Sunday, January 10, 2010

From 'Meaningless' to 'Meaningful'

"A love relationship takes on an added dimension." - yesterday's fortune cookie

"I almost always think things will turn out well, and even when they break I am confident that I can fix them." - Michael Shermer, Scientific American, January 2010.

My life is riddled with coincidences. (They seemed to have increased in frequency as I have moved further into a 5-dimensional mode of being.) However, not all of these coincidences are equally meaningful to me. What determines whether a coincidence is meaningful or not? And if a coincidence is not meaningful, why does it appear? Why should I experience any greater frequency of 'coincidences' than anyone else?

Let's start with the first question, as it's easier to answer. The two quotes above represent two coincidences that I experienced yesterday. (Which one do you think I'm going to attribute more meaning to, and why?) First, it is necessary to establish why these things represent coincidences.

Coincidence: "A striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance." The primary defining element of a coincidence has to do with time - the proximity of the two events in time. Time is also the most objective element of a coincidence. You and I can agree that these events coincided in time, even though we can disagree as to the explanation of why they coincided and the meaning (if any) of the coincidence.

So let's establish why the Shermer quote is a coincidence. Yesterday, in my head, among other things, I was crafting a follow-up blog post (for a different blog) on Idealism vs. Pragmatism. I had intended to express the conflict that I personally feel between wanting to see/believe the best about a situation (Idealism), and knowing the realistic limits of a situation (Pragmatism). Specifically, I had crafted a sentence about how Idealism can lead you to try to fix what was broken. Yesterday I also took the time to trawl through a collection of low-frequency update internet sites, including the Scientific American site. And, of course, I had to read Shermer's column. This month it's called "Kool-Aid Psychology: Realism versus Optimism", and he leads in with the following "I am, by nature, an optimist. I almost always think things will turn out well, and even when they break I am confident that I can fix them." (My emphasis.)

How meaningful is this coincidence? Not very. I already know that Shermer and I agree on quite a bit more than you'd think. (The major disagreement being, of course, on the reality/nature of ESP/psi and what it represents.) So while the coincidence was enough to make me raise an eyebrow, it's not meaningful enough to cause me to change any of my previously planned actions. And by 'meaningful' I mean that 1) it didn't give me any/enough information that I didn't already have, 2) it didn't cause me to give additional thought to any aspect of a situation, and 3) it didn't resolve any underlying uncertainty that I had about anything.

Now the fortune cookie... Yes, I read the fortunes in fortune cookies. I eat Chinese food about twice a month, if that, so I don't read a lot of fortune cookies, but I do enjoy the fortune as an opportunity for unexpected information or insight to present itself. And when my fortune cookie mentions "an added dimension," and in light of the specific situation I was thinking about at the time...

That's the kind of coincidence that's just loaded with meaning. Yes, the meaningfulness of that coincidence is entirely subjective - that is, it's entirely specific to me. No, I don't interpret it as anything other than the workings of my mind reflected back to me via the selection of a highly-improbable outcome. Like the man said, "The cookie is in no position to know that." It's not a magical cookie, and it's not any kind of supernatural communication from the Beyond. It's just my mind, working things out: talking to itself, if you will.

People have called this type of thing 'communication with your Higher Self'. I prefer to think of it as a type of calculation that the mind is able to engage in - drawing information from the past and the future, condensing it, and reflecting it back via the process of outcome selection. This presumes, of course, that the mind/consciousness has an influence on the process of outcome selection, but then that is the premise of these blogs. It also presumes that information from the future can influence this process.

The process of blogging this idea has, itself, been riddled with coincidences. Books, articles, songs and images would present themselves at just the right moment in time to be used to convey a critical concept or idea. Often I was not even aware of their full impact/meaning until after I had posted. I attribute this to nothing more 'mystical' than being willing and able to access information from the future and trust the answer that showed up, usually in the form of an improbable coincidence. I realize that this sounds highly 'mystical' to a great many of you, and that it bespeaks a much different picture of reality than materialism presents, but it's a non-supernatural picture of reality nonetheless.

Of course the test of this picture of reality is in the practical consequences of accepting it. So sayeth my inner pragmatist. And the aforementioned consequences are still under investigation...

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