About a year ago I posted some material about my first Weekthun. I said the week-long meditation retreat was transformative, but I didn’t know how soon I would do it again. I guess I answered my own question, because I just finished my second Weekthun.

This year was the usual mix of meditation, silence and chanting. Like I said last year a Weekthun is not a week off!

This year’s version had something different, though. I brought a fantastic book that was both engaging and informative, for ‘light reading’ after lunch.

The Quantum and the Lotus is organized as a dialogue between a Buddhist-turned-astrophysicist and a Molecular Biologist-turned-Buddhist Monk.

You might well ask how this liberal arts grad and Buddhist became spell-bound by Quantum Mechanics

The topic arose in a late-night conversation with my brother. He was explaining quantum theory to me. You know, Max Planck and Neils Bohr and all that:

“a particle is whatever it is measured to be (for example, a wave or a particle), but that it cannot be assumed to have specific properties, or even to exist, until it is measured. Further, we do not know what the state of any object is, it is actually in all possible states simultaneously, as long as we don’t look to check: https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/quantumtheoryhttps://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/quantum-theory

I had heard of Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment, but didn’t think past “that’s cool!” Typical of my superficial grasp on science (?)

But as Graeme explained Quantum Mechanics to me, I had a ‘moment’: My brother is explaining Buddhism!

Holy Jumping.

I thought “I can’t be the first to have seen the connection between Max Planck and Gautama Buddha. It took me all of 5 minutes to find the book.

When I wasn’t immersed in the dialogue between Mathieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan, I spent hours on Shambhala Meditation and on Tonglen practice. A good explanation of Tonglen is found here:

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/09/pema-chodron-tonglen-a-meditation-practice-for-difficult-times

If you breathe, you can engage in Tonglen practice. All you do is:

breathe in a situation, place or person that is filled with pain, discomfort or emotional upheaval. Breath in with the longing to remove the despair and anguish.

breathe out with the wish to send comfort and happiness to those in need; breathe out aa cessation of suffering for those in need.

Tonglen practice reinforces the Four Immeasurables, that all of us hold in endless quantity See my last post:

  1. loving-kindness or benevolence (metta)
  2. compassion (karuna)
  3. empathetic joy (mudita)
  4. equanimity (upekkha)

I don’t have to wonder any more whether and when I will do another Weekthun. The next time it is offered, I will be there.

Kunga Shiwa & the Search for Enlightenment Buddhism

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