With the further development of scientific research, a new world view is coming. Science will undergo huge transformation and quite possibly, the boundary between science and religion may disappear. A comment by Liang Dong, a regular contributor on China’s state media programs
Many followers of Tibetan Buddhism report having had miraculous experiences that the Buddha Bodhisattva came to them to disseminate the dharma. There are cases of devout Buddhists who are able to head off danger in extreme situations with incantations or calling on the name of the Bodhisattva. Ordinary people regard such things as totally against scientific laws and condemn them as superstitions, but in fact, it is not rare for such things associated with long distance interaction to take place in our real lives.
Between twin brothers, when one is suffering pains, the other may immediately have reactions and even experience the same pain. It is the same between man and wife, or father and son. One of my colleagues had such an experience. One morning, he was extremely distressed in his heart and could not concentrate on his work. Then very soon, his mother called telling him that his father had just fallen down and passed away.
How do these things happen? Actually, theoretical physics has already given clear proof and explanations both in theory and practice. Nevertheless, many scholars of life science haven’t yet been involved in such big scientific discussions, let alone common people. The Buddhists, of course, have no interest in explaining such things through the approach of science.
What has the science found?
In 1982, French physicist Alain Aspect and his team successfully accomplished an experiment to prove the existence of “quantum entanglement” among microscopic particles.
According to quantum mechanics, two microscopic particles of the same source have some subtle connections. No matter how far they are from each other, such entanglement always remains. If one of them is disturbed, the other will immediately know and react to it wherever it is.
Quantum entanglement has been proved by many laboratories in the world and is regarded as one of the most important scientific findings in the past few decades. People may not have clear understating about its exact implications, but it has already exerted a profound influence on the circles of philosophy, science and religion. It has generated a big impact on the mainstream worldview of Western sciences.
Accurately speaking, quantum entanglement refers to the non-localized and non-classical strong correlation existent between or among two or more quantum systems. It involves the basic concepts of quantum mechanics including substantiality, locality, hidden variables and measure theories. It also plays a significant role in the study of quantum computing and quantum communication.
For example, two electrons run in opposite directions with the same constant speed. One reaches the sun while the other reaches the Pluto. Still, they will maintain their correlation, which means that if one of them experiences a change of state, the other will instantly change accordingly.
Such phenomenon had once given rise to “spooky action-at-a-distance” assumptions because the two electrons seemingly had a superluminal mysterious communication.
The word “spooky” came from Einstein. He once inferred that the “spooky action at a distance” seemed to violate the “locality” idea of special relativity theory. So he didn’t recognize quantum mechanics as a true and perfect theory. Instead, he kept trying to find a more reasonable explanation.
However, quantum entanglement proves the existence of the “spooky action at a distance” to which Einstein showed no favor. The quantum entanglement surpasses the limits of four-dimensional space-time in our life. It’s an inner link existing in the invisible depths of our universe. The non-local character of the quantum concept proves the integrality of substances.
To put it simply, the non-local character of quantum means: if you separate two objects (referred to as “particles” in physical models), putting object 1 here and object 2 very far away (for example tens of thousands of light years away), and act on either of them (say object 1), then instantly, object 2 will get the message and show correspondent reactions. Such a reaction is instantaneous and beyond our four-dimensional space-time. It means, that things happening in one place can have a big influence on the things exceedingly far away. Two seemingly irrelevant objects that are scattered at two distant places actually have invisible connections.
This is very similar to the function of human consciousness.
The challenge faced by positive science while studying man’s consciousness is that they cannot use time, space, quality or energy to measure consciousness although every one of us are clear that we truly have the consciousness. Then how can we study consciousness, such a thing that indeed exists yet cannot be measured by conventional methods?
Many disciplines have carried out wide and deep studies on consciousness through brain and nerve approaches. They now understand more about brain functions, yet still fail to solve “the hard problem of consciousness”. Consciousness involves people’s feelings for color, smell and light, judgements of different values. “The hard problem of consciousness” again triggers the philosophical debate that has long existed – is consciousness a by-product of material substance or is it originally inherent in all creations, like the saying of Chinese people “all creation has spirit”.
According to the mainstream world view of the West, material determines consciousness and consciousness is a by-product of material. Such a materialism concept, however, has encountered insurmountable challenges.
- Many scientists have realized that it is impossible to produce consciousness out of material. Materialism followers don’t accept any transnatural phenomenon.
- During long-term study of the human brain, neurosciences have gained wide understanding about brain functions. Still, many of them don’t believe that materialism can solve “the hard problem of consciousness”.
- From the perspective of quantum measurement, many scientists hold that consciousness cannot be further simplified and neither is it a by-product of material. Otherwise, it violates the quantum measurement theory. Quantum mechanics believes that before being measured, all substances are just probability waves. Measurement makes the probability waves collapse and turn to actuality that can be observed.
So, if consciousness is produced from material, and the brain is fundamentally a probability wave composed of microscopic particles such as atoms, electrons, protons and neutrons, then how can the probability wave of the brain make the probability wave of objects being observed collapse?
Then what about the universe? Does it mean that there is a conscious observer existing beyond the universe? This is the “measurement paradox” in quantum mechanics. To solve the paradox, scientists put forward many solutions but cannot work it out at the root. Nobel Prize winner in physics Eugene Wigner believes that the problem of consciousness lies at the root of quantum measurement.
Although physics scholars understand that consciousness exists in the quantum mechanics level, yet, the quantum mechanics cannot solve the mystery of consciousness. In fact, from the emergence of quantum mechanics, consciousness is a perplexing problem. For a long time, physicists just ignored it and tried to avoid this embarrassing difficulty in physics study.
Due to the unsolved problems in the study of consciousness based on positive science, more and more people in different disciplines such as philosophy, neurosciences, psychology and physics come to believe that consciousness is an essential attribute of material (instead of a by-product) and part and parcel of the universe just as time, space, matter and energy. This conclusion is amazingly consistent with Buddhism which believes that “all creations are inherent of Buddha nature.”
The existence of quantum entanglement proves that microscopic particles have consciousness, which provides good evidence of the assumption “consciousness is an essential attribute of material.”
Based on what is said above, increasing numbers of scientists and scholars have realized that there is no way to study consciousness with a materialism worldview. So many Western scholars feel the necessity to turn from positive science to the Oriental philosophic view. They turn their eyes to India, which directly results in the popularity of Indian yoga and mysticism in Western countries today.
If we understand that consciousness is an essential attribute of material, then it is easy to explain such phenomenon as the perceptions of water, healing by praying, the magic of incantation, the interaction between twins and spouses and the cause-and-effect transmigration, which cannot be explained by positive science.
“All creations are inherent of Buddha nature” as proposed by Buddhism might result from their in-depth observation of the universe. Consciousness surpasses the four-dimensional spacetime which we can see and feel. If we could see the microcosm, then consciousness would be visible to us, which is perhaps the statement of “satori” in Buddhism.