Does observation of gravitational waves makes Einstein’s space-time a patta aththa?
Posted on February 21st, 2016

Janaka Wansapura

Gravitational waves were first predicted by Albert Einsteina century ago. A group of physicists (LIGO) based in the USA built a fine instrument to detect them and they recently found what they had believed to exist. A Canadian technical college teacher, Bodhi Dhanapala, enrolling the dead scientist’s involuntary aid, implies (Island 13/2/16) that this discovery falsifies Nalin de Silva’s claim that the theory of gravitation is a blatant lie (patta pal boru). Clearly there is a mismatch in what we and Bodhi Dhanapala understand as patta pal boru.

Nalin de Silva’s, thesis work was on relativistic gravitational effects in Astrophysics for which he earned his PhD from the University of Sussex in 1970. Years later, scientists were able to confirm Dr. Nalin de Silva’s predictions on dragging of inertial frames through observations and his results had been published in the prestigious Nature magazine. Therefore it should be clear that when Nalin de Silva says that the theory of gravitation is a blatant lie, he means it in a philosophical context. It seems that Dhanapala failed to grasp the idea.

Theravadin Bhuddhists believe in the idea of there being no self or that I” is a lie (boru, musa, maya, unreal, etc.). If I” is a lie then all experiences of I” must be lies as well. If this I” then goes on to create abstract stories about its experiences (which happened to be lies) then those stories ought to be called blatant lies (patta pal boru). In this sense if some story is a patta pal boruwa then it cannot claim to be about an absolute reality (patta aththa). Both Newton and Einstein created abstract stories about things falling to the ground. They are both patta pal boru in the above sense.

If I” is a lie and that I’s experiences are lies, it is not problematic to use blatant lies to explain I” or its experiences, provided they work. It should be emphasized that the boruwa I” works very well. Therefore Newton’s law, since they work, can be used to send rockets even though it is patta pal boruwa, and Einstein’s space-time does not have to be absolutely real for scientists to observe gravitational waves.

Newton’s story imagined gravity as a force; Einstein’s story did not have such forces. In Newton’s story space and time were given. In Einstein’s story space-time was determined by objects and radiation. Einstein’s story was not an extension of Newton’s story it is paradigmatically a different story. Most western Physicists agree on this.

Newton’s theory cannot explain the gravitational waves found in Einstein’s general relativity. Trying to explain gravitational waves with Newton’s theory would be like asking a blind man to describe color of an object while agreeing on the shape. But the question is if both theories were about the same absolute reality why it is not possible to work within Newton’s theoretical frame work and come up with gravitational waves? In other words, if there is an absolute reality can there be two conceptually incompatible stories about it? Most western Physicists avoid this question hence people like Bodhi Dhanapala do not know what to say in this regard.

However Theravadin Buddhists have an answer to this question. Both stories are patta pal boru; meaning that they are figments of the respective author’s imaginations and has nothing to do with a so called absolute reality. These stories do agree with themselves and certain human observations, which are themselves boru, only because they were designed to be so. But they do not correspond to an absolute reality. This is what Bodhi Dhanapala seems to have a problem with. He wants to think that both Newton and Einstein theorized about gravitational force that exist in an absolute sense and that Einstein was closer to reality than Newton. However, in another 50 years or so there will be a another story about gravitation and it will explain gravitational waves plus much more than we know at present, if people like Bodhi are around they will be the first to claim that space-time is no longer the reality but something else is; this can go on forever.

Unfortunately scientists who claim to be Theravadin Buddhists do not ask themselves whether I” exist in the same sense that space-time exists.

