Notes on F. David Peat Synchronicity The Bridge Between Matter and Mind

The physicist and the psychologist

Wolfgang Pauli is best remembered for his exclusion principle. Synchronicity, we will suggest, arises out of the underlying patterns of the universe rather than causality of nature. Jung called synchronicity an “acausal connecting principle. But an acausal connection is exactly what Pauli proposed in his exclusion principle. P. 16.

Jung had discovered that the symbolism in Pauli’s dreams was remarkably similar to that of the medieval alchemists. P. 19.

In 1952 Jung and Pauli published together The Interpretation and Nature of the Psyche which contained two essays; one by Pauli on the influence of archetypes in Kepler’s theory of planetary motion, and one by Jung of the nature of synchronicity.

Jung attempted to integrate his intuition on synchronicity into the framework of modern physics. P. 23

While the conventional laws of physics do not heed human desires or the need for meaning, synchronicities act as mirrors of the mind and take the form of outer manifestations of internal transformations.


The mechanical universe

“Newtonian mechanics”, with it’s clockwork predictability, would seem to  preclude acausal connections.  The indeterminacy  of the behavior of subatomic particles may create a loop hole to get out of the causal universe, but the law of large numbers tells us that quantum deviations will be well averaged out at the human scale, so Newtonian mechanics appears to once again rule, especially in conjunction with reductionism. P. 38.

Sub Chapter: variation principles and the law of the whole

For certain applications, Newtonian causality has been very successful; namely in dealing with mechanistic systems. An alternative system began with the idea of the “whole path.” Rather than analyzing motion into causative elements, the  variation principle” considers that motion emerges out of the whole action. Newton’s first law derives from Galileo’s observation that the natural state of a body that is not acted on by external forces is either rest or uniform motion in a straight line.  This law is like a variation principle.  Its origins trace back to Aristotle’s argument that planets move in circles because such motion is swiftest and “the minimum”.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Fermat, Maupertius, Euler and Lagrange were able to provide a math basis for these earlier intuitions and showed that motion and change were always achieved in a way that minimizes the “action” of nature. This action is a measure of the momentum and velocity associated with a moving particle and can be generalized in the case of more complex systems.

It has been shown that the theory of relativity and quantum theory both follow from variation principles. In a sense then, Aristotle was correct when he speculated that the orbits of planets are in some sense a minimum, for in the curved space time of Einstein’s relativity, they indeed follow what are called “geodesic paths” that obey a variation principle.

The phenomena seen in the flow of fluids and the behavior of EM fields arise out of the properties of the whole field and the whole flow so that  a variation principle is  essential to an understanding of the system. The variation principle applies to both fields and solid objects.

p. 52 f.

The Hamilton-Jacobi equation (the Irish William R. Hamilton and Karl Gustav Jacobi) provides a uniform framework for treating everything from moving particles to light. This new formulation of dynamics shows that all motion and change emerges out of the “law of the whole.” In its purest form, it treats the world as composed of interacting waves, so that motion emerges out of the whole complex movement of these waves, rather than through the action of a force acting on infinitesimal elements of a trajectory. [1]

( would these waves be related to DeBroglio’s association of a wave character to a particle?)


The HJE provides a natural framework for discussing field phenomena, but also suggests a metaphor for the structures and movements of matter  in which material objects are pictured as concentrations or packets of wavelets that undergo coherent motion together.  While at one level colliding billiard balls interact according to Newton’s laws, at another level  we see two concentrations of wavelets that move together then apart; this wavelet motion arises out of the global conditions and in this sense is “acausal”. This means the mechanistic and organic accounts  of nature are not opposed, but give a complementary account of the unfolding of phenomena. In a similar sense causality and synchronicity are not opposed, but are complementary perceptions of the same underlying reality.

P. 56 f.


The living universe

The morphogenesis of the human two cell foetus into a conscious being is incredibly complicated. From within the perspective of a living being,  synchronicity, or the meaningful coordination of events, may be a more appropriate  description than causality alone. The organism is concerned with internal meaning, the way things happen together.

(but the consciousness of the organism thinks nothing about the way the inside of the organism is connected)

Suppose that mechanism and organism are not treated as contradictory descriptions of nature, but as complimentary ones.

Qualified reductionism has it’s place, but when an organism is “nothing but” nerve cells and neurochemicals; when reductionism pretends to offer an exhaustive account of nature, misrepresentation and confusion result.


