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Buddhism and quantum physics

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Arjuna Seneviratne kicks off this week’s Fine cover story with physics, but in essence the article is about Buddhism. It gets one thinking about the uncanny similarities between quantum physics and Buddhism.

The Buddha knowledge of the six worlds; the seeing world, the hearing, smelling, tasting, the touching world and thinking world is, even now with all the quantum physics still unparalleled. There are no other worlds than these six, and no science can find other worlds. The Buddha understood how they arise and cease.

Through the Loka Vidhu (omniscient) nature of the Buddha, He described ‘Rupa kalapa’ or matter zones, which consists of four basic elements: ‘Patavi’, ‘apo’, ‘thejo’ and ‘vayo’. In fact ‘Rupa kalapa’ is the smallest form of matter yet in existence, a super small particle, smaller than the atom. Their existence is explained in Abhidhamma as being very brief.

‘Everything is consisting of vast amount of basic units called ‘Rupa-kalapa’. A rock, an atom, an electron, light or anything is just vast amount of Rupa-kalapas. Everything in the universe isn’t permanent. So Rupa-kalapa also isn’t permanent. It takes only a very short time for the Rupa-kalapa to come into being (uthpada), exist (sthithi) and destroy (bhanga). When a Rupa-kalapa is being destroying it gives birth to another Rupa-kalapas. As result of this for a given particle or object there is no significant change of the matter over short time. Object or particle is always changing over time but we consider as the same object.’ (According to Lord Buddha what is the smallest particle everything consist of? – A Manual of Abhidhamma)

The atom is the smallest particle said scientists a few decades ago, no further division is possible they said. It took them another few decades to realize that the atom can be further separated to sub-atomic particles: proton, neutron and electron.

Twenty first century scientists have still not abandoned their hunt for a super small particle.  
Very recently an extremely short-lived particle, comprising both matter and antimatter, was discovered, which goes to prove that what the Buddha said more than two millennia ago is in the process of being explained scientifically, finally.

The 28 types of rupa are not found separately in nature. They are produced by the four causes in the form of tiny material groups called kalapas. Kalapas have the following four features:

All the rupas in a kalapa arise together; they have a common genesis.
They also cease or dissolve together; they have a common cessation.

They all depend on the four great essentials present in the kalapa for their arising; they have a common dependence.
They are so thoroughly mixed that they cannot be distinguished; they co-exist.

2. It should be noted that kalapas are so small that they are indistinguishable from pure energy. The ultimate rupa is formless and massless.
 (Grouping of Matter. Pure Dhamma)
Hundreds of books have been written on the subject. But this is a feature best left for another week.

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