How many dimensions are there?

If someone had asked me a few days ago, “How many dimensions are there?” I would probably have said, “Three,” (thinking about length, height, and width) and then I would have considered it for a moment and said, “No, four!” (thinking about time). But today, after doing a bit of exploring into the nature of the various dimensions, I can tell you that the correct answer is, “It all depends on your perspective.”

In mathematics, our most objective branch of science, a dimension is defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify each point of a shape.

For most shapes and objects, three coordinates are all we need to map them.  In math we call them the x, y and z axis of a graph, but they are also the x, y and z of the three dimensions.  An easy way to visualize the three dimensions is to think of a point, a circle and a sphere.  Each one has added dimension.

Let’s imagine we have a sphere that can be described with three dimensions, or x, y and z coordinates.  Now imagine that the sphere is moving.  In order to accurately plot its points at a particular time we need a fourth coordinate – it’s position in space at a given time.   Time is therefore often considered the fourth dimension, but even this is not exactly right.

The Theory of Special Relativity states that time and space are two entangled forms of the same thing and joins them into a single spacetime.  It would be more accurate to say that the fourth dimension is spacetime.

The theory of special relativity does a very good job of explaining the duality of space and time, and of electricity and magnetism.  The problem is that it doesn’t have the same elegance when explaining gravity.  If you ever hear someone talk about the special relativity of gravity, prepare yourself for an argument because this is some sketchy science.

To reconcile this, a new line of thinking developed in theoretical physics called the string theory. The reason it is called the string theory is that it assumes an electron is a one-dimensional object (a single point having no height or depth) that can only move back and forth along a line, and the electron vibrates along that line like a string vibrates on a guitar.  It is the vibration of the string that gives the particle all its qualities.

The string theory became refined over time and is now called the superstring theory.  The trouble with the superstring theory is that it requires more dimensions than we are aware of existing.  Most string theories require 10 dimensions in order for the math to work out.

It should be noted that mathematics has no problem dealing with an infinite amount of dimensions.  The conflict is that mathematics is supposed to describe nature, and we don’t see an infinite number of dimensions in nature.  If the math suggests 10 dimensions and we only see four dimensions, we wonder what is wrong with the theory.  Where are the other 6 dimensions?

Another theory, the M Theory, requires that there be 11 dimensions.  The “M” in the name refers to “membrane,” a word frequently used to explain the surface of a dimension.  We are considered to be stuck in a world of three dimensional membranes, so we call this a 3-brane world.  The superstring theory has a 10-brane world.

Since the M theory requires one more dimension than the superstring theory, it is assumed to incorporate all the string theories into it, making it the super-superstring theory I guess.  We still are missing 7 dimensions, though.

[Note:  I like the M Theory because it is looking for 7 new dimensions to find.  7 is a powerful number that appears frequently in nature.  If we are going to look for new dimensions, my money is on finding 7 of them all hanging out together.]

Just to make things complicated, some theories require only 6 dimensions (still two more than we know of), another theory requires 26 dimensions, and a holographic theory only requires two dimensions.  When we are talking about theoretical physics, the best answer to how many dimensions there are is, “It depends on your perspective.”

Even though we haven’t seen any of these dimensions that mathematics says should exist, we have theories of what they might look like.  We think that space consists of both extended dimensions (those are the ones we can experience) and curled up dimensions found deep within the extended dimensions.  The best geometric description of these other dimensions is to think of a sphere that is curled up on itself.  Even though it is condensed, it has a surface area that can be described as a membrane.  When we begin to perceive it, it is equivalent to the dimension unfolding itself and becoming extended.

Dimensions don’t have to be that complicated, however.  To get a feeling for what it would be like to have 7 more dimensions, imagine trying to model weather patterns.  You would need to plot a point that has not only the four dimensions of its location at a particular time, but also its barometric pressure, wind speed, reflectivity, moisture content, and so on.  Each of these characteristics are essentially another dimension of weather, and it would be easy to come up with 7 or even 22 more dimensions.

Some physicists describe additional dimensions as degrees of freedom, because each dimension gives the particle freedom to behave in a new way.  When we begin to apply quantum mechanics to the metaphysical world, this definition of freedom takes on a new meaning.

There are theorists in metaphysics just like in physics.  Some theorists use their own experiences and feelings to deduce the dimensions of spirituality, while others channel voices from other dimensions that tell them how things are.  Some theorists are fundamental, such as Christians who see only a few levels of consciousness.  Others, such as Lightworkers, believe they came here intentionally from the fifth dimension.

