Time, Space and Eternity

When we speak about survival of the soul, the temporary personality, and non-local consciousness then it is a key problem how to imagine for ourselves the existence of time and space next to eternitity and infinity. I have by far still no clear view on that, if ever that might come to crystallized views for me.

For the time being I restrict myself on this page to the article “Dimension shift – What happens when losing your link to the four-dimensional world” by Jim van der Heijden from the jubilee issue of Terugkeer at the 25-years jubilee of Merkawah. That presents a good approximation of how the “experiencing soul” may consider the four-dimensional reality (three-dimensional space and time as fourth dimension) as seen from a higher dimension. That’s why I integrally included that article here..

Dimension shift – What happens when losing your link to the four-dimensional world

Jim van der Heijden
The science of physics produced theories in the past century, which brushed the view aside that all of what we are is in some way or the other brought forth by matter. This penetrates insufficiently at those who occupy themselves with the functioning of the brain and the mind, due to which they tenaciously hold on to the reductionist image of man. This article aims to offer a contradictory view. Firstly, the worldview from these theories is elaborated. After that the connection between our immaterial essence and our physical body. The article ends with a discussion on the elements of the near-death-experience. It turns out that these can be explained now in an acceptable way.

The Block universe (1)
When looking at a movie the pictures we are seeing and have seen form the present and the past of the story of the movie, while the pictures we still didn’t see yet lie in the future of it. Actually, all pictures are present on the reel since they were produced. The past, the present and the future in the movie are illusory and the result of watching them picture-by-picture in one direction on the reel. When we pick up the two-dimensional world of the film we experience limitations, which don’t exist anymore when we experience the normal world again. You might say we then change of dimension and see the complete reel at a glance instead of separately by each picture.

In 1905 Albert Einstein presented his special relativity theory. According to this theory space and time can no longer be interpreted as separate items. This is the core of an essay from 1908 in which Herman Minkowski – mathematician and one of Einstein’s teachers – builds further on the special relativity theory.

Space and time are here aspects of a unified whole, the spacetime. Minkowski shows us a reality which has four dimensions, three from space and the time.
In the four-dimensional spacetime all events – from the past, in the present and in the future – are present which the physical universe is composed of. In short, the past, present, and future don’t exist. All material-energetical events of which the place (three space dimensions) and time (one dimension) of each of them are fixed in what is called the block universe.

Block universe and worldlines
We imagine the block universe as a cube in which time, length, width and height determine all events of the past, present, and future as points within the cube – the block. Just like each point has its fixed place in a two-axis graph, each event in the  block universe has its own place and time. All events are as real, there is no preference. The metaphor of the reel and the separate pictures helps us now to understand these (the!) physical reality. In below picture the upper cubes contain separate pictures. Just like the pictures on the reel, but then three-dimensional instead of two-dimensional. In the cube below them these three-dimensional pictures are pinned together by adding the fourth dimension, the time. Now a block with a line of connected events has come into existence. That is what is called a ‘worldline’.

In the picture we see a very small part of the worldline of the blue-red man. In the reality of the block universe it would concern a worldline, which encompasses his whole life and where each point on the worldline contains a subsequent physical situation of the blue-red man. This counts too for our four-dimensional lifes. Our worldlines start where our existence commences and end at our death consisting of an infinite number of pictures, one for each of our subsequent situations.

The block universe contains a countless number of worldlines, which are immutably fixed. The past is not gone, and the future has always been there. This means that the content of the block universe is determined, everything is determined up to the tiniest details. And again the comparison with the film reel can be made, where the story of the movie is fixed.

Who might think that this is just a theory which has nothing to do with reality, is wrong. The reality of the existence of the block universe from Einstein’s special relativity theory is time and again proven in addition to the fact that Minkowski’s view on the universe, being a four-dimensional world where no time streams, is the only one in accordance with the special relativity theory (2).
There exists no past, presence and future, there is a static eternity. This position is called ‘Eternalism’ (simultaneous existence of past, present, and future) and is contrary to the ‘Presentalism’ (only the present exists), which has become untenable (3).

