The Rabbit and the Turtle: Unconscious Prayer to the Mystery

It seems seems there are some interchangeable words when talking about coincidences. When I go looking for something very deeply (like deep research for several days), synchronicities abound. A secular view might be that intensely focusing consciousness creates a feedback loop which manifests similar ways through different times, like how waves hit the shore almost the same way, just separated by time.

The secular world should acknowledge that the Bible has a very advanced account for the phenomenon of synchronicity. However, the understanding between secular and sacred is garbled around the misuse or misunderstanding of words. What a secular person may describe as consciousness focus, a person like myself uses a broad understanding of the word “prayer.”

I’m reminded of the scripture:

“So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (‭Luke‬ ‭11‬:‭9-10‬ NET)

What Jesus talks about here (in context) is how God the Father answers persistent prayer. I beleive persistent prayer and intensely focusing consciousness are one and the same thing…at least for me. There are a host of examples in my life where my consciousness was moving and I could not distinguish the difference between God’s still small voice, my prayers, or the wandering of my own mind (see my entry Snakes on a Plane in Church).

For me, prayer is sometimes synonnymous with daydreaming or idle-mindedness. I say that only because of how often I am shown that God engages me through the messy medium of my mind, not as kneeling at an altar on a holy day as conventional models of religion would have it. To illustrate this, let me explain two amazing synchronicities which occured for my daughter and me. 

The Rabbit

My daughter is still quite young. She absolutely adores any animal. She has an almost spiritual connection with anything from grasshoppers and earthworms to cattle and horses. About three weeks ago, she was getting quite antsy indoors since it had been raining so much. 

“Honey, lets go outside for a hike.”

She wailed in displeasure, “I don’t wanna go outside!” She had a severe case of cabin fever, so I needed to do some coaxing. 

We had seen a family of rabbits in our backyard several times so I lured her outside with the promise of a rabbit hunt. “Let’s go on a rabbit hunt and see if we can find one.” (Really, it was just a way to get her out of the house.)

She perked up, “Okay, Daddy. Let’s look in the backyard for the baby and the mommy one.”

I knew we would not find anything so I set her set expectation low, “We will look hard, but they might be hiding because of all the rain.”

So I played the part of a rabbit hunter with her, checking all over the backyard and property behind us of corse to no avail. By this time, she was distracted from the rabbit hunt by the great outdoors, so we set off on a hike.  

We treked for quite some time to an area I had never been. It was just behind another neighborhood. The path we were on ended at a beautiful stand of trees with low-hanging branches. Under the branches flowed a swift and deep stream, swollen over its grassy banks by the recent weeks of rain. As we neared the tree, I spied a small stone bench. 

“Okay, honey, this is the end of our hike. Lets play here for a little bit then go home.” 

As we threw rocks into the wayer, my daughter looked to the low-hanging branches where the water entered and gasped, “Look, Daddy! We found the rabbit!”

Sure enough, only about eight feet away, a small rabbit had jumped out of the trees to investigate us. We sat frozen for a while looking at the little bunny. My daughter marveled at the rabbit, and I marveled at and answered “prayer.”

The Turtle

A similar thing happened the week after our rabbit hunt. On a drive home from the store, my daughter and i passed over a bridge where a neighbor had found a tutle several weeks prior. Wanting to spark my daughters imagination I said, “They found a turtle here on the road a coule weeks ago. Lets drive slow and see if we can find one.” Of course I was not expecting to find one, and we did not. I just wanted her to feel the excitement. 

“Daddy, when we find the turtle, we can bring him home, and he can stay with us!”

I pulled into the driveway and drop her and the groceries off with mom, then I quickly drove off to get to an afternoon shift at work. As I pulled back over the same bridge, not five minutes later, an enourmous painted turtle huddle in the center of the road. Astonished, I pulled the van over, threw the turtle in, and raced home to show my daughter what God had sent for her amusement. She was awestruck. 

The Magic

These stories can be used to illustrate the different interpretations between unaware Christians, and secular synchronicity seekers. The Secularist may say that me and my dughter’s intentions were so strong that the desire manifested the coincidence. That misses the magic of an interaction with a soverign Consciousness. Because I accept this interaction, the event took on a beautifully poignient meaning for me. I recognized how much God values my daughter’s love of nature. He reinforced it by either sending a rabbit and turtle, or by sending us to them. For me to see someone that big, powerful, and loving take care of my daughter in such a meaningful way made me love Him more. 

