Sunday, November 08, 2009

Parallels between Buddhism and Physics: Learning

I've been reading The Road to Reality by Roger Penrose. It's an extremely good book, suitable for the undergraduates to study and know, lighter(more readable) than a textbook, over 1000 pages long (currently at page 280+ after 1 month of reading it), contains lots of good equations.

The thing that made me borrow it in the first place is that it devotes the first 16 (out of 34) chapters to mathematics, and the later chapters contains Superstring, twistor, loop, and lots of the most fundalmental laws of physics that will get a theorectical Physicist excited and happy. Oh and it contains equations, hard-looking equations that explains all these things. It's one of the best book that one can structure one's university Physics education upon, not just for undergrad, but for grad, and postgrad students too!

So I've showed it to some people, it's hard for everybody to appreciate this book. (I think) Some had so many books to read, and is not ready for another book in Physics. Some got turned off by the mention of popular science book, or books that a lay public can take up and read and possibly understand some of the things inside it(by ignoring the equations, it's hard to appreciate the physics that way) . But gradually some had look at it can seen the beauty and coolness of the book too. Now I've gotten the ebook too! (email me to get it, or better than that, google it) Minimal requirement to read the book with the equations is finished pre-U or first year physics, or just willingness to work hard to understand the equations.

Now I see a parallel in Buddhism, as I often do between Physics and Buddhism. Buddhist books are not appealing to everyone. But inside everyone of those books are treasures, gems that far supass the contents in any physics books. They are so becuse they lead to a happier mind, a state of no more suffering and eternal happiness and peace. No amount of temporary joy from any other books can match that. However, not everyone can appreciate it.

Not even the ones who theorectically know it (like me for keeping on reading physics instead of Buddhist books) .

This might be because of the various reasons that I've pointed out above. It's sometimes frustrating that people don't appreciate or know the treasures that lay in their reach, i.e. Buddhism stuffs on the internet. As the Buddha said, it's rare to be born a human, rare to born in the realm of a Buddha, rare to hear of the Dharma, rare to see those who practise the Dharma and realise the truth.

The situation in Physics has shown me one way to deal with this frustration. Be patient, always bring along the book, and keep on reading it myself. Bring up praises of the book whenever suitable, and keep on encouraging people who are interested in the book to read it. But not shoving it in their faces. Gradually, one by one those who are ready will get in touch. I guess as a layperson, the most we can do to spread and show the beauty of Buddhism is to practise moral uprighteousness. Keep on offering timely and good praises to the Dharma, and apply it. Keep on providing oppotunities for people to get in touch with the Dharma. And teach those who are ready, one by one.

This also provides a good reason to aspire to become a Buddha. So that countless beings can benifit from the teachings. The long lifetimes of trainings, then is to cultivate this kind of good affinity so that one can save the countless beings.

Oh and other than moral uprighteousness, one who holds Buddhist principles should be as sucessful in life as possible too. That means studying, sleeping on time, good relationships! But this is secondary, primary is still mind training.

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