The connection
A reel contains just static, two-dimensional pictures. That only becomes a story once we – from a higher dimension – do something with it. That means watching the separate pictures in a certain pace and in one direction. That’s how the story starts to become alive and even time seems to come along. In that the film reel remains unchanged as a series of static, two-dimensional pictures.

We saw that in the block universe everything is immutable fixed. It is a static world, just like the film reel. In a similar way series of static three-dimensional pictures of four-dimensional worldlines in the block universe can be used to bring the stories of those worldlines to life and to experience them. And similar to the film reel the ‘experiencer’ doesn’t belong to the object, but experiences as coming from a higher dimension. Certainly, if the experiencer would belong to the world that is experienced, then he would belong to a picture. A two-dimensional picture in the case of a picture on a reel and a three-dimenional picture when it concerns a picture on a worldline. Then there would be as many experiencers as there are pictures on a film reel or pictures on a worldline. Experiencing continuity of the movie, or the worldline shows that the experiencer is not a part of it.

Fifth dimension
We recognize this as viewer of a movie. We don’t sufficiently realize that is the appropriate metaphor for the way we bring the stories in the block universe to life from a subsequent – the fifth – dimension. Yet this is how dynamics are obtained in the worldlines – the stories – which exist within the material, determined and static block universe. From a dimension above the block universe the worldlines are followed and experienced. Only in that way the illusion comes to existence that the block universe lives, grows and changes while in reality this determined, static world of matter remains unchanged.

The often adhered to materialistic reductionism is thus an incorrect view on reality. The reality is dualistic, experienced from the material fifth dimension in the fourth dimension. This goes deeper than the looking at and the identifying with – a character from – a movie, there is an intimate connection with the worldline which is followed. The immaterial has anchored itself into the material – the series of pictures – and identifies itself with matter – the series of pictures. In that way we are temporary inhabitants of two worlds when we are following our path between birth and death by the pictures of a worldline. During that journey we experience life as dynamic and the future as unknown. This while the worldline of each life in the block universe – the four-dimensional reality – is static and known. At the end we are back in the more real – reality increases with each subsequent dimension – reality, that of the fifth dimension.

Essence of the soul
We know the essence of our being, which is immaterial, and doesn’t belong to the block universe, but which visits that, under many names. These are not unequivocally used and thus may lead to misunderstanding and confusion. Plato’s distinction between two spheres of being, that of the physical body (which is part of the block universe) and that of the immaterial soul (which belongs to the fifth dimension), is still ever applicable. Also his view of the body as prison of the soul comes close to the intimate connection with a worldline. Unfortunately Plato’s views are annexed by others due to which all kinds of interpretations became attached to the word ‘soul’ and the meaning intended here has disappeared out of sight. Such objections are also related to names which are used as synonym for ‘soul’ like ‘spirit’ and ‘self’. The currently often used ‘consciousness’ doesn’t (still) have such objections, but is contentwise incorrect since it concerns the functioning of our immaterial essence and not the essence itself. For our purpose ‘essence’ can only be used together with ‘immaterial’ and that is too long. Because of that I will use here, quite arbitrary, ‘soul’ – in the original Platonian sense – in order to show what we actually are in the fifth-dimensional reality.

Connection to series of pictures
We can now elaborate on the connection of the soul to matter, or how being linked from the fifth dimension to a worldline in the block universe. That is more intimate than watching a movie. We don’t look at passing two-dimensional film pictures, we are sort of creeping into the film and go through the separate pictures. The fifth-dimensional soul has unified with the four-dimensional worldline and moves from three-dimensional picture to three-dimensional picture whereby it fully experiences the content of each picture including time, the fourth dimension of the block universe. In that way time seems to flow for the soul, while time is an unchangeable static dimension of the block universe.

One dimension higher the possibilities and characteristics of a lower dimension are part of the more extensive gamut of possibilities and characteristics of that higher dimension. In the four-dimensional block-universe the immaterial soul utilizes the characteristics and possibilities of matter (4). Because the soul is immaterial it can occupy the same space as matter. The soul has adapted itself to the three-dimensional space of the pictures and moves along the four-dimensional worldline. The connection of the soul with matter is like cleaving of particles to one another, which are both positively and also negatively charged as well. That kind of dipole-dipole attraction and the merger and interaction of the electromagnetic fields of these cause adhesion between matter and soul. In that way the soul cleaves on each subsequent picture on its way through the series of pictures.

