All posts by quantumpreceptor

Buddhism has changed my life once again.

Making Distraction a Friend in Meditation

As I have been to engrossed in reading a scientific book I thought I would highlight some of my original content on my side as a post. Making Distraction a Friend appeared first on Quantum Awareness Here, Distraction is a fact of life for everyone. It seems that we are in fact in love with distractions, after all, what is the newest gadget and how will it make my life better is all we seem to ask ourselves? Everything new is just another distraction from our own sometimes very desperate unhappiness. So it seems to me that distraction is at the very core of so many of our problems. It is without a doubt the single biggest challenge most if not all meditators face. The great news is…

 

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Panpsychism, could it really be true?

Have you ever wondered how or where consciousness arises? I have and “Pan what?” was my first question when a good friend mentioned to me in conversation that what I was actually describing to him had already been theorised hundreds of years ago. “Phew, I am not the first idiot to think this” was my second thought and then “wait a second it would have been cool to come up with something new” was the third though. After the discussion, I read up on the subject I could not have been more amazed, as the inherent beauty and wisdom slowly sank deeply into my being.

panpsychism

Panpsychism postulates that consciousness is everywhere and in everything and that this non-local or cosmic wide phenomenon is also without cause. Even stones and elementary particles have consciousness, not just people, bugs, or plants. Even for me, this sounds a little far-fetched until you delve into the subject a bit more. The earliest known references to panpsychism are likely attributed to early religions like Shintoism, Taoism, Paganism, and Shamanism. Even Aristotle is quoted as saying “that everything is full of gods.” Plato argued in his Sophist that all things participate in the form of being and that it must have a psychic aspect of mind and soul. “This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence … a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.” Wow, that is a big idea and not so easy for an individual to wrap his mind around it. That is probably the problem, the idea of panpsychism takes us from the comfort of our strongly held idea of an individual or ego and even the religious idea of a soul or atman to the understanding that not only are all beings one being but that all things are united in a blissful unity or beingness.

This is illustrated in Robert Fludd’s depiction of the world soul. I thought it might illustrate the idea of Panpsychism in an interesting way.

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Panpsychism has some competition it is not the only theory about the origin of mind, the emergence theory has many followers as well. Emergence Theory postulates that consciousness has emerged from some as yet unknown evolutionary chemical process. Philosopher Professor Galen Strawson articulates the relationship between panpsychism and emergence quite acutely: “The issue of emergence of mind is important because it is the mutually exclusive counterpart to Panpsychism: either you are a Panpsychist, or you are an Emergentist. Either mind was present in things from the very beginning, or it appeared (emerged) at some point in the history of evolution. If, however, emergence is inexplicable or is less viable, then one is left with the panpsychist alternative. This line of reasoning … is the (panpsychist) ‘argument from Non-Emergence.”

Interestingly there is no proof anywhere of consciousness or mind emerging from any process but either is there any proof of panpsychism. Panpsychism is, however, in my opinion, far more elegant and takes mind or consciousness a few steps further than the emergence of mind as an evolutionary or materialistic process. Even with a rather superficial level of understanding of panpsychism, one might find some comfort in this theory that we are never alone and connected to everything in every way. However, this may also strike fear into the hearts of those who are so deeply attached to their own individuality or egos. Regardless if one finds comfort or fear lets discover some more of how Panpsychism, Quantum Physics, and Buddhism might be related.

When we analyze subatomic particles, one might say that there is no difference between the protons, quarks, and leptons in my body, and the protons, quarks, and leptons in the desk in front of me except that I am conscious and the desk is not. Or is it, but at a dramatically reduced level? David Bohm theoretical physicist and philosopher said “That which we experience as mind … will, in a natural way, ultimately reach the level of the wave function and of the ‘dance’ of the particles.  There is no unbridgeable gap or barrier between any of these levels. … … in some sense, a rudimentary consciousness is present even at the level of particle physics” So here we can surmise that there is no barrier between me and the desk.

To this day we do not understand where or how consciousness arises and the role the brain plays in its formation if it plays a role at all. It could be just a receiver or radio, receiving information on several channels of perception that we would call our senses. Panpsychism skips this need to discover the relationship between the brain and the rise of conscious awareness completely, its simplicity is simply profound. No matter how shocking or strange panpsychism sounds I am reminded at what Sherlock Holmes said, that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Can science accept this deduction and if not how do we prove that which we have not been able to prove, other than keep trying even though the truth is already in front of us?

Buddhism teaches us that all beings have mind and or what we call Buddha nature, that is the ability to realize one’s full potential. Many teachers, when asked if plants have mind, would deny it and say that simply if it moves like an ant or something then it has mind. As we know plants only sort of move in their relationship to water and sunlight and the various degrees to which they require their nutrients. This could be a very basic version of attraction and aversion. This rather narrow view is on the outset not as encompassing as panpsychism. However, Buddhism requires us to break down any borders or boundaries between us and other things, this even applies to all concepts and ideas so why not to all phenomena as well. At an ultimate understanding of mind, where nothing has any true or independent existence in and of itself, all things would seem to have all the same qualities; conscious and otherwise. I would like to quote David Bohm once more here: “The notion of a separate organism is clearly an abstraction, as is also its boundary. Underlying all this is unbroken wholeness even though our civilization has developed in such a way as to strongly emphasize the separation into parts.” From the Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory

This oneness without separation or boundary is exactly what we are talking about when Buddhists say that subject, object and action come together as one. This is known as the state of Mahamudra or complete and full awareness or consciousness. Once we have reduced this ontologically either in meditation, philosophically, or scientifically all that there is left points to just consciousness or mind and nothing else seems to matter, even matter itself. Imagine that, matter doesn’t matter. In this simple state of just being, connected with everything, and aware of all that there is, a state of great joy and bliss arises. Total freedom of mind, no more running from or reaching for, just complete happiness and wisdom resting in the suchness of everything. Here is where we can be really effective in this confused and angry world. Here is where we can really be the change that we wish to see in the world.

