Saturday, May 22, 2010

Entangled Awareness and OBEs

A direct link to the above video is at

For the last several entries we've been referencing back to questions that came up on my Theatre of the Mind podcast interview with Kelly Howell. This time, let's look at the question of "what dimension am I in when I have an out-of-body experience".

I'll be the first to admit that OBEs are one of the areas I haven't done a lot of reading on. The whole realm of lucid dreaming would seem to be related to this "what dimension am I in" question: in one of my early blog entries, Waveforms in the Ten Dimensions, I mentioned an interview I had done back then with Ben Q's Dreaming Life blog, which is dedicated to the exploration of lucid dreaming. So here's what it comes down to for me: with the approach to visualizing the dimensions I've created, what we basically have is a "filing system", something that lets you catalog one kind of existence and its relation to another, and see how the multiplicity of parallel worlds, the multiplicity of different-initial-conditions universes, and the different kinds of information patterns that make up our awareness and our reality can be puzzled together. So, what drawer in our filing system should we be placing OBEs and lucid dreaming?

Last time, in Entangled Neurons, we looked at a proposed explanation for the creation of memory, and I tied that to the idea of our "arrow of time" being a line in the fourth dimension that is actually branching and twisting in the fifth: any time a branch occurs, a memory is created. The mind-boggling idea that there are all these different versions of "you" or "me" being created with every splitting off that is occurring at every planck frame as per Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics does need to be tempered somewhat: right at this instant, I am part of a cloud of probabilistic "me"s that are all continuing on the same general path, the same branch. That's true at the quantum level, and it's true at the macro level: all of the tiny random occurrences and inconsequential decisions (shall I put my hand here or here when I push that door open?) tend to cancel each other out, to keep us moving in the same trajectory. It's only when our choice, or chance, or the actions of others create an event that really does split us onto a new fifth-dimensional path that a long-term memory is created.

Entangled Awareness
Trying to keep a sense of "me" inside this probabilistic cloud is really a simple process then, right up until one of those major branches occurs. But what then? Let's say that my major branch that occurred today was that a gang of thugs beat me within an inch of my life. Would I be a different person as a result of that experience? I find it hard to believe that such an event wouldn't change me. Suppose that as a teenager I had hung out with a different crowd and become addicted to heroin. Would I be a different person from the one I am now? Would I even be alive now these four decades later? Put in those terms, Everett's Many Worlds don't seem to be as unfathomable an idea. But people do seem to have more trouble imagining this process when it's described as them splitting off into all these different universes that quantum theory's Universal Wavefunction, as Everett called it, says really do exist. Remember this: while we're in our physical bodies (made out of 3D atoms and molecules and being powered by thermodynamic chemical reactions that move us in a particular direction in the fourth dimension which we tend to call "time") we can only observe one version of ourselves at a time, even if our "entangled awareness" is connected to the other versions of our current self that are on the same trajectory, the same branch of our spacetime tree.

Which takes us to lucid dreaming and Out-of-Body Experiences. The short movie at the start of this entry was published by New Scientist magazine last week. It shows (as one example of many similar experiments that have been done) that it's surprisingly easy to convince people that they are not in their own bodies. But if we're talking about OBEs as actual experiences, then we are talking about part of the pattern that represents a person's awareness actually being able to separate itself from the physical body, something that I will insist is like those "Seven Wonders of the Quantum World" we looked at last blog entry: these processes appear to be unimaginable from the linear, causally related frames that become our comparatively simple 4D "line of time". For this reason, I will continue to suggest that OBEs, lucid dreaming, and quantum "spookiness" (and so on) are all connected to extra dimensions.

Now, what if your OBE is as mundane as simply rising above the bed and watching yourself sleep? There's no reason why this system of awareness that is a part of your consciousness (or "soul" if you prefer), having used the fifth dimension to escape the confines of your physical body, can't then continue to observe the linear progression of time as it occurs in the fourth. But how much fun is that? Even just taking advantage of the ability to travel through walls, fly through the air, and quickly go visit a far away friend can be imagined as simple manipulations of the fourth dimension through the fifth (creating, as Madeleine L'Engle described so beautifully, "wrinkles in time") in order to continue viewing other aspects of the version of reality that we're currently occupying.

But what if the OBE becomes more transcendent? What if a person feels themselves more connected to all living creatures? What if a person finds themselves in a world completely unlike the one we are in? As seemingly limitless as the fifth dimension may seem to be from our perspective, it's still more useful to think of it as our probability space - the many things both "before" and "after" that could potentially be causally connected to our "now" at any particular instant are part of that realm. So anything that appears to transcend those limitations, it follows, must be a representation of an awareness that is in the additional extra dimensions beyond the fifth. In My Stroke of Insight, when Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor talks about her unique experiences as a neuroscientist feeling a remarkable connectedness to the universe as a result of a burst blood vessel in the left/analytical side of her brain, she is definitely talking about an awareness that moves beyond the fifth dimension.

