Tag: Rupert Sheldrake

The knowing of dogs.

A fascinating study on human empathy strikes a chord with man and dog, perhaps.

Let me start with a true account from the evening of Monday, 19th August.

That evening, at 7pm, I had an appointment with my doctor in Grants Pass.  Jean stayed at home looking after our guests and preparing the evening meal.

The journey from the doctor’s clinic back to home, a distance of 20 miles, takes a little over half-an-hour.  The last 3 miles are along Hugo Road; about 6 minutes including opening and closing the gate across our driveway.

Anyway, according to Jean shortly after 8pm Pharaoh sprang up barking and went across to put his nose against one of the windows that looks out over our front drive and garden.  Jeannie looked at the clock on the kitchen wall and made a note of the time: it was 8:10pm.  She also came over to the window that Pharaoh was looking out of and searched for any reason for his outburst of barking: squirrels, deer, any kind of wildlife or other distraction.  There was none.

A little before 8:20pm Jeannie saw the headlights of my car pull up and moments later I came in through the front door.

It appeared that Pharaoh had sensed the point where I had turned into Hugo Road.

One could easily dismiss this, perhaps by thinking that Jean had unconsciously signalled to Pharaoh that I was on my way home.  But Jean had only the vaguest idea of when I might be back.

Or one could be drawn to the research undertaken by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, as this extract from a post back in May, 2011 explains.

What an amazing book this is.


I have written about Dr Rupert Sheldrake a few times on Learning from Dogs for pretty obvious reasons!  You can do a search on the Blog under ‘sheldrake’ but here are a couple of links.  Serious Learning from Dogs on January 10th, 2011 and Time for a rethink on the 14th April, 2011.

Anyway, I am now well towards the end of Sheldrake’s revised book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and it is more than fascinating.  Bit short of time just now so please forgive me if I do no more than show this video which sets out some of the background to the book.  Sheldrake’s website is here, by the way.

Anyway, what’s this all leading up to?

I can’t recall where it was that I read about a report posted on the Forbes website about the new findings of the power of human empathy.

Study: To The Human Brain, Me Is We

A new study from University of Virginia researchers supports a finding that’s been gaining science-fueled momentum in recent years: the human brain is wired to connect with others so strongly that it experiences what they experience as if it’s happening to us.

This would seem the neural basis for empathy—the ability to feel what others feel—but it goes even deeper than that. Results from the latest study suggest that our brains don’t differentiate between what happens to someone emotionally close to us and ourselves, and also that we seem neurally incapable of generating anything close to that level of empathy for strangers.

The research revealed:

“The correlation between self and friend was remarkably similar,” said James Coan, a psychology professor in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences who co-authored the study. “The finding shows the brain’s remarkable capacity to model self to others; that people close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real. Literally we are under threat when a friend is under threat. But not so when a stranger is under threat.”

The findings back up an assertion made by the progenitor and popularizer of “Interpersonal Neurobiology,” Dr. Daniel Siegel, who has convincingly argued that our minds are partly defined by their intersections with other minds. Said another way, we are wired to “sync” with others, and the more we sync (the more psycho-emotionally we connect), the less our brains acknowledge self-other distinctions.

Later in that Forbes article Professor Coan is reported:

“A threat to ourselves is a threat to our resources,” said Coan. “Threats can take things away from us. But when we develop friendships, people we can trust and rely on who in essence become we, then our resources are expanded, we gain. Your goal becomes my goal. It’s a part of our survivability.”

So if science is discovering that our subconscious minds are connecting “psycho-emotionally” with the minds of others whom we trust, then it doesn’t seem like too great a leap to embrace human minds psycho-emotionally connecting with the animals that we trust, and vice versa.  Because for thousands upon thousands of years, the domesticated dog and man have depended on each other for food, protection, warmth, comfort and love.


References for those who wish to follow up on this article are:

Original Forbes article, written by David DeSalvo.

David DeSalvo’s website.

Daniel J. Siegelclinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute.

Daniel Siegel’s book The Developing Mind.

Professor Robin Ian MacDonald Dunbar, British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist and a specialist in primate behaviour.  His theory known as Dunbar’s Number explained here.

