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    Modern version of the Eternal Knot by Charles Huttner
A View on Buddhism
Teksty w jezyku polskim     Deutsche Seiten

The Buddhist Philosophy of Emptiness by a Simpleton


The idea for the following little essay actually arose during a retreat at Lawudo, in the Solu Khumbu area close to Mount Everest in Nepal, while trying to do a retreat on emptiness. Obviously no great realization came, but in order to try and penetrate the philosophy, I imagined trying to teach it to others. Two major ideas popped up: modern Western science and Mount Everest. If I could prove that science points in the same direction as Buddhist philosophy, and if Mount Everest can be "reduced" to the idea of emptiness, then the argument must be convincing.

Without having any authority in either science or Buddhism, I still have a strong feeling that modern scientific findings seem to approach the ancient Buddhist philosphy remarkably close during these decades. Writers like Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics, The Turning Point) and Harry Zukov (The Dancing Wu-Li Masters) have received criticism both from scientific and from religious sides.

Among the critics is for example the outright genius of Stephen Hawking; he may be a genius in physics, but is someone who spends a lot of time on questions like "What happened in the universe during the first ten million million million milion millionths' of a second" (1) necessarily a philosopher?

An interesting quote from Gary Zukow (2):

"Reality" is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality."

Simple logic tells me that if science makes sense and is not far away from the truth, and in case Buddhism makes sense and is not far away from the truth, they should somehow be close in their conclusions about the world. May this amateuristic approach have some benefit to other beginners.


The full expression for the Buddhist concept of emptiness should read "emptiness of inherent existence". It refers to a direct experience or realization which seems to contradict our ordinary perception of phenomena. "Inherent existence" can be expressed in other ways, like: independent, existing in- and out of itself, by itself, from the side of the object, by way of its' own character, self-powered, autonomous.

If all these terms sound confusing and just make you frown, don't worry. In fact, no concept of emptiness can by definition ever convey the full meaning of emptiness, as it refers to an experience. No concept or word can ever fully descibe an experience.
As an example of this, just imagine having to explain to someone who is born blind, what the difference between red and blue is. You may end up with a complicated explanation, but these concepts convey nothing of the experience of seeing.

Furthermore, the experience of emptiness is said to be 'non-dualistic'. Describing anything non-dualistic in a dualistic language is another impossibility. It is said that the most dangerous misunderstanding about emptiness one can have, is to think that everything does not exist, or "everything is nothing". This misconception is called the nihilist view. The challenge we face in understanding emptiness is finding the middle way between "nothing exists" and "nothing is wrong with my perception of reality".

The question arises, "can I then not trust my senses?" Buddhism answers that usually there is nothing wrong with the senses as such, but our interpretation of what we see, hear, feel, taste or smell is a different matter. Like with a magician producing a rabbit from an empty hat; our vision is correct, but our conclusions on what has happened are deceived by the skills of the person on stage. Whenever things seem to happen that contradict our logical conclusion, we tend to think of magic and mystery. Investigating this a bit further, we have to admit that our senses can in fact be cheated fairly easy: think only about the confusing effect a mirror can have. In a similar fashion, our conclusions that things are separate from each other, have colors or other characteristics by themselves, and we can objectively decide what, where and how things exist, are wrong according to the view of emptiness. Things are said to consist of parts, exist because of causes and conditions, and are merely labeled. Things are not supposed to have any characteristics by themselves - this statement obviously contradicts our perception of the world.

When people had direct realizations of the "emptiness of inherent existence", it has been descibed as an experience which undermines the feeling of reality which we attach to ordinary perception.
To quote from the famous Buddhist Master Chandrakirti (4):

"For things to exist from their own side means that things are not dependent on other factors for their existence, but because things do depend on other factors, there can be no self-existent phenomena."

The actual key to understanding emptiness lies in the difference between our perception of the world around us and the way in which the world actually exists. We therefore first need to have a closer look at how we perceive the world, and next at whether the world actually exists in that way. This is why we start out talking about our perception of the world in the Thesis, then in the Antithesis we will investigate if this perception accords with modern science and Buddhist philosophy. In the synthesis I hope to clarify some philosophical similarities between the two systems.

