What did I get myself into? by Chuck Post

I offered to facilitate a non-credit course at Yavapai College (Prescott, AZ) on “Science Meets Mysticism”.  Easy, right?  Well, I thought so.

What a century we just wrapped up.  Relativity and Quantum Theory opened up some discussion a hundred years ago.  What is real?  What is “solid”? Are things just probabilities?   Do we affect, in a sense create, what we experience?  These and other discussions have been enjoined.

I have learned that the largely German community of physicists that launched the era of quantum physics were more open to the mystical implications of these new discoveries than the Anglo world that later got into it.   A reflection, perhaps, of the differing views of German Idealism versus British Empiricism.   Heisenberg, Bohr, and Pauli, early quantum theorists, seemed quite open to the possible links between quantum discoveries and Eastern philosophies.

What has happened in the meantime?   Perhaps Analytic Philosophy, influenced by a no-nonsense Bertrand Russell, among others, put the brakes on the mystical inferences of the Germans.  Along with the sidelining or diaspora of the German physicists during and between the wars.  Anyway, it seems like a more vigorous debate might have taken place in the early years than we have now.

The Existentialist fashion that broke forth after World War II seems a cousin of the mystical leanings, or at least openness, of the early quantum pioneers.   The Existentialists seem to have had in common with the mystically-inclined Germans, a reaction against the limits of the rationalist rigors of European thought, going back to Aristotle.   Allowing for irrational notions seems to link Paris’s Latin Quarter fifty years ago, with Schopenhauer, Heisenberg, and Herman Hesse.  But this is a stretch.   Ancient Eastern wisdom is a long way from Marxism, even if they share a disdain for chains.

I am trying to get a handle on where the world is right now, as regards the linkage, if any, between the mystical traditions of the East with quantum physics.   There are a few science-based writers going all out for the East-meets-West implications of modern physics.  Such names as Peter Russell, Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton, and Amit Goswami, are science-trained writers who have taken public positions linking science and the ancient wisdom of the East.

I’ve got a course bearing down on me in late August, and I need to have some…. well, I was going to say I need to have some answers by then.   Maybe I just need some questions.

Any ideas out there?   Any lectures, websites, video materials that gets into this intersection of science and mysticism?   I’m all eyes and ears.