Oxford Journal: Familiarity promotes the blurring of self and other in the neural representation of threat.

Be part of research into animal communication.

A request from Dr. Rupert Sheldrake.

Dr. Sheldrake has been very regularly mentioned on Learning from Dogs, the most recent time was last year in a post called Brain-to-brain communication.

Jean and I have been involved in a research programme involving our own dogs here at home.  So far, without much success.  But it occurred to me that there may be readers who would like to participate.  So here’s an email in response to my offer to post something in this place.

Companion Animal Research Group

Pam Smart and I are setting up a Companion Animal Research Group for people who would like to do research with their dogs, cats or other animals. If you have an animal that knows when you are coming home or who seems to respond to your thoughts and intentions telepathically, and if you would like to take part in a simple research project, please get in touch with Pam by email: p.e.smart (at) btinternet (dot) com She will send you further details.

Of course, if you do have such a telepathic animal then they will know about this post before you do! 😉

Brain-to-brain communication

Communication seems to be a bit of a theme just at present!

About 18 months ago, I wrote a piece on Learning from Dogs about Rupert Sheldrake’s fascinating book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. The reason that this has come up again (and, as it happens, I’m rereading Sheldrake’s book just now) is a recent item on the Big Think website called Can We Have Brain-to-Brain Communication?  Here’s what was written.

Dr. Michio Kaku addresses the question of Collective Intelligence. Some people think that the next big innovation in the coming decades is not going to involve the Internet because we can already connect computers to the human mind. Therefore, Dr. Kaku says this brain-to-brain communication would involve not just the exchange of information, but also the transmission of emotions and feelings, “because these are also part of the fabric of our thoughts.”

There’s also an interesting 4-minute video by Dr. Kaku that may be accessed here.

But then again, many pet owners would probably take it for granted that our cats and dogs can read our mind, as Dr. Sheldrake rather entertainingly explains below.

Before closing today’s post, the research that Dr. Sheldrake has undertaken is very impressive.  His website is here, from which one learns that,

Dr. Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, is best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory.

He worked in developmental biology at Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Clare College. He was then Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Hyderabad, India. From 2005 to 2010 he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick project. , funded from Trinity College, Cambridge.

Rupert Sheldrake … Biography 
A Guide to the Website Rupert’s Science and Philosophy

The website is a very useful resource, as this section underlines,

Unexplained Powers of Animals

by Rupert Sheldrake

In the late 1980s and early 1990s I explored a variety of experimental approaches for the investigation of unexplained phenomena that might help to enlarge our scientific view of the world, summarised in my book Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (1994).

One of the seven experiments concerned unexplained abilities of animals, and I published a series of papers on the unexplained powers of animals, see Papers on animals .

I summarised much of this research in my book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999).

My research with Aimée Morgana into the telepathic powers of her African Grey Parrot, Nkisi, led to the celebrated debate at the London RSA with Prof Lewis Wolpert, which is featured on this website The Telepathy Debate 

More information is available on Nkisi, including a tape of one of his conversations with Aimée in The Nkisi project

So if your pet is looking at you as though they know what you are thinking – they probably are!

Rupert Sheldrake

An opportunity to watch a new video of Rupert Sheldrake talking about his new book The Science Delusion

I have written or referred to Rupert Sheldrake many times previously on Learning from Dogs. I have also read the book by Mr. Sheldrake, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. (The linked title takes you to something I published about the book and the author on the 9th May, 2011 and also links to other articles about Rupert Sheldrake.)

Rupert Sheldrake

Previously, I had written about what Rupert Sheldrake calls morphic resonance and morphic fields, see my article here.

Yesterday, I received an email promoting Sheldrake’s new book.  This is what it said,

From Rupert Sheldrake
London January 30th, 2012

In my last newsletter I said that the UK launch of my new book The Science Delusion would be streamed live from Kings College, London University, on January 17, but unfortunately the internet connection at King College broke down, so this did not happen.

