Undoubtedly, the most profound and surprising feature of quantum mechanics is the principle of nonlocality – that objects cannot be confined to limited regions of space and time and that their connection to the rest of the universe is more important than their isolated existence…. In other words, nonlocality is a deep truth about the universe that any future replacement for
With equal certainty, the most fundamental philosophic view within Tibetan Buddhism is the Middle Way view of emptiness. It too is both profound and surprising that objects appear one way but actually exist in very different ways. Perhaps what is more startling is that nonlocality and the Middle Way emptiness deeply concur on the nature of reality, not just in broad outline, but in the details…. It is important to be clear about how we normally view objects – whether as posts or as our own personality. If we are not clear about this point – that objects appear to exist from their own side, are findable upon analysis, or that they independently exist – we will never understand emptiness. Because this point is so critical, let us consider another example.
I take a break from working at the computer and go to the kitchen for a drink of water. On the windowsill above the sink is a polished stone, given to me as a gift. This beautifully colored, weighty stone feels very satisfying in my hand. Everybody who handles it loves that smooth, solid weight, which nestles so well in the palm. If anything exists on its own side, this beautiful stone does. If anything exists independently of my knowing or interacting with it, it must be this stone. Before it was given to me and well after I have died, that stone will exist in its own independent way. You do not have to do any fancy analysis or strain to find it when it rests comfortably and solidly in your hand. Clearly, it independently or inherently exists.
Causes And Conditions
It is important to define with care what emptiness denies. If we too broadly define inherent or independent existence, nihilism follows – then nothing exists. On the other hand, if we too narrowly define it, substantialism results – then persons and objects have a substantial, immutable nature, something vigorously denied by our everyday experience and the Buddhist principle of impermanence. We, therefore, must carefully avoid these extremes that the Middle Way considers philosophic crimes. The Middle Way is not blending of the two extremes but a thoroughgoing refutation of both. Middle Way Buddhists claim that fully assimilating the doctrine of emptiness frees us from the suffering of samsara, the beginningless and inevitable round of birth, ageing, suffering and death. The exalted condition of the Buddha, the fully exalted enlightened one, means that we transcend all pairs of opposites: then samsara and nirvana are not different.
Fully assimilating emptiness transforms us from self-centred individuals shrouded in ignorance to completely enlightened buddhas, who embody wisdom and compassion. The Middle Way position spends an enormous amount of philosophic effort showing that our instinctive belief in independent existence is wrong, that there is no such independent or inherent existence to posts, stones or people…. First, the Middle Way position argues that the post lacks independent existence because it depends upon innumerable causes and conditions. For example, the post depends upon the tree from which it was sawn, the wood preservative injected into it, the concrete in which it sits; the fact that it has not been struck by lightning; its location in my yard, and more. The post does not exist in a vacuum but is deeply related to and dependent upon its prior causes, conditions, and environment.
Similarly, the stone exists in dependence upon ancient geological processes that generated its chemical composition, swirling patterns of color and texture. Then, the stone was tumbled for days along with other stones and some abrasive materials to make it smooth. A huge number of people and pieces of equipment transported the stone, displayed it in a store, sold it to the gift giver and so forth. Then a properly functioning sense of touch, musculature, and coordination from hand and arm are needed for that satisfying feeling the stone gives when in your hand. This stone may seem to exist on its own right, independently of interacting with anything outside itself, but it too required many outside factors to make it the object we experience today.
Second, the post depends upon its parts and the whole of these parts – the wood, its exact shape, color, its concrete base, location and so forth, along with the collection and relationship of these parts.
Yet, the Middle Way argues that, if we examine any of those parts on its own or the whole collection of them together, we could not find any independently existing post among them. The stone too depends upon its exact chemical composition, the precise shape, beautifully blended colors, and the harmonious way these all relate. Analysis shows that, if we examine any of these elements that make up the stone or the collection of them together, we cannot find that stone that independently exists or an inherently existent stone. ~ ॐ ~