I watched a documentary on reincarnation last night, which was interesting. They looked at the case of a boy in Glasgow who from a young age spoke of his “other family”. Eventually they visited the place the boy had spoken of, and it was spine-tingling to see both his reaction to the “old house” (a normally vibrant boy, he became subdued and was visibly sad) and the number of “coincidences” between his stories and the history of the place. When questioned about how he got to Glasgow he said, “I just fell through from there to here”.

Now after reading Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions and watching Rob Bryanton’s animation Imagining The Tenth Dimension, one can’t help draw parallels between the description of the boy’s “transition” and what it must be like to “teleport” through the nth dimension (or the first n dimensions) by bending it/them through the (n+1)th. The analogy given in Imagining The Tenth Dimension goes like this:

Imagine an ant walking on a sheet of newspaper. To the ant, the world is (practically) 2-dimensional — he can walk forward, backwards, left and right but not up or down. He is the closest thing to a flatlander we can have (well, maybe an amoeba or something would be a closer analogy). His universe (the newspaper) has boundaries but now look! If we curl the newspaper (2-dimensional universe) through the third dimension and join the two edges together in a loop, we’ve just eliminated two of the boundaries. Our little ant/amoeba/flatlander can now walk in a particular direction forever — he just ends up back where he started. Thing is, if the newspaper is big enough — or the flatlander small enough — he wont be able to detect the curvature and his 2-dimensional universe will look the same to him whether it is flat, looped, curved, shaped like a saddle …

It’s a bit more of a stretch, but now imagine that our flatlander moves from one place in the 2-dimensional universe to another — perhaps falling from the “top” of the loop to the curve below. What would that look like to the other flatlanders? So long as we imagine that they can’t “look up” (they don’t even know there is an “up”), they would see their fellow flatlander disappear from one place and teleport to another.

This isn’t quite enough to explain reincarnation, however — rather it describes how we might one day create teleporters and time machines by bending spacetime through a higher dimension.

For reincarnation, there must be some physical part of us which exists outside of spacetime i.e. in one or more of the other dimensions. Hindus might call it the “atma“, deists the “soul” or “ka”, but I think the important thing is that it needs to be physical — just not in one of the 4-dimensions we can observe, which we call spacetime. (I say “might” because the Hindu and Buddhist sense of “self” is much more complex than what Christians call their soul. Look it up, it’s interesting!)

So when the spacetime-part of our body succumbs to entropic decay in whichever form (choose your poison), perhaps the non-spacetime component “falls through” one (or more) of the other dimensions, eventually associating with another spacetime form — our child-self. Note that because we’re falling through dimensions outside of spacetime, there is no requirement that our lives be temporally linear (you can be reborn in the past or future) or spatially proximate (you can be reborn anywhere).

And if what is posited in Imagining The Tenth Dimension is anything like the truth, you needn’t even be reborn in the same reality/universe — dropping through other dimensions could let us “slide” into all possible realities. This works because we think our universe has a 4-dimensional, 4-coordinate system — any point can be specified by [x, y, z, t]. If there are higher dimensions, a point is actually specified by [x, y, z, t, a, b, … n] and this means we can “move” without changing our position in x, y, z!