the prevalence of 23


Closing#2: Bangkok: Now we are here  in the year twenty-three, I thought it worthwhile to offer a few thoughts about the number 23. What I mean is the belief that the number 23 has some sort of magical or mystical significance, because of all the instances in which it occurs. A quick dive into internet and the many web pages exploring the “enigma of 23” tells me: All of us humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in our genetic makeup.The Earth is inclined on its orbital plane by 23.5 degrees. The “point-five” can be represented as 5 = 2 + 3. The September 11 attacks occurred on 9/11/2001, 9 + 11 + 2 + 1 = 23. Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. The letter W has 2 points down and 3 up = 23. It is also the 23rd letter of the alphabet. Harpo Marx’s birthday was Nov. 23, 1888, and Bonnie and Clyde’s death on May 23, 1934. There are more. Twenty-three seems to pop up when you least expect it… That’s how it was for me, many years ago, a friend told me that he had learned about the mystery of 23 on his 23rd birthday by somebody else who said, once you start to think about it, the number twenty-three seems to arrive in your awareness in all kinds of ways: a bookmarked page number, parts of car numbers, parts of phone numbers, house numbers… and if you have the ability to perceive “truth” in nearly anything, you can associate 23 with; all sorts of extraordinary things. But you don’t have to do that, he said; just note the incidental nature of it appearing in ordinary consciousness. So that’s what my friend did and after a while it just started to appear in daily life. When we were driving around town, he’d point out 23 here and there, so I decide to start doing that too and sure enough, it begins to get my attention every now and then… or maybe it doesn’t for quite a long time, then suddenly it’s the 23rd of the month, or a utilities bill arrives and the first two digits of the reference number are 23 – it is significant if only because it appears in so many forms. And so, it seemed to follow along with me for many years. Then I came to live in Thailand and it disappeared, maybe because there isn’t so much communicative imagery out there, trying to get my attention, or if there is, I don’t pay attention to it because it’s all in Thai.The prevalence of 23 can be explained as an example of ‘apophenia,’ the tendency to see connections or meaningful patterns between unrelated or random things. Or ‘selection bias,’ which refers to the falsification of a statistical analysis, resulting from the method of collecting samples. Also ‘confirmation bias,’ the tendency to search for, or interpret information in a way that confirms or supports prior beliefs or values.Whatever, what I’m saying is; if after reading this, you find the number 23 appearing in ordinary incidental awareness from time to time, check back here and see if anybody else has noticed it. That’s all, and have a good day.

8 thoughts on “the prevalence of 23

  1. I didn’t know about 23 but there an awful lot of those kind of “coincidences if you look for them. They are at a whole different level of existences when I would say “God” through everyday things but perhaps you would say “Self” talks to you or appears. I lived in that world for awhile. Now that I take medication it has disappeared. Alas. It does show how we are all intricately connected. Hope this makes sense.

    • Thanks Ellen, the way I see it is these “coincidences” (phenomena) are there if you look for them and not there, if you don’t. It’s the nature of my engagement with the coincidences that determines the meaning or value I take from them. I can see if you’re out there on the edge of ordinary consciousness, you might draw all kinds of conclusions and fear arising would quicken the experience. These are characteristics of our existence we might find in otherwise inert objects. It’s all very much alive.

    • I was thinking the same thing. My friend who was 23 at that time is now retired. We pass by or through so many events without holding on too much to anything, and arrive here (again) none the worse for wear.

  2. When i was a little bit younger, i used to focus a lot on the numbers 11 and 22.
    So as you write in your post, once this focus/idea is in your mind, you’ll start to see the numbers more often and this then fortifies the connection (and perhaps creates the belief in/thought of a special meaning).

    It’s an interesting phenomenon. Just like when young parents to be find out the wife is pregnant.. suddenly everything related to babies starts ‘popping up’. Only thing is, all this related to babies was there all the time, they just choose not to engage with that information since we filter out that which we don’t need.

    but i’ll check if i see the number 23 more often now after reading this blog post 🙂

    • Thanks for this Peiter, you’re right of course, once the focus is in your mind you start to see the number more often. Some other time I’d like to ask you about numbers 11 and 22. For this post let’s focus on 23 in particular; it interests me that this is the year 2023… we would have to wait for a hundred years before 23 comes round again. Let’s see if, at the end of this year, there are any or many responses to the frequency of 23 appearing.

  3. Numbers are always interesting….what *i’ve* noticed lately? is this. In Jin Shin Jyutsu, there is a point, number 23, on the back. It’s related to…trying, effort, in a waaaay oversimplified manner. Anyway, it’s been talking a LOT lately! another 23…..xx

    • Thanks Kelley
      Your 23 in Jin Shin Jyutsu is interesting. Whereas the 23 numerals I expected to arise were likely to be those just noticed in passing, incidental; your 23 already has a designation: “related to…trying, effort. That’s not to say, of course, that the JSJ meaning of 23 is not part of the noticing. Did you have a particular awareness of 23 before it came to be identified with that specific JSJ point in the back? Thanks for your comment, the energy flows in the body/mind organism has my attention as you know

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