Clearly they were able to film that launch and that video link is available, but only until February 7th, 2012!  So if you want to watch the video then please go here.  I am not able to embed that into this Post.  You will be going to the video of this:



January 17, 2012, 7pm – 8:30pm (GMT), 2pm – 3:30pm (EST)
Venue: Great Hall King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS

In addition, that email newsletter carried the link to a review of the new book in the British Guardian newspaper, by Mary Midgley.  It starts thus,

The unlucky fact that our current form of mechanistic materialism rests on muddled, outdated notions of matter isn’t often mentioned today. It’s a mess that can be ignored for everyday scientific purposes, but for our wider thinking it is getting very destructive. We can’t approach important mind-body topics such as consciousness or the origins of life while we still treat matter in 17th-century style as if it were dead, inert stuff, incapable of producing life. And we certainly can’t go on pretending to believe that our own experience – the source of all our thought – is just an illusion, which it would have to be if that dead, alien stuff were indeed the only reality.

If you want to read the review in full then it is here. (If you are a follower of Rupert Sheldrake, best not to take the comments to Mary’s article too seriously!)

Also, the Guardian blog carried a piece by Mark Vernon, that opened thus,

Werner Heisenberg, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, once observed that history could be divided into periods according to what people of the time made of matter. In his book Physics and Philosophy, published in the early 60s, he argued that at the beginning of the 20th century we entered a new period. It was then that quantum physics threw off the materialism that dominated the natural sciences of the 19th century.

Of materialism, he wrote:

“[This] frame was so narrow and rigid that it was difficult to find a place in it for many concepts of our language that had always belonged to its very substance, for instance, the concept of mind, of the human soul or of life. Mind could be introduced into the general picture only as a kind of mirror of the material world.”

Today we live in the 21st century, and it seems that we are still stuck with this narrow and rigid view of the things. As Rupert Sheldrake puts it in his new book, published this week, The Science Delusion: “The belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a 19th-century ideology.”

Mark Vernon closes the fascinating piece with these tantalising words.

The analogy has the benefit of naturalising extrasensory perception, Watts notes. But it also raises problems. For example, how would it be possible mentally “to touch” objects that don’t exist, as would happen when contemplating a centaur? Watts concludes: “An adequate account of the mind must encompass both first- and third-person description whereas the idea of a ‘field’, along with the other spatial descriptions that Sheldrake uses, seem to be exclusively third-person type descriptions.” Oddly, this is a strikingly 19th century attitude to have.

Nonetheless, Sheldrake must welcome such serious engagement with his work. He may not be right in the details. But he is surely right, with Heisenberg, in insisting that the materialist world view must go.

Don’t rely on my short excerpts, read the article in full here.

For my money, this will be a book that I won’t miss reading!

Sixth sense? Of course, say dogs!


Science is catching up with dogs!

Those of you who have come across Rupert Sheldrake and, in particular his book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home will really not be surprised at what is coming, in terms of the rest of this Post.  Because most dog owners know, from countless observations, that dogs have an uncanny ability to see the world around them in a more deeper and intuitive manner than we can explain.

I wrote of Sheldrake’s book on the 1st June including touching on a report of Mason, a small terrier mix …

On April 27th, Mason was hiding in his garage in North Smithfield when the storm picked him up and blew him away. His owners couldn’t find him and had about given up when they came back Monday to sift through the debris, and found Mason waiting for them on the porch.

A few evenings ago, we watched a documentary from the website Top Documentary Films from the series Through The Wormhole.  This particular documentary was entitled Is There a Sixth Sense? Here’s how that film was introduced,

Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are the tools most of us depend on to perceive the world. But some people say they also can perceive things that are outside the range of the conventional senses, through some other channel for which there is no anatomical or neurological explanation. Scientific researchers who study such abilities call them extrasensory perception (ESP), but lay people often refer to them as the sixth sense.

Either term really is a catch-all for a variety of different purported abilities that vary from person to person. Some people claim the power of telepathy – that is, the ability to perceive others’ thoughts, without having them communicated verbally or in writing. Others claim to have the power of clairvoyance, which is the ability to perceive events and objects that are hidden from view because of barriers or distance. Still others claim to be gifted with precognition, which enables them to look into the future and glimpse what hasn’t yet occurred.

