what was it that originally inspired your interest in
biochemistry and morphogenesis?
RUPERT: I did biology because I was interested in animals and
plants, and because my father was a biologist. He was a natural
historian of the old school, with a microscope room at home and
cabinets of slides, and so on. And he taught me a lot about
plants, and I learned about animals through keeping pets. I was
just very interested in biology. One reason I did biochemistry
was because it was one of the very few sciences you could do
which was still covering all of biology.
plants, animals, and microorganisms. That appealed to me. It was
a kind of universal biological science. I saw, of course, quite
soon, that biochemistry was no way of understanding the forms of
animals and plants, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how
to make the bridge between embryology, plant development, and
what was going on on the biochemical level. And this was the
subject of research for some ten years that I did at Cambridge.
DJB: Just so that everyone is familiar with your theoretical
work, can you briefly define for us the basic intention behind,
and the basic elements of, the theory of formative causation?
RUPERT: The theory of formative causation is concerned with how
things take up their forms, or patterns, or organization. So it
covers the formation of galaxies, atoms, crystals, molecules,
plants, animals, cells, societies. It covers all kinds of things
that have forms, patterns, structures, or self-organizing
You see, all these things organize themselves. An atom doesnít
have to be put together by some external agency. It organizes
itself. A molecule and a crystal are not assembled by human
beings bit by bit, they spontaneously crystallize. Animals
spontaneously grow. All these things are different from
machines, which are artificially put together by human beings.
So, what my theory is concerned with is self-organizing natural
systems, and it deals with the cause of form. And the cause of
all these forms I take to be organizing fields, form-shaping
fields, which I call morphic fields, from the Greek word for
form. The original feature of what Iím saying is that the forms
of societies, ideas, crystals and molecules depend on the way
that previous ones of that kind have been organized. Thereís a
kind of built-in memory in the
morphic fields of each kind of
thing. So the regularities of nature I think of as more like
habits, than as things governed by eternal mathematical laws
that somehow exist outside nature.
RMN: Could you give a specific example of, and describe the
morphogenetic process in terms of, the development of a
well-established species, like a potato, for example?
RUPERT: Well, the idea is that each species, each member of a
species draws on the collective memory of the species, and tunes
in to past members of the species, and in turn contributes to
the further development of the species. So in the case of a
potato, youíd have a whole background resonance from past
species of potatoes, most of which grow wild in the Andes. And
then in that particular case, because itís a cultivated plant,
thereís been a development of a whole lot of varieties of
potatoes, which are cultivated, and as it so happens potatoes
are propagated vegetatively, so theyíre clones.
So each clone of potatoes, each variety, each member of the
clone will resonate with all previous members of the clone, and
that resonance is against a background of resonance with other
members of the potato species, and then thatís related to
related potato species, wild ones that still grow in the Andes.
So, thereís a whole kind of background resonance, but whatís
most important is the resonance from the most similar ones,
which is the past members of that variety. And this is what
makes the potatoes of that variety develop the way they do,
following the habits of their kind.
Usually these things are ascribed to genes. Most people assume
that inheritance depends on chemical genes and DNA, and say
thereís no problem, itís all just programmed in the DNA. What
Iím saying is that that view of biological development is
inadequate. The DNA is the same in all the cells of the potato,
in the shoots, in the roots, in the leaves, and the flowers. The
DNA is exactly the same, yet these organs develop differently.
So something more than DNA must be giving rise to the form of
the potato, and that is what I call the morphic field, the
An example of how youíd test the theory would depend on looking
at some change in the species that hadnít happened before, a new
phenomenon, and seeing how it spreads through the species. So,
for example, if you train rats to learn a new trick in one
place, then rats of that breed should learn it more quickly
everywhere in the world, just because the first ones have
learned it. The more that learn it, the easier it should get.
RMN: What about how the morphic field develops in a new system,
like a newly synthesized chemical, or a drug? How would the
field evolve around that?
RUPERT: Well, the first time the chemical is crystallized, there
wonít be a morphic field for the crystals, because they would
not have existed before. As time goes on, it should get easier
to crystallize, because of morphic resonance from previous
crystals. So, however the first pattern is taken --this is a
question of creativity, but assume, for example, itís
random--whenever the first lot of crystals crystallize that way,
out of the other possible ways they could have crystallized,
then that pattern will be stabilized through morphic resonance,
and the more often it happens, the more likely it will be to
happen again, through this kind of invisible memory connecting
up crystals throughout the world. Thereís already evidence that
new crystals, new compounds, do get easier to crystallize as
time goes on.
