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”?
Posted on April 5th, 2015

Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec, Canada.

Amoing the many articles that Dr. Nalin de Silva has supplied to the Lankaweb, there are two articles to the Vidusara and LankaWeb, written in Sinhala, entitled “Mr. Dhanapala’s confusion” (Lankaweb13-3-2015) and “Equal Energies and Equal Masses” (Lanka 19-3-2015).  Here we re-examine these matters to explain my poosition. I write in English as the Sinhala version is available in the 1st April 2014 Vidusara issue.

Dr. Silva begins his article by expounding a bizarre form of Buddhism that he seems to posit. That is, “according to Buddhism, ALL our (i.e., pruthagjana’s) knowledge including concepts and theories are Lies”. Hence, everything known to the public must be lies. However, the members of the public who have become adherents of Buddhism have to follow the precept of not telling lies (“musaavaada veramani…). If, as Dr.Nalin S  says, all that they know are lies (Musa), they can never fulfill the precept.  This shows that . Dr. Nalin S has mis-represented Buddhism. He has  changed the way the word Musa (lies) is used in Buddhism heedlessly. Hence, it is of little use to further examine his analysis of perceived knowledge (Prathyaksha daneema) any further as it is based on false assumptions.

He not only assaults Buddhism, but he also assaults the etymology of Sinhala words. According to Nalin, “Prathyaksha is knowledge directly perceived by the five sense organs (and constructed  by the mind). Although the Eye (akshi) is important for its etymology, it is linked to all organs”.

If he had asked the Ven. Monk of the village temple, or consulted a learned colleague of the Languages Faculty,  or consulted a suitable book, he would have learnt that this sinhala word is connected to the first word found in the very well known Buddhist term “Patticha samuthpaadhaya”, and pati+eechya”, with little to do with eyes” (akshi). The book on Sinhalese grammar written by Pandith A. M. Gunasekera in the 19th century mentions this word twice though it doesn’t give a full discussion. However, the learned people can be consulted about the Pali word “paticcha”.

Further mis-representing Buddhism, Dr. Nalin S  says “since there is no ‘person’ (pudgala) in Buddhism, we create or imagine persons. According to Buddhism …. Mirisavatiya (dagaba) is a Lie”. After having said that there is no person, he immediately forgets it and says that “I do not believe in an existing world without an observer (looking at it)”. That is, an observer like himself is needed for the world to exist for him. But then, isn’t this observer a person Pudgala)? Didn’t he just say that there is no person in Buddhism?

Buddhism does NOT say that  there is no pudgala”  (person). Buddhism has said that there is no UNCHANGING person or unchanging soul.  So, by confusing simple matters in this manner, Dr. Silva claims that there is no Mirisavatiya or Dutugamunu, and blabbers out falsehoods. A personality which is constantly changing, subject to pain and feelings, that can be considered as a functional form (i.e., an abstract concept)  of Naama-Roopa connected by causality is often discussed  in Buddhsim and Abhidhamma.

After having virtually raped  Buddhism as well as Sinhala Etymology, Mr. Nalin de Silva looks at “Western Science”. In his view, scientists look at a few crows and declare that all crows are black! In my view this is complete rubbish? He clearly does not know science at first hand. He has confessed to not knowing chemistry or biology in an Island Newspaper article. It appears that he  knows about the way scientists do experiments from reading what philosophers have written about it, and not first hand, i.e., he has never stepped into the field and taken the plough into his hand and felt how it is.

Although Dr. Silva may tell the truth for  seven days from Monday to Sunday, that does not mean that he will not lie on Monday. The same is true regarding the colour of crows. Just because some philosophers have said that scientific truth is based on “induction”, it doesn’t simply hold true. I am unable to discuss this in detail here the discussions about induction” and the fact that it is NOT used as an argument of establishing scientific theories. Instead I refer the reader to Dr. Dharmawardana’s book “A physicist’s view of matter and mind” as it has a modern discussion of this in Chapter 2.

In having gone to discredit Science as utter lies (“Patta-Pal-Boru”) because it uses abstract concepts, Dr. Silva does not realize that he is also discrediting Buddhism which also has similar abstract characteristics. He says “The hypotheses of  Western science that become its so-called theories are utter lies (patta-pal-Boru). They are abstract. At the minimum they cannot be imagined by the mind”.

The Buddhist doctrine is also full of deep abstract ideas. They too cannot be imagined by the mankind. However, in determining the validity or falsehood, according to the books, the Buddha suggested empirical observation where a metal is tested on the touch-stone to determine if it is a base metal or a noble metal like gold.

They compare their abstract conclusions with empirical observations and choose the more successful hypothesis (i.e., the one more in accordance with observation) and converts it into a so-called theory. To what extent does this reveal the so-called truth?”

Although Dr. Silva started his article with seeming acceptance of Buddhist thinking, by attacking the empirical method epitomized by the use of the touchstone to establish facts, Dr. Nalin S  is attacking the Buddha’s teaching itself, perhaps without appreciating it.