So is consciousness everywhere and in all things? I think so. Its simple beauty is both profound and inspiring, especially to the Buddhist ear. Modern science seems to agree more and more with this conclusion and I can only ask when or will modern society see the light as well? Perhaps Panpsychism is even the solution to the hard problem of consciousness. Which is to question how and why sentient organisms have qualia or phenomenal experiences.
Personally, I think the Buddha Dharma has already answered this question, but that’s a topic for another post. This for me is just another way in which we see that consciousness is the vehicle in which the universe is becoming aware of itself. Why else would it be so beautiful and blissful to experience it either in meditation or by scientific discovery? Let us take this and use it as a tool to better the world and our fellow beings in every imaginable way. Whatever your view is on this topic I would love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below.

John Wheeler,​ Are we Observing or could we actually be Participating in the Universe?

” ‘Participant’ is the incontrovertible new concept given by quantum mechanics. It strikes down the ‘observer’ of classical theory, the man who stands safely behind the thick glass wall and watches what goes on without taking part. It can’t be done, quantum mechanics says it…May the universe in some sense be ‘brought into being’ by the participation of those who participate?”

John Wheeler

 

This statement from John Wheeler is game-changing. The movement from static observer status to that of a dynamic conscious participant is truly revolutionary or is it? Science is often slow to react to such outrageous ideas such as this. Remember how long it took us to accept that the earth was a sphere and that it orbited around the sun? Even Quantum Physics had taken its time in the last 100 years to become a household word where many have a basic understanding of at least some the simplest ideas it has proposed to mankind. How would science test John Wheeler’s aforementioned statement other than referring to the famous double slit experiment? How would one propose to observe the participation of the observer on a universal scale and in a scientific frame? This question has many philosophical ramifications as well. But when we want to explore these scientific and philosophical ideas perhaps we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Perhaps the Hermitic axiom of as above so below or as outside so inside might help us here to understand this very complex relationship we find ourselves in. If the answers we are seeking can be found within then we need’ent look further than to understand the Buddha Dharma and Adhyatma Vidya. The Science of Mind has for 1000’s of years clearly pointed out our conscious interactions with the form-based or objective world that we find ourselves in.

As a practitioner of the Buddha Dharma, I have come to understand observation and participation quite intimately. I observe my mind daily; both in everyday situations and in meditation. I examine my actions after I do them and I examine how thoughts arise, exist, and return to mind in meditation. I know that Buddha nature is in everyone and everywhere, and all living beings want to be happy and avoid suffering. I understand that we are participating in consciousness, both karmically and actively by choosing not only what we do and how we do it but how we see and understand everything around us. I have also grown to know freedom and wisdom very well. Freedom in both mind and in the world is the underlying cause of great bliss and joy. Wisdom and deep understanding are knowing not only how to do something but why, if, or when it needs to be done.

For example, the Buddha Dharma teaches us that there are 4 factors that maximize the effects of karma. They are 1) That we know and understand the situation, 2) Wish or plan to do it or wish or plan to have it done 3) Then do the act or have it done, and 4) Being happy or satisfied about the results afterwards. Let us examine two slightly extreme examples. The first, both before and during WW2 Adolf Hitler was chancellor of Germany no one should have had a better understanding of Germany’s situation better than him. He and his government planned the return of Germany to the top of the world stage. Then the plan was methodically enacted step by step. I think that even in his death Hitler was happy and proud of what he had done. Here all four factors of Karma are strongly realised. The next example is related but fictional. Let’s suppose that I was alive in Hitler’s time and I killed him before the first concentration camp opened up. I knew and understood the situation, I planned the act of his assassination and then carried it out. I was devastated to have killed someone but undeniably happy to have saved millions of lives and untold suffering. So here as well all four criteria are met for the strongest karmic imprints in one’s mind. OK perhaps, they are 95% met as I was not happy to have killed in the first place, but I was only happy with the result. Does this 5% make a big difference here? Of course, there is and its a question of wisdom and compassion.

Buddhism teaches us that there needs to be a balance between our actions of compassion and wisdom. When one acts or participates only with compassion we are soft and even mushy. We can be slow to stand up and act in ineffective ways. I think we all know how cold and hard pure wisdom can be. Imagine telling a loved one or family member the truth about something hurtful but in a direct and unloving way. Wisdom and compassion show us how to be loving and effective in the world. Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is to act with wisdom and kill the Hitlers of this world or stand up and protect others and our freedoms that are constantly under attack. The question is one of motivation, do we act from love or anger do we benefit only ourselves or do we benefit all? Understanding the mindful identification of what is driving our participation in the universe is a central tenant of the Buddha Dharma. I would challenge everyone reading this to think about how your actions resonate not only within your personal lives but on a universal scale as well. Don’t just observe but participate actively for the benefit of all. Be the change we want to see in the world. Be the change that this world so desperately needs.

May the universe you”bring into being”by your conscious, active, and mindful participation be one of great bliss.

May all beings know and live in freedom and have the causes of freedom.

QP

Choose your Own Adventure

More and more every day modern science is coming to terms with what on the outset was an uncomfortable reality. That is that the observer (you and I) play not just an important role in reality or in our universal experience but actually that we are the deciding factor at the centre of it all. I think for the most part modern science has tried to stay an arm’s length away from any of the organised or generally accepted world religions and this is not necessarily a bad thing, while many of the world’s religions seem hellbent on destroying each other and have become so inflexible because of dogma. There is, however, one notable exception the Buddha Dharma. The Buddha Dharma is without a doubt the most peaceful, humanistic, and scientific of all organised religions. Please note that I personally do not subscribe to the fact that Buddhism is a religion, and I object to the suffix of “ism” as well, but common convention begs to differ and I use the term religion here in this light. If science was ever looking for or in need of a partner to explain the world as it is, the Buddha Dharma is up for the challenge. Why do I say that? Certainly not just because I am convinced of that myself, but because a growing number of scientists are also convinced or at least make comments that lean more and more in this direction. This is not an easy thing to do as science tends to push back on individuals who cross the perceived line of separation between science and religion.