To quote His Holiness the Dalai Lama (5):

"Because of Buddhism's emphasis on self-creation, there is no creator-deity, and thus from this viewpoint some people consider it, strictly speaking, not to be a religion. A Western Buddhist scholar told me, "Buddhism is not a religion; it is a kind of science of mind". In this sense, Buddhism does not belong to the category of religion. I consider this to be unfortunate, but in any case it means that Buddhism becomes closer to science. Furthermore, from the pure scientist's viewpoint, Buddhism naturally is considered a type of spiritual path. Again, it is unfor tunate that we do not belong to the category of science. Buddhism thereby belongs to neither religion nor pure science, but this situation provides us with an opportunity to make a link, or a bridge, between faith and science. This is why I believe that in the future we will have to work at bringing these two forces more closely together than they are at present."


When we consider our example Mount Everest from an ordinary, "down to earth" point of view, we can make some obvious statements, based on our direct perception of this mountain. Image courtesy Geoff Wise:

We perceive Mount Everest as being:

1. 8848 meters high
2. Practically unchanging
3. Independent of its' surroundings
4. A huge, piece of solid matter
5. One thing
6. Independent of humans
7. independent of me and what I think of it.



Simply said, Buddhism claims that all these statements are ultimately incorrect, as they are made by a mind which is plagued by a wrong perception of the world. Western scientific reasoning gives clear proof against points 1 to 4.
The last three points hardly seem to be questioned in the traditional scientific approach of over a century ago, but are key issues in the Buddhist concepts of reality, and are also being encountered in modern science. Let's try to have a closer look at each of these statements.

1. Mount Everest is 8848 m. high.

Having stood in front of Mount Everest, I have to agree it was breathtakingly impressive. On the other hand, it was not as high as I had somehow imagined. Was it due to too high expectations? No. When standing at the "foot" of Mount Everest (at "base camp") one is breathless, not only by the views, but also by the lack of oxygen on 5,500 meter altitude. Standing at the foot of this mountain means being at a high altitude, actually at almost two thirds of the height of this highest peak on the earth. Looking from here, the peak is "only" 3,348 meters high. There are definitely other mountain peaks on earth which are higher from its' foot! But where is the "foot" of Mount Everest? Is it the end of the valley on the Nepalese South-Western side or from the Chinese Northern side? Or is the foot the so called "South Col", a mountain ridge which separates Mount Everest from the nearest peak of the Lhotse? This South Col, where Everest really can be said to be "separate" from its neighbour peak is about 8,000 meters high. Does this imply that Everest is only 848 meters from its' foot?

So what is this 8,848 meters of altitude? Of course, it is measured from sealevel. But what sea? The closest ocean is way over a thousand miles away! When I want to measure my height, I would definitely get unusual results starting from sea level. Our "clearly perceived" fact about the big mountain is not as obvious as it sounds, when its' height seems more a very arbitrary comparison to an imagined sea level.

Summarizing, although everybody seems to automatically accept the idea that Mount Everest is 8,848 meters high as many books tell us, having a closer look at what that means makes the statement more complicated and vague. The beginning or "foot" or level from which we measure mountains appears to be an arbitrary concept instead of a direct perception.

2. Mount Everest is practically unchanging.

Admitted, it is not so easy to perceive the changes of this mountain, but everyone knows that it is not permanent. At the same time that it is still growing at a rate of about 2 cm per year, erosion slowly but surely eats the rock away. Water and wind prove to be stronger than our hard rock.
At the foot of Mount Everest you find an incredible amount of rocks. Ultimately, a lot of this mountain will appear as mud on the ricefields of North India, or as sand on the bottom of the Indian ocean.

Funny enough, among the rocks in the Himalaya range, even above 5,000 meters you can find fossiles of amonites, sea creatures! It seems that the seabed is returning to the seabed afterall.

The actual age of the Himalaya range is much less than most people would think. It seems easy to relate to the dinosaurs of recent succesful movies, but these animals died out around 60 million years ago, whereas the Himalayas are "only" about 10 million years old. 10 Million years is but a small fraction of the history of the earth of about 5 billion years. In a billion years more, the Himalayas will have left no trace. Mount Everest not only changes over millions of years, but also very much so in terms of imperceivably short periods in which the particles that make it up race around at speeds beyond our imagination. Electrons move so fast in their orbit around the nucleus of the atom, that they appear as a kind of cloud or shell around the core, their speed is in the order of a thousand kilometers per second. Even more incredible is that the particles in the nucleus are moving around with speeds of something like 60,000 kilometers per second. (From earth to the moon in 6 seconds...)

