The paradoxical nature of reality revealed in Buddhist philosophy of emptiness is that at its heart there is a fundamental disparity between the way we perceive the world, including our own existence in it, and the way things actually are. Each day we tend to relate the world and to ourselves as if these entities possess self-enclosed, definable, discrete, and enduring reality. However, according to the theory of emptiness this way of thinking is a fundamental error. According to the theory of emptiness any belief in an objective reality ground in the assumption of intrinsic, independent existence is untenable. Everything is dependent on something else. In order for something to be independent, intrinsic existence would imply that things and events are somehow complete unto themselves and are therefore entirely self-contained. The Dalai Lama also said that the notion of intrinsic, independent existence is incompatible with causation. This is because causation implies contingency and dependence, while anything that possesses independent existence would be immutable and self-enclosed.
The paradoxical nature of reality revealed in the philosophy of modern physics is shown through the principle of uncertainty. The uncertainty principle tells us we can never know at the same time what an electron does and where it is. This is different from classical physics, in which objects behave in a deterministic predictable manner. The uncertainty principle tells that the more we know of an electrons position the less we know of its momentum and vice versa. This is a paradox because we will never be able to know the particles position and its momentum both at once. It is always probabilistic. We will always need to guess one. Also way the paradoxical nature of modern physics is shown is through twins paradox of the special theory of relativity. The twin paradox says that if one twin were to fly abroad a spaceship at near the speed of light to a star 20 light years away and then return to earth, he will find his twin to be twenty years older than he is.
“Dependent (co-)origination” lies at the very heart of the Buddhist understanding of the world and the nature of our human existence. The principle of dependent origination can be understood in three ways. First, all conditioned thing and events in the world come into being only as a result of the interaction of causes and conditions. Second, there is a mutual dependence between parts and the whole; without parts there can be no whole, without a whole it makes no sense to speak of parts. Third, anything that exists and has an identity does so only within the total network of everything that has a possible or potential relation to it. No phenomenon exists with an independent or intrinsic identity. This challenges the “Big Bang” theory of origin of our universe because according to the “Big Bang” theory there was a big bang that occurred 12 to 15 billion years ago. This “Bang” couldn’t have occurred independently as nothing can happen without a cause. According to “dependent origination” all things and events in the world came into being as a result of the interaction go causes and conditions. This goes against the theory that the “Bang” occurred out of nowhere independently.
When I compare the Buddhist philosophy and cosmology presented in these selections to contemporary physics the primary similarity that I see is the paradox nature of both concepts. For example in Buddhist philosophy/cosmology everything appears to be independent, however it says that nothing is independent and everything is dependent and has a cause. Also when we look at the contemporary physics we have the view of classical and quantum physics. Where one gives us a definite location of objects and where the other gives us just an approximation/probability. The differences between these two theories is that in Buddhist philosophy/cosmology it says that there are multiple world systems, but also the idea that they are in a constant state of coming into being and passing away. There is no absolute beginning. If there were to be an absolute beginning this would be problematic because this leaves Buddhism with two options. One theism proposes that the universe is created by an intelligence that is totally transcendent and therefore outside the laws of cause and effect. The second option is that the universe came into being from no cause at all. Buddhism rejects both these options. However in contemporary physics it says that the big bang occurred once and it is not a cycle. There is an absolute beginning which is when the big bang started. Also in contemporary physics they do no believe that universe was created by an intelligent being.
My understanding is very different from that of the Dalai Lama. I believe that there is an intelligent being that created the universe. Whether it be through the big bang or some other means. When thinking of the creation of the universe there has to have been something that is eternal. Whether it be an intelligent creator/being or the universe. Something could have no come from nothing so I believe that in an intelligent being. I find the belief in several world systems compelling in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy/cosmology. The fact that Tibetan Buddhists believe that there are multiple world systems and a constant state of coming into being and passing away. What I did not find compelling was that they do no believe in an intelligent being that is totally transcendent and therefore outside the law of causes and effect. I think there has to be an intelligent being that is totally transcendent because there must have been a start to this universe by a cause.