With quantum mechanics being so weird and counterintuitive, what if we try to reconcile it with the world according to Kṛṣṇa? Yesterday i talked about quantum entanglement, for example, and how the same principle can be observed when we talk about the universe as a component of the Absolute Truth.
The way Kṛṣṇa knows everything is very close to how the quantum system keeps information about all its parts. There doesn’t seem to be any external reason for it. Nothing gets transmitted, nothing passes messages or comes into any kind of contact with anything, and yet the system knows its overall state and if we tingle parts of it, the other parts will respond immediately.
What stops us from comparing this spread of information with Lord Viṣṇu being all-pervasive? He is everywhere and yet He is unseen by non-devotees.
Consider the case of Hiraṇyakaśipu. He looked at a column in his palace and he only saw solid rock. There was no Viṣṇu there, and yet Prahlāda saw the Lord inside the column. What stops us from saying that Viṣṇu was in a quantum state of superposition? I know what – my ignorance, I just picked a random word without any clue to its actual meaning. I know only that it has something to do with quantum object being in all possible states simultaneously, unless you take a look.
Superposition is the state of Schrodinger’s cat, for example. In this bizarre and cruel mind experiment a cat is locked in a cage with some radioactive substance. When these radioactive atoms decay they break a vial with poison that kills the cat. So, in order to know whether the cat is dead or alive we need to know whether atoms have decayed or not. This, however, is impossible, because in quantum physics everything is a matter of probabilities. not certainty. So, without opening the cage and looking at the cat we don’t know and CAN’T know the “truth”. As long as the box is locked, the cat, for all practical purposes, is both dead and alive.
Lord Viṣṇu inside the column was exactly the same. He was both there and not there until someone looked. If Prahlāda looked, he saw the Lord, if Hiraṇyakaśipu looked, he saw the rock. When Hiraṇyakaśipu tried to interact with the column the quantum system responded counterintuitively, from his material POV, and Lord Nṛsiṁha came out. The difference was that this time both Prahlāda and his father were involved in the observation. When devotees like Prahlāda observe the same quantum system it loses its superposition and appears as the Lord Himself.
Had Prahlāda not stated that the Lord was in the column nothing would have happened, his participation in the experiment was absolutely necessary.
Once again, the act of observation reveals the system, and it reveals it in way that depends on how it’s being observed. I don’t know if the second part has a comparison in quantum mechanics, ie if it’s possible to tweak the measuring device to force a particular state out of superposition.
What happens there is that unless you look specifically for waves, photons behave like particles. Try to check if it’s a wave, and the wave appears.
In Kṛṣṇa consciousness it means that the Lord is always hidden unless we look for Him. The relationship is reversed, however. When scientists try to measure, they see the wave, which is a true state, according to some theories, but when we try to measure, we see the illusion.
“Measure” is such an appropriate word here as it also means māyā. We fall into illusion when we try to see the world, when we become seers instead of the seen. The difference between seeing and measuring is immaterial. Every time we look at something we get a good measure of the thing already. We recognize and classify it, we notice the color and the shape, and we can give pretty accurate estimates of its length or width or weight. Actual measurements can only confirm what we already see.
Simply looking at things and seeing them is already māyā, measurement. In quantum mechanics it reveals the wave property of the objects, which is unexpected, in the conditioned state it reveals nothing unusual, just confirms our illusion.
Leaving that contradiction aside, the principle of our outlook affecting what we see is still important in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We become consciously entangled with the world as we see it, not as it actually is. It’s not the same kind of entanglement as exists between two particles in quantum mechanics but it still means a loss of control over what happens.
When we see something happening in the world around us it affects our own state even if it shouldn’t. We are spirit souls, after all, but as part of our entanglement with the universe we are forced to act according to what happens elsewhere – in our mind, for example. If we leave this state of entanglement we become free.
Another way to look at it is to observe that if we see the world with the eyes of devotion we see Kṛṣṇa everywhere. This special kind of look renders results completely different from those obtained by seeing with material vision. The problem here is that looking is a sign of being in illusion so when I say we look and see the Lord it’s not exactly what happens. Devotion or no devotion, we cannot force the Lord to be seen like we force material objects to reflect the light. It’s not the process of seeing here but it’s the Lord displaying His form, the Lord looking at us from every direction at every single moment in time. It’s not that we have the vision here, it’s the Lord having a vision of us and in the process reciprocating by showing Himself, too.
This twist gives an extra dimension to the adage that we should chant not to see the Lord but so that the Lord agrees to see us.
Maybe it’s not immediately clear but our chanting and our service should not be done with the goal of making advancement and eventually getting results. It should be done solely for the pleasure of the Lord. When He is pleased He might also become visible, or He might not, in either case His satisfaction would be felt, nothing to worry here.
A couple of days ago I wrote that we shouldn’t really care about how well we do our service because we are not the actual doers. Today’s argument adds to that – being attached to results keeps us as seers and not seen, and it doesn’t please the Lord in the slightest, so nothing happens. We are fooling ourselves when we make up stories of our progress and drill mantras of hope into our brains. Attachment and dedication to results has nothing to do with devotion and it will never bring bhakti. It will never even bring actual renunciation as we simply trade attachment to food and comfort for attachment to glory in our service.
It’s not easy to implement this attitude in our lives but Kṛṣna is here to help every step of the way. When we decide what we want we’ll see the universe cooperating, even materialists observed that.