Biologist Rupert Sheldrake stabbed at lecture

Author Rupert Sheldrake, whose ideas about biology and consciousness sometimes spark controversy, was stabbed after giving a lecture in Santa Fe, NM, last week. He is currently recovering. Here is a local news article, and following is Mr. Sheldrake's own account of the events (continues after the jump)…

A week ago, on the afternoon of Wednesday April 2, I was giving a talk to
several hundred people at the International Science and Consciousness
Conference in the ballroom of the La Fonda Hotel, in the centre of Santa Fe,
New Mexico. After the talk ended at 3pm, I stepped down from the podium and
was talking to people in a small group that had gathered around me.

I felt a violent blow on my left thigh, as if I had been punched. It was
totally unexpected, and I did not see my assailant run towards me. He was
rapidly pulled away. I looked down at my leg, and to my astonishment saw the
handle of a dagger sticking out of my trousers. Without thinking, I pulled
it out: the blade of the bloodstained weapon was about five inches long and
an inch wide. I felt my trouser leg was wet with blood, and I pulled my
trousers down.

Every time my heart beat, a fountain of blood spurted from
the wound in my thigh about four inches into the air. I was fortunate that
several people from the audience with medical experience rapidly came to my
assistance, including a nurse, doctor and paramedic. I lay down on the stage
while they fastened a belt around my thigh as a tourniquet and pressed on my
leg to reduce the flow of blood.

Quite soon, a team of paramedics arrived, bandaged my wound, inserted an
intravenous drip and lifted me onto a stretcher (called a gurney in
America). When they carried me out into the street, blue lights were
flashing on police cars, and press photographers and TV cameramen soon had
me in their focus. I was driven in the ambulance to St Vincent Regional
Medical Center, and taken to the emergency room, where the staff examined my
wound. A few minutes later my old friend Larry Dossey walked in, having been
told of the attack. I was delighted to see him. He is not only a friend but
a doctor, and has seen many wounds from his time as a battalion surgeon in
Vietnam. Some policemen also arrived, and questioned me about the attack,
asked me to write a statement and photographed my leg and bloodstained

The wound had stopped bleeding, but my thigh had swollen enormously. The
trauma surgeon, Dr Caesar Ursic, at first considered the possibility of
leaving the wound to heal without surgical intervention, but it continued to
swell, and he decided that it would be better to open up my leg to clean out
the wound and stop the internal bleeding. He offered me a choice, and I
asked Larry's advice. He was unhesitant – go for the operation. So I did.
The anaesthetist was very friendly, and after taking my medical details and
discussing the procedure, she told me about her dogs that know when she is
coming home as I was wheeled into the operating theatre.

My attacker was Japanese, and had arrived from Japan only a few days
beforehand. He had spoken to me the day before my lecture, telling me he was
hearing voices. He was obviously in distress. I later learned that he had
told several other people about the voices, and some had tried to help him.

But no one anticipated that he would turn violent, and neither I, nor anyone
else I know of, had any premonition of it. Although the report in USA Today
said that he was "disturbed" by my lecture, which was on the extended mind,
this was misleading; he was disturbed anyway. In any case, his English was
probably too poor to understand much of what I said. The fact that I was
speaking in the final session of the conference may have had more to do with
it – if he was going to do something spectacular, this was his last chance.

After stabbing me, he was rapidly brought to the floor by an Australian
rugby player, and was held down by several men until the police led him away
in handcuffs. While on the ground, he apparently said that the voices had
told him to attack me. He is now in Santa Fe jail awaiting trial. I feel no
anger towards him, but am pleased that he is locked away and unable to harm
anyone else.