Summarizing, although we don't directly perceive it, Mount Everest is very much a changing phenomena, not only on an astronomically long scale, but even more so on an atomic scale. Our "unchanging rock" is changed into particles which move around at supersonic speeds.

3. Mount Everest is independent of its' surroundings.

We perceive this mountain as clearly separate and independent of the oceans which are far away, or, say New Delhi. You probably know that this is pure fantasy.

As we have already seen above, at least big parts of the Himalayas have actually been a seabed before the landmass of the Indian "continental shelf" crashed into the Asian mainland millions of years ago. This crash is still happening, and the deformation of the land behind it is the reason why our mountain is still growing every year. New Delhi is part of the Indian sub-continent, and therefore part of the reason for the existence of the Himalayan mountain range in the first place.
Continually, erosion is taking its' toll on the mountain, making rain, wind, snow and temperature changes very responsible for the actual shape and appearance of the mountain.

Summarizing, instead of being independent of its' surroundings, Mount Everest is in all respects the result of its' surroundings.

4. Mount Everest is a huge, piece of solid matter.

What is huge? Is an ant small? Is a whale small? Is a planet of 6,000 kilometer diameter, like the earth, huge? Is a galaxy with a diameter of millions of lightyears huge? As huge is close to a non-statement when not related to anything specific, it seems not very scientific to use this clearly perceived fact in our argument, but we will come back later as how "huge" Everest is in essence.

Is this mountain a solid piece of rock? Rock is one of the hardest and solid of materials we encounter in daily life. What does a solid matter mean? It actually refers to something which is made up of atoms. What is an atom? An atom is something which is made up of a "heavy" nucleus, which is surrounded by an "electron cloud". First, we need some more atomic physics.

Some modern atomic physics by a simpleton

An atom consists of a core or nucleus of relatively heavy particles. These particles are called protons and neutrons. Protons are postively charged, and neutrons have no electrical charge, hence their name. Around this core revolve one or more electrons; negatively charged particles with a mass 1,860 times smaller than the core. One striking aspect of these electrons is that they fly around the core at incredible speeds. When "big" things (on an atomic scale) approach the atom, they "bump" into the electrons orbiting around the nucleus, which makes things feel "solid". Another striking thing about atoms is that they mainly consist of utter vacuum instead of solid "matter". A well known example to illustrate the relative measurements within an atom is the following.
Imagine standing inside the great dome of St. Peters' Cathedral in Rome. If the dome illustrates the outer orbits of the electrons, the core is about a grain of salt in the centre, and the few electrons are barely visible dust particles. If we would press the dust particles onto the grain of salt, then we could really talk of "solid matter" instead of mostly vacuum inside the dome. However, this compression is so extreme, that the entire earth would only measure something like one hundred meters across, leaving our "huge" Mount Everest as a one centimeter high bump, like a sugarcube.
Protons and neutrons are said to consist of "quarks", and electrons are a specific type of "leptons". There are some more of these particle-families. Probably quarks and all these other types of particles currently known, can be broken down into even more basic particles, or waves, or energy packages, or something.
So what is this something, what is the "stuff" that subatomic particles are made of? This straightforward question surprisingly enough, changes the language of modern day geniuses into an almost esoterical language.
One could say that "energy-packets" (quantums) or "waves" (of probabilities, not of some "thing") or "fields" (of what?) "interrelate" via "virtual particles" (that are supposed to be "real"?) and "massless particles" (contradiction in terms), within probability limits.
Asking clarification may lead to statements, like: "We just need a bigger particle accelerator to answer that one" (the biggest ones available are already about 20 kilometers across!), a prolonged silence or, maybe the most honest, "We don't really know" or the mind-blowing, "We are not sure if we can ever answer this question with science, due to the limits of the uncertainty principle of Heissenberg".
This "uncertainty principle of Heissenberg" roughly states that the speed (moment) and position of very small particles cannot be measured simultaneously. This is not just the result of limitations in equipment, but these two seemingly completely different qualities of speed and position are not really distinguishable. At the subatomic level, we cannot observe anything without changing it. It even goes a few steps further in concluding that extremely small particles can appear from and disappear back into nothingness.
Some of the most important forces in nature are currently described as the work of "virtual particles", which appear and dissappear as if nothing ever happened.
Another conclusion is that just about anything can happen in extremely short periods of time: for about one thousand million millionth (10 e-15) of a second. Given that time is only a succession of moments, it seems to me that this lead to the logical conclusion that "anything can happen anytime". Although this theory leads to very strange conclusions about reality, so far, scientific evidence is only confirming these above observations.
Quantum mechanics, currently the most widely accepted theory about "matter" talks about subatomic "particles" as "tendencies to exist" or "tendencies to happen". In quantum theory you never end up with "things"; you always deal with interconnections. Heissenberg himself wrote, "in the light of the quantum theory... elementary particles are no longer real in te same sense as objects of daily life, trees or stones...". And: "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning".

