Discovering the Profoundness of Buddhism through a Scientific Experiment

Author: Dwight Chien

In 1801, Thomas Young, an English scientist, performed the Double Slit Experiment and proved light exhibits the characteristics of wave. More than a century later, in 1927, scientists (Davisson & Germerperformed the Double Slit Experiment using electrons. Later on, other scientists also performed the Double Slit Experiment using atoms, positrons, neutrons, and photons. In 2013, molecules made up of 810 atoms, with molecular weight larger than 10,000 were also used. In these experiments spanning more than a century since 1927, the scientists all made the same and very unique discovery: They found these micro-particles all exhibit the characteristics of both particles and waves.

After passing through the double slits, the micro particles showed the Interference Pattern, which is characteristic of waves that could not be observed by using traditional particles like stones, beads, or sands. Traditional particles would only exhibit two slits on the detector screen, without additional images of the double slit on both sides of the slits like waves. When numerous micro particles hit the double slits at the same time, the detector screen would immediately show the interference pattern. When micro particles are thrown through the double slits one by one, the interference pattern would also show up, however, only gradually. (Numerous particles passing through the double slits and immediately produce interference pattern is the characteristics of waves. When micro particles are thrown through the double slits one by one, the detector screen would also show spots one by one. This is characteristic of particles. Yet, upon accumulation, the interference pattern would show up.)

Although eventually the interference pattern would appear, the spots on the detector screen are accumulated one by one in a random order. The disorder can be predicted by the Uncertainty Principle proposed by Heisenberg in 1927, the same year modern Quantum Mechanics was born.

However, when scientists set up, in addition to the detector screen, another detector next to the double slits to observe through which slit the particle passes, an even more astonishing results appeared: The interference pattern characteristics of waves disappeared. The detector screen only detects two slits, no additional images.  To explain this unusual phenomenon, quantum scientists came up with the term called “Quantum Entanglement”.

Although scientists can explain these phenomena by Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Entanglement, they are not able to explain why these phenomena occur. For those interested, please view the following video, which describes the Double Slits Experiment:

Now, let’s discuss the possible explanations for these phenomena based on Buddhism.

First, let’s read the passage in Avatamsaka Sutra describing what the Buddha said when he attained enlightenment: “How strange, how strange! All beings possess the wisdom of buddhas. It is just because of delusion and attachments, they are unable to realize it.” It is important to point out “All beings” had always been translated into “All sentient beings” by the translators in the past. Yet, in the original Chinese text it does not specify “sentient beings”, but only “beings”. It was translated into “sentient beings” by the translators based on their understanding of the text. “Beings” can include the sentient beings and all other beings that do not have consciousness. Also “delusion” had often been translated into “deluded thinking”, which can only come from sentient beings, while all beings can be in delusion and can be in attachments. When scientists installed a detector next to the double slits, the micro-particles would lose the wave characteristics whether the scientists are present or absent. We all know the detector and the micro-particles are “beings”, not “sentient beings”. It is simply because all beings possess the wisdom of buddhas that they would have this unusual interaction. With the insights we have gained based on this unusual discovery, we can now understand better when we study Buddhism. Some texts that used to be difficult to discern now become obvious. This experiment also tells us the teaching of the Buddha is far ahead of our science. 

As discussed earlier, quantum scientists came up with a new term “Quantum Entanglement” to describe this phenomenon. However, their scope is very limited. Therefore, I would like to propose using “Super-Consciousness Communication” to explain this phenomenon. Human consciousness naturally would be accompanied by “super-consciousness”. This is why a highly spiritual person can influence his/her environment and the people around him/her. This is also why a deity would know what common folks are thinking of. A detector or micro-particle does not have consciousness. However, based on this experiment, they clearly have “super-consciousness”, which comes into existence because they all possess the wisdom of buddhas. It is because of the “super-consciousness”, the particles would sense the presence of the detector, and lose the wave characteristics.

