Gnosticism and the Pursuit of the Sacred
In 1925, the year before the publication of the groundbreaking articles on wave mechanics for which he was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger wrote a memoir titled “Seek for the Road,” which he based, in part, on his readings on Indian religion.1 In it, he described Hinduism as a metaphysical system according to which (1) the cosmos is constituted by a universal being, Brahman (who is not a thinking being but thought itself); (2) the phenomenal world is a mere illusion produced by Brahman’s power (Maya); and (3) the discovery of the difference between true self and the highest self, thereby realizing identity with the Brahman, can be achieved by the practice of Veda (“devout meditation on the sutras”). Schrödinger was an active participant in the debates that took place in the 1920s among most of Europe’s leading physicists (Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and others) over the philosophical and metaphysical implications of the quantum revolution in physics and what several of the participants—among them Schrödinger himself—took to be parallels between the principles of quantum mechanics and those of Eastern philosophy.
KeywordsReligious Tradition Western Thought Phenomenal World Superstitious Belief Austrian Physicist
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