Tag Archives: Quantum physics

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

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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.

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

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?