Higher-Dimensional or Parallel Worlds

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    Danakeli Dasi

    Recently I received a copy of a soon-to-be published book, for which the authors requested some feedback. The authors are attempting to show that the Puranic age of the universe, age of the solar system, & dating for major geological events on Earth correspond very well w/ modern science’s dates for these. While going through the book, however, a few red flags appeared in my mind.
    The major problem I encountered was the authors’ use of Riemann’s idea of higher-dimensional space. If I recall correctly, the Sāńkhya view is that there’s no such thing as physical space; there’s only semantic space of three kinds (relational, conceptual & emotional). If there’s no 3-dimensional physical space, how can there be higher-dimensional physical space?
    Below are four quotes from the book. I am not sufficiently informed on this matter & thus my intelligence cannot judge whether these statements by the authors are true or not. Are there any flaws in the below statements? What is the correct way to understand these ideas?
    1. “Most scholars, both Western and Indian, dismiss the Purānas as mythology, but they fail to recognize that the Purānas are not describing the Earth of our common sensory experience. The Purānas are describing a parallel World, the higher-dimensional reality called Bhū-mandala, on which events are different from but correlated with events on the Earth of our common sensory experience…. The Earth of our common sensory experience is a three-dimensional projection of the inherently higher-dimensional reality of Bhū-mandala, just as a disc is a two-dimensional projection of a three-dimensional object, a sphere…. [P]aradigms involving higher-dimensional space now dominate modern physics on account of their power to unify the ostensibly disparate forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear strong force and nuclear weak force) in a coherent mathematical framework.”
    2. “[P]aradigms involving higher-dimensional space counteract the pervasive tendency to relegate the Purānic account to the realm of mythology. For example, the Purānic depiction of deities with multiple arms or heads need no longer be derided as mythological when we recognize that the Purānas are expressing a very sophisticated concept — the multiple arms and heads reside in higher- dimensional space. Another example is prapti-siddhī, in which a consummate yogī instantly transports an object into his immediate vicinity from a distance of thousands of kilometers away. In light of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, prapti-siddhī can be understood as an advanced form of technology that is able to exploit higher-dimensional connections between points in three-dimensional space. In modern physics, these connections are called ‘Einstein-Rosen bridges.’ The paradigm of higher-dimensional space also suggests that the Purānic depiction of Bhū-mandala is actually a sophisticated expression of cosmography. In light of this paradigm, the Earth of our common experience can be understood as a three-dimensional projection of the inherently higher-dimensional reality of Bhū-mandala, just as a disc is a two-dimensional projection of a three-dimensional object, a sphere.”
    3. “Superhuman beings have access to higher-dimensional space, in which the Earth is perceived as described in the Purānas, whereas human beings are currently restricted to three spatial dimensions, in which the Earth is perceived as a sphere roughly 12,000 kilometers in diameter. Thus, the Earth of our common experience and the Purānic Bhū-mandala are distinct but parallel worlds.”
    4. “Lord Brahmā has four heads. The four heads obviously don’t fit on one neck in three-dimensional space, but can easily be understood by recognizing that the heads are situated in higher-dimensional space. The same is true for the various deities depicted with multiple heads and/or arms.”

    Danakeli Dasi

    RE Puranic & modern dating:
    I should clarify that the authors write, “As discussed in Chapter 7, Purānic dates must be multiplied by two in order to be converted into modern radiometric dates.” They propose that the radiometric dates are correct & that there’s an error of a factor of two found in the Puranas. They propose “that it is due to an inadvertent substitution of a factor of two arising from the inherent nature of Purānic timekeeping, wherein a factor of two is repeatedly used: two fortnights is said to equal one month, two months is said to equal one season, two “Ayanas” (periods of the Sun’s trajectory north or south of the ecliptic) equals one year, and two “Parārdhas” (half-lifetimes) equals one lifetime of Brahmā…. The fact that all the Purānas have the same chronology (in terms of yugas, manvantaras, and kalpas) indicates that, at an early stage of their development, they were all in the hands of a single person. This indicates that, if there was a mistake, it must have been introduced at an early stage (thousands of years ago) when the Purānas were transmitted orally from spiritual master to disciple.” Thus the authors choose to say that Kali-yuga lasts 864,000 yrs., a divya-yuga 8.64 M yrs., Brahmā’s 12 hrs. 8.64 B yrs., etc.

