Mirror of Zen Blog

The Dependent Origination of Max Planck

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

-- Max Planck (1858 - 1947)

The Buddha spoke about this many, many times. In technical terms, it is the “law of dependent origination“. This “law“ is merely a statement about the nature of reality: our perception of something “changes” the nature of the “something“ that we see. The famous double-slit experiment is the tersest material representation of this: a beam of photons were fired through a barrier with parallel openings. When the photons were unobserved, they behaved as waves; but when an observation device was set up at the barrier, and the photons were “observed”, then they behaved as particles. For all intents and purposes, the photons “became” different states of matter based on whether they were being perceived or not. This is a basic experiment in modern physics, reproduced many times with similar results.

There is not a single sentence in the entire multi-thousand page Bible which speaks even remotely to this statement of the nature of reality. Is it any wonder that one of the greatest minds in physics speaks a Buddhist truth in such a clear and natural expression?

As usual, Zen Master Seung Sahn explains the point of Max Planck in more granular detail with clear, easily graspable exemples:

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