Rupert Sheldrake poses a question that is sure to amaze and, for some, disturb: “Is the sun conscious?”  The answer one gives depends on one’s worldview.  

Dancing with the sun. Photo by Selvan B on Unsplash.

“Obviously not, from the point of view of mechanistic materialism or physicalism” which sees the universe as “a mechanical system” and Nature as non-conscious.”  In such a system,

…conscious minds are epiphenomena produced by physical activity in brains; or they are identical with the physical activities of brains. 

In a materialistic worldview,

…anyone who supposes that the sun is conscious is making a childish error, projecting anthropomorphic illusion onto inanimate nature.

To ask the question is itself ridiculous.

But by asking the question, Sheldrake is shedding light on how far humanity has evolved from a mechanistic view of the universe.  This is implicit in the very fact that the Journal of Consciousness Studies has chosen to publish Sheldrake’s article whose very title poses the question: “Is the Sun Conscious?

Here is how Sheldrake summarizes his article (which is twenty pages long) from a worldview that is not married to materialism.

“How would God be known as life if not through the fact that the realm of the living, which glorifies and praises God, also emerges from God?” – Cultivating the Cosmic Tree by Hildegard of Bingen, De Operatione Dei.

The recent panpsychist turn in philosophy opens the possibility that self-organizing systems at all levels of complexity, including stars and galaxies, might have experience, awareness, or consciousness.  

This is certainly the opinion of Hildegard of Bingen who declared that “there is no creature that lacks an interior life.” And Sheldrake points out:

…(in) almost all other societies and civilizations, including medieval Europe, the sun and other heavenly bodies were thought to be alive and intelligent.  Our ancestors lived in an animistic world.  The earth, sun, planets, and stars were living beings.  

(Yet), ever since the seventeenth century, the standard scientific assumption has been that the sun is a non-conscious, inanimate object, like everything else.  To see it as conscious is at best poetic. 

Such animism stubbornly hangs around:

Nevertheless, despite the dominance of the mechanistic theory, the idea that the sun and other stars might be conscious has never gone away.

Traditional Fire Dance, one of the most sacred dances of the Mexica/Nahua (incorrectly referred to as Aztec) people of the Central Valley of Mexico. Originally posted to YouTube by Lenna Dean.

Sheldrake continues:

The organismic or holistic philosophy of nature points in the same direction.  Meanwhile, field theories of consciousness propose that some electromagnetic fields actually are conscious and that these fields are by their very nature integrative.  When applied to the sun, such field theories suggest a possible physical basis for the solar mind, both within the body of the sun itself and also throughout the solar system.

Does it follow that the sun is communicating with other stellar bodies?  Sheldrake seems to think so. 

If the sun is conscious, it may be concerned with the regulation of its own body and the entire solar system through its electromagnetic activity, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections.  It may also communicate with other star systems within the galaxy.

If you find this discussion provocative, I highly recommend you go to his entire article where he fleshes out the points presented here as summaries.*   For my part, I am fascinated to witness post-modern science again overlapping with premodern, indigenous and medieval, understanding. 

See Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, The Physics of Angels, pp. 20-22, 186f.

*Rupert Sheldrake, “Is the Sun Conscious?”  in Journal of Consciousness Studies, 28, No. 3-4, 2021, pp 8-28.  

Banner Image: Afternoon sun in Switzerland. Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash.

If the sun is conscious, what are the implications… For ceremony?  For the “Grand Liturgy” of the universe?  And for the relationship between human psyche and the cosmos?  How does it make you feel to consider this question?

The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science & Spirit Meet
By Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

When was the last time a scientist and a theologian discussed angels together? What are angels? Many people believe in angels, but few can define these enigmatic spirits. Now visionary theologian Matthew Fox and acclaimed biologist Rupert Sheldrake—pioneers in modern religious thinking and scientific theory—launch a groundbreaking exploration into the ancient concept of the angel and restore dignity, meaning, and joy to our time-honored belief in these heavenly beings.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

6 thoughts on “Sheldrake on the Sun as Conscious, continued”

  1. Avatar

    An excellent book which could serve as an introduction to Sheldrake’s current position is Elisabet Sahtouris’ GAIA: The Human Journey from Chaos to Cosmos.[1989]. It would be interesting to hear a debate between Sahtouris and Sheldrake.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, thank you sooo much for the tip on Sahtouris’ very earth-friendly books! And Wow, I would have loved to been there at their debate…” We still have a lot to do for Mother Earth…

  2. Avatar

    In a completely surrendered and open hearted space it is possible to catch glimpses of our sun as a portal that is emitting consciousness from the center of the galaxy. If we humans can accept this connection as the union of Spirit and spirit within matter, the very limited view we have had of God expands tremendously, eliminating all concepts of separation.

  3. Avatar

    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.) Humans should have stuck with being “pagan primitives” instead of inventing “civilization”. Indigenous peoples were wiser than us “evolved” beings I think! Our planet would be in better shape now and those nonhuman beings on earth might be in way better shape?

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: