The Uncertainty Principle

Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall explore the issue of uncertainty in a book called Spiritual Intelligence.

‘Knowledge, Heisenberg says, is always limited. If we know ‘x’ about a fact or situation, then we can’t know ‘y’ and visa versa. The quantum reality that Heisenberg describes has an infinite number of possible expressions, all of them necessary, each of them in some way valid. But we can only know the aspect of reality that we are looking for. Our answers will always be answers only to the questions we ask. And if we ask different questions we shall get different answers.’

This truth supports my views on vocation. Each individual has a unique life. That unique life has an infinite number of possibilities.

That said, each human life is a unique question, waiting to be asked. The purpose of each life that should be finding its answer.

Business is relevant to the extent that it fulfills people’s vocations. The need for ethics is to hone that vocation into a more humane context -one where our interrelatedness resonates. The role of ethics is to guide the enterprise so that it resonates with society and serves it.

The uncertainty principle is all about these questions. Each answer is an opportunity for more questions. And each answer gives rise to deeper questions… or it should.

When we in the West create a system, we invariably try to create too much ‘certainty’ around that system. We try to define and control too many of the variables, leaving no space for flexibility or spontaneity. By creating too much certainty, we have an opportunity to ‘mess’ with the balance in the system, and therefore the need for ethics becomes warranted.

If we create unfair advantage within an organic system, it will seek to find its balance once again. As we move into an age where these corrections happen more rapidly, we’d better have a way of dealing with the speed of the change, or we run the risk of being overtaken by fear.

Further, Zohar states,

‘There have always been religious or spiritual movements that have honoured bottom-up truth. The mystics of all the Abrahamic religions, Taoists, Hindus, Buddhists and, more recently, Quakers, have always stressed the importance of inner experience, and an inner path to the sacred. Rejecting the sufficiency of mere belief or obedience as a path to truth, they stress that we must work on ourselves to find some inner light.  Mainstream Western religions have rejected, often persecuted, those who hold this attitude, but perhaps their time has now come.’

How does this relate to the subject at hand? The issue is that, if we approach life and work from within the right centeredness, then all the other things that are life-affirming will also fall into place. Then the specific issues with regard to ethics become automatic because they would have been done ‘right’ in the first place.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, demonstrates that truth is just a matter of how we look at things, and what questions we happen to ask.  However, this is not relativism, since,

‘all individual perspectives are related to each other by the abstract description of the whole. There is a God’s-eye view, but it is available only to God. The best that we can do is gain knowledge of as many perspectives as we can, and acknowledge a whole that is greater than we can perceive. 

Similarly, Heisenberg is saying that quantum reality itself is filled with infinite potential (infinite truth) but that we can only know some aspects of it. As observers, we are involved in a co-creative dialogue with this infinite background reality, and what we see depends upon the questions that we ask. Truth is not limited or uncertain, but our views of it always are.’

Have you found the friend that fear can be? Have you let go of the need to control everything, to allow things to unfold serendipitously? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a note in the comments below.


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