Welcome to The Path of Water

This site is dedicated to exploring the Tao and Philosophical Taoism; and how it relates to everyday modern life in the 21st Century. It also includes posts relating to how I feel Taoism can provide insights for dealing with the problems of everyday living.

The process of writing out my thoughts helps me to explore what I believe and why, so these posts will probably develop over time. I hope that you'll find this site interesting and, for those of you new to the Tao and Taoism, I hope that it can provide you with a first step on the path to a rich spiritual life. If you want to post comments relating to a post or the site as a whole I'd be grateful as all feedback is helpful.

Enjoy your visit - In Tao - Woody

Who would follow the Way must go beyond words.
Who would know the world must go beyond names. *

No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. **

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Physics & the Tao

We've been discussing the Tao and the Big Bang, how they are related and how Taoism is viewed by scientists. Is the Big Bang the same thing as the creation of the 10000 things referred to in the Tao Te Ching and can Taoism make predictions relevant to Physics?

My feelings are that I'd be cautious about directly linking the origins of the universe with the origin of the 10000 things. Taoism teaches us that there are no absolutes and already scientific theory is moving beyond the big bang with ideas such as M-theory and ideas that "time" in some form can pre-exist the big bang. There will also be the limitless manifestations of Tao which are forever beyond our knowing. What is interesting is that again and again in science we come across the same ideas as are found in Taoism and it is no surprise that we see something of the origin of the 10000 things reflected in our knowledge of the big bang.

As for Taoism and science? I'd venture that most scientists don't know or understand Taoism. Certainly those that encountered it like Bohr clearly saw the conceptual links between Physics and Taoism. Taoism is a series of statements of demonstrable fact combined with conclusions on what this tells us about how we can live our lives. The statements hold true wherever they are applied and so are just as valid in Physics or Mathematics. For example, by my understanding, Mandlebrot's analysis of the length of the coast of Britain demonstrating that a finite area can be enclosed by a line of infinite length is easily predicted from the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching - for exactly the same reasons. Equally Mandlebrot's work is an elegant example of the meaning of "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao".

The advancement of science has been repeatedly held back by adopted orthodoxies - like the belief of God's hand at the heart of everything, celestial bodies moving in perfect circles, or the mechanistic predictable view of the universe's workings. These orthodoxies have repeatedly led to the dissenters being ostracised, outcast or whatever until, in a revolution brought about by a failing of the old orthodoxy, suddenly the old paradigm is overturned leading to some of the dissenters being validated. To the best of my knowledge, each time this has happened the new paradigm has moved closer to a picture of the universe in accord with that of Taoism.

Taoism doesn't need science to validate it, and science doesn't need Taoism - but the roots of both are the same and I believe each can provide something useful to the other.

1 comment:

The Rambling Taoist said...

That's an interesting supposition. To be quite honest, it's not something I've ever contemplated! I'll have to let this sit for awhile to see what comes out later.

That said, one of my great joys is finding Taoist blogs. I enjoy seeing how others view the world and Tao. You can be certain that I will add this blog to my regular rotation.