On Compassion, Faith and Quantum ‘Subjectivity’

This one’s to share a small experience I had which has affected me deeply.
So, recently on a couple of occasions I have been to Peter and Taryn Prescott’s home in Cambridge. They are a lovely couple with a few-months old son – Isaac (who interestingly seems pretty intimidated by my glasses, I guess).  We have a get-together and lunch, then a little gospel reading and general discussions about life ( I also read from the Bhagavad Gita today). We read an excerpt each time we meet and today I was asked to do so. Today’s verses were from Mark 11,

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ 

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Very powerful verses and statements intricately woven into the verses. For one, the whole idea of belief in a higher form, a higher symmetry. And by that one is referring to unconditional reverence to the higher power, which can fundamentally change the way in which nature responds and situations evolve. Interestingly, much like the apparent ‘subjectivity’ arising in the interaction of observers with a physical system in Quantum Physics. So, the whole idea is that the way in which you interact with a system fundamentally defines the way and state in which the system will be and evolve thereafter. If we believe in the idea of multiverses (multiple universes), the idea that you are in this universe because of the way in which elements are presently interacting and have interacted leaves this inherent space for the lack of realism and determinism, unless one goes by what are known as ‘Hidden Variable’ theories (which say that we actually just observe a portion of a much larger theory where realism and determinism and the whole idea of objective reality does exist).


This in turn raises the question, which also gets raised while discussing the idea of Deism (that God just made the universe and then left it to evolve by itself without any intervention): where does the idea of God come in? Does ‘God’ make or represents the laws that govern the physical system or does he define the way in which objective reality evolves, leaving aside the nuances related to Creation for now? In case he does define the objective reality, then how can our belief (rather why should our belief) in God change the course of nature? Or is it just that the framework under which the course of nature evolves was made by him and not necessarily what transpires in it. So, if one were to believe that nature does evolve and change as per our active interaction and belief, is it not intriguing how quantum physics and the teachings of the Church do match at some points and yet leave subtle and yet glaring distinctions? Such as the whole idea of consciousness playing the part of an observing and reasoning agent, which fundamentally defines characteristics of the system we are a part of, as in quantum physics, in opposition to how consciousness and belief can play a fundamental role in changing the course of nature, as I understood from these verses.


The second point, which does stand out is of course the ill-use of God’s name for mercantile pursuits, which is sadly visible in almost every religious order today in some form or other. What is interesting though (a question Peter raised) is what does one then say about products sold for the dissemination of knowledge and for the purpose of helping others, such as religious books (which often define social norms and virtues rather than necessarily ways to realize the higher order or symmetry in things). Well, from what the Bhagavad Gita (portions of which I read out today, albeit in Srimad Prabhupada’s translated version) says about Karma-Yoga, that anything you do for unselfish purposes and with full conviction in what you are doing is  a form of devotion, and not at all a wrong act. However, what one could surely dislike or speak up against is the conduct of how the ‘Houses of God’ are used for business activities. The Temples, the Churches, the Mosques, the Synagogues are surely not places to elk out business strategies to milk money out of the genuine (and sometimes not-so-genuine) belief in the higher form.


The last point of interest, for me, that is raised in the very last verse in this excerpt is that as you forgive others so shall you be forgiven. Thinking about it, it sounds a little conditional and not quite as expected from a higher form, if one ascribes these virtues with the higher power. But I believe it has more to do with not only a teaching of altruism but the fact that to be one with that higher symmetry, you have to condition yourself to be suitable to be a part of that. Again, a debatable topic but one that is also mentioned in Srimad Bhagavad Gita about the satt-purush or the virtuous ones. But what struck me more was the fact that the act of forgiveness is shown to need immense courage and belief (like ‘moving a mountain into the seas’) and this struck me as a powerful statement, which is very true. Today, more often that not, the entire basis for strife and conflict is often not letting things go and holding on to a sense of bitterness. We are so disillusioned at times about what life is and who we are. I guess when we start taking life too seriously and forget that we are here for a few days that we start holding grudges.

​The other day I was reading about this girl who has terminal cancer (named Kathryn; picture above) and wishes to experience some joys of life she may never experience. For one, she may never experience pure love for anyone and all the material happiness that goes with it. She may never experience the joy of maybe even knowing what life could have been if given a few more years to live. So, she made this bucket list of things she wants. One was wearing a wedding gown and getting clicked in that. Ha ha. Sweet, silly girl maybe but that just shows what it is. Life is so much to live for and yet so transient. There a moment and not there anymore.

What religion is, as it stands, often needs dialogue and a dynamic tradition of interpretation and re-evaluation over time. One cannot claim to have the understanding of various nuances of even a single religion, but if one closely looks at aspects one sees an inherent beauty and logic in these teachings, be it those of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or Jainism.
An interesting session and experience surely!

2 thoughts on “On Compassion, Faith and Quantum ‘Subjectivity’

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