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The Zen of Quantum Physics

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with two topics, Zen, and quantum physics. Along the way, there have been many things that have caught my fancy, from writers, filmmakers, philosophers, and psychologists. But I always come back to Zen and physics, especially quantum physics.

I don’t pretend that this essay is original, many have written on the topic with much more authority than me. Even though I have no scientific background, I will try and delve a little more deeply than books like The Secret with the topical quotes from ‘international coaches and speakers’ like (I am paraphrasing) “new discoveries in quantum physics prove that our thoughts create our realities” or from Ig Nobel prize winner Deepak Chopra for this brilliant piece of writing, which I found on Wikipedia,

“Quantum healing is healing the body-mind from a quantum level. That means from a level which is not manifest at a sensory level. Our bodies ultimately are fields of information, intelligence, and energy. Quantum healing involves a shift in the fields of energy information, so as to bring about a correction in an idea that has gone wrong. So quantum healing involves healing one mode of consciousness, mind, to bring about changes in another mode of consciousness, body.”

I think he was really burning the midnight oil, (and maybe some other substances) when he wrote that one. It is extremely easy to fall into ridiculous clichés when discussing these topics, but by doing so they lose all their mystery. Somehow, the subatomic world of quarks, photons, and electrons is as wonderful as the Big Bang and Black Holes, Haikus and the Bodhidharma.

While classical physics and even Relativity are understandable, if vaguely sometimes, the quantum mysteries are still mysteries for even the physicists themselves, and that I find very appealing. The key mystery for each human being is the origin and destiny of their own essence and what is our essence other than our consciousness? Consciousness, personal and impersonal, is the key to Zen. To become enlightened is to leave your personal consciousness and enter the universal consciousness. You realize you are not a pinky, but part of an entire body. Easy to conceptualize but very, very difficult to feel completely.

In quantum theory, subatomic particles exist in probability waves and are only defined when “something conscious” observes them. Otherwise, they are everywhere and nowhere. This may be a simplification, but it captures the essence of the enigma. The famous phrase from Einstein about God not rolling the dice comes from this mystery. Einstein wanted a deterministic universe, but unfortunately, he didn’t get it. Schrodinger summed it up in his famous thought experiment about whether the cat is dead or alive. The thought experiment helps us to focus on the mystery of state. What state is the cat in before someone observes? It’s not clear.

Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum theory, wrote:

“One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small that perhaps in the course of the hour, one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges, and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself, it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks”

Image Wikipedia

Basically, the cat is neither alive nor dead till someone observes it. I love the last sentence. It captures the essence of quantum theory. The theory is clear, but the laws are ‘murky’ as Schrodinger puts it.

Applied quantum theory works wonderfully; it has enabled much technological advancement from microchips to lasers. There is no debate about whether it works or not. It is real. Most scientists spend their time on the practical applications and leave the “spooky” part to others. What has fascinated me is the idea that our consciousness plays an active role in creating reality. No one imagines the world will end when they die. It clearly continues once our consciousness disappears in death (I will assume here it does).

As a young history student, I was always fascinated by Calvin’s concept of pre-destination. I found it disturbing that we had no choice in the final outcome. God was all knowing, hence he knew before he created us whether we would be saved or not. In a sense, Einstein was a Calvinist, and the Niels Bohr, the principal figure in quantum theory, was a Catholic. The Catholic Church disputed the predestination theory, arguing the sacraments allowed a person to ‘choose’. A photon can be a particle, or it can be a wave. What converts it from wave to particle is some ways appears to be conscious observation.

The riddle of Zen is a different one. By ‘being’ the conscious observer, we ‘lose our consciousness’. The greatest obstacle to enlightenment is the ego. Zen also has its own thought experiments, Koans in the Rinzai tradition. A Koan is something that one meditates on, with the hope that at some point, the conscious egoic mind tires and breaks down and the truth hits you, but not through the thinking mind. The most famous Koan and the first one given to many students is Mu.

“A monk asked Zhaozhou, a Chinese Zen master (known as J?sh? in Japanese): “Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?”, Zhaozhou answered: “Wú” (in Japanese, Mu).”

Students will spend weeks, months, even years looking for “Mu”. But they will never find it with logic, they must transcend the logic.

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One of the great axioms of Buddhism is Form is Emptiness, and Emptiness is Form. Try to imagine a circle drawn perfectly on a white piece of paper, in black ink. What is inside the black line is the form, the black line is the emptiness. Not easy? Does it remind you of the cat being alive and dead? To feel alive and enlightened I must fully realize that I don’t exist. Niels Bohr said, “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”

Einstein said, “I can’t accept quantum mechanics because it involves spooky actions at a distance.” For example, two electrons from the same hydrogen atom fly out into space in different directions and they are millions of light years apart. Each has a ‘spin’, up or down let’s say. One must be up, and the other down, but we don’t know which is which until we measure. And once we measure one, the other one “somehow knows”. Einstein’s spooky action. Communication faster than the speed of light, or maybe some sort of movement back in time as some have suggested.

