Musaavaada, Patta-Pal-Boru and the Holographic Universe.
Posted on April 7th, 2015

By Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec, Canada

My article in the Lankaweb (Apri 5, 2015 entitled “Is it Dhanapala’s confusion or Dr. Nalin de Silva’s confusion? Who considers Science, Mathematics and large parts of Buddhism as “Patta-Pal-Boru”?) has elicited a number of thought-provoking comments which need a serious reply. So, thanking the authors of those comments, I present here a brief response based on the most recent thinking in science, as far as I can ascertain them.

Let me first deal with simpler matters. There is a tendency to paraphrase Einstein and actually misquote him in a way that often brings out the opposite of what Einstein meant to say.  “Neela-Maha-Yodhaya” says “ Nalin’s Patta-Pal-Boru has already been captured by the words of Albert Einstein;
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”.

The actual quote from Einstein is “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”(see ).

In order to be accurate, we need to also look at what Dr. Nalin de Silva said. [“බුදුදහමට අනුව අපේ (පෘථග්ජනයන්ගේ) සියළු සංකල්ප, ප්‍රවාද ඇතුළත් දැනුම මුසා වෙයි.].  It is because I  am a practicing Buddhist that I asked myself the following question. If I accept Dr. Silva’s claim that everything known by Pruthagjana is a musa, then I know that what I (a pruthagjana)  say to you or write  to you is a Musa, so if I say it or write it, I am violating the “Musaavaadaa veramani” precept.  The commentator using the name “Independent” fails to appreciate this simple fact. Furthermore, Dr. Nalin S, himself a pruthagjana, cannot say that anything stated by a pruthgjna is a lie because it is a self-referential statement that negates itself”. No one respecting even logic would utter self-referential statements. So given “Independent’s” statement, and Dr. Nalin de Silva’s statement, one must  must ask  who is being illogical?

“Independent” essentially tells us that he “knows” the etymology of the word Prathyaksha and also “Patichcha”. Independent says “Paticcha” – in Pali means dependence, a completely different meaning”, without referring us to any authority on the Pali language. The Pali dictionary ://  tells us that paticcca has the etymology prathi+eethya, implying going to (eethya)  causes (prathya). Thus prathayaksha knowledge, ( which is a more sanskritzed prakrit form) means “knowledge where we have understood the causes”. Mere association of two things does not imply understanding them. It is when the causes are understood that we have “prathyaksha knowledge”. So, the meaning of the terms “Prathyaksha knowledge” in Buddhism is completely different from the “directly perceived knowledge” interpretation given by Dr. Silva, on his own authority and not based on any discussion of Pali or Prakirt sources. I believe that Dr. Silva is influenced by modern existentialist philosophers, and imagines that “Prathyaksha” has some thing to do with the eye and “sense data” from the organs (he says: “එහි නිරුක්තියට අක්‍ෂි යන්න වැදගත් වුවත්  ප්‍රත්‍යක්‍ෂ සෑම ඉන්ද්‍රියක් සම්බන්ධයෙන් ම … මනස එක්වීමෙන් ද ප්‍රත්‍යක්‍ෂ ලැබෙයි.). There is no support what so ever for this linking “Prathyaksa” with the eye in any Pali etymology source. If there is such support he should produce it.

Furthermore, “independent” says “The enlightened being knows there is only observance but no person.” However, if we accept Dr. Silva’s interpretation, if the Independent is a pruthagjana, what ever Independent  is saying must be a Musava (a lie).
Rejecting mys statement that “Buddhism does NOT say that there is no pudgala” (person). Buddhism has said that there is no UNCHANGING person or unchanging soul”

