Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Helgoland - Carlo Rovelli, The way of Zen - Alan W. Watts, The Tao of physics - Fritjof Capra

Theme based parallel reading.
I’ve already tried parallel reading before: I used to switch between novels and non fiction, or poetry and prose. This time I went a step further: I chose three books based on a common theme.
1. In Helgoland, Carlo Rovelli, starting from the island where Werner Heisenberg had his first major intuition, takes us on a journey through the history of quantum theory, the revolutionary scientific paradigm that over the last century has changed the way we look at nature and our place in it.
2. Watts’ “The way of Zen” has introduced millions of westerners to the various currents of Eastern mysticism.
3. Finally, in The Tao of physics, Capra tries to outline the parallels between the two subjects: western physics and oriental philosophy. Even though some of Capra’s claims have been nullified by recent findings, the main idea of a convergence between the two outlooks still holds true. Carlo Rovelli confirms this in a chapter of Helgoland where he talks about the great Indian thinker Nagarjuna, and how an ancient book can provide possible answers for the questions modern physics is dealing with.
I recommend both the books and the parallel reading technique.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The power of now, A new Earth - Eckart Tolle

A good thing about the current pandemic is that I’ve had plenty of time to read. I'm currently updating a list of the best books I’ve come across so far. Please see my home page for the previous entries.
17th item: a pair of books.
In his most famous works the spiritual teacher Eckart Tolle, drawing from his own experience and various mystical traditions, addresses an old theme: how to deal with emotional problems and improve one’s life.
The message is both simple and powerful, and by no means new: we all tend to identify with a fictitious second self (aka ego), which creates a strong sense of separation between us and the outer environment, including other people, causing an incessant accumulation of emotional pain. This fictitious self feeds itself on memories of the past and expectations/fear of the future. These timeframes, though, don’t actually exist, as the only real moment is the moment we’re living now, i.e. the present.
Tolle then proceeds to explain how we can get out of this vicious circle and how this is gonna improve our own lives and the whole world.
Some call him condescending, others know-it-all. Many claim that he changed their lives. Like him or not he has something interesting to say and knows how to tell it beautifully.