Transpersonal Psychology

The Spirit, Reincarnation & Multiverses

Some background reading before my thoughts …

From Excession; Iain M Banks

The usual way to explain it was by analogy; this was how the idea was introduced to you as a child. Imagine you were travelling through space and you came to this planet which was very big and almost perfectly smooth and on which there lived creatures who were composed of one layer of atoms; in effect, two-dimensional. These creatures would be born, live and die like us and they might well possess genuine intelligence. They would, initially, have no idea or grasp of the third dimension, but they would be able to live perfectly well in their two dimensions. To them, a line would be like a wall across their world (or, from the end, it would look like a point). An unbroken circle would be like a locked room.

Perhaps, if they were able to build machines which allowed them to journey at great speed along the surface of their planet – which to them would be their universe – they would go right round the planet and come back to where they had started from. More likely, they would be able to work this out from theory. Either way, they would realise that their universe was both closed, and curved, and that there was, in fact, a third dimension, even if they had no practical access to it. Being familiar with the idea of circles, they would probably christen the shape of their universe a ‘hypercircle’ rather than inventing a new word. The three-dimensional people would, of course, call it a sphere.

The situation was similar for people living in three dimensions. At some point in any civilisation starting to become advanced it was realised that if you set off into space in what appeared to be a perfectly straight line, eventually you would arrive back at where you started, because your three-dimensional universe was really a four-dimensional shape; being familiar with the idea of spheres, people tended to christen this shape a hypersphere.

Usually around the same point in a society’s development it was understood that – unlike the planet where the two-dimensional creatures lived – space was not simply curved into a hypersphere, it was also expanding; gradually increasing in size like a soap-bubble on the end of a straw which somebody was blowing into. To a four-dimensional being looking from far enough away, the three-dimensional galaxies would look like tiny designs imprinted onto the surface of that expanding bubble, each of them, generally, heading away from all the others because of the hypersphere’s general expansion, but – like the shifting whorls and loops of colour visible on the skin of a soap bubble – able to slide and move around on that surface.

Of course, the four-dimensional hypersphere had no equivalent of the straw, blowing air in from outside. The hypersphere was expanding all by itself, like a four-dimensional explosion, with the implication that, once, it had been simply a point; a tiny seed which had indeed exploded. That detonation had created – or at least had produced – matter and energy, time and the physical laws themselves. Later – cooling, coalescing and changing over immense amounts of time and expansion – it had given rise to the cool, ordered, three-dimensional universe which people could see around them.

Eventually in the progress of a technologically advanced society, occasionally after some sort of limited access to hyperspace, more usually after theoretical work, it was realised that the soap bubble was not alone. The expanding universe lay inside a larger one, which in turn was entirely enclosed by a bubble of space-time with a still greater diameter. The same applied within the universe you happened to find yourself on/in; there were smaller, younger universes inside it, nested within like layers of paper round a much-wrapped spherical present.

In the very centre of all the concentric, inflating universes lay the place they had each originated from, where every now and again a cosmic fireball blinked into existence, detonating once more to produce another universe, its successive outpourings of creation like the explosions of some vast combustion engine, and the universes its pulsing exhaust.

There was more; complications in seven dimensions and beyond that involved a giant torus on which the 3-D universe could be described as a circle, contained and containing other nested tori, with further implications of whole populations of such meta-Realities… but the implications of multiple, concentric, sequential universes was generally considered enough to be going on with for the moment.

What everybody wanted to know was whether there was any way of travelling from one universe to another. Between any pair of universes there was more than just empty hyperspace; there was a thing called an energy grid. It was useful – strands of it could help power ships, and it had been used as a weapon – but it was also an obstacle, and – by all accounts so far – one which had proved impenetrable to intelligent investigation. Certain black holes appeared to be linked to the grid and perhaps therefore to the universe beyond, but nobody had ever made it intact into one, or ever reappeared in any recognisable form. There were white holes, too; ferociously violent sources spraying torrents of energy into the universe with the power of a million suns and which also seemed to be linked to the grid … but no body, no ship or even information had ever been observed appearing from their tumultuous mouths; no equivalent of an airborne bacteria, no word, no language, just that incoherent scream of cascading energies and super energetic particles.

The dream that every Involved had, which virtually every technologically advanced civilisation clove to with almost religious faith, was that one day it would be possible to travel from one universe to another, to step up or down through those expanding bubbles, so that – apart from anything else – one need never suffer the final fate of one’s own universe. To achieve that would surely be to Sublime, truly to Transcend, to consummate the ultimate Surpassing and accomplish the ultimate empowerment.

My Thoughts

Let us say that the spirit is the vessel that retains our memory imprint. And let us wonder what happens when we ‘die’. Using the above model of the multiverse, death could be argued to be the key to allow the spirit to cross over the energy grid threshold and step into the universe next door. If this is a younger universe, we can be reincarnated into an earlier time. The reverse is also true. Usually, when crossing the energy grid our memories are lost but sometimes, just sometimes, they come through with us and the new physical form incarnated with the wandering spirit remembers details of the universe next door. As these universes are almost parallel (or copies) to ours, the memories are essentially (almost) identical to actual events and can easily be confused with direct – or linear – reincarnation within the same universe.

You can also see where we get the idea of Heaven (above) and Hell (below) from, as each step up or down could be seen as the soul’s passage to one of these other realms. As we don’t (or didn’t) understand their nature, we invent our own stories to rationalise them and comfort our ignorance.