The Glory

A Christian might say the rabbit was not an answer to prayer per se because I didn’t pray. That misses the glory of what prayer really is. Prayer is an unedited stream of consciousness between me and the Mystery. Its a messy, tangled-up, and tumbling fluid of my mind and His, so that I am unsure of where I end and where He begins. Either God spoke to a rabbit to travel to our location or He planted the idea of a rabbit hunt in my head, masked it as my own idea, set the timer on all the little decisions I made about where to hike, how fast, where to end, so that we would happen upon the bunny. That level of interpersonal mingling is starling and comforting at once. 

Originally penned Jul 8th, 2015

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What Makes Coincidence Meaningful?

Carl Jung coined synchronicity as a meaningful coincidence. Some may say coincidence has no meaning; that odds will eventually churn out some strange things, but those have no signifficance. So how do we defend the position that some coincidences are meaningful or more significant than others? I will attempt to address why a purely statistical analysis of coincidence is inadequate, and why the experience of meaning is central to coincidence.

The Scenario
Imagine you place a dime on your driveway. Now imagine you take a second dime and hurl it straight into the air. The dime you throw lands near you, bounces several times, and lands dirletly on top of the first dime.

What are the odds that this would happen? What are the odds that the winds and humidity would be just right? What are the odds that each of the millions of muscle myocites in your arm would fire in just the right way to send the coin hurtling through the air in its precise trajectory so that it falls in the precise place, at the exact angle against the rough concrete surface to bounce several fortuitous times, topple over, and rest on its twin?  There are two ways of looking at this.

The Incomplete Statistics
One way to look explain the odds is to say that the odds of the tossed dime landing safely with other in the same precise location is not interesting; it is statistically equal to the dime landing in any other location. In other words, the odds of the first dime landing on the other is just as unlikely as it having landed a millimeter away, a centimeter away, or a meter away. The dimes on top of each other have no special statistical significance.

There is a problem with this view, though it is mathematically sound. This view is entirely objective and discards the experience.

The Experience
Consider the second way of looking at this scenario. The first dime placed on the ground actually is experientially significant because it a focal point for attention. Thought is focused on that one spot because it differs from all the other trillions of locations on the pavement around it. So mind endows the dime with signifficance. Now, when the focal point of the dime on the ground and the focal point of the dime falling from above harmonize, we have a cosmic alignment, a celestial event, an eclipse of staggering signifficance.

The Final Test
So this is the test of where truth resides… Some could argue all day that there is no more significance to this event than any other occurrence happening. But I ask, which person, if this actually happened to them, would not remember this coincidence for the rest of their life?

Conclusion
What makes coincidence meaningful is our God-given perogative to focus our attention. We deem focal points worthy of attention. When disperate focal points align, there is synchronicity.

In the face of synchronicity, statistics take a back seat to the baffling experience of impossible significance occurring.

“Snakes on a Plane” in Church

The night before church, I prayed to experience a snychronicity. The next morning during church I got a weird one!

Why does it matter? I crave a larger, more accurate, more open-ended Belief. And these weird things serve as microcosms of Truth for me. I torture them in the furnace of implication to extrapolate understanding. So everything below may seem excessive or inconsequential until you understand; you are reading a man forging out his Belief in type.

First, I will briefly recount the unlikely sequence of events, then I will lay out some of my thoughts on the implications. Finally, I will include my original written account which I composed in the church service immediately after the coincidence.

THE ACCOUNT
My brief recounting of the events begins during the worship portion of the second service. The lights were down and the music pulsed in the darkness. About two songs into the set, my mind began to wander with the throbbing lights. I was thinking about an amusing scene from one of my favorite TV shows. One scene connected to another and then to another. After 3 minutes, I was in full-blown recall of the movie Snakes on a Plane. When I snapped out of my daydream, I was a bit startled that my mind had wandered so far so quickly. Samuel L. Jackson was juxtaposed against the contemporary Christian music and hand-raising around me.

“How did I end up thinking about that stupid movie?!” I did a quick backward trail through the sequence to a moment of insignificant distraction which started it all. “Funny how small things can snowball so quickly,” I mused.

The pastor took the pulpit and began his message. Not far into his sermon, he related a hunting story in which he killed a large rattlesnake. He maintained that it is typically rare for him to see a snake. He said, “contrary to what movies might tell you, snakes are not waiting to attack you… You know, snakes on a plane and all that stuff.”

The smile of knowing recognition crept across my face. My prayer was answered. I immediately documented the sequence and was left pondering the implications.

THE IMPLICATIONS
Very few explanations could explain how this coincidence happened. I see only six that are remotely worth mentioning, and only two of them fix upon my mind.

  1. It was a random coincidence.
  2. God influenced my stream of thought toward the synchronous term (Snakes on a Plane).
  3. God influenced the pastor toward the synchronous term.
  4. I unconsciously heard the synchronous term in the halls between services and my Superconscious steered my train of thought toward the term, resulting in the illusion of synchronicity.
  5. My Superconscious manufactured a memory sequence after the synchronous term appeared in the sermon, and filed it as having happened prior.
  6. A collective unconscious dropped the synchronous term “into the air.”

