This lesson contains a lot of technical information. Hold onto your hats.

Evolving means being able to Experience more and more dimensions,
at deeper and deeper levels, more and more simultaneously.

Physical Dimensions

So far in this course, we have been using the word "Dimension" to refer to a level of consciousness. But the word has another, more familiar, meaning, which has to do with the geometry of physical reality. We say physical reality is "3-dimensional" because we can measure it in three different directions: length, width, and height. These are called "spatial dimensions" as they measure the space an object takes up. To better understand some of the material in this lesson, it is useful to talk just a little bit about this kind of dimensionality too.

When talking about physical or spatial dimensions, a 1-dimensional object exists in a straight line, a 2-dimensional object in a flat sheet or plane, and a 3 dimensional object in a volume. Volumes are measured by 3 dimensions: length, width and height (or thickness). Spheres, cubes, pyramids and so on are 3 dimensional objects because they support these 3 measurements. Circles, squares, rectangles, triangles and so on are only 2-dimensional objects because they have only 2 measurements—length and width, but no thickness, no height. They have an "area", but no volume. Lines are 1-dimensional objects because they have only one measurement—length .

If we combine the two kinds of dimensionality together, we might say that someone at a 3rd-dimensional level of consciousness readily experiences 3 dimensions of physical reality, but has trouble sensing more than that. The 3 dimensions seem "obvious" to our physical senses when we are at a 3rd-dimensional consciousness, and for centuries we (in the West at least) didn't seriously consider that reality might have more than 3 physical dimensions.

However, science uses mathematics. In mathematics, there are many ways to set up equations that make use of more than 3 physical dimensions even if the mathematician can't explain what such equations actually "mean" in "the real world." Physicists found—especially in the 20th century—more and more puzzles about how the universe works that could be viably solved only if they created mathematical systems that used 4, 10, 11, 12, 26, or even more, spatial dimensions. Again, the scientists usually don't try to explain what these "extra" dimensions "mean"; they just work with the equations.


However, some of these "extra" dimensions are showing up so often that some physicists have at least tried to explain them, and tried to explain why we can't see them. How can reality really have 12 physical dimensions but we can only see 3?? One of the recent answers to this question is to say that the higher dimensions are "compacted". This means that they exist, but in a much "smaller" space than our familiar length, width and height. If you were really, really small—like maybe the size of a subatomic particle, you'd be able to "see" these extra dimensions, but if you're as big as a human, you can't. How can this be??

Imagine you are a tightrope-walker. You are very good at what you do, and have no trouble comfortably walking along the rope going forward or backward. To you, the tightrope has 1 dimension—length. But now imagine a little ladybug walking on the tightrope. Like you, she too can walk forward and backward along the rope. But unlike you, she can also walk around the circumference of the rope. To the ladybug, the rope has additional dimensionality that it doesn't have for you. The ladybug is small enough to see the rope's "compacted" dimension, its roundness. Now imagine the rope was a straw. The ladybug can walk along the straw's length, around its round outside, or, if she gets to the ends of the straw, she can crawl through the openings and walk around the straw's inside dimensions too. Even smaller creatures might find additional dimensions all "compacted" in there—for example, if a rope were made of twisted smaller ropes, and each of them of still-smaller ropes. Ideas like these are part of the modern physics view of how the universe is actually put together, and they have long been part of the mystical view of that same topic.

If we combine these "compacted" dimensions with consciousness dimensions, we start to see that there may be overlap here as well: the more levels of reality your consciousness can experience, the more likely you are to be able to experience "invisible" spatial dimensions, or at least imagine what it might be like to experience them. Meditation is one way to stretch the mind, but Mathematics another. If mathematics gives insight into invisible spatial dimensions, it may be simultaneously giving insight into higher consciousness dimensions as well. There is even evidence for a correlation between these compacted dimensions and higher dimensional consciousness itself. We will come back to this idea in Topic, when we discuss something called the "Chakras." At the very least, some toying with multidimensional thinking is helpful in exploring compacted physical dimensions, as will be demonstrated later in this lesson.


