Rupert Sheldrake: A Theosophical Appraisal
David Pratt

Part 1: Morphic Fields and the Memory of Nature

Most biologists take it for granted that living organisms are nothing but complex machines,
governed only by the known laws of physics and chemistry. I myself used to share this point of
view. But over a period of several years I came to see that such an assumption is difficult to
justify. For when so little is actually understood, there is an open possibility that at least some
of the phenomena of life depend on laws or factors as yet unrecognized by the physical

With these words biologist Rupert Sheldrake introduced his first book, A New Science of Life: The
hypothesis of formative causation, published in 1981. It met with a mixed response: while welcomed as
‘challenging and stimulating’ by some, the journal Nature dismissed it as an ‘infuriating tract ... the best
candidate for burning there has been for many years’. Sheldrake developed his ideas further in The
Presence of the Past: Morphic resonance and the habits of nature (1988) and The Rebirth of Nature:
The greening of science and God (1991).

His basic argument is that natural systems, or morphic units, at all levels of complexity – atoms,
molecules, crystals, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and societies of organisms – are animated,
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Exactly what these representations and descriptions are supposed to be has still to be explained. tissues in organs. ranging from the healing of wounds to the replacement of lost limbs or tails. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. which contain an inherent memory. and organs in organisms. Morphogenesis – literally. cells in tissues. mental fields. Sheldrake suggests that there is a continuous spectrum of morphic fields. and coordinated by morphic fields. the organism is somehow supposed to assemble itself automatically. there is something within them that is holistic and purposive. and the right systems by which protein synthesis is controlled. Natural systems inherit this collective memory from all previous things of their kind by a process called morphic resonance. directing their development toward certain goals. The role of genes is vastly overrated by mechanistic biologists. and social and cultural fields. or a fertilized human egg into an adult human being? A striking characteristic of living organisms is the capacity to regenerate. genetic programs are supposed to have been thrown together by chance! In recent years a number of leading developmental biologists have suggested that the misleading concept of genetic programs be abandoned in favor of terms such as ‘internal representation’ or ‘internal description’. behavioral fields. including morphogenetic fields. organisms are more than the sum of their parts. but whereas computer programs are designed by intelligent beings. Genetic programs are sometimes likened to computer programs. it does not specify the way the proteins are arranged in . The genetic code in the DNA molecules determines the sequence of amino acids in proteins. Although modern mechanistic biology grew up in opposition to vitalism – the doctrine that living organisms are organized by nonmaterial vital factors – it has introduced purposive organizing principles of its own. in the form of genetic programs. organized. the ‘coming into being’ (genesis) of ‘form’ (morphe) – is something of a mystery. How do complex living organisms arise from much simpler structures such as seeds or eggs? How does an acorn manage to grow into an oak tree. As Sheldrake remarks: Given the right genes and hence the right proteins. Organisms are clearly more than just complex machines: no machine has ever been known to grow spontaneously from a machine egg or to regenerate after damage! Unlike machines. with the result that patterns of development and behavior become increasingly habitual through repetition.