DJB: What are morphic fields made of, and how is it that they
can exist everywhere all at once? Do they work on a principle
similar to Bellís Theorem?
RUPERT: Well, you could ask the question, what are any fields
made of? You know, what is the electromagnetic field made of, or
what is the gravitational field made of? Nobody knows, even in
the case of the known fields of physics. It was thought in the
nineteenth century that they were made of ether. But then
Einstein showed that the concept of the ether was superfluous;
he said the electromagnetic field isnít made out of ether, itís
made out of itself. It just is. The magnetic field around a
magnet, for example, is not made of air, and itís not made of
matter. When you scatter iron fillings, you can reveal this
field, but itís not made of anything except the field. And then
if you say, well maybe all fields have some common substance, or
common property, then thatís the quest for a unified field
Then if you say, "Well, what is it that all fields are made of?"
the only answer that can be given is space-time, or space and
time. The substance of fields is space; fields are modifications
of space or of the vacuum. And according to Einsteinís general
theory of relativity, the gravitational field, the structure of
space-time in the whole universe, is not in space and time; it
is space-time. Thereís no space and time other than the
structure of fields. So fields are patterns of space-time. And
so the morphic field, like other fields, will be structures in
space and time. They have their own kind of ontological status,
the same kind of status as electromagnetic and gravitational
DJB: Wait. But those are localized arenít they? I mean, you
sprinkle iron fillings about a magnet, and you can see the field
around it. How is it that a morphic field can exist everywhere
all at once?
RUPERT: It doesnít. The morphic fields are localized. Theyíre in
and around the system they organize. So the morphic field of you
is in and around your body. The morphic field around a tomato
plant is in and around that plant. What Iím suggesting is that
morphic fields in different tomato plants resonate with each
other across space and time. Iím not suggesting that the field
itself is delocalized over the whole of space and time. Itís
suggesting that one field influences another field through space
and time. Now, the medium of transmission is obscure. I call it
morphic resonance, this process of resonating. What this is
replacing in conventional physics is the so-called "laws of
nature," which are believed to be present in all places, and at
So, what is the substance of a law of nature? And how are laws
of nature present in all places and at all times? These are the
alternative questions to the idea of morphic resonance. Itís not
as if ordinary physics has something thatís more "common sense"
than morphic resonance; it has something thatís less common
sense. It has the idea of invisible mathematical laws, which are
not material or energetic, yet present everywhere and always,
utterly mysterious. Morphic resonance is mysterious, but it
involves not a pattern imposed from outside space and time
everywhere, but rather a pattern that can spread through space
and time, by the process I call morphic resonance.
RMN: You suggest that the hypothesis of formative causation does
not refute orthodox theory but actually incorporates and
complements it. How is this so?
RUPERT: The orthodox theory in biology and in chemistry, and
indeed in science, is the mechanistic theory of nature that says
all natural systems are like machines, and are made up of
physical and chemical processes. What Iím saying is that you
can, if you like, think of aspects of nature as being
machine-like, but this doesnít explain them. Nature isnít a
machine. You and I are not machines. We may be like machines in
certain respects. Our hearts may be like pumps, and our brains,
in some sense, like computers.
Mechanistic theory is providing machine analogies for nature,
and itís true that you can look at some aspects of organisms in
this machine-like way. But in other important respects, nature
in general, and organisms in particular, are not machines or
machine-like. So, what Iím suggesting is that the mechanistic
theory is alright as far as it goes. Its positive content is
alright when it tells us about the physics of nerve impulses, or
the chemistry of enzymes; thatís fine, this is useful
information, and is part of the picture.
If it says that life is nothing but things that can be explained
in terms of regular ordinary physics, that already exist in
physics textbooks, if it says life is nothing but that--and this
is what most mechanistic biologists do say--then I think itís
wrong, because itís too limited. Itís taking a part of the
picture, and assuming itís the whole. Itís a half-truth.
RMN: Youíve incorporated that into your theory, and just taken
it to another level...?
