I first discovered Rupert Sheldrake’s work by reading his first two books: “A New Science of Life” written in 1981 followed by “The Presence of the Past.” These two books changed my life because they validated my experiential reality and demonstrated that my personal experiences were located in a much larger context. I was not imagining things I felt or dreamed!
(At the time I first read these books I was in personal crisis. I was struggling to accept that I was living the shadow side of Rupert’s hypothesis of Morphic Resonance as a rejected member of my own family. This rejection had so little to do with who I was that it left me paralyzed and numb, least until I began to sense that my situation was rooted deep in a very dark past I knew nothing about.)
In his visionary hypothesis Rupert Sheldrake describes the process called Morphic Resonance, in which the forms and behaviors of the past shape living organisms in the present. Nature has a memory that we can tap into in unexplained ways… the past intersects with the future through resonance which can occur instantly either through our mind/and or body. What this means practically is that we can communicate with those who have gone before or with other species as long as we have a relationship with them. Rupert says like attracts like. I would also add that it is my experience that the opposite can occur. Extremes in relationship carry a charge. It’s the strength of relationship positive or negative, an open mind, and a sensitivity to the unknown that seem to determine whether we will be able understand these experiences.
Just how this happens is not understood but Rupert suggests that telepathic communication is probably the means by which this communication occurs almost instantly. (Quantum non – locality is another possibility.) There is nothing paranormal about telepathy. Rupert believes as I do that animals developed telepathy to keep in touch with each other. Telepathy developed as a survival technique and anyone that has a close relationship with an animal is privy to this kind of communication although it is still dismissed by materialistic science as wishful thinking or – fill in the blank – for some other equally stupid reason (what would happen if we actually acknowledged that this kind of communication routinely occurs? – we’d have to make a radical change in the way we treat animals and plants for one thing). So many scientists have completely closed minds – a kind of tunnel vision. The “either or principle” – it’s either “hard science” or its just a “story/myth” that can’t be quantified – is still the norm. “Prove it” is one aggressive stance that is taken by some, an attitude I find revolting.
When I read The Rebirth of Nature I knew that the naturalist in me had found “home” in western science even though by then Rupert had been banned from the scientific community by his so called radical ideas. Sheldrake argues and demonstrates our intimate relationship with the universe through open minded science — he believes that we are a part of a breathing, living, thinking cosmos and that intelligence is a pervasive reality inseparably one with nature. In The Rebirth of Nature Sheldrake urges us to move beyond the centuries-old mechanistic view of nature, explaining in lucid terms why we can no longer regard the world as inanimate and purposeless. Through an astute critique of the dominant scientific paradigm, Sheldrake shows recent developments in science itself have brought us to the threshold of a new synthesis in which traditional wisdom, intuitive experience, and scientific insight can be mutually enriching.
I remember one of my graduate professors dismissing Rupert’s ideas with disgusting hubris, claiming that “science didn’t need his hypothesis – DNA can tell us everything we needed to know about heredity.” I heard that same argument robotically repeated by mainstream materialistic/mechanistic/ atheistic scientists for years and years – and most astonishingly by people who actually refused read Rupert’s work. [Read here a well-balanced interview conducted by a mainstream scientist.]
Oh, how pleased I was to read about epigenetics which validates that DNA is NOT the only way human behavior is passed on. Rupert stated years ago that DNA only codes for protein, not for form as part of his hypothesis. We can and do inherit the characteristics and behavior of the family systems’ we come out of. The study of epigenetics moves us one step closer to Rupert’s theory of morphic resonance, once dismissed with such ridicule.
In an interview broadcast on BBC television in 1994, Maddocks, the author of an infamous editorial in the prestigious scientific journal Nature said: “Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy.”
Naturally, conventional scientists from countless disciplines jumped on the bandwagon; this denunciation was followed by a host of hostile criticism by the entire scientific community (much of which continues to this day). This brilliant visionary scientist became known as a radical fringe pseudo scientist who didn’t adhere to “the man against nature paradigm” arguing instead that all Nature was alive and interconnected and that the past intersected with the present. About fifteen years ago Rupert was even shot in Texas for giving a talk on animal telepathy.
To make matters worse, Sheldrake also refused to split science from spirituality a fact that also enraged atheistic materialists, biologists, and scientists alike. This trend remains current today as scientists from all disciplines split spirituality from science, often demonizing the former. Sheldrake has the immense courage to maintain that a “both and” perspective can be applied to both science and spirituality, and in one of his latest books “Science and Spiritual Practices” argues for what he knows to be true, namely that we cannot split science from spirituality because the earth is alive and sentient and science and spirituality are two lens that reveal they are parts of the same whole.
Amazingly this man of great integrity persevered against all the odds continuing his research, submerging himself in rigorous experimentation and continues to author books and talks. Rupert’s holistic approach to science has the capacity to return us to our lost beginnings and open up almost unimaginable possibilities for a new future if only others will join him on this journey.
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.