I wish I could offer the great unifying theory of Zen and Quantum Physics, but that would be like finally sleeping with my great unrequited love, and at this point, I prefer to maintain the mystery and keep her at a “spooky distance.”


Read Robert’s blog CACTUS LAND BLOG

About the Author:

Robert Bonomo is a 42-year-old novelist and internet marketer. He has lived and worked in Madrid, New York, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Valencia, Miami, and Kamchatka among a few other not so remarkable places. He has worked as a land surveyor, car salesman, spice salesman, transportation salesman, English teacher with a few other not mentionalbe gigs in between.

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Finding happiness without seeking

supreme happiness

supreme happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ankush Chauhan

Mostly we look for happiness in the outside world. What we do not know is that it lies inside us. In our own mind lies the secret to be happy.

I am a Zen master and I help people find happiness. A happiness which is not the opposite of sadness. Here in this article you will find the secret to my happiness which does not depend on outside situations.

We attach too much importance to the outside world. For an average person, things like a posh house, a well-paying job, a successful business, money, car etc. are the source of their happiness.

If they do not get it, they are unhappy. As simple as that. They have made themselves dependent on those things. In other words, they are attached.

According to Buddha, the reason for all troubles is ‘attachment’. Attachment to things, people, objects etc. bring sadness/unhappiness.

The interesting thing is that we spend almost 99 percent of our lives looking for happiness. And we believe that we are going to get it by chasing money, chasing success etc.

Whatever we do chasing those things, brings a lot of tension and unhappiness in our lives.

The more we exert ourselves seeking those things that we ‘think’ will bring happiness, the more we find ourselves in depression.


Here is the Zen buddhist approach:

Accept everything in your life. A total acceptance of everything: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, pain, pleasure is needed.

As soon as you start accepting everything that comes your way, you will live in the moment.

Living in the moment will bring about real happiness. The reason why it is called ‘PRESENT’ is that this moment you are living now is a Gift from nature/God.

The present moment is a gift. Once you begin cherishing everything in it, you will discover real happiness.

All the energy of the universe is concentrated on THIS moment now. Once you discover the hidden energy by living in the present moment, you will get everything you want.

Then your life be truly happy and blissful.

Fore more on this, read:

Source: Free Articles from


Ankush Chauhan is a Zen master who helps people realize the bliss in this moment! He blogs about his meditative experiences.

Hailing from a middle class family, Ankush now works full time helping people realize the Buddha that they are. The aim of Ankush is to bring more and more people to the world of bliss and joy that is the result of spiritual awakening.

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Shibuya Hachiko Bus

Shibuya Hachiko Bus (Photo credit: Stéfan)

“Rounding” is one of the more interesting pieces to come our way. Essentially a memoir, Lee Neale’s unique imagery brings this unusual account to life.

By Lee Neale

Hachiko Square. Senses swarming with the immensity of bodies. Not knowing where to focus. Well-dressed energy warps around, and for all its pressing density it has a calmness. A purposefulness. Knows where its headed, wants to get there quickly. Floods the basin of Hachiko Square from its multitude of alley-streams all foaming in reflected neon.

But I’m this odd rock, all jagged at the edges, so the energy of the flow catches me and I tumble, tumble.

A Zen pebble I wish to be. Rounded so the stream whispers softly around. It‘s why I came here: to lose myself. To lose my boundaries, my ego — here in this densest spot in the densest city in the world, with its atoms so compacted as to be a single thought-form. Where better could there be? But rounding takes centuries, millennia and meanwhile I tumble, tumble.

“Been at this awhile,” my esoteric healer had spoken softly, as she smoothed my jagged energetic form. “A while.” And this of all times my last to enter the stream, yet still so jagged, jagged.

“Your rounding began a thousand years ago in Nikko, as a peasant with a fiercely intelligent and devoted Japanese wife,” she mused. “You first courted when the now giant Shimotsuke roadside pines were little more than arrogantly wavering saplings.”

This tumbling Dharmic jigsaw-piece whispered gently into my ear. This compulsion, ten centuries later to stop my car by the roadside and pick blooming spring flowers for my wife from among the pines. The compulsion to then push deeper into the forest and walk a narrow trail: at first for no reason.

But as the reek of boar stench hit my nostrils, I knew exactly why as I had known many centuries before, and I was tracking, tracking as I had once tracked, and backing, backing as I had once backed. For I instinctively knew, that I had crossed upwind of an ancient porcine adversary.

Exhilarated: my senses now sharp as the spear, which I had once hefted. The gulf of one thousand years snapping shut upon the moment. Upstream downstream one as it always is, but for the discrimination of the conscious mind. And this of all times my first to enter the stream. And this of all times my last to enter the stream. But still so jagged. Jagged and scanning with boar stench cloying in my sinuses.