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Let’s examine and discuss three quotes that I have found inspiring and relevant to this discussion.

R.C. Henry professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University in a 2005 essay is quoted as saying:

A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction.

Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote

“The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.

– Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician said:

“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

So how is this relevant to the Buddha Dharma? The underlying theme to these three quotes can be summarized in the following points and the following ideas:

The role of the observer and consciousness in the perceived reality of the universe.
The pointing out or pointing to the idea that Subject and Object are interdependent.
1. The mental processes the observer goes through when perceiving something is described by Buddhist Theory of Perception and is traditionally called the study of the five Skandhas. Skandha is Sanskrit for heap, collection, or grouping. “The five skandhas are form, sensation, perception, activity, consciousness. A form can arise in the mind or outside of the mind. This form gives rise to a sensation, which gives rise to perception, followed by activity (mental or physical), and lastly consciousness. In the Buddha’s explanation, the five skandhas occur one after the other, very rapidly. They are not a continuous stream but rather a series of discrete or discernible moments. A form arises or appears, then there is a sensation, then perception, then activity, then consciousness.” Thank you to Americanbuddhist.net for this description, the full article can be read here. I personally find that the activity phase of this process is the most interesting, it is here where we colour the perceived experience with a combination of all the impressions in our store consciousness and immediately decide if what we perceive is good or bad. This is the very basis of aversion or attraction, this is what keeps us busy our whole lives running to or away from the things we see. Each and every time we perceive something the process of the five skandhas is repeated without stopping over and over again. Each individual instance may be named “a moment of mind or consciousness” and many moments of mind strung together is best described as our “Stream of Consciousness”. Our consciousness directs our awareness from one form or arising to another. We are very clearly caught up in a process of observation, judging or evaluating and then acting on all phenomena that we in one way or another come into contact within the universe.

2. The interdependence of subject and object are central to many philosophical discussions within the different schools of Buddhism. One can summarise the major point here with the age-old question, what came first the chicken or the egg? The answer is rather simple you simply cannot have one without the other therefore it is irrelevant as to what came first when we must have both. So to go a little deeper the thought process goes like this: if we have a universe of objects with no subjects we should have to ask what would be the point of it be? All these wonderful things with nothing to enjoy them. Conclusion, objects without subjects are meaningless. On the flip side, what use is a subjective universe full of subjects with no objects to perceive or enjoy? It simply makes no sense to have one without the other. Consciousness requires something to be conscious “of”. So we have this absolutely amazing universe and we are here to discover and enjoy it.

The only thing missing here is action. What do I mean by that? Well in Buddhism we learn that not only are subject and object inseparable, so are subject, object, and action. Action is important as if there are only subjects and objects and nothing happening well this is just boring. Luckily there is unlimited action in our universe, things never stop moving and changing. Everything is in a constant state of flux as each and every time we interact with something the “Whole of the Universe” is changed as it reacts to our play with it. These are the views held by the Madhyamika school of Buddhist Philosophy.

I firmly believe that we are evidence that the universe is conscious of itself and furthermore, we are constantly creating and choosing our past, present, and our future and we then choose how we see or interpret it as good or bad, in the way the Buddha Dharma has shown us. If you can agree that we are indeed choosing our adventure, lets all consciously decide to choose a positive and joyful adventure for the benefit of all beings.

Niels Bohr and the Buddha “Awareness or Creation”

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“Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be regarded as real” Niels Bohr. What exactly did Neils Bohr mean here? In modern Quantum Physics, we begin to understand that what we have learned such as particles or atoms to be nothing more than probabilities and potentials. We don’t actually know what an atom looks like or exactly where they are. We guess as to their exact positions and properties with complex mathematical equations and complex experiments some costing billions of dollars. To a Quantum Physicist, the idea of a Ven Diagram showing how oxygen and carbon atoms react is like teaching the Dalai Lama about the Buddhas birth. Quantum Physics has completely changed how modern science looks at the reality in which we think we live. To a Buddhist, this is music to our ears. It sounds very much like the teachings of emptiness. To some, the concept of emptiness is troublesome and it can be hard to wrap your mind around it. It has been described by some very early Christian translations to mean nothingness. This makes us Buddhists sound like nihilists. This was likely done on purpose as to discredit, to falsely portray, or confront Buddhism and further the creation myth by the Church and her missionaries. However, Buddhism is as far from nihilism as Christians are from hell. We define emptiness by saying that all phenomena have no intrinsic or independent existence of their own. To detail this teaching classicly we need to discuss the twelve points of dependent origination. But to make things easy I will simply try to answer that age-old question “if a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear it?” For example, let us take something beautiful like a rose. Does a rose really exist? Another way to ask this is to say does the rose exist independently in and of itself? In Buddhist Philosophy for something to really exist it must be independent of all other phenomena. The answer is no, the rose does not exist independently of anything, it is as we know dependant on sunlight for example. One step further and we see that there is no sunlight without the sun. There is no sun without the sun’s ongoing nuclear reactions and no reactions without Helium and Hydrogen. We see here that rose is empty of independent existence. Or as some might say the rose is an expression of emptiness or empty in nature or essence. We agree with Niels Bohr and we understand the rose to be real but it is not.
Is there another way that we can understand the rose to not exist independently? Yes, if the rose is to be considered to be real and independent it must exist as it does now without changing. It cannot grow, bloom, and we could not even cut one from the plant as it would die and rot away. We know this independence to be false because the rose changes in every moment fully dependent on all the conditions it requires to be as it is. This is also understood as impermanence, as no thing lasts forever.

