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Science and Religion
Perception and Consciousness of Spatial Dimension
Material scientists observe that the one-celled animal called the amoeba has no eyes. Its perception of its environment is limited mainly to feeling objects with which it comes in contact. Annelida (worms) are able to react to changes in light intensity, and star-fish have eye-spots on the tips of their arms which can respond to different illumination on different tips, but have no arrangement for the formation of images. Insect eyes can perceive light and dark, direction and motion, and in some cases size, but cannot focus on objects at varying distances (although different parts of the eye may be suited to seeing things near or far). The focusing ability is improved in cephalopods (octopuses), fish and amphibians with the development of the ability to change the distance of the lens from the retina, which enables the eye to focus on the retina images of objects at varying distances. The focusing ability is further refined in snakes and higher vertebrates with the development of the ability to change the shape of the lens in order to accommodate for objects at different distances. With improved focusing ability comes improved ability to make visual distinctions. Although flies and earthworms show no ability to distinguish size, butterflies, cockroaches, turtles, birds, chicks, dogs, raccoons, and monkeys have demonstrated ability to distinguish different flat shapes.
In birds, mammals, and humans the optic nerves partially cross on the way to the brain so that each retina sends nerve fibers to both hemispheres of the brain. Thus the visual fields of the two eyes combine. The two slightly different views of the two eyes together give the appearance of solidity to objects viewed. In some mammals the eyes are placed so far to the sides of the head that the field over which both eyes can see the same object is very small. Even in the animals in which appropriate nerve and eye structure exists for stereoscopic vision, the ability to use this structure may be limited. Birds can distinguish flat forms but do not show recognition of different vessels. Mice and rats exhibit difficulty in judging the distances of platforms (in order to choose the closest platform), or to jump to platforms at varying distances. In humans, however, the ability to view clearly the various objects in a scene and to perceive their distances is well developed.
Because the amoeba is aware only of itself and things with which it comes in contact, we may say that its perception of space is essentially the perception of a single point, which is a zero-dimensional perception. The transition from one state of perception to another is gradual, so that some intermediate forms may neither be clearly in one state nor the next.
The annelida and star-fish have some characteristics of a zero-dimensional perception (in their inability to perceive anything unless it comes in contact with their bodies), but some slight consciousness along a line may be developing as simultaneous awareness of separate points within their bodies is developed. Insects which have developed the ability to perceive direction (but not size or shape) have perception along a line, which is one-dimensional. They can see something outside themselves and ca decide to move toward or away from it. Those insects who demonstrate size and form recognition have the beginning of perception of a surface, which is a two- dimensional perception. This two-dimensional perception is further developed and refined in fish, amphibians, reptile, birds and mammals. Birds and mammals, who have the capability of stereoscopic vision but still have difficulty distinguishing solid forms, are in a transition from a two- dimensional to a three-dimensional perception. Humans have the ability to perceive things of varying shapes and distances. They can simultaneously perceive length, width, and height, and thus gave three-dimensional perception.
Clairvoyants note that Spirit guides and directs the building of bodies, and thus the body inhabited by a Spirit is closely related to the state of development of the Spirit. The Spirit who is capable of only a point consciousness does not need and so would not build a body with three- dimensional perceptual abilities, nor could it function effectively in such. A Spirit who is capable of forming three-dimensional mental images would feel dissatisfied in a body with any less than three-dimensional perceptual abilities, and so would proceed to build these capabilities into its body. Thus we may conclude that generally the dimensionality of the perceptual abilities is equal to the dimensionality of the images with which the mind is able to deal (some exceptions may arise during transitional stages.)
To a creature with a zero-dimensional consciousness, the world consists of nothing but the one point of which it is conscious. Anything that enters that point seemingly comes out of nowhere, and when it leaves it seems to cease to exist. If such a creature were to move along the surface of, say, a leaf, it would become conscious of one point after another on the leaf. The points it had left would, for it, be the future. But we, with our ability to view the whole leaf, could see both the past and the future of the zero- dimensional creature at a glance.
To a creature with a one-dimensional consciousness, the world is one- dimensional. Nothing exists for it except what lies along the line of which it is conscious. If anything enters this line, it appears to come into existence to the one-dimensional creature. If anything leaves this line, it appears to go out of existence. If such a creature moves its line of view, say, by turning its head, it will see in a number of directions in succession. Its path of perception would trace a line around the landscape (as a line drawn across a photograph). Again we, with our higher-dimensional vision, would be able to view all at once what the one-dimensional creature would consider past and future.
To a creature with two-dimensional consciousness, the world appears two- dimensional, as a photograph. Such a creature conceives only a plane of existence. If it views a house and sees someone open the door of the house and come out, to its consciousness that person appeared out of nowhere. If it walks around a house, to it the house appears continuously to change its shape and features, although we, with our higher-dimensional vision, view the house as having a constant shape.
The zero-dimensional consciousness views the world as being zero- dimensional, but that does not make the world zero-dimensional. The one- dimensional consciousness views the world as being one dimensional, but that does not make the world one-dimensional. The two-dimensional consciousness perceives the world as being two-dimensional, but that does not exclude the possibility of the existence of higher dimensions.
Note that when we, with our three-dimensional consciousness, view the world of a lower dimensional consciousness, we can make things appear out of "no- where" or disappear in their worlds, and we can see their past and future all at once. Clairvoyants exhibit these abilities in relation to our three-dimensional world. They can cause things to appear or disappear when they choose to, and they can see the past and future (and thence are called prophets). Christ Jesus was able to bring bread and fishes into existence when there were many people who needed food, and to disappear from a crowd without being seen, and He repeatedly demonstrated that He knew what He and His disciples would encounter before they encountered them. See, for example Matt. 14:13-21, Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59, Matt. 17:24-27, Matt. 20:18-19, Matt. 26:20-25 and 31-35, and Luke 5:1-11. Thus it is reasonable to relate the vision of clairvoyants to four-dimensional vision. Just as the creature with zero-dimensional perception must develop its eye and nerve structure before it can perceive one or two or three dimensions, so also clairvoyants tell that we must develop the pituitary body and pineal gland into organs of perception before we can perceive the fourth and higher dimensions.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians (3:14-18) wrote: "I bow my knees
to the Father...that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye,
being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the
saints what is breadth, and length, and depth, and height." May we all work
toward the day when the Christ consciousness will enter our hearts so that
we will be sufficiently filled with love that we will deserve to comprehend
the fourth dimension and to obtain all the powers which accompany this
—by Elsa M. Glover
References: Flatland, by Edwin A. Abott, Dover (1952); P.D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, Manas Press (1920); Margaret F. Washburn, The Animal Mind, Macmillan (196).
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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