These changes, brought about by modern physics, have been widely discussed by physicists and by philosphers over the past decades, but very seldom has it been realized that they all seem to lead in the same direction, towards a view of the world which is very similar to the views held in Eastern mysticism. The concepts of modern physics often show surprising parallels to the ideas expressed in the religious philosophies of the Far East. Although these parallels have not, as yet, been discussed extensively, they have been noticed by of some of the great physicists of our century when they came in contact with Far Eastern culture during their lecture tours to India, China and Japan. The following three quotations serve as examples:
“The general notions about human understanding . . . which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of, or new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place. What we shall find is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom.” — Julius Robert Oppenheimer
“For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory…[we must turn] to those kinds of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like the Buddha and Lao Tzu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.” — Niels Bohr
“The great scientific contribution in theoretical physics that has come from Japan since the last war may be an indication of a certain relationship between philosophical ideas in the tradition of the Far East and the philosophical substance of quantum theory.” — Werner Heisenberg
The purpose of this book is to explore this relationship between the concepts of modern physics and the basic ideas in the philosophical and religious traditions of the Far East. We shall see how the two foundations of twentieth-century physics-quantum theory and relativity theory-both force us to see the world very much in the way a Hindu, Buddhist or Taoist sees it, and how this similarity strengthens when we look at the recent attempts to combine these two theories in order to describe the phenomena of the submicroscopic world: the properties and interactions of the subatomic particles of which all matter is made. Here the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism are most striking, and we shall often encounter statements where it is almost impossible to say whether they have been made by physicists or by Eastern mystics.
Most likely, those in the Far East (like the Greeks and the Romans) learned their religious, philosophical and scientific concepts from the originators of civilization, especially since in pre-history, Egypt-Ethiopia’s territory of rule once spread as far as that of Asia, including parts of India. Had the author Fritjof Capra also studied the Egyptians and other African cultures that existed “before Christ,” he would have realized that the African’s understanding of these same concepts predates that of the leading thinkers in the ancient Far East that he writes about. As they say: “Nothing is new under the sun”…
Source: Fritjof Capra. The Tao of Physics. pg. 17-19. 1975. See also, http://www.hinduwisdom.info/India_and_Egypt.htm.
UPDATE: Capra addresses my statements in the next paragraph! LOL. He states:
When I refer to ‘Eastern mysticism’, I mean the religious philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Although these comprise a vast number of subtly interwoven spiritual disciplines and philosophical systems, the basic features of their world view are the same. This view is not limited to the East, but can be found to some degree in all mystically oriented philosophies. The argument of this book could therefore be phrased more generally, by saying that modern physics leads us to a view of the world which is very similar to the views held by mystics of all ages and traditions. Mystical traditions are present in all religions, and mystical elements can be found in many schools of Western philosophy. The parallels to modern physics appear not only in the Vedas of Hinduism, in the I Ching, or in the Buddhist sutras, but also in the fragments of Heraclitus, in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, or in the teachings of the Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan. The difference between Eastern and Western mysticism is that mystical schools have always played a marginal role in the West, whereas they constitute the mainstream of Eastern philosophical and religious thought. I shall therefore, for the sake of simplicity, talk about the ‘Eastern world view’ and shall only occasionally mention other sources of mystical thought.
If physics leads us today to a world view which is essentially mystical, it returns, in a way, to its beginning, 2,500 years ago. It is interesting to follow the evolution of Western science along its spiral path, starting from the mystical philosophies of the early Greeks, rising and unfolding in an impressive development of intellectual thought that increasingly turned away from its mystical origins to develop a world view which is in sharp contrast to that of the Far East. In its most recent stages, Western science is finally overcoming this view and coming back to those of the early Greek and the Eastern philosophies. This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.
Just think, this book was written nearly 40 years ago! What’s taking so long for a transformative shift in our collective consciousness to occur? I ask because it’s clear that the IQ of America and the West is on the decline [See e.g., Macrina Cooper-White. "People Getting Dumber? Human Intelligence Has Decline Since Victorian era, Research Suggests." Huffington Post. May 22, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/people-getting-dumber-human-intelligence-victoria-era_n_3293846.html]. Can we only be “awakened” through chaos and destruction, or can we full recognized the magnitude of the problems that confront us socially, before it’s too late…?