Gaelic never made any attempt to explain such subjects as that of the chapter heading. Apparently he never considered it of immediate importance to his main objective: that of spiritual expansion. Nevertheless, incidentally from time to time, he gave us glimpses which, assembled, read as follows:
"You look down the barrel of your microscope. You see one of your little boatshaped pets set sail from his harbor and dart across a channel to another port. He lingers there for a fraction of a second; then again darts up a waterway and out beyond the field of your vision. 'Lively little devil,' you say. 'Wish I could get around as fast as that.'
"How long did he take to make his little voyage? A second, or perhaps two? No. As a matter of fact, he was coaling-up in his first harbor - about a week. And he had a long monotonous voyage of three days across the inlet; and it took him four days more in the second harbor to unload. And then he started out, like Christopher Columbus, over vast and uncharted seas!
"Space and time are inextricably intermingled. The Indian measures space by time. With him it is not 'one mile' or 'three miles' between two given points; it is one hour, and he will so inform you if you ask him. It is obvious enough that space is the time it takes to get there. It is not so obvious, but none the less true, that time is the radius of space occupied by any given consciousness.
"One function of consciousness is to reach out and occupy more space. And the measure of that occupation is the speed by which its diameter may be crossed, or its area traversed; whether this be done by mechanical means of transportation; or the projection by mechanical means of thought; or by occupation through what you call 'psychic' means, by some portion of the personality. A simple example of this principle is the development of transportation, and the consequent shrinking of the space formerly occupied, and the corresponding physical expansion into space formerly unobtainable. A few hundred years ago, a man's normal radius per unit of time was measured by the distance he could cover on horseback. His normal 'known world' was circumscribed by this fact. His neighbors were next-door. The automobile extends his radius, and his neighbors may now be twenty miles away.
"This is a simple example, and its analogies may be more readily discerned through your own reflection than by this difficult means of expression. A hint is enough.
"So, as we have said to some of you, development from this point of view consists of an alternate reaching-out to include more in the field of life, and then bringing by one means or another the scattered elements included in that field into closer juxtaposition. We called it 'squeezing out space', which is a lively enough illustrative figure. You can, starting from your microscopic organism, trace its gradual expansion of field from the explorable vastness of your drop of water on the slide, to the equally unexplorable spaces that separate the stars.
"Inside each circumference of development, if we may call it that, time and space bear to each other an exact ratio. In applying the standard of your present circumference to the activity of your microscopic friend, you unbalanced this ratio and so obtained a distorted intellectual image. This is true all along the line. In order adequately to evaluate the spatial and temporal subjective impressions of any one circumference you must know or be able to enter or manipulate this ratio. This knowledge is not at present within your command.
"You have, however, stumbled against it in various ways, obtaining not a complete nor a practical demonstration but merely a fragmentary glimpse. When this mathematical coefficient of the human brain is varied by fever, or some sort of drug, it enters or is partly influenced by ratios outside, or perhaps way inside of its own circumference, a minute stretches into the dimensions of an hour. The night is 'years' long. One effect of certain drugs is to create an illusion of racing time, so that a man appears to himself to be almost instantaneously transported from one end of the city to the other. And, conversely, cases have been reported that the journey from a library door to a fireside has seemed actually to have consumed hours.
"The knowledge of this mathematical Law of Ratios is not beyond acquisition; though not in all probability at present in your earth-nanifestation. This is merely a preliminary statement. Space and time are subjects with which it is almost impossible to deal in clear-cut logical conceptions. It must suffice if we sketch vaguely a little glimpse."
With the sometimes almost imbecile literalness of the human mind, several discussed that microscopic boat-shaped bug; speculating on its size as proportioned to the length of its voyage; its length of life relative to the actual time of its voyage and a lot similar meticulous foolishness. This, naturally, annoyed Gaelic. "We are discussing principles, not facts," said he. "We use facts illustratively as we find them arranged, or separated and uncorrelated, within yourselves. We may use them without taking the pains to enquire whether they themselves are based on accurate observation or knowledge. We do not know what that 'boat-shaped thing' is, though were it worth the trouble we could investigate what reality is actually back of the image we discovered, and employed from this station's equipmient."
"In each circumference containing a given ratio of time and space," he went on then, "is a fixed mathematical equation to which this ratio may be referred by any entity circumscribed within that circumference. Otherwise individual subjectivity would be enabled so to confuse its relations with other things, and itself, that the harmony of the whole would be disturbed. The example within your own circumference can be readily examined in considering how long or how short a minute, an hour, a day, or a year may seem to any individual human consciousness. Time drags; or time flies. The equation of time is, however, fixed. There are minutes, there are days, there are months and years; and these are determined by the fact that the earth revolves completely once, every twenty-four hours, and completes the ellipse of its orbit in the space of a year.
