Friday, September 21, 2012

Connections to Taoism

I have always felt a special affinity to Taoism where the basic nature of reality is explained in a manner that readily lends itself to holistic mathematical understanding.

So the Tao represents the ineffable undivided unity (which equally is a nothingness in phenomenal terms).

Then phenomenal reality arises from the splitting of this unity into polar opposites that are understood as separate from each other. However a deeper understanding of the nature of these opposites leads to the realisation that they are complementary (and ultimately identical in nondual terms) as yin and yang. So it is this latter realisation that enables the process of harmonising phenomenal reality with the original absolute nature of Tao.

Last night I was briefly reading the section on Taoism in that wonderful little book on "Mysticism" by F.C. Happold. There, I saw the seeds of an even closer relationship in its thought to my recent notions expressed in these blogs on the all important role of number.

For example on P. 152 we have this statement

"As soon as Tao creates order, it becomes nameable."

Now the very basis of ordering is number, both in its recognised quantitative, and also in its much less recognised qualitative manner.

So, number itself freely arises from the absolute ineffable nature of reality, which then becomes the very means of identification of phenomena.

Just a few sentences later on the same page we have a more graphic statement on the fundamental nature of number!

"Tao produced Unity; Unity produced Duality: Duality produced Trinity; and Trinity produced all existing objects.
These myriad objects leave darkness behind them and embrace the light, being harmonised by contact with the Vital Force."

So Unity, Duality and Trinity simply represent the qualitative holistic notions of 1, 2 and 3 respectively from which all phenomenal objects arise. Now one might validly query the sole emphasis on the holistic notion of number here! However the key point is the direct connection then made as between number and the manifest identity of phenomenal objects!

So these multiple objects then leave darkness behind. What is implied here is that in the original state of Tao, where - by definition - no differentiation (or integration) has yet taken place, such objects would enjoy a mere potential for existence. So in becoming differentiated as separate objects, evolution can begin the process of gradual actualisation of Tao. And it is in the recognition of the ultimate nondual nature of phenomena (through the complementary yin and yang aspects of nature) that the integrated state of all phenomena thereby arises (which is inseparable from their absolute identity in Tao).

My simple purpose in all these blogs is to understand the true nature of Mathematics and Science as fully consistent with the accumulated great wisdom of the various mystical traditions.

And when one looks carefully, the seeds of such reconciliation are already evident in these traditions (as illustrated here in an emphatic manner in Taoist literature).

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