Sunday, May 11, 2014

Kamma in Bohm's Interpertation

This post is a sequel to previous two posts, the Karma-Quantum Interpretations-Bell's inequality, and Physics needs Buddhism. I am still reading the book "Time Reborn" by Lee Smolin and the second part is quite heavy in terms of food for thought, so I decide to just run the articles as I read along.

I'm reading now about Smolin's preference to the hidden variable interpretations of quantum physics, lead by de Broglie and Bohm. The reason behind the preference of this as the more fundamental explanation to quantum theory is to do away with the inherent randomness of quantum physics which violates the principle of sufficient reason. The principle of sufficient reason means that any reasonable questions should have an answer. Intrinsic randomness (without cause) is the ultimate bummer to this principle, there is no reason for the result to happen, it just happened to happen! Recall in the Karma-Quantum article, I mentioned that from a superficial outlook, karma in Buddhism which rejects no causes for things to happen and super-determinism seems to favour the hidden variable theories. This article explores this line of thinking further.

Smolin posits his own version of the hidden variable versions, that is real-ensemble interpretation. The usual ensemble interpretations involves interaction of single systems with imaginary group of ensembles and the usual sampling from statistics explains the randomness in quantum theory. Smolin modified this by rejecting the interaction with imaginary groups (which violates the principle that nothing outside the universe can act on something inside it), and says that the group that quantum systems compare to does not have to be local. Now it has been proven that local hidden variable are not possible in nature, so all hidden variable theories includes non-locality. Thus, the example of an electron would have it's copy of ensembles far away, but the universe has many of those identical fundamental particles. However, when it comes to macroscopic things like humans, we are unique, therefore there is no exact copy elsewhere in the universe and thus the quantum effects disappears.

Before he presents his theory, he speculates that the hidden variable inside quantum systems that determine the results of measurements are inherently linked to everything else in the universe via the principle of maximum freedom. This principle is that quantum physics maximizes the amount of information you need per choice. It describes the universe which can have probabilistic predictions of how systems behave where the systems has as much freedom from determinism as any physical system described by probabilities can have. So in the sense that quantum systems are free, they are maximally free. It means that the properties of each particle in the universe are maximally tied up in hidden relations to the universe as a whole. (Sorry a lot of direct copying of his exact words, I find it hard to paraphrase and still mean the same thing.)

Now onto the creative part. If we use a naive approach and directly input kamma as part of the mechanism or relations that describes these relational hidden variables, how can that help in the research in Physics from the interaction between Physics and Buddhism?

So having just thought about it, here is my naive conception of how this might work out. Below are just an overall plan, with no details of the theory, just an outline of the direction of research to work out for the idea.

From the previous post of Physics needs Buddhism, I had argued for the inclusion of mind-matter interaction relations to be described in Physics before any theory can claim the title of theory of everything. Kamma can enter into Physics via the hidden variables version of quantum physics.

First we need to know how the physical world affects and influences the mental world. This ranges from studies of biology, neuroscience (how the physical world affects the brain which in turns affects the mind), to psychology and a bit of Buddhism. Most importantly perhaps is if Penrose's speculation that the mind is quantum mechanical, is true, then this would be a major contribution.

Second, is how the mind takes the data input from the physical world and processes it to eventually translate it to further actions (kamma). This is the part where Buddhism can help fill in the blank, because it is how mind interacts with mind itself. The dependent origination and Abhidhamma explained in the previous post exactly addresses this gap.

Third is to see how action (kamma) translates to changes in the hidden variables. This is one of the mind-matter interactions which is a variable theory to be discovered and researched. Some complications may present itself here. Kamma is not only physical actions and speech, it includes mental actions. How does this translates to hidden variables is anyone's guess. However, one can speculate that mental thoughts is correlated with electrical signals in the brain, and thus can investigate how that affects the hidden variables (maybe mainly around the brain) was modified from there and how it changes a human.