Before considering other types of morphic fields. nested in that of a higher-level morphic unit which helps to coordinate the arrangement of its parts. but the nature of these fields has remained obscure. etc. Sheldrake describes them as ‘fields of information’. but not in any ‘normal’ (physical) sense of the term. the development and maintenance of the bodies of organisms are guided by morphogenetic fields. since morphic fields can propagate across space and time open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. for example. They are localized within and around the systems they organize. if morphic fields were completely nonmaterial. Developmental biologists acknowledge this. However. and it is hard to see how fields of nothingness could possibly have any effect on the material world!* In a discussion with David Bohm. saying that they are neither a type of matter nor of energy and are detectable only by their effects on material systems. and contain a kind of collective memory on which each member of the species draws and to which it in turn contributes. According to Sheldrake. but their mechanistic explanations peter out into vague statements about ‘complex spatio-temporal patterns of physico-chemical interaction not yet fully understood’. For example. and they are often conceived of in conventional physical and chemical terms. they are a new kind of field so far unknown to physics. Each morphic unit has its own characteristic morphogenetic field. The inherent memory of these fields explains. that would imply that they were pure nothingness. the fields of cells contain those of molecules.2 The fact that all the cells of an organism have the same genetic code yet somehow behave differently and form tissues and organs of different structures clearly indicates that some formative influence other than DNA must be shaping the developing organs and limbs. The concept of morphogenetic fields has been widely adopted in developmental biology. This is rather like delivering the right materials to a building site at the right times and expecting a house to grow spontaneously. which contain those of atoms. The fields themselves therefore evolve. why newly synthesized chemical compounds crystallize more readily all over the world the more often they are made. Sheldrake does in fact concede that morphic fields may have a subtle . According to Sheldrake. it is worth examining exactly what a morphic field is supposed to be.

the kind of causation brought about by known physical fields such as gravity and electromagnetism. too ethereal to be detectable by scientific instruments.5 How could purposive instinctive behavior such as the building of webs by spiders or the migrations of swallows ever be explained in terms of DNA and protein synthesis? According to Sheldrake. even in the absence of any known means of connection or communication. It is all the more remarkable given that Sheldrake criticizes other forms of dualism. takes place within and through mental fields. and with them a collective memory. As Sheldrake remarks. Attempts to locate memory-traces within the brain have open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. The building up of an animal’s own habits also depends on morphic resonance.3 In this sense morphic fields would be a subtler form of energy-substance. Instinctive behavior. the universal quantum field forms the substratum of the physical world and is pulsating with energy and vitality. *The reason Sheldrake uses the term ‘formative causation’ to refer to his hypothesis of the causation of form by morphic fields is precisely to distinguish it from ‘energetic causation’. such as the idea of a nonmaterial mind acting on a material body (Cartesian dualism). This explains how after rats have learned a new trick in one place.4 According to science. and do not fade out noticeably over distance. The dualism Sheldrake introduces with his distinction between energetic and non-energetic causation is rather unsatisfactory. a medium of subtle matter pervading all of space. habitual and instinctive behavior is organized by behavioral fields. ‘An enormous gulf of ignorance lies between all these phenomena and the established facts of molecular biology. other rats elsewhere seem to be able to learn it more easily. Sheldrake also suggests that morphic fields may be very closely connected with quantum matter fields. Memory poses a thorny problem for materialists. genetics and neurophysiology’. and the idea that the material world is governed by nonmaterial ‘laws’ of nature. and memory also defy explanation in mechanistic terms. learning. biochemistry. conscious and unconscious. from previous members of the species by morphic resonance. it amounts to the resurrection of the concept of an ether. Instincts are the behavioral habits of the species and depend on the inheritance of behavioral . while mental activity. It is possible for habits acquired by some animals to facilitate the acquisition of the same habits by other similar animals. Formative causation is said to impose a spatial order on changes brought about by energetic causation.