Choice and free will
If this now may have lead to the fatalistic thoughts of the reader that we – our souls – exactly follow designed physical paths (worldlines) and don’t have any influence on the road we go in our life, then that is not correct. A movie can currently be interactive which enables the spectator to make the story line carry on along different ways. In the block universe the worldlines offer the soul an inexhaustible number of possibilities to choose a way.

In 1957 Hugh Everett published the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics (5). That includes that the universe splits at each possible choice. This means for the block universe that each three-dimensional picture on a four-dimensional worldline is one from an aggregation of all three-dimensional pictures which may follow on its previous three-dimensional picture. The three-dimensional pictures before and after each tree-dimensional picture are themselves again part of aggregations of similar alternatives. Etcetera. The worldlines in the universe branch endlessly and each three-dimensional picture is the beginning of the follow-up of a worldline.

That the block universe is static and determined, all events are unchangeable fixed is thus only half the story. The collections of pictures offer the soul extensive options to choose. The soul is not forced to follow a predetermined series of three-dimensional pictures on a four-dimensional worldline. The track that it will follow in the block universe – the events that it will experience – does the fifth-dimensional soul choose by itself. There is no fixed or predetermined route. Due to that the four-dimensional worldline experienced by the soul when looking back at the end of its queest in matter will be one with twists and sideways.

The path gone in the block universe follows from the fact that the soul continuously – at each point in the block universe – and fully aware makes free choices. That the path even partly or completely less conscious may be gone – which too is a choice – doesn’t limit the freedom of the soul’s will in any way.

Libet’s mistake
This brings us at the experiments of neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet (6) and the thus created doubts on the existence of the free will. Half a second prior to making a conscious decision Libet observed brain activity to start. So, already before becoming aware of it the bringing of a cup of coffee toward your mouth, it has been started. Libet concluded from this that the cortex (the cerebral cortex) first starts an activity and only after that the awareness of what has been started is added. Exit free will! However, what Libet and his colleagues are not able to explain is why the cortex autonomously creates will processes. In this darkness the terms ‘sub-consciousness’ and ‘pre-consciousness’ raised in this context don’t bring any light. Thereby Libet obviously found it difficult to say goodbye to the free will and came up with a veto enabling you to let the cup of coffee for what it is. The case of the denied free will is shaky, no more than a premature conclusion of a rigidly materialistically reductionistically thinking neuroscientific field.

You are watching a movie. You don’t like how the story develops. Fortunately it is an interactive film, so you intervene and give the story a twist by which it continues towards the result which you desire. In the series of two-dimensional pictures, which you will see now the main character of the story will do and think as you wished it to happen. Of course this only seems to be so, there is no thinking and acting main character, there are only pictures which already existed and from which you made a choice. Just likewise the freely choosing soul chooses a process and then continues its way through a series of pictures in which simultaneously the processes of physical action and awareness of that action develop. At the end of this sequence the soul  arrives at a picture in which action and awareness are both present. Firstly, there is the action chosen by the soul, thereafter the picture in the block universe in which the action and its awareness are four-dimensionally put in practice. That picture has not been created, it existed already. The fifth-dimensional soul only chose a way to it, whereby it in its passage through matter is confronted with the inertia ruling in the four-dimensional block universe.

Who denies the existence of the soul and grasps for the black boxes of ‘sub-consciousness’ and ‘pre-consciousness’, closes his eyes for the implications of the work of Einstein. Minkowski and many others thus fool themselves and others. And don’t moreover understand what Einstein apprehended long ago when he wrote in a letter of consolation to the family of the passed away Michele Besso, with whom Einstein had a life long friendship:

“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. “


When the electromagnetic fields of both dipoles have become too weak or relative to each other are shifted too much the connection of the soul with matter breaks off (7). The journey of the soul through the block universe is now disrupted or finally ends. This happens for instance when arriving at pictures which concern sickness, injury or the influence of certain substances which are related to severe distortions of the electromagnetic system of the substance. Disconnection may also be a conscious decision of the soul, for instance in order to end continuation of pictures including physical or emotional pain. Temporary decoupling leads to a special state of consciousness, which actually concerns the departure by the soul of the fourth-dimension. Definitive dissociation follows when at the end of the journey of the fifth-dimensional soul through the four-dimensional block universe the electromagnetic system stops.