The belief in ESP or the sixth sense dates back thousands of years. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Croesus, who ruled a kingdom in what is now Turkey in the sixth century B.C., consulted oracles – that is, groups of priests claimed to be able to predict the future — before he went to war. In ancient India, Hindu holy men were believed to possess the power to see and hear at a distance, and to communicate through telepathy.

In the late 1700s, the Viennese physician Franz Mesmer claimed that he could give people ESP powers by hypnotizing them. Just before his assassination in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln told friends that he’d dreamed of his own body lying in state in the White House. In the 20th century, Edgar Cayce and Jean Dixon attracted wide followings by claiming that they could foresee future events. During the Cold War, U.S. military and intelligence agencies, spurred by reports that the Soviets had psychics at their disposal, even tried to utilize clairvoyants who claimed remote-viewing powers for espionage purposes.

As well as watching it directly from the Top Documentary Films website, it is also available from YouTube.  Here are the four links.  It is a most fascinating review of the scientific findings in this area.  If you have a dog with you when you watch the videos, don’t be surprised if he or she fall asleep!  Nothing new for dogs in all this!

Present perfect!

Probably the best lesson dogs offer their human companions.

Having surfaced recently from being completely immersed in the writings of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake’s book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (start here and work backwards if you missed my musings on Sheldrake) I used the recent flight across to London to start into the book by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson Dogs Never Lie About Love.

Masson's book

While I might disagree with some minor aspects of the way that dogs relate to humans, the essential premise of the book is very powerful.

Indeed, the very last sentence of Chapter 2, Why We Cherish Dogs reads as follows:

Questers of the truth, that’s who dogs are; seekers after the invisible scent of another’s authentic core.

For me, any attempt to seek our own ‘authentic core’ can only come from understanding the power of remaining in the present.  Dogs do this so naturally and instinctively.  As Masson writes a little earlier in the above chapter,

A dog does not tremble at the thought of his own mortality; I doubt if a dog ever thinks about a time when he will no longer be alive.  So when we are with a dog, we, too, enter a kind of timeless realm, where the future becomes irrelevant.

One could almost imagine this being the ancient wisdom of the teachings of Buddha!

Anyway, in a rather serendipitous manner, just before starting this essay, I read my weekly News and Notes from Terry Hershey.  This is what he wrote about being in the present.

Did you see Mr. Holland’s Opus? About Glenn Holland’s lifetime of teaching music to a high school band. In one scene he is giving a private lesson to Gertrude. She is playing clarinet, making noises that can only be described as other-worldly. He is clearly frustrated. As is she. Finally Mr. Holland says, “Let me ask you a question. When you look in the mirror what do you like best about yourself?”

“My hair,” says Gertrude.


“Well, my father always says that it reminds him of the sunset.”

After a pause, Mr. Holland says, “Okay.  Close your eyes this time. And play the sunset.”

And from her clarinet? Music. Sweet music.

Sometime today, I invite you to set aside the manual, or the list, or the prescription.

Take a Sabbath moment. . . close your eyes and play the sunset.

Mary Oliver describes such a moment this way, “. . .a seizure of happiness. Time seemed to vanish. Urgency vanished.”

Because, in such a moment, we are in, quite literally, a State of Grace.  In other words, what we experience here is not as a means to anything else.

If I am to focused on evaluating, I cannot bask in the moment.

If I am measuring and weighing, I cannot marvel at little miracles.

If I am anticipating a payoff, I cannot give thanks for simple pleasures.

If I am feeling guilty about not hearing or living the music, I cannot luxuriate in the wonders of the day.

Living in the present is not specifically mentioned but how else could one interpret these beautiful concepts.

Pets finding their people

Linking yesterday’s amazing story with Dr. Sheldrake’s work.

Many of you will have read the account published yesterday about little Mason, the pet dog that was picked up by the recent tornado in North Smithfield, Alabama.  Here’s a recap of what happened.

Mason, a terrier mix, now rests inside the Vulcan Park Animal Care Clinic where he’s waiting to find out what kind of surgery he will need to repair 2 badly broken legs. This is only the 2nd night he’s spent under any kind of roof in the last 2 weeks and the story of how he got there is almost too amazing to believe.