Summarizing, if we condense matter of Mount Everest to its "essence" of protons, neutrons and electrons, there remains a sugarcube of matter. Ultimately, it even seems that matter can come from and go back into nothingness as if nothing ever happened. Based on scientific knowledge, Mount Everest appears to be in essence much less impressive than our perception of it. According to Quantum theory, Mount Everest consists of "particles which are no longer real in the same sense as objects of daily life". Matter is reduced to: "tendencies to exist" relate with themselves and other "tendencies to exist" using "virtual particles". The only thing "solid" about this last statement seems the word "relate".

5. Mount Everst is one thing.

Obviously, this mountain is clearly perceived as one thing, how else can we even talk about it? To start simple, let us take the example of what many tourists (including me of course) do. In reverence to the big mountain, one bends down and decides to pick up a part of Mount Everest to take it home as a souvenir. My part of Everest is currently residing in Holland.

Now where is Mount Everest? In Holland or Nepal? Of course, in Nepal. What about this part in Holland? Well, that was a part of Everest. But where and when did it separate from our mountain? When I picked it up, or when it cracked off the wall of Everest maybe centuries ago? Probably, it had never been a really solid part of Everest anyway, as the mountain is mainly built up of compressed rubble on a seabed.

What about this being 'one thing'? Well, the mountain could be said to consist of rocks and rubble, in other words, parts. So? Suppose you take ten little stones in your hand, would you call them one thing? If you take a zillion rocks together, they turn into "one" in some kind of magical way? Is it not a confusing concept that we call a collection of things "one"?

The same reasoning is valid for anything material that we know, as all matter consists of a collection of atoms, which consist of sub-atomic particles, which consist of something which cannot even be called "a thing" according to modern science. In our common way of discriminating different objects, we manage to perform the feat of saying 1+1=1 (1 stone + 1 stone = 1 heap) but nobody seems to be confused by it. When one asks "What is a heap?", we say a collection of things, as if the collection is one thing by itself. Actually, all phenomena can be described as a collection of other phenomena. In other words, "every thing is a collection of other things", "everything is other things" or "things are other things". Think about this last statement!

Summarizing, all phenomena are made up of other phenomena, making the statement "one thing" very arbitrary and even dubious.

6. Mount Everest is independent of humans.

Are we finally on safe ground to state the obvious that our mountain is existing independent of the human race? We were not even around as a species when Mount Everest was "born". Clearly and undoubtably, humans have not built Mount Everest, but are we separate of it?

In one way, Mount Everest was "born" millions of years ago, but in another way, it was born in the end of the 19th. century, when the British Mister Everest was measuring mountains in the Himalayan range, and discovered that this specific mountain, known to Nepalese locals as "Sagarmata" was the highest of them all. The material of the mountain was made by geological forces in past ages, but the concept of "Mount Everest" only exists for less than a century. This means that in fact "Mount Everest" most certainly is made by human beings!

Looking from another perspective, Mount Everest somehow influences the mind of every human being who sees a picture of it, or even hears of it. This means possibly the majority of the world population. Obviously, it strongly influenced the thousands of people like me who have stood at its' foot (or feet?), or even more, the ones who have climbed it. Quite a few people never returned alive from their encounter with this big rock. In how far can humans and this mountain be called independent when most humans have a concept and possibly specific expectations of it in their mind? Can I call myself independent from the concepts in my mind?

Furthermore, as humans have climbed the mountain, or have taken pieces from it as souvenirs (like me), humans have definitely influenced the mountain, at least as a minor form of erosion as I mentioned earlier.