Janaka Wansapura

13 Responses to “Does observation of gravitational waves makes Einstein’s space-time a patta aththa?”

  1. . Says:

    De Silva says;

    It is true that Theravadin Bhuddhists believe in the idea of there being no self or selflessness (anattā in Pali; anātman in Sanskrit;) but Buddha never said that “I” is a lie (boru, musa, maya, unreal, etc.). In Buddhist philosophy term “I” was replaced with more realistic ultimate sense, (paramattha-sacca). called consciousness (Chitta or Vignnana) With your consciousness you think,hear, taste,feel,smell and see. And these are the realities. A group of physicists (LIGO) based in the USA built a fine instrument to detect them and they recently found what they had believed to exist with their own conciousness and that is the their reality.

    Selflessness is simply a fundamental reality that we can realize; and realizing it leads naturally to a more expansive and loving way of being in the world. The concept of “I” is necessary to realize it. The Buddhist investigations related to selflessness are in no way a type of self-denial or suppression. At no point in our meditation journey are we asked to stop using the first-person pronoun in conversation, or to not have a sense of care and respect for our precious human life, or to dim down our personalities to become something less vivid. The aim of the exploration here is to become free from the tendency to bind ourselves up in confused thoughts.

    According to you argument the enlightenment the Buddha has achieved by himself is also a lie because Buddha never existed.

  2. janaka wansapura Says:

    Has buddha ever described Selflessness as a reality? Can you quote a sutta that explicitly say this?

    tri-lakhanna are identified as pramattha-sacca. “I” is only a sammuti-sacca.

    Also how do you reconcile that there could be two conceptually incompatible theories (Newton’s and Einstein’s) about the same (according to you) reality? Can you then call it a reality in that case?

  3. aloy Says:

    “Therefore it should be clear that when Nalin de Silva says that the theory of gravitation is a blatant lie, he means it in a philosophical context.”
    Now only I understand. All this “patta pal boru” is according to Nalin’s own philosophy which we need not take very seriously.

  4. . Says:

    De Silva says;
    I am at the moment in Kiruna Sweden. When I come back to London I will give you enough evidence and quote all the Suttas that says selflessness is a reality. By the way,the Buddhist philosophy is based on sathara paramatta dhamma where Chitta (vighana) is one of the four realities of life.

    You correctly said that “I” is only a sammuti-sacca. But it is not a pattapal boruwa.

    You and your teacher got confused with the Multiverse Theory’ that support the Virtual Reality Matrix,If you’ve ever thought life was actually a dream, take comfort Some pretty distinguished scientists may agree with you. .

    (Read this write up for more information)
    Philosophers have long questioned whether there is in fact a real world out there, or whether “reality” is just a figment of our imagination.

    Then along came the quantum physicists, who unveiled an Alice-in-Wonderland realm of atomic uncertainty, where particles can be waves and solid objects dissolve away into ghostly patterns of quantum energy.

    Now cosmologists have got in on the act, suggesting that what we perceive as the universe might in fact be nothing more than a gigantic simulation.

    The story behind this bizarre suggestion began with a vexatious question: why is the universe so bio-friendly? Cosmologists have long been perplexed by the fact that the laws of nature seem to be cunningly concocted to enable life to emerge. Take the element carbon, the vital stuff that is the basis of all life. It wasn’t made in the big bang that gave birth to the universe. Instead, carbon has been cooked in the innards of giant stars, which then exploded and spewed soot around the universe.

    The process that generates carbon is a delicate nuclear reaction. It turns out that the whole chain of events is a damned close run thing, to paraphrase Lord Wellington. If the force that holds atomic nuclei together were just a tiny bit stronger or a tiny bit weaker, the reaction wouldn’t work properly and life may never have happened.

    The late British astronomer Fred Hoyle was so struck by the coincidence that the nuclear force possessed just the right strength to make beings like Fred Hoyle, he proclaimed the universe to be “a put-up job”. Since this sounds a bit too much like divine providence, cosmologists have been scrambling to find a scientific answer to the conundrum of cosmic bio-friendliness.

    The one they have come up with is multiple universes, or “the multiverse”. This theory says that what we have been calling “the universe” is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is an infinitesimal fragment of a much grander and more elaborate system in which our cosmic region, vast though it is, represents but a single bubble of space amid a countless number of other bubbles, or pocket universes.