RUPERT: Yes. There are still enzymes and nerve impulses in the
kind of world Iím talking about; all the things that are in
regular biochemistry and biophysics are still there. What isnít
still there is the assumption that these aspects of the process
are all there is. To take an analogy, itís like trying to
understand a building. If you want to understand a building, one
level of looking at it is to say, well itís made of wood and
other things, metal and frames, and so on. And then you can say
we can measure, we can analyze the wood and other components.
You can find out exactly what chemicals are in the wood, the
exact molecular composition, the exact constituents of the whole
building. But when you grind it up or break it down to analyze
the parts, the form of the building, the structure of the room,
the plan disappears when youíre analyzing the constituents,
especially if you have to knock it down to do that. And usually
to analyze the chemical constituents within an organism, first
you have to kill and destroy it. So the plan of the building is
also part of the building, itís the formative aspect of the
building, the form. And youíll never understand the plan of a
building, its form or its function for that matter, just by
analyzing the constituents. Although without the constituents,
the wood and stuff, you canít have a building.
DJB: What are the implications of the theory of formative
causation? How do hypothetical morphic fields affect things like
the sciences, the arts, technologies, and social structures?
RUPERT: Well, Iíve written an entire book on this subject--The
Presence of the Past--so itís difficult to answer it extremely
briefly. But, first of all, it gives a completely different
understanding of formative processes in biology and in
chemistry. It gives a new understanding of instincts and
behavioral patterns, as being organized by morphic fields. It
gives a new understanding of social structure, in terms of
morphic fields, and cultural forms, and ideas. All of these I
see as patterns organized by these fields with an inherent
In the human realm, for example, it leads to the idea of a
collective human memory on which we all draw, which is very like
Jungís idea of the collective unconscious. In terms of social
groups, it gives rise to the idea that the whole social group is
organized by a field. And that that field is not just an
organizing structure in the present, but also contains a memory
of that social group in the past, a group memory---and also,
through morphic resonance, a memory of other similar social
groups that have existed before.
So, a football team, for example, will tune into its own field
in the past. The individual players on the football team will be
coordinated not just by observing each other, but by a kind of
group mind that will be working when the gameís going around.
And this will in turn have as a kind of background resonance the
morphic fields of other similar football teams.
RMN: On the one hand it is reassuring that a certain pattern or
order is being maintained, and yet options must be available for
change if that pattern ceases to function effectively. In what
ways does nature supply the necessary conditions for this
balance of repeatability and novelty?
RUPERT: Well, the universe is not in a steady state; thereís an
ongoing creative principle in nature, which is driving things
onwards. Cosmologically speaking, this is the expansion of the
universe. If the universe had been in a steady state at the
moment of the Big Bang, itíd still be at billions of degrees
centigrade. We wouldnít be here. The reason weíre here is
because the Big Bang involved a colossal explosion, an outward
movement of expansion of the whole universe, such that it cooled
down, and virtually created more space for new things to happen.
And in the ongoing evolutionary process, thereís a constant
destabilization of whatís there through the fact that the
universe is not in equilibrium.
This ongoing process in the whole of nature in itself tends to
break up old patterns, and prevent things just stopping where
they were. You see it in the history of the earth, the ongoing
evolutionary process, through the catastrophic changes that have
happened to the earth through the impact of asteroids and so on.
The cumulative nature of the evolutionary process, the fact that
memory is preserved, means that life grows not just through a
random proliferation of new forms, but thereís a kind of
cumulative quality. You start with single-celled organisms, and
you end with complex multi-cellular ones, like there are today.
New species arise usually when new opportunities appear, and the
biggest bursts of speciation that we know about in the history
of the earth are soon after great cataclysms, like the
extinction of the dinosaurs, which create new opportunities, and
all sorts of new forms spring up. Thereafter they tend to be
fairly stable. So, quite often, the reasons for creativity
depend on accidents or disasters that prevent the normal habits
being carried out.
RMN: When a system hits an evolutionary dead end, an organism
becomes extinct or an object obsolete. What happens to its
field? Does it kind of just breakup and merge with other similar
RUPERT: Well, I think in a sense the ghosts of dead species
would still be haunting the world, that the fields of the
dinosaurs would still be potentially present ... if you could
tune into them. If a dinosaur egg could be reconstituted, you
could get them back again. I think that in the course of
evolution these past forms do indeed reappear. Theyíre known in
the biological literature as atavisms, the process by which the
forms, or patterns, or behaviors of extinct species reappear in
living ones. Like babies being born with tails.