Summarzing, though not "building" the mountain itself, the concept "Mount Everest" is definitely created by humans. Mount Everest has entered the awareness of many humans, thereby influencing their minds. Furtermore, humans are definitely changing the mountain in the last decades.

7. Mount Everest is independent of what I think of it or how I perceive it.

What is "Mount Everest"? Is it a collection of atoms or is it a concept in my mind? How do I know that it exists to begin with?
The only way I can perceive things, is via my mind. My mind is the ultimate detector of the phenomena called Mount Everest. Whether I saw a picture or felt the actual stone, my mind is needed to establish the fact of the existence of Mount Everest.
If nobody would have ever explained to me that this heap of stones is "Mount Everest", "Mount Everest" would not have existed for me.

Anyway, I made the historic movement of reducing the size of it by taking my souvenir-stone to Holland, so I did actually change Mount Everest in a very concrete way!

Some comments referring perception.

Talking about our concepts about the world, a quote from Werner Heissenberg, one of the leading physicists of this century: "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning". And Niels Bohr, an equally important physicist: "Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems."
In nuclear physics, recently some "strange" phenomena have been observed which prove that the way in which we observe the world influences the results of our observation. Given in a strictly scientific environment, this caused quite a storm, because it undermined the definition of science held until then; that science is an "objective" view of the world. Given in the "normal world", it would not confuse anyone. We all know that the world looks different when you put sunglasses on. Any policeman can testify that when there are ten people who witnessed an accident, you usually get ten different versions of what actually happened. In daily life, eveyone intuitively knows that our view of something changes when we change position, we understand that perception is a process of relating from the observer with the subject. Pure objectivity, although this seemed the ultimate goal of science, does not exist by definition, because perception is a process which not only needs an object, but also always needs a subject who perceives. In other words, an"objective view of the world" is a non-existent thing.
Image courtesy Geoff Wise: is a crucial conclusion: without a relationship between subject and object, there can be no perception. Everything we can perceive is the result of a relationship between object and subject. This relationship will influence the object and the subject in the process of relating/communication.
From this point of view, subject and object are just two sides of the same coin of relating. In fact, the existence (in our dual world) of objects depends on subjects and vise versa.
This is what Buddhists mean with the "interdependence of phenomena". Even in our dualistic way of thinking, we realize that the concept of black depends on our concept of white. The idea of darkness only makes sense if light is defined. All concepts are based on our minds making arbitrary distinctions between phenomena.
Do these distinctions actually exist from the side of the object? No. Why not? Because the distinctions are made and labeled by our minds, not by the object.
This leads to the weird sounding conclusion that objects have no qualities by themselves.
There are no "green trees", only people who label the perception of a quality of a phenomena labelled "light", reflected by a collection of particles or waves or energy packages which is labelled "a tree", green. When seeing a tree, we do not really perceive the object directly, but we register a mental reaction to the light which is sent out from the tree. But do we directly perceive "light"? According to biology, the light photons which reach the retina of the eye cause a reaction with nerve ends, which generate small electric currents. These electric currents are directed to the brain which registers and recognizes it. So if we see a tree, we actually only register a series of electric currents. From a scientific point of view, it may not be so easy to make conclusions about any object, if we only have a reaction (in the brain) to a reaction (of photons on the retina) to something (light) which is sent from a source (the sun) and reflected by the object (the tree). Perception proves to be a very indirect process, or better said, series of processes, and every step in the procesess involved can introduce misperception in the end. An entirely different scientific subject is very related to all of this: the concept of relativity.
Early in this century Albert Einstein showed that even space and time are phenomena which are not independent of the observer. To summarize one consequence in Fritjof Capra's words: "The special theory of relativity is not a theory that everything is relative. It is a theory that appearances are relative." Although currently many scientists are working hard to somehow combine the theory of relativity with quantum theory on their search for the Grand Unified Theory, they seem to have in common the view that phenomena are interrelated and not objectively existent.

Summarizing, "Mount Everest" is a concept in my mind, and therefore dependent on my way of thinking about it. An "objective" Mount Everest does not exist: anyone trying to observe or describe a phenomena automatically turns it into a subjective experience with a subjective interpretation. According to quantum theory and the theory of relativity, phenomena are interrelated and not objectively existent.