    Things get interesting when the multiverse theory is combined with ideas from sub-atomic particle physics. Evidence is mounting that what physicists took to be God-given unshakeable laws may be more like local by-laws, valid in our particular cosmic patch, but different in other pocket universes. Travel a trillion light years beyond the Andromeda galaxy, and you might find yourself in a universe where gravity is a bit stronger or electrons a bit heavier.

    The vast majority of these other universes will not have the necessary fine-tuned coincidences needed for life to emerge; they are sterile and so go unseen. Only in Goldilocks universes like ours where things have fallen out just right, purely by accident, will sentient beings arise to be amazed at how ingeniously bio-friendly their universe is.

    It’s a pretty neat idea, and very popular with scientists. But it carries a bizarre implication. Because the total number of pocket universes is unlimited, there are bound to be at least some that are not only inhabited, but populated by advanced civilisations – technological communities with enough computer power to create artificial consciousness. Indeed, some computer scientists think our technology may be on the verge of achieving thinking machines.

    It is but a small step from creating artificial minds in a machine, to simulating entire virtual worlds for the simulated beings to inhabit. This scenario has become familiar since it was popularised in The Matrix movies.

    Now some scientists are suggesting it should be taken seriously. “We may be a simulation … creations of some supreme, or super-being,” muses Britain’s astronomer royal, Sir Martin Rees, a staunch advocate of the multiverse theory. He wonders whether the entire physical universe might be an exercise in virtual reality, so that “we’re in the matrix rather than the physics itself”.

    Is there any justification for believing this wacky idea? You bet, says Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, who even has a website devoted to the topic ( http://www.simulation-argument.com). “Because their computers are so powerful, they could run a great many simulations,” he writes in The Philosophical Quarterly.

    So if there exist civilisations with cosmic simulating ability, then the fake universes they create would rapidly proliferate to outnumber the real ones. After all, virtual reality is a lot cheaper than the real thing. So by simple statistics, a random observer like you or me is most probably a simulated being in a fake world. And viewed from inside the matrix, we could never tell the difference.

    Or could we? John Barrow, a colleague of Martin Rees at Cambridge University, wonders whether the simulators would go to the trouble and expense of making the virtual reality foolproof. Perhaps if we look closely enough we might catch the scenery wobbling.

    He even suggests that a glitch in our simulated cosmic history may have already been discovered, by John Webb at the University of NSW. Webb has analysed the light from distant quasars, and found that something funny happened about 6 billion years ago – a minute shift in the speed of light. Could this be the simulators taking their eye off the ball?

    I have to confess to being partly responsible for this mischief. Last year I wrote an item for The New York Times, saying that once the multiverse genie was let out of the bottle, Matrix-like scenarios inexorably follow. My conclusion was that perhaps we should retain a healthy scepticism for the multiverse concept until this was sorted out. But far from being a dampener on the theory, it only served to boost enthusiasm for it.

    Where will it all end? Badly, perhaps. Now the simulators know we are on to them, and the game is up, they may lose interest and decide to hit the delete button. For your own sake, don’t believe a word that I have written.

    Paul Davies is professor of natural philosophy at Macquarie University’s Australian Centre for Astrobiology. His latest book is How to Build a Time Machine.

    Article From: http://www.propagandamatrix.com/articles/july2004/220

  5. Dham Says:

    Janaka,

    Your questioned “Has buddha ever described Selflessness as a reality? ”
    “Can you quote a sutta that explicitly say this? ”

    Have you ever heard “Aniccha”, “Dukkha”, Anattha” ( impermanence , suffering and non-self) ? These are the core teaching of Buddhism.

    Surely Buddha used these three words- you can find many Suttas describing these words.

    Have you heard Sinhala people say Aniccham Dukkham Sansare’ – Ballek Merila’ Mahapare’ ?
    Even by looking at a dead dog Sinhala people remind themselves of impermanence.