Now if I stop here I can imagine that some of you might say, “see this is Nihilism no things exist in Buddhism. And you might be right, however, I am reminded of a quote from a famous Buddhist Philosopher Nagarjuna, who said “If you think things are real you are as dumb as a cow, if you think they are not real you are even dumber” If you think trains are not real please do not stand in front of one that’s moving, as you will be suddenly surprised. We know phenomena are there because we can perceive them and be aware of them, they are however dependent on our perception and awareness. The famous double slit experiment is good evidence of this. Our observation imparts a temporary existence to them as we observe them. Just as the waveform collapses into particles that we can perceive as we observe them. They arise, exist, and dissolve back into the space or the field where all information exists as space is information. It would seem that we give phenomena their essence or that our observation is responsible for their creation. When we look around and see the sheer complexity and beauty around us it is clear that life is amazing and so full of potential and joy. We just need to slow down and simply pay attention to it; this is what we learn in meditation. So clearly Buddhists are not nihilists. Now for one to think that the traditional biblical creation myth we talked about earlier as the truth, one needs to assume that all of creation was finished after just 6 days. I firmly understand that it is preposterous and hubris to think anything other than, that creation is continuous and infinite. And when you come this far you might just see yourself as an integral part in all of it.

So the falling tree in the forest is dependent on the sun, the rain, and many other conditions around it not the least of which is us. Without someone to notice it there simply is no meaning or reason for the tree to exist in the first place.

“If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” Niels’ words here are truly inspiring, I would expand to say this: If Buddhism hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet. The more I learn the more I am shocked by the Buddha Dharma. I am often moved to tears when concepts like emptiness finally begin to sink in and are understood on deeper and deeper levels. I am convinced that Niels Bohr must have understood things in a similar fashion or he would not have said what he said.

QP

Buddhism, Religion or Scientif-ically measurable experience?

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As part of the scientific process, we ask a question, formulate a hypothesis design the experiment and carry it out and measure the result as objectively as possible. It’s the same in meditation. In the sceince of mind, the laboratory of traditional Buddhist meditation we look within ourselves as objectively as we can and observe our mind and inner being while listening for the wisdom and answers that are already there deep within our personal inner universe. We then apply this new found wisdom found in our meditation and look for and measure results in our daily lives we are often surprised to see how wonderfully we have changed and developed during our life experience.

So let’s begin our meditation experiment:
A traditional well thought out Buddhist meditation can be comprised of two main parts. In the first part called shine (shyiné), shamatha, or calming and abiding we find ourselves learning to hold our attention using our body, speech, and mind, in fact, we can use our entire totality here and calmly stay on one point of beautiful focus. When distracted we calmly accept and return without any ado. After sufficient time, we can be flexible here, we relax our calm focus and allow our full being to either become one with the object of the focus or to dissolve the object of the focus from its state of energy and light into wide-open awareness. After a few moments of open suchness, called laktong (lhagthong), insight, or vipassana we gently return to our normal state of awareness and wish that all beings can find a state of equanimity free from attachment and aversion.

So thankfully much of the preparation for the experiment has already been done during the 1000’s of years of yogis meditating and teaching others in the many traditions passed down from teacher to student in the far east. This is an important clue here, as with science every student needs a qualified professor to question and keep one on track, meditation requires a good teacher, one who understands western life and can communicate and direct the student at all points in the process of inner development is indispensable.

Once we understand the process and have our clearly stated hypothesis such as “meditation is a healthy way to increase my quality of life”, we begin. And sit and sit and sit……..

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Are you still sitting?

What are the results? Well, they vary as much as individuals are individual, and while we should not try to grade or evaluate the meditation too much, but generally hindsight of a few weeks to many years shows some profound results. What are the more general results?:
1. Calm and relaxed behaviour.
2. Quiet acceptance of our situation.
3. Stress reduction
4. Space in mind to choose between tragedy or comedy within the challenges in life.
5. Ubiquitous love for all beings.
6. Compassion.

The open laktong, space, or suchness phase of the meditation is where I have many of my best ideas and inspirations. The calm breathing and focusing follows me throughout the day and helps me complete my tasks at hand with love and sometimes creativity as well.

As with any experiment, unexpected results may arise. It is best to chat with your trusted professor or Lama as to how or why the results have occurred. Allow yourself to incorporate their advice into your personal experience and grow. Just like Quantum Physics is not for everyone and you might be better suited for some sort of Biology or Chemical studies, meditation is not for everyone. A good teacher will know if you are in the right place and may recommend yoga or even just mundane like running if meditation is not for you.
There may be challenges and hindrances that arise and a good teacher can guide you through them. One common one is “I just cannot quieten my mind or the hamster never stops running in his wheel” This “condition” is commonly called “monkey brain” and everyone suffers from it especially in the beginning. When we begin to look inside we start to see just how distracted we are all the time it’s not more or less than normal we just notice it for the first time, and it will subside.
It is also worthwhile mentioning that some individuals who suffer from deep depression or any type of psychosis should likely not meditate or do so only under the supervision of their therapist.

Thank you, have an amazing meditative and joyful day

QP

Science, Jesus, and the Buddha why cant we just get along?

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Science, Jesus and the Buddha why can’t we just get along. I love WordPress immensely and the real sense of community that one with a little work can find here. Unfortunately, some of us are not so community orientated and like to bash others a bit, so what I would like to explore a bit is why it seems that Christians seem to want to single out and demonise Buddhists. Strangely enough, Christians do not seem to bash Islam or Hinduism hardly at all. Personally, I think this is strange because generally, Christians are great people they develop amazing Christ-like compassion and love. So why would they spread false information, call us idol worshipers and often even worse?
So why can’t we get along and respect each other and move forward with the things we agree on? Certainly what we agree on is more important than what divides us. Can we learn something from science in this area?
It seems to me that science stays out of the mess likely because you cannot prove dogma and we the religious ones simply cannot get along without our dogma. I would want to stay out as well if I was a scientist. So this asks the question what is dogma? A quick google search says “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
“the Christian dogma of the Trinity”
synonyms: teaching, belief, tenet, principle, precept, maxim, article of faith, canon;”

Wikipedia goes a little further to say: “Dogma is an official system of principles or tenets of a church, such as Roman Catholicism,[1] or a philosophy such as Stoicism.

