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The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know

The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know

by David Richo
The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know

The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know

by David Richo



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The psychotherapist and author behind The Five Things We Cannot Change explores how unexpected events can help us find direction, understand ourselves, and fulfill our potential
Meaningful coincidences and surprising connections occur all the time in our daily lives, yet we often fail to appreciate how they can guide us, warn us, and confirm us on our life’s path. This book explores how meaningful coincidence operates in our daily lives, in our intimate relationships, and in our creative endeavors.

The Power of Coincidence will help you to: interpret a series of similar happenings, open yourself to assisting forces around you, understand how your dreams can guide you through life events, use your creative imagination in life choices—and live in accord with your deepest needs and wishes, as revealed to you by meaningful coincidences. Originally published under the title Unexpected Miracles, the author has fully revised and updated the book for this edition.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780834822801
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 03/27/2007
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: eBook
Pages: 208
File size: 433 KB

About the Author

David Richo, PhD, is a psychotherapist, teacher, writer, and workshop leader whose work emphasizes the benefits of mindfulness and loving-kindness in personal growth and emotional well-being. He is the author of numerous books, including How to Be an Adult in Relationships and The Five Things We Cannot Change. He lives in Santa Barbara and San Francisco, California.

Read an Excerpt


"The very minute bids thee ope' thine ear!"—William Shakespeare, The Tempest

A series of unusual correspondences or similar happenings may not be mere coincidence but meaningful coincidence. This synchronicity can be just what it takes to spring us into changes and awakenings that we are ready to experience. Synchronous moments bid to us to pay attention to what comes now or next on our journey. From this point of view, awkward jolts can become graceful transitions, and stops can become steps. We grasp that the people, places, and events of our lives are showing us what we need to know or where we are ready to go. Everyone and everything in our story is part of how our life is coming together and there is nothing left to fear. We then stand at attention to our destiny and join it deliberately, rather than resisting, complaining about, or otherwise bemoaning our fate.

If our life unfolded only according to our plans, however sensible or overblown or constricted, we would miss out on many surprises. We might fail to notice how new doors are opening and ushering us into our relationships that stretch us and fashion us into works of art. Our life as designed by our cautious mind might not include all the twists and turns that lead to the release of our creative energy or the clash of forces that make us really extraordinary.

Perhaps all is happening in life just as we intend. Then suddenly we meet someone, or find something out, or have an accident, or hit bottom and our world spins in a new direction that ultimately makes all the difference. Those unexpected events beyond our control are the forces of synchronicity that make us who we are—and who we were always meant to be.

Synchronicity is a mind-boggling and sometimes eerie rendezvous between the world and our inner selves. Something happens in the external world and it fits exactly with what we need right now, showing that our human nature and mother nature are two sides of one coin. In nature, each season produces just the conditions that the ecology of the earth requires for its evolutionary growth. Likewise, in our human story, we keep finding just what we require so we can evolve as psychologically healthy and spiritually aware beings. Synchronicity comes to us as an assisting force in this evolution. We are helped in finding ourselves and we help others find themselves. Thus, synchronicity contributes to the joyous fulfillment of our personal destiny in an always luminous world that longs for ever more light.

As synchronicity erases the line between us and nature, it also blurs the line between the timely and the timeless. It underlines moments that reveal eternity to be the ground of our being. When we trust this, we take steps from and on that ground. They are dance steps, not a formal ballet but a mirthful jig, at times indecorous or even irreverent. Actually, everything that happens to us is synchronicity because everything fits perfectly into our step-by-step advance toward a fulfillment of our potential.

Most of us are quite aware of our limited powers and not so aware of our boundless potential. This potential is our true Self, an energy that is unconditionally and universally loving, discerning with the wisdom of the ages, and abundantly rich with healing power. When these sleeping powers are activated, we are acting in accord with the best in us. Our spiritual powers may, however, remain sleeping giants in our psyche and never display themselves in our actions. Then our destiny remains unfulfilled and a sense of something missing may pervade our life. Synchronicity comes along to wake us and fulfill us.

Synchronicity shows us that the world orchestrates some of our life events so they can harmonize with the requirements of our inner journey. This is reflected in the opening quotation by Shakespeare: "Such harmony is in immortal souls." Synchronicities are unusual, unexpected, not constructed or controlled by the human ego. In this sense they are miracles of conjunction between ourselves and the events of the world. We cannot cause these kinds of miracles to occur, but we can greet them and grant them hospitality in the yet-unopened rooms of our souls. Then the power of coincidence is respected and it opens us to many marvels. These pages show how that can happen.

The human organism comes equipped with self-healing powers. We have three reliable and highly skilled healers—three graces—within ourselves. The first is an inner physician—the grace of the body—who rushes to the scene of an accident. We cut a finger and he brings platelets to stop bleeding and white cells to prevent infection. We can cooperate in this process by washing and covering the cut—the skills we learned from our first aid manual.

We also embody an inner psychologist—the grace of the psyche—who knows just how to help us with our inner emotional injuries. When a shocking loss occurs, she brings tears of mourning to the site of the wound. We can join in by actively engaging in griefwork. We can trust our inner psychologist to have a handy program perfectly calibrated for every crisis that may come along. To make that program more effective and expeditious we have to work along with it.

