by Joachim E. Wolf
This paper postulates a multidimensional model of the universe, based on recent developments in physics and biology. We cannot see the multidimensional reality because our senses are limited to three dimensions, yet the higher-dimensional environment has a more substantial reality than our world. This is so because our three-dimensional world is only a subset of the multidimensional system. An interrelated set of holistic principles is developed. The multidimensional world is then explored with this holistic logic system. This leads to common-sense interpretations of quantum physics effects and provides plausible answers to many unresolved questions, such as the whole versus parts problem, mind-body interaction, the inner structure of the human psyche, the beginning of life, and the creative nature of evolution. Other logical conclusions lead naturally to key tenets of world religions.
Our common sense is not a reliable basis for correct judgements. There is no common sense on which all people agree. With time, major shifts occur in what people believe to be true, resulting in revolutionary changes in society. Such a shift is now under way. Scientists are talking about an impending "paradigm shift" (1)(2)(3), and free thinkers are anticipating a "New Age". While most scientific people tend to spurn New Age ideas, it can be shown that both developments are aspects of the same basic change in human perception of reality.
This paper examines the basis for this revolution, a revolution that will change our lives profoundly. When we understand its underlying cause, we can reduce the growing pains involved and enjoy a better life. One does not have to be a scientist to understand the issues involved. What is required, is an open mind, to let go of deeply seated prejudices about the nature of reality. In this regard, a person steeped in contemporary scientific thought may even have a disadvantage, since he or she has spent a lifetime working in a cultural environment where certain unorthodox thoughts tend to be greeted with derision. We are not talking about disputing true scientific facts, it is the interpretation of these facts that is up for discussion. Through habitual repetition, interpretations are often accepted as if they were facts, and it is difficult to detect the difference.
Perhaps the most pervasive unproven scientific belief is that our minds are the crowning outgrowth of physical matter, that material came first, and that mind evolved out of it. The dramatic successes of physical sciences, and the resulting technology, can easily mislead us to this conclusion. However, physical sciences are by definition aimed at the physical world, and to generalize their views beyond physical reality is scientifically not justified.
This paper attempts to interpret the findings of quantum physics and other relevant scientific information. The logical conclusion is that mind is the basis of our reality, and matter evolves from it, not the other way around. A holistic logic system is postulated that unifies seemingly disparate concepts of physical science, psychology, philosophy, and religion.
2. LIMITATIONS OF COMMON SENSE
In our three-dimensional (3-D) space, we have three "degrees of freedom" to move. We see objects that occupy space exclusive of each other. We also experience time, as a stream of sequential events, only one of which is real in the present. According to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, our concepts of space and time do not agree with actual reality. Our three-dimensional space and our one-dimensional time are actually two aspects of a four-dimensional "superspace", mostly called "space-time". Our senses do not perceive space-time directly (4), but its existence is well verified through decades of experiments. In addition to Einstein's relativity theory, modern physics is based on quantum theory, developed by famous physicists such as Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Bohr, and Dirac. Relativity theory focuses mainly on the macro world of outer space, quantum theory on the micro world of the atom and its subatomic particles. As relativity theory, quantum physics also assumes a four-dimensional space in which our 3-D space and time are blended together (5)(6).
David Bohm, the prominent theoretical physicist at the University of London, and an associate of Einstein, thinks of space and time as projections from a higher-dimensional reality (7). In this more fundamental type of reality, the distinction that we make between our 3-D space and time is meaningless (8). Professor Stephen W. Hawking, one of the most prominent physicists of our age, states: "We must accept that time is not completely separate from and independent of space, but is combined with it to form an object called space-time." Also: "In reality, there is no real distinction between the space and time coordinates, just as there is no real difference between any two space coordinates" (9). Fritjof Capra describes the difficulty faced by us to form an intuitive picture of the four-dimensional space-time. This applies also to the physicists who have worked with it for decades and are thoroughly familiar with its mathematical formalism (10). To our common sense, such a superspace seems impossible to visualize. Yet we have to get used to the idea that it exists, and that we are living in it, here and now.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) devoted much of his life to the study of epistemology. He concluded that our way of seeing the world in 3-D space and time is only a human characteristic, not a characteristic of true reality. We interpret the true "thing-in-itself" in terms of space and time, but we do not perceive it directly. "Space and time are not realities or things existing for themselves, nor are they qualities or relations belonging to things as such. They are ways our sensibility has of apprehending objects . . ." (11)(12). Kant's writings are difficult to follow, but the message is clear: don't think that your common sense of space and time gives you a true picture of reality. The German philosopher Gottfried W. Leibniz made similar observations earlier (13).
