How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

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Jeff H
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Jeff H » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:58 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
You cited Tsongkhapa:

    Even reality, the ultimate truth, has no intrinsic nature at all.

Again, this is the assertion that the ultimate is a nonexistence.

I don't think LTK is defining ultimate truth as a non-existent. He says inherent existence cannot be found when analyzed by reason. It is this irrationally imposed inherency which is non-existent. Rational analysis can only address rational objects. We can prove, rationally, that there is not, has not been, and could never be any inherently existing thing. That does not posit non-existence as the nature of ultimate truth; it simply points out that inherency is no truth at all, neither relative nor ultimate, and takes it out of the equation.


Is the nonexistence of the true existence of things, the emptiness which is the absence of inherent existence, ultimate truth or not?

In Tsongkhapa's system he very clearly defines the nonexistence of the true existence of things, the emptiness which is the absence of inherent existence, as ultimate truth.

How can you then claim that Tsongkhapa is not advocating this nonexistence as the ultimate?

Rational analysis doesn't establish what a thing is. It establishes that ultimately a thing is empty of self-nature. The fact that we have previously misapprehended things to exist inherently, then discover that's impossible, does not ultimately define the thing as that non-existent inherency. Only the inherency is negated. This is a two-step method. Merely negating inherency is not the final answer.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby pael » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:00 pm

What is difference between eel-wriggling and tetralemma?
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Kenneth Chan
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:12 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jeff H wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
You cited Tsongkhapa:

    Even reality, the ultimate truth, has no intrinsic nature at all.

Again, this is the assertion that the ultimate is a nonexistence.

I don't think LTK is defining ultimate truth as a non-existent. He says inherent existence cannot be found when analyzed by reason. It is this irrationally imposed inherency which is non-existent. Rational analysis can only address rational objects. We can prove, rationally, that there is not, has not been, and could never be any inherently existing thing. That does not posit non-existence as the nature of ultimate truth; it simply points out that inherency is no truth at all, neither relative nor ultimate, and takes it out of the equation.

Is the nonexistence of the true existence of things, the emptiness which is the absence of inherent existence, ultimate truth or not?

In Tsongkhapa's system he very clearly defines the nonexistence of the true existence of things, the emptiness which is the absence of inherent existence, as ultimate truth.

How can you then claim that Tsongkhapa is not advocating this nonexistence as the ultimate?

The fact that all things are empty of inherent existence is an ultimate truth. The term "ultimate truth," however, does not mean only this fact. Also, we have to be careful with using the phrase "nonexistence of true existence" to represent the "emptiness of inherent existence" because "nonexistence of true existence" can so easily be misunderstood simply as nonexistence.

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Matt J
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:14 pm

What about that eel wriggling about how external objects conventionally arise?

Malcolm wrote:
Hahahahah, very funny Jeff. But this kind of eel-wriggling has never been allowed since the time of the Buddha. :-)
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:17 pm

Matt J wrote:What about that eel wriggling about how external objects conventionally arise?

Malcolm wrote:
Hahahahah, very funny Jeff. But this kind of eel-wriggling has never been allowed since the time of the Buddha. :-)

From the "Buddhahood in This Life" thread, but also germane to this one:
Malcolm wrote:Dzogchen is based on the idea, found in some Sarma tantras as well, that all phenomena are included in potentiality (rtsal) of ye shes when the basis arises from the basis. When the potential of ye shes is misperceived, this is rnam shes and this in turn cases samsara. When it is correctly perceived (i.e. shes rab) as one's own state, this is the cause for nirvana.
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Kenneth Chan
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:
pael wrote:Could you tell difference between Sanjaya's eel-wriggling and Nagarjuna's tetralemma?
In Samannaphala Sutta (DN 2), Sanjaya is recorded as saying:

'If you ask me if there exists another world [after death], if I thought that there exists another world, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not. If you asked me if there isn't another world... both is and isn't... neither is nor isn't... if there are beings who transmigrate... if there aren't... both are and aren't... neither are nor aren't... if the Tathagata exists after death... doesn't... both... neither exists nor exists after death, would I declare that to you? I don't think so. I don't think in that way. I don't think otherwise. I don't think not. I don't think not not.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanjaya_Belatthiputta

Most def.

