Appendix F

Formative Causation

In the province of the mind, whatever one believes to be true either is true,
or becomes true within limits to be determined both experimentally and experientially.
Those limits are beliefs to be transcended.
- John Lily in The Center of the Cyclone

The Hundredth Monkey Effect is by now well-known. Less well known is that it is part of a number of dissimilar but related phenomena, suggesting the existence of mechanisms in Nature of which we are only dimly aware. So, for example, the study of learning mechanisms is often done by setting rats free in a maze to find a piece of cheese or other reward. A new maze can often take some time for the rats to solve, but laboratory records show that, once solved, other rats will run the same maze with increasing facility. Not only in the home laboratory, but across the world, rats thereafter will apparently 'know' the maze by some process of communication independent of physical contact, interaction, or distance. Experiments have been designed to test whether humans possess similar capabilities, and the results strongly suggest that they do. Most observant people will have noticed events in their own lives which support such a conclusion, and all historical traditions have recognized these abilities in greater or lesser degree.

As interesting as was this evidence of extensions to the powers of human and animal consciousness, it became compelling when it was realized that a similar effect is demonstrated by simple molecules. There is a very large class of substances known as 'organic crystals'. Of the many thousands which are theoretically possible, only a small proportion occur naturally, but their structures are understood well enough to permit laboratory synthesis of others. When the mother liquor from which they crystallize is allowed to stand, it can often take an hour or more for the first crystals to appear. However, when the process is repeated under identical circumstances, the time needed for crystallization rapidly diminishes, until researchers across the planet are routinely producing them within a few minutes of preparation.

In 1978, an English botanist named Rupert Sheldrake (www.sheldrake.org) published a book entitled A new Science of Life, advancing the notion of a previously unknown energy field, the Morphogenetic Field, and describing a process called Formative Causation by which the field influences living organisms. This gave a competent formal analysis of the biological evidence and consequent interpretations. Although initially rejected and ridiculed, the theory has since attracted much support and development.

These ideas can be extended into a very large-scale understanding of human society, to reveal an hypothesis which holds great promise for the rapid development of scientific thought; and, indeed, for human society generally. The monkey, being a 'dumb animal' - that is, not possessed of self-consciousness - creates learning patterns which are capable of instantaneous species-wide dissemination once a critical threshold has been crossed. Experiments and practical experience demonstrate that the same effect operates with humans. However, humans have the added dimension which we name 'self-consciousness', and appear to be unique in this respect on the planet. Recalling John Lily's dictum as quoted at the head of this page, it is conceivable that by creating learning patterns, emotional responses and instinctive reactions consciously, deliberately and with specific intent, the Principle of Formative Causation can be used to modify entire communities in which the activity is undertaken in much more specific and deliberate ways than is presently done.

This has, in fact, already been achieved. Most readers will recall the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Beatles fame, but few are apparently aware of his more recent activities. The considerable wealth which his fame attracted has been put to use in building three universities across the globe, in which thousands of people have found instruction and benefit. He has also made use of the considerable human talent at his disposal to conduct some interesting experiments. A few, like 'yogic flying', have attracted much ridicule from outsiders and the media, who cannot understand what is being attempted. Other experiments have been far more plausible, and have generated a considerable body of evidence in their support.

These have led to an hypothesis which has earned the unfortunate title of the 'Maharishi Effect'. It can be understood as a deliberate use of the Principle of Formative Causation in a specific human context. The Maharishi has theorized that if 1% of any community regularly practises a certain form of meditation, it will produce a measurable decline in such things as street and domestic violence, car accidents, burglaries and the like. This has been tested by sending large groups of meditators, perhaps a hundred or more, to small country towns across the US with only a few thousand inhabitants. Prior to their arrival, local police and civic officials are asked to collate appropriate statistical data, and to contine recording this during and after the event. The drop in violent incidents has been so marked, and so consistent, that they are nowadays regularly asked by various townships to visit and repeat their experiments for the benefit of the local populace. The results have been written up in competent papers, and interested readers can visit their websites. This is undoubtedly one of the most promising possibilities available to us for the development of an ethical and ecologically sound science, and is surely worth a great deal more attention than it receives. It is also, unfortunately, the basis underlying secret experiments being conducted by the world's commercial and military powers in control of mass conciousness. These include psychological techniques such as subliminal advertising and other media influences, and direct physical manipulation by behaviour-modifying drugs and the notorious HAARP installations.

The 'Maharishi Effect' shows that we can deliberately engineer certain aspects of society and community consciousness. If the morphogenetic field that gives rise to the Hundredth Monkey Effect is an outcome of animal consciousness, then the equivalent human field will operate within the wider scope of human parameters. Because humans are self-conscious, there exists the strong possibility that they can create a field which is itself self-conscious; that is, a semi-autonomous psychic entity of considerable power and wide-ranging influence which is conscious of its own being and potentialities, and whose nature partakes of all those energies from participating humans which contribute to its creation and sustenance. This perhaps corresponds to the entity named a Social Memory Complex, and suggests that once it has attained a Critical Density within its own field, it can take on a life and being independent of any physical manifestation. It may thereafter enjoy freedom from the limitations of time and space to which humans are ordinarily constrained.

Such an entity becomes a 'god' with a small 'g'. It is also most probably the form of conscious enjoyed by generations of the technologically advanced alien races who apparently visit Earth from time to time. An impartial reading of the history and culture of many 'primitive' tribes and past civilizations provides strong evidence of their having understood this possibility, and of having deliberately employed it to create tribal totems and deities with varying degrees of success and social reward.

Our material technologies have given us the potential to travel to the stars; but our spiritual growth has been stunted so badly that we are as ignorant savages playing with fire. The focus of research must now shift to the deliberate and spiritually aware psychic engineering of our social and personal organisms for any further progress. This is the challenge which Science must now confront.