Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Collective Consciousness, Subconscience and Cosmic Coincidences

A few nights ago, I strolled into the backyard with my two pugs, Princess and Scooter, and noticed a reddish star in the northeastern sky. At least I thought it was a star at first. The more I stared at it, the less I was sure.

The object seemed too big to be a star and appeared to be wiggling around in the sky as I focused my attention on it. Maybe it is a distant plane, I thought. It wasn’t, but I had it framed by the branches of a tree and my vision told me that it was moving.

It was dark, my eyes probably playing tricks on me. Still, it caused me to think about how our minds perceive what our eyes see. Tonight in the kitchen, I saw a shadow move across the opposite wall and immediately thought that it was my shadow. It was not in the correct spot to be my shadow and when I moved around, trying to duplicate it, I could not.

Going through a box of my Mother’s possessions a few days ago, I found a pillowcase embroidered with the emblem of the 8th Army Division, my Father’s division. My brother Jack visited today. When he saw the pillowcase, he commented that the 8th was the same division that he had served in when he was in the Army, a fact that I had not known.

“Dad’s last days in Germany were probably spent in the same town that I spent my first days in.”

“Funny,” I said. “My lottery number for Vietnam was thirty-eight, the same lottery number Dad had when he was drafted into the Army during World War II.”

The strange things I had recently experienced, and the coincidences reminded me of a review I just read of a book by Diane Hennacy Powell called The ESP Enigma. Far from a tarot card reader, Powell is a Johns Hopkins trained neuropsychiatrist. Rather than pooh-poohing psychic phenomena, Powell documents many stories that defy scientific explanation. The book sounds fascinating and I have ordered a copy.

French social theorist Emile Durkheim used the term “collective consciousness” to explain why societies maintain analogous, if not the exact same beliefs. Carl Jung had a similar, although slightly different concept – the “collective subconscious” that considers all humanity, our minds and memories hardwire into a common collective into which we all tap.

Perhaps they were both right. Maybe the strange things we cannot explain and the cosmic coincidences we all experience are simply a peek into a netherworld that few of us will ever understand.

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