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The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism
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The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  17,978 ratings  ·  587 reviews
After a quarter of a century in print, Capra's groundbreaking work still challenges and inspires. This updated edition of The Tao of Physics includes a new preface and afterword in which the author reviews the developments of the twenty-five years since the book's first publication, discusses criticisms the book has received, and examines future possibilities for a new sc ...more
Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition, 366 pages
Published January 4th 2000 by Shambhala (first published 1975)
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James K.
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Don't look to Capra for a highly disciplined discourse on particle physics or the nature of cosmology. Nor is this book a deep exploration of Taoism or other Eastern Religious Philosophy. Rather, it is a fascinating mental adventure showing the ways the two schools of thought often developed in parallel and came to similar conclusions from very different beginning points. The author's own words in the epilogue sum it up nicely. "Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, religion
I have had this book in my possession off and on over the years, ever since I worked for the author, Fritjof Capra, when I lived in Berkeley in the late 70s. I only knew then that he was a physicist, not realizing that there was such a thing as quantum physics, which I was not introduced to until 2000.

Fritjof was a really interesting person, that is, what I knew about him, which wasn’t much since I was only his housekeeper. Cleaning homes was how I got through college.

Seeing his home, I realize
May 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
It is widely recognized, at least by those outside of science, that scientists are notorious bunglers when it comes to philosophical matters. So it is not surprising, though hardly excusable, that Capra's book displays a level of incompetence that should be immediately obvious to anyone with even a cursory background in logic or philosophy. As a matter of fact, it would be surprising if such an unqualified admirer of Taoism, whose writings Capra notes approvingly are "full of passages reflecting ...more
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, philosophy
Ok so I have a small confession to make. I think I might be overrating books. Or at least it looks like it from other reviews I recently read. I usually read them after rating the books myself but sometimes I go the other way around. Today is one of those days.
I must say I find it harder to criticize a bad non–fiction book than a bad novel. And that could be because, first of all, with non–fiction books it's hardly a matter of writing style (unless it's a really good book or a really bad one) a
Lois Keller
Apr 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
Well, this is my first one star on good reads, that means this book was even worse than the Third Hunger Games book.

The main reason for the one star is just my complete disappointment in this book. I went in to reading 'The Tao fo Physics' expecting to find something that correlated elements of quantum mechanics to the insights of Eastern mysticism and philosophy (which I feel was a reasonable expectation). However, what I found was an author who not only was dull but founded his 'correlations'
Aug 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Eastern philosophy is not a singular concept - it consists of many schools of thought; some of which the author has conveniently cherry-picked and force fit to draw parallels with Quantum Physics.

Truth be told, the book neither has literary merit, nor does it present any groundbreakingly profound idea. There is a pretence of the latter, but anyone with some familiarity with the field of philosophy will see right through it. The only merit in the book, if one is to force himself to find one, is t
May Ling
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, science
Summary: A seminal piece that has been going on for 35 editions at this point. You kind of have to read it. I liked lots of it and now better understand the hubbub. Left me wondering if its that we see what we want to see.

Whether or not you'll like vs. love this book has to do with i) where you are spiritually, ii) how much you know about eastern culture and religion, iii) how much you know about science, and iv) what you've been taught all along.

For me, I grew up in the States, but in the Sout
I bought this book some 7 years ago, when I was fifteen. At the time I was getting increasingly interested in physics, and at the same time Buddhism. Unfortunately, I also read another book around this time called 'What The Bleep Do We Know?' which turned out to be nothing but 'quantum woo' - that is, pretending that quantum mechanics is all kinds of things that it simply isn't. I decided that The Tao Of Physics is probably something similar and it's been collecting dust on my shelf ever since. ...more
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A book that fundamentally changed the way I felt and thought deep down inside at a time of my life when I needed some sort of metaphysical path.

When you strip away the mathematics from the concepts of quantum mechanics and strong theory, etc., you get a bewildering array of thought-provking images that conjure up those posed by the best koans that Zen has to offer. Eastern mysticism meets modern physics.