Independent reacts  “Where did you learn that ? There are no ‘souls’ in Buddhism , may be it is stated Dhanapala’s religion”.
Buddhists believe in a consciousness that passes from one birth to another, but no permanent unchanging soul. This incessantly changing “consciousness” replaces the unchanging soul of many other faiths that accept an eternal soul. But Buddhism does not deny the existence of such a changing consciousness. It is in fact explained to be a concatenation of Naama-Roopa linked by causal processes. It is this changing nama-rupa  sequence that is “the person” who travels samsaara. In many discourses of the Buddha, he identifies himself in his previous births as a Bodhisatva, and even goes so far as to identify the persons around him like  Aajasatta and who he was in a previous birth, and how Ajaasatta was an enemy of the  Buddha in that previous birth too. So, personal identities are recognized even  as they evolve in  Samsrara while they changes incessantly. So why does Dr. Nalin de Silva reject these clear statements found in many many Buddhist discourses? Given Dr. Silva’s interpretation of Buddhism, he  cannot even identify Mirisavatiya and Dutugamunu, while Buddhist texts routinely make identifications going even into previous births.

There are many misconceptions about consciousness, anatta, mind-body problem  etc in Buddhism,  and it is no surprising that what Dr. Nalin de Silva has written (as a short remark within an article on science) is not accurate. A well-known Buddhist commentator known as Bhikkhu Samahitha (:// also wrote a series of tracts on such matters and as there were major errors, I attempted to corrected his errors. In the end he conceded his errors and withdrew from the discussion, agreeing with me that the mind-brain question belong to the questions that the Buddha chose to not to discuss. You may read that discussion at the blog:

Mr. Senevirathna says that the Buddha has recommended renunciation as these other things extend our sojourn in Samsaara. Indeed that is so and perhaps Mr. Senevirathna is at least a prospective  anagarika who proposes to renounce he world.. But this discussion is for us who are recognized in the Singaalovada  suthra as those who lead a gruha-jeevaka life,  and others  who have not renounced the world to become ascetics.

NeelaMahaYodhaya brings in a valuable contribution by referring to the ideas of Prof. David Bohm, and also in high-lighting the underlying “holographaic character” of the universe.  These things need some explanation for the reader. In fact, I too was not aware of some aspects of these matters until I read a modern exposition of Bohm’s quantum theory in Dr. Dharmawardana’s recent book entitled “A Physicist’s view of Matter and Mind (World Scientific 2013)”. So let us thank NeelaMahaYodhaya for bringing this up.

I already pointed out that NeelaMahaYodhaya’s  Einstein quote, when traced to the source, means a different thing. NeelaMY’s presentation of Bohm’s ideas also needs revision. Prof. Bohm is well known for insisting that the external world exists, and providing for an “ontological interpretation of the quantum theory”. He re-wrote the quantum equations in a way where particles  simultaneously have both position and momentum, just as in the ordinary intuitive world  codified by Galelio and Newton.  So you can use Newton’s equations to describe how a quantum particle goes through a hard wall  containing two slits, one slit at a time, and yet produce the diffraction pattern required by quantum mechanics. It is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics that was used prior to Bohm’s quantum mechanics  that gave rise to the impression that the real world is merely an illusion. So NeelaMY’s statement  that Bohm “claimed that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm,…” is to ascribe to Bohm the very non-ontological ideas of some members of the Copenhagan school. Dr. Nalin de Silva’s ideas are those of the Copenhagen school and not those of the objective school of David Bohm. But Dr. Silva  would claim that quantum mechanics in any form is just “Patta-Pal-Boru”, as he has to reject all “abstract constructions” be they in  mathematics, science, humanities,  Buddhism or any other philosophic system. Professor Dharmawardana in his article entitled “Nay-Sayers of Science” that appeared in the Lankaweb had stated a similar critique of Dr. Silva’s views that reject all abstract knowledge.