Malcolm, can you tell us how you interpret the tetralemma, since I understand that you do not accept Lama Tsongkhapa's interpretation?

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Matt J
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:44 pm

I can't find it now, but Malcolm once said Dzogchen doesn't address the issue squarely, but there are two potential explanations: a yogacara madhyamaka and a svatantrika one.

smcj wrote:
Matt J wrote:What about that eel wriggling about how external objects conventionally arise?

Malcolm wrote:

Hahahahah, very funny Jeff. But this kind of eel-wriggling has never been allowed since the time of the Buddha. :-)

From the "Buddhahood in This Life" thread, but also germane to this one:
Malcolm wrote:Dzogchen is based on the idea, found in some Sarma tantras as well, that all phenomena are included in potentiality (rtsal) of ye shes when the basis arises from the basis. When the potential of ye shes is misperceived, this is rnam shes and this in turn cases samsara. When it is correctly perceived (i.e. shes rab) as one's own state, this is the cause for nirvana.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:00 pm

Sorry. I was just trying to avoid clicking on CNN. That's not good motivation. I'll leave you guys to it.
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Matt J
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:52 am

Matt J wrote:I can't find it now, but Malcolm once said Dzogchen doesn't address the issue squarely, but there are two potential explanations: a yogacara madhyamaka and a svatantrika one.


Found it:

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 0&start=40

Malcolm wrote:There are two answers to this question in Dzogchen.

a) external phenomena are projections of minds. A mind is capable of projecting an appearance for another mind: classical example, the woman who meditates on herself as a tigresss and terrifies her village.

b) external phenomena are a result of causes and conditions; their appearance is a result of traces -- for example, the liquid that has six different appearances according to how it is perceived by beings of the six realms.

As far as the latter is concerned, Longchenpa observes that phenomena are not mental factors, as in yogacara.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/

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Matt J
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:53 am

Matt J wrote:I can't find it now, but Malcolm once said Dzogchen doesn't address the issue squarely, but there are two potential explanations: a yogacara madhyamaka and a svatantrika one.


Found it:

http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 0&start=40

Malcolm wrote:There are two answers to this question in Dzogchen.

a) external phenomena are projections of minds. A mind is capable of projecting an appearance for another mind: classical example, the woman who meditates on herself as a tigresss and terrifies her village.

b) external phenomena are a result of causes and conditions; their appearance is a result of traces -- for example, the liquid that has six different appearances according to how it is perceived by beings of the six realms.

As far as the latter is concerned, Longchenpa observes that phenomena are not mental factors, as in yogacara.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/

Kenneth Chan
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:59 am

Matt J wrote:
Matt J wrote:I can't find it now, but Malcolm once said Dzogchen doesn't address the issue squarely, but there are two potential explanations: a yogacara madhyamaka and a svatantrika one.

Found it: viewtopic.php?t=5080&start=40

Malcolm wrote:There are two answers to this question in Dzogchen.

a) external phenomena are projections of minds. A mind is capable of projecting an appearance for another mind: classical example, the woman who meditates on herself as a tigresss and terrifies her village.

b) external phenomena are a result of causes and conditions; their appearance is a result of traces -- for example, the liquid that has six different appearances according to how it is perceived by beings of the six realms.

As far as the latter is concerned, Longchenpa observes that phenomena are not mental factors, as in yogacara.

Now, how is this really any different from the Madhyamaka interpretation of Lama Tsongkhapa? Actually it sounds the same, only presented in a different way. According to Lama Tsongkhapa, all phenomena are empty of inherent existence because they only arise in dependence upon causes and conditions, and in dependence upon the mind that imputes it.

