Taoism and Quantum Mechanics

It may surprise you to learn that Quantum Mechanics has actually been around since the 1920's. Its impact on everyday life has been unprecedented. Without quantum mechanics none of those little devices we take for granted like cell phones and iPads would work, in fact most electrical devices wouldn't work. However, quantum mechanics does have a reputation for the weird or strange, or in Einsteins words "spooky". It has opened up a world of mystery and fortunately we can't just ignore it. Whether we believe it or not, theories such as entanglement are true, and give us a glimpse into the hidden forces creating our world.

So why would a reluctant Taoist like me have a not so secret passion for Physics? For me Taoism and Physics come from the same innate desire to understand life. The Taoists, much like their scientific counterparts, observed the natural world and looked for patterns or laws. It's interesting that these two viewpoints are now beginning to connect. Newtonian Physics is unable to explain qi gong and acupuncture, but it is my belief that quantum physics can possibly begin that process.

A few years ago I was reading a book by Master Waysun Liao when he began to discuss Taoism as a science in relation to modern science. We need to understand that the Taoists didn't talk in statistics and mathematical equations, and although their knowledge of the cycles in nature and mathematics was quite complex, they used metaphor. For them this knowledge is not to be thrown around carelessly, it's sacred, it literally gives you the keys to the Universe. This is why historically practices such as qi gong were kept secret. Acupuncture also has this history, even today certain schools of acupuncture are exceptionally hard to learn due to the lack of teachers or masters willing to share their knowledge.

Within quantum physics life is seen as a multitude of possibilities all present and possible. When locating and observing an electron Quantum Mechanics tells us that we can only guess where the electron is, It would seem that the electron is everywhere and nowhere. Frustratingly for science we can guess where we are likely to find it but we don't know for sure until we look. This isn't a case of the electron is there and we're just finding it, whats actually occurring is the action of looking for it makes the electron appear in one place, it is the act of judgement that defines where the electron is. This concept is extremely similar to the concept of "Wuji" within Taoism. Wuji is said to be the beginning state, before mind, before form, before definition. We can see this almost like the primordial soup, containing all the necessary ingredients for any recipe you care to make. For the Taoist this is the important part, "any recipe you care to make". Until you make the choice the universe will hold all possibilities, it's the conscious act of judgment that begins to define and create. This doesn't mean if you keep thinking positive thoughts your life will be beautiful everyday, consciousness just isn't that simple. However, it does deepen our understanding of life and the nature of reality. Lao Tzu is quoted as saying that the "smallest and weakest is the most powerful." In this context Master Waysun Liao suggests Lao Tzu is discussing the sub atomic structure of life and that we can tap into the incredible creative power hidden literally within us and all round us. This is what qi gong can do, it's not a religion or an arcane superstition, for me its these theories put to practical use.

Mainstream science is still reluctant to consider the role of consciousness, which is understandable, as Science is based on facts and predicted results, without these it may as well be sociology or economics. However, if the Taoists have anything to teach us it is that consciousness is everything, so maybe when we look at atoms and electrons we aren't just seeing the building blocks of life, the ingredients for some cosmic recipe, we are seeing life itself, the sacred dance of creation.

The video below is presented by Brian Greene a Professor at Columbia University, it's a well presented documentary on the emergence of Quantum Mechanics and how it's changing our view of reality. The ideas are presented in a clear simple way which means even a lay person such as myself can begin to grasp the core concepts.