Another one of Albert Einstein's conclusions is his famous E=mc2 formula. It states that the mass 'm' of a physical body can be converted into energy 'E' and vice versa. Mass, to our common sense, has inertia. It is characteristic of bodies that occupy space, such as billiard balls. In contrast, energy is invisible. We sense it only by its effects on physical objects, such as acceleration, heat, and sound. The fact that energy and mass are really different versions of the same thing is difficult for us to visualize, although by now we have become used to the idea.
Physicists have established without any doubt that light manifests itself as two different forms in our world. Depending on the circumstances, it appears either as electromagnetic waves, similar to radio waves, or as a stream of physical particles, like microscopic buck shot, called "quanta" or "photons" (14). The photons have masses, specific locations and mutually exclusive expansions in 3-D space. On the other hand, electromagnetic waves are a form of energy, extending in space and time as fields that can penetrate each other.
For decades, even centuries, physicists have debated how these two seemingly contradictory forms of light can be reconciled. Now both views are accepted as valid, and scientists use either one or the other, depending on the situation (15). The two disparate, seemingly irreconcilable forms of light represent the same thing. In fact, this dual nature is not just a characteristic of electromagnetic radiation, but also of subatomic particles, the building blocks of matter, such as electrons and protons (16). Again, our common sense tells us that one and the same thing cannot have so diametrically opposite natures, yet there is no doubt about it.
The most dramatic and ultimate proof of quantum theory is the Aspect experiment, named after the French quantum physicist Alain Aspect. In 1982, he and his research team implemented successfully the test that had been long in the making, starting with a thought experiment suggested by Einstein (17)(18)(19). Very simplified, Aspect and his colleagues created two photons from the same quantum event and observed them as they speeded into opposite directions. After they had travelled some distance with the speed of light, the researchers changed the polarization for only one of them. (Polarization is the orientation of the wave that corresponds to each photon.) As a result, the other photon instantaneously adopted the same polarization, even though the two were far apart. Relativity theory tells us that nothing can travel faster than light. So nothing could have caught up with the photons after they had departed. Yet, there is this instantaneous mysterious communication between them. They are somehow connected in a realm that is beyond our common sense, although they appear separated in our world.
In addition to the physics examples, we are all familiar with the Mind-Body dual. It is known as the "psychophysical" problem and has been concisely formulated by the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes in his "Meditations", published in 1641 (20). Descartes observed that the world consists of two basically different substances: mind and matter. Matter occupies 3-D space, mind does not. He could not explain satisfactorily how these two substances, mind and matter, interact, other than through God's intercession. To this day, scientists are debating this problem. We know that each one of us is one individual. Yet our common sense cannot tell us how our two different constituent parts, mind and body, function together. This is similar to our inability to visualize the 4-D whole of space and time.
The resolution of this problem was already suggested by Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) (21). He saw mind and body as two attributes of the same substance, "processes of one and the same thing expressed in two different ways" (22). Still it is difficult to understand why he thought that "these attributes are absolutely independent of one another and cannot influence each other: mind cannot produce changes in body nor the body changes in mind," as stated in F. Thilly's History of Philosophy (23).
The five examples mentioned above mark a line between what is included in our common sense and what is not. Our common sense can visualize each of the five pairs. But we cannot visualize their wholes that combine them. George W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) explained how for each pair of thesis and antithesis there exists a synthesis, a whole that transcends the two opposing parts (24). Our problem is that our common sense cannot see or visualize the wholes that transcend our 3-D world. The reason is that our five senses are three-dimensional in nature and thus are limited to perceiving 3-D reality.
Our scientists have discovered a reality that transcends our physical existence. It is not that reality is divided into two realms. It is that human consciousness is able to grasp only so much of the total reality, the rest exceeds our capacity to comprehend. As a result, we experience our reality as a multitude of phenomena, like not seeing the forest for the trees. The threshold of our common sense, really of our conscious mind, is therefore not a hard and fast limitation, it is subject to evolution. Accepting this is a necessary evolutionary step. The present situation is similar to the one in the 17th century when mankind realized that the earth is not the center of the universe. Today it is a matter of common sense that the earth rotates around the sun, and that even the sun is only a speck in a vast cosmos of an untold number of galaxies. We are now facing again a new dramatic paradigm shift. This time, the entire physical 3-D cosmos will be delegated to the outskirts of a far vaster invisible multidimensional universe with an untold number of worlds.
3. THE KEY CONCEPTS
We can overcome the threshold of common sense outlined above with two interrelated concepts. One is that true reality has more dimensions than three. The other is a full understanding of the relationship between a whole and its constituent parts. In this section we will discuss the first point, multidimensional space, which we shall call "M-D space". We have only mentioned 4-D space so far, but once one accepts the idea that reality is not limited to three dimensions, then there is no logical reason to assume that it is limited to four or any other number. Also, physicists are reaching to ever higher dimensional spaces to consolidate existing theories into a "unified physics" (25)(26). For decades physicists have predicted accurately quantum physics events using mathematics with hundreds of dimensions. They have become used to the successful application of M-D calculations without seeing any significance beyond that. This, incidentally, was exactly what Copernicus told his Church superiors about his mathematical description of the solar system that delegated the earth away from the center of the universe.
