Another short-coming of traditional Western science is its inability to explain the existence of forms in nature. No matter how we magnify or manipulate the material world, no mechanical model explains the emergence of the variety of unique and semi-unique forms in nature. Every type of rock, plant, animal, organism, bacteria, all aggregate themselves into distinct and definite types with traits/characteristics semi-unique to their form and completely unique to them individually. For example each oak tree has many semi-unique features that characterize it clearly as an oak and not a pine, like the shape of its leaves, being non-coniferous, etc. These features are semi-unique as all oak trees share them, however on another level, no two oak trees are exactly alike either. Exact size, shape, dimensions, growth patterns, ring patterns etc. are completely unique to each tree. So what is the mechanism in nature which constantly creates these unique and semi-unique forms? Newton’s model, nor the 300+ subsequent years of material science since have been able to explain this. British biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of morphogenic resonance, however, seems to be our best current theory.
“British biologist Rupert Sheldrake has offered an incisive critique of traditional science … He pointed out that in its single-minded pursuit of ‘energetic causation,’ Western science neglected the problem of form in nature. He pointed out that our study of substance alone cannot explain why there is order, pattern, and meaning in nature any more than the examination of the building materials in a cathedral, castle, or tenement house can explain the particular forms those architectural structures have taken. No matter how sophisticated our study of the materials, we will not be able to explain the creative forces that guided the designs of these structures. Sheldrake suggests that forms in nature are governed by what he calls ‘morphogenic fields,’ which cannot be detected or measured by contemporary science. This would mean that all scientific efforts of the past have totally neglected a dimension that is absolutely critical for understanding the nature of reality.” -Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (11)
As an example Sheldrake asks us to consider the complexity of the human body. For instance, take notice of your arms, how they twist, bend, and rotate, notice how your fingers separate and clasp with opposable thumbs, giving your upper-limbs unique function and purpose. Now take notice of your legs, how they are designed, how they bend and move, notice your feet/toes, and how your lower-limbs perfectly serve their unique function and purpose. Arms and legs look different; have different functions and locations, but the DNA, chemicals, nerves, cells and molecules composing them are exactly the same. So how did they become different and why? What property within leg cells determined them to become a leg, and what property within arm cells determined them to become an arm?
“Sheldrake proposes a theory he calls Morphic Resonance. This theory basically states that there is a field of energy surrounding and permeating an organism which contains, among other things, the form of the organism. He writes that each species has its own field, that there are fields within fields, and that these fields have built-in memory, based upon what has happened in the past derived from previous organisms or forms of a similar kind. In other words, each organism on the planet shares fields of similar energy or we could say a specific frequency.” -Eric Pepin, “Handbook of the Navigator” (78)
What biological mechanism recognizes, stores, and develops the evolution and various adaptations of a species? If a species of insect develops camouflage coloration like nearby foliage to hide from predators, where is that information stored? If a species of bird develops curvature in its beak to assist in gathering low-laying food/materials, what mechanism informs new beak cells to curve? The typical answer is that this information is stored and transmitted by genes/DNA, however, no biologist can explain how this occurs. Sheldrake compares it to studying building materials at a construction site and attempting to determine the structure of the house to be built.
“British biologist Rupert Sheldrake has mounted one of the most constant and vociferous challenges to this approach …Current genetic theory also doesn’t explain, he says, how a developing system can self-regulate, or grow normally in the course of development if a part of the system is added or removed, and doesn’t explain how an organism regenerates – replacing missing or damaged structures. In a rush of fevered inspiration while at an ashram in India, Sheldrake worked out his hypothesis of formative causation, which states that the forms of self-organizing living things – everything from molecules and organisms to societies and even entire galaxies – are shaped by morphic fields. These fields have a morphic resonance – a cumulative memory – of similar systems through cultures and time, so that species of animals and plants ‘remember’ not only how to look but also how to act … ‘Morphic resonance,’ is, in his view, ‘the influence of like upon like through space and time.’ He believes these fields are different from electro-magnetic fields because they reverberate across generations with an inherent memory of the correct shape and form.” -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (46-7)
The question of form and process in nature is still a complete mystery, no matter how many fancy explanations or Latin terms scientists create. How do embryos develop from fertilized eggs? How does a tiny seed grow into a huge tree? Inside every apple seed there is the potential to grow an entire apple tree with deep roots, winding branches, colorful leaves, and hundreds of apples with thousands more seeds inside! Where is this amazing blueprint in those tiny seeds? How does part of the seed become a root, another part become a branch, another part become a leaf, and another part become an apple?
