Physics and Buddhism


There is no short answer. Even if I give you the long answer you will still left with more questions. Once you attain Nibbana you do not ask questions.
Having said that:
The way I understand Five clinging-aggregate including consciousness are not the Nibbana. There are two types of Nibbana. Nibbana experienced by living Arahant and the Nibbana after Parinibbana of an Arahant.
The closest experience you may have for Nibbana after death could be the cessation of perception and feeling. To be honest with you I can tell you what is not Nibbana but not what Nibbana is because it is not a fabricated thing. Seeking is craving and not seeking is Nibbana. If you are seeking Nibbana it is craving.
However, there are 33 ways Nibbana explained in Sutta.


Thank you for your reply. The dhammawiki link was very helpful :slight_smile:


From what I can find in the Early Buddhists Texts (EBTs) there are 4 nutrients that:

maintain sentient beings that have been born and help those that are about to be born

These are:

Solid food, whether coarse or fine; contact is the second, mental intention the third, and consciousness the fourth

So that’s kabaḷīkāro, phasso, manosañcetanā and viññāṇaṃ

From SN12.63

So no sankara in that list. Am I missing something? Do you have a reference from the EBTs for your understanding regarding sankharas and the deathless?


No, in fact, you corrected me :slight_smile: Mind interacts with sankharas. it does not literally consume sankharas (From what i have heard in Vipassana sessions, pls feel free to correct me if I am wrong)

I guess i should correct my original post…


I always had understanding this concept.
Why can’t I say each link in Dependent Origination is nutriment for the other?


I guess causality/conditionality is a different proposition to consumption?


I can understand food as a nutriment.
How about the other three.
Why does Sutta say them as nutriments?


With manosañcetanā translated as ‘mental intention’ in SN12.11 and saṅkhāra often rendered as ‘mental formation’, it is tempting to assume that an intention is a type of formation. But reading this

PTS Pali English Dictionary
one of the most difficult terms in Buddhist metaphysics, in which the blending of the subjective-objective view of the world and of happening peculiar to the East, is so complete, that it is almost impossible for Occidental terminology to get at the root of its meaning in a translation. We can only convey an idea of its import by representing several sides of its application, without attempting to give a “word” as a def. translation
■ An exhaustive discussion of the term is given by Franke in his Dīgha translation (pp. 307 sq. esp. 311 sq.); see also the analysis in Cpd. 273–⁠276
■ Lit “preparation, get up”; applied: coefficient (of consciousness as well as of physical life, cp. viññāṇa), constituent constituent potentiality; (pl.) synergies, cause-combination, as in SN.iii.87; discussed, B. Psy., p. 50 sq. (cp.

puts me in total despair of ever mastering anything other than the most basic Pali.


With physical food the body grasps some parts and assimilates those into the body, this transforms the body. Other parts are rejected by the body and eliminated. There is a constant ‘choosing’ by the body that leads to transformation of the body in a particular direction. This starts at the gross level of seeing a tasty snack and putting it in your mouth over one that looks less tasty to you. But it continues down into the microscopic level of bodily function.

Maybe an understanding of this sort of process (pulling towards, pushing away, choosing, rejecting, assimilation, transformation) with regard to the other three may bear some fruit after contemplation?


I agree. Once i asked a Theravadain bhikkhu about the choices we make regarding food resulting in craving for some and aversion towards other.
He said “When us monks are offered food, we place our bowl forward with both hands to accept it and after blessing the ones offering the food, we remind ourselves the purpose of the food thats infront of us. And what purpose does the food serve? The sole purpose being the provision of energy, we think thus ‘This, in front of me, is a form of energy necessary for the body.’ Thus we do not classify the food by its taste, form, or any other characteristic.”

Ever since, i have started to follow those teaching in my daily life. It has indeed helped me down the choice…and it is helping me develop equanimity towards the sensations of cravings and aversions towards foodstuff while meditating.


Andy Wachowski, the producer and director of The Matrix series…


Since this post is about physics and past present and future is mentioned. I would like to say something about the experience of time,

In time, the present can only be thought of as the line that separates the past and the future. Even though it is an information/ description(paññatti) the ordinary mind does not have much ability to experience it. The assumption that the present exists is not a self-evident to a normal person.

The past is already gone. It has been experienced as a paññatti. The future is yet to come. We can also experience it as a paññatti. In our ordinary life, the present is not evidant experience because of five hindrances. Only a person who has developed his mindfulness up to its bojjhaṅga level can experience the present (moment): the limb of wisdom that is mindfulness.


Without going into the (possible) connections between physics and Dhamma, I’ll just note that an appreciation of either does not preclude valuing the other. Rachel Lewis, who is an IMS (Insight Meditation Society) teacher, completed a PhD in physics at Yale University.


