, and work out the meaning of those hints. Both kinds of perception seem very much alike, but there’s a qualitative difference between them. The one who holds unhealthy perception doesn’t possess spiritual knowledge, while a person who has a conscious perception fully realizes: not a blade of grass moves for no reason. Thus, the difference in perception depends on the degree of spiritual absorption. Without it, one can simply go out of his mind.
Without the knowledge of the Absolute Truth, one tries to judge the laws of this world by a mere confluence of circumstances. Thus, the most profound spiritual knowledge obtained through penances and austerities is substituted by a mere set of circumstances. It goes like this. One witnesses some coincidence – e.g. whenever one looks at the clock, it always shows 10:10— and begins to think he got access to the mysteries of fate. But it’s a pure and simple illusion, nothing more. It’s the same as to solve an advanced math problem, then look at the page number in the problem book and see that it coincides with the answer! But it doesn’t make one a math expert. It’s just that in the world of events chains of events sometimes happen that look like laws. But they just look like laws, nothing more. If we want to know the true laws of this world, we need to study them. To study means to follow them, by applying theory to practice.
If the lottery winning number occasionally coincided with your passport number, it doesn’t mean you understood the system. Just try to place bet on the birth certificate number next time…
A distinguished Renaissance philosopher Pico della Mirandola deliberated upon the subject of coincidences. He considered all objects of this world part of a single whole that now and then becomes disintegrated and reunited all over again. In 1665 the materialist philosopher Thomas Hobbes contended that even the result of throwing the dice is natural and expected. We can’t predict it just because we don’t have full information.
In the 19th century Arthur Schopenhauer denied coincidences and believed they were a consequence of the global harmony that leads to crisscrossing of human destinies.
Wolfgang Pauli, one of the founders of quantum physics and the Nobel Prize winner, also attempted to unravel the mystery of coincidences. He joined his efforts with the outstanding psychologist Carl Gustav Yung. Pauli formulated the key principle of theoretical physics according to which two particles cannot be in the equal quantum state. Yung is known for his collective unconsciousness theories. Working on the explanation of coincidences, Pauli and Yung developed a hybrid of their theories when they published the scientific research titled “Synchronicity: an Acausal Connecting Principle”. Their theory interpreted coincidences as an indication of the yet-unknown universal principle that binds together all the physical laws.
In fact, there’s value in coincidence. It gets you thinking of the subtle laws of this world. It’s possible that one may use this chance to seek after spiritual knowledge. Thus, one can make a real breakthrough in personal development.
Let me adduce some hilarious examples of coincidences. In Detroit sometime in the 1930s a man named Joseph Figlock was strolling down the street minding his own business when a year-old baby fell from a high window, right onto him. Figlock broke the baby’s fall and both survived, shaken but unhurt. As it later transpired, a young and incredibly careless mother forgot to close the window. A curious child climbed on a window-sill, but instead of dying after he fell from the window, he found himself in the arms of the savior! Nothing short of a miracle, you might say. Well, what do you think of the following? Precisely one year later, the very same baby fell from the very same window onto poor, unsuspecting Joseph Figlock as he was again passing beneath. And again, they both survived the event, shaken but unhurt…
In 1966, a four-year-old Roger Lozier nearly drowned in the sea near the U.S. city of Salem. Fortunately, he was saved by a woman named Alice Blaze. In 1974, Roger, who was already 12, repaid the favor – at the same place he saved a drowning man who turned out to be Alice Blaize’s husband.
There exists an interesting story of a writer who had a strange and rare hobby. All his life he collected envelopes of his own letters. He did it the following way. He sent letters to foreign countries. Everything except country name –city name, street, house number and recipient – was fictional and imaginary, thought up by him. In a month or so, letters beautified with colorful foreign stamps were returned to the sender as “Addressee Unknown”.
But once, the writer was quite amazed. As usual, he thought up a city name, street, house number, first name and surname of the recipient. In the body of the letter, he wrote down all the names of the imaginary family.
Two months passed, but he didn’t receive the letter back. Thinking that it was lost in the mail, the writer forgot about it. Suddenly there came a response. First, the writer thought someone was kidding him in the same vein that he was kidding. But when he read the reply address, he was in no mood for joking. The address he thought was imaginary did exist. And the recipient residing at the specified address did exist. All the fictional names coincided with the real ones. Now, the weirdest thing was that they said they could remember him quite well. The picture of a stranger carrying him in his arms was attached. The stranger turned out to be the doctor who saved the writer’s life when he lost his consciousness in an accident.
Since then, the writer stopped sending letters to imaginary recipients…
The point to be emphasized is the following. Logical reasoning that is not based on spiritual knowledge is nothing but delusion of a troubled mind. An attempt to create logical links where none exist is a kind of mental aberration. Why does it occur? One feels some unseen linkages must exist. And this is really so. Unseen linkages do exist. They are called gunas of material nature, prana or karma. These different types of linkages intertwined together form a picture of this world. The whole world is interwoven with them like threads creating patterns of all kind. And one is craving so badly to see them one literally goes mad with this desire. As a result, one ends up seeing one’s own hallucinations instead of reality.
