The search for knowledge in the West today is based very much on the scientific method and on rational inquiry, and this is often contrasted with the way of knowing in Eastern mysticism. The two means of ascertaining knowledge are normally considered to be far apart, but in Fritjof Capra's book The Tao of Physics, parallels are found between the two approaches which show that the insights of modern physics actually offer more explanation for certain elements of mysticism. The conclusion is that as the people of the world try to educate themselves in the sciences, they would do well to educate themselves in and to practice spiritualism and mysticism as well and so to gain insight from both ways of knowing.
Different cultures produce their own particular way of structuring the world they see around them. They use religion and ritual to explain, to gain control, and to express their own sense of connectedness to their environment. Pre-scientific societies develop their own mythologies to explain the origin of the universe and of human life. Capra notes the development of different cosmologies and finds ways to link them to show how our scientific view of the universe might strengthen views offered by other cultures. He notes the cosmological views in Chinese and Japanese Buddhist societies, for instance, and links the limitations of any given model to the limitations of language. This is something that scientific societies have noted, but it is also something the mystics have realized:
The Eastern Mystics, too, are well aware of the fact that all verbal descriptions of reality are inaccurate and incomplete. The direct experience of reality transcends the realm of thought and language and, since all mysticism is based on such a direct experience, everything that is said about it can only be partly true (42).
In physics this approximate nature is quantified, and the numerical approximations are improved in a series of s...