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sch_g_taoI am currently reading “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra and learning a thing or two about Eastern Mysticism and subatomic particles. This is one of those books where the author has read almost everything in the world there is to read and so he decides to throw two of the most dissimilar topics together so as to stave off his own boredom. Motherhood and radiation. Shoe shopping and polar ice caps. House cleaning and sex (scratch that last one). You get my point.

Anyway, it took me till chapter three to get the parallel between the two. But in a nutshell this is it: both eastern mysticism and physics must be taught and learned without the advantage of the known senses. We cannot see subatomic particles. We cannot smell them, taste them, hear them and most importantly, we cannot even think about them LOGICALLY as they, apparently, defy logic. But we can see “the consequences” of them in how they react in certain natural and unnatural situations. Capra writes on the subject of the atom: “What we see, or hear, are never the investigated phenomena themselves but always their consequences.” Eastern mysticism is much the same. Knowledge of life and wisdom cannot be taught with logic. It cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. But we can experience the consequences of that knowledge as it exists in the form of our spirituality. In fact, “whenever the essential nature of things is analyzed by the intellect, it must seem absurd or paradoxical.” This is much how “faith” runs. It cannot be explained. It’s not logical.

So, of course, that all got me thinking about my own life in general and how I am incessantly trying to figure things out. Analyzing. Deconstructing. Wondering about people and/or situations that cannot be understood. Plucking a part, detail for detail the why of why we do the things we do. And here, I come to find out it’s pointless. That the essential nature of things is a deep mystery, not to be understood by logic.

Granted, this is a great way to think when trying to understand half the crazy shit in the world. It’s almost as if it gets me off the hook of trying to really understand anything. Perfect example: Black Friday 2008, a Wal-Mart employee is killed by a stampede of shoppers. The story popped back up into the news this week because Wal-Mart is settling out of court and paying two million in damages to people who were injured in the incident and for “community service.” Whatever the hell that means. But what gets me when I really think about this is that a corporation is being sued for a death caused by a crowd of individuals.

Why are we suing a corporation?

Have we lost our sense of responsibility when it comes to acceptable shopping protocol? Is it safe to say that when a bunch of humans gather together they lose sense of their human-ness and become animals, incapable of logical thinking, incapable of proper behavior? At what point do you go from being an individual to one among a “stampede”? At what point in evolution do we as humans become candidates for a “crowd-management plan” that now has to be instituted in Wal-Marts all across the country? What the hell was on sale that day anyway?

Yes. The essential nature of things is a vast and deep mystery. Faith is required to explain certain things. Mystics know this. Physicists know this. Now I need to know it because I highly doubt i’ll ever be able to explain the weirdness of the world. And more so than anything, I can now say that humanity is probably as clueless about their own nature as the sub-atomic particles we’re all made of.

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