Dogma is transliterated in the 17th century from Latin (Latin dogma) meaning “philosophical tenet”, derived from the Greek ‘dogma’ (Greek δόγμα) meaning literally “that which one thinks is true” and ‘dokein’ (Greek dokeo) “to seem good.”[2][3]

Dogma refers to positions such as those of a philosopher or of a philosophical school, or in a pejorative sense referring to enforced decisions, such as those of aggressive political interests or authorities.[4][5] More generally it is applied to some strong belief that the ones adhering to it are not willing to rationally discuss. This attitude is named as a dogmatic one, or as dogmatism, and is often used to refer to matters related to religion, but is not limited to theistic attitudes alone. In Pyrrhonist philosophy “dogma” refers to assent to a proposition about a non-evident matter.”

Or paraphrased “a dogma is a strong belief, principle, or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true that the ones adhering to it are not willing to rationally discuss.” This is quite telling for me as many of the discussions I have had online with Christians were not rational, logical, or at the very least objective. Many also do not even engage in dialogue. Commonly what one gets is that the Bible says this or that and that the Bible is the unquestionable word of the Christian god no matter how it may contradict itself and all reason it is the source of absolute truth. Circular logic and non-sequiturs are commonplace as there is no thought process behind the seemingly blind belief or faith. And to be honest I have like any other human my own beliefs. But I understand that beliefs or faiths do not need to rational or logical as long as one recognizes it as such and keeps it to oneself and does not force them on others or use them to discredit others.

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How does science deal with dogma? Science’s job is to ask meaningful questions, formulate hypotheses, and test them to the best of our ability with objective clarity and non-bias. This is not an easy challenge to stay rational and it simply demands logic and objectivity, the very opposite of what this system of religious dogma gives us. While scientific dogma does exist in the hearts of men and their favourite theories the very basis of science requires that when a new discovery is made and found to contradict a previously recognized truth the new discovery is subject to peer review and when warranted it is accepted by the review and the general community as a whole accepts it. But this can take time as the minds of men can become hard to change, but it can and does happen. Just think how long it took us to understand that the earth was not flat since the ancient Greeks theorised in the 6th century BC.

This is completely different from what we see in the three Abrahamic faiths all originating in the Middle East. Proponents of these “ideas” seem perpetually stuck in the idea that their version of the “truth” is the only one and the others are going to hell if they do not subscribe, swallow, or accept it. Worse yet many wars have been fought and will continue to be fought on the basis of irrational dogma and people who are incapable of rationally discussing and analysing their strongly held beliefs within and out from their respective communities. This downward spiral continues as long as those sacred beliefs are held to be true. This holding on to beliefs in spite of knowing rationally that there is no evidence to support them not only creates divisions where no divisions need to be but it suppresses any other new ideas from coming forth and to be developed for our society. This intolerance blossoms into anger, jealousy, and finally hate. The results of which the world knows all to well today when a terrorist expecting 72 virgins on his death walks into a crowded area and blows himself up with all those around him. And why do we ask? Dogma. We see the same effects mirrored when a community of Palestinians is bulldozed to make way for Zionist condominiums and when Coptic Christians are beheaded by the fanatical ISIL in front of their place of worship in Egypt. No matter how you look at it, it’s a simple textbook case of my book is more correct than yours when all the while they are worshipping the same god.

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How does the Buddha Dharma and those who truly practice it deal with dogma and strongly held beliefs? Well for starters Buddhists do not proselytise, or witness to others, so to speak in a Sunday Term. Instead of commandments, we have advice. And the beliefs Buddhists do hold are not forced upon those who practice and there are no good or bad ideas just the impartial results that these good or bad deeds develop into, in our lives. The entire system of the eightfold path, four noble truths and all the sutras and tantras are designed to help us on the way and then once we have arrived they are to be discarded, every last one of them, everything is seen as impermanent. It would be like if you were climbing a mountain for example. Imagine that there is a river in the way between you and the top, you need a boat to cross the river to get to the other side but you do not carry the boat to the peak of the mountain, now do you? In fact, the Buddha himself was only a man and he taught that none of his teachings should be taken as the truth just because he is the Buddha, and further said that they should be tested for ourselves against our own experiences for truth. This sounds a lot like the scientific process to me. If there ever was a dogma in Buddhism it is that there is not supposed to be any dogma whatsoever. In fact, it is entirely possible to be a Christian and a Buddhist from the Buddhist perspective.

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So what is it that Christians see in Buddhism that seems to be so threatening that in spite of other more deserving opportunities for them to fight against like violence, crime, and war? Could it be that what they see in the Buddha Dharma is the very same message that Jesus brought to the church in his reformation of the old Pharisees and the Scribes into a religion of forgiveness, compassion, non-violence, wisdom, and love for all? Are they reacting the same way that the Pharisees and Scribes did? When we minus all the violent baggage of the old testament most of the new testament is quite acceptable, maybe there is room for perhaps a third testament, after all the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus were not so different in their purest essence when all the hellfire and brimstone are left aside. The recent rise of curiosity to the eastern religions as of late for me represents a very humanistic/religious revival of sorts. Yoga schools, Buddhist centres and mindfulness teachers are popping up left right and centre. One can, of course, thank the well-laid foundation of freedom that we have from our Christian forefathers for this wondrous gift, maybe they feel threatened by Buddhism. As they see the positive growth and lasting change in Buddhist friends and even perhaps in other lands. The growth of the Buddha Dharma in the west is sure to keep on getting stronger and stronger as the critically thinking, well educated, and spiritually minded keep searching for lasting joy and wisdom in an ever more violent world of dogma and discourse. It seems to me that if science can help us it could only happen through education supported by the non-dogmatic discovery of meaningful scientific truth for the benefit of all living beings.quote-i-realize-that-many-elements-of-the-buddhist-teaching-can-be-found-in-christianity-judaism-nhat-hanh-12-30-64

