New from Ulysses Press:

A collection of parallel quotations from the scientific and spiritual traditions. . .

Edited by
Thomas J. McFarlane


Einstein A N D   Buddha

T H E     P A R A L L E L     S A Y I N G S


  Introduction by
Wes Nisker
Many have explored the remarkable convergence between the mystical traditions of the world and modern science. However, none of them has done this in a more succinct and convincing way than Einstein and Buddha; this remarkable collection of quotes by famous Eastern mystics and modern physicists is a fascinating contribution to the emerging paradigm.
-Stanislav Grof, author of The Cosmic Game
and Psychology of the Future
This anthology provocatively illustrates the points of convergence between the quantitative investigation of the objects of consciousness and the qualitative exploration of consciousness itself.
-B. Alan Wallace, author of The Taboo of Subjectivity:
Toward a New Science of Consciousness
Einstein and Buddha provides deep, simple and quotable insights that should help mend the rift between science and spirituality. If you put your thumbs over the quotation sources, you won't be able to tell who said what, when.
-Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., physicist and author of 
Mind into Matter, The Spiritual Universe
Einstein and Buddha is an inspired effort to meet the 21st-century challenge of developing a synthetic world view. McFarlane juxtaposes quotations from Eastern contemplatives and Western scientists with insight, clarity and intellectual integrity.
-Dr. Ron Leonard, Dept. of Philosophy, 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Hardcover - 220 pages
ISBN: 1569752745

This remarkable book contains over 120 sayings from the founders of modern physics paired with parallel sayings from the seminal works of Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist contemplatives.  Einstein and Buddha is a fascinating collection of quotes that challenges us to think deeper about the relationship between modern physics and mystical insight. Although these two ways of understanding and investigating reality have significant differences, the parallels suggest that they share a mysterious and profound connection.

The parallel sayings are organized by theme and touch upon the nature of matter and energy, the relationship between subject and object, the understanding of time and space, the importance of direct experience, the role of paradox and contradiction in our understanding, the limits of language in describing reality, and the interdependence of all created things. Each section is accompanied by a brief introduction to how these concepts relate to the scientific and spiritual ways of knowing. On each page is an insightful quote from an eminent physicist such as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, or David Bohm, together with a surprisingly similar statement from a renown authority of Eastern religion such as the Buddha, Chaung Tzu, the Upanishads, D. T. Suzuki, or the Dalai Lama.

Sample parallels from the book
According to general relativity, the concept of space detached from any physical content does not exist. 
If there is only empty space, with no suns nor planets in it, then space loses its substantiality. 
Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. 
All such notions as causation, succession, atoms, primary elements...are all figments of the imagination and manifestations of the mind. 
Time and again the passion for understanding has led to the illusion that man is able to comprehend the objective world rationally by pure thought without any empirical foundations—in short, by metaphysics. 
By becoming attached to names and forms, not realising that they have no more basis than the activities of the mind itself, error rises…and the way to emancipation is blocked. 
In our thinking...we attribute to this concept of the bodily object a significance, which is to high degree independent of the sense impression which originally gives rise to it. This is what we mean when we attribute to the bodily object "a real existence." ...By means of such concepts and mental relations between them, we are able to orient ourselves in the labyrinth of sense impressions. These notions and relations...appear to us as stronger and more unalterable than the individual sense experience itself, the character of which as anything other than the result of an illusion or hallucination is never completely guaranteed. 
I teach that the multitudinousness of objects have no reality in themselves but are only seen of the mind and, therefore, are of the nature of maya and a dream. ...It is true that in one sense they are seen and discriminated by the senses as individualized objects; but in another sense, because of the absence of any characteristic marks of self-nature, they are not seen but are only imagined. In one sense they are graspable, but in another sense, they are not graspable. 
The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science. Since, however, sense perception only gives information of this external world or of "physical reality" indirectly, we can only grasp the latter by speculative means. It follows from this that our notions of physical reality can never be final. We must always be ready to change these notions—that is to say, the axiomatic basis of physics—in order to do justice to perceived facts in the most perfect way logically. 
While the Tathagata, in his teaching, constantly makes use of conceptions and ideas about them, disciples should keep in mind the unreality of all such conceptions and ideas. They should recall that the Tathagata, in making use of them in explaining the Dharma always uses them in the semblance of a raft that is of use only to cross a river. As the raft is of no further use after the river is crossed, it should be discarded. So these arbitrary conceptions of things and about things should be wholly given up as one attains enlightenment. 

About the Author
Thomas J. McFarlane is "an independent scholar of no mean stature" in the words of eminent professor of religion and philosophy Huston Smith. A graduate of Stanford University in physics, he also holds advanced degrees in mathematics and in philosophy and religion. In addition to his scholarly work, he has been immersed in the study and practice of the spiritual traditions of the world for over 15 years, and is a registered patent agent. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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This web page was last updated 18 Jan 2002
© Copyright 2002 Thomas J. McFarlane