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Buddhist Study

Affecting Change Light-Years Away

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This series highlights how Buddhism can enhance daily living. As Nichiren Daishonin says: “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.”[1]

Pioneering researchers at Princeton University have successfully induced quantum entanglement between molecules for the first time.[2]

This development has significant implications in quantum computing, demonstrating that entanglement can be produced in a controlled environment. 

Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which two particles remain connected even when separated by vast distances and can be described only in relation to the other. This most recent breakthrough experiment captures this relationship using pairs of molecules. When one system is changed, that change simultaneously impacts and can be recorded in the other system. It happens instantaneously, theoretically even when particles are light-years apart. 

Albert Einstein, in 1935, brushed off this phenomenon, dubbing it “spooky action at a distance.” He was skeptical that a cause made in one place could produce a simultaneous effect somewhere far away. Almost 90 years later, though its mystifying reputation remains, quantum entanglement has been proven and accepted as a truth of the physical world as researchers make strides in accessing and understanding the quantum realm. 

We Impact Our Surroundings and Far Beyond

The idea of quantum entanglement brings to mind the Buddhist concept of dependent origination. It teaches the profound interconnectedness of all phenomena. 

In his 1991 Harvard University lecture, “The Age of Soft Power,” Ikeda Sensei explains: 

One of the most important Buddhist concepts, dependent origination holds that all beings and phenomena exist or occur in relation to other beings or phenomena. All things are linked in an intricate web of causation and connection, and nothing, whether in the realm of human affairs or natural phenomena, can exist or occur solely of its own accord.[3]

Buddhism teaches that our lives significantly and profoundly affect everyone and everything around us. Though this process is for the most part invisible, it extends not only to our immediate environments, such as our homes, classrooms or workplaces, but far beyond. 

Famously, the central theme of Sensei’s novels The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution is “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.”[4]

Wars, climate change, political tensions and other looming issues may seem far removed from our daily realities. As a result, it might be easy to feel small and powerless—even hopeless—in the face of global challenges. Any claim we can change these things may be hard to believe.

But even in today’s chaotic world, ordinary people united in their commitment to peace have extraordinary power. Like entangled molecules immediately influencing one another even light-years apart, every effort we make to chant and share Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to better our lives and help others do the same directly shifts “the destiny of all humankind” toward respect, equality and peace.

Keeping all this in mind may shed new light on Nichiren Daishonin’s assurance that “those who now believe in the Lotus Sutra will gather fortune from ten thousand miles away.”[5]

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

January 19, 2024, World Tribune, p. 10


  1. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376. ↩︎
  2. <accessed on Jan. 10, 2024>.  ↩︎
  3. My Dear Friends in America, fourth edition, p. 133. ↩︎
  4. The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, p. 837. ↩︎
  5. “New Year’s Gosho,” WND-1, 1137. ↩︎

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