Embracing Possibility

Excerpt from my upcoming book “Embracing Possibility” / Chapter 7: 2D, 3D, or 4D

Pretend that our world only existed as a 2-dimensional world. This would mean that there is no space other than that which would exist on a single surface. Imagine this as a world consisting of a giant sheet of paper. On this paper, you could be a triangle. You would have quite a different vision of your 2-dimensional world, than I would if I were looking at your world from above. I would see a whole bunch of lines and squiggles moving and intersecting. You would have no idea that I was looking down upon your world, because you could only see what exists in your 2-dimensional world; a world of lines, shapes, and squiggles; all completely flat and without any observable dimension.

So, next, imagine what would happen if I, a 3-dimensional being were to step into your 2-dimensional world.

What would I look like to you?

I would appear to be two circles if I were to step into your 2-dimensional world up to my knees. And furthermore, I would appear as two separate circles. (This is where it gets really interesting for me!)

If you tried to study these two circles, you would soon see some kind of relationship between these two circles; they would seem to move in tandem with one another. You would notice that these circles were smaller at some moments, and larger in other moments. Sometimes they might even completely disappear! To me, I would just be walking through your world, but all you would be able to observe are the circles changing size and shape as I stepped.

Now, you could study these circles, and come up with all kinds of theories, even something as crazy as the possibility that these two circles might actually be connected in some way. With all of your instruments and science and know-how, you would never be able to prove it, only because you don’t have the necessary tools, and you don’t possess the ability to see into that 3rd-dimension of space. Can you see where I am headed here?

So now, we arrive in our 3-dimensional world. Let’s apply the same principles to our world as we did to the 2-dimensional world of shapes on a giant sheet of paper. MY question is simply: ‘What would a 4-dimensional being look like to us in our 3-dimensional world?

The answer is that we would only be able to perceive its 3-dimensional characteristics, just like the world of 2-dimensions could only observe my 2-dimensional characteristics. This, I find extremely interesting, and it has brought up innumerable questions that I could devote another entire book to.

How about this?:

What would happen if a 4-dimensional being stepped into a 3-dimensional world such as ours? What if this 4-dimensional being appeared as a bunch of separate 3-dimensional beings, just as our legs appeared as two separate beings in the 2-dimensional world? What if we are all really connected and part of a single 4-dimensional being that we are unable to ‘prove’ or measure with our paltry and primitive 3-dimensional tools and thought and perception? What if every living being was part of a much larger single intelligent being that contained the information for the whole of the human race? What if our survival as a species depended on our realization of this fact?

Here’s another idea to ponder. Suppose we’re back in our 2-dimensional world. And imagine that the 3-dimensional world built a subway that happened to touch the 2-dimensional world in two places:

2D and 3D Worlds Collide

The 2-D citizens would have no way of perceiving the tunnel that went through 3-dimensional space. They could only perceive the tunnel where it touched their world. They could observe trains as they left one station, and appeared magically at the other, but have no way of measuring the journey between the two stations.

The 2-D citizens could conduct an experiment; they could place a dab of paint on the train as it left the first station and observing that same dab of paint on the train that appeared at the second station. There would be no way of explaining this phenomena; no explanation would make sense in their world of 2-dimensions. These findings could potentially turn everything the 2-D citizens knew or believed to be true completely upside down. The ramifications of such incoherence between what they observed and what they have always believed to be true would be impossible to predict, but it would be safe to guess that they would be far-reaching.

A new world opens up before me when I start thinking about such things. Whether or not any of it is true will be open for debate, I’m guessing, for as long as humans exist on this planet, or any other planet we manage to make our way to. But this idea isn’t as far-fetched as one might initially think. There are a great many scientists and philosophers and spiritual leaders alike, who have this common thread of a belief in a connection between all humans, between all living creatures. Jung called it the “cosmic unconsciousness.” Buddha spoke of it, Rumi, Krishnamurti, Mother Theresa, David Bohm, Sartre; the list goes on and on.

I am not here to try to convince you of the truth in any of this; I am only here to try to open you to the possibility that such things may exist.

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1 Comment

  • julie
    October 12, 2008 at 11:34 pm 

    Thanks, this reminds me of Einstein’s theories of time…. it all seems so complex until you realize that all it takes to understand it is to step outside of the framework that you have used all your life to make sense of things. Then you see all the other possibilities.

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