Includes: 8-part video seminar / 2 Live Q&A Sessions / 12 free chapter PDFs

In this seminar, Rupert Sheldrake outlines the scientific basis for morphic resonance and explains how it impacts biological inheritance, personal and collective memory, instincts, and the development of both living and non-living self-organizing systems, from crystals to societies.

Learn how morphic resonance fosters a fresh perspective on rituals, mantras, festivals, and pilgrimages. Uncover its role in family constellation therapy and its impact on learning. See how our own lives, like the evolutionary process itself, depend on an interplay between habits and creativity. Join Rupert on this deep dive as he unravels the enigma of morphic resonance, a theory that could forever change the way we perceive reality.

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Episode 1

Introduction to Morphic Resonance

Morphic resonance is a hypothesis about memory in nature. When similar patterns of activity are repeated, they become more likely to happen again; they become increasingly habitual. The context for this hypothesis is a clash of two of the most fundamental paradigms that have shaped western thought. The Greek paradigm of eternity, as articulated by Plato, saw changeless principles underlying all reality. By contrast, Jewish people thought in terms of historical development. The idea of changeless laws of nature was built into the foundations of modern science, but the Big Bang theory and evolutionary cosmology throw these into question. The universe is continually developing and may be governed by evolving habits rather than eternal laws.

Episode 2

Testing Morphic Resonance

As a scientific hypothesis, morphic resonance has enormous implications, and can be tested in the realms of physics, chemistry, biology and psychology. In this session I cover the best empirical tests of morphic resonance, including behaviour observed in the crystallization of novel chemical compounds, the tendency for the melting points of newly synthesized chemicals to increase, rats learning puzzles quicker after other rats have learned them, chicks becoming averse to stimuli that previous chicks associated with feeling sick, and people doing crossword puzzles more easily after many other people have already done them. All these and other examples show new habits becoming more habitual through repetition.

Episode 3

The Nature of Inheritance: Genes, Epigenetics and Morphic Resonance

The nature of inheritance was, until recently, treated as synonymous with genetics. If people wanted to say something was inherited or hereditary, they would say ‘it's genetic’. Yet genes only code for the sequence of amino acids in proteins, or affect the activity of other genes; they do not code for the shape of an organism, or its behaviour. To assume that all these organize themselves on the basis of making the right proteins is like expecting a pile of building material to assemble themselves into a house. Morphogenetic fields provide the plans and morphic resonance guides the development of these plans over time. Inheritance involves not only genes and epigenetic changes in gene expression, but also morphic resonance, which underlies the inheritance of form and instinct.

Episode 4

The Fields of Social Groups and the Inheritance of Behaviour-Patterns by Morphic Resonance

From the amazingly coordinated movements in flocks of birds, to telepathic communication between wolves separated by hundreds of miles, to the co-ordination of termite colonies, many aspects of social behaviour observed in nature imply that the behaviour of the group is coordinated through fields that include and link together the individual animals. These social fields are kinds of morphic fields, and contain a memory given by morphic resoance. Human groups are also infl;uenced by collective morphic fields, including families. Family fields inherit patterns from previous generations by morphic resonance, affecting the behaviour of people within them, sometimes giving rise to dysfunctional patterns that are carried over unconsciously. The ancestors play a hidden role within present-day families, as many traditional cultures recognize, and as some people in modern cultures are coming to acknowledge through family constellation therapy.

Episode 5

Morphic Resonance, Collective Memory and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

Despite the taboo against Lamarckian inheritance in the West, there is increasing evidence that acquired characteristics can indeed be inherited Recent research on epigenetics has shown that characteristics that organisms acquire in response to their environment can be passed on to their descendents. For example, in a study with mice, the fears of the fathers were passed on to their children and grandchildren. Morphic resonance goes further than standard epigenetics: animals can acquire behaviours or physical attributes not only from their direct ancestors, but from other members of their species, as if a collective memory is at work. We need a new evolutionary synthesis that takes into account these other forms of inheritance, over and above the narrowly genetic approach of neo-Darwinism. Morphic resonance also provides a new way of thinking about Carl Gustav Jung’s concept of a collective unconscious on which all individuals draw and to which they contribute.