I have given myself a fairly wide selection of options. None of them are easily the truth and each of them has serious further implications.

  1. Random Coincidence – Highly Unlikely. In principle I discount this possibility nearly every time. I prayed for a synchronous event and the next day I was provided an obscure movie title in a church setting in the span of 15 minutes. The odds are staggering. Especially considering these things happen to me on a fairly regular basis. Randomness is likely impossible.
  2. God Influenced My Thought – Very Likely. I prayed and got an answer. I have a lot to say about this. I may publish a stand-alone blog post about the implications of this subject.
  3. God Influenced Pastor – Highly Unlikely. I might be on an island in my own head, but I know there’s a great big world of people on the mainland. The world does not revolve around me, so I doubt God would have interrupted a sermon to a thousand people just to slip in a little nod to me.
  4. Superconscious Heard – Likely. I have pronounced alertness about the unconscious mind’s power. I pondered this power in my blog entry Umm…That was REAL.
  5. Superconscious Manufactured – Unlikely. I would categorize this as Highly Unlikely, but I am not sure what the limits of the Super are. In a dream state, I can be completely deceived. But it does seem unlikely that my whole perception of time and sequencing of events could be upset at a whim of the Super.
  6. Collective Unconscious – Unlikely. I do not see enough evidence to convince me about the existence of a shared consciousness. It seems that my consciousness is profoundly disconnected from externals and even disconnected from the Super in my own head.

I plan to explore ideas 2 and 4 in future posts. These questions are microcosms of a much larger belief-system check I am running on myself, so they will show up in discussion again.

THE ORIGINAL TEXT
As I wrote on Sunday, July 6th, 2014:

We were in worship. I was rolling a name-badge sticker over my hand and my mind began to wander.

I was rolling it over the creases of my palm and remembered a line in The Office where Pam is reading Jim’s palm and says, “your major and minor lines cross at a ridge. That sucks.” My mind continued to wander on The Office.

I recalled where Michael calls Jim and Pam into his office to showcase his talking computer. As michael typed in the text, a robotic voice read the text back. I pondered those online programs and the tech involved for a few moments. Then recalled that there are programs that feature celebrity voices like Schwarzenegger and Samuel L. Jackson.

I vaguely remembered having a very close connection to the Samuel L. Jackson voice program and tried for a bit to remember how. Then i remembered that i received a phone call a number of years ago from Mr.Jackson.

During that time the movie Snakes on a Plane was due in theaters. One of my friends found a website where he input my phone number and typed in my name. The website then called me with a personalized message in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice, “Hey Seth, this is Samuel L. Jackson. I want you to see my new movie Snakes on a Plane….” And so on.

My mind continued to wander for a bit then i snapped out of it and thought, “this is bizarre… I’m here in worship and how on earth did I end up thinking about Snakes on a Plane?” I ended up recalling the above train of thoughts.

Worship wrapped up and the message began. The sermon was titled “Faith &Wisdom.” Our pastor brought up the scripture  in Matthew 10:16 where Jesus commands, “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” He then related how he has been hunting for 12 years and only seen two snakes. He said, “contrary to what movies might tell you, snakes are not waiting to attack you… You know, snakes on a plane and all that stuff.”

These two things happened about 15 minutes apart.

An Obscure Synchronicity: Nathan Drake, Terence McKenna, John Dee, and House, M.D.

Nathan Drake, Terence McKenna, John Dee, House M.D.

Nathan Drake                               Terence McKenna                             John Dee                                           House M.D.

I have been keeping an eye on synchronous patterns for some time. I get immense satisfaction from seeing unexpected connections. I am filled with a sense of amusement at the force behind these impossible coincidences. I just experienced one of these strange connections between two obscure terms, “John Dee” and “ergot.” Here is how it came about:

Just the other day I was playing a video game I recently acquired called, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The game stars Nathan Drake, an Indiana-Jones-type adventurer with a knack for obscure history. In the chapter I was playing through, Nathan Drake gave a brief history lesson about a 16th century inventor named John Dee. I had never heard of Dee and passively noted from the dialogue that he was an inventor of sorts who worked with English royalty.

It was later the next day that I began listening to a Terence McKenna lecture for the first time entitled, Hermeticism & Alchemy. In this lecture, McKenna describes the Alchemical scene in England during the 16th century. He launched into a detailed account of John Dee’s activity in Alchemy and the occult. As he spoke about Dee, my mind raced to recall where I had heard of this guy and quickly remembered the video game’s account of him from the night before. I was amused at the coincidence of running into John Dee’s biography twice in 24 hours from two very different sources. But it was nothing compared to my surprise at the subsequent synchronicity which immediately followed.