Nobel laureate IIla Prigogine argues that there is no true “fundamental level” in nature, but rather each level involves its own unique description and is conditioned by the levels around it. The implication is that absolute reductionism will never work, for whatever level is chosen as fundamental will ultimately be found to depend on all other levels for the definition of its concepts and the context of its meanings.


It is generally assumed for example, that quantum theory and the elementary particles constitute “fundamental reality.” However, the macroscopic observer will influence the quantum  level, so while the macro level can be analyzed in terms of the quantum level, the quantum level is conditioned by the macro level.  

P. 63. f.


Collective and individual behavior.

In plasma (high energy),  and superconductor (low energy) we have a macroscopic volume of electrons acting as a single electron. So electrons show individual and collective behavior.

One of the most striking properties of a certain class of on-linear equations is the soloton. Solotons are distinct and localized; for example a “solitary wave.” Solotons have the appearance of an independent entity, but by virtue of their very existence, are totally subsistent on the ground that gave them birth.

Some physicists are now pursuing the idea that elementary matter is the manifestation of solotons and excitations in a unified quantum field. A soloton and the human cell are  examples of  dissipative structures p. 77.


The equations of physics will never take wings and fly for they are simply mathematical descriptions; abstractions in thought.  But suppose that the “laws of nature  are manifestations of something that is creative, generative,  and formative; of something that lies beyond mathematics, language, and thought? this generative power cannot lie within the mental or material world alone,  but in some ground that lies beyond the distinctions of either. Call it “objective intelligence.”  Within the context of synchronicity  it may be apprehended more directly.


Broken symmetries

It is only in exploring the more abstract symmetries  associated with elementary particles and consciousness that the domain of objective intelligence and creative order is approached. One of the most powerful aspects of symmetry that has been exploited in physics over the last few decades is that of broken symmetry, which provides an inroad into the archetypes and immanent orders that we will explore later.

Synchronicity involves a conjunction of the individual and the global and arises out of the operation of some deeper principle. A hint as to how such a principle could operate can be found from those symmetries that operate in a dynamic rather than a static way. In such cases form and pattern emerge as the system grows and evolves and it is therefore possible for symmetries to be broken and then restored as a structure changes and its individual parts disperse and regroup.  In a jigsaw puzzle, the whole is the sum of its parts. However, in some systems, like holograms, the whole is enfolded within each element, so although a symmetry can be broken in an explicit way, yet still be present in an implicit or enfolded way. When an explicit symmetry emerges out of a system, it is not by chance. If such symmetries and patterns are enfolded in both matter and mind, then a synchronicity could be thought of as the simultaneous unfolding of a broken symmetry. (?)


For example, physicists consider the plasma vibrations of a metal as arising out of a broken symmetry. The original full symmetry was present in the EM field of interaction that stretches out symmetrically in all directions from each electron. This symmetry is broken by the random motions and interactions of the electron gas. However,  at a certain critical energy, the gas begins to vibrate as a whole and exhibits a new symmetry which partially restores the original symmetry.

Another example: the homogeneity of space is broken when an atomic lattice forms in a metal. The lattice does not possess the full rotational and translational symmetry of empty space because certain directions and positions are singled out by the particular arrangement of the atoms. But the original full symmetry is still present in an implicit way and has a formative action on the lattice and reveals itself through the cooperative vibration of the lattice atoms, which physicists call “phonons.”


An even more complex manifestation of hidden symmetry occurs when the electron gas and the lattice  vibrations couple together to produce the large scale behavior of the superconductor with its wave function of global proportions.


P. 90 f.

In the early 20th century,  it was natural to speak of the elementary particles as being the “building blocks” of matter. At that time matter was believed to consist of atoms made up of a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons. As the internal structure of the nucleus was probed, the number of “elementary particles” grew to a zoo of almost one hundred. Surely something was wrong with this “ultimate level of reality.”

Werner Heisenberg argued that what was truly fundamental in nature was not the particles themselves, but the symmetries that lay beyond them. These fundamental symmetries could be thought of as the archetypes of matter and the ground of material existence. The particles themselves would simply be the material realizations of those underlying abstract symmetries. These abstract symmetries could be taken as the scientific descendents of Plato’s ideal forms.  Is it possible that these same abstract symmetries could also manifest in the mind?

These symmetries  exist in the way the elementary particles can be grouped together and mathematically transformed one into another, like broken symmetries.


It is not possible to speak of subatomic particles as having any dimensions, so when the physicist speaks of the spin of an electron or proton, what they mean is that its mathematical wave function transforms in a way that is analogous to the mathematical description of a spinning ball.

The proton also has a quantum factor called isospin, referring to a spin in an abstract isospace.