The first University teacher that we know of who claimed that science is an utter lie (Patta-pal-boru) is not Dr. Nalin de Silva. About 20 years before him, Dr. Basil Mendis, a Peradeniya Philosophy lecturer also claimed that knowledge directly perceived by the Eye is more trustworthy, and that all abstract ideas are constructions of the mind and mere myths. While Dr. Silva said that the truth is known only to the Arhanths, Dr. Mendis, being a Catholic, asserted that the truth can only be got from God. Since the Earth is directly perceived to be flat, he argued that the earth is flat, while the theory given by science that the earth is spheroidal is a Myth. Dr. Nalin de Silva also has to admit that according to Nalin’s own arguments too, the earth must be flat.

In fact, in rejecting abstract knowledge, he has to reject not only science and large parts of  Buddhism, but also the whole of mathematics as Patta-Pal-Boru”.

The very end of Dr. Silva’s March 11 article touches the question of energy and mass, but says little. But again, on March 18 Vidusara and Lanka Web article he  returns to it. That article is aimed at the contributions from me and Prof. Amaratunga, and begins with a science title, but most of the article is wasted in displaying his mistaken ideas (Ditthupaadhana) about Buddhism. However, he devotes a few lines and leaves the matter for a future article. But we can surmise that he is trying to use the equation


.to a photon to justify his unreasonable claims.

Here m is the dynamical mass of the particle,  m0 is the invariant mass, v its velocity, while C is as usual the velocity of light. Dr. Silva seems to accept that the invariant mass of a photon is zero, i. e., m0=0. Since the velocity v of a photon is C, according to the above equation,  the dynamical mass m=0/0, an indefinite quantity. Hence, either m=0, or the value of m has to be determined by other considerations consistent with the requirement that tha laws of physics remains the same for all observers, as required by relativity. Hence any assumptions must be consistent with the symmetries that govern the world.

As an example, if we exchange negative charges with positive charges (charge conjugation), and exchange left with right (parity inversion), and if we exchange past with present (time reversal), all laws of physics must still remain unchanged CPT invariance). The world has an  even more deep symmetry known as gauge symmetry. It is difficult to explain this here, an so I refer the reader to chapters 4 and 5 of Dr. Dharmawardana’s  a fore mentioned book. If we are to include gauge symmetry in a manner consistent with the Lorentz symmetry implicit in the theory of relativity, that it becomes necessary and uniquely necessary that m=0 in every dynamical frame. However, on seeing m=0/0, Dr. Nalin de Silva heedlessly, and without regard to the symmetries controlling the world, set m=hv/c**2 because of his lack of comprehension of the meaning of the equation  E=mc**2.

Einsteins’ E=mc**2 equation indicates the maximum mass that can be obtained IF the energy of the photon is CONVERTED to mass.  Modern practice is to refer only to the invariant mass, called rest-mass in older books as that alone is intrincic to a quatum particle. The relativistic mass gives the mass equivalent of the energy. A good account is given in the web-page

We may be able to buy 10 bricks weighing one kilogram using a thousand rupee note. But it is wrong to conclude that the thousand rupee note weighs one kilogram. The pjhoton is pure energy and has no mass. If this energy is converted to a mass, then that mass cannot exceed E/c**2, but this does not imply that the photon carries that mass.

Both modern science, mathematics  as well as the philosophy of Buddhism use deep abstract concepts. The object of science is to provide an understanding of the physical world. Both (Buddhism and science) use empirical observational methods. In Buddhism, most of the empirical observations are directed towards one’s own mind. Buddhist and other religious doctrines as well as Moral systems tell us how we OUGHT TO lead our lives. There is no conflict between science which describes the world without indicating “oughts”, while moral teachings describe what humans “ought to do”. Our young people should not be put off and turned  away from Science and Mathematics on the false claim that  they are Patta-Pal-Boru”.

Finally, we must say that Dr. Nalin de Silva’s sayings, be they on science, etymology, mathematics  or Buddhism, should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec, Canada.

8 Responses to “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”?”

  1. Independent Says:

    “If, as Dr.Nalin S says, all that they know are lies (Musa), they can never fulfill the precept. ”

    – What kind of confused mind is telling this illogical statement ? Are you a Buddhist or not ?

    Buddhist precept asks you not to tell lies. You can listen to lies. You can read lies. You are also allowed to ignorantly assume those lies to be the truth. You are not breaking a precept by doing all that. So you still fulfil the precept because you NEVR lied, someone else lied.

    Mr. Dhanapala can use my teaching to write something logically.
    Mr. Dahanapala has misrepresented Buddhism.

  2. Independent Says:

    Let me clarify more of Mr. Dhanapala’s wrong statements.

    1. “Prathyaksha” Sinhala word means “deeply understood” as I know.
    “Paticcha” – in Pali means dependence, a completely different meaning. Dhanapala got this wrong again.

    2. Observer is a “Puggala” to an unenlightened being. The enlightened being knows there is only observance but no person.

    3.” Buddhism does NOT say that there is no pudgala” (person). Buddhism has said that there is no UNCHANGING person or unchanging soul. “-

    Where did you learn that ? There are no “souls’ in Buddhism , may be it is stated Dhanapala’s religion.
    Both “Puggala” and “Mirisavetiya Dagaba” are mind made objects. It depends on the way of observance.