Also, like Prasangika Madhyamaka, it fits very well with the formulation of quantum mechanics. The causes and conditions would correspond to the quantum wave function, which is merely a mathematical construct that provides a probability distribution of possible ways the particle could manifest if and only if it is observed by a conscious mind. In other words, without the mind playing a role, the particle does not manifest at all. Or, in the words of Werner Heisenberg, it is only the act of observation that causes the transition from the "possible" to the "actual."

Here is another post, from that other thread on Dzogchen, that sounds just like the Madhyamaka interpretation of Lama Tsongkhapa:

Malcolm wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
padma norbu wrote:Anyone who wants to get a better understanding should buy The Supreme Source and read page 95 (of course, reading everything before that would be a good idea, too, as well as everything after it).

Partly what I am trying to understand is how to read that book as not positing that there is an ineffable, non-graspable primordial basis of all existence that is spontaneously self-luminous and the source of dharmakaya, inlcuding the mountain and the mind, not simply as concepts, but in the literal sense of sourcing and pervading the entire dimension of reality, hence "The Supreme Source".
Can you suggest anything that would help me put that book in context?

First of all "mind" here is short for "awakened mind" i.e. bodhicitta or the nature of the mind. It does pervade all of your own appearances. It is an all=creating king because all appearances are constructed by your mind and come from your mind, thus it is a king since it is the dominates all of this constructive activity. It's nature is inexpressible since it is empty from the very beginning and not established as something ultimately real in its own right.

According to Prasangika Madhyamaka, mind is also empty of inherent existence. All "external phenomena" are, likewise, empty of inherent existence because they are dependent upon the mind that imputes them (as well as being dependent on causes and conditions). In other words, they exist in mere name only, meaning to say that they are imputations by the mind, which basically also means that "all appearances are constructed by your mind and come from your mind."

So how is all this not the same as the Madhyamaka interpretation by Lama Tsongkhapa, other than in the manner of presentation? Lama Tsongkhapa just presents it in a very intellectually rigorous way, and that to me is testament to his wonderful genius and advanced realization.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:11 am

Again, it's worth bearing in mind that in the debates about what is real in this thread, there have been regular appeals to arguments based on supernatural abilities. Some examples:

A mind is capable of projecting an appearance for another mind: classical example, the woman who meditates on herself as a tigress and terrifies her village.


When Candrakīrti was distracted, in front of a student he bumped into a pillar. When he was not distracted, in front of the same student he passed his hand right through the pillar.


Someone who has realized emptiness does not need a pot to boil water.


a liquid entity appears in six different ways to the beings of the six different realms, an appearance conventionally valid for one is invalid for the rest. Water is real for a human but not a hell being. We cannot therefore say that appearances are real.


So when it is argued that ordinary objects (pots, and the like) don't 'really exist', I think this ought to be understood as being informed by a philosophy which recognises other realms of being. Without that assumed background, then it makes no sense to question the reality of everyday objects, because there's nothing to compare 'the domain of ordinary experience' with. This is especially true for physics, which is thoroughly informed by 'methodological naturalism', i.e. the rejection of any influences beyond the sensory domain.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:27 am

The examples hold as illustrations, whether or not you accept the abilities. For a Western view, we can look at Pyrrhonism, Hume, and Berkeley.

Plus, even scientific materialists would agree--- what we see is a projection of consciousness. The world doesn't have any color. Color is an image created by the brain. B. Allan Wallace calls it "dreaming with conditions."

Wayfarer wrote:Again, it's worth bearing in mind that in the debates about what is real in this thread, there have been regular appeals to arguments based on supernatural abilities. Some examples:
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby smcj » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:46 am

My apologies for having disrupted the thread.

The subject that was being discussed was LTK's Madhyamaka vs. Chandrakirti's. Introducing Dzogchen ideas into that discussion is comparing apples and oranges.

Going back to before I so rudely interrupted, what Malcolm had not done is put forward what he thinks is the correct understanding of what he claims LTK gets wrong.