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts

QP

 

Feature image shows the 16th Karmapa with Pope Paul VI and attendants in 1975

Adhyatma Vidya The Science of Mind

Adhyatma Vidya (skt.) is traditionally known as the knowledge of mind or true self or in a more modern sense the Science of Mind. The rich and fantastically elaborate culture of the ancient Indians were perhaps the first civilization to study, theorise, and test mind. And since the time of the historical Buddha, followers of the Buddha Dharma have been studying it ever since within the ever modern laboratory of meditation.

Remember that there are many religions in the world. They can not be put under one heading since not all of them presuppose faith in an immaterial and immortal soul. Some of them – for example, Buddhism – may appear to be quite close to the concepts of modern science.”
Francis H.C Crick

What is the laboratory of meditation? And what experiments are we doing when we meditate? Quite simply we are looking for the self or the observer. We are looking for that through which hears through our ears and sees through our eyes. We are looking for that part of us that has been with us since beginningless time that which has no colour, shape, or form, the part of us that never dies and was never born, but that part of us that we just seem to know or understand to be there.

“For a parallel to the lesson of atomic Theory regarding the limited applicability of such customary idealisations, we must, in fact, turn to the other branches of science, such as psychology, or even to that kind of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao Tsu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.
Niels Bohr

Many great treatises have been written about Buddhist Epistemology (theory of perception) and the processes that take place when we experience and interact with phenomena. It is understood that when we thoroughly examine all the relationships and dependencies (theory of dependent origination) we can find no thing that is truly independent or exists in and of itself. This could be a good way to explain the Buddhist idea of emptiness; empty of its own existence. In Sanskrit the word used is Shunyata. It is extremely important to note here that Emptiness or Shunyata is not “Nothing or nothingness” the root “Su” denotes a great swelling of possibilities. Wow, that sounds very exciting to me how about you? We live in a world of limitless possibilities and endless joy that arises from it. Space is rich and beautiful beyond our wildest imaginations.

The Mahamudra of Max Plank

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As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), a 1944 speech in Florence, Italy.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

As quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)

We have been ignoring modern science for more than 100 years now in the struggle against impermanence of all things composite. We glorify everything material and honour those who can amass the most. We could not be moving in a such a completely wrong direction as a species, how could we misunderstand or even ignore such a clear and concise description of the material world, from one of the most preeminent minds ever, as this? What did Max see on his blackboard filled with equations erased and scratched over once again that could lead him to such a profound observation such as this? After his years of study experimentation and research and this is how he sums it all up in the final years before the end of his life by saying consciousness is the root of all there is, there is no thing behind it.

Let us compare his summary to that of another scientist, not a normal scientist but a scientist of the mind, the third Karmapa. Rangjung Dorje born in Tingri Tibet in 1284. He studied mind within the laboratory of meditation. His professors were highly respected monks from a very long tradition of mind exploration dating back more than two thousand years earlier to old India, the birthplace of modern science. Well, we haven’t recognized it as such yet but one day we must, the Greeks as great as their minds were, only recycled what they had learned in the east, and claimed much of it as their own. Anyway, I digress. Karmapa wrote a song of Mahamudra, I put forward two verses for our comparison of these two masters of intellect.

Verse 9: All phenomena are projections of the mind. Mind is not “a” mind; the mind is empty in essence. Although empty, everything constantly arises in it. May precise examination sever mistaken views of the ground.

And

Verse 18: Through the examination of external objects we see the mind, not the objects. Through the examination of the mind we see its empty essence, but not the mind. Through the examination of both, attachment to duality disappears by itself. May the clear light, the true essence of mind, be recognized.

So we can surmise from both Max and the Karmapa that everything comes from mind. Max did not say where things go when they cease to exist but today we can logically infer that they must go back to where they have come from, as the Karmapa said.

Don’t you find this comparison interesting, from two totally different times and sources that are saying almost the same thing. It begs us to look deeper and just outside but within as well.

 

Meditative or Quantum Entropy?

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Are Buddhists meditating in order to reach a human equivalent of zero-point energy or quantum entropy within their personal energy fields, realms of experience, existence, or in mind? Buddhists often talk about reaching a point, between attachment and aversion. We understand that we use a tremendous amount of energy striving for the things we desire and want, and running away from and avoiding the things that cause us difficulties. Our battle against our likes and dislikes as dictated to us by our personal concepts literally takes up all of our time and energy. This constant attraction and aversion to all our thoughts is simply so much work and effort we hardly have the time to stop and notice its effects let alone do anything about it. When beginning to meditate most of us become acutely aware of just how many thoughts we have and how much time we spend thinking or daydreaming. We think wow I had no idea how many thoughts I have, wow I am so confused and distracted, or even I cannot even begin to meditate because we are so overwhelmed. So if we can come to this state or point of no longer battling between the two extremes, and can rest in the middle, the present, in mind or mindfulness, how might one view it? Where does this energy go, how is it used and could we put it to better use?

We could call this liberation, great joy, highest bliss, or even enlightenment. One might even use the Tibetan word “detong” here may be defined as the union of emptiness and joy. I would explain further that all the energy we use to run away from or to things would simply be transformed into joy when we realize this state of “meditative entropy”. I use the word entropy here to highlight that this energy that is defined as being unavailable in the system of our existence or the random chaos of thoughts that may be observed may just be the basis of all that was, is, and will be. The inert uniformity is also very interesting here. From a Buddhist perspective, one might point to the union of subject, object, and action; or a state of non-separation of all beings. All this points to an existence of entropy in all areas of our lives or quantum entropy of our life in all its many facets and interactions with all beings, all at once, and for all times.