Episode 6

Morphic Resonance in Myths and Rituals

Myths are stories of origin. Contemporary science has its own stories of origin: eg the Big Bang hypothesis. We cannot escape myths; they give structure and meaning to our lives. Morphic resonance is in tune with a mythic view of the world. As the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss put it, rituals express the ‘disjointed’ past through biological and seasonal periodicity, they unite the generations of the living and the dead. Examples of different rituals: Jewish Passover, Christian Last Supper, mantras in Hinduism and Buddhism. Sacrificial archetypes, such as those of Abraham and Isaac and the Lamb of God have deep biological and evolutionary roots. Myths exert power over us even when we are unconscious of them.

Episode 7

Individual Memory works by Morphic Resonance rather than by Material Traces in Brains

Habitual patterns of behaviour are tuned into by the self-resonance. According to orthodox neuroscience our memories depend on material memory traces stored in our brains, but the empirical evidence for material traces has always been very tenuous, and still is. The American neurophysiologist Karl Lashley found that he could remove over 50 percent of rats’ brains without affecting their ability to perform freshly learned tricks. Lashley’s student Karl Pribram suggested that memory is stored as a holographic interference pattern throughout the brain. The philosopher Henri Bergson argued against the theory of material memory traces, and morphic resonance provides a testable hypothesis for memory without the need for memories to be stored in brains. You tune into your own memories because you are more like yourself in the past than like anyone else, but we are also similar to other people and thus, less specifically, tune into collective memories.

Episode 8

Evolution: An Interplay Between Habit and Creativity

The universe is inherently unstable, and continuously creative. Cosmic evolution, biological and cultural evolution and our own development work on the same principles, with an interplay between the fundamental principles of habit and creativity. Morphic resonance accounts for the habits of nature but leaves open the question of creativity. To the extent that creativity involves the appearance of patterns that have not existed before, it goes beyond the purview of science. According to the Platonic view, all possible forms have always existed as timeless Forms in the eternal laws of nature. In his book Creative Evolution Henri Bergson argued against Platonic theory of creativity in favour of a continuously creative universe that is made up as it goes along. Creativity remains a profound mystery, and theories about the sources of creativity depend on wider worldviews.

Q&A Sessions

1st Q&A

November 22nd, 2023 zoom session. Rupert will have a second Q&A session at a later date, TBA. We'll let you know via email when this is scheduled.

Supporting evidence for MR includes:

  • Crystal formation: Similar crystal structures form more quickly over time, suggesting an influence from previous formations.
  • Melting points of crystals of new compounds go up, as morphic resonance from previous crystals of the same kind give more stability.
  • Inherited behaviour in animals: Observations of rapid behaviour adoption across separated groups, like the blue tit's milk bottle opening.
  • Learning in rats: Rats of the same breed learn to escape from a maze faster in subsequent generations, even when isolated from previous generations.
  • Synchronized behaviour in flocks and schools: Animals moving in harmony without apparent communication, which could be explained by a shared morphic field.
  • The persistent failure to find material memory traces in brains. Instead, memory may depend on morphic resonance.
  • Improvements in human performance over time, like the rise in average IQ test scores, called the Flynn effect.
  • People find it easier, on average, to solve crosswords or word puzzles like Wordle after many other people have laredy done them.
  • Evolutionary repeats and parallelisms, like similar animal types in marsupials and placental mammals.
  • Independent discoveries and parallel inventions in widely separated parts of the world.
  • Memory transfer in organ transplant recipients: Reports of recipients experiencing memories or preferences of donors, implying morphic resonance.
  • Recurrent patterns in families generation after generation suggesting the action of morphic resonance in family fields.

This series was recorded in March, 2022, as a live event on Zoom.

Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, is a biologist and author of more than a hundred technical papers and nine books, including The Science Delusion (called Science Set Free in the US). He was among the top 100 global thought leaders for 2013, as ranked by Switzerland's leading think tank, the Duttweiler Institute. He studied at Cambridge and Harvard Universities. As a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, he was Director of Studies in Cell Biology, and was also a research fellow of the Royal Society. He worked at the University of Malaya on tropical ferns, and in Hyderabad, India, as Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). In India, he also lived for two years in the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu. From 2005-2010, he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for the study of unexplained human and animal abilities, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is currently a fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California and of Schumacher College in Dartington, England. He lives in London and is married to Jill Purce, with whom he has two sons, Merlin, a mycologist and author of the bestselling book Entangled Life, and Cosmo, a musician.

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