When the link connection is broken by which the soul connected itself from the five dimensional world with the material world of the four-dimensional block universe, then the soul is able to see the block universe in its totality from outside. The worldline followed is visible like a film reel rolled off lying at a table is visible for the eye. And not only that, also the series of pictures which were not chosen and worldlines of others can be seen. As if it were other unwound movies of which the projection has not been watched.

When arrived at this point a number of elements from near-death and out-of-body experiences find their explanation. For that it is necessary to understand what a dimension shift brings about and that can be done the best way by imagining a world with one dimension less. That simply works better than by imagining a world with a dimension more.

Flatland is a world, which does have length and width, but no height. It is as flat as a pancake or a sheet of paper or whatever you might need to imagine this two-dimensional world. In this flatness live flat figures; line pieces, triangles, four-squares, circles, etcetera. They are moving flatly, not an arm is lifted, no jump is made and when Flatlanders encounter one another they pass around each other and don’t walk over each other being decent. No one would dream up there might exist something like height. If ever the supposition might rise of one dimension more than two – rising is also a term they don’t know – a Flatlander wouldn’t be able to imagine anything with that. And Flatlanders also don’t know that their world is together with other flat worlds part of a higher three-dimensional – reality. A cube within which exist all kinds of flat planes. Also parallel ones and planes that cut one another and share a line in that way. That belongs then to two Flatland-worlds.

We are able to imagine such a lower dimensional world. You might think of a labyrinth, in which you struggle as if it were a two-dimensional world. Until you reach the heart of the labyrinth, climb the look-out post there, oversee all of the labyrinth and the world and again experience the world as more-dimensional.

When climbing the tower, which oversees the four-dimensional world from the five-dimensional world it turns out that we have the same limitations. We too cannot quite well imagine dimensions above ours. What we do understand, however, from the Flatland-story is that limitations in a lower dimension don’t necessarily exist for someone looking from a higher dimension.

Out-of-body experiences
It can hardly be called remarkable that the awareness of being out-of-the-body or even dead may create confusion. That moreover, usually very ordinary situations are seen and described is remarkable though! Not what is seen, but how it is seen is remarkable. Everything simultaneously, from above, under, in front, from behind, 360 degrees, simultaneously from more locations, through matter, zooming in. Obviously there are no limitations and the point of observation can immediately be moved.

What occurs here becomes clear by ‘Flatland’. When we draw the plan of a residence we actually draw a two-dimensional house. We can imagine a two-dimensional dweller in there. The movements of this Flatlander are limited by the drawn lines representing walls, furniture, etc. He can only enter a room via the opening which we left in a line in order to indicate a door. His sight is restricted by the lines drawn by us. Looking behind those or at the total from above is not possible for the Flatlander. We ‘Highlanders’ don’t have that restriction and are able to see the whole design with all rooms and furniture at a glance – and behind them – in total. By looking from a subsequent dimension becomes as if overseeing the ‘flat’ labyrinth from the outlook post.

Such a dimension shift is what allows for the special observations during out-of-body experiences (NDE en OBE). The soul is no longer bound by the four-dimensional spacetime and experiences the pictures on the worldlines not any longer from inside. They are now seen from outside. Thereby many limitations have disappeared, which were attached to the observation.

This explains why people who had an out-of-body experience – whereby it makes no difference whether tat was part of a near-death experience or was on its own – are telling that they could see themselves (we now know: the pictures on the four-dimensional worldline) simultaneously from all sides (panoramic, 3600 observation) and had the feeling of being everywhere simultaneously (non-locality). It is reported that could be zoomed in up to the smallest details, walls and ceilings formed no barriers and immediately – simultaneously with an upcoming thought of wishing to be somewhere else – could be traveled to any other location, after which that was taken as observation point (8). Constraints of the familiar world had disappeared.

