The following article is by Jody A. Long, J.D., from the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, webmaster of : www.nderf.org; www.adcrf.org; www.oberf.org; P.O. Box 23367, Tacoma, WA, 98093, (253) 568-7777 home; (253) 831-3008 cell; or (253) 572-1330 work email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprint requests may be sent to Jody A. Long, J.D. at the above address.
ABSTRACT: From near-death experience research, a model that fits the data is that consciousness (synonymous to soul) is a fourth dimensional construct. This concept necessarily affects the way we view time and how we integrate consciousness with our three dimensional, Earth reality. Our science, religion, and society are all affected by how we perceive our Earth reality. This paper attempts to explain the fourth dimension by analogizing to one, two, and three dimensional concepts to what experiencers are telling us about their fourth dimensional experiences.
KEYWORDS: fourth dimension, third dimension, time, soul, consciousness
As I sit here on this windy, rainy day, I have much to think about after reading the book by A.T. Schofield, M.D. published in 1888. Dr. Schofield takes the analogies of one, two and three-dimensional worlds and then theorizes on how to conceive of a fourth dimension. Interestingly, he also draws analogies on how entities living in the first, second and third dimensions would religiously view entities from other dimensions. Ultimately, the discussion is a scientific glimpse of the fourth dimension through the eyes of spirit. One can easily see that NDEs, typically described as profoundly spiritual experiences, are glimpses of the fourth dimension and perhaps not so far removed from science as we normally think.
What this paper will do is to delve into the fourth dimension by using examples from one, two, and three-dimensional worlds. Altered states of consciousness are explored as a possible avenue to understanding the different dimensions. Social and religious implications of the different scenarios are discussed. Lastly, the fourth dimension is reviewed in terms of what we observe from studying the near death experience (NDE) and the out of body experience (OBE). Of necessity, a new paradigm is presented that uses observations from the fourth-dimensional medium.
Physical Constructs From One, Two, and Three Dimensional Worlds
One of the most helpful things to understanding the fourth dimension is to visualize other dimensions using common, every day items. It then makes it easier to understand the analogy between the third dimensional world and the fourth by using this method. For me, common items consisted of office supplies. An unfolded paper clip could represent a line. A pencil is also a good representation of a line. A piece of paper can be used to represent a two-dimensional realm. The paper I used was initially part of a sticky-note pad. The third dimension can be easily represented by using the sticky-note pad because the two dimensional paper then has the added dimension of thickness. A ream of paper or a tablet of paper can serve the same function. Now, visualize yourself as a being inside of the paper clip. You are free to move back and forth, but can only see others in the line as a point. Next, take the piece of paper and imagine yourself as being on that paper. You can see four lines. But, then if you view the piece of paper as a three-dimensional being, the piece of paper has two sides (a top and a bottom) that are not necessarily realized when viewing the note from a two-dimensional perspective.
Another way to look at this would be to imagine that the two-dimensional being resided on the surface (plane) of the water in a tub or a sink; Then imagine moving a ball closer to the surface of the water. At first, there would be intersection in the form of a point when the ball first touched the water. The point would then turn into a circle, necessarily changing size as the ball started to submerge beneath the surface of the water.
A two-dimensional being might be able to conceive of a third-dimension. However, most in the two-dimensional world would find it futile unless they had a construct such as mathematics. Although the mathematical proof would be there, it is still hard to conceive of other dimensions since there is no visual imagery or verbal language constructs within our three dimensional world to fit other, higher dimensional models.
The two-dimensional being would never be able to comprehend the existence of the sphere by viewing it from the two-dimensional realm because all that could be perceived is a curved line. However, if the being abstracted the thought process and understood mathematics, he might be able to extrapolate that the line forms a circle. He could walk around the circle to understand its existence, but would never be able to view the whole circle at once.
There are two ways that the two dimensional being could understand the total reality of the piece of paper in relation to other dimensions of existence. One, is to be taken out of the two-dimensional world so that the piece of paper could be viewed from all angles, including the top and the bottom of the paper; Or two, the sphere could try to communicate with the two-dimensional being and explain the greater reality. For the two-dimensional being to advance in personal understanding, communication would necessarily imply that the two-dimensional being is open enough to hear of other worlds, or had the ability to alter his state of consciousness to experience the three-dimensional world on a first-hand basis.
In my mind, I conceptualize another dimension in terms of the sticky-note pad. I can take the piece of paper on the top and wrap it around until it touches the bottom of the last piece of paper. I then have a circular slice of what could be a smaller portion of a cone or a sphere shape. I can imagine an infinite number of two dimensional pieces of paper within this circular slice as they radiate from the center where the glue attaches the individual papers together.
