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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2008
This is one of the most wonderful books relating modern science to Eastern philosophical traditions. I have always combined an interest in physics as well as an interest in eastern philosophies, so it was natural that I get attracted to this book. I have read the second edition nearly 15 years ago, and can certify that this book delivers what it promises. Recently it has become a phenomenon to see âaeTao of â¦â or âaeZen of â¦â books that are really deficient in many respects: some books know little about the Eastern philosophies they claim to compare to, others know little about the Western science, and yet others fail to point to more than a flimsy relationship. It appears âaeTao of somethingâ has become a major marketing scheme and not much more.

âaeThe Tao of Physicsâ however is free from those weaknesses. In fact, it is in a class of its own â" possibly one of the most thought-provoking and inspirational texts in the modern world. Written by a world-class Indian physicist, this book exhibits the deep understanding of its author into the myriad complexities of modern physics. The beauty of it all is that some of the most complex ideas are explained in very simple language that even a high school student can understand: quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, particle physics, string theory, symmetries, etc.

This strength in physical understanding does not weaken the depth of perception regarding Eastern mysticism. Au contraire, the second part of the book, describing Eastern philosophy, is a tour de force of the various branches of Eastern thought: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc. Topics like the I-Ching, the mythology of the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and the Tao Te Ching are introduced in very clear language aimed at capturing a Western audience.

The third and largest part of the book is devoted to drawing parallels between the two traditions: the Western scientific and the Eastern philosophical. Of course, at this stage of human development one cannot reach certainties about such thing, and the discourse is restricted to pointing out the parallels and illustrating the convergence of thought. More questions are raised than are actually answered, which is perhaps the signature of a really good book. Since reading it I have become fascinated with modern physics and pursued a science education. My interest in Eastern religions has also been enhanced. Currently I am in the process of re-reading this gem. I definitely recommend it to everyone seeking substance in âaeTao of â¦â books.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2010
I am physics undergrad and had been intrigued and confused with the realities of quantum mechanics. Probabilities weren't enough for me, I thought there must be something else that determines observational outcomes. The thought had crossed my mind but reading this book confirmed it for me. The universe is conscious, human consciousness is a quantum phenomenon. As a race we have enormous power and responsibility over our world. Reading this book provided me with a new way of looking at physics and science in general, and an optimistic expectation for the future of our race that we can leave behind our outdated and unhealthy ideals.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2009
Meditation and Metaphysics meet the West, redone in the form of High Energy Physics and what it means when the observer collapses the nondual into duality.

You will understand your mind, eventually if you read this book now and search for its source the rest of your life. You will become nondual as you absorb the All, reinterpret it in a quantum Universe of modern physics and look inside yourself to see it was all there the whole time.

If you want to understand where quantum physics and the eight fold path has taken us, read this book. If you want to understand yourself as Self, read this book. You may not get it the first time or the second (not reading, but encounters with Self), but eventually if you stick with it and keep searching and asking questions (only questions that will come to you from reading a book like this, learning its meaning inside you and meditating to calm and discipline the mind), then one day you will wake up Enlightened.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
There are many solid books on connections and continuity in history and religion and physics. However Jacob Bronowski, "The Ascent of Man", would turn me over in my grave if he found out that I was reading such books as this. There are too many quasi science quasi religion books that want to take some principle and reinterpret it to be a New age truth or prove the some old blind philosopher beat us too it for example (The Seat of the Soul.) Dr. Capra is drawing parallels in two fields and not trying to say "see I told you so". He takes the time and pages to describe the science and also does a pretty good job of distilling complex religions down to single chapters. I leave it up to Dr. Capra and you to determine if there really is any parallel. A parallel does not mean equivalents. If you are a Gary Zukav sort of person this book will not help you at all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fritjof Capra (born 1939) is an Austrian-born American physicist, who is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy and is on the faculty of Schumacher College. He is also the author of The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture,Uncommon Wisdom,The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, and The Hidden Connections: Integrating The Biological, Cognitive, And Social Dimensions Of Life Into A Science Of Sustainability.