There is one more modern physics idea relative to physical dimensionality that we must discuss, and that is the idea of Time as the 4th dimension. This idea was invented in the 20th century from the notion that dimensions indicate the number of directions in which we can move. We know all about the 3 spatial dimensions and how to move in them (left/right, forward/backward, up/down). But everything in space also seems to be moving in time, so that implies there must be one more dimension—the 4th—that is the time dimension. (This idea was invented before "compacted" dimensions had been discovered, or time might have ended up the 13th dimension, or the 27th, or who knows!) As came later with compacted dimensions, making Time the 4th dimension allowed physicists to elegantly solve many previously difficult or unsolvable scientific puzzles in the early part of the 20th century. Even with current work using many more than 3 spatial dimensions, most systems of equations continue to use time as the 4th dimension. In these systems, a 4-dimensional physicality is called "spacetime".

Form the point of view of consciousness, we haven't discussed yet what a 4th dimensional consciousness might be—and we won't until the next Topic. However, we will say that, as with 3-dimensional physicality and 3rd dimensional consciousness, there is a correlation between time being the 4th physical dimension and some of the aspects of what it means to be at a 4th dimensional consciousness level. Stay tuned....


Modern science currently has the following model for how Matter is put together: Matter is made of small particles called atoms. Atoms are made of smaller particles called electrons, protons, and neutrons. Protons and neutrons are made of even smaller particles called quarks. And we're not sure what quarks are made of, but it might be something incredibly small called strings. Protons and neutrons stay together in the center of the atom to form a "nucleus," while the electrons zip around outside the nucleus in a kind of "cloud". Electrons aren't made of quarks, but they might also be made of strings. And even fields and forces—like electrical and magnetic energy, gravity, etc.—seem to have particles associated with them—called by other exotic names like photon, gluon, W, and Z—and all these might also ultimately be made of strings. What are all these things really?

Well, we're not actually sure. As said above, science often—especially when dealing with things too small to be observed directly—creates mathematical equations to explain them before they find ways to actually observe and measure them in experiments. Mathematical equations are nice tools, but, they're hard to translate into "real-world" explanations. Even when these tiny particles are observed experimentally, it's usually only indirectly: instead of seeing the particles themselves, we see a trail that the particles leave behind when they pass through or near something else . We then have to interpret that trail and hope we know what we're talking about. It's also important to remember that the ultimate goal of particle experiments is to understand how matter is put together, but the primary way that science currently has for looking inside atoms is to smash them apart in huge instruments called particle accelerators, and then look at the debris that comes flying off. This has been effective for observing smaller and smaller bits of matter, but it may be akin to figuring out what a human being looks like by running one through a car accident first. Is that really what a human being looks like?

At each step in the process, science has been searching for the "ultimate particle" that makes up the universe. The atom was originally thought to be that particle. In fact, it was named "atom" because that was the Greek word for "indivisible"—incapable of being divided further. But it was not the case; atoms were divisible. First science discovered electrons (in 1897) and atomic nuclei (in 1911); then protons (1919), and then neutrons (1932). Electrons, protons and neutrons were then thought to be the "ultimate" particles, but again it was not the case. In 1964, physicists began to theorize about even smaller particles (humorously called "quarks", from a German word meaning "nonsense") and in 1967, these were actually confirmed in experiments. Today, scientists are theorizing about even smaller things called strings. These are infinitesimally small, vibrating, 1-dimensional objects. We haven't observed any of them experimentally yet, but the same was originally true for most of the subatomic particles we have now observed. The mathematics of strings puts them into "compacted" physical dimensions, yet also gives rise to what we experience in "normal" 3-dimensional reality. Let's compare these ideas, particles, and their discovery dates with another way of looking at matter.


