Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Link Between Quantum Physics & Buddhism

The world of quantum mechanics has attested that the language of eastern mystics and western physicists are becoming very similar. 'Emptiness' is Buddhism's most esoteric metaphysical concept and it can be likened to the subatomic level of quantum physics. Quantum Mechanics provides us a key to understand particles, atoms and molecules. It posits that on the subatomic level there is no distinction between wave and particle, as found by Louis de Broglie early this century. The wave-particle duality shattered the then widely held "common sense" that waves can't be particles and vice versa. Buddhist metaphysics posits that in the enlightened state "this" and "that" no longer are separate entities. "Empty" and "full" are "false distinctions" that we have created, like the distinction between "something" and "nothing". They are abstractions from experience which we have mistaken for experience. Perhaps we have lived so long in our abstractions that instead of realizing that they are drawn from the real world we believe that they are the real world.
The Heart Sutra, which is among the most central of the Buddhist core teachings, contains one of the most important ideas of Mahayana Buddhism (the school of Buddhism practiced in Tibet, China, and Japan): ……form is emptiness, emptiness is form.
The old physics, Newtonian physics, assumes that there is an external world which exists apart from us. It further assumes that we can observe, measure and speculate about the external world without changing it. However, on the microscopic level, Newtonian physics, as meritorious as it is, proves to be an inadequate tool to predict future events. The new physics, quantum mechanics, tells us that it is not possible to observe reality without changing it. There is a strong correlation between the observed and the observer. A phenomenon exists only because there is an observer. It is the observer's choice which determines the electron's response, i.e. a particle-like or wave-like pattern. Thus, the classical view of an objective system as it is and independent of the choice of how it is observed, is practically rendered no longer valid.
The observed phenomenon and the observer together constitute the complete system. In principle, there is no such thing as objectivity. Not only do we influence our reality, but, in some degree, we actually create it. Reality is what we choose to make it. This subjectivity fundamentally challenges our cherished beliefs in cause and effect. According to Niels Bohr, there does not exist any reality or any laws of nature independent of the observer. The observer cannot be isolated in any sense from what he is observing. He is part of the phenomenon. In a definite sense he creates it. This is precisely what Thubten Chodron means with her cracker analogy. A Chinese proverb says, "Life is a search for truth: there is no truth."
As much as Buddhist philosophy appear ivory tower-like to many, quantum mechanics is deemed so bizarre - more bizarre than science fiction - by physicists themselves that Niels Bohr desperately asserted, "Anyone who is not shocked by the Quantum Theory has not understood it!". It is so shocking that it was unacceptable even to Einstein and Schrödinger. Einstein rejected it with the famous saying "God does not play dice!".

Taken from 'purifymind.com'

The following video illustrates these facts.

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