Friday, May 25, 2007

Karma and Quantum Mechanics (Part 1)

Karma and Quantum Mechanics (Part 1)
by E. Raymond Rock

From the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, which investigates emptiness:

"However many species of living beings there are -- whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture or spontaneously, whether they have form or no form, whether they have perceptions or they do not have perceptions . . . all compounded things are like a dream, a phantom, a drop of dew, a flash of lightening. That is how to meditate on them, that is how to observe them."

And from the Buddhist Heart Sutra:

"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Emptiness is no other than form, form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are emptiness . . . There is no birth and no cessation, no increase or decrease. In emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no consciousness, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch . . . no ignorance, no end of ignorance up to no old age and death, no end of old age and death, no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, no non-attainment."

Our thoughts create themselves from what could be considered nothing, a field of karma, and then they disappear, no different from atomic particles arising from a field of energy, which could also be considered nothing, lingering a while, and then melting back into immaterial existence. Creativity abounds in the universe.

Science searches for truth; spirituality should do no less, and when both science and spirituality agree on something, this is worth noting, and meditation and science seem to merge when it comes to our thoughts and sub-atomic particles. In quantum mechanics, particles are accelerated at extremely high speeds before being crashed together in confined spaces in infinitesimal amounts of time. This event causes particles to behave in peculiar ways, akin to thoughts appearing and disappearing at will in our minds. Where these thoughts and particles come from and go to is yet to be understood, but one thing science does understand; that although these particles are considered matter, they are not solid, and actually are considered as only probabilities -- hardly existing at all.

Scientists define these particles as bits of information, again like thoughts. They exist in waves of probabilities, similar to the vast storehouse of information in not only our physical memory banks, but deeper in our spiritual memories as well. Only when these particles are closely observed, they pop their little heads up for a moment appearing in one of a myriad of possible positions, similar to random memories popping up in our minds - or karma popping up in our lives. Therefore, their reality relies on the surveillance of the observers in a seemingly symbiotic relationship.

Our memories, however, become stuck in a groove with the same old thoughts appearing in the same positions. This limits the scope of our brain and results in mechanical progression. Whenever a thought arises in our minds, the same processes go into action. Lust or strong desire can form when something desirable either contacts our senses or arises in our minds, and our underlying karma will affect how we react to these things. One person will be attracted to wealth, and another to meditation. This feeling strengthens when a gland in our brain preps our body for action by churning out chemicals, then, another gland releases these tailored chemicals into the bloodstream where they seek out specialized cells with little docking ports on their exteriors. As soon as these cells receive this transfer of chemical information, then sexual organs, for example, get the signal to go to work.

This flurry of activity began with a single thought, but where did that thought come from? Here we have the analogy of an atomic particle that arose from a wave of probabilities . . . and a single thought, which arose from billions of bits of information. We can see that everything begins inside; this is where the action is -- and this is where meditation is focused.

A thought begins in small cells in the brain, but before that happens, each cell is affected by its karma. Each of these neurons has branches that connect to other cells during the thinking process, and each time the same thought comes up, these little branches become fatter, with the connection becoming stronger. Over time, if a lustful thought is repeated enough, it might become an obsession with associated thoughts appearing in the mind every few minutes. This creates strong connections, and strong connections create dependency. Then if we don't activate these connection by repeating that particular thought, mental pain in the form of withdrawal occurs.

Soon, of course, the brain is crowded with dependencies like sex, security, and self-esteem, and since each connection becomes stronger with stimulation, it becomes increasingly difficult to break our habit patterns. This describes our life -- a series of thought cycles repeated in certain patterns to create identities.

Our brain handles billions of snippets of information a second, but we are only aware of a small fraction of them, and the ones that we are familiar with and believe in pop up most often. As a result, our life becomes a "groove in a record" that we can't stop playing.

This is fine while we are satisfied with our lives -- and our grooves -- but over time, our cravings, supported by our habit patterns, become desensitized and require increasingly stronger stimulation. This could lead to dire results if we then frantically seek out additional stimulation to reinforce old habit patterns. This only deepens our grooves and causes constant stress. . . . Hello karma!
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit

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