Scientist Rupert Sheldrake theorizes that memory is inherent in nature and that all natural systems inherit a collective and cumulative memory from all previous members of their kind, regardless of space-time constraints. All nature contributes to the growth of this collective and cumulative memory. Habits are also inherent in all living organisms; Nature is not fixed – it is always evolving. Memory is inherited from those who have gone before. Genes are inherited, along with the habits of nature; including developmental habits like the growth of form. Genes code for protein, memory codes for form. Each natural system has its own morphic (bodily) field that helps shape its form and behavior, and each is nested in another hierarchy. There are familial, cultural, mythological, spiritual, fields all of which interpenetrate each other.
For example there is a biological field for pear trees that is nested in a deciduous tree field, that is nested a field containing all trees that is nested in an environmental field etc. Each species taps into all these fields for information in order to grow and develop beginning with tapping into the field of one’s own immediate kin for better or worse. For example there are familial social fields that are tapped into help develop certain behaviors in individuals belonging to the same human family. This way of thinking explains how genius runs in human families or how destructive behaviors/patterns are passed on intergenerationally. Morphic resonance is the process by which the past becomes present… the future runs backward into the present as well. The biggest criticism of this theory comes from the fact that it appears to violate space-time constraints. Time flows both backwards and forwards meeting in the present.
If we look at indigenous way of being in the world we see Rupert’s theory in practice. Indigenous peoples believe that it is possible to contact the ancestors, to bring them forth into the present, as well as being able to access future in the present moment. Time is fluid – running backwards and forwards into the now. There is no separation between the three. All can occur at once.
In the Dine (Navajo) universe the words used in greeting a person reveal this way of being in the world. ‘I greet you from the sky to the ground and from everything in between’ The Earth is always included because it is fundamental to the way Indigenous peoples view the land they embrace as their context and creator.
Visceral (embodied) memories transport us instantly into Now, collapsing everything except the moment. Each spring when I first hear a wood frog croak I am instantly transported to his watery domain. Keeping ourselves present to ‘what is’ has exactly the same effect unless ‘what is’ becomes unbearable intruding upon the present. Just now this is my problem because I can’t escape my own dread – the fear of impending violence…Violence begets Violence.