Although we can not experience M-D environments directly, the great enlightened religious leaders and mystics must have been able to do so (27). For Buddhism and Hinduism, specifically Yoga, the primary goal is to attain an ever more transcendent state of mind, and to perceive directly higher dimensional realities. In contrast, the Western World has pursued the development of rational thought. It allows us to understand the laws that govern reality, without perceiving the reality directly. So we understand for instance that the earth rotates around the sun, although we cannot see this directly. In the same manner it is possible to penetrate M-D reality. We can learn to understand it, though we cannot perceive it directly. The following sections of this paper will provide an introduction to this understanding.
At the beginning of the 20th century a little book titled "Flatland" was published by Edwin Abbott Abbott. It may have been the first attempt to visualize transitions between spaces with different numbers of dimensions. Abbott described in humorous detail a world of creatures who live in 2-D space. They have no third dimension, as we do. Their world is confined to a two-dimensional surface, such as a sheet of paper without any thickness. For our discussion we shall modify Abbott's story. We shall assume that these creatures have the shape of circular discs with zero thickness, and with a "nose", so that we know which way they are facing (Fig.1). Let us name them "2Ds". Being totally flat, and sensing only 2-D objects, our 2Ds don't believe in the existence of a third dimension. Any 2D oddball who would express such thought would be ridiculed, because everybody knows of course, that 2-D space is the only reality there is. If any of us 3-D people would touch their surface world with our fingers, the 2Ds would see another disc. They would interpret it as a fellow occupant of their world. They may call it elephant, or whatever. If they see it the first time, they think that they have discovered a new species. The 2Ds do not see the fingerprint pattern, because to them it would resemble the inner organs of the elephant. If we touch the 2-D world with the five fingers of one hand, the 2Ds would see five animals, perhaps they would call our thumb print Rhinoceros.
If we penetrate the plane with a billiard ball, moving it through the plane until it leaves on the other side, the 2Ds would experience the birth, growth, declination, and death of some phenomenon that constantly changes its size (Fig.2). The 2D population has some philosophers who believe that this phenomenon did not really die, that it continues to exist in some mysterious realm that they call 'spiritual', without having any visible evidence of this in their 2-D world. But most 2Ds follow the prevailing paradigm of scientific materialism and ignore such unscientific notions.
Now let us cut a nail into small pieces. We get little cylinders that we throw on the 2-D plane (Fig.3). Some cylinders land on their side, the others on their ends. This event creates great excitement among the 2D scientists. They investigate this matter and observe that two different kinds of bodies have appeared in their world, some are circles, the others are rods. This is, of course, because the cylinder ends show up in their plane as circles, and the cylinder sides as rods. Further research by the 2D scientists leads to their discovery that it is possible to convert circles into rods and vice versa, by colliding them against each other. From our 3-D world we see that some cylinders are being tipped over on their sides and vice versa. The 2D scientists are agonizing about this puzzle for decades. Finally they are forced to assume that the circles and rods are really the same thing that exists in some 'nonmaterial' form, meaning their wholes do not exist in their 2-D space. The 2Ds postulate that there must be a 3-D reality that transcends their world. Sound familiar?
David Bohm has suggested another analogy that describes the quan-tum physics duals (28)(29). Supposed one observes a fish tank with two TV cameras. One camera views the tank from the front, the other from the side. Two TV monitors placed side by side display the two images. A fish facing the front appears different on one monitor compared with the other. A child too young to understand the setup, will not even realize that the two images come from the same fish. In this analogy, as in the previous one, two separate 2-D aspects of a 3-D object are observed, and the observer is challenged to form a mental image of the 3-D object. In the same manner we are challenged to imag-ine M-D objects of which we see 3-D aspects in our world.
Plato in his famous cave allegory (30) compared the
appearances of our world with shadows that are thrown on a cave wall by the
real things. We as cave dwellers cannot see the real objects because we cannot
look in their direction. We see only the 2-D shadows of the invisible 3-D bodies,
creating the illusion that the shadows are the real thing.
In our attempt to understand M-D space, it is probably misleading to assume that the additional dimensions must be geometrically perpendicular to our three space dimensions. Our 3-D space is probably meaningless in an M-D environment, and geometric right angles between dimensions have only symbolic meaning. The term "degrees of freedom" describes the situation better, meaning possible directions of development that do not coincide with existing directions. Perhaps it is better to imagine how our thoughts can take off in directions that have nothing to do with space and time. We are talking about expanding our consciousness, so thoughts are a suitable subject to contemplate.