Mystical Eastern philosophies
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
that increasingly turned away from its mystical origins.
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
The roots of physics is found in the first period of
Greek philosophy in the
sixth century BC, in a culture where
religion are unified.
The sages of the
Milesian school in Ionia were concerned with the
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
nature of all things.
hylozoists, "those who think matter is alive,"
no distinction between
animate and inanimate, spirit
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.
philosophy paralleled ancient Indian and Chinese philosophy crystallizing in
the philosophy of Heraclitus of
Heraclitus believed in a
reality of perpetual
change, of Eternal
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
Heraclitus saw any
pair of opposites as a unity.
Unity, containing and
transcending all opposing forces, is the
The split of this unity began with the Eleatic school of
thought, which assumed a divine
principle standing above all gods and men.
unity, first El, then
Yahweh and finally
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.
conceptualized existence as unique and invariable.
changes perceived as mere illusions of the
This is the foundational concept of
an indestructible substance.
the fifth century BC, Greek philosophers attempted to overcome the sharp
contrast between the views of Parmenides and Heraclitus.
In order to
reconcile the Static Ideal
(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
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
The birth of modern
science was preceded and accompanied by a development of philosophical thought
which led to an extreme formulation of the
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
rational dissociative state of
consciousness used by the Cartesian division and
worldview is both beneficial and detrimental.
rational dissociative state of
consciousness advanced the development of
classical physics and
technology, but has many
turns the Cartesian division and mechanistic worldview inside
out overcoming fragmentation
while leading back to unity.
to divide perceived reality into
individual and separate things and to
experience ourselves as
isolated egos is an illusion
which comes from our measuring and categorizing mentality.
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
the multiplicity of things
mysticism emphasizes the basic unity of the universe.
mysticism informs - Hindus -
Taoists - to become
the unity and mutual
interrelation of all things - to transcend the notion of
an isolated individual
self and to identify self with the
Awareness - also known as 'enlightenment' - is
an experience which involves the whole individual and is
religious in its ultimate
Eastern philosophies are
of nature into separate objects is not fundamental in the Eastern worldview
as objects have a fluid
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
dwelling in all
yet is other than all things,
whom all things do
whose body all things
who controls all things from within
he is your
controller, your Eternal
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,
These two types of knowledge may be termed
In the West intuitive
mystical knowledge is often devalued in favor of rational scientific knowledge,
whereas the traditional Eastern attitude is traditionally the
speak of a higher and a lower knowledge and associate the lower knowledge with
various sciences, the higher with
Buddhists talk about 'relative' and
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.
complementary philosophical traditions -
Confucianism developed in
China to deal with the two kinds of
Rational knowledge is
derived from the
experience we have with objects and events in our everyday
belongs to the realm of the
intellect, whose function it is to discriminate, divide, compare, measure and
world of intellectual distinctions is created,
of opposites which can
exist only in relation to each other, Buddhists call this knowledge
Abstraction is a crucial
feature of relational
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
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
It is clear that our abstract system of conceptual
thinking can never describe or understand the noumenon
completely or correctly.
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.
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
"Every word or concept, clear as it may appear to be,
has only a limited range of applicability." -
most of us it is very difficult to be constantly aware of the
limitations and of the
relativity of rational
of reality is so much easier to grasp than reality itself, we tend to
confuse the two and
to take our concepts and
The main aim of
mysticism is to rid us of this
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
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
What is soundless,
likewise tasteless, constant, odorless, immaterial
beginning, without end, higher than the highest,
by discerning that, one is
liberated from the
mouth of death.
Knowledge gleaned from
is called absolute
knowledge by Buddhists because
it does not rely on the discriminations,
classifications of the
intellect, always relative and
In the West
this absolute knowledge or
knowledge has been suppressed since
Constantine started a civil war to
overturn Jupiter Optimus Maximus Soter.
Apperception is the central
characteristic of all
The noumenon 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
The Upanishads say about it:
There the eye goes
speech goes not, nor the mind.
we know not, we understand not
one would teach it.
"If it could be talked
everybody would have told their brother."
who calls reality the Tao, states the same thing in the opening line of the
Tao Te Ching: " The Tao that
can be expressed is not the eternal Tao."
Communicating true knowledge
through the use of symbols or words is nearly impossible and this is why
the ancients settled on the Oral
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
In the words of William James:
"Our normal waking
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
Although physicists are mainly concerned
with rational knowledge and mystics with
intuitive knowledge or
consciousness, both types of knowledge occur in both fields.
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
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.
theories firmly on experiment is known as the scientific method.
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
The Greek art of
deductive logical reasoning is an
essential ingredient in the second stage of scientific research, the
formulation of a consistent model.
knowledge constitutes a major part of scientific research.
is what gives scientists new insights and makes them creative.
Insights come suddenly when analysis has been dropped
and the subconscious has had the chance to process the presented
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
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 where 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
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
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 intimate blending of religion
and reasoning that Pythagoras engaged in spawned a technological revolution of
The Pythagorian mysteries began a sort of
blockchain of intimately linked concepts with each new concept overlaying the
A defining factor the
Pythagorean mysteries is
a logical admiration of that which
worldview forged a chain of individuals
subscribing to the
concept of creating perfection in humanity including
Spinoza crystallizing in
the use of rational
Common symbol systems,
or languages, must contain flexibility within their very structure in order to
be broadly understood.
This flexibility disappears with terminology
within schools of
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
symbol systems in order to be understood.
thought symbol systems
are rigorous and consistent as far as their internal structure is concerned but
their symbols are not directly related to experience.
systems come from direct sensory experience and, being exceedingly complex,
are hard to describe in
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.
Taoism, this notion of
observation is embodied in the names for Taoist temples, kuan, which originally
meant "to look."
Taoist thus regarded their temples as places of
In Ch'an Buddhism, the Chinese version of Zen,
often referred to as 'the vision of the
Tao' - true vision is regarded as the basis of knowing in all Buddhist
The first item of the
Eightfold Path, the
Gautama gave us for
is true vision,
followed by true knowledge.
"The 'seeing' plays the most important role
epistemology, for seeing is
at the basis of knowing.
Knowing is impossible
without seeing; all 'knowledge' has its origin in seeing." -
and seeing are united in the Zen
of Siddhartha Gautama.
experience is experiencing true reality -
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