Quantum entanglement is the ability of two spatially separated “entangled particles” to be able to respond to each other instantaneously. This proven interconnectedness has Implications for the rebirth process.
Revised January 21, 2016 (#6); March 13, 2018; September 22, 2019; June 25, 2022
1. When we get deep into Buddha Dhamma, we will see that the mind creates EVERYTHING in this world. That is why the Buddha said, “manō pubbangamā dhamma.……”, i.e., the mind is the precursor to everything. But let us proceed at a slow pace.
- By the way, dhamma is “what we bear” in this world (“ධරන දෙය” in Sinhala); this means absolutely everything in this world. And all dhamma are anatta, i.e., fruitless, or there is nothing substantial in any dhamma (it does not mean “no-self” or “anātma“); see, “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Wrong Interpretations,” and “Anicca – True Meanings.”
2. Everything happens due to causes and conditions; see, “What is Kamma? – Is Everything Determined by Kamma?“. Also, this world is not four-dimensional (3 space dimensions and time) as we experience, but is multi-dimensional; see, “What Happens in Other Dimensions.” That is why we see only two realms (human and animal) out of the 31 realms of existence; see, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma.” Just because we cannot experience directly or is not proven by science YET is not a reason to discard them. But the current string theories do predict a ten or 11-dimensional world.
- What can we explain with Buddha Dhamma? Everything in this world. See “Vagaries of Life and the Way to seek “Good Rebirths” for some examples.
- Also, see “Origin of Life.” This series explains how the mind creates EVERYTHING in this world.
3. Furthermore, science has been confirming many things that ordinary people rejected as “impossible” over the past few hundred years; and that activity started increasing over the past hundred years since the advent of quantum mechanics and relativity; see, “Dhamma and Science – Introduction.” That should give us more confidence in Buddha Dhamma. That is saddhā or faith-based evidence.
4. Here, we will discuss yet another recent finding in science that makes the process of rebirth more easily “explainable.” Please note that I am not trying to verify Buddha Dhamma by science. It is the other way around. I am saying that science is far behind Buddha Dhamma. Science is now trying to catch up just the material aspects of how this world works and has not made any significant progress on how the mind works.
- In the essay “Evidence for Rebirth.”, we saw that a person who dies in one geographical location is reborn in another. The consciousness does NOT transmigrate as is believed in some other religions. However, some form of energy leaving one place must instantly appear at another.
- What about the speed of the light barrier for anything or any information to travel, based on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity? It turns out that we are in a unique time in history. Buddha’s teachings are beginning to be, even if not confirmed, at least elevated to the level of possibility by Western science. For millennia, numerous people had strong enough faith to believe Buddha’s words and commit their entire lives to pursuing Nibbāna. (Actually, it is not blind faith. If one studied the Dhamma/ Abhidhamma carefully, one can verify that it must be true).
5. In 1935, Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen published a paper that showed that if quantum mechanics is correct, then a particle can somehow “know” what another particle, even if separated from it by a large distance, is doing. Einstein derisively called this “spooky action at a distance” and dismissed the prediction. Even though his theories led to quantum mechanics, Einstein was firmly opposed to quantum mechanics throughout his lifetime.
- However, in 1964, physicist John Bell proposed an experiment to test this concept. Those are experiments on “violation of Bell’s inequality.” Several experiments carried out since 1997 proved that Einstein was wrong. The experimenters created “entangled particles,” which shared a wave function. In 1997 Nicholas Gisin did the first experiment with entangled photons, in which they were sent seven miles apart via optical fibers. When they reached the ends of these fibers, the two photons were forced to make random choices between alternative, equally possible pathways.
- There was no way for the photons to communicate with each other. Thus “classical” physics would predict that their independent choices would bear no relationship to each other. But when the paths of the two photons were adjusted correctly and the results compared, the independent decisions by the paired photons always matched. There was no real way for them to communicate with each other. The responses were instantaneous, even though the two events were separated by about 26 milliseconds at the speed of light.
6. Since then, that same experiment has been repeated with electrons and ions as well. This effect is called the “quantum entanglement.” It leads directly to other related concepts such as “holographic universe” and “interconnectedness.” The conclusion is that entangled particles can be interconnected even if they are situated across the universe!
- In late 2015, “nonlocality of nature” or the violation of Bell’s inequality was confirmed in three “loophole-free” experiments; see the pdf, “Wiseman-Death by experiment for local realism-Nature-2015“.
- And the first of those experiments is: “Hensen-Loophole-free Bell Inequality-Nature-2015“.
- Details at “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma.”
7. The following fun video by Dr. Quantum illustrates the basic idea of quantum entanglement:
8. Quantum entanglement could be intimately connected (and can be “explained” easier) with a universe that is multi-dimensional (like the proposed 11-dimensional string theory). If you have read the post on “What Happens in Other Dimensions,” it will be easier to follow my simple (and crude) illustration:
- Think about a two-dimensional “world,” say, the kitchen floor, and consider an ant on the floor as a “two-dimensional being,”; which means we assume that the ant can see only those things that make direct contact with the floor. If a chair is there, the ant can see only four “impenetrable circles” where the chair’s legs touch the floor. For the ant, those four “circles” are not connected. They lie far apart from each other. However, if we lift that chair, all four “circles” will be removed simultaneously. This means that, for the ant, the four “circles” were “entangled” or connected. Of course, we can see that they were connected via the rest of the chair in the third dimension, above the floor.
- Similarly, things that appear to us as “far apart” (say New York and Houston) may be connected via a dimension that we cannot see. A person dying in New York may be born instantaneously in Houston because those two “places” may have a direct path via a hidden dimension.
- Those “entangled particles” in #5 above may travel far apart from each other. But they could be connected via a hidden dimension. Just like the ant in the above example is not aware of the rest of the chair, we are not aware of such hidden dimensions.
9. However, quantum mechanics is not restricted to working on “intellectual” problems such as above. Those are what the man-on-the-street calls “abstract stuff.” Most of the “things” that we have grown accustomed to happen to be byproducts of quantum mechanics. Those vary from computers and cell phones to lasers and nuclear bombs.
- So, these new observations do indeed make more plausible the concept of a connection across the universe. But there is no point in wasting valuable time trying to find answers to questions such as the end of the universe or the beginning of life. That is what the Buddha advised.
- We are fortunate to be born in the human world, which is an infrequent event. See, “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm.”) Thus, one should diligently work towards achieving liberation (Nibbāna). In realms below the human world, life is too painful, and life in heavenly worlds is too blissful for one to focus on working toward Nibbāna.
Is the Universe Multi-Dimensional? – Another Emerging Possibility
It was Einstein’s dream to work out such a Grand Unified Theory, but he was unable to do so. Many scientists are trying to accomplish this goal, and the newest theories are called string theories. No Grand Unified Theory exists yet, but the closest is a version of the M-theory’s string theory. M-theory says that the universe is 11-dimensional, even though we can see only four dimensions (including time). So, could there be life existing in other dimensions that we cannot observe? That is another possibility. I briefly discuss this possibility under the heading, “What Happens in Other Dimensions?“.
Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics
March 13, 2018: I have started a new section, “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma,” where a new interpretation of quantum mechanics is presented. I explain why quantum theory cannot explain consciousness.