Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics: Toward a Union of Love and Knowledge addresses the complex issues of dialogue and collaboration between Buddhism and science, revealing connections and differences between the two. While assuming no technical background in Buddhism or physics, this book strongly responds to the Dalai Lama's "heartfelt plea" for genuine collaboration between science and Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has written a foreword to the book and the Office of His Holiness will translate it into both Chinese and Tibetan.
In a clear and engaging way, this book shows how the principle of emptiness, the philosophic heart of Tibetan Buddhism, connects intimately to quantum nonlocality and other foundational features of quantum mechanics. Detailed connections between emptiness, modern relativity, and the nature of time are also explored. For Tibetan Buddhists, the profound interconnectedness implied by emptiness demands the practice of universal compassion. Because of the powerful connections between emptiness and modern physics, the book argues that the interconnected worldview of modern physics also encourages universal compassion. Along with these harmonies, the book explores a significant conflict between quantum mechanics and Tibetan Buddhism concerning the role of causality.
The book concludes with a response to the question: "How does this expedition through the heart of modern physics and Tibetan Buddhism - from quantum mechanics, relativity, and cosmology, to emptiness, compassion, and disintegratedness - apply to today's painfully polarized world?" Despite differences and questions raised, the book's central message is that there is a solid basis for uniting these worldviews. From this basis, the message of universal compassion can accompany the spread of the scientific worldview, stimulating compassionate action in the light of deep understanding - a true union of love and knowledge.
Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics will appeal to a broad audience that includes general readers and undergraduate and graduate students in science and religion courses.
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Raises interesting Questions
This book represents a very interesting introduction to Buddhist Philosophy through the lens of Quantum Physics. I know that Buddhist Philosophy can quickly become very intricate and convoluted. I can only imagine the mathematically sophisticated, tortuous depths of Quantum Physics.
However in this book Mansfield manages to portray essential teachings on prima facie difficult Buddhist metaphysical concepts in a concise, non-technical and accessible manner. My knowledge of Quantum Physics is scant but I imagine that a Physicist reading this book may qualify Mansfield's portrayal of essential ideas in that field in a similar manner.
In my experience the danger that arises when written work deals with religious or philosophical topics, is one-sidedness and dogmatism. Mansfield manages to avoid this pitfall both on the Metaphysical and the Physical level. He impartially shows the similarities but also the dissimilarities between Physics and Buddhism and thus provides the reader with a genuine impetus for independent thought. Although his conclusion is making every effort at a synthesis, he recognizes that our present state of knowledge may not afford us such a synthesis directly. Therefore he draws the conclusion on the level of compassion and world-view rather than asking which of the two approaches, the Buddhist or the Scientific one, is "right". He clearly highlights the need for each and everyone of us to contemplate the implications of the discussion for our own lives, regardless of whether we are Buddhists, Physicists or neither. A highly recommended book if you are not afraid of thinking for yourself.