To convert the image to a three dimensional concept, I make the square pieces of paper into a round shape so it resembles a sphere. Then I can imagine an infinite number of three dimensional slices of paper aligned in an infinite number of angles or different axis radiating from the center. Each alignment of the paper would represent a different three dimensional reality. In order to convert the third dimensional representation into a fourth dimensional reality, you would string an infinite number of three dimensional spheres together. Conventional wisdom tells us that the fourth dimension represents time. So, instead of the spherical three dimensional balls being strung together in a spatial alignment using depth as the common denominator; we would use the backdrop of time to string the three dimensional balls together.
Social and Communication Constructs of Other Dimensions
There are many aspects to social constructs that arise from physically understanding other dimensions. What we observe in our third dimensional world is that ideology changed as the religious dogma incorporated new ideas of our relationship to the universe around us. At certain times in our three-dimensional history, it was a novel concept that Earth was not the center of the universe, that the Earth was not flat, or that other larger galaxies and smaller worlds consisting of microbes and viruses exist. The church, after realizing that it couldn’t suppress the new discoveries, backed down on denouncing and persecuting the heretic individuals. The world of established science had also ridiculed people such great thinkers as Galileo, Kelvin, Pasteur, Lister, Jenner, Edison and Einstein (Schmicker, 2000). They said that it was ludicrous to say that creatures, forces, or particles existed that we couldn’t see, or to think that whole cities could be lit with electricity. Our world has been revolutionized by the inventions promulgated by these discoveries. We can now conceive of possible other worlds in other galaxies, fight diseases, and travel the seven seas without falling off the edge of the world.
Consider what would happen if a person shaped as a three-dimensional sphere wanted to become visible to the two-dimensional being. The three-dimensional sphere would necessarily be invisible until she placed herself into the exact plane where the two-dimensional can see her. It goes without saying that, from our third-dimensional viewpoint, we would consider it closed-minded for the two-dimensional being to say that we or the sphere-being do not exist because we are invisible to the two dimensional being.
Another concept is that the two-dimensional being would not have scientific proof unless one from the three-dimension directly intersects with the two-dimensional field of vision. This would be an arbitrary process unless the third-dimensional being was willing to cooperate in being studied or the two-dimensional being had reliable mastery over transcending the limitations of the two-dimensional world. Partial mastery would score as misses because the two-dimensional being could end up on other pieces of paper in the sticky-note stack; analogous to entering other two-dimensional realities. It would be far easier for a two- dimensional being to talk about other two-dimensional planes and relate that experience to other two-dimensional beings, than it would be to enter and explain the third-dimensional reality to two-dimensional beings.
It is interesting that Dr. Schofield speculated that communication would come from hearing those in the fourth dimension, not with physical ears, but from within the self. Communication as described in NDEs is virtually always telepathic. Another wonderful insight was that the reaction of the person residing in the paperclip or pencil line would not believe the communication with the person on the paper plane.
Another important concept is that ideological beliefs of the line person may have pre-existing religious boundaries incompatible with two-dimensional reality. For instance, there might be a pre-existing belief system that reinforces the status quo by saying it is a sin or it is work of the devil to believe anything other than what is taught by the line church. Another example could be a religious-based misconception of the nature of the extra dimension. Here, a religious belief of the line person may be that God created the line person in his own image. Thereby, all types of moral constraints are attached to God based on the fact that he intended us to be like him. However, as three-dimensional beings, we can see that the line person’s conception of God leaves out the third dimension of depth of what God’s image would look like to us. The moral constraints are independent social constructs to maintain order in the line person’s world, yet attributed to God as the ultimate authority.
Just as the preceding section discusses aspects of dimensions between one, two, and three dimensional worlds, we can analogize our three dimensional world to that of the fourth (or greater) dimensions. Mathematically, we can prove many other dimensions and computer extrapolate what they might look like.
Because of the lack of understanding of the two-dimensional world, the line person would consider the experience mystical and attribute it to religious figures. From there, the line person could:
- Shut the experience out and pretend it didn’t happen,
- Privately continue to learn from the plane person, or
- Try to communicate the experience to other line persons and risk ridicule and/or suppression of the newly discovered reality.
In summary, the way we physically construct our world has profound implications as to how we order society. We perceive our reality based upon time-honored ideologies that may not be valid when viewed from a different paradigm. What science and religion may demand as proof of the fourth dimension may be skewed according to social norms and social constructs. Only by thinking outside of the three-dimensional box will be able to advance in consciousness and to understand our true nature. That being said, let us turn our attention to what a fourth dimension might look like to three dimensional beings, like ourselves.
The Fourth Dimension
We become aware of the fourth (or greater) dimensions, first by what we can mathematically abstract: secondly, by anomalies we observe on Earth when those of other dimensions choose to intersect with our particular three dimensional Earth reality: and thirdly by the observation and personal experiences of others who talk of the particular ability of the soul to transcend across the various dimensions.
The mathematical extrapolations have been done and there are many good articles on the internet and some even have pictures. We know that the fourth dimension exists in theory, just as the two dimensional person could theorize about the lines of a circle.