In 1875, an organization called the Theosophical Society was founded in New York City to investigate mystical phenomena. In many ways, this organization brought the so-called "New Age" to the West. Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant were two members of this organization, and both had clairvoyant abilities. From 1895 through 1933, they conducted a series of investigations into the nature of matter that didn't use any instruments other than their own bodies. Using clairvoyant sight, they examined samples of elements in a systematic way, and made detailed drawings and written reports of what they saw. Since ESP was as ill-regarded by science then as it is now, their results were never published in mainstream journals, but were presented in theosophical writings, including several books which are available today. These results are quite astounding.

Using nothing but their bodies, Leadbeater and Besant correctly discerned features of subatomic structure years before science did. For example, they correctly counted the number of protons and neutrons within atomic nuclei of every element they studied, starting in 1895. This was 16 years before science even confirmed the existence of nuclei, 24 years before the proton was officially discovered, and 37 years before the neutron was. They identified several other aspects of atoms (electron spin, isotopes) many years before science identified these aspects, and most impressive of all, they actually saw quarks—70 years before science even suspected their existence! As if this were not enough, Leadbeater and Besant were able to observe substructure within quarks, something that science has still not done—now more than 100 years later. Because Leadbeater and Besant were not trained physicists, and because their results were derived through a non-"scientific" method, their findings were incomprehensible to the scientists of their day, and remained largely ignored until the 1970's, when British physicist Stephen M. Phillips resurrected them. Today, although they are still far from mainstream, there is a small contingent of physicists investigating this occult atomic model.

Leadbeater and Besant explained their method as "making themselves [or rather, their viewpoint] infinitesimally small"—like you would need to in order to view a compacted dimension. This is a nice example of multidimensional consciousness in action. 

So what was the substructure Leadbeater and Besant found inside quarks? They found tiny structures made of light, shaped like little hearts, but with a hyperspatial twist. [See Figure 1.4.1, below] They called these little hearts the "ultimate physical atom" (upa) or "Anu" (from the Sanskrit word for "atomic"). Unlike science's atoms, discussed in the section above, the upa really does appear to be "indivisible", for any attempt to break it down further causes it to disappear altogether from our reality.

Figure 1.4.1

Figure 1.4.1

 Leadbeater and Besant described the upa as "a little miniature sun" that constantly vibrates in several directions at once: pulsating in and out like a beating heart, spinning around its central axis, and wobbling in a small circle around its core. Ten spiral bands of energy form the heart shape, and these also constantly vibrate in different ways: pulsating, scintillating in different colors, and continuously flowing. The flow goes into the top of the heart and out the bottom. Closer examination showed Leadbeater and Besant that each spiral band was made of 7 layers of increasingly smaller spirals, like a coil made of coils made of even smaller coils. At the very bottom layer, the coil was actually a stream of bubbles. (Note again that although these various substructures exist, the upa itself is indivisible, since disruption of any one of these substructures causes the whole upa to simply vanish. The substructures cannot be studied individually, apart from the upa they are part of.)

Figure 1.4.2

Figure 1.4.2

Leadbeater and Besant saw two forms of upa: one in which the spiral bands flowed into the top of the heart from the left side (clockwise), which they called "male" or "positive," and one in which the spiral bands flowed into the top from the right side (counterclockwise), which they called "female" or "negative." They described these energy flows as follows: "Force in the male atom seemed to well up as if from another dimension" while a "corresponding force seemed to disappear from the female atom back into the [other] dimension." They also described the bubbles that lay at the bottom of the bands of force as "holes in space, like pearls upon an invisible string.” More recent clairvoyant observations have reproduced and expanded upon these results. Furthermore, more recent studies have shown that electrons, although not made of quarks, also have an upa-like substructure within.

To summarize, Leadbeater and Besant found that, at the heart of matter, there IS a heart—one that pulses and circulates a life-force, very much like our own hearts do. If that pulse and flow is stopped for even an instant, the heart evaporates: the upa winks out of existence, disappears. Some ancient myths describe the universe as being breathed in and out by a great Spirit. That is very much how the upas appear to be. What is more, the bands of energy that define the heart-shapes ultimately consist of "holes in space"—that is to say, nothing but "vibrating geometry". To bring this back full circle, this is remarkably similar to those strange objects mentioned in the Physics model, above—strings.


