Many books and articles have been recently published by respected nuclear physicists presenting theories and explanations of reality which closely coincide with ancient spiritual truths. In this chapter we shall take a look at a recent theory presented by well known biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, the former director of studies in biochemistry and cell biology at Cambridge University. The information and quotations concerning Dr. Sheldrake’s theories are taken from the article «BEYOND THE BRAIN’S BOUNDARIES» by Prof. John Gliedman in the February 1983 issue of Science Digest.
Dr. Sheldrake suggests that memory, evolution and learning take place outside of the physical brain. He claims that mutation, evolution and embryological development are not governed by the interaction of DNA with the environment as biologists have believed until today. «He claims that embryos and their brains develop by tuning into an entirely new kind of non material formative force called morphogenetic fields. Just as a magnetic field can orient a pile of iron fillings into a certain pattern, so this mysterious new force can shape body and mind. What he calls morphic resonance between organisms and morphogenetic fields, determines everything from anatomical changes in evolution to the learning of a new skill». This morphogenetic field is a wonderful description of the causal body of which we discussed in the previous chapter. In this causal body all of the experiences, actions, thoughts and memories of the soul are recorded throughout its various incarnations into matter. With each new life experience, this causal body, or morphogenetic, field evolves a bit more. Thus it has evolved in its ability to interact with matter gradually becoming able to manipulate more and more complicated biological organisms. We started functioning on the earth in the form of one celled organisms and evolved through plants, insects, animals, primates and have reached the level of human beings. Scientists believed until now that this evolution took place through the reaction of DNA molecules to environmental stimulation. This is obviously true from a mechanical point of view. But biologists have no idea of why or how the DNA makes these changes. This is because the DNA change is simply another effect and not the essential cause. Rupert Sheldrake’s theory is that the changes which occur in the DNA are the results of changes in the morphogenetic field or causal body. These create a corresponding change in the DNA structure, which in turn create corresponding changes in genes, body structure, instinct, behavior and character. The DNA molecules and genes thus are like the components of the television which simply transfer the changes to the screen. The incoming waves from the station form various invisible wave patterns which create changes in the components of the television, thus forming the various images on the screen. In the same way, our bodies and character are formed by the causal body or morphogenetic field. Here is Prof. Gliedman’s description of Dr. Sheldrake’s theory. «Inheritance does depend on genes, he observes, but only in the round-about way that a TV set depends on its components. DNA is not a blueprint for the body, as most biologists believe, he goes on. DNA determines protein production and I think that an organism’s proteins are rather like the TV’s components. Gene change alters the proteins and therefore the way that the organism tunes in to its particular morphogenetic field. These changes add up to changes in body structure. His critics reply that everything science has so far learned about life strongly supports the working hypothesis that interactions between DNA-synthesized molecules and the changing embryological environment are responsible for building everything from mollusks to man». It seems entirely possible that both Dr. Sheldrake and his critics can be corrected in their theories. A scientist examining the functioning of a television for the first time would certainly believe that the changing state in the components of the TV were causing the changing images on the screen. Sheldrake is simply going one step further and pointing out that; yes, this is correct but there are more subtle causes which are creating the changes in the components themselves. One idea does not exclude the other. We have simply moved one level deeper into the analysis of causation from the physical body and mind to the causal body and higher intelligence. «Dr. Sheldrake’s aberrant ideas about embryology lead to an equally deviant evolutionary theory. He maintains that species remain stable for millions of years because morphogenetic fields are like habits and grow stronger with repetition. , he says. Moreover, something similar occurs with behavior. Animals tune in to the actual behavior of previous similar animals. So, there is a sort of pooled species memory in operation».
THE MONKEY EXPERIMENT
This concept of a pooled species memory is well supported by an experiment on monkeys in Japan here retold by Ken Keyes in his book «THE HUNDREDTH MONKEY». (Ken Keyes is the author of many books including the Handbook to Higher Consciousness as is the founder of the Center of Living Love). «There is a phenomenon I’d like to tell you about. In it may lie our only hope of a future for our species! Here is the story of the Hundredth Monkey: «The Japanese monkey, «Macacafuscata» has been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952 on the island of Koshima scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant. An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this way and they taught their mothers, too. This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes. Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes – the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let’s further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes. «THEN IT HAPPENED!» «By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of his hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough! But notice. The most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then spontaneously jumped over the sea-colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasa Kiyama began washing their sweet potatoes! ». Ken Keys referred to this fact as a point of hope in avoiding nuclear war. His hope was that if enough people decide that they do not want to continue the arms race, then at some point, («the hundredth monkey» so to speak), all will quickly realize the folly of it all, and we will have peace. In this experiment we see evidence which supports Dr. Sheldrake’s theory. It is unlikely that there were any DNA changes caused in the monkeys already born; especially those living on another island. The concept of the morphogenetic field can easily explain that monkeys all over the world will start tuning into this new evolutionary bit of information in the morphogenetic field of the species. Let us continue with Prof. Gleidman’s explanation. «According to Sheldrake, evolutionary change occurs whenever genetic or environmental shifts produce an embryo so different from its parents that the deviant cannot resonate with the species morphogenetic field. But the deviant is not left without a field of its own. The instant the old link dissolves, a compatible morphogenetic field mysteriously springs into existence. This new field guides the deviant’s development into the first member of a new species, as well as governs the development of subsequent members of the same species».
