Emptiness & Quantum Mechanics (2015)

Cosmology & Consciousness IV

October 7-9, 2015
Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has emphasized his long-term interest in quantum mechanics and his deep belief of a strong connection to Buddhist epistemology. What are the building blocks of the universe? What are the Buddhist and scientific theories describing the smallest substances? How do observations of the quantum world inform our understanding of ourselves and each other?

The concept of Buddhist Emptiness is often misunderstood to imply nothingness. But the ‘empty’ in Buddhist philosophy refers to phenomena as empty of having an intrinsic existence. The Buddhists reason that in our process of observation we habitually designate properties onto objects, and then take those properties to be real and independent of our designation. This philosophical position has resonated for decades with physicists, but the connection is not well understood.

Quantum mechanics provides a mathematical description of particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of matter and energy. In science, these observations sparked a revolution from “classical” to “new” and the philosophical implications are still spreading and being understood. Quantum mechanics has resulted in some strange results, particles seeming to interact with each over distances and observation (including those by a detecting device) determining the characteristics of measurement.

Conference themes include: (1) Foundations of Quantum Mechanics and Buddhist Emptiness; (2) The Role of Observation – The Question of the Observer; (3) The Strange Results of Quantum Mechanics; and (4) The Role of the Mind and of Knowing.