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Explaining the unexplainable


One of our monks on our recent tour of India and Nepal was engaged in an impromptu Q&A session. My interest was somewhat lukewarm, at the time, but grew warmish when the discussion turned to unexplained chance events that people had experienced in their lives. In the case of one such incident, I interjected and said that he was describing empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another). He agreed but added there was much more to this incident (unfortunately I can’t recall the specifics).

Carl Gustav Jung used the term “synchronicity” to describe the experience of two or more “causally unrelated” events being viewed as happening together in a manner that is meaningful. Of course, Jung was wrong that causally unrelated events could occur.

From my own personal experiences, when being in harmony with another person, it is common or for that matter not unusual for both chance meetings (coincidences) and such like events to occur. This is always apparent when such relationships end as often so do these these events.

Let’s take a step back and turn to “dependent origination” (all things arise in dependence upon multiple causes and conditions). These chance meetings, events, incidents result from Kamma (Pali): things in life are fated by previous lives, and even in the smallest event there are are no such things as coincidences or for that matter causally unrelated events. Ultimately these events are phenomena of the most amazingly complex natural systems one can possibly imagine. Attempts to explain such occurrences will fail due to the complexity and are thus largely unfathomable. Thus explanations are likely to be crass and unsatisfactory.


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