In this post, we verify Buddha’s teaching that two separate domains exist in the cosmos. One is the Ultimate Reality, which was verified. The other is non-luminosity, which was also verified. While they were verified individually, this post confirms the existence of both realms while helping science solve the Cosmological Constant Problem, described as “the largest discrepancy between theory and experiment in all of science.” How large is the discrepancy?” It “can be as little as 50 and as much as 120 orders of degree than observed.”
First, let’s understand what the Cosmological Constant is.
Cosmological Constant “is the constant coefficient of a term Albert Einstein temporarily added to his field equations of general relativity. He later removed it. Much later it was revived and reinterpreted as the energy density of space, or vacuum energy, that arises in quantum mechanics. It is closely associated with the concept of dark energy.” Furthermore, many physicists believe that “the vacuum holds the key to a full understanding of nature.“
Actually, Einstein did not envision the Cosmological Constant in his equations of general relativity when they first came out. Indeed, from its unplanned beginning to its current elevated status as the possible key to “a full understanding of nature,” the Cosmological Constant had a tortuous journey. During that journey, Einstein’s Cosmological Constant has taken on all the possibilities of a constant number: negative, zero, and positive.
When Einstein first published his General Theory of Relativity in 1915, he did not conceive the term in his equation that would later carry his name. However, in 1917, he introduced the mathematical term into his equation to comply with the then-accepted scientific view that the universe was static, assuming its value to be negative. Unfortunately, by 1931, science no longer deems the universe static but expanding. Einstein then abandoned his term, believing its value to be zero. By the late 1990s, however, scientists discovered that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. Einstein then reintroduced the term into his formula, “implying the possibility of a positive nonzero value for the cosmological constant,” which remains so until today. Later, he would call this whole episode his “biggest blunder.”
Today, the value of Einstein’s Cosmological Constant has been measured and is “in excellent agreement” with a value obtained through a theoretical model. Einstein’s Cosmological Constant is now officially positive.
However, although Einstein’s Cosmological Constant is in excellent agreement with a theoretical model, it is also part of the “cosmological constant problem,” which is deemed “the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics.”
This article on the Cosmological Constant Problem explains the problem.
“A major outstanding problem is that most quantum field theories predict a huge value for the quantum vacuum. A common assumption is that the quantum vacuum is equivalent to the cosmological constant. Although no theory exists that supports this assumption, arguments can be made in its favor.“
So, what is a quantum vacuum? According to this article, Quantum Vacuum State, “the quantum vacuum state (also called the quantum vacuum or vacuum state) is the quantum state with the lowest possible energy. Generally, it contains no physical particles.” However, contrary to the theory, scientists discover that “according to quantum mechanics, the vacuum state is not truly empty but instead contains fleeting electromagnetic waves and particles that pop into and out of the quantum field.”
In other words, the Cosmological Constant Problem is rooted in the expectation of the existence of a space without fluctuations, but quantum mechanics finds the reality to be different. What quantum scientists find is that the “simplest thing you could possibly imagine in the the universe” is full of fluctuations.
As discussed in the previous post, Dr. Lienweber was unsuccessful when he tried to create an “empty vacuum” without “stuff,” such as electromagnetic waves, particles, atoms, etc. Consequently, without an additional realm to work with, scientists can only assume that the expansion of the universe occurs in the realm with “stuff.”
But, from the Buddhist perspective, is that necessarily the case? It seems highly unlikely, given that Buddha considers the self-nature of our universe parikalpita, i.e., “imputed,” “imaginary,” or “artificial.”
So, let’s see if Buddha has anything to say about that.
Nirvana (Chinese=涅槃), according to The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, is “in Sanskrit, “extinction,” the earliest and most common term describing the soteriological goal of Buddhism.”
According to The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Buddha says the following about Nirvana:
“There is that plane where there is neither earth, water, fire, nor air, neither the sphere of infinite space, …. nor the sphere of perception nor nonperception, neither this world nor another, nor both together, neither the sun nor the moon.
Here, O monks, I say that there is no coming or going, no staying, no passing away or arising. It is not something fixed; it moves not on; it is not based on anything. This is indeed the end of suffering.”
By separately describing Nirvana as “there” and “here,” Buddha not only affirms the existence of two realms but also makes clear where Nirvana is and isn’t.
In Buddhism, earth, water, fire, and air are collectively known in Romanized Sanskrit as the mahabhuta (Chinese=四大), the four “great elements” from which the physical world is constructed. Therefore, by saying that the “there” of Nirvana does not contain these four great elements, Buddha makes clear that our physical world, other worlds, and their various constituents, such as suns and moons, are absent from the “there” of Nirvana.
The Sphere of Infinite Space and the Sphere of Perception Nor Nonperception are, respectively, the first and fourth levels of the four celestial realms in Buddhism. The celestial realms are the highest destines for the cycles of rebirth for the unenlightened. Therefore, by including these two celestial realms and the phenomenal universe, Buddha indicates that all the six destinies of reincarnation are also absent from the “there” of Nirvana. In other words, the “there” of Nirvana is unenlightenment and is not the soteriological goal of Buddhism.
The “here” of Nirvana, having “no coming or going; no staying, no passing away or arising,” signifies the realm of non-duality. In other words, the “here” of Nirvana is the Ultimate Reality, the realm of enlightenment, the soteriological goal of Buddha. Indeed, Citta of the Ultimate Reality exists “not based on anything,” unconditionally and without cause.
However, what does the seemingly contradictory description that the “here” of nirvana “is not something fixed; it moves not on” mean?”
Again, let’s have science help us.
In this video lecture, A Universe From Nothing, Dr. Lawrence Krauss explained that Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding. When Hubble looked at the sky, he saw all the other galaxies moving away from him, indicating an expanding universe. At the same time, Hubble felt he was at the center of the universe because all galaxies were moving away from him.
Dr. Krause then used a graphic presentation, starting about 9 minutes into the video, showing that this is true for any observer anywhere in the universe in any other galaxies. In other words, wherever an individual stands in the universe, the place he is standing on always feels like the center of the universe and “moving not on.” At the same time, however, he sees all other galaxies as “not something fixed” because they are all moving away from him. In other words, what Buddha realizes is what scientists call the expansion of the universe.
Therefore, by describing the “here” of Nirvana as “not something fixed; it moves not on,” Buddha indicates what scientists call the expansion of the universe occurs in the Ultimate Reality, the realm of nature as-is. It is reasonable because while human observation can conceptualize, it cannot create reality that is not already present.
From a Buddhist standpoint, the exact value of Einstein’s Cosmological Constant is insignificant. Because, as long as its value is constant, it is compatible with Buddha’s teachings that Citta never changes.
Scientists are right in believing that “the vacuum holds the key to a full understanding of nature.” However, the vacuum (without “stuff”) they desire does not exist in the visible universe.
Indeed, the “key to a full understanding of nature” is that there are two realms of reality in nature, and they are separated by whether they fluctuate or not, i.e., having “stuff” and not having “stuff.” Furthermore, there is only one type of “stuff:” mentality.
With the correct understanding of the “key to a full understanding of nature,” the Cosmological Constant Problem vanishes naturally.