On April 27th, Mason was hiding in his garage in North Smithfield when the storm picked him up and blew him away. His owners couldn’t find him and had about given up when they came back Monday to sift through the debris, and found Mason waiting for them on the porch.

Dr. Sheldrake's book

I have also previously written about Dr. Sheldrake, my most recent item was when I highlighted his book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home.

In that book, there are several references to both incredible journeys undertaken by pet dogs and the science believed to be involved.  The book is much recommended.

Chapter 13 of Sheldrake’s book is called Pets Finding Their People Far Away.  Here’s how it starts,

In 1582, Leonhard Zollikofer left his native St. Gall, Switzerland, to go to Paris as ambassador to the court of the French King Henri III.  He left behind his faithful dog, aptly named Fidelis.  Two weeks later the dog disappeared from St. Gall.  Three weeks after that he rejoined his master at the court in Paris, exactly at the time when the Swiss ambassadors were being led in to an audience with the king.  The dog had never been to Paris before.  How did he find his master so far away from home?

There are other ‘mind-blowing’ examples in the book.  In Chapter 10, Incredible Journeys, Dr. Sheldrake explores many aspects of this wondrous ability of many animals.

Animals bond not only to members of their social group but also to particular places.  Many kinds of animals, both wild and domesticated, can find their way home from unfamiliar locations.  This attachment to places depends on morphic fields, which underlie the sense of direction that enables animals to find their way home over unfamiliar terrain.

The sense of direction also plays a vital role in migration.  Some species, like swallows, salmon, and sea turtles, migrate from breeding grounds to feeding grounds and back again over thousands of miles.  Their ability to navigate is one of the great unsolved mysteries of biology, as I discuss in the next chapter.  Here too I think that morphic fields, and the ancestral memory inherent in them, could provide an explanation.

If you have read this and are curious, then these videos will give you a little more to mull over.  The first is a little ‘alternate’.

Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home

What an amazing book this is.


I have written about Dr Rupert Sheldrake a few times on Learning from Dogs for pretty obvious reasons!  You can do a search on the Blog under ‘sheldrake’ but here are a couple of links.  Serious Learning from Dogs on January 10th, 2011 and Time for a rethink on the 14th April, 2011.

Anyway, I am now well towards the end of Sheldrake’s revised book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and it is more than fascinating.  Bit short of time just now so please forgive me if I do no more than show this video which sets out some of the background to the book.  Sheldrake’s website is here, by the way.

Time for a rethink!

Things do not change; we change. Henry David Thoreau

To a great extent, my thoughts in this article will make less sense if one hasn’t watched the Rupert Sheldrake video included in the Post on the 10th January, 2011.  It’s 1 hour 20 minutes long but every minute will captivate you, trust me.

But if, for whatever reason, you don’t watch that video then the following YouTube videos are offered where Sheldrake speaks of the evidence supporting telepathy between cats and dogs and humans.  The demonstration of a dog knowing when their owner is coming home is enthralling.

The science behind this link between, for example, the dog and its owner, is what Dr. Sheldrake calls an example of Morphic Fields.

I must confess that if someone had said to me, say 10 or even 5 years ago, that some form of energy field links the brains of dogs and their owners, or of cats and their owners, I would have been at least confused, at best very skeptical.  Then comes the evidence, statistically valid, that being rung on the ‘phone by someone close to you can be anticipated frequently before the phone is picked up creates even more uncertainty.

Settle down and listen to these videos (they are sound recordings only but nonetheless fascinating),

The Extended Mind, Part One

The Extended Mind, Part Two

The Extended Mind, Part Three, final part.

Rupert Sheldrake continued

Did you watch the video of Sheldrake discussing The Morphogenetic Universe?  If not then you may want to start here, at yesterday’s Post.

Rather than crowd that article, here is more to provide you with a broader perspective of Sheldrake’s work.

Firstly, Rupert Sheldrake’s very interesting website is here.

Secondly, there is a video here of a talk given by Rupert Sheldrake about animal telepathy.  The talk was given to an audience at Schumacher College in South Devon, England.  Well worth settling down to watch – and be amazed.

Finally, there are many videos on YouTube for those that wish to explore this in more detail.  Here’s a taste.