How much of Physics do you think you know? How much of “science” as it deals with our daily lives escape our consciousness?
At what point does “Tao” (an Asian term for Divine) intercept with Physics or science? All these questions are beautifully analysed in the wonderful book, The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra.
About three years ago, after several failed attempts to get Capra’s book from my vendors , a chance encounter brought me face to face with the book at a second-hand bookstore. With the very last amount on me, I made a deposit to this old bookseller, to keep the book for me till the next day when I intended picking it up. I picked this book and lo I was not disappointed by its contents!
I must confess that my expertise on Physics is suspect, just as I wondered what Tao was. Little did I know that this book will turn out to be one of the best I’ve ever read (and will read I guess). No wonder it is on the best sellers list even today, more than 25 years after it was first published.
While there are loads of reviews on the great book (that was why I longed for it in the first instance anyway), I would keep it very short and quickly mention my point of view.
The book did not make any pretense about its obvious attempts to build a bridge between modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, which are otherwise, pretty antonymous to each other. A Modern Physicist would always disregard the Eastern Schools of thought or any idea of mysticism altogether as baseless and unscientific, and an Eastern Mystic would always look down upon Science as being far from reality. Fritjof, in the most elegant and eloquent of ways, displays the striking similarities between the ancient arts of enlightenment and the modern discoveries in Physics. He has drawn numerous parallels between the two, which would make anyone, no matter what point of view they hold, appreciate them and think. The book starts upon building the concepts in both Physics as well as some Eastern Schools of Thought, draws parallels between them and towards the end consolidates and draws some conclusions.
To me this book is simply amazing, not only because of the parallels it draws but because of the window it provides to quite a few concepts, which were alien to me. I had never ever appreciated quantum and modern physics as much as I did while reading this book (my electives in my university days included some science-oriented courses in Physics and I later developed affection for Quantum Mechanics). The Eastern Mysticism was new to me (I did know in bits and pieces though), but the book gave a good precise overview.
It provokes a new way of looking at things around us and within us. Fritjof Capra, being a front line Physicist himself and someone who has done enough research on Eastern Mysticism, was in a good position to look at the bigger picture, which can be seen in his work. However, it will take an open mind to appreciate this.
I recommend that you read this book, if not for anything, for its rich resources on eastern thoughts, and except you are agnostic, I highly recommend this book.