"That is the constant of your human circumference. Each circumference possesses its constant, varying as all realities vary, in its physical manifestations, according to the substance in which it is expressed. A knowledge of this constant, as well as of its ratio, is prerequisite to the manipulation of the elements of space and time in any circumference. This manipulation is gained to greater or lesser extent by the entities of any given circumference, solely in accordance with their needs of development. You annihilate space, and therefore time, according as that annihilation furthers the purpose of your progress. And for no other reason. Not forgetting that part of the purpose of your progress is also service to others.
"In the wider circumferences, which we inhabit, and which you will in turn inhabit, these manipulations are increasingly possible. Nor must you forget that both the constant and the ratios differ for different spheres.
"Thus when you have been told, in a by-product of other discussions, that space or time mean little to those of your friends who are on this side, it merely indicates that they have acquired a power of manipulation beyond your present conceptions. When they say that space or time mean nothing to them, they mean merely your space or time - not theirs. They mean that they have come to an understanding, more or less complete, of the relations of your constant and your ratio. We say 'more or less complete'. It is in essence on the mathematical side, if you choose, and the manipulations can be applied with mathematical accuracy by one knowing fully, so to say, his algebra. But one whose algebra is either unaccustomed or incomplete often gets the wrong answer, or a mere approximation. I need hardly commend to your intelligence an extension of this principle into explanation of various discrepancies in time and space, which have puzzled you in experiences from this side. We have felt with the greatest interest the reaction from your - pardon us - rather groping discussions of, so to say, the future estate of time and space.
"It is very simple. Why have you not seen it?
"Time and space will cease to be when their need as elements of progress has ceased to be. They extend to the very Footstool of God. They extend to the farthest horizon of possible comprehension - short of complete self-comprehension - which is God. That they will throughout progress retain the same constant, the same ratio, or the same physical manifestation, is as obviously nonsense as that the tree quality should remain to human eyes of earth what you see as a tree of the forest, in every cosmic clime and circumstance. What that manifestation will be we can no more tell you than we can tell you the circumstances of our own existence. And for the same reason. We must be content if we can give you a glimpse of ever-widening possibility and power.
"We told you we live among real things. We have told you that many qualities you formerly have considered as abstractions, are in themselves real things. And you have accepted that statement. Time and space are real things. But as we have, again, told you before, your earth eyes need not necessarily recognize them as just the thing you know there, were you to encounter them elsewhere.
"Undoubtedly this sounds to you very vague and very unsatisfactory as have appeared many other aspects of creation which we have evaded under questioning. These present permitted attempts are intended less as explanations than to show you in understandable form why certain things are impossible; and to fit the understandable form into a logical pattern which you already knew and have accepted. We wish so to arrange the beginnings you are capable of comprehending - so to arrange them in step by step inevitableness - that when they extend out and vanish beyond your ken, your faith be firm that they go on according to the pattern and plan Forever."
In his approach to a glimpse of the Fourth Dimension Gaelic did not depart from the accepted bases. But after he had established his foundation he expressed new and illuminating ideas. He did not expect to give us any clear mental image. He confessed that. "But," he added, "its influence you will eventually discover to have an extraordinary permeation.
"You in your earth life, in a three dimensional world, experience the elements which are within your manipulation. The adumbration of a fourth dimension is, strangely enough, not only present, but a controlling factor of what one may call your flow of life. The three dimensions may be comprised by the single term Space. The adumbration by the single term Time.
"You may, at your own will, place yourself for as long or as short a duration as it may please you at any point in space within the control of circumstances well understood - and you may there remain, in continuance, for as long as your pleasure or need. This is the basic control of which I speak. You have not the same dominance over time. Time is the flow of life, and you may not linger even in its most desirable moment, but must move with the current. I speak here the self-evident.
"But to us who dwell in, not the adumbration merely, but in what you might call the rounded dimension - which you number or call the fourth - the same control obtains which you yourself exercise over the three. In an analogous manner we may place ourselves in Time at such a point as our pleasure or our need dictates and may there dwell or linger until the pleasure or need is satisfied.
"That you may not be able to grasp as a picture. You must accept it as a principle for what I am to say next.
"If this were all, entities escaping the three dimensional would seem to be flies in a trap, capable of movement but not of progress, occupying a static, completed and immobile scheme of things. There must be another dimension, moving as Time does to you, in a progression beyond our power of arrest, beyond our power of manipulation, to conduct the eternal flow of life. This dimension must be, as Time is to you, conditioning of our movements, carrying forward our activities. This fifth dimension, which conditions our activities here, as Time conditions yours there, may be defined as spiritual development.