Strings are currently purely theoretical. They're way too small to see with any of our instruments, and too small even to leave trails in other substances. In fact, the only way to experience strings right now is through mathematical equations. Different physicists have created different versions of these equations, none of which are complete, so the physicists keep working on them. The different versions are collectively called "String Theory" (or, more recently, "Superstring Theory," which is short for "Supersymmetrical String Theory").

String/Superstring Theory gives us the following picture: strings are infinitesimally small objects that vibrate. They are not, themselves, particles, but they give rise to particles. Strings are shaped like tiny filaments (hence, the name "strings") that can bend into loops or coils. Just as a guitar string can vibrate at different frequencies to produce different musical notes, String Theory's strings can vibrate at different frequencies to produce different elementary particles—like quarks, electrons, and so forth.

It is unclear whether strings exist as actual substance or only pure energy. Certainly they give rise to things that contain substance (like quarks and electrons) as well as things that are only energy (like photons). Strings are so infinitesimally small that the idea of "vibrating holes in space" certainly comes to mind, especially since one of their modes of existence is as a small closed loop. Again, since string theory is not yet fully defined, there are many subtle details that are unknown. Most string theories demand that reality consist of many more than 3 spatial dimensions, with different versions of the theory requiring 10, 11, 12 or 26 dimensions, most of which are "compacted."

As already stated, there are several different versions of String Theory, some of which answer some questions about the universe, and some of which answer others. It was originally hoped that one of these versions would prove to be the "right" one and the others would be proven "wrong." Instead, what has happened is that all of the string theories appear to be subsets of a larger underlying theory, currently called "M-Theory." M-Theory is an attempt to unify all the string theories. It is also currently incomplete.

All of the string theories, including M-Theory, have one big problem: they currently cannot be proven either right or wrong. In order to prove a new idea, science relies on being able to set up experiments that conclusively demonstrate that idea or something about it. If the experiments succeed, then the idea is on the right track, and if they fail, the idea is wrong. Being unable to set up such an experiment puts a new idea into a kind of "limbo." For example, if a theory says that when you perform action X, action Y happens, you can prove it by setting up an experiment in which you perform action X and see if action Y, does, in fact, happen. If it does, great! The theory is on its way to being proved. (It may not be completely proved yet, because there may be other things you need to prove too, especially if there are, say, multiple theories that all predict that Y happens when you perform X. In such a case, you'd have to set up additional experiments to see which of those multiple theories was right, and which were wrong.). But if Y doesn't happen when you perform X, then the theory is dis-proved. Disproving a theory is often easier than proving one, and it is a great way to show which of several conflicting theories is, in fact, the "right" one. Any theory that fails in one of the experiments can be eliminated. The trouble with all versions of String Theory right now is that none of them can be used to set up any statement that can be conclusively disproved, while all of the statements that can be conclusively proved unfortunately aren't true only for String Theory. What this means is that there's no way to show if String Theory is true or not. Scientists say it "cannot be made falsifiable." This has led many physicists to conclude that String Theory, M-Theory, and anything else based on strings, is ultimately futile—no matter what wonderful things the mathematics may say.

Why, then, are so many physicists still pursuing String Theory? Because it offers the best hope right now of becoming a "Grand Unified Field Theory," something science has been searching for since Einstein's day. A Grand Unified Field Theory would unite all the known forces of the universe under a single set of equations. There are four of these forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and what are called the strong and weak nuclear forces, which hold atomic nuclei together. The first of these forces, gravity, works in the area of the very large—stars, planets, etc., while the other three work in the area of the very small—inside and near atoms (although all of them have ramifications in the "middle"—where we live). In Lesson 3, we mentioned two major breakthroughs in 20th century physics: Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics. These also separate the same way: Relativity Theory deals with the very large, and Quantum Mechanics deals with the very small. No one has been able to come up with a single system that unites both concepts, and therefore all four forces. String Theory might be able to do it. Here's why:

Forces affect particles "at a distance," so they are also frequently called "fields," and that's where the phrase "Grand Unified Field Theory" comes from. However, another of the big discoveries of 20th century physics was that fields and forces may not really exist as such, but rather appear because particles that carry force are being passed around. This is important because String Theory intrinsically gives rise to these force-carrier particles, including one for each of the four main forces. Therefore it has the possibility of unifying all of them into a single, larger construct. Let's look at each force:

Magnets attract each other because—in the old model—positively and negatively charged particles in the magnetic substance generate electromagnetic forces that interact and pull the particles toward each other. In the new model, magnets attract each other because positively and negatively charged particles in the magnetic substance are passing force-carrier particles that carry the electromagnetic force back and forth. This may not seem like a big difference, but it makes a difference in how the process is mathematically modelled. (It should also be noted here that the electromagnetic-force-carrier particles are called "photons", and they are also the particles that make up Light (which is one form of electromagnetic energy). Light was also shown to be pretty peculiar by 20th century physics, since it's definitely made of particles, yet also clearly behaves like a wave a great deal of the time.)

In a similar vein, atomic nuclei were previously said to be held together by "the strong nuclear force", but in today's model that translates to "the protons and neutrons are passing particles that carry the strong force." These particles are called "gluons" (because they "glue" the nucleus together). There are other particles that carry the weak force. All of these particles have actually been detected, and they are mathematically described and "explained."

But gravity is the hold-out. Science has theorized about a massive particle called a "graviton" that would carry gravity, but no one has been able to measure such a particle, nor can science adequately explain gravity fully in the same way it has explained the other forces. And gravity is the one that acts over large distances, so it's really the kicker in being able to combine Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics. String Theory may hold the answer. Strings can split and combine, and in so doing, they create force-carrier particles, including one that would—theoretically, anyway—carry gravity. These force-carriers appear as spinning particles being created and destroyed at the points where the strings interact. These can also be thought of as "bubbles" that seem to flow along the strings—at least theoretically.

This means that String Theory (or more precisely its unified version, M-Theory) may provide the much sought-after "Grand Unified Theory," or "Theory of Everything." At least, it is the most promising theory that science has come up with so far. However, as discussed above, it's inability to be proven either right or wrong makes some scientists sigh that it's really a "Theory of Nothing."


So, to summarize: the nature of the structure of the universe is by no means fully understood by modern science. A lot has been discovered, but there's still a lot more to learn. Mystics have their own views about the question, and for the first time in several hundred years, their views and those of science are starting to overlap. Most specifically, relative to the structure of matter, we can see considerable resemblance between what science thinks may be the fundamental particle—strings—and what occultists have observed to be the fundamental particle—upas:


  • Extremely small vibrating coils
  • Extremely small vibrating coils
  • Vibrate in different modes
  • Vibrate in different modes
  • Derived from the mathematics of folds, knots and topology (the study of the properties of certain kinds of geometric shapes[4])
  • Are small knots, containing a twisted/folded kind of geometry
  • Rely on compacted dimensions
  • Contain structures in compacted dimensions
  • Produce bubbles of force‑carrier particles when they interact, giving rise to the forces that hold all matter together
  • Made of bubbles of something, which hold the upa together (stop the flow, and the upa disappears)
  • Manifest as quarks, electrons, and other elementary particles, depending on their vibratory rate
  • Manifest as quarks (observed by Leadbeater and Besant, confirmed more recently by Phillips and Cowan, and others), and may manifest as electrons (upa-like structures observed by Cowan).
Ironically, strings and upas also share the following characteristics:
  • The mathematics of their behavior is not yet completely defined
  • The mathematics of their behavior is not yet completely defined
  • Many physicists do not believe in them!
  • Most physicists do not believe in them!
There is, however, one big difference between strings and upas.
  • There may be no way to ever prove whether String Theory is true or not, and therefore whether strings, as defined by any of the theories, actually exist

  • Upas have already been directly observed

We present all this because it is all going to recur in bits and pieces in later Topics. You do not, by any means, have to become an expert on any of these ideas! It is simply important to be exposed to them. But for now, you've earned a rest!