Conventional kamma action theory from Buddhism can help in a rough guide here. Conventionally, what we put out in the world, goes around and changes it a little, so that it is no surprise if it comes back and hit you one day. That's social kamma. Also there is psychological kamma, which is just like the book the Secret. What you think about, you are getting prepared for it, eventually, when the opportunity comes, you'll get it naturally as much easier as compared to you not having thinking about it. But the most mysterious part of kamma is the one that just says, doer of good deeds will get their results when the conditions are right and vice versa, even onto the next life and beyond. This kinds of posits an imaginary account for kamma which the individual carries around all the time until the results ripen. In fact, Mahayana Buddhism has the eight consciousness just for this, the storehouse of kamma. The potential of relational hidden variable theory is to put this imaginary account onto the physical world or at least provides a relationship to the physical world which somehow puts the theory of how kamma works on a more rational (possibly predictable) and less mysterious track. But to complete this theory, we need one more element.

Fourth, we need to see how the hidden variables that was modified by kamma interacts with other hidden variables and comes back to hit the doer of the kamma. And this would link back to the first knowledge above, completing this chain. This might be the hardest part to figure out as it is purely a physical phenomena on unobservable quantities. The theories constructed on this part must be tested together with theories constructed for the third part and best estimates from the first part to fit in with the second part (which we currently take that Buddhism works well to describe the theory for the mind) to reproduce the description of how kamma works in Buddhism (which for this case we assume to be true and the goal of the research). So for the best case scenario that the first knowledge can be obtained from neuroscience quite well, we have four parts of a theory, 2 known, 2 unknown to equate to 1 description of kamma, which is known. We have one degree of freedom here.

I would suggest that this degree of freedom be modified to test against predictions from this theory on supernatural observations. No, I am not talking about fictional accounts of ghosts and such beings, nor claims that has been proven to be fake. We should only consider cases where it has been well documented, long standing cases which cannot be easily explained away by conventional means. And also employ experienced frauds, skeptics and neutral scientists to decide the cases to consider.

Another feature is that I believe the theory of how rebirth happens might have to be written down (or better yet, predicted from the previous theory) somewhere to guide the construction of the theory. Then the theory can be modified to fit accounts of cases of rebirth claims that has been verified which numbers thousands of data. Using this, we might be able to produce the physics of supernatural beings, predict the workings of kamma and rebirth on a person and so on to construct experiments and further test the theories.

One example of how kamma might work is that each time an action is done, it shifts the hidden variable around the doer a bit. However, habitual kamma can accumulate the shift to be significant so that it comes back to the doer in a heavy force. Being non-local, kamma may also not be stored around the doer, but actually affects the whole universe.

Another power of this description is that the concern raised by Sean Carroll here about modifying the equations of physics to fit in interactions between mind and matter is addressed. Physics at everyday scales need not change, we only need the seemingly random results of quantum measurements. We need them because they are actually a complicated play of mind-matter interactions.

Now, I hope that this article shows that the dialogue between Buddhism and Physics can drive a certain direction of research in Physics. If you are uncomfortable with thinking that Buddhism as a religion, think of the statements from Buddhism as working hypothesis or conjectures by learned ancient scholars, or one wise dude (the Buddha) who has no intention to convert anyone, just to discover the truth to live a happier life and share it.

There are just two warnings for those who wants to pursue this. First, the relational hidden variable theories may not be correct. This is one fair warning, but it never stopped theoretical physicists before. Second, The Buddha did put up a warning that to contemplate the exact workings of kamma may make one go insane. But he also said that about thinking of the origin of the universe, and this didn't stop cosmologists from discovering almost everything right down to just after the Big Bang. It might be that these statements were true to the people of that time. (Imagine them having to learn/discover modern physics first before able to start to think about these questions.) We might have some advantages due to the advances in theory made in the past. Yet, to be fair, we still do not know the origin of the universe for sure yet, thus, it might be possible that we may also not ever be able to complete the plan outlined above to complete satisfaction.

Anyway, once again I apologize for the large number of assumed knowledge of Physics and Buddhism on the part of the reader and my laziness to cite things I mentioned here. I'll do it next time.

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