Are these abstract symmetries nothing more than descriptive devises; mathematical artifacts with no reality, or do they point to a formative potential; are they in some way “real”?

p. 94 f.


Freud & the unconscious


Jung & the collective unconscious


Based on his own dreams and work with patients, Jung asserted that aside from an unconscious, which may contain a person’s repressed materials, there was also a collective unconscious; objectively based on the common experience of humanity. His patient, quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli, was struck by the correspondence  created between physics and psychology. For centuries physics had been the objective study of nature; but with quantum theory, the observation of nature contained a subjective element. Likewise the personal nature of mind had now been shown to contain an objective impersonal level. Pauli believed  this dualism between subjective and objective was very significant and indicated a much deeper unity between mind and matter. 

Just as the electron cannot be directly observed, but must be inferred, so the contents of the collective unconscious cannot be brought directly to the surface of individual awareness but can be deduced through the symbolism of myths, dreams, fantasies, powerful images and art.


At their deepest levels, the objective layers of mind; the archetypes, and the subjective layers of matter  are both  hidden from direct apprehension, and their existence must be inferred.

Archetypes are dynamic in nature and unfold their projection in time. The pattern of an entire life may be the manifestation of an archetype. Jung has suggested that archetypes can unfold over hundreds or thousands of years and manifest themselves in a series of  historical events within a particular nation. Images and memories can be stored over thousands of years of the mind’s evolution.

p. 97 f..

Since the current world view, dominated by causality, analysis and reduction, linear time and explanations in terms of parts is so pervasive, it is difficult to come to terms with the full force of synchronicity, a phenomena which demands a very different world view. A unified vision of the world would accommodate both causality and acausality. It would give equal weight to the subjective aspects of experience as well as objective analysis, and allows meaning to assume a significant role in science.


Peat considers the world views of the Naskapi of Labrador, ancient Shang, and that implied by the I Ching.  He considers the oracles of bone crack patterns, tortoise shell patterns, and the pattern of the fallen yarrow sticks as implying synchronicity; a correspondence or harmony between the microcosm of the patterns from nature and the macrocosm of future events of a society. Through the ritual of reading of cracks of tortoise shells the Shang were able to organize and maintain their complex culture, which was considered to be one of the world’s major early civilizations.

It is with the I Ching that the Chinese view of synchronicity reached its most advanced philosophical form. The I Ching involves generating a “hexagram”, consistent with the myth that a tortoise emerged from  the Yellow river with hexagrams on its back, which connects it with the tortoise shell reading of the Shang. Through Richard Wilhelm, Carl Jung learned of the significance of the I Ching, who saw in it a confirmation of his own theories and connections to the Gnostic traditions of Europe and the philosophies of India. Everything that takes place within the earthly universe  is an unfolding of patterns  that exist in the higher world which is inaccessible to the senses.


The linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf argued, in the first half of the 20th century that the structure of language predisposes its speaker to think and act in a certain way. David Bohm and F. David Peat,  in the book Science, Order and Creativity,  argue that the whole area of perception and communication must be considered an indivisible whole.


Does the I Ching predict the future correctly? How can the reading of stalks be related to the complex events in society or within an individual’s life?  A conventional answer suggests that the readings form a screen onto which the reader projects the answer as well as the question.   


One step to becoming more sensitive to the duality between different world views is to question the whole current order of science and develop new ideas and theories that take a more holistic approach.

p. 121 f.


Chapter 6: Mind, Matter and Information 

How are mind and body related? One view is to consider the mind analogous to the driver on an automobile. Sir John Eccles, a Nobel prize winning neuroscientist, postulated an actual region in the brain where this interaction is supposed to take place. Some have suggested that quantum mechanics could provide a loophole through which mind acts on the material universe.  Why, in an indeterminate and probabilistic  theory, are there definite outcomes? Eugene Wigner suggested that these definite outcomes are produced by the consciousness of the observer acting on the quantum system; “collapsing” the wave function into a well defined state.  Mind stands outside the material world as a superior entity and influences certain material processes. Others suggest that the realm of mind is unnecessary, and that human behavior can be explained in terms of electrochemical reactions; consciousness being a mere epiphenomenon. The various attempts to explain how mind and matter relate all preserve features of Cartesian duality. The duality could be resolved if mind and matter could be understood as emerging from a common source.  


Rather than science reducing nature to the material, the whole notion of the “material” has been extended into the regions of indefinite intangibility. In many ways the mind is not free and creative, but obeys in certain operations a mechanical order similar to a computer.