It is interesting, however, that several spiritual theories describe 12 different dimensions of spiritual awareness.   Quantum physics predicts 10 or 11.  Maybe the two realms aren’t so far from each other after all.

What are these dimensions of spirituality?  It’s all very subjective, of course, but some people say that our soul exists in the fifth dimension and that our connection tunnel is in the fourth dimension.  Astral projection, for example, is something that occurs in the fourth dimension with our fifth-dimension body.

The sixth dimension has been described as the place where consciousness creates thought.  The seventh dimension is seen as a place of creative energy.  The eighth dimension is the collective consciousness of individuals, and the ninth dimension is the collective consciousness of all the planets and stars.  The tenth and eleventh dimensions are kind of fuzzy to me, but they are basically light.  The last dimension is a point of oneness with everything connected; it is that piece we call God or The Source.

The Qabal assigns seven levels or dimensions to our existence, and you might say the chakras do, too.  However, there are more than 7 chakras.  There are 7 major ones, but many minor ones, and a system of 12 chakras is frequently used.  Christians subscribe to at least one other dimension, that being heaven, and many also subscribe to hell and purgatory, bringing the total number of Christian dimensions to 7.  It seems that in metaphysics as well as physics, the answer to my question of how many dimensions there are is still, “It depends on your perspective.”

One thing I think we can agree on is that each of these spiritual dimensions represents a recognizable quality of our energy that builds upon itself in a hierarchy.  For example, I know there is something unusual that happens in the dream world, so I conceptually accept the fourth dimension.  I know there is something like my soul that exists above that, so I accept the fifth dimension.  I know that thought is bigger than my soul, so I accept the sixth dimension.  I know that creative thought springs from an even higher source, so I accept the seventh dimension.  I know that collective thought has a power of its own, so I accept the eighth and ninth dimensions.  I don’t understand the tenth and eleventh dimensions, but I accept the twelfth dimension, that being a point of singular connection, so I will accept 10 and 11 even though I don’t understand them.

This is where defining a dimension as a degree of freedom makes a lot of sense.  Each step up in spiritual dimension is a freedom, and I think we all instinctively crave freedom.  According to author Carlos Castaneda, freedom is the ultimate warrior’s quest.  Everything we want is found is freedom.  How appropriate then, that the ascending levels of spiritual dimensions can also be described as increasing degrees of freedom.

The thing that seems to hold true for both physics and metaphysics is that it is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, for a lower-dimensional object to perceive a higher-dimensional object.  The only way for it to happen is if the lower dimensional object is somehow pulled up into the new dimension.  Only then will it have the perspective that allows it to recognize higher level dimensions.

This is probably what happens to many people who have experiences that cannot be explained by the three-dimensional world.  They are provided glimpses into the fourth, fifth, sixth, maybe even the twelfth dimension through a spiritual experience, astral travel, or dreaming.  They see the reality of the dimension and for a while it alters their perspective of everything, but it is almost impossible to get someone to see it if they haven’t experienced it.  It is not a shared reality.

I spent a lot of time today thinking about whether it must be true that a higher dimension force would be aware of all the lower dimensions below it.  I wondered if each successive dimension would encompass all the others, or if it could be possible for an object to exist in a higher dimension without awareness of the lower dimensions, just as we are not aware of the higher dimensions.

In our experience, adding a dimension has the cumulative effect of expanding awareness without losing any dimension.   For example, a one-dimensional point expands into a circle.  The two-dimensional circle expands into a sphere.  The three-dimensional sphere expands into a body moving through space and time in the fourth dimension.  We can still see the point, the circle, and the sphere and we can see that it is moving.  None of those dimensions have disappeared to us because we perceive all four dimensions simultaneously.  But when we get into the fifth dimension, will they still exist?  Can our soul see us as a three-dimensional object?  Or, are we as invisible to our soul as it is to us?

Can something exist in the fifth dimension without being connected to the first four dimensions?  This place where we think souls exist, metaphysically speaking, seems to have some souls connected to living beings (that being me and my soul, for example) and some souls not connected to living beings (that being ghosts, souls waiting to be reincarnated, etc.).  If my understanding of souls is correct, some souls exist, at least for a period of time, without a connection to a life form in the first four dimensions.