We've talked before about shamanic rituals, psychedelics, empathy, entrainment, and meditation as being other examples of how people can move parts of their awareness beyond the limits of 4D spacetime into the extra dimensions. Here are some past blogs where those topics have come up:
Do Shamans See Other Dimensions?
The Shaman
Creativity and the Quantum Universe
The Comedian
Where Are You?
Life is But a Dream
David Jay Brown and Psychedelics

What Dimension is an OBE in?
I would sum this all up very simply: the more you are able to do things that are impossible within our physical world of spacetime, the less your OBE is embedded within the fourth dimension and below. The more connectedness you feel to others, to all living things, to all elements of our universe and beyond, the more you are moving towards the tenth dimension. But as the original tenth dimension animation implies, once you get to the ultimate enlightenment of considering all possibilities simultaneously in the tenth dimension, you are back in perfect symmetry where everything cancels everything else out. Everything canceled out means nothing is happening in the dimensions below: no vibrations, no change... as I like to say, that which ceases to change ceases to exist. While there is a certain peacefulness in contemplating that big, beautiful, perfectly balanced zero for a while, isn't it much more interesting to be observing something rather than nothing? It's for that reason that the symmetry gets broken and a universe such as ours pops into existence. And within that universe, it's your job to figure out how to make the best use of what you have been given, and to enjoy the journey.

Let's close with my song about feeling connected to the parts of our awareness that are beyond the limits of spacetime: "I Remember Flying".

A direct link to the above video is at


Next: Changing Reality


Unknown said...

Rob, I have really enjoyed your series on the 10th dimensions. I was just review your video entitled Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?. I know this is a bit dated but I have a question that you might be able to shed light on.

Is the hierarchy of dimensions important, and if so are we sure that the 4th dimension is in fact time? Placing time in the forth dimensions seems a bit arbitrary considering the higher dimensions, and their need to progress. How can we be sure that there is not some sort of super time associated with the other higher dimensions that can be proven or are missing from string theory?

From my understanding time is fundamentally different because it is not a spatial dimension but rather temporal direction with only with a positive flow as far as we can determine.

Have only one flow of time would not rule out time travel. Time travel might be better thought of as a hop sideways to another dimension, to a universe with the exactly same history as the one we left but that is conceptually out of sync starting before or after the dimension we reside in? From our perspective we may be appearing to traveling into the future or the past through time, but in fact we are traveling to an alternate universe that has already happened or has yet to happen.
This maintains consistency with the grandfather paradox but potentially makes Novikov self-consistency principle irrelevant because time would never allow you to go backwards only hope sideways which may be construed as a self-consistency principle, but it still isn’t.

Then how might we describe time? I think that the view for a film strip might be a good analogy. Every moment in time is a frame. The film only runs forwards, but we can through actions change the reel.

From my understanding this should more easily solve the question raised in “Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?” primarily because time is either removed from the hierarchy or more likely placed so that time as we understand it is always flowing across all the dimensions below.

I hope that made sense.

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Matthew, thanks for the great comment! I agree completely with your analysis, this is why I often say that up/down, forward/backward, left/right as pairs of directions form spatial dimensions, and time/anti-time also forms a spatial dimension. But all of those words are arbitrary terms that could be applied to any spatial dimension: is forward the direction added by the third dimension? Or is it north? Or is it up? Pick a word, any word, as long as it gives you a way to think about a direction and its opposing direction, you can use it to refer to any spatial dimension.

This is also why I say that "time" would be a direction in the third dimension for our imaginary 2D flatlander. "Time" is a useful word because it denotes change from state to state, but "forward" could work just as well (as could many other words).

The fact that life as we know it is built from entropic chemical reactions makes us experience the fourth spatial dimension in one direction only, but that opposite direction is just as real, and whether you call that opposing direction anti-time or backwards or whatever doesn't change its nature... a rose is a rose, and all that.

With Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions, I insist that there are really only ten because it's redundant to count time separately. No matter what spatial dimension you place a point within, you can place another point elsewhere within that dimension and pass a line through those two points. Moving on that line would be how you change from the values representing the first point to the values representing the second point, so thinking of that line as change leads to the conclusion that time can be a direction in any spatial dimension, just as forward, up, north, right, and so on can also be used to refer to unique directions in any spatial dimension.

Thanks for writing!

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist