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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on May 26, 2010 7:15 AM PDT

This essay is dedicated to Edwin Abbott Abbott, the English schoolmaster, theologian and acute social commentarian who wrote the novella Flatland in 1884. This little gem was many things but to me it was primarily an introduction into thinking about multidimensionality. I have found this an invaluable tool for speculating about the interface between science and faith. 

As the Dalai Lama pointed out recently, the end of war requires a faith that transcends any one religion. One has to have faith in the essential goodness of men and women to have the faith that we are capable of governing ourselves.  To reject the concept that man is inherently evil is to accept the essential assumption of democracy. This is the underlying premise in the message of Vishnu, Krishna, Buddha, many Old Testament prophets, Christ and Mohammed in their admonition to love our neighbors as ourselves or as members of our family.

We each view the world from a unique vantage point. Abbott’s alter ego A. Square meets the consciousness that exists in the point in space-time known Abott calls Pointland. We all exist in our own reality, much like the sole resident of Pointland. Having learned of higher dimensions from a Sphere, Square recognized that Point’s belief that he is God reflected his ignorance of the existence of higher dimensions of reality.

We too can delude ourselves into thinking that we understand objective reality and that everyone who lives with a different understanding is “crazy.” The truth is that all models of reality are like buildings. They are constructed of component parts that only together constitute a structure. This is a simple analogy to the reality that each of us constructs from viewing the world from our own unique perspective. 

Just because scientists know more about their areas of specialty than we do, we do not need to accept the prevailing paradigms in constructing the model of reality we create for ourselves that allows us to make what passes for sense in the world we share with others. However, it requires an unusually keen sense of what is important in our seemingly chaotic world to begin to perceive the patterns of events that may be clues to the existence of the higher planes of existence which are the only place where reality can conceivably be directly experienced. 

Only through the rigorous application of logic is it possible to develop a truly coherent world view. The time required to study and reflect on the models of reality that scientists have developed and the effort that this takes makes it unachievable for all but the most dedicated student of life. We must learn how to sort "common sense" and appeal to authority from ideas that do not depend on granting undue authority to ideas that are merely popular with society or even the community of scientists in a field. 

While it is more logical to suspect that the body of scientists who support a given theory are more likely to be right than the dissenter, we have to remember that Einstein was not accepted at first because so few of the scientists of his day were able to understand his theories. Only when they made testable predictions that proved true despite violating "common sense" were his ideas universally accepted. Even so, Einstein himself refused to accept the possibility that events in space-time are probabilistic rather than deterministic.

I have been blessed with growing up in a supportive and loving family in a nation where my formative years were at a time that education was valued and supported by society.  I found learning rewarding and was blessed with teachers who taught me how to think, not what to think. We are in danger of losing this without a concerted effort to strengthen and feed our children’s minds through a publicly supported educational system. Jefferson warned us that we cannot keep the Republic if we do not assure that we raise educated and open-minded children.

The loss of control of our nation has occurred under the watch of those of us who were blessed with the gift of our the opportunity to thrive in a society that was coming to consider every American as equal.  It is our duty to combat the vicious inequality that pits brother against brother and family against family in modern US society. Only by doing so can we restore the nation to economic, political and moral vitality. This is our responsibility if our grandchildren are to realize the promise of our forebears. Many have died so that this nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal, shall not perish from the Earth.

Chess is a model of war that is played out in a two-dimensional world where three-dimensional men are nothing but pawns in the game. The players who move the pieces have to think in four dimensions, envisioning the changes that they want to make in the pattern of the chess pieces in the course of time, the fourth dimension. What the smug players in the global game of chess  don’t know is that their game of Risk may be played out on a higher dimension in which all their moves are anticipated.

One way of considering reality is to choose to believe that humans are but Avatars of their true five-dimensional selves that exist on Earth and Eternity at the same time, as viewed from a five-dimensional perspective. If that is true, things may not be as they appear to us and the game of life and death may be more complex than we realize, yet ultimately one that can be won.

In Flatland, Mr. Square comes to realize that his world view had been limited by his failure to consider the implications of what he observed until he is confronted with direct evidence that he exists in more than two dimensions. 

The “wise” Sphere who materializes in front of him moves through four-dimensional time-space in synchronicity with the changing perspectives of Square. Thus, as Sphere moved through the plane of Flatland, Square first saw a point in front of him, then a gradually widening circle that grew to a maximum size before vanishing. Sphere used this graphic demonstration to provide the clues in the three dimensional time-space the consciousness of Square inhabited that could be used to deduce the literal and demonstrable existence of a fourth dimension not be directly perceivable from three dimensions.

Until Sphere descended from “Heaven” everyone on the globe that residents of Flatland thought of as the universe were ignorant of the existence of a higher dimension that must exist for their world to be as it was. In Flatland, this higher dimension is only what we would call “up.” 

Since Flatlanders only conceived of the world in two dimensions, they could not imagine what it meant to live in three dimensions of space. Only by recognizing the significance of the clues to the existence of a higher plane inhabited by sentient creatures could Square understand the reality of the three dimensions of his direct experience.

War is a form of chess played out on many levels. Let us call this the n-dimensional plane of the battlefield the place where Armageddon is being fought. If this is true, then one has to deduce the number of levels of dimensionality that are relevant to the problem of winning the war. 