Subtitled "An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism," Capra wrote in the Preface to this 1975 book, "Five years ago, I had a beautiful experience which set me on a road that has led to the writing of this book. I was sitting by the ocean one late summer afternoon, watching the waves rolling in and feeling the rhythm of my breathing, when I suddenly became aware of my whole environment as being engaged in a gigantic cosmic dance..." He later admits that "In the beginning I was helped on my way by 'power plants' which showed me how the mind can flow freely..."

He writes in the first chapter, "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 that 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..."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"The particle world cannot be decomposed into elementary components." (Pg. 81)
"Quantum theory thus reveals an essential interconnectedness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units." (Pg. 137)
"The relativity of time also forces us to abandon the Newtonian concept of an absolute space... there is no absolute space independent of the observer." (Pg. 166)
"The distinction between matter and empty space finally had to be abandoned when it became evident that virtual particles can come into being spontaneously out of the void, and vanish again into the void..." (Pg. 222)
"The whole universe is thus engaged in endless motion and activity; in a continual cosmic dance of energy." (Pg. 225)
"...the theories of atomic and subatomic physics made the existence of elementary particles increasingly unlikely. They revealed a basic interconnection of matter, showing that energy of motion can be transformed into mass, and suggesting that particles are processes rather than objects." (Pg. 285)
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on May 21, 2014
Much was written about the 'Tao of Physics', and it is almost always considered as a synthetic and holistic vision of modern physics seen through the glasses of ancient mysticism! But more importantly, let us ask how the author made his point?

Capra made his point by assembling a number of small points, one after the other, for finally proving the whole of his thesis or theory. Overall, the Tao could be seen as a passionate philippic to overcome our scientific dualism by showing that upon a deeper look a synthesis between Western scientific thought and Eastern philosophy is the only intelligent way out of the dilemma.

What I call in my writings the schizoid split in the internal setup of our culture, Capra called it the division between spirit and matter. And the next step, then, in the building of that cultural paranoia was the turn of events starting with the reductionist science philosophy of French philosophers La Mettrie and René Descartes.

What Capra was showing here is the missing link between our modern-day separative and highly individualistic worldview, and its historical origins. And it explains conclusively why we are torn up, fragmented and unwhole (unholy).

The danger of fragmentation, Capra explains conclusively, is that we try to find absolute points of reference behind each of our fragmented concepts, and we do this probably unconsciously in an attempt to heal our inner split. Yet ultimately by doing so we bring about a distorted perception of reality, by taking the map for the landscape.

Looking at the paradoxical behavior of electrons in the quantum world, Capra asked the question why Westerners are so terribly confused, and even shocked, when encountering a paradox, or simply an illogical behavior? He found the answer in comparing Western thought with Eastern philosophy.

I think this difference between Indian thinking and Chinese and Japanese philosophical traditions is important, as Joseph Campbell has emphasized it as well in his book Oriental Mythology. The Zen tradition, derived from its original Chinese root philosophy (where it was called Chan Buddhism), is very fond of putting the stress on the paradox for a simple reason: the paradox teaches us the limitations of rational thinking and thereby shows us the relativity of a merely rational worldview.

The result of that worldview was namely that we discarded nature out of science and by doing so, we created a fundamentally nature-hostile science, a science that destroys us by destroying our planet. This science reflected exactly the distorted view prevalent since patriarchal times in our culture that says the male is superior to the female. This cult of male supremacy led straight to a never-ending course of violence that slowly but definitely suffocates us today.

And the same biased perception of reality, distorting the harmony between the male and the female principle, is to be seen throughout Western philosophy, in its abysmal dualism, which lacks the fundamental ability to find the synthesis that Oriental thought is so apt to establish. Capra conforms with the Eastern worldview that says all opposites are complementary and ‘merely different aspects of the same phenomenon.’

