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Rupert Sheldrake

challenged. There’s hardly any evidence for memory storage in the brain, as I show in my book, and what evidence there is could be interpreted better in terms of the brain as a tuning system, tuning into its own past. So that we can gain access to our own memories by tuning into our own past states. The brain is more like a TV receiver than like a tape recorder or a video recorder.

If memories are stored in the brain then there’s no possibility of conscious, or even unconscious survival of bodily death, because if memories are in the brain, the brain decays at death, and your memories must be wiped out through the decay of the brain. No form of survival in any shape or form, even through reincarnation, would be possible in such a scenario. That’s one reason why materialists are so attached to the idea of memory storage in the brain, because it refutes all religions in a two line argument. But, in fact, there’s very little evidence they’re stored in the brain.

So if they’re not stored in the brain then the memories won’t decay at death, but there’ll still have to be something that can tune into them, or gain access to them. So could some tuning system, could some non-physical aspect of the self survive death and still gain access to the memories? That’s the big question. I regard it as an open question. I myself think that we do survive bodily death in some form, and that some aspect of the self does survive with access to memories. And that’s a personal opinion. The theory as such leaves this question quite open.

DJB: Do you think there is a morphic field for dreams, mystical experiences, and other states of consciousness?

RUPERT: I think that any organized structure of activity–which includes dreams and some mystical experiences, and altered states of consciousness–any pattern of activity has a structure, and in so far as these mental activities or states have structures, then these structures could indeed move from person to person by morphic resonance. And indeed, in many mystical traditions, it’s thought that people through initiation are brought into that particular tradition and resonate, or in some sense enter into communion with, or connection with, other people who followed in the tradition before.

So, in Hindu and Buddhist lineages, you often get the idea that through initiation and the transmission of the right mantras, and so on, the initiate comes into contact with the guru, the teacher, and the whole line of those who’d gone before. There is a similar idea in Christianity, the idea of the communion of saints. Those who participate in the Christian sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, are in contact, not just with other people doing it now, or other people who happen to be around, but somehow in some kind of resonant connection with all those who’ve done the same thing before.

RMN: What have your ideas been on the hierarchical systems of morphic fields, of the fundamental fields of nature or life, and the basic morphic fields that have influenced that, or the morphic fields of morphic fields? I’ve been wondering about that.

RUPERT: I think all such fields are organized holorarchically or hierarchically. They’re hierarchical in the sense of nested hierarchies. Cells are within tissues, and tissues are within organs, and organs are within your body. There’s a sense in which the whole, the body and the mind, the whole of you, is greater than the organs in your body, and those in turn are greater than tissues, those in turn greater than cells, those in turn greater than molecules. The greater is a spatial context, the more embracing field.

If you think about the way nature is organized, you can see the same pattern at every level. Our earth, Gaia, is included in the solar system, the solar system is in the galaxy, the galaxy within a cluster of galaxies, and ultimately everything is included within the cosmos. So you could say the most primal basic field of nature is the cosmic field, and then the galactic fields, and solar system fields, planetary fields, continental fields, and so on in this nested hierarchy. At each level the whole organizes the parts within it, and the parts affect the whole; there’s a two-way influence.

DJB: Do you think it’s possible that morphic fields from the future may be influencing us, as well as those from the past? If not, why?

RUPERT: Well, I think that is related to the question of creativity; how do new patterns come into being? There may possibly be some influence from the future. But the habitual fields, which I’m mainly talking about, are not influenced by the future, at least as far as this theory is concerned. It would be possible to have a theory that said the future and the past

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