    Ashish Dalela

    There is a deep desire in most people to ‘reconcile’ Bhagavata Purana with modern science. This has been going on from the very beginning of devotees’ attempts to understand SB. Then there is a myopic focus on cosmology without adequate attention to Sāńkhya. One main problem is that we don’t try to understand the mind, intelligence, ego, and morality, or even the senses and sense perception — which have no explanation in modern science — and just try to do cosmology.

    Higher-dimensional theories are popular for one reason — we don’t have to change anything in the existing three dimensions. We just extend what we know in three dimensions by adding dimensions. In short, you don’t damage what is established by current science, but advance the same ideology by adding to it. Thereby, we don’t have to rethink what science has done, but we can ‘fit’ more stuff into it. By the extending the false ideology in three dimensions to more dimensions, we don’t solve any problem. We just make the solution much harder and thereby practically impossible.

    Inherent in our desire to understand cosmology is to see the world beyond us. But what about the world here and now? Why do you want to search life elsewhere when we haven’t understood life here? Are we able to explain how the body is governed by three modes, the dynamics of these modes, how the senses perceive, how the mind thinks, etc.? If not, we should go back to the basics first.

    Three are exactly three dimensions, and inside these three dimensions, there are infinite dimensions. It is because of the tree structure. The tree fits into three dimensions, and yet each branch, twig, and leaf is a different dimension. How do we understand this? It can be understood by realizing that there is space inside space inside space. The leaf is inside the branch, the branch is inside the root. How is it inside? That’s where you need to think of these as ideas. The ‘dog’ is inside ‘mammal’, the ‘mammal’ is inside ‘animal’, the ‘animal’ is inside ‘living body’.

    From within that inside space, the space outside is ‘higher-dimensional’. This is because a dimension is an idea. Higher dimension simply means that you cannot access something from inside. You have to go outside or ‘beyond’ to find that higher space. So, there are infinite dimensions and yet all in three dimensions. Similarly, if you think of the flat earth, it is two-dimensional, and yet there are infinite dimensions. This is because each flat surface is like a tree stretching out its branches horizontally, which then expand into twigs, and leaves. This horizontal infinite-dimensional structure is described as a ‘lotus’ by just noting the branches (or the lotus leaves). This lotus-view is not false, but it is a higher-level view. So, each leaf of the lotus is a different dimension.

    This is how the world is prior to perception. But when you perceive, it becomes three-dimensional. Why? Think of a computer program, which stores colors in three shades — Red, Green, and Blue. You can write a color as a single number. E.g. ffffff is white, and 000000 is black. You can write this down in a single dimension and store it on a computer disk. But when you visualize this, you get three types of colors. Likewise, you can write spatial coordinates in one dimension — e.g. {X, Y, Z}. You just require three numbers, and you can encode them in one dimension. But when you render it into a picture, then you must use three dimensions. In the same way, the flat earth is encoding a two-dimensional reality that denotes knowledge and action. However, when we render this information into our perception, then a single dimension becomes three dimensions. The two-dimensional description pertains to reality and the three-dimensional description to its perception.

    The problem is that people confuse their perception with reality. They talk about “Puranic Geography”, which is an utterly misleading idea because they have no distinction between sense perception and reality. If they had even a preliminary reading of Western philosophy — e.g. David Hume, George Berkeley — the early founders of empiricism, they will know this difference. Immanuel Kant famously drew the distinction between phenomena and noumena.

    So, we need to understand that Srimad Bhavagatam is describing noumena or the reality behind the appearances, and modern science is describing phenomena or perceptions of this reality. I have described how this reality is symbolic: e.g. there is a file that digitally encodes the picture, and that is reality. When we see that file, it is rendered on the computer screen and looks three-dimensional. So, we should not confuse the file in the computer disk and the picture on the screen. They are in one sense identical, and in another sense completely different. The key point is that there are two ways to explain this picture — one you can say that there are forests, mountains, and rivers inside the computer screen, and that is what we are seeing. The other way is to say that none of this really exists, but a file with all this information exists in a disk, from where all experience is generated.

    Our devotee friends think that the computer screen is itself the reality, and there must be some ‘hidden dimensions’ which we cannot see. For example, you can imagine a computer display that shows pictures on all four sides, although you are able to see only one side of the display. So, you could argue that the other three sides are hidden from our view, and if can go around the screen then you will see the other things. Now, you could say that the demigods are living in “higher dimensions”. Really? If so, why are we able to see the sun, moon, stars, etc. if they are on another dimension? Clearly, they should be invisible from our “lower dimensions”? Then again, how can something on a different dimension control things on the present dimensions? The definition of a dimension is that they are orthogonal. When these issues are accounted for, then “higher dimensions” turns out to be mere word-play, a charade of understanding without understanding.

