H.H. Dalai Lama: Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka
Novembre 14th, 2015 by admin

Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View – Day 2

Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India, 13 November 2015 – On arrival at the JNU Convention Centre this morning, in preparation for the second day of the conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was requested to release two books. The first contained a compilation of tributes and recollections about AP Venkateswaran, former Foreign Secretary, who passed away last year. In his remarks His Holiness said:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama releasing a book about AP Venkateswaran before the start of the second day of the Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on November 13, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

I find it difficult to pronounce his name, but Venkateswaran was a good friend. He was someone I could unburden myself to and he would explain things in a way that gave me encouragement. He was a wonderful person with a very sharp mind. In recent years, whenever I was visiting Bangalore where he lived we would try to meet. As I said the other day about former President APJ Abdul Kalam, even though the person is no longer with us, we must do what we can to keep their spirit alive. This book will enable readers to know more about Venkateswaran and what he achieved in his life.”

Mrs Venkateswaran voiced the happiness she and her daughter felt at His Holiness releasing the book. She mentioned a story her late husband used to tell about his first meeting with His Holiness. Apparently they got on well together from the start and he was particularly struck when His Holiness remarked: “I’ve met you before.”

The second book His Holiness was asked to release was ‘Changes on the Roof of the World – Reflections on Tibet’, a compilation of research by PhD candidates of Tibetan ethnicity at JNU. In his introduction to it former Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh said it would enable the world to be more aware of what Tibetans have suffered and continue to suffer. It will make clearer the denial of human rights in Tibet by the Chinese authorities. He expressed the opinion that India could have done better in supporting the cause of Tibet, but stressed that what the book shows is that the flag will continue to be flown by coming generations who will keep the issue alive until there is a satisfactory solution.

His Holiness with the authors of ‘Changes on the Roof of the World – Reflections on Tibet’ during the book release at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on November 13, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

In his response His Holiness stated that there is no denying Tibet’s long existence in the past, nor the meaningful nature of that existence.
“Our culture is non-violent, peaceful and grounded in compassion, all qualities the world needs today. These days there is interest in Tibetan Buddhism all over the world. The Nalanda tradition flourished in Tibet in a way that didn’t take place anywhere else. What’s more it flourished in our own Tibetan language. Today, Tibetan is the language in which the Nalanda tradition can be most accurately expressed. This is also related to the rigorous course of study that has been maintained in Tibet for centuries. The purpose is to establish morality and bring about a transformation of the mind.
“In the 1960s we appealed to the UN to take a stand about what was happening in Tibet. Our appeals were ineffective as Nehru had told me they would be. He recommended that the way to secure the Tibetan cause was to educate our children. It was wise advice,
“In the 9th century Tibet was independent and held its own alongside the Mongolian and Chinese empires. Today, our struggle still attracts support across the world. I’m 80 years old and I’d like to think that when I go I can do so confident that the younger generation will keep our cause alive.”

Geshe Jangchub Sangay listens as Prof Sundar Sarukkai answers a question relating to his presentation on the second day of the Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on November 13, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

The conference resumed with Prof Sundar Sarukkai reading a paper about wave-particle duality in relation to Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Treatise on the Middle Way’. He noted that Raja Ramanna, who His Holiness had said alerted him to the correspondence between the findings of quantum physics and Nagarjuna’s thought, had been his mentor too. He mentioned the application of the classic fourfold reasoning, asking, “Is it a particle? Is it not a particle? Is it both a particle and not a particle? Or is it neither a particle nor not a particle?” He suggested that the wave-particle theme has two parts: one is epistemological and related to problems of measurement, while the other is ontological, which is the context he thinks could relate to what Nagarjuna had to say.
Geshe Jangchub Sangay of Gaden Monastic University read a paper about dependent arising, which he asserted is the basic reality of all things. He explained dependent arising in relation to a phenomenon’s cause, in relation to its parts and in relation to its being a mere designation. He concluded that the main thrust of the Prasangika Madhyamaka or Middle Way Consequentialist view is that things do not have the slightest objective existence and that actions and their agents are tenable only on the basis of being merely designated.

Mahan Mahara explaining the Algebra-Geometry Duality on the second day of the Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on November 13, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Before lunch Mahan Maharaj, a mathematician and swami, gave an intense and animated explanation of the Algebra-Geometry Duality. He asserted that a fundamental duality exists between geometry, which deals with spaces, and algebra, which deals with functions and operators on spaces. He spoke about how this relates to the problem of time. It also relates to a problem of biology and how we human beings obtain a consolidated idea of what is in our visual field. He suggested, for example, that a computer handles this in a time-ordered way, whereas the human eye handles it in a space-ordered way.
After lunch, Prof Arthur Zajonc spoke about Experimental Foundations of Quantum Physics. He quoted Goethe’s saying ‘every object well contemplated opens a new organ in us’. He noted that in classical physics the observer is an onlooker who can be neglected. However, seminal quantum experiments such as EPR, contextuality and quantum statistics have led to the overthrow of that classical physics and to an entirely different understanding of the world at a fundamental level. He described delayed-choice and quantum eraser experiments and how they relate to the ‘measurement problem’ and a changed appreciation of the role of the observer in quantum physics.

Prof Arthur Zajonc speaking about Experimental Foundations of Quantum Physics during the final presentation of the Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on November 13, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

As the conference came to an end, Dr Brijish Kumar reviewed some of what Michel Bitbol, Sundar Sarukkai, Matthew Chandrankunnel, Mahan Maharaj and Arthur Zajonc had contributed on the side of science. Geshe Lhakdor in turn reviewed what the Buddhist scholars had said. He noted that what both science and Buddhist philosophy have in common is that we will be able to better tackle problems we face by improving what we know.
In his concluding remarks His Holiness also repeated the Buddha’s advice not to accept what he said at face value but to investigate it. There is a need for doubt and scepticism he said, for questions and the answers they yield. He remarked: “The technical progress we have made in the 21st century may have improved our material comfort, but there is no guarantee that it will bring us inner peace. We have to be careful that new forms of knowledge don’t just become tools for our anger and fear, that they don’t merely increase our destructive power. We need to remind ourselves that our own future depends on the rest of humanity.
“We survive because of the affection we receive. And that is what enables us to be able to show affection for others. Anger and fear damage our health, whereas evidence shows a calm mind contributes to our well-being. It’s common sense that without warm-heartedness and without trust a family will not be happy. However, the sense that our basic human nature is positive is a source of hope.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the presenters and moderators at the conclusion of the Conference on Quantum Physics and Madhyamaka Philosophical View at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on November 13, 2015. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

“If we really make an attempt, we can change the world for the better. The proper way to do this is through education. And that will recognise not only our need for physical comfort, but that we require a sense secular ethics, universal human values and what I describe as emotional hygiene.

“May I suggest that next year you convene a conference to focus on the mind and emotions involving neurobiologists and brain specialists?
“Right now when we see the sad things going on in the world, crying and prayer won’t achieve very much. Most of these problems were created by human beings, so naturally they require human solutions. That’s all I have to say, other than to thank the University, its officials and staff, the organizers and volunteers for providing us with this great opportunity. Thank you.”
Prof Renuka Singh offered formal words of thanks. Speaking in Tibetan, His Holiness made a point of offering words of encouragement and appreciation to the Tibetan scholars who had taken part.
Tomorrow, His Holiness will travel to Punjab to attend the convocation at Lovely Professional University in Phagwara.—day-2

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