but that organisms are also influenced by morphic resonance from others of their kind through a sort of pooled memory.’6 It is true that damage to specific areas of the brain can impair memory in certain ways. then. damage to parts of a TV circuitry can lead to loss or distortion of the picture but this does not prove that the pictures were stored inside the damaged components. but this does not prove that the relevant memories were stored in the damaged tissues. similar to the concept of the collective unconscious put forward by Jung and other depth psychologists. however. According to Sheldrake. which therefore forms a sort of memory of nature. . within and around the physical body there is a series of subtler ‘bodies’ composed of these more ethereal states of matter. though the type of energy involved may well be supraphysical. Its lower levels are referred to as the astral light. and event is imprinted on the akasha. and as potentially present everywhere’. deed. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. sometimes called the akasha. He says that individual memory is due to the fact that organisms resonate most strongly with their own past. against the present. saying that ‘a more satisfactory approach may be to think of the past as pressed up.7 But it is hard to see why such a hazy notion is more satisfactory than that of nonphysical energies being transmitted through an etheric medium. But it is difficult to see how the one can take place without the other. Sheldrake suggests that memories are associated with morphic fields and that remembering depends on morphic resonance with these fields. In theosophical terms. Memories. and we gain access to these records by vibrational synchrony. composed of energy-substances beyond our range of perception. Sheldrake suggests that the reason for the recurrent failure to find memory-traces in brains is very simple: they do not exist there. the physical world is interpenetrated by a series of increasingly ethereal worlds or planes. Likewise. are impressed on the etheric substance of supraphysical planes. An impression of every thought. these vibrations being transmitted through the astral light. Experiments have shown that memory is both everywhere and nowhere in particular. He goes on: ‘A search inside your TV set for traces of the programs you watched last week would be doomed to failure for the same reason: The set tunes in to TV transmissions but does not store them. as it were. Sheldrake. so far proved unsuccessful. morphic resonance involves the transfer of information but not of energy. rejects the idea of morphic resonance being transmitted through a ‘morphogenetic aether’.

panics. Sheldrake also suggests that our conscious self may be regarded either as the subjective aspect of the morphic fields that organize the brain. embracing all the individuals within them. This would also help to explain the behavior of shoals of fish. can speedily repair damage to their mounds. including human societies. one for each pattern of behavior. Such societies have often been compared to organisms at a higher level of organization. and meeting up perfectly in the middle. or as a higher level of our being which interacts with the lower fields and serves as the open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. and reproduce themselves. flocks of birds. self-regulatory properties. cell. They can build large elaborate nests. and cults. Societies of termites. Social morphic fields can be thought of as coordinating all patterns of social behavior. one for each thought or idea. but generally avoid proposing that there are new kinds of causal entities in nature. Studies have shown that termites. rebuilding tunnels and arches. Social fields are closely allied with cultural fields. It also goes further than many forms of systems theory. ants. Our habitual activities are organized by behavioral fields. such as fields unknown to physics. Sheldrake’s hypothesis of morphic fields and morphic resonance is of course anathema to mechanistic biologists. This would throw light on such things as crowd behavior. According to Sheldrake. Instead they use vague terms such as complex self-organizing . then. crazes. and self-organizing patterns of information – expressions which are descriptive but have little explanatory power. and herds or packs of animals. one for every atom. whose coordination has so far also defied explanation. which govern the inheritance and transmission of cultural traditions. and bees can contain thousands or even millions of individual insects. for example. molecule. emergent organizing principles. exhibit a complex division of labor. and our mental activity by mental fields. even though the insects are blind. or superorganisms. and organ up to the body as a whole. wasps. whose advocates recognize the holistic properties of living organisms and the need for some sort of organizing principles. Social organization is also impossible to understand in reductionist and mechanistic terms. Sheldrake suggests that such colonies are organized by social fields. fashions. whose shape and structure are organized by a hierarchy of morphogenetic fields. working from both sides of the breach that has been made. human beings consist of a physical body.

