Observer Physics posits the idea that all  phenomena are ultimately the result of an Observer who is in essence creating reality through their mind.

While Observer Physics finds its origins firmly rooted in New Physics of Quantum and String Theory, it can actually be traced back to Greek philosophy, specifically, the Solipsists, who believed that the only fact one could be sure of is that you, as a singular mind, are perceiving something – real or not, existing or not.  From Wikipedia:

Solipsism is first recorded with the Greek presocratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483375 BC) who is quoted by the Roman skeptic Sextus Empiricus as having stated:

  1. Nothing exists;
  2. Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it; and
  3. Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others.

Much of the point of the Sophists was to show that “objective” knowledge was a literal impossibility.

In Buddhism, Observer Physics has similarities to the ‘Mind Only’ school of Buddhist philosophy:

The ‘Mind Only’ Buddhist doctrine of Yogachara (Sanskrit, “application of yoga”) teaches that the reality we think we perceive does not exist except as as a process of knowing. Phenomena, anything that can be experienced, have no reality in themselves. At the same time, there is no “experiencer” who experiences except as a process of mind.

It must be noted that the Buddha warned about the dangers of Nihilism that can arise from extreme views regarding non-existence.  According to K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera, the Buddha rejected both Nihilism and Eternalism.  But would he reject Observer Physics?  According to Maha Thera:

Why did the Buddha deny the teaching of eternalism [i.e., immortality]?  Because when we understand the things of this world as they truly are, we cannot find anything which is permanent or which exists forever. Things change and continue to do so according to the changing conditions on which they depend.  When we analyse things into their elements or into reality, we cannot find any abiding entity, any everlasting thing. This is why the eternalist view is considered wrong or false.

The second false view is nihilism or the view held by the nihilists who claim that there is no life after death. This view belongs to a materialistic philosophy which refuses to accept knowledge of mental conditionality.  To subscribe to a philosophy of materialism is to understand life only partially.  Nihilism ignores the side of life which is concerned with mental conditionality.  If one claims that after the passing away or ceasing of a life, it does not come to be again, the continuity of mental conditions is denied.  To understand life, we must consider all conditions, both mental and material.  When we understand mental and material conditions, we cannot say that there is no life after death and that there is no further becoming after passing away.  This nihilist view of existence is considered false because it is based on incomplete understanding of reality.  That is why nihilism was also rejected by the Buddha.  The teaching of karma is enough to prove that the Buddha did not teach annihilation after death; Buddhism accepts ‘survival’ not in the sense of an eternal soul, but in the sense of a renewed becoming.

Observer Physics, like the philosophy of Descartes, allows for truth to exist in the Observer and its perception.  But we could posit that in becoming non-dual, even the Observer ceases to exist in an absolute sense.  Following this train of thought, we move from Descartes to the philosphy of Spinoza, who posited that “the human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God”.  Spinoza moves us closer to a non-dual perspective that could be supported by the Buddha.

According to one of Observer Physic’s main proponents, Douglass A. White, OP allows for a reconciliation of science, mind and spirit.  States Dr. White:

Scientists study the world we live in, but tend to neglect study of the means by which they study the world: the Observer.  In Observer Physics the study of the Observer is a key component that can not be neglected, because study of anything requires the participation of an observer.

According to Alex Paterson:

Fundamental to contemporary Quantum Theory is the notion that there is no phenomenon until it is observed. This effect is known as the ‘Observer Effect’. 1

The implications of the ‘Observer Effect’ are profound because, if true, it means that before anything can manifest in the physical universe it must first be observed. Presumably observation cannot occur without the pre-existence of some sort of consciousness to do the observing. The Observer Effect clearly implies that the physical Universe is the direct result of ‘consciousness‘.

This notion has a striking resemblance to perennial esoteric theory which asserts that all phenomena are the result of the consciousness of a single overlighting Creative Principle or the Mind of God.

Perhaps Observer Physics will allow a unity of science and spirit, of a method of explaining the many worlds and their dimensions, in such a way as to reconcile the rational and the irrational, the eternal and the transient, the Observer and the Perceived.

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The purpose of existence is to bring delight to the observer.

The observer created existence for delight; this is the purpose of that creation.

The enlightened observer understands that what is perceived  is itself.

The enlightened observer understands that it is alone, perceiving, and that nothing else exists outside its mind, and that the perceived and the observer are one.

When the observer is unaware that it is perceiving, perception is innocent, even when perceiving another.

The observer, once aware of perceiving the other, loses that innocence.

The observer, once aware of perceiving the other, sees itself as separate from what it perceives.

The observer, once seeing itself separate from its perception,  does  not delight any longer, but is  rather aware that it once delighted.  Thus time is created.

The observer, aware of time and of the delight once perceived, names the object of delight. Thus is language created.

The observer seeks to regain the delight that is now named.  But as long as the observer is aware of itself as a perceiver, that delight eludes it.  This creates suffering.

The observer tries many things to regain the delight that it perceived. Each attempt creates causes and conditions that arise to create other causes and conditions. Thus karma is created even as free will is exercised.

Every attempt to regain delight that does not recognize that the observer and the perceived are one, and maintains the illusion that the what is perceived  is separate from itself, allows only temporary delight that eventually results in more karma and suffering.

If delight is regained, it is soon lost again.  Thus impermanence is created.

The observer, wishing  not to lose delight but rather to maintain it forever, recognizes that this is impossible now that it has become aware of observing and because of time, karma and impermanence.

The observer concludes that it has forever been moving between delight and awareness of its loss.  The observer no longer believes that there existed a time when there was only delight.  For once time is created, and once the observer is aware of observing, there can be no unchanging and permanent delight, but only impermanent delight.  This creates disillusionment.

The observer comes to crave delight when it is not in delight.  Once this occurs, the observer will seek ways to regain delight. Thus the observer enters into what it created, and in doing so regains hope but loses its identity.

The worlds are created as the observer seeks delight in what it created, and divides into many creators and creations; as such, hope continues, but identity is continually lost.  The observer becomes a seeker.

Since delight in what it created is always impermanent, the observer’s progeny suffers, loses hope, and seeks other means of gaining delight, and in doing so regains hope.

Every moment is an attempt, in some manner, to regain a permanent delight that cannot exist.

The observer, having attempted for many eons of created time to regain delight, understands finally that it cannot regain permanent delight through its creation.  Hope is lost but maturity begins.

The observer sees all the suffering it has created through its progeny and  in its attempts to regain delight. Thus compassion and responsibility begins.

The observer begins to believe that perhaps delight does not require its creation, and that its creation is only an illusion of its own making.  Thus meditation begins.

The observer ponders if delight can exist without its creation and, moreover, without perception of creation.

But if delight exists, perception of delight must exist. So the observer understands that delight itself is still perception.

The observer comes to learn detachment from delight, because the observer understands that attachment to delight causes suffering. The observer learns to watch and experience delight, but does not become it.  Thus the observer learns freedom.

The observer, through detachment, understands that what is perceived is not what it is and does not affect what it is.

The observer ponders what it is. On awakening, it sees only itself is Real.

Thus the observer concludes that it is alone, that there is no other, and that it created existence and perception for its delight.  In compassion for those that are suffering, the observer seeks to remind all that it has created with its own mind of this true state, reminding all that they are one observer, one mind meant to move from joy to joy, delight to delight, in a never-ending play of an existence that only appears real, only appears separate, only appears to be the result of creation.

Once all have been reminded, and all are awake, then the observer is no more and has, in fact, never been.