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The Fourth Dimension In The Process Of Evolving For The Collective Mind

( Originally Published 1916 )



" God unable to make the world eternal gave it Time, ` a moving image of eternity: " Hence consciousness is ever the process of becoming that it was for Heraclitus. And for that reason we are not able to give to matter the properties of pure space. Some portion of it must always transcend the spatial frame, however great the dimensionality of being to which we may attain.

That part of the infinite realm of matter which the intellect has grasped we designate reality ; the vast unknown beyond our mental ken we think of as spiritual. The distinction between the physical and the metaphysical is purely one of our understanding. While growth in consciousness implies a continuous advance into the realm of " higher matter," the transcendental suffers no diminution in consequence, for that which is infinite cannot be lessened by finite subtractions. It is a mathematical error to assume that one's intuitive realm is the richer, the less one's knowledge.

We have to apprehend the truth before we can give it form. And for the acquiring of immediate knowledge time is needed. In that sense, time, as we now know it, is the fourth dimension in the process of evolving for the collective consciousness. It does not follow, though, that our existence in a fourth dimension will be freer from the tedium of time than is this present existence. When the " order changeth" there will be a new time the fifth dimension as it in turn presents itself to consciousness.

For a normal development one in which the process of intellection has kept pace with the intuition time is one-dimensional to the mind that is experiencing it. Those who would delve into the super-rational have to remember that there must be due organisation of empirical data for the advance to be a permanent one.

Though the concept of higher time would seem to be implicit in the idea of higher space, quite the contrary may be true. There are straight lines in a four-dimensional space as well as in a two-dimensional, and the straight line of itself has naught to reveal of properties beyond the linear. It is only through the strain and stress resulting from the turning of curves that one comes to a sense of higher space-relations.

While to a person possessed of a four-dimensional consciousness, recognition of spiritual truth is instantaneous, such recognition is limited to the truths that have spatial representation. There are still greater truths awaiting the fifth-dimensional enfoldment which a four-dimensional consciousness may be quite as slow in sensing as creatures of a lower order the truths beyond their particular realm of under-standing. Greatly then does it behoove us to look to our time curvatures. Every moment is unique in that it may be a transitional point into a larger realm of consciousness.


In the Hegelian system the particular interest is shown to be the vehicle of the universal. What more fitting medium, then, for the launching of a new thought-form than a great international exposition ! There spirit is seen in its historical development, and men by the very pursuit of their own private ends come to a knowledge of things universal.

Human interest having in these later days become largely centred on value-judgments and estimates of worth, an exposition affords perhaps the most general application of the principle of relativity to be found, bringing it home to the collective mind in an intimately human way as nothing else could. Where nation is vying with nation and individual with individual in all of the arts and crafts of human industry, absolute standards must needs vanish, and with their going we may be able to set up such a distribution of values as will give new direction to our efforts. However that may be, the industrial competition to which, in the last analysis, the Exposition owes its inception, is pushing many aside from the beaten highways into hitherto unexplored regions of thought and endeavour, and who is to say that we may not in consequence find a direction quite at right angles to all of our wonted ways of thinking? What visitor to the Jewelled City, that synthesis of many minds, was not lifted for the moment, at least, out of the realm of things temporal to the vision of new truth and beauty !

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition is best seen in its fourth-dimensional aspect when approached through the Gateway of Memory. This is what one might expect, for that entrance alone has the requisite geometrical structure. You will recall having heard, I am sure, how in the fourth dimension a person may go in and out of a locked room at his pleasure with bolts and bars untouched. Broad and open as is this Gate of Memory, when you pass its portals the wall closes behind you ; there is no visible opening to mark the spot of your entry. A feeling of detachment comes over you. This is augmented by the burst of light and colour that flashes across the field of your vision, and for the first time you understand the purport of those " banners yellow, glorious, golden," which " do float and flow." They seem to bear you on breezes of their own creating to the freedom of outer spaces. What you had taken for the flauntings of festivity are become the heralds of hyperspace.

As you wend your way down the Avenue of Time you feel an inexpressive lightness, a sensation of being lifted out of yourself. The moment is unique. Things are unrelated. There is no concern of pro-portion. The place is one of immediacy. You wander from the ephemeral to the ephemeral. " Time is," you say, in childish glee. And you hasten to assemble images, as many and as disparate as possible, believing that you are drinking life at its fountain head. The outer world presents itself to your consciousness in the form of facts in juxtaposition. You read guide-books and rejoice in the acquisition of knowledge. Gradually through the perception of the same phantasmagoria comes an at-oneness with your fellows. You are caught up in the swirl of a larger self.

Soon you weary of the heterogeneous. The Zone of Consciousness stands revealed in all its grotesqueness. " Time is," you cry, but to give thought its impulse, and you hasten on, if perchance you may discover the direction of the life-principle. What you had taken for reality is but its cross-section so does this empirical realm stand to the higher world of your spirit, even as a plane to a solid.

