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Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance - Dhamma Wheel

Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
ChangingMan
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Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby ChangingMan » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:56 am

Hi friends

I have been reading some of the past threads on Rebirth and (relatedley) Reincarnation - this is an area that has always had an interest for me. My Western Mind feels a compulsion to want to see a scientific basis for this, and I accept that the Buddha himself never spoke directly about Life to Life Rebirth - the inclusion of such Reincarnation based thinking seems to be something that was binded in from other religions when Buddhism merged with these on penetration into the host cultures. Whilst scientifically, the "proofs" of reincarnation seem to be lacking (or at best weakened by circumstantial detail), I have an inherent heart (as opposed to mind) tendency toward these ideas. Recently I came across the concept of Morphic Resonance, a controversial theory developed by Biologist Rupert Sheldrake - see some details here . The basis of the theory interests me greatly, and on the face of it looks like a means by which rebirth consciousness might operate : embryo needs consciousness, makes connection through Morphic Fields to consciousness of now dead person, rebirth consciousness exists. (Interestingly such a similar idea could explain the presence of ghosts - as temporal connections to past consciousnesses if it possible that these can exist beyond death)

Furthermore, the idea that even during life our consciousness is not physically "inside" our heads, but perhaps part of a field of resonance that we connect to is a fascinating idea, and in some ways can be tied into Buddhist perspectives on Not-Self. After all if every 7 years, all our cells refresh and replace themselves, where can consciousness permanently abide - body is physically impermanent, but at a literal level, consciousness has permanency, perhaps this is because it is extra-corpular?

Just wonder what people think about this idea (Morphic Resonance), and whether at an intellectual level, there is some basis for thinking that there is a connection between this and Buddhist perspectives on consciousness, and rebirth?

Metta
Richard

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Ben
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Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby Ben » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:37 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

ChangingMan
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Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:38 am
Location: Whitley Bay, Newcastle

Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby ChangingMan » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:22 pm

Ben
Thanks for that - the book you mention does look interesting, and has been duly added to the Amazon WishList.

Thanks for clarifying the point about the Buddha's perspective on Life to Life Rebirth - I suspect this area strays into something that is of some debate, and best left as that was not my intent (covered elsewhere on the Great Rebirth Debate thread). I suppose it doesn't matter anyway, what I was meaning was I have some degree of personal difficulty in accepting this teaching of Buddhism (as possibly compared to The Buddha) as it is not something I can bring Experiential reference to - unlike other Dhammas. In that respect I suppose my view is that I push it out to what I also know, which is a more Western scientific bent to consider empirically instead.

The point about permanency of consciousness, my mistake, I was not clear what I meant - I meant this more in respect of the perception of ego, as being something that has more permanency than bodily factors (speaking empirically here again, not from a Buddhist citta based perspective). IE I meant, science seems to show physically we become a complete new body every seven year cycle, but while that happens, consciousness (ego awareness of self) seems to continue, when physically there is nowhere it could continue as all has changed. I realise I am stretching this point a little, but just to illustrate what I was driving at, essentially being, is there somewhere else that consciousness, or conscious thought (including memory) could exist that could explain how this is not lost when physically we change so much. Morphic resonance seems to offer a possible answer.

Ultimately, I guess my point was: Western mind struggles to accept teaching of Buddhism because I cannot (as Buddha says in Kalama Sutta) know for myself, looks for scientific explanation, stumbles across something that seems to make a lot of sense, from a logical perspective. Can that therefore (help) bridge a gap between Teachings & Mental acceptance?

Metta
Richard

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Ben
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Location: kanamaluka

Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby Ben » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:00 pm

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

ChangingMan
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:38 am
Location: Whitley Bay, Newcastle

Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby ChangingMan » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:58 pm

Ben

I hear what you are saying, however, for me, I think that whilst I can experientially see that things arising are not self, and that body is not self, that ego has a degree of permanence to it. Maybe this is because of the stories we tell ourselves, but at least we tell them consistently. And in that, I suppose we are actually agreeing - your comments make sense that consciousness is a like a flickering bulb, and that moment to moment, there is not an actual permanency of the concious mind. However, logically, I see that ego (my sense of self, my name, where I live, who my parents are etc) does continue, so if this can't continue through the "mini-deaths" of the aggregates, maybe, it continues elsewhere - in a morphic field. And if I am able to pick up on a morphic field which contains the essence of my concsiouness whilst alive, then perhaps another being could pick up on that after I am gone. In essence, I am tending to agree with all you ahev said, and still wondering whether something like (and I am not hung up on it, just intrigued by it) morphic resonance actually posits a mechanism by which this could occur.

Don't get me wrong, when I say I have difficulty in accepting the teaching of rebirth in it's Buddhist form, this is not a block, or hindrance for me in the wider sense of my path. I am with you 100% that one should focus on the things that matter now, and in time, perhaps I will have experiential evidence of something. However, in the sort term, I am not meditating, or experiencing formless thoughts 24 hours a day, and at such times as I am not, my Western trained, intellect based mind is interested in other angles to support aspects of my following. Hence the query, it is great to have a community of people who would have the slightest clue of what I was banging on about to raise this point with. I don't personally see an issue with having an active, experiential meditative life, alongside an intellectual, inquisitive mind. I think in the West, the Dhamma usually crashes headlong into "science" (and I use those inverted commas with a knowing sense of wryness!) - Sheldrake is right out there, as much as some of Buddhism is in proposing alternate realities. I value greatly your comments so far. Do you think we are the only ones wanting to talk about this?!

Much metta
Richard

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Laurens
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Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby Laurens » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:56 am

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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retrofuturist
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Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:08 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Laurens
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Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby Laurens » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:25 am

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

chownah
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Re: Rebirth conciousness & Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance

Postby chownah » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:06 pm

I skimmed the wikipedia article and discovered that Sheldrake proposed his morphic resonance idea as a way to explain why living things have the shapes that they have as he could not find a biological reason which explained it well enough for his liking. This idea was preposed after several years of trying to find a biological reason....this happened in the early 1980's. Since then there have been huge advances in genetic science and the actual cluster of DNA controling the body's shape and size has been discovered for at least some animals and perhaps for most of them...I don't know since I am not current in the scientifice literature....look at this link for more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeobox

Also, the above does not bear directly on Sheldrake's idea but just shows that the reason it was put forward was to solve a problem which I guess seems to have been solved or is in the process of being solved by genetic science.

Also, It is not difficult for anyone with a good imagination to think up some new idea about how things MIGHT work but it is an entirely different thing to come up with a new idea which can be shown to have some physical basis and which can actually predict things which are not already known. I don't know if Sheldrake's idea is grounded in much physical reality or not but I saw nothing in the wikipedia artilce which indicates that it is much more than just someone's idea about how things might be.

chownah


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