The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

4.6 27
by Gary Zukav
     
 

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With its unique combination of depth, clarity, and humor that has enchanted millions, this beloved classic by bestselling author Gary Zukav opens the fascinating world of quantum physics to readers with no mathematical or technical background. "Wu Li" is the Chinese phrase for physics. It means "patterns of organic energy," but it also means "nonsense," "my way,"

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Overview

With its unique combination of depth, clarity, and humor that has enchanted millions, this beloved classic by bestselling author Gary Zukav opens the fascinating world of quantum physics to readers with no mathematical or technical background. "Wu Li" is the Chinese phrase for physics. It means "patterns of organic energy," but it also means "nonsense," "my way," "I clutch my ideas," and "enlightenment." These captivating ideas frame Zukav's evocative exploration of quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Delightfully easy to read, The Dancing Wu Li Masters illuminates the compelling powers at the core of all we know.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061926389
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
157,558
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

BIG WEEK AT BIG SUR

When I tell my friends that I study physics, they move their heads from side to side, they shake their hands at the wrist, and they whistle, "Whew! That's difficult". This universal reaction to the word "physics" is a wall that stands between what physicists do and what most people think they do. There is usually a big difference between the two.

Physicists themselves are partly to blame for this sad situation. Their shop talk sounds like advanced Greek, unless you are Greek or a physicist. When they are not talking to other physicists, physicists speak English. Ask them what they do, however, and they sound like the natives of Corfu again.

On the other hand, part of the blame is ours. Generally speaking, we have given up trying to understand what physicists (and biologists, etc.) really do. In this we do ourselves a disservice. These people are engaged in extremely interesting adventures that are not that difficult to understand. True, how they do what they do sometimes entails a technical explanation which, if you are not an expert, can produce an involuntary deep sleep. What physicists do, however, is actually quite simple. They wonder what the universe is really made of, how it works, what we are doing in it, and where it is going, if it is going anyplace at all. In short, they do the same things that we do on starry nights when we look up at the vastness of the universe and feel overwhelmed by it and a part of it at the same time. That is what physicists really do, and the clever rascals get paid for doing it.

Unfortunately, when most people think of "physics", they thinkof chalkboards covered with undecipherable symbols of an unknown mathematics. The fact is that physics is I not mathematics. Physics, in essence, is simple wonder at the way things are and a divine (some call it compulsive) interest in how that is so. Mathematics is the tool of physics. Stripped of mathematics, physics becomes pure enchantment.

I had spoken often to Jack Sarfatti, who is the physicist director of the Physics/ Consciousness Research Group, about the possibility of writing a book, unencumbered with technicalities and mathematics, to explain the exciting insights that motivate current physics. So when he invited me to a conference on physics that he and Michael Murphy were arranging at the Esalen Institute, I accepted with a purpose.

The Esalen Institute (it is named for an Indian tribe) is in Northern California. The northern California coast is an awesome combination of power and beauty, but nowhere so much as along the Pacific Coast Highway between the towns of Big Sur and San Luis Obispo. The Esalen facilities are located about a half hour south of Big Sur between the highway and the coastal mountains on the one side and rugged cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the other. A dancing stream divides the northern third of the grounds from the remainder. On that side is a big house (called the Big House) where guests stay and groups meet, along with a small home where Dick Price (cofounder of Esalen with Murphy) stays with his family. On the other side of the stream is a lodge where meals are served and meetings are held, accommodations for guests and staff, and hot sulfur baths.

Dinner at Esalen is a multi-dimensional experience. The elements are candlelight, organic food, and a contagious naturalness that is the essence of the Esalen experience. Sarfatti and I joined two men who already were eating. One was David Finkelstein, a physicist from Yeshiva University (in New York) who was attending the conference on physics. The other was Al Chung-liang Huang, a T'ai Chi Master who was leading a workshop at Esalen. We could not have chosen better companions.