In the human kingdom a selfconscious mind develops. aspirations. These four lower bodies are associated with the human personality – with the desires. These higher vehicles are the source of our nobler feelings. There are also three higher souls. which may be called the animal soul and the lower human soul. which is relatively permanent and therefore explains how physical shapes preserve their identities and characteristic forms despite the constant turnover of their physical constituents. the degree of individualization increases. The lowest body. As it reawakens and redescends towards the material realms. and intuitions. it draws back to itself many of the same life-atoms which had formerly composed its lower vehicles and which therefore bear the karmic impress of previous lives. and behavior into the different levels of our constitution. As we move up the ladder of life from the mineral kingdom through the plant and animal kingdoms to the human kingdom. is the physical body. thoughts. Working through the human physical and model bodies are two closely related vehicles of consciousness composed of still finer substances. souls. . the reincarnating ego is said to enter a dreamlike state of rest until the time comes for it to return to earth. After death. emotions. and the divine soul. and habits of the lower mind. and the only one normally visible to us. After death they disintegrate into their constituent physical or astral atoms at different rates on their different planes. as the higher vehicles become more able to express themselves through the more sophisticated physical forms. It is built up around an astral model body. Life after life we therefore build habits of thought. The vital and electric impulses and energies moving within and between the different levels of our constitution are open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. bringing with it free will and moral responsibility.8 This is reminiscent of the theosophical idea that humans are composed of several interpenetrating and interacting bodies. composed of more refined akashic substances: the higher human soul or reincarnating ego. which consist of energies and substances of different grades. or vehicles of consciousness. The formation of habits can be understood in terms of nature’s fundamental tendency to follow the line of least resistance and to repeat itself. the spiritual soul. and live and function on the inner planes. creative ground through which new fields arise. and endure for a time period immeasurably longer than do the lower vehicles. Every living entity has a model body.

245. however. 27. According to Sheldrake we are also influenced by social and cultural fields contained within the overall field of the earth. Sheldrake. occult philosophy goes much further than anything Sheldrake would care to admit to. In theosophy we are said to contribute thoughts and ideas to the pooled memory of the astral light and attract from it those ideas and thoughts with which we resonate most strongly. 1987. R. and plays a role similar to what Sheldrake calls the morphic field of Gaia. 14. Sheldrake. 3. p. These ideas account for the regularity and harmony of nature. especially as regards such teachings as reembodiment. 120. mind. 5. Instead of a physical world organized by a nebulous nonmaterial realm of ‘fields’. The Rebirth of Nature. than they are to follow or assume new ones – unless forced to do so by our will. Sheldrake admits that his terminology of morphic fields could be replaced by occult terms such as akasha and subtle bodies. 107. Whatever the limitations of his ideas. p. p. comprising a whole spectrum of energy-substances. and evolution. A New Science of Life. associated with particular patterns of thought and behavior. and paranormal phenomena. theosophy proposes the existence of bodies within bodies and worlds within worlds. Paladin. 4. the higher helping to animate and coordinate the lower. the powers of mind and consciousness.9 . Vintage. R. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. A New Science of Life. References 1. more likely to repeat past pathways and vibrational forms. p. 1991. 2. and in support of the idea that memory is innate in nature. Bantam Books. The Presence of the Past. p. The astral light may be considered to be the astral body of the earth. Sheldrake has dealt a significant blow to materialistic science with his forceful arguments exposing the inadequacy of physical factors alone to account for the phenomena of life. 1989. A New Science of Life.

According to Christian theology. nor lie beyond their power.. As Rupert Sheldrake says: They govern matter and motion. 213. Ibid. The Presence of the Past. they still share many of his traditional attributes. the planets move in regular orbits around the sun. These regularities are generally attributed to laws of nature. immutable. 307. universal. Part 2: Creativity and the Habits of Nature The operations of nature are characterized by order and harmony. 112. In a world where regularity and order did not prevail. it still accepts the existence of immutable laws.. p. 7. . 9. but they are not themselves material nor do they move. . even in the absence of God. They are omnipresent. and to have existed in some sense before the birth of the physical universe. p. The Rebirth of Nature. everything would be completely unpredictable and life as we know it could not exist.1 open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. p. Although materialist science rejects the idea of God. p. 6. Indeed. which are considered to be eternal and transcendent.. these laws were designed by God and exist in his mind. For instance. apple seeds always grow into apple trees rather than some other kind of tree. How these laws can exist independent of the evolving universe and at the same time act upon it is something of a mystery. Nothing can be hidden from them. and self-subsistent.. and electrons always carry the same electric charge. water always boils at 100°C at sea level. 116. 8.

