Two Or Three Dimensions?


 We can view the people we meet as existing in either two dimensions or three. To see others as two dimensional creatures only is to see them as mere dwellers in space and time, who are somehow mysteriously here today and gone tomorrow - living for a short while in space and time and then vanishing into 'who knows where?' - if anywhere? For, as it seems for some, no other deeper and more ultimate dimensions are recognized to exist in this life or beyond it.  

 Those who live as if there are only two dimensions of space and time appear to be preoccupied with having various 'good times' along the way but not with a quest to increase awareness of transcendent dimensions. As for instance as I heard at one of those empty Life Celebrations (funerals) where it was said about the deceased: "Well he used to have a really great time at his favourite pub!" Or at another one of these dreary events it was exclaimed: "He used to answer the phone with such a hearty hello!" Old 'so and so' said this and did that, but had no awareness of the deeper dimensions of it all. 

 Any who live as if they are confined to space and time tend not to raise questions concerning the why of it all. There is, as it appears, a lack of regard for whether there are greater, higher or deeper dimensions. No greater dimensions than space and time are recognized, valued or lived out. No higher reference points are made to account for and explain the life that's being lived. 

 Is there anything more to people than a certain level of voluminosity occupying time and space?  Is there any kind of lasting depth or immensity beyond their mere physicality? 

 I never look at people as two-dimensional creatures, even though a good many of the people I meet appear to live as if they think of themselves as nothing more than two dimensional beings. So dull! I see, or at least hope to see in those I meet another level of depth and immensity.

 I think of the East Indian greeting Namaste, for instance, which when expressed with understanding and reverence through folded hands and a bow is a recognition that the person I am meeting is not but a mere specimen of matter- that is, a certain level of volume existing in space and time for a brief period of time, but rather as primarily a spiritual being who is passing through this life as on a pilgrimage, expressing it all through a particular form. 

 I think when I meet anyone, anywhere: 'Does she know or at least have a sense of something more on a deeper level or not?  Is there in her any awareness of a higher and deeper dimension, or is she existing as a volume without depth or immensity? 

 For example, I attended a wedding last week where I noticed a woman who had a bindi (a decorative red mark) on her forehead. I asked her about it. She immediately expressed awareness that for her it was more than a fashion but a symbol of spiritual or intuitive understanding. It has to do with seeing with the eye of the heart and not with the physical eyes only.

 Well, this got a great discussion going! We were friends on the spot as I met her husband, his sister and her father-in-law. To begin to explore together the meaning of the bindi symbol opened up a level of understanding between us all. We certainly were looking past the surface of each other into unfathomable depths. We had begun to enter a certain fullness of understanding that occurs in my experience when people behold each other in three, rather than two-dimensional terms!

 And that was not to be the end of it, for in the next hour or two, some kind of compelling music began to play. Now, for me at such affairs, when the music starts, I am out the door faster than you can say 'jack rabbit.' But, surprise, surprise! - not this time! Why? Because the music had a tantalizing flavour to it that pointed to transcendence, to another dimension, and to that level of spiritual seeing I care about.

 Someone told me that the captivating music was called Bhangra. It was so exuberant and joyful that I was irresistibly drawn to the dance floor. It felt like a kind of Divine imperative. I simply had no choice. I had to dance. Within minutes, I was in full swing, and lo and behold, dancing with the Bindi lady, who, as it turned out, was a dance instructor!  

 A parallel here is something that happened at the end of my days as a Protestant minister. I had begun to attend Aerobics classes for stress release and for physical fitness. I still recall the shock I felt (and thrill!) when over a period of several weeks I gradually made my way to the front of the class, until finally taking over that class and many others besides. For a five year period in Calgary I then led two or three classes daily that took me closer to God than I had ever felt while being a Pastor! Go figure. Somehow for me to live, move and have my being, I need to dance vigorously!

 I recall hearing in this regard about an Eastern monk who pulled a blank when a Western reporter asked him what his theology was. The question made no sense to him. He replied after a moment's pause: "I don't think I have a theology or an idealogy, I dance" - a statement I found refreshing. 

 It's all about the music, dance, or conversation that stirs and enables the journey into that third dimension of depth and immensity. 

 Another example of the plunge into that third dimension of depth and immensity occured when one of our sons sent us a video that put my wife and I into tears.

 The video was part of a response to when my wife asked our son to read Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, a novel which had been made into a film in 1946 starring Tyrone Powers. We have both seen it several times over the years and my wife now teaches the book.

 I know that my wife sees this son of ours as like Larry, the central figure of the story, who is so much more than a regular guy. Larry is someone who possesses a keen awareness of that third dimension of depth, mystery and immensity.

 As the story goes, Larry had become severely disillusioned with life, partly because of the shocking death of a dear friend. Now he wanted only to travel the world, to find answers to the great questions and to attain wisdom.

 Larry had hoped to share the quest for meaning with his fiancé but "Isabel had been brought up a certain way and had accepted what had been instilled in her. For her, life was about 'money, power, influence and social consequence.' It was for her the natural and obvious thing that a man should care about all of those things. Larry did not! 

 In a state of anguish, Larry exclaimed to his fiancé: "I wish I could make you see how much fuller the life I offer you is than anything you have a conception of. I wish I could make you see how exciting the life of the spirit is and how rich in experience. It's illimitable. It's such a happy life. There's only one thing like it, when you're up in a plane by yourself, high, higher and only infinity surrounds you. You're intoxicated by the boundless space. You feel such a sense of exhileration that you wouldn't exchange it for all the power and glory in the world." 

 Isabel, however, will have none of it. So off Larry goes. He has a fiery longing for that third dimension of depth and immensity and simply cannot settle for less.

 He travels to India and there meets a spiritual teacher (Ramana Maharish) who is able to answer his deepest longings. Upon coming back to America, Larry then attempts to put into practice his spiritual realization.

 And then there are these marvellous words from Somerset Maugham about Larry's life: "The man I am writing about is not famous. It may be that he never will be. It may that when his life at last comes to end he will leave no more trace of his sojourn on earth than a stone thrown into a river leaves on the surface of the water. But it may be that the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character may have an ever-growing influence over his fellow man so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that they lived in this age a very remarkable creature." (W.Somerset Maugham,The Razor's Edge)

 I am sharing here the piece of music our son sent us this morning. In response to my wife's request he had obviously done some research and discovered The Path of Love by Atman with words from the film, The Razor's Edge. It surely expresses better than I can a shift in awareness from a two-dimensional existence in space and time to that third dimension of depth and immensity that, when experienced, provides a taste and glimpse of eternity.