I’m not usually in the habit of religiously watching football, but last night I found myself glued to the television for the first time in zonks. First it was Italy versus Spain, and when the players weren’t actually throwing themselves to the ground and writhing around in their usual death-throes, I found it utterly captivating the way that the universe unfolded through each moment of play. Every movement held infinite potential in the way the ball was passed or not passed, received or intercepted, the way that shots on goal were on target or wide of the mark and, ultimately, ended up either in the net or not. Perhaps for the first time in my life I understood the thrill of the gambler about to throw the dice, because literally anything can happen. In the almost infinite number of possible outcomes there lies an almost infinite potential for excitement, as life spontaneously self-creates before you.
As it happened, Italy won: 2-0.
Then it was England versus Iceland. But this was an entirely different story…
It began innocently enough, and I continued watching with the same fascination as during the previous match. In the fourth minute, the Iceland goalie tackled the midfielder Sterling as he was approaching to shoot. Wayne Rooney took the penalty shot: England 1 – Iceland 0. Immediately afterwards, though, something quite remarkable happened. English football fans will never forget the ‘Hand of God’ incident in the 1986 World Cup Quarter Finals, in which Argentina superstar Maradona illegally handled the ball into the net – which led to the Argies winning the match and knocking England out of the World Cup. Well, last night, in the wake of that penalty shot, it felt – at least to me – as if the hand of god really did descend from on high, sweeping aside the follies of man and his ‘Beautiful Game’. Within seconds Iceland attacked like a Viking horde, borne ahead on raging seas and with the full North Atlantic wind in their sails. In less than a minute they had equalised. As Ragnar Sigurdsson shot the goal into the back of the England net, I felt an impact in my gut, almost as if I’d borne the brunt of his boot.
In that moment, I knew Iceland were going to win the match: that luck, coincidence, a ‘roll of the dice’ were to play no part in this game. It wasn’t a hope or a fear – or even a belief. It felt totally immovable. The infinite potential for excitement as life spontaneously unfolds had been replaced by something far heavier: the weight of inevitability. Fate. Nowadays, we don’t like that word. Fate implies we don’t command our Destiny: that, god forbid, there are forces more powerful than our ego, its power-trips and neurotic obsession in trying to control the throw of the dice.
Here in this article, instead of Fate, I’m going to call it synchronicity as well as the symbolic language of the universe. One of the most important things we can do in our lives is grow sensitive to that language and learn how to flow with what that language is telling us.
The world manifests in two ways. There is coincidence: pure chance. And there is synchronicity: pure inevitability, which occurs as events in the outside world either (1) mirror the world of our inner consciousness or (2) reflect the deeper flow of the universe. I’m going to concentrate here on the latter.
Coincidence and synchronicity are engaged in an eternal dance inside and around us. It’s a fundamental law of nature and the entire universe – not unlike the way that the surface-level chaos and randomness of fractal geometry belie a deeper order and inevitability.
If you can’t accept that both coincidence and synchronicity exist alongside one another, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. It’s as much a belief as it is to accept that chance and deeper meaning co-exist alongside each other. It’s your decision. If, on the one hand, you choose to accept only coincidence as real, you narrow your world, and through that blind decision deny yourself the opportunity to tune into the messages the universe is always giving you. Consequently, life often becomes a struggle against the universe. Maybe it’s better to just sit back and keep watching the football instead… If, on the other hand, you choose to remain open to both coincidence and at least the possibility for synchronicity, you’ll soon find that you develop a sensitivity – at least to some degree – in distinguishing between the two. The more that life subsequently confirms your actual experience in detecting this symbolic language, the more sensitive you can then become to it.
For me, Iceland’s first goal hit me in the gut – boom! – almost like a physical impact. It’s similar to when something suddenly ‘clicks’: a moment of epiphany – aha! – when all of a sudden synapses start firing in the brain and something lights up. When the universe speaks, there’s an extra energy in the feeling, something which feels more than just ‘you’. Of course, it’s always possible to get it wrong, but I know from previous experience that such a ‘boom!’ feeling is often the universe ‘clicking’ with me – that some of its energy is flowing into me. Next, I began to feel things out more thoroughly. Was this really synchronicity? Was the universe speaking through symbolic language or, in the end, was it just a random event?
First, I re-examined the physical feeling in my body: was it really a ‘boom’ moment? In this case it felt strong, leaving little doubt that something deeper was at work in my body. Second, I examined my emotions: did I – my ego, that is! – have anything to gain personally by experiencing a ‘boom’ moment here, by erroneously reading a deeper meaning into what was actually nothing more than coincidence (which, in this case, would have been just the naturally flowing throw of the dice throughout the game)? No, I didn’t have anything to gain. I’m not even really interested in football.
If my ego wasn’t involved, then in all likelihood the universe was speaking. Or to quote Arthur Conan Doyle via Sherlock Holmes: ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’ I know this won’t convince anyone dead-set against accepting the language of synchronicity, but the principle remains the same.