As the lecture continued, McKenna talked about a curious substance called ergot. Ergot, he explained, is a type of fungal infestation which grows on improperly stored grain or corn. It appears as a stinky, black goo which drips down the plant and ruins crops. Ergot, as McKenna recounted, was possibly consumed for its hallucinogenic properties during Dee’s time, but it is also highly toxic. I was very amused by this new information and was shocked when less than 4 hours later, this obscure topic came to me through another bizarre coincidence.

That evening, after listening to the McKenna Lecture, I turned on one of my favorite TV shows, House M.D.  Season 4, Episode 4 entitled “Guardian Angels” featured a young woman suffering from hallucinations. After several failed diagnoses, the light of revelation dawned upon Dr. House and dawned upon myself simultaneously… ergot poisoning! I chuckled under my breath as I listened to Dr. House rattle off a similar rap to that of Terence McKenna about how ergot grows and its effects after consumption.

So there it was in a little over 24 hours… Nathan Drake presented John Dee, Terence McKenna presented John Dee and ergot, Dr. House presented ergot. Strange little sandwich.

What does it mean? Who knows! Ten years ago, my younger, more zealous and insecure self would have prayed fervently, fasted, and searched the Bible trying to get the message God was shouting through the light-years of cotton filling the space between His voice and my ears. But I have settled into a great deal more security in my relationship with Him. I feel I know more of His character now. He’s a bit of a trickster. If anything, I take this incredibly unlikely pair of coincidences as a sign that He’s listening. He is interested in my interests. And He weaves his signature through my life as a reminder of that.

I take it as a sign that God is looking over my shoulder, reading along with me in this book of my life.

_______________________________________

If you are interested in hearing Terence McKenna’s account of John Dee and ergot, I think most of it is in the first two hours of the video below.

Seeking Drugs

I pulled up to the gas station in the early afternoon. I parked right out front. I saw the two female attendants tucked away on the other side of the ice machine. They stood about 5 feet apart, turned away from each other. No doubt they were grasping at the the tiny scrap of privacy they get during the day; a shared lunch break. With their backs to each other and cigarettes dangling from pursed lips, one woman looked like a reflection of other. Both wore jeans, both smoked long, drooping cigarettes, and both stood hunched over something. The mirror image was intensified by a furious hand-scribbling motion both were making in their palms. Their heads bent close to their hands as they furiously raked at the silvery surface of the lottery tickets. Like digging for treasure under the sand.

I stared at these two women, using their precious few moments of privacy in identical ways. Both sucking at cigarettes and ravaging scratch-offs, looking for a fix. I wondered if they realized there was no hope of winning. How many tickets on how many lunch breaks and how many cigarettes had been obliterated on this daily dig? A lot probably. A lot betrays importance. Importance on a daily basis. If it is so important to seek that fix for these two women, how about any other two women? What about myself? What about humanity? Do animals seek a fix? Cows do nothing but munch grass and nap all day. Are they content?

I went into the convenience store for my intended purpose. I was looking for a soda. Nothing particular. I knew I wanted caffeine though. I smirked at my recognition of that desire. I grabbed a soda then stood in front of the chewing gum section for five minutes debating which gum to buy. I looked at several packages, read ingredients, debated about why anyone would buy tangerine-flavored gum. I could not decide which would be the most magic flavor for the moment. I stopped and smirked again at that recognition, then left the aisle with only my soda. I paid and got back in my vehicle. The attendants had returned to their busy day.

I pondered the issue. Drugs are ubiquitous if I define a drug as a method of attending to the soul’s hunger. Scratch-off tickets, cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine are the usual whipping boys. Work, education, sex, spirituality, roller coasters, hiking: these are all methods of attending to the soul’s hunger. This begged some very important questions about which I only have conjecture.

Why are souls so hungry?

Are all or most souls hungry or is it a phenomenon that only I and a few others happen to experience?

What makes a drug good or bad?

Should the use of good drugs be embraced or scorned?

What would life look like for me if I never hungered?

How much of my life is spent looking for drugs?

Did God make this hunger?

What do I do with it?

I am nowhere near depressed and have never used an illegal drug in my life. I don’t think I have even seen a real joint in person. But I was looking for caffeine this morning. I have purchased scratch-offs in the past. I smoke occasionally and like a few beers. I sit and ponder these questions when i could be doing anything else. I study and i dig. I dig into ideas like those attendants dig into their pile of tickets hoping to uncover the elusive reward; a treasure that will end in completion.