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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buddhism and the Discussion between Science and Religion
The nature of the relationship, and the compatibility, between the scientific and religous outlook continues to fascinate scientists, religious people, and philosophers. Most of the many books on this subject deal with religion in general terms or concentrate on Western theistic religions (primarily Christianity and Judaism.)
This book is a fascinating discussion of...
Published on April 11, 2002 by Robin Friedman

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32 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read by one with no interest in Buddhism
This book started very disappointingly, with what I felt was a lot of leading the reader to conclusions. However, the authors seemed to abandon that tendency after the first few chapters. Certainly, there is a lot of text that reads like a sales brochure for Buddhism. There are a number of areas where they run off on tangents about loving your fellow man and achieving...
Published on November 20, 2002 by owookiee


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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buddhism and the Discussion between Science and Religion, April 11, 2002
By 
The nature of the relationship, and the compatibility, between the scientific and religous outlook continues to fascinate scientists, religious people, and philosophers. Most of the many books on this subject deal with religion in general terms or concentrate on Western theistic religions (primarily Christianity and Judaism.)
This book is a fascinating discussion of Buddhism and science told through articulate and intelligent exchanges between Ricard and Thuan. Ricard earned a PhD in chemistry in France before leaving a promising career to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Thuan is a Vietnamese who became enamored of at an early age and is a world-renowned astrophysicist and writer.
The most important sections of this book are the introduction, which sets the problem, and the conclusion. Science does not satisfy the spiritual needs of man -- his need to end suffering, understand himself, and the nature of his world -- to find meaning. How is it possible to find religious meaning in a world where science seems to be the only source of knowledge?
In his introduction, Ricard argues that science and Buddhism approach reality in different ways. He finds Buddhism non-dogmatic, willing to accept scientific findings and based on an introspection into the human condition with Buddha as a guide. Thuan agrees that human beings need spirituality as well as science.
There are fifteen chapters discussing with impressing erudition specific scientific issues and how Buddhists might view them. We get discussions of the "big bang" theory of quantum mechanics, the nature of time, computers and thought, and the nature of consciousness, among other topics. For a book cast in the form of a discussion, the references are copious.
There is a great deal of discussion of Buddhism's focus on indeterminacy and change and its relation to science. Also, Ricard focuses of the deep and difficult Buddhist teaching of dependent arising. He tries to argue that this teaching shows the untenability of scientific (or metaphysical) realism -- the view that science describes an independently existing reality.
Ricard also takes issue with theism and here he gets something of a disagreement from Thuan who believes in a Spinozistic concept of God (which needs explaining) and is something of a scientific realist.
There is a wonderful summation by Thusn: "Made of stardust, we share the same cosmic history as the lions on the savannas and the lavenders in the fields. We are all connected through time and space, and thus interdependent.(page 280)
Some of this book is highly technical and Ricard, is spite of himself is over dogmatic in places. This is still a wonderful book. It teaches a "secular spirituality" in the words of Ricard and may be read with benefit by those with no particular commitment to Buddhism.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Physics, Buddhism, and Metaphysics, June 22, 2005
This review is from: The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (Paperback)
I was a bit skeptical upon first seeing this book. I worried about another floofy book about New Age/Western Buddhism. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. This book is a fairly dense "argument" between the present positions of astrophysics/quantum physics and the Buddhist metaphysics. I'm a philosopher by trade and I read a lot of popular science books (especially in physics) so I managed well with the text. However, I think it may frustrate some persons without any background. So, ultimately, unless you are somewhat familiar with contemporary physics, you might want, regrettably, to skip this one.

The Buddhist in the book is a very intelligent chap, more than capable of explaining/defending his position. And he successfully presents Buddhism in a very intellectual manner. I learned a lot about the Buddhist position with regard to cosmology - which is wonderful because that's what I hoped to get out of the book. I think this book should quiet some of the stereotypes of Buddhists... and it would be most enjoyed by persons who do not draw a hard absolute line between natural science and religious practice.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, But Worth the Effort, May 17, 2008
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This review is from: The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (Paperback)
I found this book frustrating pretty much from start to finish, but I was determined to persevere until the end, and I'm glad I did. My frustration was caused by several factors:

- The book is presented as a dialogue between a Buddhist (originally trained in science) and a scientist (mainly an astrophysicist), and it often seemed like the two authors were talking past each other, rather than really communicating.

- The dialogue format often seemed like a disorganized way to present the ideas, making the presentation fragmented and repetitive.

- I particularly felt that Ricard's presentation of Buddhist ideas was overcomplicated (compared to other books I've read).

- For the sake of coherence and clarity, it seemed that the book would have been better if written by a single author well acquainted with both Buddhism and science, and organized in a more "standard" way, rather than a dialogue.

- Because of the relatively high intellectual level of the book, a considerable prior knowledge of both Buddhism and science (especially physics) is needed to really benefit from the book. My background was enough to get me past this hurdle, but this definitely limits the audience for the book.

- Largely for the reasons noted above, the book took me a fairly long time to finish.

So, considering all of these apparent negatives, how did the book manage to earn 4 stars? In an odd way, somewhat reminiscent of Zen koans, the struggle involved in reading the book made me work especially hard to understand the authors, and in the process I definitely learned something. I ultimately found that there is indeed much wisdom in this book, but it's somewhat buried, so one has to do some mining to bring it out.