Finally, we are aware of the metaphor of the guardian angel. This is our inner priest, our spiritual guide—the grace of the soul—who knows the full itinerary of our journey through life and can offer the provisions it requires. He brings synchronicity, dreams, intuitions, bursts of imagination, spontaneous creativity, sudden awakenings, and other spiritual gifts. We participate by faithful attention, and then by acting in accord with the callings of our destiny. The skills for this work are presented in this book.

The physical work leads to the joy of health. The psychological works leads to the joy of responsible living and effective relating. The spiritual work leads to the joy of universal love. Our work in all three areas is to synchronize our learned skills with our inborn resources. This is the dance, the harmonized movements of effort and grace that enact the equation of human wholeness. Personal power is an abiding and inviolable trust that the three graces are resident and active in our psyches. It is synchronicity at work—or rather, at play.

My personal purpose in life as a psychotherapist, teacher, and writer is to point to this source in all of us. My books, and most specifically this one, are meant as manuals to assist our inner psychologist and our inner priest in their resplendent work. I am hoping we can build our confidence in the trustworthy light inside us and cultivate the skills to let it come through.

In this book, we learn how to recognize synchronicity in our daily experience, in our imagination, and in our dreams. Such heightened awareness leads to a felt sense about what may be incubating in the hidden depths of our unconscious. We then recognize the crucial significance of timing in all that we do. In these pages I'll draw on the Jungian concept of active imagination, Tibetan Buddhist practices, and other techniques and teachings to help us work with the phenomenon of synchronicity and gain from it. Though I draw strongly on Jungian thought, my intention is not to present Jung's views but to explore what happens when his work is combined with other wisdom traditions including Buddhism, transpersonal psychology, and mystical traditions of spirituality.

Ultimately, this book helps you to learn to "read" synchronicity in your own life so that you can discover:

How to interpret a series of similar happenings
How to open yourself to the assisting forces around you
How to get past the fears that can stop you from being you
How to deal with fate and participate in your own destiny
How to tell the right time from the wrong time
How to use creative imagination in your choices
How to honor and learn from your dreams
How to integrate your psychological and spiritual work
How to live in accord with your deepest needs and wishes

Reading this book will help you to notice the miracles everywhere around and within you. It presents an exciting and yet simple program that gives you a sense of personal efficacy and of spiritual connectedness. Awareness of synchronicity makes you a person of more depth, especially as you see the underlying significance of your story and the world's story as one and the same. This kind of awareness leads to a synchronous, melodic, harmonizing of the music in your soul and the rhythms of the cosmic spheres—which are, of course, one and the same. This is the essence of the speech from The Merchant of Venice that appears in the preface of this book, which will be referred to throughout the text. This quotation offers an exquisitely complete and touching articulation of all this book attempts to say.

Synchronicity shows us that more is at work than can be accounted for by chance. Since correlations are happening beyond our control, we trust that something, we know not what, is always at work, we know not how, to make us more than we are now, to make the world more than it is yet.

What a precious and privileged destiny we humans have: to be the escorts of light and love as they enter this world. We are like honor guards in a long procession of forbears and followers, who, like us, are always en route and always already Here.

"We spend our lives waiting for the great day, the great battle, or the great deed of power. But that external consummation is not given to many, nor is it necessary. So long as our being is tensed passionately into the spirit in everything, then that spirit will emerge from our own hidden, nameless efforts. . . . Right from the hands that knead the dough to the hands that consecrate it, only one Host is being made."—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Table of Contents

Preface xi
Introduction 1

1. A Moment Becomes Momentum 7
What Is Synchronicity? 7
The Many Ways It Can Happen 10
Stories That Reveal Synchronicity 14
Learning to Practice Openness to Synchronicity 18
Interpreting Synchronicities 22

2. How Synchronicity Touches Us and Our Relationships 25
The Experiences and Events That Brought Us Here 29
A Dark Side 32
Practicing Beginner's Mind 34
Synchronicity and Mirroring Love 35
Stories That Reveal Us and Our Relationships 39

3. Our Time and Place 67
Practicing Letting Go of Ego 50
Losing / Saving Face 52
Ego / Self at a Glance 56
Making Ego-Free Choices 56
Just Coincidence: The Trickster Ego 59
Practicing an Etiquette for Trickster Visits 63

4. Our Time and Place 67
Only One World 67
The Time It Takes 72
The Knack of Knowing Our Timing 77
The Embrace of Effort and Grace 80
When the Time Is All Wrong 85
Practicing In Time 87

5. Fate or Destiny? 91
Our Destiny Fulfilled 91
How to Know What We Want 96
A Fateful Tale 100
No Room for Chance 101
Ways of Foretelling 104

6. Conditions and Crises 109
The Givens of Human Life 109
How What Happens Helps 115
Using the Tools 118
Crisis: A Given and a Spur 123
Diving In 127
A Mindful Practice 129
Guides Who Come to Wave Us On 134
Noticing Assisting Forces 139

7. Synchronicity in Our Dreams 141
Remembering Dreams and Learning from Them 145
Recurrent Dreams 150
Achetypal Dreams 151
Dreamwork and Active Imagination 154
The Care and Tending of Dreams 155

8. Synchronicity and Our Spirituality 157
Making Love Concrete 163
How to Stay and See 166
Working in Space 170
Ready for Birth 174
Declaring and Dedicating 176

Epilogue 181
About the Author 185

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

 “Richo gently and compassionately coaches readers. His book will help those seeking personal transformation.”—Publishers Weekly

 “Lucid, thought-provoking, and illuminating.”—Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star

 “As useful a self-help book as one is likely to find.”—Huston Smith

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