You will understand that everything is connected.
Riku Sayuj
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Not entirely sure how to take this book. Will come back to it after updating myself on the latest developments.
Dec 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: spirituality, science
This book would have been better called "The Buddha of Physics", or something like that. Throughout the whole book there is hardly a single reference to taoism, and certainly no understanding of taoism and its relation to other asian religions.

The great majority of the spiritual/religious references in this book are from Indian Buddhism and Hinduism. A mild smattering of zen. Hardly any Chinese Buddhism.

I found this book incredibly boring. I think I actually started skimming towards the end, whi
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book bridged a major divide in my perception of the world, bringing together ideas of Quantum Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Capra, trained in both disciplines, does a fine job comparing quotes and emerging universal perceptions of the early pioneers in quantum physics, against philosophers and yogis of the ancient religions of the East. In a beautiful way, you come to discover that each of these disparate disciplines are somehow describing the universe through strikingly similar metaphors. ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book; but I admit it had flaws, mainly due to the actual content in relation to the title. First, this book reads more like a review of quantum physics (a subject I'm not qualified to give a critique on in terms of the book's accuracy) than religion. In many cases, the author goes on for pages about quantum physics, in technical detail, and then at the very end sticks in a throw away line about how this is similar to Buddhism or Hinduism because they both believe we are all c ...more
When I was a kid, my grandmother used to tell me a story about a king who had gone to Brahma, the creator of the universe, to invite him to preside over the inaugural ceremony of a temple he had built. Brahma, excused himself for a minute, and returned to give his consent exactly a minute later. The king returned happily to his kingdom on earth. But, lo and behold, 1200 years had passed. At this point of the story, my grandmother would smile at me and say, "What is a minute for Brahma, is 1200 y ...more
Neelesh Marik
A seminal classic that was one of the first pieces of reading that began to change my worldview, and till today, remains one of the first attempted ‘consilience’ of science and spirit. Rather than a conventional book summary or review, I would like to capture key sentences/ quotes that adorn the terrain like a string of pearls:

Chapter 1 – Modern Physics: A Path with a Heart
Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells y
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Brahman of physics

This is one of the best books I have read which ties the philosophies of Vedanta (Hinduism), Buddhism and Taoism with the laws of physics. The book is divided into three sections; the first section gives a general introduction to the facts of physical reality. The second section discusses the philosophies of Hinduism with references to Bhagavad-Gita and Upanishads; Buddhist philosophy and Chinese thought. The last section discusses the laws of Newtonian physics, and how the
Jun 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
I'm afraid as hard as I tried I could not make this book work for me. The author discusses a lot about quantum physics (as it was understood in the 1970's) and eastern mysticism. He attempts to correlate the two. The assertions were broad and conjectural, and I ended up confused about both. That may be my fault, not the author's, but so be it.

I was wading through another treatise on quantum physics and relativity at the same, Paul Davie's "The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right fo
Dr Chandra Shekhar  Bhatt
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As being trained with Naval docks on electrical systems on Naval ships and worked and sailed around the globe with techno philosophy I took this book along with me along with other few books which fascinated my being also I was working on my own books interacting with other human beings.I found this book to be read by all technocrats around the globe for feeling world as our global village so we get to remove the boundaries of countries and shunn the passports and make a global passport at least ...more
Leevi Loikkanen
Jun 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the physics in the book and the parallels were quite interesting too. The book went a good depth into the physics. Not being too surface level as well as not being too complex so that the reader cannot stay on track. Very good read, would recommend!
Arun Divakar
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
My feeling post the completion of this book is utter confusion. The first few chapters of this book gave an eloquent preamble of things to come, a sweeping narrative that would capture the essence of Physics and pit it against the ages-old wisdom of Eastern philosophy. This objective of the book was what caught my attention – that the author sets out to prove that an exacting discipline like Physics can have parallels with religious experiences. How can the rigor of mathematics be paralleled by ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, science
Hmmm what to say about this. In some ways I agree that there are a number of parallels at least in the modality of viewing the world through the eyes of the eastern believer and the modern day physicist. But whether or not these parallels are entirely the ones drawn by the author or further expounded on in this book I have some reservations in either regard. Perhaps it was because I did not enjoy being told by the author where these parallels were or being lead around in such a manner. Some of h ...more
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, science
Similar to how I felt with The Elegant Universe ; here was a book that did a good job of giving a survey of "the known physics", a good job of explaining the intractable problems, and then a poor job of explaining "the new way" (while at the same time hedging as much as possible). The comparisons to Eastern mysticism seemed a little conveniently tacked on, and maybe even a bit cherry-picked. I think the real problem I had with this book though wasn't about the theories (which, you know, "you ...more
Ken Deshaies
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting treatise on how physics is just catching up with Eastern religions. The more scientists discover about the working of the universe, from the tiniest particles to the most universal truths, the more Eastern mysticism and preachings are substantiated as true. Yet Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism have been preaching these truths for thousands of years. I was totally fascinated and engrossed. The first few chapters each give a brief overview of the different Eastern religions (p ...more
Andrew Breslin
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book back when I was a teenage nerd and I think it had a great deal of influence on me, shaping my character and making me what I am today: a middle-aged nerd.

