How Buddhist theory of causality anticipates modern views of Einstein relativity.


Not at all -- Buddhist theory of causality doesn't anticipate modern views of Einstein relativity.

Einstein's relativity is about two things:

  • Speed of light is constant
  • Acceleration due to gravitational field is indistinguishable from e.g. standing on an accelerating platform

These aren't mentioned in, aren't the topic of, I don't see how they're even relevant to, the doctrine of dependent origination.

Dependent origination is about, something like, "How does a sense of 'self' arise? Given that everything is 'non-self' then what does exist instead of self, which people mistake as self?"

If you've studied both as I have, you might fabricate some connection -- "What about the 'observer' that Einstein refers when describing thought-experiments, is that relativistic 'observer' related to Buddhist doctrine of 'self'?" -- but I've little or no doubt that is a fabrication and not inherent in the doctrine ... it's a reflection of people's (of the mind's) innate tendency to create hypothetical connections between different experiences (in this case e.g. the experience of learning dependent origination and of learning Einstein's theories of relativity), and is not inherent at all in, isn't a property of, the doctrine itself.

  • ...like, "How does a sense of 'self' arise? Given that everything is 'non-self' then what does exist instead of self, which people mistake as self?", my person "fears" that the Buddha never taught on such. That's Philosophy, also not Dhamma, good householder Chris, just that such would not make his answer non-beauty. – user11235 Jul 21 '19 at 9:12
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    "How does a sense of self arise?" is related to "birth" and so on, isn't it? And towards the other side of the wheel are the skandhas (summarised as "contact") which we're told not to mistake as 'self', isn't that so? How would you summarise Dependent origination -- what is "about"? Would you just say that it describes what it describes without even mentioning 'self'? – ChrisW Jul 21 '19 at 9:22
  • How suffering arises and suffering decays, good householder. The rest are (mostly wrong) views and speculations. Would you just say that it describes what it describes without even mentioning 'self'?, as the Buddha didn't go into that matter. – user11235 Jul 21 '19 at 9:29
  • Thank you. Yes, "how suffering arises" seems a better/clearer description of it, without even mentioning self. The translator's introduction to DN 15 says e.g. "the second part of the discourse, taking up the teaching of not-self, shows how dependent co-arising gives focus to this teaching in practice" but it's probably clearer to see DO as anatta instead of being an alternative doctrine (compared to) self view. – ChrisW Jul 21 '19 at 9:55
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    repeat offender :-) – user11235 Jul 21 '19 at 9:58

Physics is the study of predicting the cause and effect of impermanent phenomena.

Buddhism is the practice of ending the suffering caused by attachment to impermanent phenomena.

Is the eye permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, sir.”

“But if it’s impermanent, is it suffering or happiness?”

“Suffering, sir.” --MN146


This may not answer directly your question, but it's useful to keep it in mind.

While conditionality can be applied to any phenomena in general to explain how the interaction of multiple factors give rise to some conditioned phenomenon, conditionality in buddhism is used as model to explain how suffering and instiafaction arises, and which conditions allow it to occur.

Remember that the main goal of the Buddha's teaching was to end suffering and insatisfaction by understanding its conditions, and by uprooting them.

Kind regards!


Householder Shobha Adsul,

They are not related but such views existed already at the Buddhas time: See Lokayatika Sutta, Cosmologist.

There are also advanced studies of the old origin of science and the Lokaya-schools of India.

(Note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks, entertainment and akusala deeds, but as a share of merits and to continue such for release, overcome maccharia)


I definitely agree with ChrisW when he says they're clearly distinct ideas with different implications. I feel perhaps it would be interesting to merely observe what similarities there are, for the sake of knowledge.

Buddhist dependent origination suggests everything occurs from cause and effect, is interrelated by causality. The more transcendent version of this process is emptiness, in which causes and effects are seen as non-existent ultimately, as mere constructions.

I guess this aspect, of emptiness, is what you must be thinking about because it does have similarities with Einstein's discovery, at least in respect to form. Though unrelated to light, emptiness would question the nature of reality, i.e. samsara, prodding into the way appearances are illusory, unreal and relative. Einstein's discovery does achieve this, bending the way we habitually conceive reality.

Yet, Einstein's discovery pertains to material consequences and is immediately applicable upon matter to create effects, such as the atomic bomb. Emptiness is a mental quality linked with wisdom, and its material consequences are indirect. In Buddhism, emptiness is considered as a 'hidden' phenomena, whereby it does not appear immediately to the senses and requires training to perceive.

I am unsure this is exactly what you were asking, as I assumed you meant emptiness on the basis of it being distinctly buddhist (you specified Buddhism in your question), rather than Indian causality (akin to cause and effect) which was present before or alongside Buddhism. In any case, I hope it helps!


Yes. Lord Buddha has chanted regarding all quantum mechanic theories & we use most of them in general practices of Buddhism. You'll find detailed answers in the following links,

Traveling to the end of the Cosmos - Time Travel

Buddhism & Time Travel

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