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4.0 out of 5 stars Discussion of some fundamental problems in science and spirituality, 27 July 2014
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This review is from: Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness (Paperback)
Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness, by Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham, Park Street Press (Inner Traditions), Rochester, Vermont; 1992, 2001; 208 ff.

In this book we eavesdrop as it were on a discussion between the three authors – a discussion that had gone on since 1982 and, more intensively, in public and private discussions at the Esalen Institute, California, in 1989 and 1990. For readers, it could be regarded as a companion volume to the discussion by Ervin Laszlo, Stanislav Grof and Peter Russell published in 1999 as ‘The Consciousness Revolution’. Ralph Abraham is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Santa Cruz; the late Terence McKenna was an explorer, philosopher and ethnologist; and Rupert Sheldrake is a biochemist and plant physiologist who studied, taught and carried out research respectively at Cambridge, England, at Harvard, and at the International Crops Research Institute in Hyderabad, India.

On page 1, Sheldrake confronts us with a fundamental scientific dilemma: Are there eternal and unchanging laws of the universe, or is every facet of the universe constantly changing, developing, evolving – including the ‘laws of physics’? What then was the role of the Big Bang, if such an event occurred? Are there unchanging universal templates as suggested by Plato, or is there continual ongoing creativity, as suggested by Henri Bergson?

Chapters Two and Three deal with how chaos – both in mathematical theory and in practice – can lead to definitive solutions, and how these ideas relate to human creativity and imagination. The latter chapter introduces us to C.H. Waddington’s concept of chreodes – grooves or runnels which our speakers speculate exist within the (hypothetical) morphogenetic fields. There is an interesting discussion about how the appearance of Jesus can be viewed as an example of either an ascending or descending developmental process.

The next chapter debates the idea of a World Soul (after Plotinus), related once again to the role of chaos, which is followed by a discussion of the nature of vision and our other senses. Sheldrake discusses his idea of the sensation of vision being outside of the body but rather located where we say the objects we see actually lie. Chapter Six will be controversial I’m sure and is highly speculative: it deals with non-human intelligences and discarnate beings, and ranges over crop circles and the battle between good and evil.

The final chapters deal with the unconscious, the collapse of faith in both religion and scientism, and the need for re-education of humanity in the sacralization of Earth if we are avoid the apocalypse and the extinction of humankind from the planet. The overall message is not gloomy but should serve as a warning for those in positions of power who still have greed and egotism as their main, if not their only, goals in their time on Earth.

The book concludes with a useful Glossary of some of the technical words and a short Bibliography but there is no Index.

Howard Jones is the author of The World as Spirit and Evolution of Consciousness
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