There is a wide range of human experiences that fit into the category of spiritually transformative events. Many attribute this to genuine religious experiences, while many others discount the experiences as work of the devil or a medically sick mind. Given the way that a one or two dimensional being would react to us, it is understandable how three dimensional beings would view an interaction from a fourth (or greater) dimensional being. Furthermore, we would hear a fourth dimensional being in our mind and would not necessarily be aware of their existence unless that being chose to interact with us. Interaction could only occur by intersecting our world in our waking or a state of altered consciousness. That does not mean that failure to intersect with us means the fourth dimensional being does not exist. It also may be part of the reason why many clinical studies fail. There could be a component co-creation that is necessary with the other side’s cooperation in order for us to be able to understand the fourth dimension.
We have observed that humans can enter into altered states of consciousness. The near death experience (NDE) is defined as, the reported memory of all impressions during the special state of consciousness, including specific elements such as out-of-body experience, pleasant feelings, and seeing a tunnel, a light, deceased relatives, or a life review (Pim von Lommel, 2001). Although there is no clear consensus of what constitutes an NDE, there are specific patterns of events that a person lucidly recalls that happened at or near the time of clinical death (Long, 2002).
Moreover, out of body experiences (OBE) are common during NDE. An OBE can be defined as an experience in which a person seems to perceive the world from a location outside of the physical body (French, 2001, p. 2010). A person is in an altered state of consciousness during an OBE. The one thing that is missing from this definition, distinguishing OBEs from psychotic events, is the lucid nature of the OBE (Long, 2002). The out of body experience is a fairly common phenomenon since it occurs in 14-34% of the population depending on which study you look at. It would be ludicrous to say that up to one third of the human population are mental illness deviants: When in fact, this is such a common phenomena.
NDEs and OBEs are analogous to the changing states of consciousness that enabled the two dimensional being to transcend and be able to comprehend our three dimensional world. By changing the state of consciousness, the being was free to see the top or the bottom of the piece of paper instead of just lines in a plane.
What is commonly reported during NDEs and OBEs is that sense perception is vivid and enhanced, colors vibrant, sounds are alive, time is very different on the other side, there is unconditional love, communication is all-knowing, and we are all interconnected with one another (Long, 2002). One cannot help but wonder if the common scientific explanation of time as the fourth dimension variable is a misconception. In reality, the fourth dimension may be spatially related to us through our interconnections with each other. Near-death experiencers and some out-of-body experiencers are able to glimpse a world held together by unconditional love as a matrix for communication, a way of life, and total knowledge. Time may only represent a small part of the connection matrix of the fourth dimension.
Crucial to our understanding of the fourth dimension would be an open mind to the communication we receive from the fourth dimension. As with our communication with a two dimensional being, it would be necessary for us to distinguish between social constraints and concepts as presented from the fourth dimension. This means that religious dogma, and scientific obstinacy would need to be temporarily suspended for true understanding to occur.
When the mind is in altered states of consciousness, near-death experiencers and out-of-body experiencers report that there is a part of the body that is capable of experiencing other dimensions. The most extreme observation is the NDE where consciousness survives death. The fact that consciousness can transcend our earthly reality, may mean that consciousness itself is not confined to this particular three dimensional reality which is unlike our physical bodies. If consciousness were actually part of a fourth (or greater) dimension, then our social structure would change based upon the truths of the greater reality.
For instance, our individual consciousness could be described analogous to the fourth dimensional sphere that intersects our earthly plane. That fourth dimensional sphere only has one slice of itself that intersects with the water surface at one instance in time. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to assume that a fourth dimensional soul would also have the same capability analogous to the sphere.
From our earthly viewpoint, we could see the phenomena in terms similar to reincarnation. However, from the fourth dimensional view, it would look like one soul intersecting with several slices of paper at the same time. What the soul personifies as one being intersecting at one point in time in our physical reality, can essentially be several beings intersecting at different points in time. Yet, all the beings are part of the same soul experience. What one being necessarily does at any point along that time line, would affect the other beings backwards and forwards in time because they are all interconnected as part of the same stream of consciousness.
The observed pattern of NDEs is that unconditional love is the universal language in the third and fourth (or greater) dimensions. This also appears to be part of the universal matrix that ties dimensions together. Many people who read the NDE accounts to conceptualize what the fourth dimension holds are likely to be frustrated. It would be hard to understand what the fourth dimension is about until we truly understand the common language of unconditional love. This requires tolerance, patience, and teaching others in their own language so they truly understand unconditional love. We can then develop the interconnected language to understand what is next in our evolution as one of God’s cherished creations. We also need the wisdom and humility to understand that no single person will have the answer, be it a scientist or a spiritualist.
— French, C. (2001) Commentary, The Lancet, 358, 2010.
— Schmicker, M. (2000) Best Evidence, Writers Club Press, Lincoln NE, pp.32-34.
— van Lommel, P. et al. (2001) Near Death Experience In Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands, The Lancet, 358, 2039-2042.