|The Mystic and the Physicist|
These excerpts from the Epilogue of The Tao of Physics summarize the similarities and differences in the ways of the physicist and the mystic. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 40)
The 'mechanistic' world view of classical physics is useful for the description of the kind of physical phenomena we encounter in our everyday life. . . . Opposed to the mechanistic conception of the world is the view of the mystics which may be epitomized by the word 'organic', as it regards all phenomena in the universe as integral parts of an inseparable harmonious whole. . . .
Physics in the twentieth century has shown that the concepts of the organic world view . . . become extremely useful at the atomic and subatomic level. The organic view, therefore, seems to be more fundamental than the mechanistic. . . . (emerging) when one enquires into the essential nature of things - into the deeper realms of matter in physics; into the deeper realms of consciousness in mysticism. . . .
Physicists derive their knowledge from experiments; mystics from meditative insights. . . . The object of observation is of course very different in the two cases. The mystic looks within and explores his or her consciousness at its various levels, which include the body as the physical manifestation of the mind. . . .
In contrast to the mystic, the physicist begins his enquiry into the essential nature of things by studying the material world. . . . Thus the mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within. . . .
The modern physicist experiences the world through an extreme specialization of the rational mind; the mystic through an extreme specialization of the intuitive mind. The two approaches are entirely different . . . . However, they are complementary, . . . both of them are necessary, supplementing one another for a fuller understanding of the world. . . .
Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but men and women need both. Mystical experience is necessary to understand the deepest nature of things, and science is essential for modern life. What we need, therefore, is not a synthesis but a dynamic interplay between mystical intuition and scientific analysis.