When we talk about the ground state in quantum mechanics and the chaos that that arises from or within it, I cannot help but think of all the possibilities. Think about this, is the “process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder, chaos, disorganization, or randomness a bad, good, or neutral thing, when it happens in mind? As with most if not all things in the Buddha Dharma it is neutral, it all depends on how we see it or interpret the battle of our likes and dislikes to all the possibilities of the wide open space of mind. Next time our bus is late or we have a seemingly difficult situation lets keep in mind once the situation relinquishes itself to impermanence and dissolves, we become free of its effects and all we had to do was to be patient and wait for quantum entropy to once again balance out in our lives. We can once again focus upon or see the beautiful and wonderful. I find this potential energy completely enthralling and inspiring. I want some of it, and not just some but all of it. Of course, I will share it with you all.

How do the laws of cause and effect and Quantum Entropy interact? When karma matures and arises it goes through a process. First, we do an action or have it done and then we experience the actions and their immediate results. This action leaves an impression in mind that will arise at a later date and result in an effect in our lives. Much like Newton’s third law that states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, the actions that we undertake and complete in daily life result in an equal reaction, in our minds ( I am not sure about an opposite reaction here). For example, when we hit someone with a left uppercut to the chin, we should not be surprised when someone hits us back in much the same or in a similar fashion. This equalizing out of our actions is entropy at its best on a relative level in mind. Call it what you will, “you reap what you sow”, or some form of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, or the timely ripening of Karma, everything we say or do comes back to us in much the same form as that with which we sent it out with. And the result is always a tie game or Entropy. Maybe we should only send out the good stuff?

One of the most wonderful parts of my practice is to recite the four immeasurables. They are as follows: 1. May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness. 2. May they be free from suffering and the cause of suffering. 3. May they experience happiness which is totally free of suffering and 4. May they remain in the great equanimity which is without attachment and aversion. The fourth one that details a state between attachment and aversion is exactly the balance we are seeking in our meditation and our lives. Here I would apply the second part of the definition “the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity” The ultimate state of uniformity how much more beautiful can this get? When everything is uniform, even, or level and totally in balance in the physical world. Would that not include us human beings as complex, unpredictable, and emotional as we are? There would be no yours or mine, no black and white, not even a here and there. What would we have to fight about? We could finally fully and totally relax and not have to worry about what the next guy is doing and work for the benefit of all. Equanimity or entropy take your pick the differences are small and the similarities are enormous.

Whether we are experiencing meditative detong, the equilizing out or the return of our actions (Karma), or equanimity; Quantum or Meditative Entropy will have its effect and even the score out. No matter if we are relating to one another on the relative or the ultimate level, our natural state is one of equilibrium, with all and within all, and in all times and directions. Our only choice is, do we choose to realise this and work with it or not? Do we have the courage to be responsible for our actions and live with the results, even if they affect us all on a quantum level?
Let’s choose a better path for ourselves, one that stands the test of time, endures the strictest of scientific evaluation, and models only the very best of our values. Do well, be well, and meditate well.

 

The following as of September 2016 were the definitions I have quoted in this entry:

entropy
noun en·tro·py \ˈen-trə-pē\
1: a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system’s disorder, that is a property of the system’s state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system
2a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity
b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
3: chaos, disorganization, randomness

source:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entropy
Zero-point energy, also called quantum vacuum zero-point energy, is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical physical system may have; it is the energy of its ground state.

All quantum mechanical systems undergo fluctuations even in their ground state and have an associated zero-point energy, a consequence of their wave-like nature. The uncertainty principle requires every physical system to have a zero-point energy greater than the minimum of its classical potential well. This results in motion even at absolute zero. For example, liquid helium does not freeze under atmospheric pressure at any temperature because of its zero-point energy.

The concept of zero-point energy was developed by Max Planck in Germany in 1911 as a corrective term added to a zero-grounded formula developed in his original quantum theory in 1900.[1] The term zero-point energy is a translation from the German Nullpunktsenergie.[2]:275ff

Vacuum energy is the zero-point energy of all the fields in space, which in the Standard Model includes the electromagnetic field, other gauge fields, fermionic fields, and the Higgs field. It is the energy of the vacuum, which in quantum field theory is defined not as empty space but as the ground state of the fields. In cosmology, the vacuum energy is one possible explanation for the cosmological constant.[3] A related term is a zero-point field, which is the lowest energy state of a particular field.[4]

Scientists are not in agreement about how much energy is contained in the vacuum. Quantum mechanics requires the energy to be large as Paul Dirac claimed it is, like a sea of energy. Other scientists specializing in General Relativity require the energy to be small enough for the curvature of space to agree with observed astronomy. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle allows the energy to be as large as needed to promote quantum actions for a brief moment of time, even if the average energy is small enough to satisfy relativity and flat space. To cope with disagreements, the vacuum energy is described as a virtual energy potential of positive and negative energy.[5]

The ground state of a quantum mechanical system is its lowest-energy state; the energy of the ground state is known as the zero-point energy of the system. An excited state is any state with energy greater than the ground state. The ground state of a quantum field theory is usually called the vacuum state or the vacuum.

If more than one ground state exists, they are said to be degenerate. Many systems have degenerate ground states. Degeneracy occurs whenever there exists a unitary operator which acts non-trivially on a ground state and commutes with the Hamiltonian of the system.

According to the third law of thermodynamics, a system at absolute zero temperature exists in its ground state; thus, its entropy is determined by the degeneracy of the ground state. Many systems, such as a perfect crystal lattice, have a unique ground state and therefore have zero entropy at absolute zero. It is also possible for the highest excited state to have absolute zero temperature for systems that exhibit negative temperature.