"I could, if time permitted, go into a long series of analogues, taking as my basis your relation to Time, to show the exact correspondence it bears to this new adumbrated dimension. For, just as there is the mere adumbration of the fourth dimension with you, so is spiritual development, not the completed dimension, but the adumbrated dimension with us, and with the next stage to which your progress will lead you. Just as you can place yourself in space, but are unable to dwell, except in fancy or hope or plan or memory, at any other point in time than the present; so we can place ourselves both in Space and in Time at will, but our relations to them both are determined by our point in the flow of spiritual development.
"A significance of this may be dimly illustrated by imagining any single locality on your earth's surface, and contemplating the position of yourself thereat in contrast to the position of a man who had placed himself at identically the same spot in Space a thousand years agone. You are both coincidental in Space, but the inexorable flow of Time has made of your experiences wholly individual matters. In a sense you may be said to dwell together in the three ddimensions, but not in the forth. So in your next step you may dwell together in four of the dimensions but not in the fifth.
"This is not a subject that can be elucidated," warned Gaelic. "It cannot have, in its partial comprehension consequent on it very partial exposition, much obvious value that you could call practical. But it is one of those basic, expansive room-making concepts that widen the chambers of the soul to contain many unrelated things. Any attempt to puzzle it out to its logical intellectual comprehension, you will find yourself in one dimension - which is flat! But if you accept it as an honored guest, you will find strange and unexpected Illuminations."
That, evidently, Gaelic thought a sufficient glimpse for the time being. But some time later he seemed to think our ideas were tending, in this particular philosophical compartment, to verge a trifle too much toward fatalism. If everything that has happened or is happening, or will happen is, in ultimate, comprehended in the Now, what could anyone do about it?
"Our wee glimpse of the other dimensions," he reminded us, "was more of a consciousness expanding feeling than an intellectual understanding.
"It is not so difficult, and is often done, to consider the dimensions of space in terms of time; as one says, it is three hours from here to there. It is necessary for the present discussion, to try to think of time in terms of space, figuring to your imagination all finite time as the superficial area contained within a circle. Imagine that all the past and all the future is so contained. All that has happened and has been done in the past is in that area. All that will happen in all the future of finite time is equally represented and existent within that circle, which may be named in broader aspect the Present. Thus one arrives at an often expressed philosophical concept, that all that has or will occur co-exists now. That is one of the concepts in all attempts to deal with the fourth dimension. To ordinary thought, that is at best puzzling and confusing, and at worst self-contradictory, Let us attempt now as a natal exercise to remove a little of those elements from the statement.
"On its face that statement would seen to imply a rigid and Calvinistic foredetermination leading to stark fatalism. Following it literally might lead to a negation of effort on the grounds that what is to be will be, and cannot be altered. That is the the narrow view. We must in examining the subject indulge in a highly figurative illustration, as is always the case in dealing with truths only partially within our own dimensions, and extending largely into other dimensions of which we have no conscious grasp."
"Let us consider, then, our circle as containing all future events. If this circle were to be considered only as existing in three dimensional consciousness the doctrine of fatalism would be correct, but within its boundaries is not only the three dimensions in which you exist, but all other dimensions. No matter how numerous these may be, of which an infinite consciousness is composed. That a future happening may enter a three dimension experience and so become manifested as what a three dimensional consciousness considers a reality is wholly dependent on that consciousness.
"To alter the figure for purposes of illustration, suppose a dot to represent an individual consciousness passing through experience. That dot enters our imaginary circle. In that circle is comprised all possible experience. That experience is part of reality. It is not merely potential; it is actual.
"In its progress through its three dimensional experience, which we will call its life, that dot moves across the circle. The parts of the future which it brings within the scope of its focused consciousness depends upon the path it travels in the circle. Those things it touches become real happenings to it. Those things which it touches not are unknown to it. The things it touches are to it real. All others are unreal or nonexistent.
"Nevertheless, neither the one nor the other is more, or less, a part of absolute Reality.
"The sequence of events it thus touches to life depends partly on the impacts and deflections of its experiences as a billiard ball hits and rebounds at the angles of its incidence; and partly upon definite, individual spiritual effort. Thus, though the Now holds past, present and future - all things that have happened and all things that will happen - that Now does not hold them within the compass of any one, two, three or more dimensions; and one may touch them only as one may contact with them in the dimensions in which he functions.
"This applies to us as well as to you. The more dimensions in development one occupies, the greater his occupancy not only of the past, but of the future, so that ultimate expansion tends toward all experience that may be within one's power of manipulation."