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Sunday 13 February 2011

The Dalai Lama, quantum physics and UFOs

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a Head of State, one of the world's foremost religious leaders and (through no fault of his own) something of a folk-hero among Britain's technophobic New Age subculture. HH himself, however, is a bit of a techno-geek, as this book (The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama) makes clear. The introduction states that "As a youth in Lhasa, it was he who was called on to fix broken machinery in the Potala Palace, be it a clock or a car". At the start of the discussion (with a number of eminent quantum physicists, astronomers and cosmologists) the Dalai Lama says: "in Mahayana Buddhism, the basic attitude is that you should remain skeptical at the beginning... therefore Mahayana Buddhism relies more on investigation than faith. I feel that attitude is very helpful in communicating with scientists." (or with Forteans, he might have added!).

Needless to say, most of the scientific discussion covers mainstream topics such as wave-particle duality, quantum entanglement and the expanding universe. However, His Holiness does touch briefly on the subject of aliens and UFOs: "Of course, the paradigm of the fascination with extraterrestrial life is an image of weird extraterrestrial beings coming into contact with human beings on earth. But from the Buddhist point of view, given the understanding that there are sentient beings in different realms of existence even within this world system, there are probably more explanations that could account for phenomena which otherwise would be considered mysterious. Even though there's no totally compelling scientific evidence of aliens coming to planet Earth, there are many individuals who have had very anomalous experiences, people who seem in every other way sane. There doesn't seem any way to account for that within the standard scientific paradigm, but the Buddhists might have an easier time taking these people seriously."

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