Understanding Zen, Taoism, Quantum Physics, and Philosophy Through TheTao Te Ching,
A portal to great and profound wisdom for deep thinkers.
The Tao Te Ching, The Tao Te Ching (in simplified Chinese: 道德经; also known as the Lao Tzu or Laozi, which is also the name of the author) is a Chinese classic text over 2,600 years old. This important work is fundamental reading for understanding the pure nature of love, as well as the mystical, philosophical, and religious elements in Taoism and Zen.
The Tao Te Ching is a primary text for, existentialists, atheists, agnostics, and serious spiritual seekers.
For decades some quantum physicists have noticed and even explored links in many concepts central to their own work and many identical ancient concepts central to Taoist and Zen thought.
The foundational work you will want to explore in this realm is an enlightening and comprehensive approach to this enigma, is the brilliant book The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra, — Shambhala Publications, 1975.
In it, Capra, a respected physicist states “Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science. But man needs both.”
According to the preface of the first edition, and reprinted in subsequent editions, Capra struggled to reconcile theoretical physics and Eastern mysticism. He discussed his ideas with the great physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1972. Concerning these discussions, Capra states:
“I had several discussions with Heisenberg. I lived in England then [circa 1972], and I visited him several times in Munich and showed him the whole manuscript chapter by chapter. He was very interested and very open, and he told me something that I think is not known publicly because he never published it. He said that he was well aware of these parallels. While he was working on quantum theory he went to India to lecture and was a guest of Tagore. He talked a lot with Tagore about Indian philosophy. Heisenberg told me that these talks had helped him a lot with his work in physics because they showed him that all these new ideas in quantum physics were in fact not all that crazy. He realized there was, in fact, a whole culture that subscribed to very similar ideas. Heisenberg said that this was a great help for him. Niels Bohr had a similar experience when he went to China. As a result of those influences, Bohr adopted the yin yang symbol as part of his family coat of arms when he was knighted in 1947.
Capra explored through his writings and teachings the idea that Eastern mysticism and scientific findings of today relate, and how Eastern mysticism might also have answers to some of the biggest scientific challenges of today.
Capra’s book analyzes the tenets of Taoist thought to show its striking parallels with the latest discoveries in cyclotrons.
Though Capra’s book is not without flaws concerning recent development in physics, and many 21st Century physicists would question many of his assumptions, the fact remains, that once one has explored alternate states of consciousness and surrendered a binary approach to what is real or not real, this entry makes perfect sense.
Ultimately the student of Tao enters the realm of complete “mindfulness”. This state is what Zen Masters call “Beginner’s Mind”, and Sages describe it as an “Empty mind”. Here one immediately recognizes that even if Tao cannot be described it “is as profound and deep as the source of all things.”
The Tao Te Ching had a strong influence on the development of Chan Buddhism, the form of Buddhism that eventually led to Zen. In 1972 I began a 40-year long project of researching word for word and sentence by sentence over 20 Mandarin to English translations of the Tao Te Ching to create what many experts believe to be the most truthful, and accurate meta-analysis of the Tao Te Ching ever organized. Many artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and gardeners, have used this meta-analysis and the related commentaries, of which this story is one, as a source of inspiration.
The influence of the Tao Te Ching has spread widely outside East Asia and it is among the most translated works in world literature. It is studied by people of all faiths as a source of wisdom, spiritual clarity, and life lessons.
I look forward to reading your comments about this story.
Author — Lewis Harrison is a pioneering psychonaut, writer, and teacher. He offers a wide range of personalized and customized online courses on Zen, Taoism, personal development, self-improvement, and various life lessons. To learn about these courses and to read his extended posts go to Asklewis.com.
Please join my mailing list at Asklewis.com.
Email me personally at LewisCoaches@gmail.com. I promise to respond