When I regained consciousness I was lying on my back in a hospital bed with
tubes everwhere, but not in pain. A blood-filled drainage tube came out of a
hole in my leg, draining the wound. I had an intravenous line through which
I could administer morphine by pressing a button, but I never needed any
medication. Dr Ursic told me that he had removed a blood clot the size of a
tennis ball, sealed off several small arteries that were bleeding into my
muscles, and cleaned out the wound. He said that he was surprised by the
large amount of tissue damage, which reminded him of what he had read about
hari-kiri wounds, caused by twisting the blade. At the time, he did not know
that my assailant was Japanese. The dagger had caused a wound about five
inches deep and an inch wide, severing the tissue in my quadriceps muscle
but fortunately missing the femoral artery by about half an inch. He told
me it would probably be few days before I could begin to walk again, using a
walking frame.

The nursing staff were very helpful, and I had a stream of visitors,
including some of the conference staff, several conference participants,
some former students of mine and friends who live in Santa Fe. I also had
many comforting phone calls, first and foremost from my wife Jill, in
London. My room began to fill up with beautiful bunches of flowers,
including organic tulips, and baskets of fruit and other food. I was carried
along by a great surge of love and well-wishing, with messages pouring in
from around the world conveyed to me via Jill and via Larry and Barbara
Dossey. I learned that at the conference itself, immediately after the
stabbing, dozens of people formed a circle to pray for me. Other chanted in
a nearby church. My family and many friends around the world were praying
for me. Several of my visitors gave me various forms of healing, including
Reiki, and one of the nursing staff, who was also a practitioner of Healing
Touch, visited me at nights just before I went to sleep, leaving me feeling
as if I were floating like a feather.

On Friday Dr Ursic removed all my tubes, and with the help of the physical
training staff I ventured out of bed for the first time, moving a few yards
in a walker. On Saturday, for the first time, I began to put my weight on my
left leg and hobbled about a 100 yards with the frame. That evening I was
due to be speaking at an event in the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, part of an
election year "Festival of Optimistic Voices", organized by my old friend
Nina Wise. I felt strong enough to do it, and Dr Ursic arranged for me to be
able to leave the hospital for a few hours. I was taken to the theatre by
Larry and Barbara Dossey. I was the first speaker after the interval, and
after being introduced had to walk to the middle of the stage with my
walker, in front of several hundred people. The story of my stabbing had
been on the front page of the local newspaper, the New Mexican, and I was
given a very warm reception. I spoke on Science and Hope. (The video of my
talk should be online soon with a link from my web site,

I had expected to be using the walker for about a week, but on Sunday
morning Dr Ursic thought I might be able to graduate to a four-legged
walking stick (known in America as a quad cane). He was right. I was
discharged from the hospital soon afterwards, and came to stay with Larry
and Barbara Dossey in their beautiful house, amidst pine and juniper trees
in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The next day, as I was
walking around the house, I realized that I had forgotten my cane and was
walking without it. My left leg still feels clumsy, stiff and weak, and my
thigh is swollen, but my healing has been exceptionally fast and I have
experienced no pain throughout the whole process. I have also felt no fear,
and have indeed felt calm and happy, even blissful at times. I attribute all
this to my good fortune in having such a skillful surgeon in Caesar Ursic,
who in all my encounters with him was completely present and
trust-inspiring, excellent care at St Vincent's, the love and support of my
family and friends, the prayers of so many people, and the healings I have
received. I am also very fortunate to be able to recover at the home of
Larry and Barbara Dossey, which is like a sanctuary. They are looking after
me wonderfully well, and it is great fun being with them. As I said on
Saturday night at the Lensic Theatre, if you have to get stabbed, Santa Fe
is the best place for it to happen.

I am due to fly to Tucson tomorrow to attend the Toward a Science of
Consciousness Conference at the University of Arizona, where I am scheduled
to give a keynote address on Saturday morning, and I plan to fly home to
London on Monday. As usual I am not traveling with a computer, and will only
start to answer emails when I am home again. There are more than 2,000 in
my inbox, so if you have written to me, I apologize for the delay in
replying, and it may be a while before I can respond.

I am very grateful to all those people who have helped me here in Santa Fe,
and to all those at home and around the world who have been praying for me
and sending me their love and support. It has made all the difference.

(thank you, John Brockman)

Previous coverage on BB: Link.