GROUP MORPHOGENETIC FIELDS
According to Theosophical thought this morphogenetic field expresses itself differently at the various levels of evolution. In crystals it generates the whole class of crystal wherever it may appear on the planet. For insects it generates a particular colony of group of insects morphogenetic field. As we move up the evolutionary scale the morphogenetic field becomes more individual and unique. It might become a herd of deer, a flock of birds or pack of dogs, or the like. Animals which have close contact with human beings tend to evolve more quickly and develop particular qualities differentiating them from the rest of their species, i.e. extremely intelligent dogs and cats with distinct characters. According to this Theosophical theory, a morphogenetic field can produce only one human being – a unique individual entity. Thus we could imagine that in our evolutionary journey the spirit which has been expressing itself as crystals, cells, plant species, insect colonies, herds of sheep, pack of lions, flocks of birds, families of monkeys is now finally as a human being. Thus we can understand the remaining animal instincts still present in our morphogenetic field and the need to work on purifying and transmuting them. While we do have an individual morphogenetic field or an individual causal body, we also belong to or are connected up, if you like, to various larger group fields or collective fields. We might imagine that there is a Universal Morphogenetic field or Universal Causal body which contains all of the ‘«blue prints» or «archetypes» for all the elements, objects and beings in creation. Then, depending on the particular incarnation which we choose we may be tuning into various ethnic, religious, social, or racial morphogenetic fields (in addition to that of our species) which have been developed over the ages. It is important, however, to remember that we as spirits are beyond and free of these fields. These fields may also easily be connected with Psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of the Collective Unconscious and the archetypes which exist therein.
THE FRUIT FLY EXPERIMENTS
It very well may be possible to test and prove or disprove Dr. Sheldrake’s theory at least at the level of crystals, fruit flies, and monkeys. Tests have been and can be made in order to show that the source of formative and mutational changes is beyond the physical realm of DNA and genes. Here is Prof. Gliedman’s explanation of the possibilities of testing Dr. Sheldrake’s theory. «The theory makes specific predictions about a wide range of phenomena that can be tested». says Sheldrake. If these predictions turn out to be wrong, he emphasizes, he will be forced to abandon the theory, like any good scientist. But he wants at least the satisfaction of a trial-conducted by the English biologist Mac Wan Ho, of the Open University at Walton, provides a hopeful testing ground. Following the footsteps of the great biologist Conrad Waddington, Ho studied the disruptive effects of ether on the embryological development of the geneticist’s favorite experimental animal, the humble fruit fly drosophila. Like Waddington and his co-workers, she found that ether killed some eggs outright, left other embryos unscathed and induced in others a development change that resembled the results of a mutation called bithorax. Instead of developing into a normal winged fly, the last group of embryos grew up with an extra set of wings. The defect here is not genetic – the flies have normal chromosomes – but results from ether’s interference with DNA controlled growth patterns: thalidomide babies exhibit the same nongenetic developmental deformities. «After the normal and deviant fruit flies reached sexual maturity, Ho collected all their eggs and exposed them to the same ether dosage as before. She repeated this procedure until she had exposed five successive generations of fruit flies to ether while they were still embryos. Since the mutations in the population were not recorded in the genes, one would expect the percentage of mutants in each subsequent generation would be the same. But Ho discovered that in each generation the percentage of the deviant four-wingers was greater than it had been in their parents’ generation and steadily increased among descendants until it was highest in the first generation’s great-great-grandchildren. Sheldrake thinks the increase is due to the progressive strengthening of the morphogenetic field for four-winged flies. But conventional genetic theory could also explain the increase by positing that the gene or gene complex that protects against ether poisoning is linked to another factor that makes embryos prone to develop an extra pair of wings. However, says Sheldrake, conventional theory cannot explain some of Ho’s subsequent results. After completing her first experiment, she took a fresh batch of eggs drawn from a fruit fly population that had never been exposed to ether and gave them ether treatment. This time, the ether had a much greater transformative effect in each generation: the percentage of four-winged phenocopies was significantly higher in each generation than it was in the first experiment».
THE ONE PERCENT THEORY
This point discovered in the test on the fruit flies may generate some hope for human evolution at the same time. This is what Ken Keys mentions as the hundredth monkey effect and what the Maharishi Maheesh Yogi calls the 1% effect. The Maharishi Maheesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation Society of American, and subsequently a number of universities dedicated to unifying the scientific, social and spiritual, showed in a live experiment that the behavior of the whole population could be changed for the better if one percent of the population would meditate regularly. In the small state of Rhode Island in the U.S.A., this statement was proven. When the number of meditators reached one percent of the population, the crime rate and divorce rate dropped significantly for the total population. Whereas these rates in the surrounding states actually rose during the same period of time. This one percent of the population just might really have had this calming effect on the whole of. A basic change might have been made in the morphogenetic field of that area. There is hope. It seems logical that a process like meditation, prayer or positive thought projection would be our major tools for altering our morphogenetic fields in an evolutionary way both for the individual and the society. According to most systems of spiritual thought we can remove or alter the impressions in the causal body through regular meditation in which we go beyond the thought complexes (i.e. the TV images) and go to the source of thought in the causal body (the TV waves). If Sheldrake’s theory could be proven in a scientific way, we would have a very valuable link between science and spirituality; a link which in itself would be very helpful for the evolution of the morphogenetic field. If we all keep exploring our inner consciousness, we will be adding in our own unique way to the general evolution of the human being into his divine potential. Thus we can understand the meaning of the statement that God made man in His own image. As we proceed in the evolution of our morphogenetic field the form we take has greater and greater divine potentials such as creativity, self awareness, love, healing powers, that ability to produce music, mathematics, art and philosophies of life.
