I’m not much of a tech guy but I find the relationship between science and spirituality fascinating; much of the reason Buddhism has been embraced by a new class of technology-minded progressives is due to its apparent harmony with modern scientific ideals. We can debate that til kingdom come, but I’d like to share this bit of insight from a recent Techcrunch article on Quantum Computing:
“Quantum bits are the basic units of information in quantum computing, a new type of computer in which particles like electrons or photons can be utilized to process information, with both “sides” (polarizations) acting as a positive or negative (i.e. the zeros and ones of traditional computer processing) alternatively or at the same time.”
I can only understand the deeper technological implications of such ideas in laymsn’s terms, but when I read this I thought of the Zen adage, “The reverse side also has a reverse side.”
The world of technology has yet to accurately create any sort of pure representation of the real world. For now we have screens and crude simulations of life; a natural artifact as simple as an insect or a twig cannot be recreated in a lab. As more and more of our lives become technologized, this creates a rift between the real world and the virtual world. We hang in the balance, constantly repositioning ourselves so as not to get lost in the simulation. But the two worlds are catching up, posing new challenges for researchers.
How does this apply to spirituality? Using these terms, in my own spiritual understanding, I have over time evolved from a somewhat binary belief in dualistic concepts to what one could call a more quantum system. This idea that every concept contains its opposite, that all oppositions are forever chasing their own tails, is nothing new, from Lao Tzu to Nietzsche. Great ideas require no technological advances, just ingenuity.
I think it’s helpful to use this metaphor of quantum understanding to think about our spiritual lives. Every event acts as both a positive and a negative simultaneously. There is no use in trying to separate these oppositions, since they’re innate in everything we experience. Vice exists in virtue, folly exists in fortune, light emerges from the darkness. What we view as opposing concepts or things are actually part of a deeper self-reliant totality. We can’t change this to fit our desire for more clean-cut dualism, so we should accept it.
The article I quoted warns of the problems and threats faced by the advance of quantum computing. New security issues emerge, the same way a genuine post-dualistic spirituality requires us to confront our deepest insecurities and vulnerabilities. When our fundamental nature changes, or becomes stronger, everything we’ve laid on top of it must be shifted in accordance.
In a sense, when we really meditate, allowing everything to come and go, we are participating in this process of quantum spirituality. We allow these truths to emerge and can see ourselves as both insignificant and all-powerful. We see the intimate relationships between happiness and sadness, good and evil, up and down. Instead of trying to divide and sort things, we embrace their complex relationships. And this helps us understand just a bit more of the truth.