Now let us discuss this “hologram” idea. Let us consider a hologram of a person’s face. It is an optical image where, even if you cut off a part of the picture, e.g., cut off the left side of the face, the  remaining part still shows not only the right side, but also the missing  left side. Of course  the missing side is shown rather more faintly than prior to mutilation. In fact, even a 1/100 part of the image is enough to see the whole image, although now most  of it would be only 1% in brightness. The while point is, every part of the hologram has embedded in it the phase relations coming from the whole object, in the sense that the microcosm contains the macrocosm in it. This fanciful idea is actually realized by science in constructing holograms. So holograms are not “phantasies” as perhaps implied by NeelaMahaYodhaya. It is used in optical data storage in a special types of compact computer discs, and in many other everyday applications of technology.
In Bohm’s  Quantum theory, the quantum particles move just like marbles, but acted on by a quantum potential which guides the particles. In the case of the two-slit experiment, it guides the particles  through one or the other of the two slits, as explained in a research paper by Bohm and Hiley. I find a good discussion of these “quantum potentials” in sec. 6.7.1 of Dr. Dharmawardana’s book that I already referred to. He explains how quantum potentials arise from the “boundary conditions” imposed on the differential equations that govern physics, and hence carry non-local information and phase relations. The ‘non-local” quantum potentials are the basis of the thesis of the  “The undivided universe: An ontological interpretation of the quantum theory” by David Bohm and Basil Hiley.
The existence of being in step with each other (phase relations) and with the surroundings that is found valid  for  quantum particles is understandable when we remember that they have wave properties and see their surroundings by their waves. This idea was used by de Broglie in his concept of “pilot waves” that is at the heart of the Bohm potentials. If the de Broglie wavelength L of a particle is large, it sees other quantum particles and forms entangled states or superpositions. Such entangled many-particle states are known as Schrodinger’s cat states. These are NOT phantasies, but perfectly real objects that can be created  in the laboratory and also exist in the formation of every chemical bond.

However, another very important thing is emphasized in Dr. Dharmawardana’s book  that (I have not seen emphasized in other books). Namely, that almost all discussions of the philosophical basis of the quantum theory are given for quantum mechanics done at zero temperature. Dr. Dharmawardana points out (see his equation 7.13) that the de Borglie wavelength L of a particle of mass m in a room at the temperature T is given by L=h/sqrt(3mT) where h is Planck’s constant (divided by 2 pi) and T is in energy units.  When this is calculated, even for a common oxygen atom, or for a big object like a cat,  it is found to be very very small. So  the quantum entanglements, holographic effects etc., simply don’t manifest unless the particles are very very close, as in a what-dwarf star. But for very light particles like electrons  the value of L is large enough to allow the formation of chemical bonds which are of the order of a nanometer.

That is, the phase relations needed for the holographic effects rapidly undergo decoherence at any realistic temperature (e.g., above even one degree kelvin). Furthermore, according to a theory by Gelmann and others, there is decoherence even at zero temperature. Another theory of decoherence, arising from gravitational effects and general relativity have  been given by Prof. Roger Penrose. But this has been criticized by other scientists, and a discussion of these topics and new criticisms are given in Sec. 7.5.3 of Dr. Dharmawardana’s book. Other modern books should also discuss these ideas, but I have alluded to this  book as I have now become familiar with it. However, I must add that the book by Baggot  referred to by Dr. Nalin de Silva does not consider the very important effects of temperature on coherence, holographic effects etc., and discusses only the academically important but unrealistic case of a  zero temperature physical world.
Mr. Thayabaran in commenting on my article says that Buddhism reduces everything to “Nothingness”. As far as I am aware, this is not true. Buddhism reduces everything to Naama, and rupa, but both these exist and not “nothing”. Nama seems to be mental events, while rupa is what we usually mean by physical events, and living organisms seem to involve both these. However, according to Buddhist texts, there seems to be also worlds which have only form (rupa) and other which have no form but only nama. Of course, our world has both nama and rupa.  Buddhist cosmology is very similar to that of other Indian cosmologies of the 5th century before the common era. It claims that there are 31 heavenly abodes above the earth, and four hells below the earth (underground), all this comprising a Chakravaala or a universe. There are many such universes. The origin of the universe, and weather it came from nothing or not, are the metaphysical questions that the Buddha refused to discuss.