    4. “After having virtually raped Buddhism as well as Sinhala Etymology…” I believe you are the one doing it. Not only that you are raping the reader by forcing your concepts in your own way and misquoting Buddhism.

  3. Senevirath Says:

    ධනපාල මහත්මයාණෙනි බුදුහිමි පැවසුවේ සත්‍යය සොයා ගැනීමට නම් මේ සයල්ල අත්හැර බුදු හිමි මෙන් යායුතු බවය් ඒ මෙහි සත්ත්‍යය නැති නිසය් අපි සත්‍යය ලෙස ගන්නේ සසර දිගු කරන දෙය ය් එනිසය් ඒවා පට්ට පල බොරු වන්නේ . නලින් පවසන්නේ අපි බොරු සත්‍යය ලෙස ගෙන නිවනින් ඈත්‍ වන බවය් සම්මුතියේ ඇති දෙය සත්ත්‍යය නොවේ නවීන බටහිර විද්‍යාව හොඳය තවත් සසර දිගුකර ගන්නට

  4. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Dear Mr. Danapala

    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 ego is unwillingly created 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 all just the content of a simulation in your brain.

    As David Bohm, a physicist at the University of London says; the universe is a consciousness hologram. Reality is the projected illusion within the hologram. Science is part of that hologram. He claimed that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.

    Today many physicists are researching the concept of the universe as a hologram.

    The Hologram theory initiated from the concept of Wave-particle duality. Wave-particle duality is the idea that a subatomic particle can behave like a wave, but that the wave behaviour disappears if you try to observe it. It’s most simply seen in a double slit experiment,

  5. Independent Says:

    A very good example of clear writing is

    “We may be able to buy 10 bricks weighing one kilogram using a thousand rupee note. But it is wrong to conclude that the thousand rupee note weighs one kilogram. The pjhoton is pure energy and has no mass. If this energy is converted to a mass, then that mass cannot exceed E/c**2, but this does not imply that the photon carries that mass.”

    Let me argue it this way.

    Weight of the 1000 Rs note can be measured and most beings have a “feeling” for it and will agree without any argument. The same will not apply to photon, mass of which is infinitesimally small but unknown, (could be zero).

    Agree , based on your argument that “but this does not imply that the photon carries that mass.”. However I will also conclude “but this does not imply that the photon has zero mass”.

    “The photon is pure energy and has no mass.” – is this an assumption ? Can Mr.. Dhanapala prove it ?

  6. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    The Universe was born of Nothingness. Time and Space do not have independent existences anymore. Our understanding of the universe as a whole has reached a dead end. Einstein’s formula, E=mc2 gives a precise relationship between the mass of any physical object and its energy content. More importantly, however, is the fact that this famous formula unites physical objects and energy qualitatively. It tells us that physical objects and its energy content are interchangeable in the same sense that ice and steam are interchangeable. In the same manner, the interchangeability of energy and physical objects means that they also have the same essence. Simply put, they share the same origin.
    It has always been Buddhism’s contention that all things are “One” – all physical phenomena, including human beings and everything that surrounds them, come from the same origin. They are different only in the way they are manifested, which is the result of nothing more than the differences in the type of atoms they have and the way these atoms are arranged. Despite their differences, they share the same “Essence”.

    Buddha called that “Essence” by many different names, one of which is “True Emptiness ”. Buddha called “Essence” empty because it is “beyond spoken languages, beyond written words, and beyond mental perception.

    The Buddhist mathematical relationship between “Emptiness” and its manifested forms (physical and psychological phenomena) was made in the Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutra.

    How can “Emptiness” be the creator and the essence of all phenomena physical and psychological?

    The concept of “Emptiness” in Buddhism is succinctly summarized by the saying: “True Emptiness is not Empty ”.

    Today, physicists, cosmologists, quantum mechanics adherents, and string theorists all agree that “Emptiness” is indeed not empty anymore. Like Buddha, they now realize that the Universe, and everything in it, are indeed all created from this “Emptiness”. The laws of physics allow a universe to begin from nothing and that quantum fluctuation can produce a universe. This, of course, absolutely resonates with Buddhism idea of creation from “True Emptiness”. True Emptiness is not empty as it gives birth to virtual existence. Virtual existence is not virtual as it reveals True Emptiness

    Creation from “Emptiness” of all things is one of the most important concepts in Buddhism. It is the reason behind the “Oneness” idea in Buddhism. However, Buddhism’s “Oneness” is not just an empty philosophical concept, nor is Buddhism’s creation from “Emptiness” just for physical objects, as Buddha also described how consciousness also arises from “Emptiness”. In this way, Buddha laid a solid foundation for phenomena such as “Mind over Matter”

  7. SA Kumar Says:

    Buddha laid a solid foundation for phenomena such as “Mind over Matter”- very interesting , but when Modi said he can see Ramesvaram from Thallai Manner where our sinhala sakotharayas mind now !!!
    please do not walk up !!!

  8. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Please watch this

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