    The correct understanding is that there is only one reality, but many perspectives on it. Those perspectives are perceptions, but they are different from the reality. For example, our body is not hands and legs; these are perceptions of the real body. The “real body” is a combination of the three modes. However, when this combination is perceived by the senses, then hands and legs are perceived to exist. Modern medicine is based on treating hands and legs, but in Ayurveda, the physician doesn’t try to treat the hand or leg; he tries to cure the combination of three modes, and when that is cured, then every part of the body, including the hands and legs, are cured. For instance, the Ayurveda physician might say that pitta is deranged, and that derangement has effects all over the body, not just in a specific part of that body. So, when they try to cure the pitta, you cannot ask: Where is this pitta in the body? The fact is that you can never see this pitta; it is a reality prior to its perception; therefore, in one sense, it is everywhere, and yet, nowhere.

    So, pitta is not higher dimension, even though we cannot see it. It is reality behind the appearance. When we study nature in this way, then we get to understand that what we are seeing is not real, but it is caused by something real. That thing which causes the perception is more real than what we see. This makes us go one step deeper–from our sense perception to some ‘reality’. But things don’t end here! Even that ‘reality’ can be perceived, and that perception is caused by an even deeper reality. This process of going deeper and deeper continues until we arrive at something whose perception is not caused by anything deeper; that ‘reality’ is truly real, while everything else was an appearance. In short, we don’t try to go to another dimension; we try to go “deeper” into the nature of things. That going deeper requires us to see what exists here and now, and yet, lies behind the curtain of appearances. Finding reality is peeking behind the curtain, not into a higher dimension.

    Then there are secondary issues, namely, how does this idea of “higher dimensions” lead to the conclusion that God manifested all this, and the material world is the expansion from His body?  In fact, by saying that God is in a higher dimension, and yet, He manifests the lower dimensions, we would conclude that the lower dimension came out of the higher dimension, nullifying the idea of dimensions (which by definition have to mutually orthogonal and hence independent). So, this “higher dimensions” is a dead end in so many ways. The powerful thinking is that there is a reality behind the appearances, and to understand that reality we have to go beyond appearances.

    Danakeli Dasi

    Excellent! I very much appreciate this thorough response. It’s what I was hoping to hear, actually.
    This response has greatly alleviated some difficulties I was having in tying together the many pieces of the puzzle & has clarified some important points for me.
    I now understand that the same problem exists everywhere—from discussions on cosmology to evolution/design to cognitive science—namely, the unwillingness to overturn the established modern notions of matter & space w/ the absolute knowledge of Sāńkhya.
    This response has given me much relief. Thanks so much!


    Do you have the real mystic vision of any of those worlds/dimensions?  If yes, can you please take look and see the real sequence of the 7 dvipas and oceans? Because there are so many versions in different shastras:

    (sources, if needed: Bhagavata-purana 5.20 ; Vishnu-purana 2.4, Narada-purana 1.3.43-44, Brahma-purana 16.11-12, Brahmanda-purana 1.2.19, Markandeya-purana 54.6-7 , Vamana-purana 11.35-41 ; Kurma-purana 1.38.10-13, Garuda-purana 56, Linga-purana 53 (only dvipas); Siddhanta-shiromani 3.25 ; Padma-purana 3.8-9 ; Matsya-purana 113-114 (p.366), 122-123 (p.402),  Varaha-purana 86-89; Parama-samhita 26.8-12 (p.160-161) ; Skanda-purana

    Ashish Dalela

    This comparison of islands and oceans is impressive. Thank you for sharing this information. I’m however not in a position to comment on the actual order of these. We cannot access these places with our minds or senses. My general understanding is that there are many paths to reach these oceans and islands. Just like you can reach a destination by different roads. Accordingly, based on the path or road you take, you can come up with different distances to these islands/oceans. So, my initial response to your question is that they are all true, but we don’t know the path or perspective from which they are described. More study is needed to know the nature of space in which these are described before we can understand the different paths that can be taken.

    Devon Bonner

    In the higher dimensions of existence the beings that inhabit these dimensions are they humanoid or do they have a another form ?

    Ashish Dalela

    What would be heaven without trees, birds, cows, fish, and deer? Many species are there, but may not be all the species. Heaven is not just humans. Likewise, the spiritual world is not just humans.

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