Chinese charater for psyche

Mystical Eastern philosophies
with the scientific knowledge of physics

Current understanding of physics leads down a path which is mystical.

Physics returns to the Beginning.

The evolution of Western science spirals along its path, beginning with the mystical philosophies rising and unfolding in an impressive development of intellectual thought that increasingly turned away from its mystical origins.

Western science is finally accepting the value of Eastern philosophies.

Proof is based on intuition along with experiments of great precision and sophistication using a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.

The roots of physics is found in the first period of Greek philosophy in the sixth century BC, in a culture where philosophy and religion are unified.

The sages of the Milesian school in Ionia were concerned with the essential nature, or real construction of things which they called "physis."

The term "physics" is derived from this Greek word and originally meant the endeavor of seeing the essential nature of all things.

The Milesians hylozoists, "those who think matter is alive,"
saw no distinction between animate and inanimate, spirit and matter.

As all forms of existence are manifestations of the "physis," endowed with life and spirituality, there was no word for matter.

Thales declared all things to be full of gods.

Anaximander saw reality as a category of organism which was supported by "pneuma" in the same way the human body is supported by air.

Milesian philosophy paralleled ancient Indian and Chinese philosophy crystallizing in the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus.

Heraclitus believed in a reality of perpetual change, of Eternal Creation.

To Heraclitus all static existence was a deception as his first principle was fire; a symbol for the continuous flow and change of all things.

Heraclitus taught reality arises from dynamic cyclic interplay of opposites.

Heraclitus saw any pair of opposites as a unity.

Unity, containing and transcending all opposing forces, is the Logos.

The split of this unity began with the Eleatic school of thought, which assumed a divine principle standing above all gods and men.

This principle, identified with unity, became Æon, and then Yahweh.

Yahweh led, ultimately, to the separation of spirit and matter and to a dualism which became characteristic of Western philosophy.

In opposition to Heraclitus, Parmenides of Elea was a monotheist.

Parmenides conceptualized existence as unique and invariable.

Parmenides regarded changes perceived as mere illusions of the senses.

This is the foundational concept of an indestructible substance.

In the fifth century BC, Greek philosophers attempted to overcome the sharp contrast between the views of Parmenides and Heraclitus.

In order to reconcile the idea of unchangeable (of Parmenides) with that of Eternal Creation (of Heraclitus), they assumed that existence is manifest in certain invariable substances, the mixture and separation of which gives rise to the changes witnessed.

This led to the concept of the atom, the smallest indivisible unit of matter, which found its clearest expression in the philosophy of Ieucippus and Democritus.

The Greek atomists drew a clear line between spirit and matter, picturing matter as being made of several "basic building blocks."

Purely passive and intrinsically dead particles moving in the ether.

The cause of their motion was associated with external forces which were assumed to be of spiritual origin and fundamentally different from matter.

In subsequent centuries, this image became an essential element of Western thought, of the dualism between mind and matter, between body and soul.

The scientific knowledge of antiquity was systematized and organized by Aristotle, who devised the scheme which was to be the basis of the Western worldview of reality for two thousand years.

Aristotle pursued questions concerning the Eternal Soul.

The Aristotelian model of the universe remained unchallenged due to the hold of the Roman Catholic church which supported Aristotle's doctrines throughout the Middle Ages.

Galileo Galilei was the first to combine empirical knowledge with mathematics and is therefore seen as the Father of Modern Science.

The birth of modern science was preceded and accompanied by a development of philosophical thought which led to an extreme formulation of the Cartesian split.

This formulation appeared in the seventeenth century in the philosophy of Rene Descartes who based his view of nature on a fundamental division into two separate and independent realms: that of mind (res cogitans), and that of matter (res extensa).

The Cartesian division allowed scientists to think of matter as dead, completely separate from themselves, and to see the material world as a multitude of different objects assembled in a huge clockwork machine.

Such a mechanistic worldview was held by Isaac Newton, who constructed his mechanics on its basis and made it the Foundation of Physics.

The rational dissociation created by the Cartesian division and mechanistic worldview have been beneficial and detrimental at the same time.

Rational dissociation advanced the development of classical physics and technology, but had many adverse consequences.

Quantum mechanics turns the Cartesian division and mechanistic worldview inside out overcoming fragmentation while leading back to unity.

Our tendency to divide perceived reality into individual and separate things and to experience ourselves as isolated egos in this reality is an illusion which comes from our measuring and categorizing mentality. It is called avidya, or ignorance, in Buddhist philosophy, and is seen as the state of a disturbed mind which has to be overcome:

When the mind is disturbed,
the multiplicity of things is produced,
but when the mind is quieted,
the multiplicity of things disappears.

What is Nirvana ?

make ignorance history know yourself

"The mind is like a sword cutting reality into pieces, and then we act as though each piece of reality is independent from the other pieces. If we look deeply, we will remove these barriers between our mental categories and see the one in the many and the many in the one." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Eastern mysticism emphasizes the basic unity of the universe.

Eastern mysticism informs - Hindus - Buddhists - Taoists - to become aware of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things - to transcend the notion of an isolated individual self and to identify self with the noumenon.