9 Responses to “Musaavaada, Patta-Pal-Boru and the Holographic Universe.”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Dear Dhanapala

    There is no valid argument in your “reply to comments” published in your article due to following simple reasons;

    1. In your first paragraph you says “Nalin considers ……large parts of Buddhism as “Patta-Pal-Boru”?) It is a diabolical lie. Being a strong Buddhist Nalin has never said that.

    2. Now You are trying to say that the well-known Albert Einstein’s quote; “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”, is something I have made up. On the contrary, this Albert Einstein’s quote is one of the 10 most popular quotes of Albert Einstein. Looks like now you are trying to discredit Albert Einstein also, denying ownership of his famous quotes. (For your information google “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”- Albert Einstein” and you will get all the information and explanation why he made that statement etc.)

    3. You are trying to explain Buddhist definition of consciousness without understanding what is explained in both Sutta Pitakaya and Abhidamma pitakaya. In order to understand what Nalin says about “Boru and Pattapal Boru” you should try to understand two realities explained in Buddhism.
    Namely Sammutti – Sacca (Apparent Realities) or Einstein’s reality or Nalin’s Boru and Pattapal Boru, and Paramattha-Sacca –( Ultimate Realities) Sathya in Sinhala

    Paramattha-Sacca –( Ultimate Realities) is further separated into four elements, Citta (Consciousness), Cetasika (Mind), Rupa (4 fundamental forces of nature ) and Nibbana (condition exists beyond the time and space universe possibly condition of Singularity)

    Citta (Consciousness), defined as that which knows or experiences an object or that which constitutes the knowing or awareness.

    Please note that Citte (Consciousness) do not change at the time of death or rebirth. This is the main difference between Buddhism and other religions (Read about continuation of thought process at the time of Death). Each thought process normally has 17 steps and your death occurs in the middle of the last thought process in this birth providing part of the last thought belongs to your next birth also. That is the main reason why Buddhism rejects the concept of a soul. Time in between these thought processes are called Bavanga and according to Hindu belief your soul moves from one birth to other during this Bavanga period.

    Let me give you a little bit of explanation on Buddhist consciousness and its relationship with our day to day activities
    Buddhist Consciousness is fourfold: Consciousness pertaining to the Sensuous Sphere (kamavacara), Form-Sphere (rupavacara), Formless-Sphere ( arupavaca ra ) and Supramundane consciousness (lokuttara). In Supramundane consciousness (lokuttara) “Loka” means five aggregates. “Uttara” means above, beyond or that which transcends. Therefore the supra-mundane (beyond universe) consciousness enables one to transcend this world of mind-body (from the Space and Time domain) into the types of consciousness that directly accomplish the realisation of Nibbana which can be considered as part of citta that belongs to the singularity where there is no space and time. Once someone archives Nibbana, kamavacara, rupavacara and arupavaca ra Consciousness will cease to exist and you will leave this universe into singularity left with Supramundane consciousness (lokuttara).

    In his book “The Science of the mind and the myth of the self” Dr. Thomas Metzinger at the Johannes Gutenburg University in Mainz, Germany says that every time we go into deep sleep, we practically switch off all our senses and perceptions including our mind and the consciousness goes out of “time and space universe”.You temporary log into your Supramundane consciousness (lokuttara). That is the main reason why every day when we wake up from a deep sleep (NonREM) the first thing we try to do is to re-establish the time and location in the four dimensional world.