Zero-point Energy definition source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy

Nicola Tesla Quantum Visionary

Tesla and Vivekananda

He was a visionary of exemplary proportions, Nicola Tesla was way ahead of his time, perhaps even what some Buddhists might call a tulku or a high lama only that he was reborn in the west. One of my favourite Tesla quotes is “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” If this does not excite and elicit a strong response in the modern Buddhist, nothing will. I was inspired to say something about Tesla after reading this article in Sanskriti Magazine a few weeks ago. What impressed me the most was that he actually had some of his realizations before he met Swami Vivekananda, and their shared meeting only seemed to strengthen and cement his resolve that western science and Vedantic or eastern teachings were actually talking about the very same thing. I obviously find this extraordinarily interesting or I would not be here sharing this with you all. How I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to them theorize together.

Likely one of the most important things Tesla has said was:

“All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.”
~ Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907 1 2

The simple beauty in this one sentence connecting both worlds not just on a literary level as he uses both English and Sanskrit terminology, but on a level of understanding unsurpassed by most if not all minds of the time. My take here is that from my Buddhist understanding the Akasha or Luminiferous Ether is what we might call Mind. I will discuss in future blogs what modern science might call this today.

However what puzzles me the most is that if we as humans have been talking about this for ca. 7000 years why have we not come to any conclusions or a consensus between these two worlds?

I have several ideas as to why. Is it simply because of our hubris and pride that western society cannot reconcile that we are not the smartest or wisest beings on the planet? Is our understanding of eastern religions and philosophy still tainted be the catholic missionaries interpretations of Vedic, Hindu and Buddhist texts in the 17 and 1800s that positioned Buddhists as nihilists wanting to lose themselves in nothingness, disappearing from existence into a black hole? Did we lose most of the ancient knowledge in the burning of the libraries of Nalanda in India and Alexandria in Egypt, due to religious wars, and it has taken us ca. 2000 years to catch up? Or is it simply that we have not sat down and discussed the possibilities in enough open forums such as this?

Does Tesla inspire you? Do you have an affinity towards Vedic or Buddhist teachings even though you do not have a religious practise? What are your thoughts and insights?

 

Quantum Entanglement 

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Quantum Entanglement is really one of my favourite theories it was Albert Einstein’s Achilles heel, a trouble he likely even took with him to his grave. He called it “Spooky Action at a Distance” The use of spooky conjures up all sorts of ghostly images that would raise concern to any scientist or anyone in the pursuit of the truth but I think Einstein liked this description. According to sciencedaily.com entanglement can be defined as a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects have to be described with reference to each other, even though the individual objects may be spatially separated. This leads to correlations between observable physical properties of the systems. For example, it is possible to prepare two particles in a single quantum state such that when one is observed to be spin-up, the other one will always be observed to be spin-down and vice versa, this despite the fact that it is impossible to predict, according to quantum mechanics, which set of measurements will be observed. As a result, measurements performed on one system seem to be instantaneously influencing other systems entangled with it.
Buddhism teaches entanglement when we say that everyone else has been our mother in the past, we are all entangled or related to one another in one way or another. This is why we should be aware of Karma or cause and effect. When we act or do something, the law of cause and effect results in entanglement. Our actions will result in an effect in our own lives later in time or they leave immediate impressions in mind that will paint our future perceptions of what happens to us. It is in everyone’s best interest to make this interaction a positive one. Not just for ourselves but for others as well. Some schools of Buddhist philosophy even express entanglement as “space is information”. This offers a different perhaps more complimentary explanation to quantum mechanics than my previous one. If throughout space even beyond our perception of the universe, we found that at every possible place, point, or time that everything imaginable exists; this would explain Einstein’s spooky action at a distance quite handily. I can go on further here but I will save it for another entry. As before am I on to something here or out to lunch? Do you have anything to add or subtract?

 

I want to leave this entry with a very beautiful poem by Tyler Kent White that seems to accentuate the theme I am putting forward here.

 

Tyler Kent white

Source

 

Superposition

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Superposition may be defined as The quantum mechanical property of a particle to occupy all of its possible states simultaneously. This property of multiple coexisting states of existence persists until the superposition is measured, observed, or interacted with. Superposition is classically explained by Schrödinger’s Cat. A cat is imagined as being enclosed in a box with a radioactive source and a poison that will be released when the source (unpredictably) emits radiation, the cat being considered (according to quantum mechanics) to be simultaneously both dead and alive until the box is opened and the cat observed. Its kind of a funny thing to think about, but it begs a few important questions.

  1. What role does the observer play not only in science but in perception in general?
  2. What roles do subject, object, and action, the three subparts of observation, really play in our awareness in meditation?
  3. What are Buddhists attempting to observe in meditation, is this all the same thing?

The Buddhist perspective might be that everything in the universe is constantly in superposition until mind perceives it or consciousness collapses the wavefront and all the possibilities condense into one. One might even say that to a Buddhist all possibilities exist in every situation we experience.

We can say that all possibilities exist within mind, and mind being no thing, is beyond our normal observation but not beyond meditation. When subject, object, and action come together within the meditation we witness the inseparability of ourselves and others. We attempt or practice to do this in the meditation and to then bring it forth in our daily lives. This is commonly called being in the moment or mindfulness. We use these phrases daily almost flippantly while ignoring their much deeper meaning.

The Sanskrit word Mahamudra is a state reached by meditation. Mahamudra could be defined in two parts; as Maha or super and mudra or position. If there are any Sanskrit experts out there, I am curious as to your thoughts on this. Please understand that my Sanskrit is often coloured by my understanding of Tibetan and a very good Indian friend.  Mahamudra has been the subject of many beautiful and cryptic songs or prose in Tibet since 1000 ad. The realization of Mahamudra is enlightenment. Our goal in Buddhism is to discover our true potential. This true potential is Enlightenment.

Do you agree, or feel otherwise? Or perhaps you have something to add?