Many thanks to Kathryn for helping me develop this theory...

This is an attempt to create an ontology of the dimensions of spiritual growth. I am using the word dimensions here the same way people use the terms "height", "width", and "depth". So, just as our bodies grow in height, width, and depth,, our spirit, or "consciousness", or "soul" grows in spiritual dimensions.

The first dimension is abstraction. A child thinks about objects more or less directly. As we get older, we think about objects at a higher level as well. For example, an older person might be thinking about the ethical significance of drinking a coke rather than just drinking it.

The more abstract a person's thinking becomes, the more self-referential and relativistic it becomes. This is becuase the mental system which handles abstract thinking has contracted away from mental systems which were active when the person was thinking at a less abstract level. Eventually, the person will have an understanding of the "universe" which is very deep and fundamental. However, it will not be the final abstraction since knowing it is asymptotic. It is true that people can experience a deeper abstraction than they can understand. However, the final abstraction can not even be experienced because experience needs to be abstracted before we can arrive at the final abstraction.

Because of an analogue of the uncertainty principle, it is almost impossible to apply deep abstractions. This is the embodiment of the notion that theorists are not pragmatic or useful to society. This is the first reason people avoid deep abstraction growth. There is a mid-level of abstraction which leads to nihilism, which is the second reason people avoid abstraction growth. However, deeper levels of abstraction reveal that these nihilist conclusions were the anomolous result of insufficient relativism. In short, the deepest level of abstraction (that I'm aware of) says all possibilities exist and are all true (in the directive and conclusive sense of the word).

Finally, people avoid abstraction growth because it produces a profound sense of alienation from people with low abstraction growth. At best, the person relates with others by translating social experience via a specifying interface. Unfortunately, the introduction of even the thinnest interface is enough dissonance to cause alienation.

For the three reasons above, people who have reached a deep abstraction level often try to return to the ignorance of abstraction they started from. Specifically, they select a specific and rigid personality and mentality and act it out until it becomes habitual (taking about two weeks). There are, however, alternatives...

The second dimension of growth is numerosity. The idea behind it is to be able to have many specific personalities and mentalities without abstracting them relative to each other. This is not necessarily multiple personality disorder. Rather, an example might be an American executive who takes a vacation to Fiji to take part in a primative ritual. The more such experiences and understandings a person has, the more they have grown along the dimension of numerosity.

The third dimension is concurrency. The idea behind concurrency is that being a specific person and an abstract person at the same time is not necessarily contradictory. It is simply a paradox which is resolved by the introduction of growth along a new dimension. The spiritual system we develop when we develop concurrency analogues our mental system which handles memory.

Without memory, humans would be automatons, unable to consider a progression of events over time. Memory engrams encode a temporal progression of a temporally-extended event in a spatial structure. When these spatial engrams are later stimulated over time, they simulate the event. The key though is that the system which encodes and simulates engrams is fundamentally temporal rather than just spatial.

To grow along the concurrency dimension we must access the analogous system for concurrency. Understandably, this system is small and weak in most people. The idea is to first learn to experience one specific self and a slightly abstracted self at the same time. Imagine that there is an arc of energy between the two which causes the two selves to fuse together. The fusing is the same as when two water drops floating in space get close enough to each other and then stick together. As you exercise this experience state you will be growing along the concurrency dimension. Then you will be able to experience a specific self and a more abstract self. Metaphorically, the two water drops grow in size so that they can be moved a larger distance apart from each other and still have a tube of water connecting them together.

Eventually, you will be operating at a very abstract level all the way down to a specific self all at the same time. You will know when this is working because you will be guiding your life and actions accord to abstract ideas. But, rather than having to think about how to apply the ideas in each specific situation, the way to apply them will occur to you automatically and you will carry it out without thinking about it. This is the key since it allows you to remain in direct contact with the society and people around you while experiencing the benifits of the growth of abstraction. To ad hoc a quote I've heard, "A good physicist can tell you a complex theory; a great physicist can tell the theory so a child can understand it.". So you see then that concurrency growth is a way to defeat or at least depleat the effects of the uncertainty-principle analogue.