    Cetasika (Mind), the mental factors that arise and occur along with the Citte (Conciousness)
    Precisely Cetasika is defined as;
    1. that which arises together with consciousness,
    2. that which perishes together with it,
    3. that which has an identical object with it, (stimulated by an external object)
    4. that which has a common basis with it

    When you look at the computer screen, the light from screen enters your eye through the pupil. The lens in your eye focuses image of the computer screen onto your retina in your eye. The photoreceptors on your retina read the image and convert into electrical signals and transferred to your brain. Based on that signal your brain recreate an image of the screen in your mind and create a response to that. One is feeling (vedana), another is perception (sanna). The remaining 50 are grouped together under the term sankhara that will create Kusala, Akusal and Vipaka.
    The superior colliculus in your brain is responsible for moving the eyes in short jumps, called saccades. Saccades allow the brain to perceive a smooth scan by stitching together a series of relatively still images. (This process is describe as Chakku Vinnanaya in Abidharma Pitaka as a part of the thought process Chitta Vitti)

    So, In reality, according to Buddhism, the universe can be considered as a consciousness hologram made out of Citta ( Consciousness), Cetasika (Mind), Rupa( Four basic natural force explained in particle physics) and Nirvana ( consciousness link to Singularity).

    The ego or the concept of “I” or self is an unwillingly created perception in your mind because you are constitutionally unable to realise that your bodily sensations, your emotional states, your perceptions, memories, act of will and thoughts are just the content of a simulation in your brain which is called Cetasika or the Mind. However, according to Buddhist philosophy, one can get rid of the ego or the concept of “I” or “Self” only when you enter to the stage Sotapanna (Sovan) or the Stream-enterer stage of the four stages of enlightenment. Until then we all are Pruthagjana.

    Nibbana (condition exists beyond the time and space universe possibly condition of Singularity)

    Rupa is the physical phenomena or material form (functionally manifestation of form of energy, and matter as defined in material physics and it is the four fundamental forces of nature all play central roles in making the Universe what it is today

    As far as Rupa is concerned. the particle that are the very building blocks of all things, are in all possible places (wave phase) until observation causes them to choose a specific position ( particle phase).When a particle is in many places at once the only information that can be accessed is the probability of where the particle might be in a wave possibilities(wave function).

    To quote another Noble Prize winning physicist, Werner Heisenberg; “The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real”.(Boru in Nalin’s term).

    “They form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts”

    ( Further Reading- Chapter 3 What is reality The grand Design by Prof.Stephen Hawking)

    This idea of particles existing simultaneously in multiple places is not just a theoretical concept but is becoming increasingly relevant in practical use as the quantum computing are now in progress.

    Similarly every sub atomic particles of our bodies and our physical world are made up of, can be in multiple places simultaneously and can be configured in an infinite manner of ways as a wave of possibilities, until the act of observing them bring them to one specific place as particles after collapse the wave function due to act of observing.

    A particle has neither a definite position nor a definite velocity unless and until those quantities are measured by an observer. It is therefore not correct to say that a measurement gives a certain results because the quantity being measured had that value at the time of the measurement. In fact, in some cases individual objects don’t even have an independent existence but rather exist only as part of an ensemble of many.( Prof.Stephen Hawking, The grand Design Page 44)

    Are we living in what can be called a Holographic Universe?.

    As Prof.Stephen Hawking says in his book “The grand Design” (Page 44) If a theory called the holographic principle proves correct, we and our four-dimensional world may be shadows on the boundary of a larger, five-dimensional space-time.

    The more we delve into quantum physics the stranger the world becomes, appreciating this strangeness of the world, whilst still operating in that which you now consider reality, will be the foundation for shifting the current trajectory of your life, your consciousness from ordinary to extraordinary for which some of the basics are discussed in Abidhamma

    In order to understand this concept please read the basics of Abhidamma by Rerukane Chandawimala.

    Finally as Prof.Stephen Hawking says Model-dependent realism short-circuits all these arguments and discussions between realist and anti-realist schools of thought, it applies not only to scientific models but also to the conscious and subconscious mental models we all create in order to interpret and understand the everyday world.

  2. AnuD Says:

    Our brain function as a hologram. So, only a hologram (the brain) can understand another hologram (the universe).