    However I have never seen “Buddha declaring selflessness as a reality” anywhere. By that term if you meant ” whether a “can a being live a real life after the knowledge no-self has been fully understood ? ” , then the answer is YES. Buddha himself is just one example.

    You must first make effort to find in all Suttas what you would like to know exist and ask the world for help. Then we can help you to locate.

    Your question is not clear anyway. Please describe “selflessness” first.

  6. aloy Says:

    Standing on terrafirma look at Einstein’s equation E=MC^2. He theorized that equation; Americans got it and proved it to be correct with devastating effect in Hrishima and Nagasaki. If C is the same irrespective of frame of reference, what is the fate of M, with respect to a observer in another frame?. Will it vanish when that frame achieves a speed of light. Then what is the effect of all these on E?. Who knows whether we ourselves are on a frame traveling at the speed of light or close to it in this vast universe?. But the equation predicted by Einstein has been proven to be correct in our frame.

  7. janaka wansapura Says:

    Dham,

    selflessness is the term that ” . ” used to describe anatta. You may ask “.” what she meant.

    To understand what is meant by patta pal boru. first you have to understand that “I” is a boruwa (or what is ment by that). “I” is a boruwa does not meant that I cannot type this comment or that Buddha cannot live a life having attained enlightenment.

    When vaccagoththa asked Buddha “is there self” Buddha did not answer. When he asked “is there no self” Buddha did not answer either. What do you understand from this?

  8. Dham Says:

    Janaka,
    I don’t like to get involved in “Patta Pal Boru” doctrine because that way using “harsh words ” is against Buddhism. Buddha always respected the laws of the land and good cultural practices that time.

    I found this writing by a well known monk which analyses “anatta: and why Buddha remained silent.

    “http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notselfstrategy.pdf”

    You can’t say “I ” is a boruwa, because boruwa means a “lie”. “I” is not a lie, obviously.

    Nalin explained it beautifully in his comment.
    “Selflessness is simply a fundamental reality that we can realize; and realizing it leads naturally to a more expansive and loving way of being in the world. The concept of “I” is necessary to realize it. The Buddhist investigations related to selflessness are in no way a type of self-denial or suppression. At no point in our meditation journey are we asked to stop using the first-person pronoun in conversation, or to not have a sense of care and respect for our precious human life, or to dim down our personalities to become something less vivid. The aim of the exploration here is to become free from the tendency to bind ourselves up in confused thoughts.”

    My only issue in that statement is use of the word “selflessness”. I prefer “non-self” (nearest in English) better word is obviously anatta.
    In that article I pasted Buddha explains to Ananda why he remained silent thus,

    “………………..And if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self , were to answer that there is no self, that would be in company with those contemplatives and brahmans who are exponents of annihilationism “

  9. Dham Says:

    Janaka,
    The Sotapanna is said to have destroyed fetter Sakkaya Ditthi ( me and mine feeling in a gross way). However he still has the “I conceit’ or MAANA which will be gone only at full enlightenment. This is why he still feel FEAR and is still capable of killing even.

    You said
    “He wants to think that both Newton and Einstein theorized about gravitational force that exist in an absolute sense and that Einstein was closer to reality than Newton. However, in another 50 years or so there will be a another story about gravitation and it will explain gravitational waves plus much more than we know at present, if people like Bodhi are around they will be the first to claim that space-time is no longer the reality but something else is; this can go on forever.”

    I said the same thing in a very short sentence if you read my comment on his article on this site.

  10. Dham Says:

    Having taken a seat to one side, Vacchagotta the wanderer said to the Blessed One, ‘Now then, Master Gotama, is there a self?’
    When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

    ‘Then is there no self?’ For a second time the Blessed One was silent. Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

    Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, ‘Why, sir, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer?’

    ‘Ananda, if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, that would be in company with those contemplatives and brahmans who are exponents of eternalism [i.e., the view that there is an eternal soul].

