In our model, an immaterial pattern is every bit as real as the material that expresses it. The image below represents an arrangement of black and white wooden blocks:
A pattern emerges from this arrangement. Each material block occupies a distinct area (is local) and, at the same time, is part of a larger immaterial pattern. If each physical block is restrained to a specific location, how is the more extensive pattern created? That is, how do exclusively local blocks nonetheless participate in an overarching pattern? How can blocks be both local and non-local?
A similar problem has already been faced by physicists; they needed some hypothetical mechanism to explain how the presence of one item, far removed from another, can nonetheless affect the latter’s behavior. That is, they needed to explain what Einstein called “spooky action-at-a-distance.” The physicists’ answer? Fields. For example, a positively charged point in space will reach out with its immaterial electric field to influence any charged particle coming close enough. We generalize that explanation, here: immaterial fields reach out from each material node, extending far beyond the node’s physical boundaries. When fields encounter other fields, relationships, or connections, are formed. The immaterial aspect of some objects can extend quite far; gravitational fields, for example, organize the behavior of galaxies. Of course, not all immaterial extension is that great. If we separated our blocks by, say, a mile or so, any pattern would become difficult to discern. Patterns like the one emerging from our wooden blocks are not simply products of our mind/perception, they also have other consequences in the material world. To reiterate our important point: while the material aspect of a thing is local, its immaterial aspect is not. Instead, the non-local immaterial aspect spreads out from the material location.
From the unthinkably large distances between galaxies to the immeasurably small intra-nuclear spaces, movement is everywhere. And where there is movement, there is time. What we have just considered for spatial location can readily be generalized to include time. In other words, the immaterial aspect extends across space and time. Spatial, temporal, and spatio-temporal patterns include such diverse examples as checkerboards, songs, night and day, seasons, tides, and celestial orbits. Immaterial spread and combination across the temporal aspect may very well be a feature that plays a hugely important role in creating our experiences, including recalling the past and imagining the future.
Here are a few examples that are manifestations of mostly material or immaterial aspects/categories: material things are physical things that have mass and often can be put in wheelbarrows. Examples include dirt, water, rocks, air, bacteria, plants, and animals. Immaterial things do not have mass and cannot be put in wheelbarrows. Examples include relationships, information, songs, mind, energy, fields, waves, and electromagnetism.