The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet
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Matthieu Ricard trained as a molecular biologist, working in the lab of a Nobel prize—winning scientist, but when he read some Buddhist philosophy, he became drawn to Buddhism. Eventually he left his life in science to study with Tibetan teachers, and he is now a Buddhist monk and translator for the Dalai Lama, living in the Shechen monastery near Kathmandu in Nepal. Trinh Thuan was born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam but became intrigued by the explosion of discoveries in astronomy during the 1960s. He made his way to the prestigious California Institute of Technology to study with some of the biggest names in the field and is now an acclaimed astrophysicist and specialist on how the galaxies formed.
When Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Thuan met at an academic conference in the summer of 1997, they began discussing the many remarkable connections between the teachings of Buddhism and the findings of recent science. That conversation grew into an astonishing correspondence exploring a series of fascinating questions. Did the universe have a beginning? Or is our universe one in a series of infinite universes with no end and no beginning? Is the concept of a beginning of time fundamentally flawed? Might our perception of time in fact be an illusion, a phenomenon created in our brains that has no ultimate reality? Is the stunning fine-tuning of the universe, which has produced just the right conditions for life to evolve, a sign that a “principle of creation” is at work in our world? If such a principle of creation undergirds the workings of the universe, what does that tell us about whether or not there is a divine Creator? How does the radical interpretation of reality offered by quantum physics conform to and yet differ from the Buddhist conception of reality? What is consciousness and how did it evolve? Can consciousness exist apart from a brain generating it?
The stimulating journey of discovery the authors traveled in their discussions is re-created beautifully in The Quantum and the Lotus, written in the style of a lively dialogue between friends. Both the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and the discoveries of contemporary science are introduced with great clarity, and the reader will be profoundly impressed by the many correspondences between the two streams of thought and revelation. Through the course of their dialogue, the authors reach a remarkable meeting of minds, ultimately offering a vital new understanding of the many ways in which science and Buddhism confirm and complement each other and of the ways in which, as Matthieu Ricard writes, “knowledge of our spirits and knowledge of the world are mutually enlightening and empowering.”
“The Quantum and the Lotus is a mind-expanding, eye-opening exploration of the exciting parallels between cutting-edge thinking in physics and Buddhism–a scintillating conversation any thinking person would delight in overhearing.” —Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives.” —His Holiness the Dalai Lama
phenomenon external to man is subordinated to thought. Ideals, world of (or world of Forms): According to Plato, the world of the senses is changing, ephemeral, and illusory; it is only a pale reflection of the world of Ideals, which is eternal, immutable, and genuine. Incompleteness theorem: Theorem discovered by the Austrian-American mathematician Kurt Gödel; it states that any arithmetic system contains undecidable propositions that can be neither proved nor disproved by means of the axioms
known as the theory of superstrings, has been proposed as this ultimate theory, allowing us to describe all the phenomena in the universe. According to this theory, particles aren't the fundamental elements, but are vibrations of infinitely small strings of energy, measuring 10-33 centimeters, which is none other than the Planck length. The length of one of these pieces of string in comparison to an atom is equivalent to the size of a tree compared to the universe. Particles of matter and light
determines a considerable effect that we cannot help but see. We then say that this was the result of chance. If we knew the laws of Nature exactly and the precise situation of the universe at the initial moment, we could then accurately predict the situation of this same universe at some future moment. But even if the laws of Nature held no more secrets for us, we could have only an approximate knowledge of the initial situation. If this allows us to predict a future situation with the same
more take advantage of the opportunities of a human existence. A man's intelligence can be used for destructive purposes, but it can also develop wide-ranging, impartial altruism, while an animal's cannot. The unique value of human existence is that it leads to suffering so great that we try to free ourselves from our condition, but not so crushing as to make it impossible to follow the spiritual path. The ability to think about ourselves is the sign of reflective consciousness, but looking for
happiness and fleeing suffering indicate a deeper aspect of consciousness. One of the Tibetan words for “animate beings” is drowa (literally “something that moves”). It refers to motion in a direction that's determined by a particular awareness. This motion can go from the simple tropism of an amoeba to a hermit's journey toward enlightenment, via the running of a deer or the work of our hands. Of course, there are exceptions, such as fixed animals (coral, mollusks, etc.), but in general this