DJB: Or parallel evolution?
RUPERT: Well, parallel evolution would involve a similar
process, but what Iím talking about is the influence of extinct
species traveling across time and these features reappearing.
Parallel evolution would be where you have the features of some
species traveling across space, and similar patterns evolving
somewhere else like, for example, the evolution of forms among
marsupials in Australia that parallel those of placental mammals
DJB: You said before that there could be a sort of collective
memory, and you said that was analogous to Jungís notion of the
collective unconscious. Do you think itís possible then that morphic fields are, or can be, actually conscious?
RUPERT: I donít think that morphic fields are conscious. I think
that some aspects of morphic fields could become conscious in
human beings. I think that the underlying patterns of mental
activity that are ideas, thoughts, etc., depend on our morphic
fields. I think they become conscious in us. But most of the
collective unconscious, most of our habits, and most of the
habits of nature, I think, are unconscious, and most of nature,
I think, works much more like our unconscious minds than like
our conscious minds. And after all, 90%, maybe 99%, of our own
activity is unconscious. We donít need to assume that the kind
of unconscious memories that we ourselves have are any different
from the rest of nature.
We neednít assume that just because we have some conscious
memories, all of the memory of nature must be conscious. In
fact, most of our memories are unconscious, as are most of our
habits, like the habit of speaking English, for example, the way
one speaks, oneís mannerisms, oneís accent, or the habit of
driving a car. When you drive a car, you donít have to be
conscious of every muscular movement, or everything youíre
doing. Those habits unfold spontaneously. And the more
deep-seated biological habits, like the functioning of our
bodies, and our heartbeat, and the way our guts our working are
completely unconscious to most of us.
DJB: In your book The Presence of the Past you offer the
suggestion that memories are not actually stored in the brain,
but rather they may be stored in an information field that can
be accessed by the brain. If this should prove to be true, do
you believe then that human consciousness, our personal memories
and sense of self, may survive biological death in some form?
RUPERT: Well, certainly the idea that memories arenít stored in
the brain opens the way for a new debate or new perspective on
the question of survival of death. Most people assume memories
are stored in the brain, simply because this is the mechanistic
paradigm thatís very rarely challenged. Thereís 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 thereís 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. Thatís 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, thereís very little evidence
theyíre stored in the brain.
So if theyíre not stored in the brain then the memories wonít
decay at death, but thereíll 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? Thatís 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 thatís 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, itís 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 whoíd 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
whoíve 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? Iíve been wondering about
RUPERT: I think all such fields are organized holorarchically or
hierarchically. Theyíre hierarchical in the sense of nested
hierarchies. Cells are within tissues, and tissues are within
organs, and organs are within your body. Thereís 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; thereís a two-way influence.
DJB: Do you think itís possible that morphic fields
future may be influencing us, as well as those from the past? If
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 Iím 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 exerted equal influences, but that theory would be
different from the one Iím suggesting, which is that the past is
influencing the present through morphic resonance. If future and
past influenced it equally, the theory would be virtually
untestable, because we donít know what will happen in the
future, so we wouldnít know what influences weíd be testing for.
If the future influenced things as much as the past, then the
experiments Iím suggesting, like rats getting better at learning
something all around the world, shouldnít work. Rats should
start off just as good as they continue, because theyíll always
be limitless numbers in the future, which would be influencing
them. So this is actually a testable possibility.
I think that habits and memories come from the past. This is
just common sense. We have memories of the past, and we donít
have memories of the future in the same way. Occasionally some
people have pre-cognitive flashes. But we donít have memories of
the future. We may have hopes, plans, desires, inspirations,
insights, etc., but theyíre not memories in the same sense that
memories from the past are memories. We donít get habits from
the future, we get them from the past.
RMN: Could the presence of the future be described as the
potential state of the system, the virtual state, as it moves
along the pathways or access routes towards it?
RUPERT: Yes, I think so. I think there are two ways of thinking
about it. One is thereís a kind of aura around the present
stretching out into the future, which is the realm of hopes,
fears, possibilities, dreams, imaginings about what can happen.
