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Science and Spiritual Practices

Reconnecting Through Direct Experience
Narrated by: Rupert Sheldrake
Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Science
4.5 out of 5 stars (122 ratings)

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Summary

By the author of The Science Delusion, a detailed account of how science can authenticate spirituality.

In this pioneering audiobook, Rupert Sheldrake shows how science helps validate seven practices on which all religions are built and which are part of our common human heritage:

  • Meditation
  • Gratitude
  • Connecting with nature
  • Relating to plants
  • Rituals
  • Singing and chanting
  • Pilgrimage
  • Holy places

The effects of spiritual practices are now being investigated scientifically as never before, and many studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices generally make people happier and healthier. Rupert Sheldrake summarises the latest scientific research on what happens when we take part in these practices and suggests ways that listeners can explore these fields for themselves.

For those who are religious, Science and Spiritual Practices will illuminate the evolutionary origins of their own traditions and give a new appreciation of their power. For the nonreligious, this book will show how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all, even if they do not subscribe to a religious belief system.

This is a book for anyone who suspects that in the drive towards radical secularism, something valuable has been left behind. Rupert Sheldrake believes that by opening ourselves to the spiritual dimension, we may find the strength to live more wholesome and fulfilling lives.

©2017 Rupert Sheldrake (P)2017 Hodder & Stoughton Limited
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Thought Provoking

Coming from an atheist background, I was very impress with Sheldrake's previous book, Science Delusion, as it made me aware of the preconceptions and biases I thought I was free of.

This book has helped me to further understand the value some key religious practices can have in the lives if those around me and my own life. This is one of the few books to have such a profound effect on my thunking about the world. Thank you.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

brilliant

Sheldrake is brilliant. I could listen to this all day, again. end the hate, meditate.

4 people found this helpful

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Sheldrake beautifully and effortlessly pulls the rug from under the feet of the philosophical materialists

I loved this book, and it resonates with my own thoughts and experiences, about the nature of reality.
Here is a short excerpt from the final chapter which I like, i hope it is ok to post this...
"for example materialists have not proved that matter is unconscious, or that nature is purposeless or that minds are confined to brains, these are assumptions. The materialist world view is a belief system not a statement of scientific facts. Another common reason for converting to atheism is the assumption that religions are primarily about propositions and beliefs rather than about experiences. Then religions can be dismissed as dogmatic, dependent on the authority of scriptures prophets and priests. By contrast so the argument goes, scientists are open to evidence, they ask clear questions, test them by experiment and establish a reliable consensus through repeated observations. I used to believe this myself, but I was disillusioned when I realised that some people had made science into a kind or religion and are often exceptionally dogmatic. They accept the scientific world view on faith, impressed by the authority and prestige of scientists and imagine that they have arrived at this world view by their own free thinking. I still believe in the ideal of open minded science but I see the religion of science, scientism, as a dogmatic ideology. In my own experience, believers in scientism are more dogmatic than most Christians I encounter. Most believers in scientism are not scientists, they are devotees rather than researchers, most have made no empirical observations, or scientific discoveries themselves, they have not worked at the large Hadron collider studying subatomic particles, nor have they sequenced genomes, or examined the ultra structure of nerve cells, nor done research in radio astronomy, nor penetrated the mathematics of super string theory. They take what they are told on trust, accepting the prevailing orthodoxy of institutional science as conveyed by textbooks and popularizers. They are incapable of questioning the authority of the scientific priesthood because they lack the necessary education and technical knowledge to do so, and, if they do raise awkward questions, they are likely to be ignored, or dismissed as ignorant, confused or stupid."