Backing across a river to deprive the boar of my scent, upon the water-rounded stones I slip, falling into the flow again, again.

With soaking clothes, still scanning, scanning. Backing towards my car. A radiant mess of bouquet in hand. Deadly challenge snuffling timelessly at the forest-edge of my senses. Tumbling upon my jagged, jagged Dharmic form.

Recollection backs into Hachiko, with its atoms so compacted. But now I realize, Zen stone smooth or not, so long as I enter the stream, in it I will always tumble, tumble.

About the Author

Lee Neale is the founder of Shama Gaia. He’s an Australian-born sociologist, language teacher and Shamanic healer living in Japan.

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Dr. Robert E. Carter talks about self-cultivation

Professor Carter was one of the best undergraduate professors I ever had. His lectures on Chinese philosophy were second to none.

I remember presenting the Tao of (subatomic) physics for his class in the mid-1980s. Back then it was a pretty new idea. So I broke it down with a lot of diagrams.

The presentation went very well. So well that Dr. Carter asked me to present again for another group studying the same course. Interestingly enough, the second presentation bombed. Same material, same presenter, very different audience and response.

Dr. Carter was diplomatic about it. He said something like, “Well, now you can see the other side of the coin.” His comment seemed to fit with the yin-yang philosophy that we were studying at the time.

After that, I was invited to present my Ph.D research at Dr. Carter’s retirement gathering at Trent U. Although my little talk about C. G. Jung’s concept of synchronicity was adequate, it certainly didn’t bring the house down.

Again, Dr. Carter was kind and diplomatic. He really did embody all that was great about undergraduate learning.


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Turning Around

English: Micah Exhorts the Israelites to Repen...

Micah Exhorts the Israelites to Repent (Micah 7:1-20) via Wikipedia

By: Brenda Shoshanna

Most of us spend our lives seeking and struggling to find that which will bring meaning and wholeness to our lives. Searching on the highways and byways, most of that which we find, soon loses value. Perhaps it is because we search in the wrong way and for the wrong reason.

Then the time comes to Turn Around, take a new look, return to that which will never fail to provide joy, understanding and fulfillment. But, before we can return, we must know where it is we are returning to, and where we are right now. In Judaism , the Jewish New Year, and particularly the month of Elul, the month leading up to the New Year, is the time for turning around. The process is called Teschuvah. Wherever we are in our lives, we must stop our usual behavior, take stock, reconsider. We must turn to that which is greater and wiser. It is our job to find it.

The place to return to is called HaMakom, another name for Gd. It is the place in which we can rest, be renewed, find our deepest Center and become whole. This is a very crucial time. During this month, it is said that God and true wisdom are closer to us than usual, more energy is available to make changes, each deed of worth we do has extra power to affect lasting changes. This time of return is also a time of testing. We are shown ourselves more clearly, must face the truth, so we know what it is that must be transformed during this precious time. Teschuvah also means repentance, purifying ourselves. The process of repentance is a Jewish koan, a question we struggle with that does not have a set answer, but that we must face on our own. How do we make repentance real in our lives? It’s one thing to beat our chest and beg for forgiveness, it’s another to truly wash our hearts and minds and come to life with clean hands.

To begin to explore the true nature of repentance it is useful to see that the word for “sin” in Judaism means error, or to miss the mark. Whatever errors we have made can be corrected. In fact, they are natural, inevitable in human life. When we turn around, look at ourselves simply, in quietness, , we stop grabbing at the outside world and blaming others for our pain. Instead we see what it is within that needs correction and instruction.

One of the best ways to heal errors is to ask for forgiveness. All during the month of Elul an important instruction is to call anyone we know who we might have offended in the past year and ask to be forgiven. Many do not know what exactly they must be forgiven for or how their behavior has affected another. It is necessary to look and see. It is a great gift to give to another to ask for forgiveness, and of course, a great gift to yourself.

A great aid is to sit simply, quietly with oneself, turn the attention and focus around and instead of asking for something for ourselves, look and see what we have truly given to others, how have we used our lives to uplift and enhance all that we meet. Only then are we able to recognize the pain our actions, or lack of actions, may have caused – and how this pain can be healed.

It has been said that all loneliness and sorrow ultimately come from separation from God, each other and ourselves. The process of teschuvah, repentance and return is a process of letting go of separation of finding our wholeness and unity once again. As we do this, we discover our oneness has never been lost, only covered over with misunderstanding and confusion, covered by the walls we have created and that we can now take down.

The Torah asks, where is God? The answer comes; God is wherever you let him or her in. As we turn around, we find ways to let God and one another in, in a brand new way.

About The Author

Learn new ways of making peace in award winning book, Jewish Dharma (A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen), Written by Dr Shoshanna, top psychologist, workshop leader who is dedicated to life transformation and creating authentic peace of mind. Contact her at:, (212) 288-0028.
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