Thursday, August 03, 2006

Models of spiritual dimensions - part 2

I had another vision in the late nineties. I was at a Midwestern university medical center, where there are many interconnected buildings, for when the weather is bad for months at a time. Between the bridges, mostly one story above the street, and corridors connecting them, one could walk a circuit around the center that would take about twenty minutes, for exercise and diversion, as many times as one cared to walk it.

I was doing this one day when things took on this otherworldly quality. This roughly 10 feet by 10 feet tube I was walking through could be the physical universe, with the two-dimensional cross section I was walking through representing the three dimensions of space and the route I was walking the dimension of time. This would make our physical universe a toroid or donut, which is not its actual shape, but this is metaphor. Outside this toroid path I was walking, everything else I could see was vast. There were bus lines and a light rail stop leading to places very far away, and that’s just in this city. Beyond this city is the Earth, the galaxy, the physical universe. Yet this is just adding a couple more dimensions to the basically one-dimensional path I was walking. And all of the vast reality of the physical universe could be represented by this small path, while the spiritual side of reality would be everything beyond this small path, an incredible imbalance, not just some one-dimensional shift between heaven, Earth, and hell, or even the multiverse that many believe.

There is always construction going on at this medical center. Something told me this is what it’s like in the spiritual side of things. People wonder so intently about this small path we’re on when beyond the path, just over there, there’s a 20-story building going up on the spiritual side of reality. One can see a lot of this in twenty minutes.

Now in contrast to a vision like this, I have read many schemes to explain reality beyond what science can do, mixing what I would call physical and spiritual into one. There is Ken Wilber’s scheme, which many love. This is a hierarchical scheme with “non-dual awareness” at the top. Wilber claims to have had this state of consciousness constantly for a number of months, before an illness broke the spell. It is to see the physical and spiritual as one. Only that means to see them as about the same. They don’t have to be.

String theory says there are 10 dimensions instead of three spatial dimensions, seven curled up so we can’t experience them. Even curled up that is so much more than tripling the complexity of things. Just one curled up dimension provides possibilities for incredible variation on the physical world, cutting across the physical world we can sense, making the possibilities for our existence indescribably large. And there’s more than one.

The physical and the spiritual are not so close in size as to have them both in the same space, as unimaginably vast as the physical universe is. Now anyone can call me a fool for saying that, and some are so partisan that they have. I can’t prove it. I can’t really do justice to visions that have demonstrated that to my satisfaction. But I was there. I was the one who saw. And if my brain can do this without any help from outside, I‘m glad science has a shot at someday explaining how, because I would have wanted so much more of this. Only I don’t think my brain can do this by itself, or I would be doing that right now instead of remembering this.

There is so much more one can learn from the Spirit than from human beings. The only way to know that is to come to The Spirit and let Her teach you. I don’t know how much it’s that people can’t do that and how much it’s that people don’t want to. Either one kills the process. I do know that few people try that hard, even all these people I meet who have become disgusted with God, saying they’ve tried everything and gotten nothing from Him. Oh really, everything? How about a complete surrender? How about giving up every idol we cling to, every bit of theology and prejudice, every bit of pride?

Maybe they’re right, and God cruelly plays favorites. Maybe God isn’t all that loving or good. Even if that’s the case, He’s still God and I’m not. Reject Him if you will, but God will always be whoever and whatever God is, not what someone says He is. From what I’ve seen, I see no chance of any human being understanding that on his or her own. Few people even understand quantum mechanics, and quantum mechanics is easy to learn from a textbook and experienced physicist if you can follow the math and the experiments. Yet most of what people say of quantum mechanics in a popular forum is nonsense. It’s become this drawer of false hope for people to put all sorts of weird ideas into, and then tell others. The physicists who didn’t understand quantum mechanics at first started such mysticism in their confusion, but since then it’s just flowered to an amazing degree.

Some say the story of spirituality is the same, that at it’s core there is some truth, some truth not much different from the physical world. From that core people supposedly have created so much more out of false hope. I don’t believe that. I believe the true hope in spirituality is inexpressibly vast. But you have to go in the right direction. I don’t think any direction will do, but anyone is free to try any direction they want. That is the physical nature of our existence. Yet it might not be the whole story or even a small piece of the story.

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