26 March 2014

Michael Talbot On Swami Vivekananda

Michael Talbot
Image source: Goodreads
Michael Talbot or Michael Coleman Talbot (29 September 1953 – 2 May 1992) was an American author. In his works he highlighted parallels between ancient mysticism and quantum mechanics. His novels include—  The Delicate Dependency (1982), The Bog (1986), Night Things (1988), To the Ends of the Earth (1988). A detailed biography of Talbot is available at Wikipedia. In this article you'll find Michael Talbot's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

Michael Talbot told—
There are many parallel concepts between the ancient philosophies of the East and the emerging philosophies of the West. Certain concepts are so similar that it becomes impossible to discern whether some statements were made by the mystic or the physicist. Esalen Institute Psychologist Lawrence Leshan gives an example of such an indistinguishable statement : "The absolute (is)...everything that exists ...this absolute has become the universe...(as we perceive it) by coming through time, space and causation. This is the central idea of (Minkowski) (Advaita). Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the absolute is seen and when it is seen it appears as the universe. Now we at once gather from this that in the universe there is neither time, space nor causation. ...What we may call causation begins, after, if we may be permitted to say so, the degeneration of the absolute into the phenomenal and not before."

The remark was originally made by mystic Swami Vivekananda in Jnana-yoga, but the fact that the names of the mathematician who first theorized that space and time are a continuum, Hermann Minkowski, and the greatest of the historical Brahmin sages, Advaita,1 are inter-changeable, demonstrates once again the confluence of mysticism and the new physics.

Vivekananda further expresses a view that has become the backbone of quantum theory : There is no such thing as strict causality. As he states, "A stone falls and we ask why. This question is possible only on the supposition that nothing happens without a cause. I request you to make this very clear in your minds, for whenever we ask why anything happens, we are taking for granted that everything that happened must have a why, that is to say, it must have been preceded by something else which acted as the cause. This precedence in succession is what we call the law of causation."


  1. Here Talbot has (mistakenly) considered "Advaita" as a person, not a philosophy or concept. — Ed.


  • Mysticism and the New Physics, Talbot, Michael, (Bantom Books, January, 1981), pp. 114-15.

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