I'll bow out now. I'm on a self-imposed DW diet.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:47 am

Matt J wrote: even scientific materialists would agree--- what we see is a projection of consciousness. The world doesn't have any color. Color is an image created by the brain. B. Allan Wallace calls it "dreaming with conditions."


No, materialists don't agree with that. Nor do scientific realists. As far as materialists are concerned, the fact that colour is 'created by the brain' is not an argument against materialism, because the brain is a material organ, and our experiences are the byproducts of dumb stuff just doing what it does. (Berkeley's stated mission in life was to argue against materialism, and B Allan Wallace is a Buddhist, so they're in no way representative of materialism.)

All I'm pointing out is that these arguments about 'the nature of the existence of the objects of ordinary perception' are being held against a background, or in the context, of the Buddhist understanding, which is 'multi-dimensional' in a way that secular thinking can never be. So when it is said that 'X has no inherent existence' - what is 'inherent existence'? What is svabhava? This is metaphysics.
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:03 am

Wayfarer wrote:Again, it's worth bearing in mind that in the debates about what is real in this thread, there have been regular appeals to arguments based on supernatural abilities. Some examples:
A mind is capable of projecting an appearance for another mind: classical example, the woman who meditates on herself as a tigress and terrifies her village.

When Candrakīrti was distracted, in front of a student he bumped into a pillar. When he was not distracted, in front of the same student he passed his hand right through the pillar.

Someone who has realized emptiness does not need a pot to boil water.

a liquid entity appears in six different ways to the beings of the six different realms, an appearance conventionally valid for one is invalid for the rest. Water is real for a human but not a hell being. We cannot therefore say that appearances are real.

So when it is argued that ordinary objects (pots, and the like) don't 'really exist', I think this ought to be understood as being informed by a philosophy which recognises other realms of being. Without that assumed background, then it makes no sense to question the reality of everyday objects, because there's nothing to compare 'the domain of ordinary experience' with. This is especially true for physics, which is thoroughly informed by 'methodological naturalism', i.e. the rejection of any influences beyond the sensory domain.

Actually, it is not true that Madhyamika philosophy relies on supernatural considerations. To begin with, the Madhyamaka presentation by Lama Tsongkhapa does not rely on the need to recognise other realms of being. This does not mean that they do not exist; it only means that his Madhyamaka presentation holds even if you do not accept the presence of these other realms. Lama Tsongkhapa's presentation of Madhyamaka also does not rely on the need to cite supernatural abilities. Not at all. Note that none of those examples you cite come from explanations used by Lama Tsongkhapa.

Furthermore, quantum physics actually provides evidence that the Madhyamaka view of reality is correct, and this does not require the need to consider influences beyond the sensory domain. In the formulation of quantum mechanics, the role of the conscious observer is crucial - to the extent that the formulation would not even make sense without the observer. And this supports the Prasangika Madhyamaka view that all things are empty of inherent existence because they only arise in dependence upon the mind that apprehends them (as well as in dependence on causes and conditions).

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:25 am

smcj wrote:My apologies for having disrupted the thread.

The subject that was being discussed was LTK's Madhyamaka vs. Chandrakirti's. Introducing Dzogchen ideas into that discussion is comparing apples and oranges.

Going back to before I so rudely interrupted, what Malcolm had not done is put forward what he thinks is the correct understanding of what he claims LTK gets wrong.

I'll bow out now. I'm on a self-imposed DW diet.

smcj, you are most welcome to comment on this thread any time. However, I really disagree with your idea that "introducing Dzogchen ideas into that discussion is comparing apples and oranges." That is not the case at all. They are just different presentations pertaining to the same spiritual path. In both cases, it involves a combination of wisdom and compassion. Different approaches suit different people, but they lead to the same ultimate goal.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who is an expert on Madhyamaka, actually gave teachings compiled in a book entitled "Dzogchen." It is definitely not a case of comparing apples and oranges. They are just different perspectives.