But then thereís a further question, and a more fundamental one,
as to whether the whole evolutionary process is being pulled
from the future, rather than being pushed from the past. And the
idea that itís all being pulled from the future is a very
traditional view, and so is the idea itís being pushed from the
The traditional Judeo-Christian view of history is that history
is being pulled from the future, thereís something in the
future--which Terence McKenna calls the transcendental object,
Teilhard de Chardin calls the omega point, what the
Revelation calls the new creation, what metanarians have thought
of as the millennium. That some future state of perfection is
drawing the whole cosmic evolutionary process towards itself in
some mysterious way. And that, therefore, the whole cosmic
evolutionary process has a kind of goal or purpose. Well thatís
a view which many people subscribe to, and itís a view that lies
at the root of the doctrine of progress, which dominates our
So this view isnít just a philosophical view; in a secularized
form, it dominates both capitalist and communist societies--the
dream of a better future. Most traditional societies havenít had
that dream, they havenít been motivated by that, they looked to
the past for a model of the way things should be, how it used to
be in the golden age. They havenít tried to create a new kind of
future golden age. And our society represents an ambitious
global attempt to do just that through conquering nature by
means of science and technology. The inspirational basis for the
destruction of the environment, the development of the tropical
forests, etc., is this dream of a future state on earth that
progress will lead us towards, where thereís peace, prosperity,
and plenty through manís conquest of nature.
And many of us now think that dream is a kind of chimera, a
vision that is utterly destructive in its consequences. But the
fact is that it still comes from that same dream of a future
pulling things along. I think all forms of western thought are
under the influence of this particular attractor, as one could
call it. The idea of a future goal attracting things towards it
is utterly dominant in almost every area of western thought I
know. The New Age communists with their millenarian vision--itís
just part of our culture.
RMN: Yeah, that leads on to the next question I have about how
to use the concept of attractors, as expressed in the current
research of dynamical systems, in the theory of formative
RUPERT: Well, the idea of attractors, which is developed in
modern mathematical dynamics, is a way of modeling the way
systems develop, by modeling the end states toward which they
tend. This is an attempt to understand systems by understanding
where theyíre headed to in the future, rather than just where
theyíve been pushed from in the past. So, the attractor, as the
name implies, pulls the system towards itself. A very simple,
easy-to-understand, example is throwing marbles, or round balls
into a pudding basin. The balls will roll round and round, and
theyíll finally come to rest at the bottom of the basin. The
bottom of the basin is the attractor, in what mathematicians
call the basin of attraction.
The basin is, in fact, their principal metaphor. So the ball
rolls down to the bottom. It doesnít matter where you throw it
in, or at what speed you throw it in, or by what route it
takes--what this model does is tell you where itís going to end
up. This kind of mathematical modeling is extremely appropriate,
I think, to the understanding of biological morphogenesis, or
the formation of crystals or molecules, or the formation of
galaxies, or the formation of ideas, or human behavior, or the
behavior of entire societies. Because all of them seem to have
this kind of tendency to move towards attractors, which we think
of consciously as goals and purposes. But, throughout the
natural world these attractors exist, I think, largely
unconsciously. The oak tree is the attractor of the acorn. So
the growing oak seedling is drawn towards its formal attractor,
its morphic attractor, which is the mature oak tree.
RMN: So, it is like the future in some sense.
RUPERT: Itís like the future pulling, but itís not the future.
Itís a hard concept to grasp, because what we think of as the
future pulling is not necessary what will happen in the future.
You can cut the acorn down before it ever reaches the oak tree.
So, itís not as if its future as oak tree is pulling it. Itís
some kind of potentiality to reach an end state, which is
inherent in its nature. The attractor in traditional language is
the entelechy, in Aristotleís language, and in the language of
the medieval scholastics. Entelechy is the aspect of the soul,
which is the end which draws everything towards it.
people would have their own entelechy, which would be like their
own destiny or purpose. Each organism, like an acorn, would have
the entelechy of an oak tree, which means this end
state--entelechy means the end which is within it--it has its
own end, purpose, or goal. And thatís what draws it. But that
end, purpose, or goal is somehow not necessarily in the future.
It is in a sense in the future. In another sense itís not the
actual future of that system, although it becomes so.