    And if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self , were to answer that there is
    no self, that would be in company with those contemplatives and brahmans who are exponents of annihilationism [i.e., that death is annihilation].

    If I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?’
    ‘No, lord.’
    ‘And if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self, were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: “Does the self that I used to have now not exist?”’ — SN 44:10

    Buddha always looked after the welfare of people whether he became a Buddhist or not.

  11. Dham Says:

    Janka,
    You asked.
    “Has buddha ever described Selflessness as a reality? Can you quote a sutta that explicitly say this?”

    Just to quote few of ( I am sure many) the suttas explicitly about Anatta. They are from Kandha vagga Samyukta Nikaya

    Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: (The Discourse on the Not-self ) SN 22.59
    Upaadaaparitassanaa Sutta SN22.7
    Nakulapita Sutta
    Ananda Sutta 22.83

  12. . Says:

    De Silva Says;

    Janaka
    I am glad that Dham has explained every thing you need to know.
    Further I strongly recommend you to study Patisambhidamagga (The Path of Discrimination) where all reference to various Suttas are given.

    One who, however, has fully penetrated the selflessness of existence, knows that, in the highest sense, there is no individual that suffers, that commits the kammic deeds, that enters Nibbaana, and that brings the Eightfold Path to perfection.

    In the Visuddhimagga it is therefore said:
    Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found.
    The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there.
    Nibbaana is, but not the man that enters it.
    The path is, but no traveller on it is seen.
    Further:
    No doer of the deeds is found,
    No being that may reap their fruits.
    Empty phenomena roll on!
    This is the only right view.
    The Buddha teaches that what we call ego, self, soul, personality, etc. are merely conventional terms (conventional truth – vohaara-sacca) not referring to any real independent entity(paramattha sacca). And he teaches that there is only to be found this psycho-physical process of existence changing from moment to moment. Without understanding the selflessness of existence, it is not possible to gain a real understanding of the Buddha-word. And it is not possible without it to realize that goal of emancipation and deliverance of mind proclaimed by the Buddha. This doctrine of selflessness of existence forms the essence of the Buddha’s doctrine of emancipation.

  13. Rohan Kanhai Kodippili Says:

    I am a bit confused as to what NDS and JW are saying. Because, according to their “philosophy” (whatever that means), KNOWLEDGE is not discovered as most of us normally think it to be.

    According to these guys, KNOWLEDGE is CREATED relative to the (human) sense organs.

    Like, Newton CREATED “knowledge” system to describe why things fall to the ground and why planets rotate. Einstein CREATED ANOTHER “knowledge” system for the SAME phenomena.

    So, according to NDS & JW, even an atom or electron is a CREATION of western physicists. It is only in the minds of these physicists. It is only a MODEL of nature that western physicists have devised.

    NDS says this very clearly in one of his writings: “ඩෝල්ටන් ගේ ආකෘතිය භෞතික හැඩයක්‌ ගත්තේ වී නමුදු එය ද හිතළුවක්‌ පමණකි. එය පංචෙන්ද්‍රිය ගෝචර නො වේ. පරමාණුවක්‌ දැක ඇති, ස්‌පර්ශ කර ඇති, පුද්ගලයෙකු වේ ද? මේ හිතළු, පට්‌ටපල් බොරු ය.”
    (Source: http://www1.kalaya.org/2014_12_01_archive.html)

    හිතළුවක්‌ means something imaginary. Imaginary means unreal or non-existent.

    So, are these guys NDS & JW saying that there is nothing called atoms??? Are they saying that in 100 years from now, some other western scientist can come up with a model of the smallest matter which does not have atoms? It has something else??

    If there is nothing called an atom, if it is just a “creation” of the western mind, if it is only a හිතළුව or unreal or non-existent, then how did the western scientists create the “atom bomb” with those non existing atoms???

    They dropped the atom bombs which actually exploded and they won WWII with that apparatus.

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