When I started writing this introduction, I planned to began by telling the story of the Hundredth Monkey. as I first heard it. As with most of what I will write here, I started by digging into the story in order with the idea of getting some background to frame it.
After discovering that the story was actually a myth, I decided to begin the book with it anyway, along its debunking and its association with Shelrake and glycerin that suddenly crystallized.
I had believed the Hundredth Monkey tale for many years, having first heard the story while attending a month-long seminar held at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California in September of 1983.
Esalen Institute, perched on cliffs above the surging Pacific Ocean, is eleven miles below the small town of Big Sur, California. The site of hot mineral springs, it was once the residence of the Esselen Indians, when the price of real estate was considerably cheaper.
A rustic encampment of wooden building was built during the mid-Sixties, and the area around the Esalen Hot Spring was opened up as a retreat and human development center called Esalen Institute. Esalen became a vortex for a psychologists and therapists during the Sixties, with a resident faculty of scholars. People such as Dr. John Lilly M.D. Fritz Perls PhD. Abraham Maslow, Ph.D and others conducted group therapy workshops, and educational seminars. Easlen became a think tank for a system of ideas which author Jeffrey J. Kapel calls in his 2007 book, “The Religion of No Religion.”
In the aftermath of my surprise the Hundredth Monkey story was a myth, I remembered that the first time I heard it was from Dr. Stanislav Grof during a 30 day workshop I participated in, titled Journey to the East. Grof told the group an elaborate version of the hundredth monkey yarn, then followed that up with mystery of the crystallizing glycine.
He used both of these stories as the “scientific evidence” that underlay Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance. Sheldrake’s theory was cited by Grof as an example of scientific paradigm shift in biology, one of many paradigm shifts in other fields which Grof said were beginning to erode materialistic assumptions underlying the science as a discipline.
Of course, its easy to see how the hundredth monkey story would be associated with Sheldrake theory. As far as I can determine, Sheldrake had never made used the Hundredth Monkey story to support his ideas.
He also had mentioned the fact that in order to crystallize a substance when doing a chemical synthesis, you often need to add an actual crystal to the liquid results of the that synthesis, providing a seed around which additional crystals in the liquid will form. Sheldrake likened the the use of seeds, to his concept of morphic fields, However, he did not use the Lyall Watson’s story of glycine crystal formation leaping from vat to vat, and laboratory to laboratory mysteriously.
Grof had taken these two stories from Lyall Watson’s Lifetide and connected them to Sheldrake’s theory.
Grof then used Sheldrake’s theory, as one in a series of evidential offerings which he presented during the month-long workshop, each suggesting that experiences that people have on LSD are not hallucinations but actual events in their life.
He also had similar stories from other new science paradigm, all of which were used to erode the materialistic foundations behind mainstream science, and to support the possibilities of spiritual and psychic phenomena suggesting that people’s inner non-ordinary experiences, induced by psychedelics and other methods, were based on external, real world happenings.
I had no reason to suspect that Grof, a man with a medical degree, would present misleading accounts of science. From the time I heard both of these stories, I told them on many occasions with great enthusiasm. It turned out that the story I was telling (and just about to tell again at the beginning of this book) has no basic in scientific research. It is however, a great story.