more ethereal form of energy-substance. the physical world is organized and coordinated by morphic fields. Just as bodily processes such as digestion. Sheldrake states that morphic fields are neither a form of matter nor of energy. It would also agree with Sheldrake that the laws of nature are habits. so the physical world is the body of higher worlds and the regularities of nature are the instinctual effects on this plane of the wills and energies of the entities dwelling on inner planes. de Purucker says: ‘This word law is simply an abstraction. and past patterns of activity influence those in the present by morphic resonance. The higher entities collectively make up the ‘mind’ of nature. protein. A variation on the theme of nonmaterial laws is that rather than being eternal. crystal. the creation of the first atom. free-floating laws. for there are no lawgivers. The spiritual entities on higher planes do not govern the lower worlds – this is a relic of the theological idea of divine intervention. which contain a built-in memory. there are no mechanically acting laws of nature.. they must surely be a nonphysical. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. dismisses the idea that nonmaterial.’2 Within and behind the material world there are worlds or planes composed of finer grades of matter. but goes further in saying that these habits are the habits of living entities. and growth are normally regulated by our automatic will. an expression for the action of entities in nature. etc. sun. respiration. In other words. According to Sheldrake’s hypothesis of formative causation. but then proposes that nonmaterial morphic fields in some way can. involved the spontaneous appearance of the relevant laws and rules. Theosophy. all inhabited by appropriate entities at varying stages of evolutionary . beyond time and space. Strictly speaking. As G. which works through elemental nature-forces. But it is strange that he rejects the idea that nonmaterial laws could act upon the material world. new laws come into being as nature evolves and thereafter apply universally. A very different point of view is that the regularities of nature are more like universal habits which have grown up within the evolving universe and that a kind of memory is inherent in nature. If morphic fields are anything. could not have any influence on the physical world. matter and energy. the beating of the heart. a possibility which Sheldrake does not altogether rule out (see Part 1). too.

All these planes interpenetrate. Bohm and science writer F. creativity descends into the physical world of space and time from a higher. (b) to a creative agency pervading and transcending nature. A hierarchy of worlds may be said to consist of ten planes or spheres. chance is merely a word that conceals our ignorance.’4 According to the second hypothesis. physical plane can be perceived by our physical senses.3 This could also apply to the effectively invariable mathematical principles governing the structure of the hierarchies of worlds and planes. Hence most of the systems that physicists. it questions Sheldrake’s assumption that such realms would open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. the first hypothesis is unacceptable since chance does not play any role in nature. mindlike planes behind the physical world. was regarded as the ‘perfect number’ underlying the structure of the universe by many ancient . How have galaxies. From a theosophical viewpoint. each divisible into ten subplanes. causal. He says that a decision between these alternatives can be made only on metaphysical grounds and on the basis of intuition. visible and invisible.D. even billions of years. chemists. and the incredible diversity of life-forms that we find on earth managed to evolve? Sheldrake suggests three different ways of viewing the creativity of nature. Peat remark: ‘What is randomness in one context may reveal itself as simple orders of necessity in another broader context. The systems behave as if they were governed by eternal laws because the habits are so well established. Ten. It could be ascribed (a) to blind and purposeless chance. While theosophy accepts that there are superior. or (c) to a creative impetus immanent in nature. composing universal nature. but because they are composed of energy-substances vibrating at different rates. and biological systems have been established for millions. only the lowest. planets. stars. including Pythagoras. for instance. Sheldrake writes: The habits of most kinds of physical. As physicist D. and biologists study are running in such deep grooves of habit that they are effectively changeless. chemical. transcendent level that is mindlike.