:thinking: Hmm. Per DN33:

There are sentient beings who desire what is present. They fall under the sway of presently arisen sensual pleasures. Namely, humans, some gods, and some beings in the underworld.

This is the first kind of sensual rebirth.

It seems that, conventionally, the present is experienced as evident, as in, “I live for chocolate.” Later, the Buddha gives a very useful definition for all:

Or you might discuss the present:

‘This is how it is at present.’

Would you say a bit more about the expression of time? I haven’t quite understood–the Buddha’s teachings about time seem to be universally applicable to monastics as well as laity.


Time is one of those topics that buddhism doesn’t explain much about. However, from the information available in the EBTs, we can get an idea on the expression of time.
Biddhism discusses about time but it lacks a direct definition. Blessed One’s teachings teach us samsara is something which has no ends.

Anamataggoyaṃ bhikkhave, saṃsāro. Pubbā koṭi na paññāyati
Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning. No first point is found
Hereby we can assume time has no ends, since saṃsāra ia a spending of time.
As we can find in buddhism, the present is rather discribed as dependantly originated (paccuppanna).
(atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ) the present is paccuppanna. A moment of existence is smaller than the conscious moment. Unmindful minds are not capable of seeing this process where the mind recognizes the process as a permanent existance. But the reality is impermanence: the continuous changing. Thus it would take more than the conscious mind to grasp the moment. We are not normally oriented to this type of dimension in the nature of a moment of existence. Therefore, our expectation is permanence where we experience impermanence due to the unique experiential process termed pratityasamutpada/ paticcasamuppada, translated as dependent or relational-origination. There should be some word to explain this difference of the expectation and the reality: time.

Time is not an ideal(paramatta)
Generally, the experience of impermanence can be felt as time. From the Buddhist stand-point, experiential events do not take place or flow in time. Rather, it would be more accurate to say that events flow as time, thus denying any primacy to an absolute status of time.

The concept of time (kala) is a general concept which is used in the ordinary conventional sense, such as, variations of clock time or the psychological nature of time.


Fascinating. I am learning new (and long words)! :pray:

As I read the teachings, the Buddha considers atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ (past, future, or present) independently of DO, which is somewhat different than what you have described as “present being dependently originated”. For example, in SN18.21, the Buddha explains truly seeing in the context of past, future or present:

“Rāhula, one truly sees any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’

However, you do clarify later that conventional thinking is coarse and sloppy about the experience of the present, so I think we share an understanding:

I think we could explain to the unmindful how our minds work using analogies like barcode scanners:

  1. Barcodes are raw sensory input, meaningless without interpretation. When I press the trigger on a barcode scanner and it beeps, we have a sight in the sense field: rūpāyatanaṃ . The barcode scanner has scanned “A0007”.
  2. A barcode leads us to lookup tables (A0007 => “Tomato 7 of 9”) that give us the corresponding understanding of the barcode. This is dhammāyatanaṃ
  3. And from here feelings can emerge, etc.

We can say that these are sequenced in time and that the barcode lookup table could actually be considered to be a representation of consciousness and even identity (i.e., my barcodes are the same as your barcodes, but my table is different than yours).

It’s also used in terms of right action:

The Realized One knows the right time to speak
tatra kālaññū tathāgato (I’m guessing here since I don’t know Pali)

From this I understand that the suttas consider time independent of suffering or extinguishment. Time in the EBTs is simply defined as a context for discussion.


kālaññū- one who knows the right/proper time,
Here it is an adjective to the word tathāgato (the enlightened one/ the buddha)


Probably scientific theories can be used to support many different types of religions and spiritual movement. For example I found that this physicist, who seems quite distinguished, in deeply involved in transcendental meditation:

Perhaps in the end justifying one’s religion with trendy science is just a marketing tool. Deepak Chopra does that with quantum healing, I saw a Buddhist teacher often mentioning that he is a friend of a friend of Stephen Hawking…

Isn’t religion about ethics, the human heart, happiness, what happens after death etc (so generally speaking the world of the mind), whereas physics has absolutely nothing to do with all these things, since it is about the material world?


There’s a description and etymology of “time” here - Akalika

The most complete (the only) explanation of kālaññū that I’ve found in the suttas was AN 7.68

And how are they one who knows the right time? It’s when a mendicant knows the right time: ‘This is the time for recitation; this is the time for questioning; this is the time for meditation; this is the time for retreat.’

So “time” is for different events (it’s also starting and ending events) – perhaps like space distinguishes different things.


For me, Buddhism has become the science of the heart. The mathematical rigor of the EBT’s axioms and derivations has been profoundly and consistently applicable to what is sensed, understood, spoken, done, earned, attempted, considered and realized in this impermanent material or immaterial world.

I also love physics for many of the same reasons. Physics taught me how observation changes the world, that form is a convenient illusion and that we are all entangled.

:heart: Glossology could use a “sujato” column effective immediately.