Regarding the dual characteristics of wave and particle, which has been puzzling the scientists all these times, we can also find the answer in the “Heart Sutra” written more than 2,500 years ago. The following is an excerpt from Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra: ”…form is no other than emptiness, and emptiness no other than form. Form is precisely emptiness, and emptiness precisely form. Also are sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness.” Similar to this excerpt, we can also say “micro-particle is no other than wave, and wave no other than micro-particle. Micro-particle is precisely wave, and wave precisely micro-particle.” Again, we can see the teaching of the Buddha is far ahead of our science.

How about the accumulation of the particles forming the interference pattern? How can that be interpreted by Buddhism? We know it is said in the “Diamond Sutra”: “…without arising the idea of self, of persons, of beings, of life-spam…”. The idea of self is the subjective self. The idea of persons is referring to the objects that the ”self” interacts. The idea of beings is referring to all beings, thus, the three-dimensional apace. The idea of life-spam is referring to the past, the present, and the future in time. Thus, the reality is there is no time or space. We already know when numerous micro-particles hit the double slits at once, it would generate interference pattern. By comparison, the micro-particles hitting the double slits one by one is different only in space and time. Yet, as indicated by the Diamond Sutra, in reality there is no time or space. Therefore, the accumulation of the particles to form the interference pattern should not be a surprise. Again, we can see the teaching of the Buddha is far ahead of our science.

In addition to the above that show the teaching of the Buddha is far ahead of our science, we often may find more examples in our daily life. Our universe, for instance, the scientists now all agree it came from the “Big Bang”. The diameter of our universe is measured at about 93 billion light-years. Meanwhile, in 1998, astronomers have discovered “the velocity at which a distant galaxy is receding from the observer is continuously increasing with time.” It is difficult for them to explain this phenomenon. After the Big Bang, the universe is expanding at a certain speed. The expanding speed should eventually slow down due to the gravity by the nucleus of the Big Bang.  Therefore, the speed of the expansion can only decrease and can never increase. Yet, through the teaching of the Buddha, this phenomenon can still be understood. While above us is the sky, and beneath our feet is the earth, the Buddha told us the empty space in the north, the east, the south, the west, the 4 corners, the above, and the below is imaginable. Since the space has no limits, then even when the diameter of our universe is measured at about 93 billion light-years, the empty space can still be more than hundreds, thousands, millions, even trillions of times bigger than our universe. In such a vast empty space, it is naïve to think only our universe exists. The Buddha also told us in the Amitabha Sutra, in the north, the east, the south, the west, the 4 corners, the above, and the below, immeasurable numbers of buddhas exist. Therefore, we can easily come up with a speculation that the galaxy speed is accelerating because it has expanded into within the gravity of the nearby universe. If astronomers would explore the universe through this concept, they probably would be able to verify it. Eventually, they might come up with the conclusion that our “Universe” is but one of numerous universes exist in the “Pan-Universe”.

Further for example, zoologists had observed, a major discovery by monkeys in one isolated island, would soon also be discovered by the monkeys in the nearby isolated islands. They could not explain it. Additionally, for example, there are many camouflage insects or animals with their appearance very similar to the environment. The scientists do not know how that could come about. In Buddhism, however, we know this is the outcome of the “Shared Karma” with the aid of the “Super-Consciousness Communication” described above.

We all agree Albert Einstein is probably the most extraordinary scientist in our time. After him, we probably would think Stephen Hawking is the best. Coincidently, they both think Buddhism is the most scientific religion in the world (Although strictly speaking, if you understand Buddhism, you would know Buddhism is not a religion). Yet, they have not studied and explored Buddhism in depth by science. Many people in the world do not understand or even misunderstand Buddhism at the present time. We hope in the future, many scientists would study Buddhism by scientific experiments, and eventually they may come up with the conclusion that they don’t understand Buddhism simply because the teaching of the Buddha is far ahead of our science.


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