Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
The Nature and Importance of the
Fourth Dimension/Astral Plane
Note: As with everything I write, but especially so in this paper, it is sheer speculation for heuristic and stimulative/catalytic purposes, rather than being an attempt to set forth something which has been validated in some way.
Fourth dimension, higher dimensions, astral plane, ghosts -- these are all terms tossed around and of interest to many people. As a minister I have developed my own model for understanding of what all that is about, and I find it very helpful for people, as they develop spiritually, to also develop a model for understanding of some new experiences they are having as their awareness expands and starts to include phenomena which are different and can be disconcerting.
Dimensions/Planes vs The “All”
Yet, understanding is mental, and the map is not the territory; the territory itself is The Ineffable “what is.” It is a mite strange to carve a seamless reality up into “dimensions” and when I use the term, I am using it as a somewhat arbitrary model or framework of understanding; I am not referring to something obvious which everyone would agree is “real.”
It is closer to the truth to realize that everything is “in” all dimensions at all times, so separating reality conceptually does violence to the Wholeness, and should not be taken literally. Nothing happens in just one dimension; everything happens in all dimensions simultaneously. Likewise, we all have “identities” on each dimension, and they are a seamless Whole, as well.
Uses of this Speculative Description
The usefulness of describing different dimensions is merely as a guide to people who are starting to have unusual experiences, as their awareness expands to include more of what is always already present. For the mind to have even some kinds of labels, and hints at connections, can save a person from feeling unpleasantly disoriented, and can facilitate their quality of life during spiritual growth/expanding awareness.
It’s also important to not limit our spiritual growth once we encounter and have some facility with, our 4th dimensional selves and experiences. Unfortunately, this is all too common; people don’t realize they can go further! That’s another reason I include the list below, as these are examples of limited awareness we don’t have to stay within.
It is a challenge to try to talk about all this without going into my entire cosmology but I’ll give it a go! Questions, challenges, are welcome in the Comments!
What Are “Dimensions?”
Briefly, the “dimensions” can be thought of as in a spectrum of densities, or frequencies of vibration of matter-energy. The “higher” ones are less dense, or faster frequencies, and are associated with expanded consciousness associated with spiritual development. In other words, frequencies or densities correspond with phases along the spiritual line of development.
Our ordinary world can be loosely termed the “third dimension” and we won’t here go into the complexity of what first and second might consist of! Different models do include those, including some of what I am putting into the 4th dimension, in my model. Our ordinary world includes physical objects, plus thoughts and feelings, everything associated with ordinary human awareness.
What I call the 4th dimension includes many experiences and phenomena, listed below, but for now, let’s just call it where ghosts are “located.” It is very close to our ordinary human consciousness and reality.
Within it, there seem to be many sub-divisions or gradations or points on the spectrum of frequencies; the number posited by different people varies greatly. There also seem to be interface layers to both the 3rd and 5th dimensions, which have special transitional properties, enabling the blending of identities and realities within these different bands of “dimensions.”
There are phenomena which are experienced only on one dimension or another, but truly everything is in all dimensions, so calling something an astral plane phenomenon is just a matter of emphasis.
Also in our ordinary human awareness, we experience nothing, I believe, which has not been “stepped down” through the astral plane which acts as a transformer. In fact, that’s what each dimension does, it steps down (or up) the frequencies of the energies from the dimension above.
Identities and Dimensions
What is ON these dimensions is challenging to describe, but in my model, we all have an identity on each dimension. Think of this as “your embodiment” and “your soul” and that gives you the basic idea. Each identity is distinct and can "speak" and "operate" as an "I" yet they are One across dimensions and One with all other identities within Awareness as such. Each identity (layer of a Self) expands in scope of awareness as we move up dimensions.
So for any given purpose, we can "come from" or "focus from" any of those dimensional identities.
Obviously, our various dimensional identities are not always in our ordinary human awareness; specifically, 3rd dimensional identity and 4th dimensional identity can be relatively ignorant of their higher “selves” and believe themselves to be separate totally independent Beings, instead of just “differentiated/individuated/unique/distinct” Beings.
On the astral plane, there are mental and emotional and somewhat “physical” bodies but they are all less substantial than in our ordinary reality.
In my model, the 5th D self is completely transparent to and has full access to and moves as One with, all ITS higher D selves, it just has a more specific scope of awareness than the higher-D “selves.”
Examples from Culture
For a good glimpse of what 4th D identities are like, check out the movie “What Dreams May Come” and “Ghost” and “Just Like Heaven” and “Ghost Town.” All contain considerable inaccuracies though, about what the 4th dimension is really like, although people can have widely differing experiences in their astral plane identity, because compared to our normally stable reality, what is experienced as “reality” in 4-d is much more mutable and variable depending on individual differences.
Here is a critique of a number of movies which portray the 4th Dimension, by someone who says she knows a lot about it: http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/real-ghost-movies-realistic/
Astral Plane and Dualism/Separation Illusion
The identities on this plane can be still within dualistic thinking, iow, they are subject to the illusion of good and evil, they are NOT necessarily enlightened or awake. They CAN be beyond the illusion; they can be well into the enlightenment process, but there are plenty of identities on this plane who are NOT.
Every one of us humans has an identity on this plane.
It is a plane of greater "powers" than our ordinary 3-dimensional consciousness, and "work" on this plane can indeed affect powerful changes/miracles in our ordinary-perceived reality -- for good OR for ill, depending on who is doing the work.
(However, even benevolently-intentioned "white magic" type of work lacks the "whole-systems" integrated perspective available on the higher planes, and often can have unanticipated and undesired consequences, so it is like playing with fire, in some ways.)
