The World is Alive and Sentient

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Sometimes it happens that a person can name the exact moment when his or her life changed irrevocably.  For Cleve Backster, it was early in the morning of February 2, 1966, at thirteen minutes, fifty-five seconds into a polygraph test he was administering.  Backster, a leading polygraph expert whose Backster Zone Comparison Test is the worldwide standard for lie detection, had at that moment threatened his test subject's well-being.  The subject had responded electrochemically to his threat.  The subject was a plant.

Since then, Backster has conducted hundreds of experiments demonstrating not only that plants respond to our emotions and intents, but so do severed leaves, eggs (fertilized or not), yogurt, and human cell samples.  He's found, for example, that white cells taken from a person's mouth and placed in a test tube still respond electrochemically to the donor's emotional states, even when the donor is out of the room, out of the building, or out of the state.

I first read about Backster's work when I was a kid.  His observations verified an understanding I had then, an understanding not even a degree in physics could later eradicate:  that the world is alive and sentient.
Derrick Jensen, The Plants Respond:  An Interview with Cleve Backster in The Sun Magazine

A fascinating, compelling interview with a scientist who has been conducting experiments into the nature of consciousness - a controversial subject then, and still so now.  And one of the most beautiful, to me.  Well worth a read in its entirety.

The sacred Dog-A-Log tree


  1. Wonderful, Sue! I do remember reading about this chap somewhere before, but I'd not read the full-length interview. There is no end to the connectedness of things, is there? And we (some of us anyway) go around wondering why/how/if prayer works, and so on. If only we knew! (And of course so many of the indigenous peoples DID know, still do, the ones who are left in touch with their culture and traditions, anyway.)

    1. Ain't it just beautiful, Mike? If only we knew, indeed. It's such a strange time we live in - so much duality, so much destruction, and yet at the very same time something else is coming into view, underneath it all, that is even more beautiful since we've forgotten it and known the thirst for it.

      Prayer, yes ... and dreaming. What happens when we dream? Do we "go" anywhere? Many of those indigenous peoples believe/d so.

      It's weird, living in this Western thang. I was thinking about it yesterday. The image that immediately came to mind was of being in a beautiful room, looking out onto an amazing garden. We know a great deal about that garden (and sometimes we don't, as in the case of land management in Australia since 1788, but that's another story). We know all of these things *about* the garden but we have forgotten that if we go out of the beautiful room with its French doors, and walk down the hallway, through the scullery, down some stairs, through the cellar, into a door that is hidden in the dark (and the electricity wires have frayed down here) and then up a set of rickety old stairs, we can actually be "in" the garden itself. There's a lot to learn there.

      That's how I feel about it anyway. And reading about this sort of stuff makes me feel like we are on our way back. Reminds me that maybe it's not going to be too late after all to look after the earth in the way that she and we need her to :)

  2. I have always loved this wonderful quote:

    “If you don’t believe that the world has a heart, then you won’t hear it beating, you won’t think it’s alive and you won’t consider what you’re doing to it.”
    - Charles de Lint

    1. That's so lovely, Vicki.

      I was reading something the other day that was talking about how one of the defining frameworks of the West is that of control. We have not always worked with things in the way that other less "civilised" cultures have (yeah, right, civilised in what fashion exactly?) If you don't think the earth is alive in this way, then you are free to cut it up, abuse it, and be awfully and horribly short-sighted. And we are seeing the effects of that now.

      BUT I have hope that we will all begin falling in love with the earth again, and that this will be one of the defining features of how we begin turning this ship around so that the psycopaths aren't at the helm. Wouldn't that be grand - the earth actually saving us from ourselves? She is beautiful enough to do just that :)

    2. I don't know reading it back that my response makes all that much sense, hehe. I do wish I would read before hitting "publish".

      What I meant was that we seem to have this paradigm in the West of control, which then leads to working AGAINST rather than working WITH the earth, in the way that more earth-civilised and ground cultures have done before us :)

    3. All that you said, made perfect and complete sense :)


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