Updated: 27 May 2016
Written to Al and Patti DiLudovico of Santa Cruz, CA. Originally a simple essay. Later put in numbered format.
As If Time Existed
1. We shall speak of time as if it existed, not in terms of the rotation of planets or of stars, but in terms of experience: a sequence of events or circumstances.
2. Experience is our only reality, and knowledge of reality is truth (that is, knowledge of that which was, is, and will be).
3. We are personalities, each distinctly unique and different from any other, caught in a set of circumstances (not outside our own choosing) and undergoing experience. We, individually, are responsible for the choices we are free to make--always have been and always will be.
4. We find ourselves in a setting called the Cosmos, a system of space and energy and mind, governed by natural law. It is our task to learn this law by experience according to the choices we make. Success brings joy; failure brings sorrow.
5. A complete knowledge of cosmic law brings freedom from bondage to it, as well as complete harmony among personalities (who remain unique) who have also been successful. They experience then a fullness of joy, yet are forever learning by forever experiencing.
6. Just as our personality forever will be, so it always has been. But most of us are not aware (are not conscious) of our having always been, though it is difficult--if not impossible--to imagine extinction or nothingness or never being.
7. Before this present set of circumstances, we were involved, all of us, in planning and preparing and achieving experience to ready us for what we call the present, just as our present activity and experience prepare us for the future.
8. But we have little, if any, knowledge of this future; and we have little, if any, knowledge of this past. Our awareness for the most part, then, is short range. This is by design: it was our choice.
9. However, there are some who, because of special appointment (and special experience) are given to know the future and the past to a greater extent in order to make the consequences of choice clear to any who decide to be genuinely interested in progressively freeing experience.
10. These appointments have existed through all ages. Coercion or insistence has never and will never, be associated with genuine appointment. The ultimate decision for individual action rests only with the individual personality, never with an institution or some other individual.
11. A lack of respect for this principle has been central whenever there have been contentions among humankind, whether individuals or nations.
20 Oct 65
Commentary on As If Time Existed (From Notes to son, Nick)
(Updated edit: 27 May 2016)
As If Time Existed was written as a letter to new friends Al and Patti DiLudovico of Santa Cruz, whom I met at after a local folk song festival in Scott's Valley, a few miles north.
I'd managed to get on stage after the regular program and sing a few songs to some folks who remained. Al and Patti were there and introduced themselves. We struck up a conversation that lasted hours. We felt like kindred spirits and they asked me to write down my “credo” and send it to them. This poem is the result. I wrote it in your grandfather Filson’s cabin in the Mt. Herman Presbyterian Camp Grounds in Felton, California.
A week or so before, on Saturday, October 9, 1965, just after returning home from my crisis trip to Salt Lake City, I left our San Diego home again, this time for good at your mother's (Betty's) request. I left in a state of numb shock, I think, since I had returned from SLC actually believing that all was well at home.
As I wrote, I was remembering the “Recrystallization” dream I'd had on the night of 21 September '65 (while an overnight guest of Morrie Kjar) and had my 'inner wife' projected on Betty. [See Poem #11 (Nathan's Cry) and its commentaries.] It was another rude awakening, which finally sunk in when I went to the bank to see how much was left in our joint account. I had wanted to determine how much time I had left before having to get another job or some other source of income, since I’d failed to get financial help while in SLC.
Imagine my surprise to discover a zero bank account balance! I went ballistic! But the message became crystal clear: the marriage had ended and I was done! Suddenly I felt emasculated and powerless. There was nothing left to do, nowhere to turn, except the wilderness. So, that’s where I headed--back to the Santa Cruz Mountains for starters and then uncertainty after that. Except for my typewriter and some clothes, I left everything behind: home and family, friends and Church. Am not sure what car I was driving. (The new motorcycle I’d ridden to Salt Lake had broken down there, and I had it shipped back to the factory in Las Vegas in a box, returning to San Diego by bus.) Actually, Nick, I think I tried to take you with me into the wilderness, but your mother prevailed on me to leave you there.
[BTW, I discovered in reviewing my pocket journals that I’d had a disturbing dream about you, son, on September 16, 1965, while an overnight guest at Joel Richards’ place in Las Vegas on the way to SLC. The dream came 2 days after I’d written poem #10, Posterity, to your mother. I’ll attach the dream to this commentary below and put it through the CREEI Process to see what I can see from today’s perspective.]
One of my first stops on the way North from SD that Saturday, October 9 morning, was to have breakfast with actor Eddie Albert at his home in Pacific Palisades. Albert had given me his phone number a year earlier when we had met at J.B. Rhine's laboratory at Duke University and Rhine had surprised me by asking me to sing "The Song of the Volga Boatmen" extemporaneously at the staff meeting. (See Commentary on Pilgrim.) Albert and his friend, Burl Ives, were impressed and took me to lunch afterwards. Albert insisted I get in touch with him sometime soon on "what to do" about my singing voice. I chose this day, almost a year later, to follow up on that invitation.
In his garden Albert and I talked about many things ranging from Rhine’s work, my short-term relationship with JBR, other esoteric subjects, and a home experiment Albert had been conducting. I think he sensed that I was under emotional and spiritual stress, because he did not renew his offer. His last word to me as I drove away was to shout, “LIVE!”
Two days after writing As If Time Existed I received a letter from an assistant to President McKay asking me to take what I had written to McKay about a week or two earlier (my intent to withdraw from the Church) since I had failed to reach him while in Salt Lake City. The assistant asked me to take my concern to local authorities. For me that was a last straw, since I felt I’d already gone the local route and that such counsel was futile. So, I quit the Church in a reactionary reply to that assistant, symbolically ripped my temple garments in two, while "crying aloud" in grief, frustration, confusion and disillusion. That letter would eventually be used months later as legal justification for the Church's proceedings at my first excommunication trial in absentia in April 1966.
Many years later (20?) I met 'by chance' my old colleague, H. Birch Holt, at UC Berkeley's Campanile (in 1991?) for whom I had worked as a graduate research assistant at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory during the summer of 1962. At the time Birch lived near San Jose and as we talked about old times, he told me that he had received word from President McKay through the local (San Jose-Santa Cruz) stake president to find me and to address the issues described in my letter of October of 1965. But by the time Birch had figured out where I’d been in Felton at your grandpa's cabin, I had already moved on, into deeper forest territory and into my own personal wilderness.