The conversation soon turned to physics.

"When I studied physics in Taiwan," said Huang, "we called it Wu Li (pronounced 'Woo Lee'). It means 'Patterns of Organic Energy"'.

Everyone at the table was taken at once by this image. Mental lights flashed on, one by one, as the idea penetrated. "Wu Li" was more than poetic. It was the best definition of physics that the conference would produce. It caught that certain something, that living quality that we were seeking to express in a book, that thing without which physics becomes sterile.

"Let's write a book about Wu Li!" I heard myself exclaim. Immediately, ideas and energy began to flow, and in one stroke all of the prior planning that I had done went out the window. From that pooling of energy came the image of the Dancing Wu Li Masters. My remaining days at Esalen and those that followed were devoted to finding out what Wu Li Masters are, and why they dance. All of us sensed with excitement and certitude that we had discovered the channel through which the very things that we wanted to say about physics would flow.

The Chinese language does not use an alphabet like western languages. Each word in Chinese is depicted by a character, which is a line drawing. (Sometimes two or more characters are combined to form different meanings). This is why it is difficult to translate Chinese into English. Good translations require a translator who is both a poet and a linguist.

For example, "Wu" can mean either "matter" or "energy". "Li" is a richly poetic word. It means "universal order" or "universal law". It also means "organic patterns". The grain in a panel of wood is Li. The organic pattern on the surface of a leaf is also Li, and so is the texture of a rose petal. In short, Wu Li, the Chinese word for physics, means "patterns of organic energy" ("matter/ energy" [Wu] + "universal order/organic patterns" [Li]). This is remarkable since it reflects a world view which the founders of western science (Galileo and Newton) simply did not comprehend, but toward which virtually every physical theory of import in the twentieth century is pointing! The question is not, "Do they know something that we don't?" The question is, "How do they know it?"

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Meet the Author

Gary Zukav is the author of four consecutive New York Times bestsellers. In 1979, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics plumbed the depths of quantum physics and relativity, winning the American Book Award for science. In 1989, The Seat of the Soul led the way to seeing the alignment of the personality and the soul as the fulfillment of life and captured the imagination of millions, becoming the number one New York Times bestseller thirty-one times and remaining on the bestseller list for three years. Zukav's gentle presence, humor, and wisdom have endeared him to millions of viewers through his many appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Six million copies of his books are in print and translations have been published in twenty-four languages. Zukav grew up in the Midwest, graduated from Harvard, and became a Special Forces (Green Beret) officer with Vietnam service before writing his first book.

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The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. I've tried to wade my way through contemporary physics, but it is all too esoteric to comprehend. Along comes the Dancing Wu Li Masters. Written for people who have no background in the complicated mathematical theories behind what's happening in physics today, this book is a life saver for those who wish to know, but don't have the time to explore, the new interpretation of our universe. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a college science instructor always seeking new ways to express the basal concepts (and deeper implications) of physics, chemistry, and the geosciences to beginning science and non-science majors, this book is a fine resource.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Perception, as it turns out, is not reality. Gary Zukav takes us on a journey of discovery through the bizzare landscape of quatum physics. Beautifully written. Some of the hardest scientific concepts to understand are explained in simple conversational english. This book is a must read for anyone on a quest of discovery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Zukav's style of writing made this book enjoyable to read for me. There are other books out that are similar in nature, but certainly not as well written. This is one of my favorite books and I'm on my second reading now. I usually read 2 or 3 books at the same time, interchanging them a few chapters at a time. A book that has just come out, 'Spiritual Quanta', is what I'm reading along with Zukav's book. They are both very revealing. Thanks for a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go back to truth or dare? In th reg place though
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Lucy, you are kind and i like you but... i know someone else is out there fir u... you are sweet strong faithful kind generous obedient and attractive there will be a young man out thre for u i know it but until then * gives lucy a long kiss* youll find someone * returns back ti darkwood manor res 1*