The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
First published in 1975, The Tao of Physics rode the wave of fascination in exotic East Asian philosophies. Decades later, it still stands up to scrutiny, explicating not only Eastern philosophies but also how modern physics forces us into conceptions that have remarkable parallels. Covering over 3,000 years of widely divergent traditions across Asia, Capra can’t help but blur lines in his generalizations. But the big picture is enough to see the value in them of experiential knowledge, the limits of objectivity, the absence of foundational matter, the interrelation of all things and events, and the fact that process is primary, not things. Capra finds the same notions in modern physics. Those approaching Eastern thought from a background of Western science will find reliable introductions here to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism and learn how commonalities among these systems of thought can offer a sort of philosophical underpinning for modern science. And those approaching modern physics from a background in Eastern mysticism will find precise yet comprehensible descriptions of a Western science that may reinvigorate a hope in the positive potential of scientific knowledge. Whatever your background, The Tao of Physics is a brilliant essay on the meeting of East and West, and on the invaluable possibilities that such a union promises.
Toward a Psychology of Being by Abraham Maslow
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If we wish to help humans to become more fully human, we must realize not only that they try to realize themselves, but that they are also reluctant or afraid or unable to do so. Only by fully appreciating this dialectic between sickness and health can we help to tip the balance in favor of health.” Abraham Maslow’s theories of self-actualization and the hierarchy of human needs are the cornerstones of modern humanistic psychology, and no book so well epitomizes those ideas as his classic Toward a Psychology of Being. A profound book, an exciting book, its influence continues to spread, more than a quarter-century after its author’s death, beyond psychology and throughout the humanities, social theory, and business management theory.
The Meditative Mind: Varieties of Meditative Experience by Daniel P. Golemann
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This book is extremely helpful for all meditators who are interested in seeing where they are on the path. For without a map, it is extremely easy for any meditator to become lost and not make any real progress.
The “God” Part Of The Brain by Matthew Alpert
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The thesis here is that spiritual and religious experience is essentially something the brain *does*, not something that comes from ‘God’/’external being’. The author argues that spirituality and religious impulses have emerged in the evolving brain by default amongst evolving social organisms- in this particular book relatively recently in hominid evolution. Key processes include the growing hominid awareness of death, which, when coupled with an innate anxiety function necessary for survival, ultimately led to spirituality, religious and mystical experience.
The Bhagavad-Gita is the main source-book on yoga and a concise summary of India’s Vedic wisdom. Yet remarkably, the setting for this best-known classic of spiritual literature is an ancient Indian battlefield.
Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts
Drawing on ancient and modern sources, Watts treats the Chinese philosophy of Tao in much the same way as he did Zen Buddhism in his classic The Way of Zen. Critics agree that this last work stands as a perfect monument to the life and literature of Alan Watts.
Mysticism and the New Physics by Michael Talbot
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The book starts off with a cursory explanation of quantum physics (The Uncertainty Principle, Wave-Particle duality, etc.). It then proceeds to elaborate upon the popular paradox known as “Schrodinger’s Cat”, an analogy that was drawn to highlight the inexplicable behavior of quantum systems that go into superposition before “collapsing” into one of the many possibilities in the very presence of an observer. The author goes on to define human consciousness as a quantum system, albeit holographic, that is capable, like all other such systems (for example, subatomic particles), of emitting electromagnetic “fields” that may interact with other such fields. The grand conclusion here, is the fact that subatomic particles ultimately lack “substance” and are mere essences or “ripples” in superspace, thereby making reality as we know it a hollow illusion, a giant hologram as it were.
The second part of the book is where the author dives straight into mysticism. Talbot draws comparisons between Quantum Physics and Tantric studies, especially the concept of the Akasa, that he likens to superspace, and the Nada/Bindu duality.
The first several chapters lay down a quick ground work, introducing the reader to the old physics’ universal precepts. He then goes into what new areas of quantum research are uncovering and postulating, and ties it in with mostly eastern mystical thought: Tantra, Buddhism, and the in-betweens. He makes references to specific cases, specific theories, and specific thinkers, past and present. The work is overall well written and well cited, very coherent and unesoteric.