The fourth dimension is multiplicity. The relationship between concurrency and abstraction is analogous to the relationship between multiplicity and numerosity. The idea is to viscerally experience multiple personas at once. The capacity to do so is the result of developing your self along the dimension of multiplicity. A person who has had this growth might declare a feeling of connection with all the people of earth.

This is different from when a manic or drugged person's connection feeling has been hyperstimulated to give the person the feeling of connection without actually being connected. Psychology experiments have show that people in a manic state do, in fact, perform better a various task. However, they do not perform nearlly as good as they think they are. This is because they are in such an optimistic state that they ignore problems and inconsistencies.

In partial summary then, growth along all these dimensions can be helped by keeping perspective and remaining honest with your self (i.e. weed out self inconsistencies). Self-inconsistencies will limit your growth at some point unless you resolve them. You will know that you have run up against a self inconsistency because you will think you have finally found truth. It is more likely, or useful, that you have not found truth and have simply reached a plateau. You can move beyond the plateau by resolving the self-inconsistency. However, as mentioned above, completion is asymptotic.

Each of the dimensions are orthogonal to each other. Your spiritual size is proportional to the multiplication of the square of each of the growth you have in each dimension. So, the best way to increase your spirituality is to work on the dimension that you have currently grown the least in. In general, it is best to have each dimension the same size.

It is actually bad if one dimension is much larger than another since it may make growth in the smaller dimension impossible. For example, if you have very large abstraction growth you will not be able to grow concrrently. You will not be able to grow because the distance between your specific and abstract self is too large for your current concurrency self to bind. If this is your problem, you should temporarily abandon your abstract self and begin a concurrency-constrained growth from your specific self towards the more abstract. Don't worry, you will not lose the learning your abstract self has because your memory engrams will only be dormant. Once your concurent self has grown enough to envelope your old abstract self you will re-alize your abstract self. This is an embodiment of the archetype of the Pheonix.

The fifth dimension is existence. A big problem you might have is that your current self, or spirit, is fundamentally contradictory. This fundamental contradiction will prevent your growth and you will not be able to remove it because it envelopes you. This is the embodiment of the fact that an astronaught floating in space will not be able to change his velocity. The astronaught might think he has changed his velocity if he throws something away really hard. But the sum of the velocities of what he threw and the rest of him is still the same.

A fundamental contradiction is analogous to a black hole, a cognitive or spiritual collapse. The only solution I have found is to abandon the life of your self and allow a new self to be born. This is not the same as ending the life of your physical self, rather it is your mental or spiritual self. Your fundamental identity or existence is replaced in a quantum or habitual leap. This is tantamount to a multiple personality disorder where a second personality permanently replaces the original one.

This rebirth requires you to adopt an unbased belief, or faith. Specifically, it requires what I call the "perfection belief". First, you tell your self that you have a fresh identity. Of course, your old self immediately says that you are just trying to trick your self. The recourse of your new self (which is the belief) is to say that the old self is wrong because your new belief is perfect, and perfection can not be wrong. The same reasoning can defeat any argument the old self presents. As the perfection belief defeats more of the old self's arguments, your new self will develop a sense of efficacy.

Of course this reasoning is self-referential, but that is exactly the point. Because the perfection belief is self-referential, it justifies itself. Thus, it is a paradoxical completion of its self and thus serves as a beginning of a new self upon which you can develop a self-consisent self. At the same time, since it is a closed system, it cannot develop inconsistencies.

The final irony is that the perfection belief is also an analogue of a black hole. The difference though is that your whole self is the black hole. An analogue of this analogue is a human body and cancer. A human body without cancer is fine. But if cancer that is too big to destroy develops (a black hole), the body will die. So you see, as long as your self doesn't have a black hole inside of it, you are fine.

The perfection belief is very dangerous. If you develop the perfection belief about a sub-part of your self, then you have just given yourself a fundamental contradiction. Only a fundamental perfection belief will not be contradictory since it will include existence. Since the existence dimension is orthogonal to the other dimensions, the perfection belief will not cause a fundamental contradiction in any other dimension.

The sixth dimension is the integral of the existence dimension. It is analogous to the relation of multiplicty to numerosity and of the relation between concurrency and abstraction. I don't know much about this dimension, and I am getting tired. So, I'll stop here.

John LeFlohic
March 23, 1999