Emergence of Awareness - also known as 'enlightenment' - is an experience which involves the whole individual and is relgious in its ultimate nature.

Eastern philosophies are essentially relgious philosophies.

The division of nature into separate objects is not fundamental in the Eastern worldview and objects have a fluid and ever-changing character.

The Eastern worldview is therefore intrinsically dynamic and contains time and change as essential features.

The cosmos is seen as one inseparable reality forever in motion.

A divine principle, an intrinsic property of matter, controls everything:

He who, dwelling in all things,
Yet is other than all things,
Whom all things do not know,
Whose body all things are,
Who controls all things from within
He is your controller, your Eternal Soul.

The further we penetrate into quantum reality, the more we realize how the modern physicist, like the mystic, has come to see the world as a system of inseparable, interacting, and ever moving components, with the observer being an integral part of this system.

The underlying reason for the widespread dissatisfaction within Western culture is the domination of the mechanistic, fragmented view of reality.

Throughout history, it has been recognized that the human mind is capable of rationalizing two forms of knowledge, or two modes of consciousness, which have often been termed the rational and the intuitive, and have traditionally been associated with science and religion, respectively.

These two types of knowledge may be termed logos and mythos.

In the West intuitive mystical knowledge is often devalued in favor of rational scientific knowledge, whereas the traditional Eastern attitude is traditionally the opposite.

The Upanishads speak of a higher and a lower knowledge and associate the lower knowledge with various sciences, the higher with relgious awareness.

Buddhists talk about 'relative' and 'absolute' knowledge, or about 'conditional truth' and 'transcendental truth.'

Chinese philosophy has always emphasized the complementary nature of the intuitive and the rational by representing them in the archetypical pair Yin and Yang which form the basis of Chinese thought.

Accordingly, two complementary philosophical traditions - Taoism and Confucianism developed in China to deal with the two kinds of knowledge.

Rational knowledge is derived from the experience we have with objects and events in our everyday environment.

Rational knowledge belongs to the realm of the intellect, whose function it is to discriminate, divide, compare, measure and categorize.

A world of intellectual distinctions is created of opposites which can exist only in relation to each other, Buddhists call this knowledge 'relative.'

Abstraction is a crucial feature of relational knowledge.

In order to compare and classify the immense variety of shapes, structures, and phenomena we select a few significant ones.

We construct a 'map of reality' by reducing things to their general outlines.

Rational knowledge is a system of abstract concepts and symbols, characterized by a linear, sequential structure typical of our thinking and speaking just like this line of symbols.

The natural world is of infinite varieties and complexities, a multidimensional world which contains no straight lines or completely regular shapes, where things happen in interlocked sequences.

It is clear that our abstract system of conceptual thinking can never describe or understand the noumenon accurately, completely or correctly.

The model will be faulty for the same reason the cartographer, trying to cover the curved face of the Earth with a sequence of flat plane maps, is faulty.

We can only expect an approximate representation of reality from such a procedure, and all rational knowledge is therefore necessarily limited.

The realm of rational knowledge is, of course, the realm of science which measures and quantifies, classifies and analyzes.

"Every word or concept, clear as it may appear to be, has only a limited range of applicability." - Werner Heisenberg

For most of us it is very difficult to be constantly aware of the limitations and of the relativity of rational knowledge.

As our representation of reality is so much easier to grasp than reality itself, we tend to confuse the two and to take our concepts and symbols for reality.

The main aim of mysticism is to rid us of this confusion.

Zen Buddhists say that a finger is needed to point at the moon, but that we should not trouble ourselves with the finger once the moon is recognized.

“The purpose of a fish basket is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught the basket is forgotten. The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten. The purpose of the word is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.” - Zhuangzi

Equivalency in the West is shown by the statement made by the semanticist Alfred Korzybski , "The map is not the territory."

What mystics are concerned with is a direct experience of reality which transcends not only intellectual thinking but also sensory perception.

In the words of the Upanishads:

What is soundless, touchless, formless, imperishable,
likewise tasteless, constant, odorless, immaterial
without beginning, without end, higher than the highest,
by discerning that, one is liberated from the mouth of death.

Knowledge gleaned from mystical experience is called absolute knowledge by Buddhists because it does not rely on the discriminations, abstractions, and classifications of the intellect, always relative and approximate.

In the West this absolute knowledge or esoteric gnostic knowledge has been suppressed since Constantine started a civil war to overturn Juppiter Optimus Maximus Soter.

Apperception is the central characteristic of all mystical experience.

The noumenon can never can never be an object of reasoning or of demonstrable knowledge.

As the noumenon lies beyond the realm of human senses words and concepts so derived remain inadequate.

The Upanishads say about it:

There the eye goes not,
speech goes not, nor the mind.
we know not, we understand not
how one would teach it.

"If it could be talked about,
everybody would have told their brother.

Chuang Tzu

Lao Tze, who calls reality the Dao, states the same thing in the opening line of the Tao De Ching: "The Dao that can be expressed is not the eternal Dao."