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Matt J » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:36 am

Most materialists I know are not naive realists, but to each their own.

Wayfarer wrote:
Matt J wrote: even scientific materialists would agree--- what we see is a projection of consciousness. The world doesn't have any color. Color is an image created by the brain. B. Allan Wallace calls it "dreaming with conditions."


No, materialists don't agree with that. Nor do scientific realists. As far as materialists are concerned, the fact that colour is 'created by the brain' is not an argument against materialism, because the brain is a material organ, and our experiences are the byproducts of dumb stuff just doing what it does. (Berkeley's stated mission in life was to argue against materialism, and B Allan Wallace is a Buddhist, so they're in no way representative of materialism.)

All I'm pointing out is that these arguments about 'the nature of the existence of the objects of ordinary perception' are being held against a background, or in the context, of the Buddhist understanding, which is 'multi-dimensional' in a way that secular thinking can never be. So when it is said that 'X has no inherent existence' - what is 'inherent existence'? What is svabhava? This is metaphysics.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/

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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:57 am

Kenneth Chan wrote:Actually, it is not true that Madhyamika philosophy relies on supernatural considerations.


Are you familiar with the traditional account of how Nāgārjuna retrieved the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras?

In the traditional Bhavachakra (which I'm sure is orthodox for all Tibetan schools) where in relation to the 'six realms' are the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas depicted?

Kenneth Chan wrote:Lama Tsongkhapa's presentation of Madhyamaka also does not rely on the need to cite supernatural abilities.


I didn't say it was - but I think the presumption of a domain 'beyond nature' is intrinsic to Buddhism from the outset; 'emptiness' (śūnyatā) is a religious philosophy. (Which is why I don't believe that 'naturalised' versions of Buddhism, such as those of Owen Flanagan or Stephen Bachelor, hold up.)

Kenneth Chan wrote:quantum physics actually provides evidence that the Madhyamaka view of reality is correct


Only insofar as QM undermines scientific realism and philosophical materialism. But the compatability with Buddhist philosophy, is also true of a number of forms of Eastern philosophy, not just Madhyamika. Physics itself has lead to major historical shift or turning-point in the 'Western' understanding or view of reality, which has developed into a crisis, and Buddhism certainly is able to address that crisis on a philosophical level. But I still think the title of the OP is incorrect - as I said before, 'accomodating' is not the same as 'solving'.

In any case, from what I can glean of Tsonghkapa's presentation of madhyamika, I think I'm inclined to agree with what he says, but I probably need to read more. (I notice the Elizabeth Napper book that was mentioned earlier is available at my Uni library, I might get hold of it.)
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Re: How Madhyamika Philosophy Solves the Mystery of Quantum Physics

Postby Kenneth Chan » Sat Jan 21, 2017 3:58 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Matt J wrote: even scientific materialists would agree--- what we see is a projection of consciousness. The world doesn't have any color. Color is an image created by the brain. B. Allan Wallace calls it "dreaming with conditions."

No, materialists don't agree with that. Nor do scientific realists. As far as materialists are concerned, the fact that colour is 'created by the brain' is not an argument against materialism, because the brain is a material organ, and our experiences are the byproducts of dumb stuff just doing what it does. (Berkeley's stated mission in life was to argue against materialism, and B Allan Wallace is a Buddhist, so they're in no way representative of materialism.)

All I'm pointing out is that these arguments about 'the nature of the existence of the objects of ordinary perception' are being held against a background, or in the context, of the Buddhist understanding, which is 'multi-dimensional' in a way that secular thinking can never be. So when it is said that 'X has no inherent existence' - what is 'inherent existence'? What is svabhava? This is metaphysics.

One of the key reasons why I wrote my paper on quantum mechanics (http://kenneth-chan.com/physics/direct- ... mechanics/) is to show that materialism is actually incompatible with quantum physics. Scientists need to finally acknowledge what their own science is now telling them, and that is that consciousness has a crucial and indispensable role to play in our science and in our reality.


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