The challenge posed to both Dr. Rupert Sheldrake and Geshe Tenzin Namdak at the beginning of their insightful dialogue, “Interdependence and the Nature of Reality”, here at Science and Wisdom LIVE, was to explain the fundamental nature of reality in five minutes! They both agreed on the impossibility of this task, yet they met this challenge with a welcomed pluralism that reminds us that our own perspectives, be these scientific, religious or otherwise, might not be the only valid ones.
Dr. Sheldrake drew from science, Christian theology and Indian philosophy, while admitting that he did not necessarily represent either orthodox science or orthodox religion. Geshe Namdak told us that he studied as a Buddhist monk for twenty years, six days a week, to get only ‘a little bit of an idea’ about the nature of reality! He drew from this extensive experience largely based on logic and epistemology.
So, what is the fundamental nature of reality? In short: both speakers agreed that there is substantial interconnectedness that escapes the naked eye.
More specifically, for Dr. Sheldrake, fields and energy – not matter – are the most fundamental reality. Fields are what shapes the natural order. Energy is what gives it actuality, movement, and change. Matter is more like “frozen light.” In Christian theology, Dr Sheldrake explained, this way of seeing reality corresponds to the Holy Trinity, in which God is an organic combination of three aspects:
“God the Father,” i.e., the knower, the conscious being referred to by the expression “I am.”
“God the Son” or “Logos,” i.e., all the things in nature, all that can be known.
The “Holy Spirit,” i.e., the dynamical principle that gives actuality and activity to things.
Dr. Sheldrake sees matter, energy and fields as reflections of the Holy Trinity, which to him is the ultimate principle that underlies all nature and the evolution of the cosmos.
Complementary yet significantly different, Geshe Namdak argued that, according to the Buddhist tradition, there are two interrelated truths: a conventional truth and an ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is that nothing exists as concretely and independently as it appears to the naked eye – nothing exists from its own side, as an independent object. The conventional truth tells us that things exist only in dependence of:
Finally, things exist in dependence of a mind that cognizes them.
Furthermore, there are manifest phenomena that can be perceived by our senses and hidden phenomena that can only be inferred through reasoning, based on logic and epistemology.
Of course, this is only a brief summary of the first ten minutes or so of an exciting dialogue that lasted over an hour. Please listen to the entire dialogue to discover Dr. Sheldrake’s ideas around “morphic resonance” and its potential connections with the Buddhist view of Karma, or why the Big Bounce might be a more logically sound idea than the Big Bang, and much more!