Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Presence of the Past

I've been poking through Rupert Sheldrake’s book “Presence of the Past".

 Sheldrake says that "fields are the medium of ‘action at a distance'," and are “integral to the organization of all material systems.” (P.97) There are different kinds of fields. Gravitational, electromagnetic, and so forth.

And then there are morphogenetic fields, which Sheldrake believes are the organizing fields of living things. They help explain some of the more magical characteristics of living organisms and systems. 

Schools of fish and flocks of birds turn and startle all at once. How do they do that? Morphic resonance. And people do it, too, when they participate in sports teams (and riots). We tune into the group. We resonate.

Sheldrake believes that there is a huge amount of information, both from the present and the past, that is available if only we will tune into it. But mostly, we just tune into our own morphic field. It’s ours, after all, and feels comfortable and familiar.

As Sheldrake puts it, “We are more similar to ourselves in the past than we are to anyone else…But we are also similar to members of our own family, to members of social groups to which we belong, to people who share our language and culture, and indeed to some extent we are similar to all other human beings, past and present.

“If we are influenced by morphic resonance from particular individuals to whom we are in some way linked or connected, then it is conceivable that we might pick up images, thoughts, impressions, or feelings from them…even if the people involved were thousands of miles apart.”(P.220-221)

We also might tune in to people who lived in the past, and we don't have to claim to have been those other people.  Morphic resonance is a much more sensible explanation than reincarnation. After all, not everybody could have been Cleopatra in a past life.