The Tao of Physics : A Review
(Photograph courtesy : Amazon.com)
“Physicists do not need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both.”
A couple of years ago, I happened to pick this book while casually browsing through a bookstore in Bangalore. Though I knew a bit of Physics, but I had no idea what Tao is. 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 web, I would keep it very short and quickly mention my point of view. The book 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 as baseless and unscientific, and an Eastern Mystic would always look down upon Science as being far from the reality. Fritjof Capra, 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, draw parallels between them and towards the end consolidates and draws some conclusions. To me this book was 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 (If I remember well, I had done 3 courses on these subjects during my engineering days!). The Eastern Mysticism was new to me (I did know in bits and pieces though), but the book gave a good precise overview. To quickly put through, the book provides a window to the following:
More than this, it provokes a new way of looking at things around us and within us too! 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. The book simply added 15-20 books to my reading list! That is the kind of inquisitiveness it generates. Unless you are agnostic, I would highly recommend this book.