Overall, I can recommended the book as a useful resource for readers with a sincere interest in Buddhism and science, and especially comparison between the two. The book appears to be a fairly unique contribution to this genre, and a nice complement to books like "The Tao of Physics," "The Dancing Wu Lei Masters," and many others.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has helped me see the big picture, September 14, 2002
By 
Amazon Customer (Sterling, VA United States) - See all my reviews
First of all, this is a unique book that helps you really understand buddhism especially if you are familiar with modern day physics.
Robert Thurman, the Tibetan Schoolar said that Buddhism is "an education system", not a religion. Then the steps that one takes reading this book are like clear concise course work. The authors explain modern quatum mechanics and shows how the notion of
"inherent emptiness" is reflected in a scientific theory that has been rigorously tested.
What I learned from this book is a new way of looking at reality.
This reality is a non-material , non -linear reality that somehow coincides with modern scientific test results. We begin to see how the discipline and rigour with which science is held up to applies just as well to Buddhist thought processes. So that is the beauty of the book. Buddhism is not about faith, the practice is about finding what works through learning and practical experience.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep thoughts. Great adventure, December 26, 2001
I'm fascinated by religion and physics. In this book, we get a wonderful blending of the two. The book consists of an interview between a Buddhist monk and a professor of astronomy. Much of the book focusses on space and time and the anthropic principle. The best parts are those that get us to question the ultimate nature of reality. To get you in the mood, here is a quote:
"The mind is behind every experience in life. It is also what determines the way we see the world. It takes only the slightest change in our minds, in how we deal with mental states, and perceive people and things, for 'our' world to be turned completely upside-down." -- Matthieu Richard and Tringh Xuan Thuan, The Quantum and the Lotus
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life, February 15, 2013
This review is from: The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (Paperback)
After being raised by a hardcore Christian mother in a hypocritical/judgmental church, I rebelled and became a hardcore atheist. I used to think that Science and Religion were opposites, and Science = Truth, and Religion = Lies.

Then a single book blew my mind and changed my life. This book showed me that there are many areas of science where the brilliant scientists are still guessing and looking to philosophy/spirituality for answers, meaning that one is not "more correct" than the other. The book also showed me that Buddhism is a "happy medium" between the cold logic of science and the brainwashed warmth of organized religion - it's a philosophy that encompasses critical thinking but also love and compassion.

That book was called "The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet" and I *HIGHLY* recommend it to every single person I talk to. You will enjoy it regardless of your religious background or scientific knowledge base.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, August 17, 2002
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Finally, a real scientist and a real Buddhist philosopher present a fair, balanced, and realistic dialogue on the correspondence between the modern scientific and Buddhist cosmologies. Watch out, Fritjof Capra and Wes Nisker, we're coming to getcha! Reality breaks through with a vengeance...
Hopefully, this book will set a new standard for writing on the subject of Eastern religions and the "new science." No longer will solipsistic arm-waving be allowed - only sincere and open communication, from the heart, between truly informed scientific and spiritual perspectives.
I find this book refreshing, hard-nosed, unafraid, and therefore liberating from our current fuzzy literature in this area. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Matthieu and Trinh.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!, August 29, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (Paperback)
Fascinating book focusing on BIG questions about the nature of reality around us and, indeed, inside us!:) Everybody interested in frontiers of science and it's limitations or willing to explore mind-matter topics and much more will find this easy-to-follow presentation of the authors really refreshing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Open and Curious Mind, January 1, 2008
By 
applewood (everywhere and nowhere) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (Paperback)
This book presents an interesting dialogue between Thuan and Ricard, an interestingly juxtaposed pair (Asian born Thuan turned Astrophysicist and French born Ricard who became a Buddhist after earning his PhD. in Biology), about the nature of mind and our physical world.

As a westerner with an interest in buddhism I often think of or engage in these kinds of discussions and while all my questions weren't answered in an intellectual way, Ricard did help remind me repeatedly that the search for what came before the Big Bang or God or what comes after the final cooling of the ever expanding Universe is but a western habit of seeing everything as inherently existent. The middle way of co-dependent origination may be the answer, but it is tricky and subtle and not supported by our mental habits.

While both men are well versed in their respective fields and are open to learning Thuan appears at an intellectual disadvantage in these discussions because while Buddhism tends to be non dogmatic it does have the weight of 2500 years of being on track in the search and application of the truth. Ricard does an excellent job of presenting the Buddha's intent, and the Buddha's teachings (on the co-dependent nature of all things) cut through the many intellectual layers and tangled web of discursive scientific thought like a knife through warm butter or a master key opening any lock. But each system of thought presented here comes across as being bound by it's own view, definitions and motivations (science to explain and control, buddhism to experience and be free from). So, while the dialogue is always respectful, and intelligent, in depth and clear I'm not sure there is ever truely a meeting of the minds. What there is is a meeting of east and west, and a challenge and opportunity for modern science (and any mental activity rooted in appearances) to find a middle way out of it's habitual metaphysical underpinings and into a way to unify theory without looking for concrete answers, with practical applications rooted in compassion. This is the contribution of Buddhism here, a non contradictory union of form and emptiness, compassion and wisdom - a spirtual type of scentific inquiry.

The two points of view may not meet but at least there is this dialogue! And I'd love to see this book updated with ongoing discussions between these two very capable scientists.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely great dialogue on the nature of things, August 15, 2006
By 
Andy Brandt (Poland for now) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (Paperback)
This book is a record of a meeting of two men. Each chose a different path on the same quest - understanding the nature of things. One is an astrophysicist, the other is a monk. They present methods, discoveries and beliefs of both paths - and find them closer than they thought. Their dialogue is enriching and informative.

I learned a lot from this book, both as a Buddhist and as someone interested in modern science. My copy has been already read by my father and my friends.

Highly recommended.
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The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet
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