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The Sense of Being Stared At

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I live at the end of a dead end alley, that once went through, alongside the church of San Antonio, to the plaza in front. Years before I got here the church built the wall that now terminates my alley and stole the land on the other side. I'm not complaining. I have a lot of privacy.

Typical of colonial architecture, the outward wall of my apartment has no windows, making it easier to defend the house from banditos. This wall, facing the alley and the south, does however have two doors. Sometimes I leave the one to my office open so that I can sit in the sun while I work. Not being on the way to anywhere, no one passes by this sun-filled portal. For someone sitting with their front door open, I have a lot of privacy.

Once upon a time, which is to say everywhere and always, the world was thought to be conscious. Animals, the mountain, the forest... all had souls. In the 1700s Materialism first restricted soul to God, angels and the human mind and later did away with it entirely.

Nature was imagined as a clockwork, with gears and pulleys and levers. Today we think in terms of molecules and forces. But the scientific orthodoxy of materialism yet maintains that all is blind, one material factor acting on another, unconscious cause and effect ad infinitum.

It was easy to deny God and angels, but mind proved more difficult. In fact, today Consciousness is referred to as the Hard Problem. If everything is blind matter, how can there be consciousness? They go back and forth on that one, but don't get anywhere, ergo, the Hard Problem.

Some scientists deny that consciousness exists, which is hard to imagine since your imagination is part of consciousness. Lately, Pan-Animism ("soul everywhere") has become very popular in scientific circles. If electrons have some sort of rudimentary consciousness, then human consciousness is just a more complex variety.

Rupert Sheldrake, a scientific heretic, who rejects materialism, has a completely different idea. He does not believe that our experience is housed in our brain. He contends that our brains are like radios, that they tune into fields of information that float around us like radio or television or cell phone waves.

He asserts that these morphic fields also make it possible for the proteins our DNA makes (that's all DNA does) to assemble into body tissues and parts (morphogenesis).

Sheldrake also contends that these fields make the phenomenon of extra-sensory perceptions (ESP) possible. Most of us have had the experience of thinking of someone and then having them call: "I was just thinking about you."

Sheldrake designed an experiment where the subject gives the researcher the names and phone numbers of four friends. The researcher asks one of the friends to call. But before the friend calls the subject guesses which friend it will be. Without ESP the subject should guess correctly 25% of the time. In fact, they guess correctly 43% of the time.

Another thing Sheldrake attributes to these fields is, The Sense of Being Stared At, the title of one of his books.

A man, who kept volunteering for combat tours in Vietnam, told me decades after the war that when they were hiding in the bush they could look at the enemy, but not at his face, because if they did, he would turn and see their eyes peeping through the leaves.

The same thing regularly happens to me when I am bicycling past a beautiful woman. Staring as I do, frequently one of them abruptly looks at me, directly into my eyes, exactly as if she could feel my stare.

Dogs know when their masters are coming home. Nursing mothers, who are away from home, experience the let down of their milk when their babies at home are hungry.


The first 3 minutes tell it all.
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Sheldrake suggests that our personal memories are also part of these fields. He says they are broadcasts, resonances from our own pasts, rather than hypothetical "memory traces" stored inside brains. There has been a lot of brain research done over the last 50 plus years and no one has found the neurological equivalent of vaults of videotaped memories.

The idea that we are not, as Materialism makes us out to be, just lumbering, meat robots destined for an ugly end, comforts me. The possibility that our minds are tuning into and contributing to great fields of information; that our consciousness, our soul, our awareness, the most constant, intimate part of us, is not to be extinguished at life's end fills me with hope and purpose. Maybe not in a personal form, but that the best, that most essential part of us will live on ennobles life.

Here, writing this, in the sunshine coming through my open office door, an occasional fly buzzes in. With no inside door open these winged visitors most often circle a few times and buzz out the way they buzzed in. Some pause for a while on the wire mesh of my window screen, wondering why they cannot get to the garden on its other side.

That, and a line from a Joseph Conrad short story, An Outpost of Progress, that I was listening to this morning, will, I hope, make a good conclusion to this article.

Conrad wrote that the two white men at the outpost deep in Africa were like "...lifelong prisoners who, liberated after many years, do not know what use to make of their freedom."

I think of myself liberated from the deadening nihilism of the materialistic worldview. Was I not trapped by it like the flies trapped against the window screen? And now that Sheldrake's ideas have removed that blockage will I fly free into the garden?

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