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Rupert Sheldrake

mature state that we share in common with animals and plants. This is a basic biological feature of our life.

Then there’s a sense in which there is a kind of biological destiny that’s common to all animals–you know, having children and reproducing. Not everybody does it, but it’s obviously pretty fundamental. Most people do it. If they didn’t we wouldn’t have a population problem, and that’s something that’s pretty fundamental to the human species today. Then there’s the more psychic, or personal, or spiritual kinds of destinies. Here one gets a whole variety of opinions as to what these are.

RMN: Could you expand on that?

RUPERT: The thing is that most of us aren’t at all original. We mostly take on opinions from the available variety on the market, and when you come to the question of individual destiny, you know, there’s several traditional theories. One is that when we die, that’s it, everything just goes blank, and so the only purpose of life is to enjoy it while it’s happening. There’s nothing beyond. This is the classic materialist or Epicurean view of life.

Then there are those who think that after death we go into a kind of underworld, and our destiny is to join the ancestors, and that basically we’re just cycled back into a kind of eternally cycling pool of life. This is found in traditional societies where it’s not believed that things change much over time, so the ancestors are constantly being recycled among the living, and they’re a living force. But people don’t have any individual destiny other than becoming merged with the ancestors. So that would be another option.

Then there’s the reincarnational theories, that you’re reincarnated, and that the ultimate destiny is liberation from the wheels of reincarnation. The boddhisatva ideal in Buddhism is to become liberated and then help others to become liberated. But if you don’t aspire towards that end, which is the ultimate human end, namely liberation, then through karmic activities and involvement with this life you’ll simply be reborn and keep being reborn until you move towards this end or goal which may take many lifetimes to achieve.

Then there’s the view you find among Christians and Moslems, which is that there’s another realm after this life in which you can undergo continued development or some further destiny, different destinies, depending on how you behave and what you want in this life. So, I mean there are many choices, and that’s one of the areas in which choice or freedom comes in. We choose which of these kinds of destiny we want to align ourselves with. Or if we don’t think about it or don’t choose, then we just fall to the lowest common denominator.

DJB: What types of research experiments do you think need to be done that would either prove or disprove the existence of morphic fields?

RUPERT: Well, I outline quite a number of them in my books. There’s a series of experiments that can be done in chemistry with crystals, in biochemistry with protein folding, in developmental biology with fruit fly development, in animal behavior with rats, in human behavior through studying rates of learning tasks that other people have learned before. So there’s a whole range of tests, the details of which I suggest in my books, which could be done to test the theory in a variety of areas: chemistry, biology, behavioral science, psychology. Some of these tests are going on right now in some universities in Britain. There’s a competition for tests being sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, tests to be done by students. The closing date’s in 1990. So these are just some of the tests that I’d like to see done to test the theory.

DJB: Could you tell us about any current projects on which you’re working?

RUPERT: Well, I’m doing two main things at present. One is that I’m helping to coordinate research on morphic resonance, organizing tests in the realms of chemistry and biology. And secondly I’m writing a book called The Rebirth of Nature. It’s a book about the ways in which we’re coming to see nature as alive, rather than inanimate, and how this has enormous implications: personally for people in their relationships with the world around them; collectively, through our collective relationship to nature; spiritually, the way this leads to a reframing or re-understanding of spiritual traditions, and politically through the Green Movement, which is now an influential political force, especially in Europe. Moving from the exploitive mechanistic attitude to

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