  3. Independent Says:


    Paticca-Samuppaada means dependence- origination There is no need to refer to authorless “Wikis” to prove it, all Buddhists know this , except you (which proves you are not a Buddhist). Sinhala is our language it has a close relationship to Pali, most Sinhala people know this which casts doubt on your nationality too. “Uppaada” is birth, Sama-upaada thus stands for originating , Paticca has the meaning of “dependence”. As you were referring to Paticca-Samuppaada , you have to look for the meaning of Paticca on that line in whatever “books” you are referring to and I am not a Pothe Gura – I use brain, which may be pattapal boru, same as yours. But the Sinhala word “Pattapalboru” shall be understood like a educated learned man, not just literally, acting like a brainless.
    You have also mad an assumption that I am a “prutagjana” – I am not. Here, I may be different to Dr. Silva if he claims himself as a “prutagjana” – being humble enough. . “Prutagjana” is an uneducated worldling like you. ( please take it in Buddhist learning not pattapal- boru learning). Again do not underestimate the opponent.
    Let me educate you, if you wish. There is no “passing of consciousness” in Buddhism. But consciousness arise and cease. If you are indulging in the “person” you cannot grasp this. If one does not care of the suffering of a being arose due to ceasing consciousness arising again somewhere yet to suffer again, one cannot understand “dukkha” does not belong to a “person”.

  4. Christie Says:

    Let me put in a bit of typing in. In space. (three dimensions), mass (matter though one may argue matter and space is the same) and time is existence.

  5. Independent Says:

    To peruse the path to liberation is not an easy thing. It is going against the patta-pal-boru creating mind. It needs enormous effort.
    Unless one is a Buddha no amount of intelligent can find the truth without hearing the real dhamma. This is why Kalyanamittaship is essential.

    Even though Buddhism is not completely faith based, faith will help to reduce the doubt occurring along the way.

    As an example, assume you have been given a very difficult puzzle to solve. If you have a doubt that the puzzle could be a bluff to fool you, you will never solve it. If you are 100% sure that someone else has solved it, you can put great effort to solve it.

    Most people lack faith even though they believe Buddhism. That is why they can be easily mislead by “scientific” arguments. It is simply lack of experience.

  6. AnuD Says:

    Buddhism has compounded things and one “thing” which is non-compounded. However, those compounded things retains the nature of that non-compounded thing. Names and forms are applicable to those compounded things only. Because of that, every thing finally relates to that non-compounded “thing” which is the nothingness (also called itness, suchness etc.). In my mind that nothingness which is non-compounded and which is every thing is the nothingness. That is how in buddhism every thing relates to that nothingness. Scientifically, once it is proven that only non-compounded nothingness should be the superstring. Because, it is the every thing which is energy or matter and it is every where it does not lose it’s original nature what ever happens to it. further to that, every thing related macroforms or in compounded thigns must be related to those of that nothingness.

  7. AnuD Says:

    Mr. Dhanapala.

    When you understand the life, consciousness and the soul, understand that all these are processes, so only the so many incident frames where you experience or so many reference frames you observe are there. Those are sprung from the other and interrelated. Otherwise, buddhism do not have any thing permanent.

    Talking about soul in buddhism is wrong. When you consider every thing as processes (no permanent things) , it is easy to understand.

  8. AnuD Says:

    We say. What I thought was not what I said. What I said was not what you heard. what you heard was not what you understood. Then there is another burden. the language is evolved in such a way, that it does not allow every thing that we want to say to be said in exactly the way that we want. To support that, Bertrand Russel had said, that English was not a complete language which allows every thing to be expressed exactly the way we want to. So, amazed what should he have done if Sanskrit was not there.

    Anyway what I wanted to say was, more time wasted on what Nalin De Silva had said and on Nalin De Silva’s assumptions. Article should have been presented very nicely without getting into that mindset.

  9. Independent Says:

    I have to accept that Dr. Nalin De Silva’s problem is he goes into the person’s education, ability, his history etc. which is unnecessary to support an argument, if it is properly formulated and direct.

    All his writings has this problem. Too personal, too emotional and mixes up with real facts which loose the credibility.

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