Yes, one sees the illusion because to be able to see the real gunas, one needs to study them. This is precisely why we peruse the Bhagavat-Gita from cover to cover. It gives real, genuine, scientific understanding of interrelatedness of all things in this world. We learn that everything in the world is interconnected, and the connection runs through one single center – the Absolute Truth. Therefore, the one who establishes connection with the Absolute Truth through the practice of yoga gets connected with every single being in this universe. This is really the highest form of knowledge. None other system of knowledge can offer anything like that or as much as that!
Now it’s possible to evaluate the depth of the instruction given by the Vedas. If we bring satisfaction to the Absolute Truth, everyone else will be satisfied. The service to the Absolute Truth is the service to the whole of humanity, the whole world and all the living entities of this world. It’s the greatest heroic deed and the greatest bliss. It’s the highest achievement ever to reach in this world. How could it be otherwise? How else can we help all the suffering beings? And here is a parable appropriate for the theme.
A man and his dog were walking down the road. It was a long and tiresome road. As they walked along, both the man and his dog became very tired.
All of a sudden, an oasis came into sight. They found themselves standing in front of the magnificent gate. Music, flowers, the voice of the stream – there seemed to be many relaxation opportunities behind it.
“What’s that?” the traveler asked the gatekeeper.
“This is Heaven. You’ve already died. Now you can enter and enjoy a well-deserved rest.”
“Can I have some water there?”
“As much as you like: pure fountains, cool swimming-pools…”
“Will there be any food?”
“Anything you wish.”
“I have a dog with me–”
“I’m sorry, but dogs are not allowed in Heaven. It has to stay here on the road.”
The traveler stayed with his dog, and he and his dog walked on. After a while, the road led them to the farm. There was also a gatekeeper at the gate.
“I’m thirsty,” begged the traveler.
“Come on in! There’s a water well over there in the yard.”
“What about my dog?”
“There’s a drinking-bowl at the well.”
“Can I have some food, please?”
“I can treat you to dinner.”
“And my dog?”
“We’ll find a few bones.”
“What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.
“This is Heaven.”
“How so? The man at the near-by palace told me the Heaven was there.”
“Nope. That was Hell. He told you lies.”
“How can you tolerate such things?”
“This is very useful for us. ONLY THOSE COME TO HEAVEN WHO DON”T LEAVE THEIR FRIENDS BEHIND.”
We do indeed want to help all living entities. We don’t forsake those we take responsibility for. But remember: to help others, we must really be fully aware of the laws of fate, scriptural instructions and guidelines given by the sages. On no account should we contrive our own decisions, invent our own systems and laws. We used to live in illusion and therefore, keep illusory perceptions for a long time, even after we have taken the spiritual path.
It is commonly said that doctors put trust only in facts. The same should hold true for us. In our desire to help poor living entities entangled in this material world, we should be guided solely by the principles set out in the spiritual scriptures. We should repeat only what sages say; explain the structure of the universe as revealed by the sages; pass along the message the Absolute Truth Himself has imparted. That would be real help, not some coincidence game.
Otherwise, a helper of others may get trapped in illusion. Supposing a person may come to us to tell about a real-life situation he/she is faced with. And we may recall a similar situation we came up against at some point in our life. We may start giving tips based on how we handled our situation. To us, it may seem like worldly wisdom. But this is a folly. We think fate sent us this person because we had the similar experience. We think their situation coincides with ours. But it is not so! Fate has sent us this person because we study the laws of fate and are obliged to impart this knowledge as it is, without any distortions. Then our mission will be accomplished. Otherwise, fate will become disenchanted with us. We woke up to spirituality, we understood the meaning of life. Fate has sent us a suffering person, yet we started to talk piffle, share our material experience, that of a loser and a fool…
Thus, we must be careful so as to remember: our task is to preach the truth, not illusion, no matter what circumstances life throws in our direction.
Even if all clocks around the world show 10:10, we should speak the words of the Bhagavat-Gita. Only the Bhagavat-Gita can help a person solve all problems, while we can only aggravate them and thus, get punishment in the form of karma. By the way, it may be rather heavy. This is the karma of even deeper immersion into illusion.
Modern psychologists and physicists write in all seriousness about the “law of paired events”. According to it, one situation gives rise to a similar situation over some time. There exists a medical concept of this law. If a patient in the hospital unit has died, in the next 24 hours you can expect another death. And if a patient with a rare disease has been admitted to clinic, another such patient will soon check himself into… People are ready to call their unwillingness to study spiritual laws whatever term, even invent such a nice expression as “law of paired events”…
Neither physicists nor psychologists can thoroughly understand the structure of this world. Any housewife can confirm that cherries in a cherry-pie never distribute evenly. In the theory of chances, this phenomenon is called cluster effect meaning that separate objects have a tendency to huddle up.
There’s a huge number of laws in this world, and not a single scientist, not even the most intelligent one, can explain them in one formula. Only the Bhagavat-Gita does it so boldly that one’s hairs can stand on end. In a span of just a few minutes, Krishna explains to Arjuna absolutely all the laws of this world and, most interestingly, Arjuna can understand them all. Hence, even from the standpoint of pure practicality, it’s better to spend some time for understanding all these laws, than to spend a lifetime thinking of some useless “cherry-pie law’…