THE CRYSTAL EXPERIMENTS
Sheldrake himself suggests one possible experiment which would prove his theory at least at the level of crystals. «Sheldrake’s theory also allows for a new perspective on nonliving phenomena. Consider a substance that has never before been crystallized in a lab. A chemist must somehow work out the conditions that will favor crystal formation. Some claim however, that once a crystal has been made many times over, subsequent crystalizations become easier and easier. Many chemists cite greater skill and improved technique as the factors involved. But other, says Sheldrake, claim that microscopic pieces of the new crystals escape into the air; these, he says, can theoretically «seed» new solutions of the chemical and speed crystal growth. He thinks there is more to it and predicts that even when airborne crystal transfer is vigorously prevented, crystallization will become progressively easier. There will be a strengthening of the morphogenetic field that is responsible for the chemical’s crystalline pattern. According to the hypothesis of formative causation (a newly synthesized chemical’s) crystalline form will not be predictable in advance and no morphogenetic field for this form will yet exist. But after it has been crystallized for the first time, the form of its crystals will influence subsequent crystalizations by morphic resonance, and the more often it is crystallized, the stronger this influence should be. Once again, Sheldrake’s proposal is not a shot in the dark but a simply tested proposition: a researcher could divide a newly synthesized chemical into three batches and send each to a different lab. Scientists at the branch laboratories could then seed each of the batches with different shapes of crystal, in the hope of forcing the chemical to assume a different form in each location. Next, one of the laboratories would be instructed to mass-produce the crystal that had grown in its vats, while the other two would be instructed to shut down; the purpose of the mass production would be to try to strengthen one of the three potential morphogenetic forms. Finally, scientists at the two remaining labs should produce the same crystal forms as before with the same ease. The formative causation hypothesis, however, predicts that the crystal form that has been «mass-produced» will crystallize far more readily than the other. If, in all three labs, the mass-produced crystal form began falling out of solutions, then, says Sheldrake, «a really convincing weight of evidence for natural selection could be built up».
THE OVERALL PICTURE
Independent of what conclusion the scientist comes up with the idea of a subtle causal field which projects the mental, energy and physical forms we know is ancient, appealing and logical. It explains many otherwise non explainable phenomena such as the extreme differences in the births of children, i.d. blindness, various deformities, and child genius in the arts or the sciences. (This point is discussed in detail in the book «The Mystical Circle of Life» and thus we will not continue here).
THE UNIVERSAL MORPHOGENETIC FIELD
This diagram may help us understand what we are saying more clearly. We observe that in the center we have the eternal omnipresent universal consciousness which is represented by a self lighting and everlasting light. Around this light we have a sphere (here we see only a cross section of it) which has trillions of holes with tiny film images imprinted on it. This is the universal morphogenetic field or the universal causal body which has in it all of the archetypes of all the possible objects and beings which have manifested or are in the process of developing. Thus, as this one light passes through each image it produces onto the screen of life the physical appearance of this object or being. As changes take place in this universal field, the appearance of these beings undergo corresponding changes on the mental, emotional and physical levels. Changes made on the other levels such as the mental and physical seem also to have some slight effect on the images imprinted on this universal «film record». It is useful to realize that when we look at someone across from us and feel separate from him, this is in actuality an illusion, for he is just another projection of the same light, through a slightly different film image. Understanding this truth will help us to eventually create the interhuman harmony which is required to create health, happiness and well being for all persons living on this planet. It is also important to realize that our thoughts and feelings do not affect only ourselves. Everything we think, feel, say or do is simultaneously registered both in our individual causal body and also in the universal causal body. Our unexpressed thoughts, and feelings affect those around us. With each thought we add to the misery or to the happiness of this world. When we love, we are adding to the world love. When we hate, we are adding hate to the universal causal body. We are making it more possible for others to hate. When we forgive, we are making forgiveness a more available human trait in the universal causal body. When we live in a self destructive way, we are intensifying this trait in the universal field which affects us all. When we live selflessly, this trait becomes strengthened in all men. Our every thought, word and action is like a pebble falling into a universal pool creating waves for the other beings taking their energy from that pool. Whatever we do is to some extent felt by the others. It is possible, however, for us to get free from this effect of the universal causal field through meditation, wisdom and divine grace which allow us to transcend this level and experience that light which exists before and beyond the archetypal film.