Thereby it turns out that the one who went out of his body – the soul- has and experiences certain physical characteristics. This is also to be expected due to the binding of the soul to matter by means of electromagnetic fields. In that way colours and light are perceived, noises (including speech and music) are heard, (weak) resistance is felt when passing matter (walls, ceilings) and the own body and that of others are perceived (9).

It is of course not surprising that thereby time doesn’t play a role (anymore). Indeed time belongs to the four-dimensional block universe where past, present, and future don’t exist. The souls traveling through the block universe, are creating the illusion of streaming time by their traveling along pictures on the worldlines. When the block universe is left aside and is looked from the fifth dimension then the time dimension has no experiential value anymore.

There is now the eternity of the fifth dimension. When there were pain and fear then these disappeared and were replaced by calmness, peace and a feeling of happiness. In East-Netherlands people say ‘coming out of the time’ by which they mean dying. A true folk wisdom.

Looking back and forward
Arrived outside the block universe the soul looks back at the worldline walked along. The unwound reel lies at the table and is seen as a total. This is what in the NDE is called the life review, the life film or the life panorama. The past life – the series of pictures in the block universe – are reviewed by the soul and judged. Each choice is looked back upon. The consequences of each choice are realized. The effect of it upon others, during their travel through the block universe, becomes more clear now than it could be during the journey. The pictures on the unwound film reel can not be changed anymore, only lessons can still be drawn for a next performance.

It may not surprise that a forward view at the own remaining life or that of others will be possible (also in a wider sense the future may be seen) and that can be disposed of specific or inexhaustible knowledge. From outside the soul will indeed see the block universe in its totality. Not only the own, but also other worldlines are seen and the illusion of the past, present, and future which occurs when traveling through the block universe has disappeared. What would be in the future have now become nearby pictures of unwound movies lying on the table.

Tunnel, light and landscape
It is supposed that short connections are possible between worlds, so-called wormholes. Such a wormhole has ‘mouths’ in both worlds with a ‘tunnel’ in between.

Cosmologists consider the existence of worlds with more dimensions and wormholes making connections between worlds possible and several physicists have suggested that the wormhole is identical to the tunnel from the near-death experience, which leads to another world (10).

The five-dimensional soul looking back on the four-dimensional block universe chooses now to return to the own sphere via a wormhole, a tunnel. The flying or falling through a tunnel, whereby at the end the light of the other world – the home of the soul beckons, ends at reaching that world. A place of light, colours, music and beautiful landscapes in which the soul, having arrived at home where love, confidence, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and divine presence, of course feels comfortable.

Border, returning and indescribability
When the link by which the five-dimensional soul has been connected with the world of matter has been broken too early, the journey through the pictures on the worldline is not yet finished, Then that will become clear now. The soul encounters a border – water, mist, a wall, a door, a mountain, or the like by which is realized that after passing a return to the four-dimensional block universe is impossible or a fellow soul points this out. There is a free choice between finalizing what was interrupted and leaving unfinished behind.

The way back is accompanied with pain about the too short visit to the home of the soul and the perspective of re-entering into the mist of a lower dimension. What is taken back at the remaining journey through the matter pictures is the memory of the five-dimensional home, knowing that the journey needs to be finalized and sometimes also rags of what from outside the block universe may be seen within the block universe.

It is logical that within the limitations of four dimensions not can be expressed what five dimensions mean. That may be compared with a Flatlander who experienced ‘Highland’. Understanding ‘height’, describing and reporting to fellow-Flatlanders is impossible or at its best limited possible when back in his two-dimensional world.

From the fifth dimension originating souls dynamically follow their self-chosen paths through three-dimensional pictures on worldlines in the static four-dimensional block universe. In that way they experience in matter. Out-of-body experiences and other elements from near-death experiences occur when the connection of the soul with matter breaks off. In that way out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences underline the existence of the fifth dimension and its relation with the block universe.

The existence of the block universe makes it necessary that the soul exists! In articles about the block universe I either did not at all, or insufficiently formulated, encounter this observation. It is for instance noted that past, present, and future don’t exist in the block universe, that you are dead while living and alive while being dead, that there is a big bang which is not a beginning since the block universe must have come into existence in one time, including the big bang. It remains, however, not explained that the existence outside matter of the soul which experiences within matter is the undeniable answer to the question how dynamically experiencing can be possible in this static world. Saying good-bye to the reductionist materialism may make many people somewhat fearful.