Communicating true knowledge through the use of symbols or words is nearly impossible and this is why the ancients settled on the Oral Tradition.

True knowledge inhabits an entirely nonintellectual experience of reality, an experience arising in a state of consciousness out of the ordinary which may be called a meditative, mystical or disassociated state of consciousness.

In the words of William James:

"Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie other potential forms of consciousness."

Although physicists are mainly concerned with rational knowledge and mystics with intuitive knowledge or mythical consciousness, both types of knowledge occur in both fields.

This becomes apparent when we examine how knowledge is obtained and how it is expressed, both in physics and Eastern mysticism.

In physics, knowledge is acquired through the process of scientific research which can be seen to proceed in three stages.

Initially consists in gathering experimental evidence about phenomena.

The experimental facts are correlated with symbols and a scheme is worked out which interconnects these symbols in a precise and consistent way.

Such a scheme develops a hypothesis into a model or a theory.

This theory is then used to predict the results of further experiments.

Physicists become satisfied when they have found a scheme and have learned know how to use it to predict outcome of further experimentation.

To share this knowledge physicists express results in common language.

Basing all theories firmly on experiment is known as the scientific method.

Greek philosophers had extremely ingenious ideas about nature which often come very close to modern scientific models, the enormous difference between the two is the empirical attitude of modern science..

The Greeks obtained models deductively from fundamental axioms.

The Greek art of deductive logical reasoning is an essential ingredient in the second stage of scientific research, the formulation of a consistent model.

Rational knowledge constitutes a major part of scientific research.

But intuition is what gives scientists new insights and makes them creative.

Insights come suddenly when analyisis has been dropped and the subconscious has had the chance to process the presented information.

The intuitive mind takes over and produces suddenly clarifying insights.

Intuitive insights do not impress engineers and are of no use to anyone unless they can be formulated into a consistent interpretation in plain language.

Abstraction is a crucial feature of this framework.

This framework is a system of concepts which constitute a map of reality.

This map represents only some features of reality.

We do not know exactly were the gaps in knowledge lie since we started compiling our map gradually and without critical analysis in our childhood.

The words of our language are thus not clearly defined.

They have several meanings, many of which pass only vaguely through our mind and remain largely in our subconscious when we hear a word.

The inaccuracy and ambiguity of our language is essential for poets who work largely with its subconscious associations.

Science by aiming for clear definitions and unambiguous connections abstracts language further by limiting the meaning of its words and by standardizing its structure in accordance with the rules of logic.

The ultimate abstraction takes place in mathematics where words are replaced by symbols and operations of connecting the symbols are rigorously defined.

Mathematics is an extremely abstracted and compressed language.

Many mathematicians believe that mathematics is not just a language to describe nature, but is inherent in nature itself.

The Pythagorean mysteries introduced the belief "All things are numbers," which was incorporated into Chaladean numerology and Kabbalah.

Followers of Pythagoras set up Serapheum throughout the newly Hellenized world in the wake of Alexander the Macedonian.

The intimate blending of religion and reasoning that Pythagoras engaged in spawned a technological revolution of shared technique.

The Pythagorian myteries began a sort of blockchain of intimately linked concepts with each new concept overlaying the former.

A defining factor the Pythagorian mysteries is a logical admiration of that which is timeless.

This conceptual worldview created a chain of individuals subscribing to the concept of creating perfection in humanity including Plato, Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza crystalizing in Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

The scientific method of abstraction creates dissociation from reality.

Common symbol systems, or languages, contain flexibility within their very structure in order to be broadly understood.

This flexibility disappears with terminology within schools of thought.

The language of mathematics reaches a point where links with reality are so tenuous that the relation of symbols to sensory experience is no longer evident.

Rational thought symbol systems, or models, must be supplemented with mystical thought symbol systems in order to be understood.

Rational thought symbol systems are rigorous and consistent as far as their internal structure is concerned but their symbols are not directly related to experience.

Mystical thought symbol systems come from direct sensory experience and, being exceedingly complex, are hard to describe in rational thought symbol systems like the one you are now reading in.

Direct mystical experience is at the core of all mysticism.

"Personal experience is the foundation of Buddhist philosophy.

Described as direct insight outside the realm of the intellect obtained by watching rather than thinking; by looking inside oneself; by observation.

In Daoism, this notion of observation is embodied in the names for Daoist temples, kuan, which originally meant "to look."

Daoist thus regarded their temples as places of observation.

In Ch'an Buddhism, the Chinese version of Zen, enlightenment is often referred to as 'the vision of the Dao' - true vision is regarded as the basis of knowing in all Buddhist schools.

The first item of the Eightfold Path, the prescription Siddhartha Gautama gave us for self-realization, is true vision, followed by true knowledge.

"The 'seeing' plays the most important role in Buddhist epistemology, for seeing is at the basis of knowing. Knowing is impossible without seeing; all 'knowledge' has its origin in seeing." - DT Suzuki

Knowing and seeing are united in the Zen of Siddhartha Gautama.

Zen of Siddhartha Gautama points to the noumenon.

The mystical experience is experiencing true reality - Gnosis.

adapted from Franz Capra
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