One of the basic principles of quantum mechanics is the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. (It is represented by the equation in the image)
Yet there is another uncertainty principle, that is sometimes confused with the previous, that is known by the name “The observer effect”.
The observer effect says we can never have an absolute certainty about the properties of anything we measure.
The logic behind this principle is very simple. It is a result of a logical understanding of the boundaries of the system composing the physical world.
In principle, if we want to measure something, something else must interact with it. But the interaction itself changes the thing we want to measure.
For example, to measure the speed of a single molecule, theoretically, we can point a beam of light towards it, and measure the time it takes the beam, that is reflected, to reach back to us.
But the beam that hits the molecule interacts with it. For simplicity let us say it “pushes” it. As a result, the molecule will change its properties (speed, location, momentum…) and our measurement will be inaccurate.
A similar effect happens in the realm of consciousness when we try to explore its boundaries.
One of the most common meditative techniques performed by various practitioners is a meditation called “the silencing of the mind”.
The aim is to reach a thoughtless consciousness. A consciousness that perceives only what happens “Here and Now”.
Here and now are the inputs sent from our senses.Our thoughts create that which can be called: “There and Then” – since our thoughts are, at best, an interpretation of the data coming from the senses, or even worse, a projection of a past or a future, that has nothing to do with the “Now” transmitted by the senses.
One of the most natural questions arising in the practitioner mind during the meditation is:
Am I silent?
You may find it absurd. Shouldn’t it be obvious if your mind is silent or not?
Well, yes it is, while the mind is very noisy, but the more it gets quiet, the less you can tell if this quietness is absolute, or that there are still noises.
An interesting thing happens when your mind gets really quiet.
Naturally the question “Am I quiet?” rises (since you can’t have an answer if there is no question), but once you ask the question, your mind is not quiet anymore. The question itself is a thought.
In fact, you can never know for certain that your mind is quiet. You can only know it roughly.
Don’t get discouraged. You can make your mind totally quiet, but once you try to know it, you find it isn’t so.
Q: I don’t understand the connection between the first part of the article to the second
A:The basic concept of the observer effect is that you can never measure something with 100% accuracy.
The more subtle the elements you try to measure, the more the inaccuracy increases since the measurement influences the measured element more.
This is exactly what happens when you try to measure silence of consciousness.
Let say your thoughts are at a frequency of 10 associations per second, and you manage to reduce it to 5 associations per second.
If the thought “is my mind silent?” rises, your noise level goes up to 6 associations per second (one extra thought), but you don’t feel this. You feel that your mind is rather
silent then before since it went from 10 to 6.
The same happens when you try to measure the location of an object weighing 100 grams. If you direct a light beam upon it, it would change the measurement with an insignificant percentage.
When we go deeper into the quantum dimensions, or to a state of thoughtless mind, the measurements influence becomes really significant.
You direct a light beam on a molecule and you totally change its location and momentum.
If you reach a level of 1 or 0 associations per second, the addition of the association “am I silent?” doubles (or more) the amount of noise you have.
So you can’t make an accurate measurement of it.
This isn’t a theory. I describe an actual experience I have.