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Causality on subatomic level

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Causality on subatomic level
Answer
3/24/11 6:57 AM
Hi All,

First post here. Absolutely brilliant site - have done nothing but read it over last 3 days!

I am a relatively new Buddhist and meditator of about 18 months and I am also not a physicist but my first question is this:

My understanding is that on the subatomic level causality does not exist. This seems to be a bit of a problem for realisation of cause and effect does it not? Or am I missing something obvious?

Thoughts very welcome.

Cheers,

Bagg

RE: Causality on subatomic level
Answer
3/24/11 7:38 AM as a reply to Baggins Oddie.
Baggins Oddie:

(1) My understanding is that on the subatomic level causality does not exist.

(2) This seems to be a bit of a problem for realisation of cause and effect does it not? Or am I missing something obvious?


(1) maybe that's the case, who knows? (2) no, it isn't, since "understanding cause and effect," in the context of meditation, has nothing to do with subatomic causality or lack of thereof.

RE: Causality on subatomic level
Answer
3/25/11 12:22 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Does mind cause the physical body? Or does the physical body cause the mind?
I think that's the parallel you are getting at. right?

I definitely think there's a parallel with science, although it quickly becomes an intellectual game. There's probably a lot of instances where bringing in labels and extra context doesn't really add much to experiencing this stuff. It's produces less anxiety to just take in each moment by moment :]

I just heard a good dharma talk, which the teacher mentioned four things the Buddha said are incomprehensible (or you'd just end up completely crazy thinking about it) I'm pretty sure this is one of those things! From what I remember its: powers of the buddha, limits of jhana states, the universe, and karma. (Don't quote me on that though)

...

But while I'm on this topic, here are a couple more parallels:

For instance, the creation of a separate self is in a way like einstein's relativity. You're giving a relative position to view the rest of the 'world' (or sensation)

The other theory is the anthropic principle which definitely stretches the standard definition of cause and effect. Essentially "you" exist first and that causes the rest of the universe to fit your existence.

And then of course there's quantum physics, which mixes in the observer with an external event. And the quantum collapse function as creating an illusion of continuity... etc etc

If anyone knows of a good book that relates these kind of parallels with buddhism, especially discussing jhana states, it could be entertaining to read. I find its helpful to sit a lot for some period of time, then think about buddhism and science for a while, then repeat. Of course it's best to drop context while practicing, but since it's a pretty impossible thing to do, if you keep a decent balance of cursiosity and questioning... often times the questions just go away

RE: Causality on subatomic level
Answer
3/25/11 4:58 AM as a reply to . Schwags.
Thanks to both replies.

I can understand that the question as I phrased it, is not related to practice and that practice is what's important.

I think my real question is: if there is no causality on subatomic level then that could mean that there might not be any ultimate causality either and that our view of causality existing is ultimately wrong.

This would mean the Buddha was wrong, or at least that there is a deeper level of truth re causality and its implications that the Buddha did not penetrate. Unlikely!

I'll just sit with the question and see what happens.

Thanks again.

RE: Causality on subatomic level
Answer
3/25/11 5:28 AM as a reply to Baggins Oddie.
HI Baggins Oddie -

If you apply good order to your hypotheses (set out to disprove both assumptions: causality does exist at a subatomic level; causality does not exist at a subatomic level), then you will have spent some of existence studying an expansive subject well. That can be a wonderful deliberation - giving a mental-personal joy.

I think my real question is: if there is no causality on subatomic level then that could mean that there might not be any ultimate causality either and that our view of causality existing is ultimately wrong.

This would mean the Buddha was wrong, or at least that there is a deeper level of truth re causality and its implications that the Buddha did not penetrate. Unlikely!


If/when you are practice-oriented, then, in my opinion, the brainy discursive parts of understanding causality benefit from direct awareness of causality - which you may already have, but you may be wanting to challenge this understanding cerebrally out of concern for deluding yourself.

Practice-orienation does not need, for example, any statement/view of "x-philosophy/religion is wrong".

I find that discursive reviews are, in fact, a form of practice - like following a good smell to the kitchen.

RE: Causality on subatomic level
Answer
4/1/11 1:07 AM as a reply to . ..
I find that discursive reviews are, in fact, a form of practice - like following a good smell to the kitchen.

haha That's a great phrase

To carry on the conversation.. is the following description along the lines of what you're thinking about? --

When you mention "ultimate" causality (verses "conventional" causality) this is a view of space where form doesn't take on discrete positions or even discrete states. Subatomic particles don't have definite positions in space.

However, in "conventional" space, things that exist can be broken down into discrete elements and have unique identities relative to things around them. Therefore it's easy to show how one "object" can depend on others through previous causes and conditions. Or in other words, this is the law of interdependence at a level useful for daily life.

But when you talk about interdependence at the ultimate level, it gets a little dicey. One viewpoint of the ultimate is that nothing unique or discrete exists (or doesn't exist).. so it's all in unity. and therefore no interdependence (or maybe full dependence?) Also if there's no linear causality then time doesn't exist, right? It's one of those fun zen things to think about

The Dali Lama has some excellent teachings of this philosophy, or check out Nagarjuna, or others. There's a lot of ways to try to make sense out of this and write about it

RE: Causality on subatomic level
Answer
4/2/11 12:59 PM as a reply to Baggins Oddie.
From what I have heard, many people have a problem with the concept of causality as it relates to time. They think the cause must happen before the effect. I remember this conversation I had with one of my friends:

"That's one of the brilliant ideas of kamma: Everything has causes in the past and causes in the present. Just because A causes B does not mean A has to have happened before B."

"But every event is both a cause and an effect. So even the causes that happen at the same time with their effect have their own causes in the past."

"Yes, but they also have some of their own causes in the present."

etc. etc., going around in circles, even though we both had the best of intentions and great respect for each other.

I think the whole idea of "cause and effect breaking down" really just means the idea/concept of time as the continuous, linear dimension by which cause and effect are ordered breaks down if you look at it too closely. The way physicists do their calculations, it's not time that breaks down, because they have defined time as a dimension of the nature of the real numbers. Instead it is the "natural order" of cause and effect, as expressed in the dimension of time, that breaks down in their calculations. This so-called "natural order" is just the misconception that the cause always precedes its effect.

From a Buddhist perspective, we understand that the concept of time is not an ultimate reality. Therefore there is no need for "the natural order of cause and effect" to break down, as long as we allow time to break down. What we see in meditation is not how the ultimate/absolute concept of time allows reality to unfold the way it does, always changing; but rather we see that reality always changes, and from that change, the mind extracts the concept of time.