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Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness

Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness

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Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness

3.5/5 (4 valutazioni)
259 pagine
5 ore
Nov 1, 2001


Three of the most original thinkers of our time explore issues that call into question our current views of reality, morality, and the nature of life.

• A wide-ranging investigation of the ecology of inner and outer space, the role of chaos theory in the dynamics of human creation, and the rediscovery of traditional wisdom.

In this book of "trialogues," the late psychedelic visionary and shamanologist Terence McKenna, acclaimed biologist and originator of the morphogenetic fields theory Rupert Sheldrake, and mathematician and chaos theory scientist Ralph Abraham explore the relationships between chaos and creativity and their connection to cosmic consciousness. Their observations call into question our current views of reality, morality, and the nature of life in the universe. The authors challenge the reader to the deepest levels of thought with wide-ranging investigations of the ecology of inner and outer space, the role of chaos in the dynamics of human creation, and the resacralization of the world. Among the provocative questions the authors raise are: Is Armageddon a self-fulfilling prophecy? Are we humans the imaginers or the imagined? Are the eternal laws of nature still evolving? What is the connection between physical light and the light of consciousness?

Part ceremony, part old-fashioned intellectual discussion, these trialogues are an invitation to a new understanding of what Jean Houston calls "the dreamscapes of our everyday waking life."
Nov 1, 2001

Informazioni sull'autore

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist, a former research fellow of the Royal Society at Cambridge, a current fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences near San Francisco, and an academic director and visiting professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cambridge University and was a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, where he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells. He is the author of more than eighty scientific papers and ten books, including Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home; Morphic Resonance; The Presence of the Past; Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness; The Rebirth of Nature; and Seven Experiences That Could Change the World. In 2019, Rupert Sheldrake was cited as one of the "100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in the World" according to Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine.

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Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness - Rupert Sheldrake



Creativity and the Imagination

Rupert: There’s a profound crisis in the scientific world at the moment that is going to change science as we know it. Two of the West’s fundamental models of reality are in tremendous conflict. The existing worldview of science is an unstable combination of two great tectonic plates of theory that are crashing into each other. Where they meet, there are major theoretical earthquakes and disruptions and volcanos of speculation.

One of these theories says that there’s an unchanging permanence underlying everything that we know, see, experience, and feel. In Newtonian physics, that permanence is seen as twofold. First of all, there’s the permanence of the eternal mathematical laws of nature considered by Newton and Descartes to be ideas in the mind of God—God being a mathematician. The image of God as a kind of transcendent disembodied mathematician containing the mathematical laws of nature as eternal Ideas is a recurrently popular idea, at least among mathematicians. The other sort of permanence is in the atoms of matter in motion. All material objects are supposed to be permutations and combinations of these unchanging atoms. The movement they take part in is also permanent and constant.

These permanences are summed up in the principles of conservation of matter and energy: The total amount of matter is always the same, and so is the total amount of energy. Nothing really changes at the most fundamental level. Nor do the laws of nature change. This model of the eternal nature of nature has been the basis of physics and chemistry, and to a large extent it is still the basis of physical and chemical thinking.

The other theoretical viewpoint is the evolutionary one, which comes to us from the Judeo-Christian part of our cultural heritage. According to the biblical account, there is a process in history of progressive development, but this process is confined to the human realm. In the seventeenth century, this religious faith was secularized in the notion of human progress through science and technology, and by the end of the eighteenth century the idea of human progress was a dominant idea in Europe. In the nineteenth century, through the theory of biological evolution, human evolutionary development came to be seen as part of the progressive evolution of all life.

Only in the 1960s did physicists finally abandon their eternal or static cosmology and come to an evolutionary conception of the universe. With the Big Bang theory, the universe became essentially evolutionary. This very recent revolution in science totally changed our worldview because the most fundamental thing in science is its cosmology, its basic model of the cosmos.