At this point, I began to search for meaning. What was the universe trying to express? This is where it gets especially tricky, with the ego all too easily posing as the voice of the universe. Yes, the ego really does enjoy delusions of grandeur! Nevertheless, just as in the world of fractal geometry, a deeper order really does often exist, woven into the apparent chaos and randomness of our surface-level, everyday world. It’s just that most of the time we’re blind to this deeper order. It remains hidden because we’re too close to the action; we (our ego, that is) can’t see beyond the tip of our noses.
When events up here on the surface level happen to diverge too far from the ordered flow of the underlying universe – and in any system in which chaos, probability and randomness do play a role, this can happen – then a correction must subsequently occur at some point, bringing us back into the underlying flow.
This correction is what the ancients called Fate.
Returning to the analogy of fractal geometry: whereas the chaotic splishing and splashing up here on the surface level occur through specific, concrete and apparently isolated events, the more deeply ordered, synchronistic language of this ocean we call the universe takes place through symbols: universal patterns which, like actual DNA, not only constitute the building blocks of actual individual events but also link them together. A fascinating subject in its own right (but which, alas, is too broad to examine any further here), symbols underlie virtually all meaning: from words and language, to visual understanding, to kundalini energy and consciousness itself.
If you accept that the universe speaks to us through symbols, then it follows quite naturally that these symbols ought to be symbolically perfect. Indeed they are, at least when our fallible human intellect – often led astray by our ego’s desires, habits and addictions – actually gets it right and accurately interprets the big picture!
For me, the symbology of the situation made itself immediately apparent, in parallel with the clarity and strength of the ‘boom’ factor felt in my gut when Iceland first scored. There was no need to grope around in the dark for meaning. Even if I had wanted to, there simply wasn’t time for me and my ego to concoct fallacious scenarios. It was like looking into a mirror: the image was already there, perfectly formed and looking back at me – because, symbolically, it really was pristine!
As Iceland fans joked, the match turned out to be ‘Brexit II.’ How true this was, but also on a much deeper level than what most people imagine. The symbology cuts to the very core. This particular match was the first time England had played following the referendum to leave the EU. In other words, it was the first opportunity for the universe to comment on Brexit. Let’s not beat around the bush: Brexit has and will continue to have a huge impact for years to come, not only in the socio-political arena but also in terms of global spiritual consciousness. It’s no surprise that the distortions which took place during the campaign and referendum itself (discussed below) found themselves reflected and balanced out in this match. Yes, in the end this was only a football game, but it was also a symbol of national pride: one which, to quote the BBC’s Phil McNulty, ended in England’s ‘worst humiliation since they were knocked out of the 1950 World Cup by USA’ (28.06.2016, BBC news website).
Doesn’t that say something in itself? How could England have lost like this?
Because it was inevitable.
As it happens, I believe that Brexit was the right decision but for all the wrong reasons, and I’ll be exploring this in my next article, along with other ways that the universe has reflected this. As it relates specifically to last night’s game, the universe not only confirmed the decision to leave the EU (as so many Iceland fans eagerly pointed out), it also commented on and counterweighted the ego-driven mass hysteria which led in the first place to the referendum’s historic outcome. I apologise if I’m offending anyone here, but in my view the trait most characterising the average Leave voter was, to put it bluntly, the hubris of blind national pride. To think that England actually stands stronger alone… To think that most of the long-term immigrants living in the U.K. haven’t contributed to British culture, if not just the coffers of H.M. Customs and Revenue… I dare say that in exactly the same way, hubris also got the better of team England in underestimating the Icelanders. I dare say that many team England supporter also took the same attitude. I’m also willing to bet that the vast majority of die-hard England fans were also die-hard Leave voters. What a beautiful irony!
Just think back for a moment on the Greek myths: if there’s one thing that pissed off the gods, it was hubris. And when they did get pissed off, the gods always found a symbolically perfect way of punishing us mortals for our delusions of grandeur: for instance, Arachne being turned into a spider. How perfectly nasty can you get?! Here, within literally seconds of England celebrating their penalty goal, it felt like Njord, the Norse god of wind and sea, had stepped in and whipped up the mother of all storms. Whatever actually happened, Icelandic victory, I believe, was sealed in those very same moments. And so, the English national hubris which emerged victorious in the referendum was punished through defeat at the next possible opportunity – even if, in the end, it was only on the football pitch.
I love it. To adapt John F. Kennedy’s famous ‘Berliner’ quote: Ég er Íslendingur!
In reaction to Brexit, the universe, Fate, the pantheon of gods – call it what you will – are speaking in similarly unequivocal symbolic language throughout a broader spectrum as well. If Brexit is going to take place nationally, on a political level, then it’s only understandable that the national hubris which catalysed the decision in the first place should be reflected in further political repercussions in which that same hubris is corrected, counterbalanced – or, if you happen to believe in Greek myths, even punished. Isn’t it so perfectly ironic that the Brexiters’ blind nationalism is almost certainly going to lead to the break-up of the nation itself? From Great Britain to Little England. I can hear the Fates laughing now.
(The issue of synchronicity and coincidence is covered more fully in Chapter Seven of Growing into Being.)