This was one of my earliest exposures to both modern physics and ancient mysticism, and from what I have observed, whatever source first introduces one to these ideas is always held in special esteem. Though highly recommended by others, I didn't enjoy The Dancing Wu-Li Masters, nor the film What the Do We Know nearly as much

Lage von Dissen
Mar 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This book points out many of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism. In particular we can recognize parallels between many ancient mystic ideas and the modern quantum physical findings of superposition (and non locality), the duality of light and matter, and the ultimate non-physicality of nature. For many years there have been cultures that ascribed to these types of ideas as crazy as they sounded when they first hit the physics arena in the 20th century. These ideas weren't ...more
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a great book at showing the parallels between mystical and scientific research.

It also does a great job of stimulating visual imagination in the realm of the 4th dimension. This is the first book I have read that has managed to really explain the paradox of quantum-reality more clearly and I can now finally how the paradox of time and location are fundamental issues relating to the fabric of particles rather than with measuring techniques. It also gives a very good visual description of
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Given the kind of education a lot of us have had in India, and also that many of us I am acquainted with come from families and the immediate surroundings where religion, and to some extent spirituality do play a prominent role, a certain tension between the two ways of thinking - rational, objective & intuitive / spiritual, subjective - has always existed in my mind.
This book made this tension explicit, but also attempted a synthesis. Though he claims the book to be meant for the lay person, Ca
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a phenomenal book.

I have little formal education in physics, having passed 101 in college and never looked back, and still Dr. Capra managed to present a lot of the theoretical physics that pertained to his thesis in a digestible format. His overview of the various Eastern religions was matter-of-fact without taking anything away from them.

If you feel as though the pursuit of reason to the exclusion of cultivating intuition isn't healthy, or if you have a nagging feeling like Western sci
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mystics have always known that the one is the whole. Quantum physics came to the same conclusion by a very different route. Does that mean that the one spoken about by mystics is the same one spoken about by physicists. Are the respective wholes one and the same? If you're inclined to think that only science give access to truth, you'll probably answer no to the foregoing questions. If you are inclined to believe that nothing is as it seems and keep an open mind about things science cannot say a ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
A nuclear physicist's ruminations on eastern philosophy and the parallels between physics and metaphysics. This book will be special to me always because it led me to discovering Heisenberg, quantum mechanics, Zen and Taoism. The sense I got out of this book was physics - science, even - is so much bigger, better and grander than what school textbooks could ever, ever tell you. Beautiful. Opened my eyes. ...more
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Fritjof Capra (born February 1, 1939) is an Austrian-born American physicist. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, and is on the faculty of Schumacher College. Capra is the author of several books, including The Tao of Physics (1975), The Turning Point (1982), Uncommon Wisdom (1988), The Web of Life (1996) and The Hidden Connections (2002).

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“Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated "building blocks," but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitute the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object's interaction with the observer.” 59 likes
“Subatomic particles do not exist but rather show 'tendencies to exist', and atomic events do not occur with certainty at definite times and in definite ways, but rather show 'tendencies to occur'.” 25 likes
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