Some quotations of renowned scientists.

Thomas Stapp:

"The physical world is "Not a structure built out of independently existing non-analysable entities, but rather a web of relationships between elements whose meanings arise wholly from their relationship to the whole" " An elementary particle is not an independently existing non-analysable entity. It is in essence, a set of relationships that reach outwards to other things."
"In conclusion there is definitely not a substantial physical world."

John Wheeler:

"May the universe in some strange sense be "brought into being" by the participation of those who participate?... The vital act is the act of participation. "Participator" is the incontrovertible new concept given by quantum mechanics. It strikes down the term "ob server" 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."

Werner Heisenberg:

"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning".
"...we never can know what actually goes on in the invisible subatomic realm, and that, therefore, we should "abandon all attempts to construct perceptual models of atomic processes".

Niels Bohr:

".. an independent reality in the ordinary physical sense can be ascribed neither to the phenomena nor to the agencies of observation."
"Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems."
"Quantum mechanics entails the necessity of a final renunciation of classical ideas of causality and a radical revision of our attitude towards the problem of physical reality."

David Bohm:

"Parts are seen to be in immediate connection in which their dynamical relationships depend in an irreducible way on the state of the whole system and the entire universe. Thus one is lead to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of an analyzability of the world into separate and independently existent parts."

Robert Oppenheimer:

"If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say 'No'; if we ask whether the electron's position changes with time, we must say 'No'; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say 'No'. The Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions of a man's self after death; but they are not familiar answers for the tradition of 17th and 18th century science."

Fritjof Capra (The turning point) sums up the current situation:

"In atomic physics the observed phenomena can be under stood only as as correlations between various processes of obser vation and measurement, and the end of this chain of processes lies always in the consciousness of the human observer. the crucial feature of quantum theory is that the observer is not only necessary to observe the properties of an atomic phenomenon, but is necessary even to bring about these properties. .. The electron does not have objective properties independent of my mind. In atomic physics the sharp Cartesian division between mind and matter, between the observer and the observed, can no longer be maintained. We can never speak about nature without, at the same time, speaking about ourselves."

Many people, when first confronted with the Buddhist philosophy of emptiness, generate the feeling that they are somehow "being tricked". As if someone is playing around with names and concepts and reasons everything into nothingness. This is not the case. According to Buddhism, things do exist, but not the way in which we normally perceive them. Everybody perceives things in a different subjective manner, leaving no space for an objective existence "out there", unrelated to the observer. This interrelatedness is another way of expressing the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

One of the most striking aspects of modern quantum mechanics is the fact that scientists are confronted with a reality that stresses interrelatedness and interdependence and the lack of an "objective reality" independent of an observer. Similarly, even the special theory of relativity (which is said to be currently impossible to combine with quantum theory) from Albert Einstein emphasizes the same things: "objective existence" does not exist, and object and subject are interrelated. Much of reality appears to be beyond perception according to science. Many of our perceptions can even be said to be outright wrong. In fact, processes on an atomic scale (what are quarks made of) and on a cosmological scale (like curved space, black holes etc.) do not even seem to fit in our wildest imagination.

Buddhism states very similar things. Ultimately, with our normal perception we cannot "find" reality. Just as science has to use abstract symbols to make sense of reality, so does Buddhism. Possibly the main difference between science and Buddhism, is that Buddhism (and many other mystical traditions) insists that ultimate reality can still be experienced; as something beyond duality, which undermines our impression of normal reality. As science by definition is based on a dualistic view of "normal reality", it is obvious that within science there can be no reasonable approach to phenomena which are non-dualistic, like the perception of emptiness.

"All consciousnesses within the mind-streams of ordinary beings have been affected by ignorance.
Because of this, any object that appears to us seems to be true."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

To conclude with a quote from one of the most important physicists of this era, who was also an interesting philosopher, Albert Einstein:

"If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism."


1: Beyond the black hole, Stephen Hawking's universe. John Boslough. Fontana/Collins, 1984
2: The dancing WU Li masters, Gary Zukav, Bantam, 1986
3: The turning point, Fritjof Capra, Flamingo, 1982
4: Ngalso Self-Healing III, T.Y.S. Lama Ganchen, LGPP, 1994
5: The meaning of life; His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Wisdom 1992

Rudy Harderwijk

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Last updated:December 6, 2006