Based on this core theoretical system, I want to discuss the comprehensive description of multiple systems. This description is by no means the whole truth, but it is equal to all it describes. It has a characteristic, namely the context it adopts. The scientific context is by far the most popular context in the world. It links with and verifies all wisdom systems and religions–for example, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Muslim, and other religions, as well as all other spiritual systems. Since this context could link with all these systems, it becomes the connection for them all, and its essence enables us to understand the commonality of their multiple cultures.
A well-known Chinese saying goes like this: “To Seek Commonality and Reserve Differences.” This saying is based on considerations in the three-dimensional world. We know that a three-dimensional world is one among the infinite number of worlds from zero to the Nth dimensions (N approaches infinity). When different people describe the same thing, differing definitions of the relevant names and terms create great differences.
Let me give you a simple example. When describing the same object in two different languages, very different semantic and phonetic forms might come into play. Those who do not grasp both these languages could not understand them, and could not achieve proper communication. For example, the word “cup” in the Chinese language is “杯子”. Two persons who do not simultaneously understand the forms in both the English and the Chinese language could not communicate with each other on this topic. Without a common language, a Buddhist finds it very difficult to debate a Christian. Two persons, only one of whom could only speak English, and the other could only speak Mandarin, would not understand each other. All because they have their own language system.
There are ample examples of our natural, cultural systems. Let’s talk about culture. How should I interpret the word “culture”? In the Chinese language, we use two words – “wen” (文) and “hua” (化). Wen is the text, the information, while hua is the presence or manifestation. Hence, culture is a manifestation of information in the real world. Therefore, the information in different systems makes different cultures, which leads to the diversity of cultures. As human beings, we are often prone to interpret everything–and the cultures, links, and connections among them–from a single-culture perspective. In ancient times, when cultures were gradually taking form, each culture maintained its unique characteristics because of the restriction in time and space. When the unique character took form in each culture in the form of knowledge, it would maintain its description of the universe or a wisdom system, accumulated and passed down through generations. Such a description formed a unique cultural system. The uniqueness and inclusiveness of one cultural system are relatively independent of all other cultural systems.
With the development of human civilization, we have established more communication methods and have expanded many spaces for life. Many cultural intersections, integrations, and clashes have been witnessed. However, there is no complete integration of two cultural systems, and such integration would be difficult to realize. This is because we often view our world from a three-dimensional perspective. We always want to conquer the world using one culture. The underlying message is that each person trying to dominate the world thinks its culture is the best and is the best description of the truth. All religious civilizations on Earth are continually trying to expand their cultural territory.
Nowadays, the information a person could get access to in modern times is much more than it was in old times. We could get access to the information that accumulated in the entire history of human beings. The information, the people and the things that an ancient person had gone through in a lifetime could be experienced by modern people in a month. This is an era of multiculturalism for modern people.
The West’s theology culture system appeared in ancient Egypt and the Middle East; Buddhism emerged in India, and Daoism and Confucianism arose in China. All these wisdom systems originated in the same age, the Axial Age. These systems developed with their unique characteristics and continued to be passed down. With the development of human civilization, the clashes, communications and struggles among the cultures brought forth the major religions in our current world. During these processes, many smaller civilizations appeared and diminished.
Today, when we search for the truth, we’d be faced with several systems which are being used to describe the truth. Each of these systems is trying to tell one message: There is only one truth. If this is correct, why don’t we select the core descriptions in all these systems regarding truth, and combine them? With the development of modern scientific civilization and information, we could easily search on the Internet and find information on all cultural systems in the world. It would be very challenging to summarize the differences and commonalities among all cultures. Even if for only two cultures, it would take one’s entire life and effort to do so. Therefore, such exploration would be futile. In a three-dimensional world, the primary approach we could adopt is “To seek commonality and reserve differences.” While we look for commonalities, we acknowledge the existence of those we disagree with.
According to the Projection Theory we discussed in the first chapter, the N-1th dimensional object is the projection on the Nth-dimensional space. We know this through the mechanical drawings of a three-dimensional object on a piece of paper (a two-dimensional media). We use the front view, side view, and top view of an item to project a three-dimensional object on a two-dimension media. This is an excellent example of the relationship between the projection source and the projection in the lower-dimension world. However, how many images could a three-dimension object have on a two-dimension space? Infinite!
I’d like to introduce here a concept in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. When an object moves fast, and when the speed approaches the speed of light, the length of this moving object will become shorter. This gives us an essential inspiration; when we observe an object in a three-dimensional world at different speeds, the object’s shape will differ. Let us also keep in mind that speed is relative to time, as Speed = Distance ÷Time.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity tells us another concept: when the speed of a moving object approaches the speed of light, time becomes slower. The word “becomes” is a very critical word. In a three-dimensional space, there are three important variants—the length, the width and the height—which are well known in the common knowledge system. However, in a three-dimensional space, there is also a constant element of time. And not merely time, but “objective time”. In three-dimensional space, objective time, with objective seconds and objective minutes, is measured and determined by the frequency of oscillation of quartz at the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
But according to the Theory of Relativity, when the speed of a moving object approaches the speed of light, time slows down. This means time becomes a variant. Please note that, in a three-dimensional world where the speed varies, we could regard distance as the variant element, or we could regard time as the variant element. There are possibilities of these two variants existing in a three-dimension world: the size of an object, the amount of space it occupies, will be different if the time is a variant element. Such differences could be well described in the projection system.