The Hindus contemplated this and concluded that there were seven states of consciousness. Some religionists believe that the stages of enlightenment through which our consciousness evolves over time play out in succeeding life cycles and take as long as is required for the individual soul to realize that there is nothing worth pursuing in life but enlightenment. Today we may be entering the Age of Aquarius, when the idea suddenly dawns in our collective consciousness that the end of war is possible if we collectively will it to be so.

Buddha gave up asceticism early in his search for enlightenment, shortly after he rejected a life of hedonism that many Brahmins lived in his time and place. He sought to contemplate what he thought of as the first principles of the lessons contained in the Bhagavad Gita. He must have considered that God and Man were One and that if Vishnu created of himself men and women during his time on Earth, then together we could choose to become to be more connected to what some call God and he called the Eternal One.

It is good that we spend time alone contemplating but as Buddha  learned and taught,  for true Enlightenment we must commune with each other. We may have been born in ignorance of our true natures so that we would have free will in a universe where the end is foreseeable from a higher-dimensional vantage point. 

If this is the nature of the Universe, then each of us contains a part of answer to the puzzle of the nature of God and its "plan." In a universe where free will exists our future is not determined for us, though it may be known to God. It is up to us to collectively choose the path that we take together at each of  the various nexus points between an infinity of potential "realities" within the multiverse.

If Buddha was right, then all things that occur in the material universe are inter-related and interdependent, as modern physicists now believe to be the case. Just as joy cannot be perceived by those who have not known pain, the path to the salvation of the our planet cannot be envisioned until we have glimpsed a vision of Hell on Earth. Armageddon is the vision of that Hell that some imagine awaits us.

The true believers in the doctrine of salvation by belief alone think that Jesus is coming to save us in this end of times on a white horse with flaming sword drawn. They believe that all we have to do is believe that Jesus himself is God and they will be saved without moral effort. 

Their complacency threatens to make the warning of Armageddon a self-fulfilling prophecy. If God gave us free will, then it is up to us to choose the path we will take individually and collectively. I choose to challenge this dark vision of the fate of humanity and fight to prevent it with the gathering Army of the Soldiers For Peace internationally.

Square came to envision existence in even higher dimensions, which upset Sphere. Mr. Sphere was the type of guy who was certain that he had experienced Enlightenment. When Sphere left, Square had to ask himself whether what he had seen was real. He applied rigorous logic to what he had seen and to his credit believed the evidence of his senses over the prevailing belief among the residents of Flatland.

In this year of the Earth Christians call 2010 Anno Domini and others measure by more ancient calendars, we can take a lesson from the humble Square and begin to think of war as a game played in at least five dimensions. 

In such a world, a cube appears as we see it from four dimensions only when viewed from certain angles, just as a cube would appear a square to us if viewed end-on from angles which can be predicted from simple geometry. Viewed from other angles in five dimensions, we would see a multidimensional view of the cube that would reveal its true nature in such a universe. It would be seen to be what mathematicians call a hypercube. To consider how to end war through playing the game of life and death in n-dimensional space-time, we  must learn to think outside of the hypercube.

With apologies to Laura Nyro:

I'm not scared of dying
and I don't really care.
If it's peace you find in dying
well then, let the time be near.

If it's peace you find in dying,
well then dying time is near.
Just bundle up my coffin,
'cause it's cold way down there.
I hear that it's cold way down there yeah,
crazy cold, way down there.

And when I die, and when I'm gone
there'll be one child born
in this world
to carry on, to carry on.

Now troubles are many
they’re as deep as a well.
I believe that we’ll make Heaven
‘cause I don’t believe in Hell.

I’ll pray that we’ll bring Heaven
and I don’t believe in Hell.
But I'll never know while livin’,
only my dyin' will tell.
Yes only my dyin' will tell oh yeah,
only my dyin' will tell.

And when I die, and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born in this world
to carry on, to carry on
yeah, yeah.

Give me my freedom
for as long as I be.
All I ask of livin'
is to have no chains on me. 

All I ask of livin'
is to have no chains on me.
And all I ask of dyin' is to
go natrually, only wanna
go naturally

Here I go!
hey, hey.
Here come the devil
right behind.
Look out children, here he come.
Here he come, heyyy.

Don't wanna go by the devil.
don't wanna go by the demon.
don't wanna go by Satan,
don't wanna die uneasy.
Just let me go

And when I die, and when I'm dead,
dead and gone,
there'll be
one child born, in our world
to carry on, to carry on.

Rick Staggenborg, MD
Roseburg, Oregon

1 comment:

  1. At this point in the book I have outlined a theory of God, Mankind and the relationships between and among them that I hope will intrigue both believers in the various religions, those of a nebulous spiritual bent agnostics and even atheists, which I regard as a fundamentalist religion.

    My theory is consistent with known science in the 21st Century and thus not dependent on what atheists consider "superstition." Perhaps some would say that it is really a set of hypotheses, but I have laid out elsewhere in this book how one might perform the experiments that can prove conclusively to the individual of the validity of the theory, if not the reality of the model it proposes.

    I encourage readers of this book who have skipped around to read or reread the essay What if God Were All of Us? before passing judgment on the validity of the postulates described in that and this essay.


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