Capra wistfully remarks that in the East, ‘a virtuous person is therefore not one who undertakes the impossible task of striving for the good and eliminating the bad, but rather one who is able to maintain a dynamic balance between good and bad.’

When you look at the Tao of Physics from this perspective, from the big picture behind the details of quantum physics, you will see that Capra’s deeper message in this revolutionary book goes way beyond a redefinition of modern physics. Capra has prepared the ground in this earliest of his books for the giants to come.
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The Tao of Physics: An exploration of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism, by Fritjof Capra, Wildwood House, UK, 1975; Fontana, 1983, 384 ff.

Fritjof Capra is a physicist who was teaching at University of California at Berkeley when this book was written. He is now Director of the Center for Ecoliteracy there and a visiting lecturer at the Schumacher College in England. This was his first book and it was one of the first to open up the New Age philosophy. It challenges the conventional wisdom of both materialist science and western religion by demonstrating striking parallels between ancient mystical traditions that are practiced in the East and the discoveries of 20th century quantum physics. The congruence between Buddhism and quantum physics has also been pointed out by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama in The Universe in a Single Atom and elsewhere.

In this book, Capra first introduces us to some of the strange ideas of quantum physics: that fundamental particles of the atom are more energy than matter; that there is constant exchange between the two kinds of properties; that atomic particles interact through intervals of time and space.

The second section of the book takes us through Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Zen, emphasizing their holistic, monistic world view - that everything is connected and interacts with everything else: just like the atomic particles Capra's been describing in the earlier section.

In the third and final section Capra draws together ideas from these separate worlds of science and religion. When we are confronted with fundamentalist western religion, this eastern mystical philosophy has so much to tell us, especially when it resonates with rather than contradicts the world-view of science.

You won't need to be a scientist or a mystic to appreciate this book - just open-minded.

Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav

Howard Jones is the author of The Tao of Holism
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There are many solid books on connections and continuity in history and religion and physics. However Jacob Bronowski, "The Ascent of Man", would turn me over in my grave if he found out that I was reading such books as this. There are too many quasi science quasi religion books that want to take some principle and reinterpret it to be a New age truth or prove the some old blind philosopher beat us too it for example (The Seat of the Soul.)

Dr. Capra is drawing parallels in two fields and not trying to say, "See I told you so". He takes the time and pages to describe the science and also does a pretty good job of distilling complex religions down to single chapters. I leave it up to Dr. Capra and you to determine if there really is any parallel. A parallel does not mean equivalents. If you are a Gary Zukav sort of person this book will not help you at all.
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There are many solid books on connections and continuity in history and religion and physics. However Jacob Bronowski, "The Ascent of Man", would turn me over in my grave if he found out that I was reading such books as this. There are too many quasi science quasi religion books that want to take some principle and reinterpret it to be a New age truth or prove the some old blind philosopher beat us too it for example (The Seat of the Soul.)

Dr. Capra is drawing parallels in two fields and not trying to say, "See I told you so". He takes the time and pages to describe the science and also does a pretty good job of distilling complex religions down to single chapters. I leave it up to Dr. Capra and you to determine if there really is any parallel. A parallel does not mean equivalents. If you are a Gary Zukav sort of person this book will not help you at all.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
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There are many solid books on connections and continuity in history and religion and physics. However Jacob Bronowski, "The Ascent of Man", would turn me over in my grave if he found out that I was reading such books as this. There are too many quasi science quasi religion books that want to take some principle and reinterpret it to be a New age truth or prove the some old blind philosopher beat us too it for example (The Seat of the Soul.)

Dr. Capra is drawing parallels in two fields and not trying to say, "See I told you so". He takes the time and pages to describe the science and also does a pretty good job of distilling complex religions down to single chapters. I leave it up to Dr. Capra and you to determine if there really is any parallel. A parallel does not mean equivalents. If you are a Gary Zukav sort of person this book will not help you at all.
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