We list a lot of "classics" here—books and films that left a definitive mark in regard to their subject matter. If you want to explore further, these are among the best places to start.

For more on consciousness, try:

  • "The Secret Life of Plants" by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird (1972). This is a classic book that offers fascinating support for consciousness in non-animal life here on Earth.

What Do We Mean By "Multidimensional"?—Parts I and II
For explorations of multidimensionality and stretching your consciousness, try:

  • "One, Two, Three, Infinity" by George Gamow (1947). This is another classic book. It tackles the concept of Infinity in all its intricacies, and gives one of the best explanations ever of how Time can be the 4th dimension to a 3-dimensional lifescape.
  • "Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite" by Rudy Rucker (1982). This book offers a great look at infinities in Time, Space, Thinking and Perception, including the infinitely Large and the infinitely Small.
  • "Powers of Ten"—a short film by Charles & Ray Eames (1989). This classic film shows the impact of shifting perspectives by showing the same scene magnified or reduced by powers of 10 every 10 seconds.
  • Any of the books or DVD's of Alex Grey's artwork ("Transfigurations", "Sacred Mirror", give glimpses into the multiple levels that surround us in our everyday activities.
  • Similarly, many of the artworks of M.C. Escher contain mind-stretching images of "impossible" geometries hinting at dimensions beyond the 3rd.
  • "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter (1979). Although ultimately centered around mathematics, and especially "Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem", this book also presents images, concepts, and clever dialogues between two characters named Tortoise and Achilles (and later assorted other characters) on the nature of mind, thought, intelligence, and the universe, all of which stretch the consciousness of anyone reading it, and giving glimpses of other dimensions of awareness. The referenced "Incompleteness Theorem" has the significance of mathematically proving that there must be more to reality than what we experience in 3 dimensions.
  • "Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions" by Edwin Abbott (1952). This is yet another classic book, a novel, that explores a mythical realm that has only 2 physical dimensions (like a sheet of paper) and the beings that live on it (circles, squares, triangles, and so on), and what happens to them when they are suddenly and unexpectedly visited by a 3-dimensional being (a sphere). There are several sequels to this book, written by other authors extending the concept.
  • Though now somewhat "dated", examples of multi-level experience—albeit within pure 3-dimensional reality—can be found in the old "Magic Eye" books. Each magic eye picture contains a stereoscopic image hidden within a pattern of colors or lines. Focusing your eyes in a particular way enables the hidden image to suddenly leap out. The image was there all along, but you could not see it until you adjusted your awareness to the right level.


1 If a line gets so wide that it has a measurable "thickness", then geometrically-speaking it isn't a line any more, but a rectangle—albeit a very narrow one—which is then a 2-dimensional object. Keep this idea in mind when we talk about "Compacted Dimensions" in the next section.

2Originally, this "something else" was water or some other liquid that was ionized (or in some other way affected) by a passing particle so that it formed a trail of bubbles as the particle went through it. A camera was used to take a picture of the bubble trail, and the picture was then analyzed to figure out what the particles must have been. Today, detectors use more sophisticated substances like sensing wires or silicon chips, and the passage of a particle causes a signal to be sent to a computer, which can then plot and/or analyze the trail being created.

3Note that nobody knows for sure what the "M" in "M-Theory" stands for. It has been variously defined as: magic or mystery (since it's a pretty magical, mysterious theory), matrix (since it relies on matrix mathematics for its definition), membrane (a mathematical object that M-Theory combines with strings), and "master" or "mother" (as in "master theory" or "the mother of all theories").

[4]Topology is strictly defined as "the mathematical study of the geometric properties that are not normally affected by changes in the size or shape of geometric figures. In topology, a donut and a coffee cup with a handle are equivalent shapes because each has a single hole." [Taken from ... The American Heritage citing.]