However, if all of nature is evolving, then what about the eternal laws of nature that scientists have taken for granted for so many centuries? Where were they before the Big Bang? There was nowhere for them to be, because there was no universe. If the laws of nature were all there before the Big Bang, then they must be nonphysical, idealike entities dwelling in some kind of permanent mathematical mind, be it the mind of God or the Cosmic Mind or just the mind of a disembodied mathematician. This assumption is something that physicists and most modern cosmologists have not yet begun to question seriously. It’s an idea that’s hanging over a theoretical abyss because there’s no compelling reason to assume the laws of nature are permanent in an evolving universe. If the universe is evolving, then the laws of nature may be evolving as well. In fact, the very idea of the laws of nature may not be appropriate. It may be better to think of the evolving habits of nature.

The Big Bang theory is like the ancient mythological idea of the cosmos beginning through the cracking of a cosmic egg and continuing through the growth of the organism that comes out of it. This embryological metaphor is a developmental model. It replaces the notion of an eternal machine slowly running out of steam with the concept of a growing, developing organism that differentiates within itself, creating new forms and patterns. On Earth, this evolutionary process gives rise to all forms of microbial, animal, and plant life, as well as to the many and varied forms of human culture.

So how does this process happen? In my books A New Science of Life and The Presence of the Past, I attempt to explain how the habits of nature can evolve. What I suggest is the existence of a king of memory inherent in each organism in what I call its morphogenetic or morphic field. As time goes on, each type of organism forms a specific kind of cumulative collective memory. The regularities of nature are therefore habitual. Things are as they are because they were as they were. The universe is an evolving system of habits.

For example, when a crystal crystallizes, the form it takes depends on the way similar crystals were formed in the past. In the realm of animal behavior, if rats are trained to do something in San Francisco, for example, then rats of that breed all over the world should consequently be able to do the same activity more easily through an invisible influence. There’s already evidence, summarized in my books, that these effects actually occur. This hypothesis also suggests that in human learning we all benefit from what other people have previously learned through a kind of collective human memory. This is an idea very like that of Jung’s collective unconscious.

Obviously, this is only part of the story. If the universe is a system of habits, then how do new patterns come into being in the first place? What is the basis of creativity? Evolution, like our own lives, must involve an interplay of habit and creativity. A theory of evolutionary habit demands a theory of evolutionary creativity. What gives rise to new ideas, to Beethoven’s symphonies, to creative theories in science, to new works of art, to new forms of culture, to new instincts in birds and animals, to the evolving forms of plants and flowers and leaves, to new kinds of crystals, and to all the evolving forms of galactic, stellar, and planetary organization? What kind of creativity could underlie all these processes?

There seem to be two basic answers on the market. One is the materialistic viewpoint, which says that the whole thing is due to blind chance—that there are nothing but blind material processes going on, and then, by chance, new things happen. This viewpoint basically says, There’s no reason behind it. There’s nothing intelligible about it. Creativity just happens,

The other theory is derived from the tradition of Platonic theology. It says that everything new that happens and every new form that appears corresponds to an eternal archetype, an eternal Idea in the mind of God, or an eternal formula in the mathematical mind of the cosmos.

Evolutionary creativity, however, is creativity that keeps on happening. It goes on as the world goes on. It’s not something that just happened once in an act of creation at the beginning of the universe. Another model for understanding creativity is provided by our own imaginations, which are not full of fixed Platonic Ideas, but ideas that are ongoing and changing with a creative richness that continually surprises us.

Could there be a kind of imagination working in nature that is similar to our own imaginations? Could our own imaginations be just one conscious aspect of an imagination working through the whole natural world—perhaps unconsciously as it works underneath the surface of our dreams, perhaps sometimes consciously? Could such an ongoing imagination be the basis of evolutionary creativity in all of nature, just as it is in the human

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  • (4/5)
    This isn't a conventionally written book. It consists of a three-way dialogue among Rupert Sheldrake, Ralph Abraham and Terrence McKenna. It's deliberately and honestly speculative in nature. It introduces a lot of ideas that are interesting to ponder, ideas having to do with the possible history and possible future of the cosmos, the earth and human beings. Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance comes into play, while Abraham brings chaos theory into the mix. McKenna brings imagination to it, imagination enriched from his lifelong psychedelic explorations. I found it worth reading, but I would warn other potential readers that everything in it is completely raw and freewheeling. Also, I think it would be hard to develop the ideas it contains very much, since they're so very vague and nebulous. A little more effort put into defining many of the terms would have helped.