RMN: Perhaps the most compelling implication of your hypothesis
is that nature is not governed by eternally fixed laws but more
by habits that are able to evolve as conditions change. In what
ways do you think the human experience of reality could be
affected as a result of this awareness?
RUPERT: Well, I think first of all the idea of habits developing
along with nature gives us a much more evolutionary sense of
nature herself. I think that nature - the entire cosmos, the
natural world we live in - is in some sense alive, and that itís
more like a developing organism, with developing habits, than
like a fixed machine governed by fixed laws, which is the old
image of the cosmos, the old world view.
Second, I think the notion of natural habits enables us to see
how thereís a kind of presence of the past in the world around
us. The past isnít just something that happens and is gone. Itís
something which is continually influencing the present, and is
in some sense present in the present.
Thirdly, it gives us a completely different understanding of
ourselves, our own memories, our own collective memories, and
the influence of our ancestors, and the past of our society. And
it also gives an important new insight into the importance of
rituals, and forms through which we connect ourselves with the
past, forms in which past members of our society become present
through ritual activity. I think it also enables us to
understand how new patterns of activity can spread far more
quickly than would be possible under standard mechanistic
theories, or even under standard psychological theories. Because
if many people start doing, thinking, or practicing something,
itíll make it easier for others to do the same thing.
RMN: And the way different discoveries are found simultaneously.
RUPERT: Yes. I mean, thatís another aspect. It will also mean
things that some people do-will resonate with others, as in
independent discoveries, parallel cultural development, etc.
RMN: When you were talking about the individualsí destinies
being ruled by some kind of morphic field of their own.
Individuality--does that resonate through their ancestral
heritage and their environment?
RUPERT: Well, it was in a quite limited sense that I was using
the term. When youíre an embryo thereís a sense in which the
destiny of the embryo is to be an adult human being. Thereís a
sense in which the growth and development of an embryo and a
child are headed toward the adult state. Thatís a relation to
time, of heading towards an adult or mature state that we share
in common with animals and plants. This is a basic biological
feature of our life.
Then thereís a sense in which there is a kind of biological
destiny thatís common to all animals--you know, having children
and reproducing. Not everybody does it, but itís obviously
pretty fundamental. Most people do it. If they didnít we
wouldnít have a population problem, and thatís something thatís
pretty fundamental to the human species today. Then thereís 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 arenít 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, thereís several traditional theories. One is that when
we die, thatís it, everything just goes blank, and so the only
purpose of life is to enjoy it while itís happening. Thereís
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 weíre just cycled back into a kind of
eternally cycling pool of life. This is found in traditional
societies where itís not believed that things change much over
time, so the ancestors are constantly being recycled among the
living, and theyíre a living force. But people donít have any
individual destiny other than becoming merged with the
ancestors. So that would be another option.
Then thereís the reincarnational theories, that youíre
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 donít aspire towards that end, which is the ultimate
human end, namely liberation, then through karmic activities and
involvement with this life youíll simply be reborn and keep
being reborn until you move towards this end or goal which may
take many lifetimes to achieve.
Then thereís the view you find among Christians and Moslems,
which is that thereís 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 thatís
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 donít think about it or donít 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
RUPERT: Well, I outline quite a number of them in my books.
Thereís 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 thereís
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. Thereís a competition for tests being sponsored by the
Institute of Noetic Sciences, tests to be done by students. The
closing dateís in 1990. So these are just some of the tests that
Iíd like to see done to test the theory.
DJB: Could you tell us about any current projects on which
RUPERT: Well, Iím doing two main things at present.
One is that
Iím helping to coordinate research on morphic resonance,
organizing tests in the realms of chemistry and biology.
secondly Iím writing a book called
The Rebirth of Nature. Itís a
book about the ways in which weíre coming to see nature as
alive, rather than inanimate, and how this has enormous
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
politically through the Green Movement, which is now an
influential political force, especially in Europe
the exploitive mechanistic attitude to a symbiotic attitude, we
realize that weíre not in charge of nature, weíre not separate
from nature and somehow running it. Rather weíre part of
ecosystems, and part of the world, and our continued existence
depends on living harmoniously with the planet of which weíre a
part. Itís an obvious thing, this Gaian perspective, but it
hasnít been taken seriously in politics. But now it is being
taken seriously, and so I would say the idea of nature as alive
has become a very important force in our society through its
political manifestations as well as its scientific ones.