5 All the planes interact and evolve. For example. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. The third hypothesis states that creativity depends on chance. In fact. the creative agency – or rather agencies – referred to in hypothesis (b) dwell in these higher spheres and are the source of the creative impetus referred to in hypothesis (c). have to be completely changeless and ‘beyond time altogether’. creative jump and thereafter guide the development of subsequent similar systems and become increasingly habitual through repetition. with new forms arising from less complex systems by spontaneous jumps. which would include higher planes and subplanes. causal . crystal. while blind chance has no part to play in the theosophic scheme. new morphic fields may arise within and from higher-level fields. . it also proceeds downward from the top. Creativity occurs not just upward from the bottom. or plant. through the creative activity of higher-level fields. conflict.7 Sheldrake suggests that all morphic fields may ultimately be derived from the primal field of the universe. new species arise within ecosystems. Gaia within the solar system. new ecosystems within Gaia. the galaxy within the growing cosmos. whether it be a molecule. and considers the possibility that this universal field could be connected with previous universes. But at the same time it occurs within the framework of higher systems of order. creativity is rooted in the processes of nature. and is closely associated with ‘higher systems of order’. But what exactly is the relationship between this realm and the physical world? A new morphic field is said to come into being with the first appearance of a new system. These new patterns of organization arise through a spontaneous. Sheldrake does not recognize the existence of superior. and necessity . However. galaxy. the solar system within the galaxy. at every level of organization. though the higher planes are relatively more enduring than the lower. though he does recognize the existence of a nonmaterial realm of morphic fields of various types. [I]t is rooted in the ongoing processes of nature. .6 Again.

and that there is a higher part of us that survives physical death. Interestingly. Virtually all religious and mystical traditions teach that our physical body is merely the lowest level of our constitution. since the world soul is something far higher and more spiritual than the fields known to physics.’ says . can suddenly reappear. ‘Fields. wherever and whenever the physical conditions are appropriate. Taking this idea a step further. is it not conceivable that the same individualized higher-level ‘fields’ could manifest repeatedly in physical form and provide a thread of continuity between one life or embodiment and the next? Theosophy proposes that all entities – atoms. animals.9 This would explain how the characteristics of ancestral species. a snowflake melts. When they do so they contain within themselves a memory of their previous physical existences.8 He even goes so far as to liken the universal field of gravity to the Neoplatonic conception of the world soul. and can appear again physically in other times and places. humans. even those extinct for millions of years. Although Sheldrake does not explicitly consider the possibility of survival and reincarnation. morphic fields do not disappear: they are potential organizing patterns of influence. atavism. he argues that morphic fields never completely vanish when the species or entity they organize dies: When any particular organized system ceases to exist. There are also many examples from the fossil record that suggest that particular evolutionary pathways are repeated: organisms with features almost identical to previous species appear again and again. planets. an animal dies. ‘have replaced souls as invisible organizing principles’. Fields play a fundamental role in modern science: matter is said to consist of energy organized by fields. there is nothing in his theory that rules them out. Although clearly an exaggeration. the behavioral and mental morphic fields postulated by Sheldrake may be regarded as higher- level fields and bear some resemblance to what in theosophic thought are called the animal soul and human soul. But in another sense. a phenomenon known as reversion. and universes – open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. as when an atom splits. or throwing back. suns. its organizing field disappears from that place.

When the next period of activity dawns. Neither the form of man. when the cycle of evolution on a particular planet comes to an end. which are finite and perishable only in their objective. rapid thought – that was not in the universe already . all evolutionary forms and pathways remain imprinted as ‘reflections’ on the higher planes. which acts as a sort of memory of nature.. “Nothing is created. manifestation and dissolution. As H. or expanding from within outwards.’ i. not in their ideal Form. we follow in the footsteps of what has gone before. Blavatsky puts it: ‘the spiritual prototypes of all things exist in the immaterial world before those things become materialised on Earth. but is only transformed. and will be.. reembody. But the idea of something being created out of literal nothingness is an illogical fantasy: ‘the Occult teaching says.10 In other words. objectivising into its present materiality.. All things are therefore constantly building on the achievements of the past.e. was. Everything exists because it has existed before. Evolution is without conceivable beginning and without conceivable . i. They existed as Ideas. will exist as reflections. They are all informed by spiritual monads which use the different forms offered by the various kingdoms of nature to gain evolutionary experience. Our brain-minds tend to find this idea rather daunting and prefer to impose at least an absolute beginning before which nothing existed and at which moment the universe came into being out of nothing. pass through cyclic periods of activity and rest..e. . Nothing can manifest itself in this universe – from a globe down to a vague. these memories or seeds of life will be reawakened and reactivated.’ Everything that is. plant or stone has ever been created. Therefore our human forms have existed in the Eternity as astral or ethereal prototypes . nor that of any animal. and no development or achievement is ever lost but remains imprinted on the astral light or akasha. from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance. and provide the prototypes and blueprint for the new cycle of evolution. the existence of evolutionary plans and prototypes by no means implies that everything is rigidly predetermined. in the Eternity. when they pass away. eternally IS. and. There was never a time when nothing was. for although the higher levels of reality help to open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd.”’11 However. . even the countless forms. and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced ‘becoming.P.

