Apr 29, 2017 07:18 AM EDT
The Dalai Lama is one of the most respected spiritual leaders in the world today teaching people about spirituality. Thus, it is surprising when he suddenly talks about quantum physics melding with spirituality.
The Dalai Lama presided a two-day conference on quantum physics and Madhyamaka philosophy, one of the main schools of Buddhist thoughts, in India last week where he posted a question whether humans can find a way to reconcile science and spirituality stressing that this is essential in the future of the human race.
During his speech, he said that quantum mechanics and spirituality can shake hands with each other on how they view the world. He added that despite the brilliance of the great thinkers who existed throughout history, the fact remains that they are still humans like the rest.
In his opening speech, Hi Holiness said he only became aware of the relationship between Madhyamaka and quantum physics after he had a conversation with the late Raja Ramanna, an Indian nuclear physicist.
Ramanna told him that after reading the 2000-year old writings of the Madhyamaka philosopher Nagarjuna, he was surprised at how the philosopher's understanding of quantum physics matched his own.
According to Madhyamaka thought, nothing has a fixed or permanent nature. Nagarjuna clarified this by positing two truths - conventional and ultimate truth. He said that it is possible to perceive things as really existing, which is the conventional truth, and at the same time recognizing that they do not have inherent existence, which is the ultimate truth.
The most glaring of this example of this Buddhist thought in physics is the wave-particle duality which states that fermions and bosons can exhibit the characteristics of both wave and particle but cannot be wholly reduced to either.
Albert Einstein said that the phenomena of light can neither be described of only one language - wave or particle. He said that sometimes scientists need to use one theory and sometimes the other. Einstein further added both are contradictory pictures of reality but they need each other to fully explain it. On the other hand, you cannot use only one theory alone to explain it.
To put it simply, what Einstein and the physicists want to point out is that such contradictory thoughts can become complimentary with each other. In the same way, the Dalai Lama emphasized during his talk that people need to use spirituality and quantum physics to combat suffering and ignorance.
He added that people can either pray to God or Buddha to help them solve these problems. However, these problems have been created by men so they need human solutions. He said that a secular approach is needed to promote human values. Knowing that human nature is basically positive gives hope that people can solve these problems. He added in closing that if people will really put their hearts together, they will be able to change the world to become a better place.
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