“Imagine a little acorn planted in the ground. The form and shape of that little acorn, hidden in the earth, is vastly different from the giant tree it will become, with branches sticking out in every direction, leaves and bark, roots reaching far into the earth. We could say that the acorn contains some kind of genetic program that tells it how to grow and how to form. But, where is this program? If we said this genetic program was within the DNA, science and biologists such as Rupert Sheldrake, tell us we would be wrong. DNA codes for proteins and the micro components which make up proteins. Coding the structure of single, solitary parts that make up organisms, such as proteins, is very different than coding the shape and structure of an entire organism.” -Eric Pepin, “Handbook of the Navigator” (77)
In 1921 an interesting phenomenon relevant to morphic fields was first observed in Southampton, England. In the morning when people came out to get the milk from their doorsteps, they found the cardboard lids torn to shreds and the cream disappeared from their bottles. It turns out blue tit birds in the area had learned to perch atop the bottles, pull off the cardboard lids with their beaks and drink the cream. Several months later this phenomenon began occurring elsewhere in Britain about 50 miles away, then later about 100 miles away, then again and again in many diverse locations throughout Europe:
“Whenever the bluetit phenomenon turned up, it started spreading locally, presumably by imitation. However, bluetits are very home-loving creatures, and they don’t normally travel more than four or five miles. Therefore, the dissemination of the behavior over large distances could only be accounted for in terms of an independent discovery of the habit … The people who did the study came to the conclusion that it must have been ‘invented’ independently at least 50 times. Moreover, the rate of spread of the habit accelerated as time went on … Here is an example of a pattern of behavior which was spread in a way which seemed to speed up with time, and which might provide an example of morphic resonance.” -Eric Pepin, “Handbook of the Navigator” (79-80)
Decades later, further evidence for morphic resonance was provided by Dutch blue tits. Due to the German occupation of Holland during World War II, their milk delivery ceased in 1939, not to resume again until 1948 (9 years later). Since the average lifespan of a blue tit is only 2-3 years, it is safe to assume that none of them alive in 1939 were still around in 1948, yet mysteriously when milk delivery resumed, the phenomenon quickly sprang up again in diverse locations spreading rapidly throughout the country. This time, however, the behavior began right away and independently popped up in various places at a higher rate of frequency. This lends credence to the idea that the evolutionary spread of new behaviors are likely not genetic but rather due to a kind of “collective memory” phenomenon like Sheldrake’s morphogenic fields or Carl Jung’s collective unconscious.
“Jung thought of the collective unconscious as a collective memory, the collective memory of humanity. He thought that people would be more tuned into members of their own family and race and social and cultural group, but that nevertheless there would be a background resonance from all humanity: a pooled or averaged experience of basic things that all people experience (e.g., maternal behavior and various social patterns and structures of experience and thought). It would not be a memory from particular persons in the past so much as an average of the basic forms of memory structures; these are the archetypes. Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious makes extremely good sense in the context of the general approach that I am putting forward. Morphic resonance theory would lead to a radical reaffirmation of Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious.” –Rupert Sheldrake, “Morphic Resonance” (11-12)
Biologist Lyall Watson in his book “Lifetide” also offers evidence in support of Sheldrake’s theory with his discovery of “the hundredth monkey effect.” This phenomenon was first observed during an experiment on a remote Japanese island where scientists were leaving sweet potatoes on the beach to feed Macaque monkeys. These particular monkeys had never eaten sweet potatoes before; they enjoyed them very much but didn’t like eating the beach sand covering them. Soon one intelligent monkey started taking his potatoes to the shoreline and scrubbing them underwater which both removed the sand and gave them a desirable salty taste. Shortly after this more and more monkeys began to copy the potato washing habit until the entire island’s monkey population was doing it. Next, strangely, whole communities of Macaques on many other unconnected islands not part of the experiment, Macaques who already ate sweet potatoes as a staple food, spontaneously began washing their potatoes in the sea as well! There was no possible connection or communication between the islands or various communities of Macaques, so how and why did this behavior spread?
“Consider the hypothesis that if you train rats to learn a new trick in Santa Barbara, then rats all over the world should be able to learn to do the same trick more quickly, just because the rats in Santa Barbara have learned it. This new pattern of learning will be, as it were, in the rat collective memory -in the morphic fields of rats, to which other rats can tune in, just because they are rats and just because they are in similar circumstances, by morphic resonance. This may seem a bit improbable, but either this sort of thing happens or it doesn’t. Among the vast number of papers in the archives of experiments on rat psychology, there are a number of examples of experiments in which people have actually monitored rates of learning over time and discovered mysterious increases. In my book, A New Science of Life, I describe one such series of experiments which extended over a 50-year period. Begun at Harvard and then carried on in Scotland and Australia, the experiment demonstrated that rats increased their rate of learning more than tenfold. This was a huge effect – not some marginal statistically significant result. This improved rate of learning in identical learning situations occurred in these three separate locations and in all rats of the breed, not just in rats descended from trained parents.” –Rupert Sheldrake, “Morphic Resonance” (6-7)
Monica England of Nottingham University’s Psychology Department knew about Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance and devised an interesting experiment to test for collective consciousness in humans. She reasoned that if morphic resonance is occurring, it should be easier to do today’s newspaper crossword puzzle tomorrow than it would have been yesterday. London’s Evening Standard newspaper provided their crossword in advance for her experiment. First students all completed a control crossword to measure their ability, then half were tested in Nottingham the day before and half the day after the crossword was published in London. Amazingly, the students who did the already published crossword (the puzzle that had already been completed by thousands of Evening Standard readers) improved their scores by an average of 25% What can account for this huge jump in scores?