I’m not a theorist, I’m just a thinker, but it seems to me that the most desirable position (and therefore the position that a system should tend towards) is one where there is an awareness of all the dimensions simultaneously.  I would expect a soul (whatever that is) to want to experience the full spectrum of dimensions, from one through twelve, and not isolate itself from any of the dimensions.  A fifth dimension soul would naturally have a longing to connect to the other four dimensions in order to complete its own awareness.  A life form is the only object we know of that exists in all four dimensions.  Inanimate objects are three-dimensional because they do not perceive time, the fourth dimension.  Maybe that is why we say that a rock has no soul.  A fifth-dimension soul cannot inhabit a three-dimensional object because that would leave one dimension (time) unconnected and it probably isn’t possible.    In fact, maybe the reason for life is to create a four-dimensional awareness for the fifth-dimensional energy.

At the twelfth dimension of spirituality we have God, and this is a place where there is no form, no time, no separation, and no end.  In a way, none of the other dimensions exist by the time you get to God, and yet they all exist below God.  In the book “Three Magic Words” he says that every thing and every life form are expressions of God attempting to be aware of itself by creating finite packages.  His theory is that the only way an infinite force such as God can be aware of itself is to create finite experiences.  Every life form is therefore a finite experience whose purpose is to help God become aware of itself.

This finite packet of energy that I call my lifespan reminds me of the quanta of quantum physics.  Quanta are discrete bundles of energy, such as a photon, that are the smallest unit size possible for that particle.  We say there is nothing inside of it because it is as small as it gets.  Quantum energy is a discrete packet, a finite experience, and so are we.  There is something very similar about us.  It wouldn’t surprise me to find that the model for describing quanta worked quite well for describing the energy of our lifespan.  I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet, but I will.

The thing to remember about new dimensions is that it’s all about perspective.  Certain perspectives will limit the evidence we find when we look for other dimensions.  If we consciously change our perspective and start looking at things differently, we can find connections that were not apparent before.  Patterns emerge and structure reveals itself.  Changing our perspective allows us to change our perception.  Perspective, then, may be all we need to break through the membrane of our three-dimensional world and into the dimensions above us.

A charming story was written in 1884 about the difficulty of perceiving perspectives outside of our own.  It is called “Flatland:  A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin Abbott.  It is about a 2-dimensional object (a square) living in Flatland who is suddenly met by a 3-dimensional object (a sphere).  At first the square cannot perceive the sphere.   He can only hear the voice and see a two-dimensional slice of the sphere. But the sphere persists and finally draws the square up into the 3-dimensional world to give him his first look at the world below.  Up until that point, there had been no above or below.  It was Flatland, after all.  But now the square saw it differently, and he also saw that he was a cube.

Back in Flatland, it wasn’t easy convincing the others what he had found.  Without the enlargement of their perception, the third dimension was only a story to be told to the circles, squares, lines and dots that lived in Flatland.  They could talk about the third dimension, but they couldn’t experience it.  Yet, somehow the square had managed to experience it.  It took something of a miracle to make it happen, but it did happen.  Call it a religious moment or a stroke of luck, but when the sphere drew him up into the three-dimensional world the square’s perspective changed and nothing was ever the same.

I am including a video about a cartoon professor explaining flatland and our perception of other dimensions.  It’s actually pretty good.

What will open the door for us to see the additional dimensions that we suspect exist?  For some it will be spiritual experiences.  For others it will be logical thought.  The first step on either path is to be aware that more dimensions exist than we can perceive.  Once we start to conceive them, we may be able to start perceiving them, and it all starts with a thought.

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About Geography of Life

I look at the world with the eyes of a geographer. I look for patterns and forces to explain the world around me, and share my observations with you. I explore a wide variety of subjects but always have a scientific slant to my thought. I am not politically correct. I say whatever I feel. I explore my ideas, my emotions, and my choices. In the process, some interesting things happen. I am painfully honest about what I am thinking. I divulge my deepest thoughts and fears with you. Sometimes it is like watching a train wreck, other times like taking a nice walk.
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One Response to How many dimensions are there?

  1. Lee Offenhauer says:

    Wow! Lots of incredible ideas here. And I can’t say much about them except maybe for this one. You asked: “Can our soul see us as a three-dimensional object? Or, are we as invisible to our soul as it is to us?” My feeling is that our Souls see personalities in much the same way that the 3D Dr. Quantum saw the circle in the flatland video. The 3-D perspective transcends but includes the 2-D and 1-D. So it would see an object – let’s say a sphere – as it really is, whereas from the 2-D perspective it seems to be a circle. Actually it would appear to be a line, since you need to get up into the third dimension to see it as a circle. So the point is that God, for example, would see us in all our dimensions – in other words, as God – even though we only see ourselves from the perspective of 3 or 4 dimensions.

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