Buddhism and Quantum Physics

Posted: December 30, 2010 in Articles, My Creations
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Rudyard Kipling, the famous English author of “The Jungle book” born in India wrote on day “Oh! East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet”. But certainly, and of course accidently, In 1802 an English doctor called Mr. Thomas Young with his double slit experiment not only opened the whole new field of Quantum physics but also, somehow, paved the path which ultimately would lead someday to find contemplation between science and spirituality, consciousness…. And yeah! Put east and west together. The experiment originally was designed to show the particle nature of light(When allowed to hit the metal screen), but then, as we call it, often the simplest things are most complex, several interpretation of the experiment later, paved the way for wave and particle theory of light and all the substances . This experiment leads us to the entire new way of observing experiments as Experiment, observer and the result. Now the experiments lead to the discovery of the subatomic level, the quantum level of matter.

It was found that consciousness, or at least the act of paying attention, influenced the behavior of particles. For example in the double slit experiment also if the screen was viewed in one state consciousness state the result appeared as two lines and as more than one if viewed in another state of consciousness. More so, it was deducted that particles are not tangible if someone is not paying attention to them. Particles seem to remain in states of absolute infinite potentials until some attention is given to them, where they then collapse into a single form of their innumerable possibilities. From these scientific discoveries, we had found a way to explain tons of Buddhist concepts such as Consciousness, Self and non-self, Unity in all things, Illusion and Reality, Impermanence, and more.

In Buddhism the deeper-lying monistic entity is the pure wisdom of the Supreme Unified Consciousness which can give rise to matter and/or mind. Buddhists always believed that matter and energy are related. In the Heart Sutra, the Buddha provides his famous teaching that “Emptiness is form, form is Emptiness”. On the one hand there is Emptiness (no independent arising exists) and on the other hand there is form (all phenomena are reality). How do these seemingly contradictory ideas go together? This is because on the deepest level of absolute truth, these are the same. One could call this “complementarities” in quantum terms.

 

Nagarjuna was the most significant Buddhist philosopher of India. His philosophy is of great topical interest. Right to this day it determines the thinking of all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.In the first verses of Nagarjuna’s main work, Mulamadhyamakakarika [MMK], “Neither from itself nor from another, nor from both, nor without a cause does anything whatever anywhere arises.” Nagarjuna was also the founder of School called the Madhyamarga of the middle way.In his main work [MMK] the Middle Way is described as follows:24.18 « What arises dependently [pratityasamutpada] is pronounced to be substancelessness [sunyata]. This is nothing but a dependent concept [prajnapti].
Substancelessness [sunyata] constitutes the middle way »

 

Buddhists has long since believed in the two aspects of the body, the material and immaterial state occurring at once, just like the quantum physics believes in Matter and Antimatter concept. Nagarjuna emphasizes one central idea: material or immaterial bodies of two-body-systems are not identical nor can they be separated. The most important characteristic of phenomena is their interdependence and the resultant: substancelessness, the impossibility of existing individually or independently. This is the
meaning of sunyata: phenomena are without own being and without independence. Reality does not consist of single, isolated material or immaterial components; phenomena arise only in dependence on other phenomena. They do not arise substantially because dependent phenomena can have no independent existence.
A thing is not independent of its conditions, nor is it identical with them. Walking does not exist without the way to be walked. The walking person and the way are not one. A seer is not the same as the seen object, but a seer without an object does not exist. There can be no cause without an effect, or an effect without a cause. The concept ’cause’ has no meaning without the concept ‘effect’. Cause and effect are not one, but they cannot be separated into two independent concepts. Without a characteristic we cannot speak of a characterised, or of a characterised without a characteristic. How could there be a passionate person without passion? When there are no conditions of arising there is no arising, neither exists standing alone. Without action there can be no agent, without fire there can be nothing designated as fuel. The material or immaterial components of a two-body-system do not exist in isolation, they are not one and yet they are not independent of each other: and because of this they are not ‘real’. For two complementary phenomena or for double concepts the nature and the existence of each is dependent of the other. The one arises with the other and disappears with the other. This is why a thing arises substantially, neither out of itself, nor out of another one, nor out of both, nor without a cause. There is no fundamental core to reality; rather reality consists of systems of interacting bodies.

 

The central core of quantum physics consists of a new concept of reality, which no longer perceives singular, independent elements as the fundamental unit of reality but rather two-body-systems or two states of a quantum object or two concepts such as earth matter-anti-matter, elementary particle & field of force, law of nature & matter, symmetry & anti-symmetry etc These systems cannot be separated into independent parts. They cannot be reduced to two separate, independent bodies or states, nor is one fundamental and the other derived as the metaphysical either or-scheme of substantialism or subjectivism usually tries to establish. Nor are they joined into a seamless unity, they are not the same, they are not identical, and they are not a mysterious wholeness as holism indicates. Nor can one claim that they are nothing but mathematical models that we have constructed and that do not correspond to physical reality, as instrumentalism claims.

 

In physics there is a fundamental reality that is not a one-body system but a two-body-system or an assembly of bodies, a cloud of virtual particles, which surround the central or the ‘naked’ body. Between these bodies there is an interaction that is one of the composite of these bodies. Nagarjuna calls his systems or dependent pairs walking person & way to be walked, fire & fuel, agent & action, seer & object of seeing. Both of these models describe two-bodysystems or two entities which have bodies that are neither properly separate, nor properly joined together. They do not fall into one, nor do they fall apart. The concept of reality of Nagarjuna’s philosophy and the concepts of complementarity, interaction and entanglement of quantum physics teach us something quite different that one could express metaphorically as: everything is build on sand and not even the grains of sand have a solid core or nucleus. There stability is based on the unstable interactions of their component parts.

 

The same applies to being in Samsara (state of suffering) or in Nirvana (freedom from suffering). If you chose to see suffering, then you will be in suffering. However, if you chose to see beyond the state of suffering, you will be in Nirvana. Why is this? This is because it is not the eye that sees. The eye is just a very sophisticated lens; you use it as your camera. The one that sees and processes the raw data gathered by the eye, is the Heart. If the Heart is moved by phenomena as recorded by the eye, then you will be in Samsara. If the Heart is not moved, then this is Nirvana.
Finally, with Quantum Physics, science is back to reality after 2500 years.

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Comments
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  2. Great Post! When we choose to live from the heart are choosing to live “our” lives authentically. Therefore one should not seek to use another’s progress
    (or lack thereof) as a measuring stick for ones’ own personal advancement.
    We all have our own unique experiences in what we perceive to be our reality.

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  4. At first I was kind of sceptically but little did I know that by the end of reading this entry I will shift my perspective 180 degrees.

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