He quotes fifteenth-century mystic Nicholas of Cusa: ‘Divinity is the enfolding and unfolding of everything that is. contained in all. and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). for there is no god so high that there is none higher. and within any particular hierarchy of worlds all the entities that have passed beyond the human stage may be termed spiritual beings or gods. And the aggregate of the most advanced beings in any system of worlds may be regarded as divinity for that hierarchy. But if divinity is infinite. and the plan itself is modified by each cycle of evolution. Sheldrake writes: a view of nature without God must include a creative unitary principle that includes the entire cosmos and unites the polarities and dualities found throughout the natural realm. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. it cannot be outside nature. But this is a rather arbitrary definition. containing everything. and must therefore be infinitude itself. Divinity is therefore immanent. Infinitude is composed of an infinite number of world-systems. Theosophy is therefore pantheistic in that it recognizes a universal life infilling and inspiriting everything without exception. The divine can certainly not be anything less than our grandest conception.’ St.12 He points out that instead of the theistic notion that God is remote and separate from nature. coordinate the lower. But this is not God in the traditional sense. for otherwise there would be no room left for the universe! Divinity is the universe – not just the physical universe but all the endless hierarchies of worlds and planes which infill and in fact compose the boundless All. meaning beings who are relatively perfected in relation to ourselves. Divinity is in all things in such a way that all things are in . but not transcendent. Since it is greater than any of its individual expressions. and the root of all things. it may also be regarded as transcendent. and yet at the same time as the unity that transcends nature. the lower levels retain a degree of autonomy and creative freedom. Paul put forward a similar pantheistic idea. But this is not far removed from views of nature with God. On the subject of God. since he defines pantheism as the view that divinity is immanent in all things. God could also be considered as immanent in nature. Sheldrake calls this panentheism. omnipresent. and move. saying that Deity is that in which ‘we live.

Original articles published in Sunrise. p. 1989.. de Purucker. H. 5.xix. 195. 12. 128-9. Routledge. Vintage. Sheldrake. The Rebirth of Nature. November 1997. Blavatsky. Ibid. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy. 9. Bohm and F. Ibid. p. 4. 194. Order & Creativity. pp. 1:570.. pp.. The Secret Doctrine. Science. 133. 1:58. Ibid. 1989. 173. Bantam Books. TUP.D. G. References 1. 282. D.P. Evolution is a fundamental habit of nature and proceeds in cyclic periods of activity and rest. 196. R. p. Ibid. p. 3. p. Peat. there to rest for untold aeons before issuing forth again on an evolutionary pilgrimage as part of even higher worlds. 7. The Presence of the Past. Sheldrake. in a never-ending. 1979. 8. The Rebirth of Nature. Homepage open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd. TUP.. 10. 2nd ed. R. ever-ascending spiral of progress in which there are always new and vaster fields of experience in which to become selfconscious masters of life. 83. Everything in our hierarchy of worlds derives from the same divine source and is destined in the fullness of time to return to it. xviii . The Rebirth of Nature. The Presence of the Past. . 12. p. 1991. 2. p. June/July & Aug/Sept 1992. 6. 1977 (1888).

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