The Illusion of Time

The Illusion of Time
Rodger Stevens

Picture yourself standing on the curb, watching the traffic go by. The traffic which is presently before you is called the present . . . you can smell it, touch it, see it, hear it, and so on. You can see about a block in each direction, up and down the street. This narrow slice is called the present. The past is the traffic which has already disappeared down the street , and the traffic which has yet to appear up the street we’ll call the future (to avoid needless confusion, we’ll call it a one-way street, even though what we call time might run in both directions, and even at right angles). Compared to the past traffic (which has been going past for millennia) and the future traffic (likewise), our block-wide present doesn’t look like much. Suppose further that as you are standing there, you hear a voice which says, “In about three minutes a green truck will come by.” You look up the street, you don’t see anything, but sure enough, in three or four minutes a green truck comes by. Amazing! You hear the voice again, and again you hear a prediction. You might freak out (if you are a fundamentalist), you might think it is magic, you might even set yourself up as a trance medium if you can get the voice to cooperate. In fact, though, it is only someone leaning out of a fourth story window over your head. From his position up there, your cosmic traffic announcer is looking at a present which is much wider than yours . . . from his higher perspective, his present includes part of what you call the past and the future; he is reading your future from his present.

The higher up the building you go, the more the past and future resolve themselves into the present. Going higher up in the building is raising your consciousness, which is the true meaning and intent of getting high. From the top of the building, you have raised your consciousness to the point where the so-called future and the so-called past have ceased to exist, and there is only the present. There never was anything but the infinite present, but from your incredibly limited perspective down on the street corner, you couldn’t see much of it, so there appeared to be a past and a future.

Which is the Right Religion?

Which is the Right Religion?
by Rodger Stevens

Just as the world “as it is” is neither democratic nor socialist, neither good nor bad, positive nor negative, so it is neither religious nor scientific. It is simply as it is. Religion, like science, is just another way of trying to figure out what the world is, just a different set of filters through which we sift our experience to try to explain things which, according to all the other filters we use, are difficult to explain.

In truth, Life is the ultimate in simplicity–it doesn’t get complex until we try to explain it. Consider a plant . . . how smart is it in terms of knowledge? It knows nothing of vitamins and minerals and cellular structure and regeneration the way a botanist understands them, yet the plant grows wonderfully, usually better than botanists.

That religion is best which makes us vulnerable and open to Life, like we were when we were little children, and doesn’t close us into a tightly defined box composed of creeds and dogmas, or a box of knowledge and superstition. That religion is best which allows us to be who we are, who we came here to be.

Music is the only religion that delivers the goods.
–Frank Zappa

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The Bug Who Learned to Fly

The Bug Who Learned to Fly
by Rodger Stevens (with apologies to Richard Bach)

Once upon a time, at the bottom of a fast-moving stream, lived a colony of water bugs. Their lives were spent scurrying over and under the rocks of the stream bed, scavenging the little bits of vegetation that grew there.

Because of the relentless currents of the stream, the bugs had learned to move cautiously, crouching low against the rocks and holding on for dear life with their legs. This made their foraging efforts clumsy, and kept their faces turned against the rocks and away from the water flowing ceaselessly overhead, but that was the way they had been taught to live, and their culture demanded strict conformance.

One day a young bug was out foraging when he happened to glance upward, a feat considered dangerous and foolhardy because it was easy to lose one’s grip. The little bug had almost never looked upward, so he was enthralled with the colors and the swirling images up there. Then suddenly, amidst the splash of color, he saw a familiar shape … it was a water bug like him, except that this bug was flying gracefully and effortlessly through the swirling water.

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Real Religion is Ultimately Personal

Real Religion is Ultimately Personal
by Rodger Stevens

Behind all creeds the spirit is One.

–Andrew Lang

Recall the difference between who we really are and who we think we are. Who we really are was never born and will never die. Who we think we are is like the actor who is playing the roles of you and me. That actor doesn’t come into being just when the curtain rises, and does not cease to be when the curtain comes back down, even though his character does. So it is with us. Who we really are is real, eternal, not limited to or confined by the time schedule of the play, and therefore eternally one with the ultimate reality some call God.

Real religion is personal because its intent is to relate and to contrast that part of us which is temporary (the role, the personality, You #2) with that part of us which is eternal (the actor, You #1). We have been talked out of our innate interconnectedness with Life, with Truth, and religion is what we call the process of rediscovering that link. The true Self (Atman, Brahma, the Father, who you really are) needs nothing to link it to what it already is.

Then again, since it deals primarily with the illusory part of us, religion itself can be said to be ultimately illusory; it will have to be different for each of us, because each of us has lost sight of the Self in a different way. The masters all discovered this, but they also realized that their followers didn’t yet get the message, so they made suggestions in order to bring those followers back to their reality. Their advice to their disciples was not of the one size fits all variety, but was individually tailored to the needs and challenges of each disciple. Jesus’ teaching was not given to an editorial panel, but to ordinary people who wanted to experience what he was experiencing; each needed different prompts.

All of us are different; what makes sense to me might not make sense to you. Naturally, our paths are different, so the promptings (and that’s what they must be . . . not orders, but suggestions) we need as to how to follow that path will likewise be different.

But when they became organized, when the original master has passed from the scene and taken his divine insights with him, the religion that formed in his wake lost the ability to innovate, to treat each of us as a special case. The priests who came after the master didn’t have enough soul to fill his sandals, so their only option was a creed, a static set of beliefs which had to be accepted without question, resulting in an intellectual and emotional bullying of the sort to which no master would stoop. The masters said, “Heal!”, but the priests said “Heel!. That’s dogma.

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Plant Care

Plant Care
by Rodger Stevens

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
–Emerson

Our language is often duplicitous: the same old word can mean different things, like the ‘bark’ of a dog or a dogwood (if a dogwood bark). Sometimes the use of a certain word for different things can tell us a lot about how we regard those things.

Consider the lowly nursery … a place for small plants, and also a place for small people. In the interests of economy and making a buck, plants in a nursery are treated identically: standard soil, standard pots, standard light and food and space … in short, standard treatment. They are coerced into patterns of uniform (one shape) behavior without much regard for their individual gifts, because the nursery would never make any money if each plant were reared according to its own needs and strengths.

Occasionally, there arise particularly spirited seedlings who insist on following their own genetic instructions instead of those of the nursery. These renegades are nipped in the bud at the earliest signs of individuality, and if they still refuse to conform to their trainers’ wishes, they are thrown onto the rubbish heap to fend for themselves. The conforming masses, praised for their docility, suffer a life of frustration from not being allowed their own nature. A daisy was born to be a daisy, not a rose. When it tries (or worse, is forced to try) to be a rose, it not only fails to be a rose, but fails to be a daisy as well. This is a lousy deal for all concerned, especially those precious little plants.

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