This is interesting logic. I have mentioned before that the Nth dimension is the projection source of the N-1th dimension, and, in the lower dimensions, there is an infinite number of projections from a relatively higher dimension. I have given an example previously about the three-dimensional object being projected on a two-dimensional media, with all information concerning the three-dimensional object equally presented in the two-dimensional media. Further, I want to say that the fourth dimension is the projection source of the third dimension. For the fourth dimension, I say the rule becomes “To seek commonality and respect difference.” I respect all reasonable existences of space because all projections come from the source.
What is the relationship between the projected images? When we look at them with the projection source, we could find the essence of their relationship. If we want to look for their commonalities in the projected images, it would not be meaningful and would wasteour time and effort, as they are so different. We could only focus our attention on the individual images and the relationship between these images. It is crucial to look for commonalities in the higher dimensional space, while respecting the differences in the projected images. Only when we look at the projection source would we be able to truly see the logical relationship between the projected images. I’d like to call the linking of the projected image to the projection source, “yuan” (缘), a word commonly used in Buddhism for affinity, connection, predestined relationship, etc.
What is “yuan” (缘) ? The Chinese often say, “There is (strong) yuan (缘) between us.” “Follow the yuan” (缘). What exactly is yuan (缘), then?
Using the description of the projected image and the projection source makes it easier for us to understand yuan (缘). Yuan (缘) is the relationship established in the projection source. We have encounters with many, many people in our lifetime. We may have a close relationship with some, while limited encounters with others. These relationships have been established or determined in the higher-dimensional space. The reason for us to meet today is because the conditions established in the higher-dimensional space have matured in our current dimension.
Now, it will be easier for us to understand why, in Buddhism, the beginning or the origin, and the ending, are not discussed. The Buddha expounded only on conditional origination, as all comes from the projection source. In the fourth-dimensional space, time is a variant element. The beginning and end in a three-dimensional world has been transcended in a four-dimensional space. When time is a variant element, there is no beginning and there is no end; there is no past, present, or future. The measuring of the beginning and the end in a three-dimensional world is meaningless in a four-dimensional space.
The commonalities in the projection source are the more essential messages. This is why I use the term “To seek commonality and respect difference” to describe it. In Daoism, this is called “Earth follows Heaven.”（地法天） The Earth is three dimensional, and Heaven is four dimensional, which is a higher dimension. When I seek commonality and respect differences, I enter the realm of “Earth follows Heaven”, because the three-dimensional Earth is showing the images projected from the four-dimensional Heaven.
From the fourth dimension up to the Nth dimension (N approaches infinity), there is a gradual increment of states whereby the states come “to Summarize Commonality and Understand Difference”. For example, from the fifth dimensional perspective, all information appearing in the fourth dimensional space can be seen as clear as day. The same rule applies when comparing the sixth dimensional space and the fifth dimensional space. Therefore, from the fourth dimensions up, the higher dimensions “summarize commonality and understand difference”.
When I say, “to summarize commonality and understand difference,” I refer to the realm of “Heaven follows the Dao.” Upward from the third-dimensional space, there are endless spaces, all the way to the Nth dimensional space. The levels become higher and higher. In Daoism, this is called “Heaven follows Dao” (天法道).
When in the Nth dimension (N approaches infinity), all things are integrated into one. In this realm, there is no difference. That’s why I describe it as “No commonality and no difference.” When N approaches infinity, it enters the original state of the projection source. In Daoism, this is called “Dao follows nature”(道法自然). This is the highest state level. It also matches the description of the status of a Buddha, who has achieved the complete, unsurpassed, and perfect Enlightenment. In Daoism, it is also called “wu ji” (无极), which exists at any place and any time. In western theology, it is the unique presence, the integration of all things in one. It is also the omnipresent and the omnipotent. It is the projection source of all things. Because of all these, I say, multiple cultural systems, or wisdom systems, become integrated as one at the Nth-dimensional space (N approaches infinity).
Of course, we human beings could use many descriptions to describe different energy levels. However, when all wisdom systems are at their ultimate level, they would be free of any form, and they would all be beyond description by any form. When I truly understand this, I would truly understand Buddha Sakyamuni’s words in the Diamond Sutra, “If anyone says the Tathagata is expounding the Dharma, he would be slandering the Buddha”, and also that “He who sees me by outward appearance and seeks me in sound, treads the heterodox path and will not see the Tathagata.” In the Christian teachings, the description that God is the only uniqueness is for the purpose of avoiding attachment to any level of energy presence. In other words, no worship of idols is allowed. In Islam, Allah is also described as a formless existence.
In the Nth-dimensional space, this is a concept of relativity. In this concept, it is a never-ending state. Just like the saying in Daoism, “The Dao which can be described is not the universal and eternal Dao.” We use language or logic to describe the truth, yet the language, or the logic itself is not truth. Through the description, I see the commonality of all systems, religious or otherwise. The commonality between our world and the ultimate wisdom realm is the same, and they could verify each other. The essence of commonality is the same, no matter where it exists. A cake could be cut in millions of ways, vertically or horizontally, but the essence of the cake is the same. With this understanding, and also the knowledge of the ways of cutting a cake, i.e. the methods of analysis, I would respect each and every way of cutting the cake, i.e., the interpretation.
The content of this lecture is a broad summary. I’ll elaborate the contents in future lectures. Each wisdom system is profound. Our scientific context helps us in our exploration of the commonality and difference among those systems.