Rupert raises awkward questions and he does so within the scientific method. The phenomena he documents flatly contradict the materialist world view in a similar way, to the incompatibility between the two theoretical pillars of modern physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity.
General relativity and quantum mechanics are fundamentally different models that have different configurations. It is not simply a problem of scientific terms however, it's clash of genuinely incompatible explanations of reality.
So until we have a new model of physical reality which takes into account the findings of modern consciousness research, and which sees consciousness as primary and fundamental, and not secondary and contingent, we will remain stuck in this old paradigm. Rupert Sheldrake, along with Psychologist Stanislav Groff and others have demonstrated that consciousness simply could not be an epiphenomenon arising out if the complexity of the neurobiological processes in the brain, but is instead something primary and fundamental, and just as the Copenhagen interpretation suggests, it is matter instead, which is secondary and contingent.
After all, as Rupert explains in his subsequent book, subatomic particles are not made of hard enduring stuff like tiny billiard balls, but rather, are quantum of energetic vibrations in fields. A proton is a quantum of energetic vibration in a proton field, an electron, a quantum of energetic vibration in an electron field.
And only exist in a particular place at a particular time if and when consciously observed, while otherwise existing as energetic distributions of possibilities.

Sheldrake beautifully and effortlessly pulls the rug from under the feet of philosophical materialists such as Dawkins and Harris. A true openminded scientist, unhindered by scientific dogma.
Sheldrake is also a philosophy graduate, a student of theology, and an erudite of the worlds major religious traditions and practices, he appears pre-eminently qualified to discuss such question as, the inherent nature of spirituality in human consciousness and the spiritual dimensions of the many activities and practices that engage us and sustain our well being throughout our lives, and which are so indispensable to our health and happiness.
Sheldrake reveals the underlying truth, of the very spiritual nature of our species, and our deep need for connection with the universal eternal consciousness, which is the source of all else, and in doing so in this book, he really leaves those new militant atheists, sitting on their bottoms, the rug, well and truly whipped out from underneath them and their entire materialistic facade , what's left of it, clearly crumbling, collapsing around them.
To have faith in a belief system which has already superseded itself, mechanistic materialism, and which in principal can never account for some very real phenomena, is not smart.
Perhaps it is wiser and better to have faith in a belief system, which is supported by direct experience, which explains most everything, which resonates with our very nature, and which is after all, a metaphysical necessity.

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What I expected to be.

Was awesome and it is always a pleasure to listen a book from the voice of it author.
It should exist more books about these themes, with respected people focusing on fringe subjects. Anthony Peake, Daniel Quinn, Terrence McKenna, Joseph Atwill, Noam Chomsky or Robert Waggoner are good examples on completely different fields.

2 people found this helpful

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very interesting read

I was captivated by this book; it is a mine of fascinating information about spirituality. i have now purchased the kindle edition so i can study the text in more detail. i also liked the peaceful and measured manner in which the book was read. if you are interested in people and spirituality then you will find this book very thought provoking and fascinating.

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Yes!

I really enjoyed listening to this book, and feel interested in listening to more content from the author! The narration us also very clear and warm-voiced. Thank you!

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food for thought

This is a great book that will make you look at the world ina different way. Recommended.

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Best thing ive ever heard

Its like you mind being feed so much knowledge that it goes in stages. And Narrator voice is a dream inits self.

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Enjoyable and thought provoking.

Presented beautifully and read by the author. Straddles science and spirituality with some lovely insights from Rupert's own extensive career. Read it under a tree!

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I wanted more, but it was interesting still...

Sheldrake reads with a soporifically rhythmic drone. His arguments are superficial and easily disputable. Though, he does score at least three good insights: first, Contra Peterson, he points out that dragon myths regularly involve the voluntary surrender of an innocent, for the sake of the group; second, spiritual practice, while often demonstrating positive health effects, tend to do so more profoundly in actual believers rather than secular practitioners; third, that panpsychists may have the easiest of all the hypotheses to prove, in postulating a property common to all matter, rather than the alternative of dualism or the materialist denial of consciousness altogether. Probably, his previous book would provide better arguments on all three counts than this one, if you're a critical reader.

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  • Elena Blume
  • 01-12-17

Love book. Completely enthrallingly wonderful.

Love book. Completely enthrallingly wonderful.
The writing and reading of it is fully engaging and spectacularly contemplational.

Wanted the book to read on forever. Most likely and inevitably I believe it will.