Out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences – or at least elements of these – find their explanation in the existence of the soul and the block universe. Although these are not at stake here, it may be expected that (a number of) paranormal phenomena also can be explained in this manner.

As the negative near-death experience has not been elaborated upon, I will do that now shortly. Near-death experiences with a negative content are referring in my opinion to the looking back by the not anymore connected to the own worldline soul on a dismal four-dimensional series of pictures, which have nothing to do with that soul. There are more unwound film reels on the table than only the own movie and by accident a series of pictures from a horror movie may be picked up. There might even be an undesired temporary connection with such series of pictures. Experiences in which people got stuck in the tunnel are indicating in my opinion at an incomplete decoupling of soul and matter (the four-dimensional world). It thus seems that in particular a mismatch or a disturbance occurs at negative near-death experiences, which contentwise has nothing to do with the experiencer in question.

Einstein and Minkowski made clear to the world that time is a dimension of the four-dimensional spacetime in which no differentiation in past, present, and future exists. Time pins the three space dimensions down within a static block universe in which all events are equal and determined up to the tiniest details in three-dimensional pictures.

We do experience dynamics, however, in this static world, in which time doesn’t stream like also length, width and height don’t do. This is only possible if that which experiences doesn’t belong to that world itself, comes from outside and moves through that world. That which experiences is what we may call our essence, our soul, which finds (must find) its home in the fifth dimension. The soul streams through the pictures of the block universe which invokes the illusion of being in the ‘present’ and seeing time streaming. What has been perceived (past) separates now from what still will be seen (future).

The question whether this all is realistic can quickly be answered. The theories on which the block universe are based have already time and again been proven to be true during a century. This confirms their reality. That’s why it is strange that the reductionist materialism, which aims to reduce all phenomena to burps of matter, still ever gets so much adherence. As if Einstein, Minkowski and other scientists didn’t return to the immaterial soul definitely its legitimate place during the past century.

In this reality out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences have their natural place, and is it quite understandable when and why they occur.

Notes and literature
Notice: On Einstein, Minkowski, spacetime, block universe and the fifth dimension exists a sea of literature. Interested people may consult the internet with these search terms.

  1. See also: Heijden, Jim van der. Het brein, middelaar of creator. Terugkeer. 24e jg., Nr. 2
  2. Internet publication: Petkov, Vesselin. Philosophy Department, Concordia University. MontreaI, Quebec. Is There an Alternative to the Block Universe View?
  3. Internet publication: Peterson, Daniel and Silberstein, Michael. Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI resp. Department of Philosophy, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA en Department of Philosophy, University of MaryIand, College Park, MD. Relativity of Simultaneity and Eternalism: In Defense of the Block Universe.
  4. / 10. Heijden. Jim van der. Het gelijk van Descartes – De herontdekking van de ziel. Terugkeer 22e jg., Nr. 2 / Gamma 18e jg., Nr. 1
  5. Heijden, Jim van der. Onvergankelijk! – De bijna-doodervaring, venster op het licht van non-lokaal bewustzijn. Elmar, 2008
  6. / 9. Mays, Robert G. en Mays, Suzanne B. The Phenomenology of the Self-Conscious Mind. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 27(1)
  7. Arnette, J. Kenneth. The Theory of Essence. dln. 1,2 en 3, Journal of Near-Death Studies, 11(1), 14(2) en 18(2)
  8. Jourdan, Jean-Pierre. Near Death Experiences and the 5th Dimensional Spatio-TemporaI Perspective. Journal of Cosmology, 2011, Vol. 14

Jim van der Heijden experienced a near-death experience in his youth. After his career as material researcher and research- and business manager, he focussed on searching in science and philosophy for the elements, which may bring us closer to an explanation for such special consciousness experiences. During his search it became clear to him that the generally accepted materialistic science prefers to explain away than to clarify, and notwithstanding that indicates the way to the essence which precedes matter.