11. Epistemology (ix) Mentergy

In conclusion to the Epistemology discussion, we discuss the epistemological relationship between science and Buddhism in this post.

In the Epistemology Category, we discussed the difference between knowledge and empirical facts. As a recap, empirical data, also known as experiential content, is information embedded in the mental construct of everything in the cosmos that can be experienced, i.e., be directly perceived in Buddha’s description. Knowledge is what humans learn after the empirical data becomes “reading-in” of the mind and conceptualized using inferentially connected words.

Humans learn knowledge using inferentially connected words after the empirical data that our senses sense become “reading-in” of the mind and conceptualized “in ways we do not govern.” On the other hand, by using direct perception until enlightenment, an enlightened person who receives the same empirical data can prevent their conceptualization and distortion by keeping his mind quiescent. Buddha called understanding undistorted empirical data prajna, or wisdom.

In discussing “How Do We Know What We Know?” Dr. Fisch is clear on the difference between words and empirical facts. Words, he said, are not “empirical facts.” They are “about how these concepts relate to each other. The limits of what we can know, the limits of our world, are the limits of our language.” “We got it right. We got it right according to our standards, no other standards.”

Science is an excellent example of getting it right according to its standards.  

Those who have taken physics classes in high school and college should be familiar with the following equations:

  • Einstein’s famous formula: E=mc2.
  • Newton’s second of motion: f=ma.
  • Potential Energy: PE=mgh.
  • Kinetic Energy: K=1/2mv2.
  • Weight W=mg.

In these equations, E stands for energy, m=mass, c=speed of light, f=force, a=acceleration, g=gravity, h=height, and v=velocity.

As it is apparent, each term – energy, mass, speed, force, acceleration, gravity, and velocity – can define each other through mass by simple mathematical manipulations. Ultimately, though, mass is energy, as Einsteins’ formula states.

There are more examples. Maxwell’s equations are “a set of coupled partial differential equations,” “together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electromagnetism, classical optics, and electric and magnetic circuits.” While these equations provide a mathematical model for electric, optical, and radio technologies, such as power generation, electric motors, wireless communication, lenses, radar, etc.,” ultimately, they are also just about energy. Indeed, in the world of science, everything is energy.

So, what is energy?

By definition, energy in physics is “the quantitative property that is transferred to a body or to a physical system, recognizable in the performance of work and in the form of heat and light.” Furthermore, quantitative property, also known as physical quantity (or simple quantity), “is a property of a material or system that can be quantified by measurement.”

By using energy, science got it right in its own scientific way. However, like Newton’s “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles,” energy is an assumption, not an empirical fact of nature. In a world where everything is energy, everything is about how different concepts relate, just as Dr. Fisch said. While a quantitative property is an invaluable tool that scientists use in equations to investigate the material world, humans are confident that they are not made of numbers.

While adherence of science to its standards allows it to fulfill Pythagoras’ profound insight that “all the workings of the material universe are expressible in terms of mathematics,” it’s important to remember that science, at its core, is just knowledge. As Dr. Fisch eloquently puts it, while knowledge allows us to understand “how things are experienced by us,” it does not necessarily reveal “how things stand in themselves.”

Indeed, consciousness, the obviously present but never-visible reality, is missing in a world of energy.     

In their respective investigation of nature, Buddhism and science have a fundamental difference: their need to make assumptions. In Buddhist sutras, you won’t find phrases like “thus I opine.” Buddha does not need to make assumptions because he starts with what he becomes aware of at the time of enlightenment: that all realities are “Nothing but Mentality.” With this fundamental reality of nature that can be verified by any enlightened person as the foundation, “Nothing but Mentality” becomes the ground truth from which Buddhism sprouts. By starting from the ground truth, making assumptions is unnecessary. Without a ground truth, the scientific method begins with making assumptions.

However, even though energy and mentality are different, the fact that everything is energy in science and everything is consciousness in Buddhism means that energy in scientific doctrines can help explain Buddha’s corresponding doctrines taught using mentality.

Quantum Physics is such an example. Buddhism and Quantum Physics share the common teaching that fluctuating fields are the foundational blocks of the universe. However, while energy fluctuates in quantum energy fields, what fluctuates in Buddha’s field is consciousness. This compatibility between Quantum Physics and Buddhism is critically important as it helps to understand Buddha’s teaching on how the universe originates.  

Additionally, Buddhism and Quantum Physics intersect precisely at the tiniest particle in the universe, known as an epiphenomenon. While the epiphenomenon is energy in science, it is a fluctuating mentality in Buddhism and, therefore, conscious.

This is significant because it is where Buddha’s universe starts to diverge from the scientific one. Buddha’s conscious epiphenomenon is responsible for the origin of consciousness, duality, delusional misunderstanding of reality, suffering, etc. The fact that these phenomena all originate from conscious epiphenomena means that they are an existential, inseparable part of every human being. Most significantly, causality, Buddha’s most impactful teaching that causes inevitably lead to their corresponding fruitions when conditions are right, appear simultaneously with consciousness. In other words, causality is also an existential, inseparable part of every human being. Whether one believes it or not, if one has consciousness, one is impacted by causality. Yet, in the scientific world, where consciousness is missing, this highly impactful doctrine is also nowhere to be found.

As Dr. Max Planck famously said, “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

Indeed, mentality is the ultimate mystery of nature, and humanity is right in the middle of it.

While their different means of knowledge are mutually exclusive, their mutual exclusivity means Buddhism and science can complement each other. Together, these two different means of knowledge cover everything in the universe.

Therefore, when science and Buddhism are combined, humanity undoubtedly benefits from the knowledge of understanding “the world we experience” and the wisdom of realizing “how things stand in themselves.

Mentergy, which combines mentality and energy, is such a concept.

In this era when AI leaders are already calling for regulations “to prevent AI (from) destroying humanity,” is it not time for humanity to understand if machines that can learn are conscious?

(If you like this post, please consider liking it and subscribing on Facebook so you will be notified when a new post comes out. Please also share to promote Buddha’s education.)

Leave a comment