So thankful for the moments listening together with my children even. Brought forward excellent spiritual and otherwise discussions together.

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  • Adam Evans
  • 18-11-17

Starts a bit slow but last half pretty good!

I'll preface this review by saying that I've listened to many other similar audio books, summer being written by Rupert sheldrake himself. initially I wasn't too impressed with this audiobook, it started out quite slow for the first 3 or so hours. I was quite excited when I first got it, so this initial three hours was a little disappointing for me.

Mostly as it seems eems to cover a very basic aspect of the subject matter, and much of the information had been previously covered by Rupert in earlier books.

the tail end of this book made up for the initial disappointment. I quite enjoy the last 3 hours, and it was quite inclusive in terms of the information it covered.

I would recommend someone start with this book, then move over to Rupert's other books, as they seem to be a bit more detailed and intricate in terms of their exploration of the subject matters. This book seems to be a general overarching Viewpoint, and it was quite simplistic in my opinion.

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  • Fenna
  • 23-11-17

Not as advertised - more spiritualist than science


I was disappointed in this one. When I saw the title and description several weeks ago I got very excited and waited for it to become available but I feel like the title of this book is misleading.

The title of this book is 'Science and Spiritual Practices: Transformative experiences and their effects on our bodies, brains and health' but the majority of the information in this book seems to be a history of different spiritual practices or the author's own experiences and opinions of those practices. A few sections fulfilled my expectations: The sections on Meditation and on Singing and Chanting mentions studies that I found really interesting and were great. Other parts of the book seem more spiritual than scientific. This would be fine if I weren't going into this book with an expectation based on the title. If this were instead advertised as the author's own belief on fulfilling spiritual practices and his application of his term 'morphic resonance' (I'll talk about that later) - then I would have listened to those sections with a different frame of mind.

Midway through the book I found myself listening to a section about if the Sun had consciousness or if atoms and smaller life forms had consciousness. Again, this would be fine if I were reading a book advertised as Spiritualism or Neo-Spiritualism but that's not what I came here for- what does the question of 'does the sun have consciousness?' have to do with spiritual practices and their shown effect on health? During the chapter on nature I found myself in an entire section where the author proposes (in great length) that orchard owners could rent out parts of their land for the use of families so those families can have access to the type of natural spots he had as a child. Again, cool thought, but what does that very detailed proposition have to do with the benefits of being in nature? It seems like the author gets off topic at times and then doesn't give enough information about the topic that was promised.

Now, Morphic Resonance.
In the beginning of the book the author tells you his personal history in both the scientific and spiritual fields. (It was a good intro- my only ‘huh?’ moment being when he mentions telekinesis between people and between animals) Rupert Sheldrake talks about his past research into plants and introduces his idea of, what he terms, 'Morphic Resonance' which is the idea that plants can inherit memories from their predecessors and that this is how they know to act with certain similar habits or patterns. That's fine, I was intrigued. He brings it up later though- this time in reference to not just plants but also animals and humans. He compares this idea to spiritual rituals done across cultures and that these rituals do something similar- they create a resonance between the person consciously participating in the ritual to those who have done that ritual in the past. Now, before you think I'm being harsh just because I'm a nonbeliever: I consider myself pagan and a part of the whole neo-pagan movement so I'm used to hearing these kinds of ideas. Again, if this were a different type of book I'd be all over this kind of stuff. But Morphic Resonance really is a pseudoscience- even when he first talked about it I was thinking 'Ok, I bet you had a really hard time introducing this to your friends in the science community' because there's really no way to prove his theory. I find it problematic to introduce these ideas in a book that advertises itself as a hard science look at spiritual practices.

I just want to give a fair warning to people who may be considering this book: There's some interesting information here but this book is really about spiritual practices for the spiritual community rather than a scientific look at spiritual practices.

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  • Elan Sun Star
  • 09-11-17

Incredible Insights very relevant

A book that is truly Important for our times
I will not go into detail..
This book is critical for the balance of science and Spirit and conveys basic values of
understanding living systems and their inherent essence.