How about What Do We Really Know?
What game shall we play today? Let’s imagine the following scenario: You are a discussion leader in a group of representatives of different philosophical orientations. Let us agree that religions, even natural sciences, are nothing other than philosophies. Because they all have one thing in common: they try to answer the basic, eternal questions of human beings, namely: Where do I come from? What is the meaning of my existence? What will happen to me when I close my eyes forever?
Now you start the discussion with the question: Which school of thought in relation to our existence is the absolute highest?
Representatives of religious communities might say: We don’t need to talk about that any further, the highest principle is God (Christian God, Allah, Jahwe….), because he created everything and determines our existence.
Well, that can’t be the highest principle from an objective point of view. If a certain deity took some to heaven and banished others to hell, that would be questionable dualistic thinking on the one hand, and arbitrary and very unfair on the other – at least to those who live in the jungle and have therefore never heard of any “God”. So this can never be the supreme thought.
The physicists in our imaginary group would say that natural sciences are the supreme principle because they are the only ones based on facts that are testable and therefore verifiable.
Quantum Physics and Zen
Recently I read yet another interview with Prof. Anton Zeilinger, an Austrian quantum physicist who won the Nobel Prize last year. When I first heard him years ago, I was immediately impressed. Not because I know anything about quantum physics, but because I love being confronted with new “worlds”. Physically as well as mentally. What I particularly liked in this interview is his statement: “Sciences are good at measuring something, but cannot say anything about our being“.
I have written elsewhere that quantum physics is increasingly confirming Zen Buddhist thought like Zen being concerned with things as they are, without trying to interpret them. Zen points to something before thinking, before all your ideas. Another of the core statements in Zen is that nothing really exists and is only a product of our thoughts . Admittedly, this is difficult to understand when we live in a world shaped by science. (It would be wrong to assume that Zen is anti-scientific or rejects religion).
Let’s try to illuminate a few aspects of these contradictions.
Let’s play a little imaginary game again: Jane buys vegetables at the grocery store for $8.50, pays with a $10 bill, and gets $1.50 back. That’s how it should be, her world is fine. She then goes past the butcher and when she pays there again with a $10 bill and is waiting for her change, the clerk says: “Sorry madam, but your $10 isn’t worth $10. Not even close.” “????” “By far not. Intrinsic value is a few cents.” “????“. “You see, it has been printed out of thin air and isn’t backed up against anything – except thin air. The paper itself is still the most expensive, then a bit of the value of the paint. The most expensive part of the money is production and distribution, then design, and printing, but they don’t add any intrinsic value. Anyway, I still can calculate $5 for 10“.
Our Jane leaves the store in disgust and informs her 5000 social media readers that in her town a $10 bill is only worth $5. We know what will or can happen next. Bank runs , mayhem. BTW: Many became billionaires in this way around 100 years ago.
Our god is money
Money is our God, and as long as everyone believes in this, everything works quite well – basically. To be on the safe side, let’s write a spell on it:
Far-fetched? Let’s look at another example, preferably math or physics, they’re rock solid. 
At some point in history, to put it simply, someone suggested: “Let’s call the distance from here to there one meter“. If we divide it exactly by 100 we say 1 cm and if we multiply it a thousand times 1 km. Undoubtedly a sensible and useful proposal that has caught on in most parts of the world. For some, it is not in their interest and they stick to feet, miles, and gallons. And the world keeps turning anyway. Quite simply because there are enough others who accept this system and find their way around in it.
Anything becomes reality when enough people believe in it.
Is there a “Flying Spaghetti Monster”? The majority would probably say: NO. What nonsense! The people who come up with this should get a real job.
Let’s put the question differently: “Are there people who believe in a Flying Spaghetti Monster“? Now we have to answer the question with YES. At the latest when there is a wikipedia entry, there is also the underlying idea or thing. And: According to Uncyclopedia, there are at least 18,000,000 Flying Spaghetti Monsterists in the world today.
The subject could go on for a long time, but we keep getting to the point that the world is how we see or think it is and objectivity is something we would all like to have, but it is not possible. So when I ask myself which philosophy is the highest, Zen always comes back to me – but that’s not surprising 🙂
We always find it difficult to understand the dimension of our thinking in the epoch in which we live. But if we look back, we shake our heads or are even appalled. The first person to say the world isn’t flat didn’t have it easy. In the case of Copernicus, the question of the question of “objective knowledge” becomes even more interesting: With his postulate, he questioned another power of faith and, as we know, this brought a hitherto dominant system of power into trouble.
 Zen Buddhism is based on Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. It began in China, spread to Korea and Japan, and became very popular in the West from the mid-20th century. The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language.
Zen Buddhism shows that there is no antithesis of self and “no-self.” Paradoxically, the true nature of the self becomes known only by inquiring, doubting, and negating the self.
 If you follow scientific publications, you come across articles at ever shorter intervals that at least partially question physics as we know it today. e.g. just today the author came across this article, which also questions mathematics as a construct. bigthink.com: Is math real?
Above all, the exploration of space brings new insights every day. At the same time, however, the realization that we can understand a maximum of 5% of the universe at all.