In another similar study, two teams from Australia and Britain did an experiment with face recognition. They created a photo image with over a hundred faces in it, big ones, small ones, faces within faces etc. then asked people to point out as many faces as they could find within an allotted time. Because they were so well hidden a control group of several hundred Australians could only see about six to ten faces total. Then back in England, the other team of researchers showed a group of volunteers the picture on a closed-cable BBC TV station with a narrator pointing out one-by-one every single face. A few minutes later the Australian team repeated the experiment with several hundred more volunteers ready and waiting. Amazingly, this time most people were able to find not just a few, but the majority of faces within the allotted time limit! What could account for this other than some mechanism like Jung’s collective memory or Sheldrake’s morphic resonance? The typical “DNA” explanation is insufficient.
“As we will see, this model does not work very well. The genetic program is assumed to be identical with DNA, the genetic chemical. The genetic information is coded in DNA and this code forms the genetic program. But such a leap requires projecting onto DNA properties that it does not actually possess. We know what DNA does: it codes for proteins; it codes for the sequence of amino acids which form proteins. However, there is a big difference between coding for the structure of a protein – a chemical constituent of the organism – and programming the development of an entire organism. It is the difference between making bricks and building a house out of the bricks. You need the bricks to build the house. If you have defective bricks, the house will be defective. But the plan of the house is not contained in the bricks, or the wires, or the beams, or cement. Analogously, DNA only codes for the materials from which the body is constructed: the enzymes, the structural proteins, and so forth. There is no evidence that it also codes for the plan, the form, the morphology of the body.” -Rupert Sheldrake, “Morphic Resonance” (3-4)
More scientific verification for Sheldrake’s theory came from Yale University with Dr. Harold S. Burr’s studies of electromagnetic radiation fields. He discovered that there are electrical fields surrounding all organisms from molds, bacteria and plants to salamanders, frogs and humans, and that within these fields there exists an observable energetic blueprint of each organism’s future. For instance plant seedlings have electrical fields which resemble the eventual adult plant. Baby salamanders possess energy fields shaped like adult salamanders and the energetic blueprint can even be seen in an unfertilized egg.
“Each species has its own fields, and within each organism there are fields within fields. Within each of us is the field of the whole body; fields for arms and legs and fields for kidneys and livers; within are fields for the different tissues inside these organs, and then fields for the cells, and fields for the sub-cellular structures, and fields for the molecules, and so on. There is a whole series of fields within fields. The essence of the hypothesis I am proposing is that these fields, which are already accepted quite widely within biology, have a kind of in-built memory derived from previous forms of a similar kind. The liver field is shaped by the forms of previous livers and the oak tree field by the forms and organization of previous oak trees. Through the fields, by a process called morphic resonance, the influence of like upon like, there is a connection among similar fields. That means that the field’s structure has a cumulative memory, based on what has happened to the species in the past.” –Rupert Sheldrake, “Morphic Resonance” (5)
Elmer Lund at the University of Texas discovered that he could control the regeneration of limbs in hydras using electrical fields. By applying an electrical current strong enough to override the hydras’ natural morphogenic field, he was able to cause heads to form where tails should be and vice versa. Similar experiments have been performed on flatworms, salamanders and other organisms all of which have had their natural “genetic” or “morphogenic” data re-programmed by electrical frequencies. This provides yet more evidence that all organisms must be involved in some type of energetic data transference that determines things like form and process in nature. It seems DNA holds the blueprint, but rather than being set in stone, it is constantly being edited and re-worked by various fields of influence both from within and outside our bodies.
“Rather than a system of fortunate but ultimately random error, if DNA uses frequencies of all variety as an information tool, this would suggest instead a feedback system of perfect communication through waves which encode and transfer information.” -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (51)
“One fact which led to the development of this theory is the remarkable ability organisms have to repair damage. If you cut an oak tree into little pieces, each little piece, properly treated, can grow into a new tree. So from a tiny fragment, you can get a whole. Machines do not do that; they do not have this power of remaining whole if you remove parts of them. Chop a computer up into small pieces and all you get is a broken computer. It does not regenerate into lots of little computers. But if you chop a flatworm into small pieces, each piece can grow into a new flatworm. Another analogy is a magnet. If you chop a magnet into small pieces, you do have lots of small magnets, each with a complete magnetic field. This is a holistic property that fields have that mechanical systems do not have unless they are associated with fields. Still another example is the hologram, any part of which contains the whole. A hologram is based on interference patterns within the electromagnetic field. Fields thus have a holistic property which was very attractive to the biologists who developed this concept of morphogenetic fields.” –Rupert Sheldrake, “Morphic Resonance” (5)