We also each have identities on the further-"up" dimensions, higher vibrational, less physical, whatever metaphor one wants to use. Those identities are all in nondual, enlightened, awakened consciousness. They are what we normally call our "higher self." Shamans very rarely are aware of or work within this plane, as far as I have heard and experienced.
Therefore, a 5th D "self" and above is beyond duality because its scope of awareness is vaster than ordinary human and than a 4th-D identity.
Shamanism and Astral Plane
Shamanism as I conceive of it deals mostly with the astral plane, and shamanic travels to realms and worlds within that plane (such as nature spirits, animal guides, etc.) and occasionally higher than that plane (angels, galactic consciousnesses, planetary identities, etc.) The shamans travel out of their ordinary human consciousness via methods like chanting, drumming, or drugs; they do not usually abide in nondual awareness in their own astral plane identity, though I think some do.
In contrast to our ordinary “Three-dimensional plane,” the astral plane is
Not bound by gravity
Not bound by space-time
Usually in awareness of past lives
Not bound by the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and psychology, so reality varies a lot more depending on the individual
Experienced reality changes far more rapidly in response to changes in consciousness
Emotions are deeper, feel more real and more vast. Hard to underestimate the significance of this difference.
Illusions tend to be about one’s identity ( e.g. I am defective) or about one’s relationship to “God” or the Ultimate (e.g. God has abandoned me.)
Experience and communication are less in language and mental concepts, more in just “getting”
In contrast to the Fifth Dimension, the Astral Plane is
Subject to duality-illusions of separation, good-evil
Identity is not always wider than the individual identity/astral-plane embodiment, not always abiding in Oneness-identity; identity is not as wide in scope
Closer to space-time
More in concepts and language
Bodies are more definite in shape
Beings are experienced (by themselves and others) as HAVING siddhis/powers rather than their powers being part of their “isness.”
Phenomena and Behaviors which are IMO primarily related to the Astral Plane
Astral travel and projections
Auras that most psychic people see
Bioenergetics (the field of study)
Chakras as perceived by most people who are aware of them
Chi/Ki energies and their uses and experiences
Collective emotions, collective shadow, “collective unconscious”
Deities who appear in visions to people
Demons and devils
Devas, collective souls of animal species
Dreams which have an unusual quality of reality and “experience”
Drumming, whirling, chanting, as state-altering behaviors
Extra-terrestrial beings/lifeforms/species (some of them, not all of them are 4-D)
Gods and Goddesses
Guides, Guardian Angels (but some angel experiences are 5-d, I think)
Hell, Heaven experiences
Higher Self, as some people use the term
Highly Sensitive Persons
Inspirations of creative art, music, etc. are often from astral plane
Kinesiology (muscle testing)/biokinesiology
Law of Attraction, work with “Intention”
Levitation and “walking through walls or on water”
Meridian energies (Nadis are probably 5th-dimensional energy channels in our bodies)
Nature mysticism (“One with Nature” or with a part of Nature)
Nature spirits (fairies, leprechauns, etc. etc.)
Psychic healing (as distinguished from spiritual healing) (involves merging of mental and emotional bodies on astral plane)
Psychic reading (as distinguished from 5th D “just knowing”) (involves merging of mental and emotional bodies on astral plane)
Remembrance of “past lives”
Reports of “between-life” experiences and planning
Some of the Channeled Entities
Soul retrieval work
Souls (as distinguished from Spirits such as Angels)
Spirits that “possess” people
Tarot and other “divination” tools
Telepathy viewed as mind-to-mind of separate entities
UFO and ET phenomena, a lot of them, not all, some are probably 5-d
Visions of religious figures, encounters with them, communications with them
Vulcan Mind-meld (merging of mental and emotional bodies on astral plane)
White and black magic
Functions of the Astral Plane
The 4th dimension gets a bad rap because it is the location of black magic and “evil spirits” but just like our ordinary so-called 3-d world, it is simply part of the structure of reality, and we cannot exist without it, as I see the matter. It is simply one of the dimensions on which “I” exist. A great deal of what we consider “good” comes from it, too, as you can see from the list.
As our identities expand out of the merely human “I” our identity WILL come to include our 4thdimensional selves/aspects, and that is simply something which the human self learns to embrace and cope with, because it is natural.
Astral Plane Shadows
A great deal of our “shadow” actually resides, IMO, not in our human subconscious, but in our astral plane selves. The thoughts and emotions of the astral plane are experienced as far more “real” and strong/intense than any experience within the human mind aspect of ourselves. And they influence us far more widely and deeply than human-level experiences. They are actually a CONTEXT in which influences on a particular human embodment happen. In other words, they actually set and influence pre-birth, gestation, birth, and post-birth experiences.
Therefore we will never fully understand how we are who we are, unless we take into account our “astral-plane psychology,” or what we might for shorthand call our past-life psychology: the beliefs and self-images we have played out in many lives and continue to play out in these characters on this stage. In that sense, psychology based within a single lifetime can never be complete nor as powerful as it might be. One needs to understand the “soul-level illusions” being carried, and have those become dissolved. (Soul-level illusions will be the subject of a future paper I write.)
I would like readers to take away at least these two insights:
Comments, reflections, suggestions for improvement, invited!
I really don't know whether this qualifies as "Integral Post-Metaphysical Spirituality." Probably not, except in that I am offering it purely as a brainstorm, for whatever usefulness we might make of it together to think within this model and its "altitude." On the level of practical usefulness for me as a minister in counseling the folks I deal with, it has proved an extremely useful model for the phenomena and experiences in THEIR worldspace.