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By LANE DeGREGORY
The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves but in our attitude toward them.
-- Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands, 1948.
* * *
When the winning number in the New York Lottery came up 911 on 9/11, statisticians assured us it was a coincidence. A 1-in-1,000 chance, they said. Not bizarre. Just random.
Some people weren't willing to buy that. It must mean something, they insisted.
"It could be that, collectively, the people in New York caused those lottery numbers to come up 911," says Henry Reed. A psychologist who specializes in intuition, he teaches seminars at the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Va.
"If enough people all are thinking the same thing, at the same time, they can cause events to happen," he says. "It's called psychokinesis." Mind over matter.
Coincidence is only a theory, he says. It can't be proven. It's just another perspective.
There are two types of thinkers, he says: Those who are fact-oriented and those who are willing to accept things that cannot be proven.
Intuition requires people to see patterns and the way they connect, he says. "Seeing synchronicity, or a message in seemingly unconnected events, that's the same thing. It's all in the eye of the beholder."
Bob Linn is a St. Petersburg psychic and medium who says he has spent more than 20 years studying metaphysics and parapsychology.
"I really believe there is a greater and deeper meaning in these events than most people are aware of," he says. "We get signs and symbols that show us this all the time. But the average person doesn't recognize them.
"911 was a confirmation, telling us mortals that there is a more divine wisdom, even, than we can understand, certainly more than we can control."
So what was this divine wisdom trying to tell us?
"It was saying the terrorists didn't plan the event for 9/11, per se. They planned it, okay. But 9/11 was the date the universe decreed these things should happen. So we would remember. So we would associate it with emergency and unease and fear."
Why would cosmic forces intervene with Ping-Pong balls whirling around on a puff of air?
"What other numbers reach so many people all at once?" Linn asks. "Everyone in the country knows 911 means emergency. And a lot more people are tuned into the lottery numbers than the stock market.
"The people who played that number on that day did so on a hunch," he says. "I always say, follow your hunches. We need to learn to listen to the higher cosmic frequencies."
Hans Decoz believes each numeral has its own qualities. He is a numerologist from Galveston, Texas, who sells software from a Pensacola address. Last year, he wrote an Internet essay on the meaning behind the numbers 9/11/2001.
When the New York Lottery numbers were announced, he decided maybe his fixation on the number 2001 had sidetracked him. He reworked his numbers chart, using only 911. What he found, he says, "is not really flattering to Americans."
"The extravagant abuse of material resources in this country is disgusting," Decoz says. "Those numbers coming up on the anniversary of the tragedy are like our combined self-conscious trying to tell us to pay attention."
The 9, he says, is the most idealistic of all numbers. It stands for compassion, healing, sacrifice and taking care of the world at large. "The Mother Teresa among the single-digit numbers."
One is the warrior number, he says. It knows no fear. One wants to direct and control the actions of others. It's the Donald Rumsfeld digit.
"The 9 as the cornerstone of 911 tells me that the message is global. ... It warns against fanaticism. It is not Islam that is at the core of the conflict facing us today," he says. "It is the cold heart of the zealot."
So, what's with the 11?
"It's the most sensitive, feminine, and subtle of all numbers. It's nonconfrontational and it loves peace," he says. It's the hippie number. The hope.
"The 11 tells us that when this conflict has come to pass ... a new era will emerge, one influenced by a global sense of sensitivity vs. brutal force and intolerance."
Charles Guignon is a philosophy professor at the University of South Florida. He specializes in existentialism and the work of 20th century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
So what does this lottery thing say about us as Americans? And, more important, what does this seeming coincidence mean?
"That is a matter of such profound indifference to me that I cannot even bring myself to think about it," Guignon says.
A philosophy professor at Brown University was more willing to muse on the topic. "Whether you think that's a coincidence depends on how you see the world," Brian Weatherson says. "Some people wouldn't be at all surprised that a 1-in-1,000 chance occurred in that state, on that day. Others wouldn't be surprised if the state actually fixed the lottery."
What does he think?
"It is kind of surprising," the philosopher admits. "But it's not that far out there. I'm pretty sure that's just how the numbers came up. I don't find any personal meaning in that."
He hesitates a minute. "Of course, I could be wrong," he says.
"But I wouldn't bet on it."
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