Now you turn your attention from things to relations in the hope of getting at truth in the large. A passage in Plato comes vividly to your mind. " For a man must have intelligence of universals, and be able to proceed from the many particulars of sense to one conception of reason; this is the recollection of those things which our soul once saw while following God, when, regardless of that which we now call being, she raised her head up towards the true being."

Henceforth the multiplicity that you seek is one of organisation and has nothing to do with number. " Time was," you proclaim, that consciousness might sift out the irrelevant. As you pass from collection to collection, individual fact becomes prolonged into general law, and science dominates the field of thought. A thousand years are as a day when subsumed by the universal. You look at the objects of man's creating with new eyes. The displays are no longer contests of laborious industry but of vision and faith. You see that truth has made itself manifest through the long repetition of the same fundamental theme. That which is unique and personal you are surprised to find of less value than the habit perfected by patient practice. The routine and monotony of daily toil become glorified in the light that now falls athwart your vision. You learn to substitute for your personal feeling the common impersonal element felt by the many. Your concern is not as formerly to recollect, but to symbolise. To this end you study frieze and statuary, and frequent lectures. Your sense of social solidarity grows through mutual comprehension of the same truths.

And again that " vexing, forward reaching sense of some more noble permanence " urges you on. " Time was," you joyously affirm, for man to come to the knowledge of an eternal self. But that, your tradition and education have led you to believe, is still yonder, worlds away. And you image the soul in its quest passing from life to life as you are now passing from building to building, from hall to hall. But blessed the thought there will be courts wherein you may perhaps glimpse the plan of the whole and so gather strength and purpose for an-other housing. All at once you know that death has no fear for you and you feel toward your present life as you do toward these Palaces of the Mundane the sooner compassed the better.

You pass from court to edifice and from edifice to court, marvelling at the symmetry of plan and structure. Unity, balance, and harmony become manifest as spatial properties you had been taught to regard them as principles of art. You wonder if art itself may not be merely a matter of right placing the adjustment of a thing to its environment. You are certain that this is so as each coign and niche offers you its particular insight. Strange vagaries float through your mind one's duty to the inanimate things of one's possession; the house too large for the personality of the owner; the right setting for certain idiosyncrasies each pointing the way, as you think, to a different vista of human outlook. What then your glad surprise to find these converging toward one ideal synthesis ! In anticipation of the splendour you hasten on till earth shall have attained to heaven. There it stands " a structure brave," the Palace of Art, the Temple of the Soul and you know you were made to be perfect, too.

Now that you apprehend the plan of the beautiful conception spread before you, symmetry takes on a vital significance for your thought. You try to recall what you learned of it in geometry. There was a folding over, you remember, and a fitting together " congruence " you believe it was called. But that could have no meaning for solids. Stop !

A folding over? Why, that implies another dimension ! The two halves of a leaf can be brought together only as one or the other is lifted out of the plane of the leaf into a third dimension. So to bring two buildings into superposition when they are alike except for a reverse order of parts, would necessitate a fourth dimension and a turning inside out. Quick as the thought, the court you are in is that a building inside out !

Ah ! you know now wherefore that wonderful up-lifting sensation that comes whenever you enter one of these beautiful enclosures. You have passed into the fourth dimension of spatial realisation. " Time is past," you shout aloud, and laugh to find yourself on the inside of externality. Cubism in architecture ! Futurism, in very truth !

You visit again the galleries of the New Art, in earnest desire for enlightenment as to this thing which is so near to consciousness and yet so far ! As you gaze at the portrayal, strangely weird in form and colour, you ask yourself, " Where have I felt that, seen this, before?" Immediately you are transported in memory to the midst of a crowded street. In the mad bustle and noise you are conscious only of mechanical power ; of speed always of speed. Your voice far away " The child, oh, the child ! " A swooning sensation ! Men's faces as triangles, and horses with countless feet ! The chaos of primal forces about you then darkness!

As the past fuses with the present you awaken to a larger privilege of life than man now knows. You feel yourself encompassed by truth, vital and strong. This art, erstwhile most baffling, stands revealed as the struggle of a superhuman entity for self-expression. The tendency toward God has to begin anew with each round of the life-spiral hence the apparent reversion to primitive art.

As the day closes you find yourself in the Court of the Universe. Bands of many-coloured light, the white radiance of eternity, stream athwart the sky. The illumination is of the wonder that now is. How marvellously strange the sight of the world-consciousness passing over into a higher thought-form ! Each individual element suffering reversal to take its proper place in the new world-order ! You see positive becoming negative, negative becoming positive, and Evolution giving place to Involution a process as yet uncomprehended by our narrow thought. And the secret of the world-struggle across the sea you know: men passing their nature's bound; new hopes and loyalties supplanting old ties and joys ; the established creeds of right and wrong as they vanish in this unmeasurable thirst for an unknown good. All these things you know to be the travail of the world as it gives birth to some higher entity than individual man.

" Time is past," and as you speak a dove settles to rest upon a pediment. Therewith you are carried away in the spirit to a great and high mountain and you behold a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away. You see the holy city descending out of heaven her light is like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal, and the walls thereof are adorned with all manner of precious stones and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it.

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