Morphic fields

Clearly the development of the embryo represents a staggering challenge to biologists, who must explain exactly how the fetus is able to develop in exactly the right sequence to form a unique human being. The conventional account is that the genetic blueprints of life are stored within the DNA of each cell. In spite of many advances in understanding, current experiment and theory is far from a whole theory of cell function, let alone the a theory of the development of the embryo. In short, it is still only a hypothesis that the functioning of a living being can be completely explained in terms of DNA and cell metabolism. A few maverick biologists have argued that the genetic picture is too simple to provide a full explanation of life. How does evolution fit in? The conventional argument is that new variations are produced by changes in genetic material. But how does a totally new species evolve? How do complex organs like the eye evolve? The eminent biologist C.H. Waddington was never fully satisfied with the conventional explanations of genetics. He stressed that growth involves an element of wholeness that reflects the epigenetic landscape and is therefore not totally determined by DNA. He appears to have been moving towards a notion of development in which living matter responds in some way to a field of information. This idea has been taken much further by Rupert Sheldrake, whose theory of morphic fields has aroused controversy. Sheldrake has proposed that such information fields exist,  and influence the structure of not only living organisms, but inanimate matter as well.   According to Sheldrake, all matter has an associated field of memory which plays an active role in guiding  the formation of structures and various processes. The first time a new molecule is created, or crystal grows, it must follow a piecewise blind path down the hills and valleys of the energy landscape. This process results in a morphic field, which is a kind of memory of the material processes involved. The next time the process takes place, it will be guided by the information in the memory field. With more repetitions, the filed builds in strength and is more active in controlling the process. Sheldrake hypothesizes a whole hierarchy of morphic fields to guide the development of the embryo. What evidence is there for these hypothetical fields? Most arguments are anecdotal, such as the difficulty in formation of a first crystal, and ease in formation of subsequent crystals. Sheldrake’s ideas have been treated with indifference and hostility by the scientific community. There has not been enough interest to subject his hypothesis to rigorous examination. Sheldrake suggests that the processes of nature are far more subtle than is presently supposed, and in fact contain an aspect that is very close to what we call mind.  The morphic field is analogous to Jung’s archetype; both are a type of memory. Just as the evolutionary and developmental history of an organism is enfolded within the morphic fields, the history of a people, or even a whole race, are enfolded within an archetype.

p. 159 f


Active information and the Implicate Order

The idea that information can have an active or formative effect on matter has been investigated by David Bohm. His theory yields numerical results that are identical to conventional QM, but has not been examined in a serious way by the physics community.

The theory assumes that elementary particles do not actually have a wave particle nature, but are particles with considerable internal complexity. In the more advanced version, this particle is represented by fluctuations within a quantum field. Bohm postulates a “Quantum Potential” which acts on an elementary particle, in addition to the conventional EM, strong, and weak nuclear forces. The Quantum Potential, unlike the other forces of nature, does not reduce with increasing distance. Because of this, even remote objects can have a profound effect. Also, the QP does not push or pull like other forces, but acts more like a guide wave, or like a radar signal received by a ship at sea. This is analogous to the way a morphic field would work.  Although the amount of energy in the signal is negligible, the information it provides has a formative effect, as the radar information could be used by a ship at see to steer. The Quantum Potential carries information about the environment of the quantum particle and thus informs and effects its motion. Since the information in the Quantum Potential is very detailed, the resulting particle trajectory appears chaotic or indeterminate. Bohm’s causal interpretation suggests that matter has orders that are closer to mind than to a simple mechanical order.

In the quantum field version of the theory, the elemental particles themselves become a manifestation of the quantum field. This recalls the Hamilton Jacobi theory, in which matter and all it movements were produced by an underlying wave motion. In the HJ theory, a collection of wavelets in a small region of space has the appearance of a material particle.


Active information is responsible for the way quantum processes unfold out of the quantum field. For this reason, the inner structure of elementary particles  may be of unlimited complexity, for they are an expression of the entire universe.

David Bohm made use of the idea of a holograph to illustrate the concept of enfoldment of an implicate order. In holography, light from each part of the object is folded over the whole photographic plate, so each part of the photographic plate contains information about the whole object.

P 168 f.




Symmetry: Laszlo_akash vec_pot vec_pot_notes superforce_davies tiller_magic_notes bfielding_the_intention doc

Vector potential, Guage field htm






The wave equation followed by mechanical systems is similar to, but not identical with, Schrödinger's equation. For this reason, the HJE is considered the "closest approach" of classical mechanics to quantum mechanics.