Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
~ Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock – “Fiddler on the Roof”
“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
~ Crowfoot, 1890
“Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
~ Buddha: Diamond Sutra
“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”
As students on the Earth branch of the great Cosmic University, we are commencing a new year and new season of human matriculation, rotation and revolution in our space/time solar system.
In these critical times, our species has caused imminent ecological and nuclear threats to all life forms on earth. Yet we have gained unprecedented opportunities for technologically transcending our most critical problems.
Can we avert catastrophe and enter an enlightened ‘new age’?
How can we best live with the inevitable ‘ups and downs’ of space/time duality “reality”, which are always “laden with happiness and tears”?
To encourage reflection on these perennial philosophical questions, I have embedded below a poignant video performance of “Sunrise, sunset” a classic song from Fiddler on the Roof, (with lyrics and music composed by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock).
May this affective song inspire transcendence of our ‘up and down’ lifetime problems and realization that what matters most during our fleeting earthly lives is, as the Buddha taught:
“How well did [we] love?
How fully did [we] love?
How deeply did [we] learn to let go?”
And so may it be!
Fiddler On The Roof – “Sunrise sunset”
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think”
~ Albert Einstein
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.”
~ The Kybalion
An Amazing Experiment With Time
In April 1976, during a traumatic divorce, I experienced a transformative mid-life spiritual awakening. Thereupon, I began having many extraordinary psychic or mystical experiences previously unknown to me, including experiences which challenged my prior ideas about linear time and free will versus destiny.
In January and February, 1977, I was having so many unusual premonitions, dreams, synchronicities and precognitive experiences that I started making diary notations about them, though I’d never before kept any such diary. These extraordinary experiences radically challenged my “normal” linear time paradigm, and motivated me to try understanding what they meant and why they were happening.
At the end of February, 1977, I spent a week in New York City, so filled with amazing synchronistic and precognitive experiences, that I became convinced it was possible to mystically transcend serial time perception.
Before telling you what happened to me in New York that week, I must recount prior circumstances and events in San Francisco which were crucially related to those New York experiences.
Extraordinary experiences in San Francisco
One month before my New York trip, on January 22, 1977, I had an unforgettable mystical experience of traveling astrally super-fast to an unknown place. The inner experience happened when I was partially awakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night. I was out of my body and traveling with a whirring/whistling sound, so swiftly that intuitively it seemed I was moving faster than the speed of light – a supposed physical impossibility.
My first destination was a room which appeared from its furnishings to be a typical hotel room. After observing the room, I suddenly traveled right through many walls in the same building and stopped in another similarly furnished apparent hotel room – again a supposed physical impossibility.
In the second room, I looked out the window and saw far below what I thought was a kidney shaped swimming pool on a platform, surrounded by geometric designs. At that point I briefly awakened in wonderment about this unprecedented experience, and later recorded it in my diary.
At this time, I was seeking explanations for my extraordinary experiences by attending various psychic/spiritual programs, including events sponsored by Arica Institute. Arica was a spiritual mystery school founded by Chilean mystic Oscar Ichaso, who used enneagrams – nine star polygons – to esoterically model and analyze human personalities. On Monday, February 7, 1977, I attended an Arica program in San Francisco where I was encouraged to visit Arica’s new beautiful headquarters facilities in New York City.
Also, during this same time period, I experienced several unusually vivid dreams, wherein I saw an unknown dark haired woman with short bangs, and became very curious about her identity and why she was in my dreams.
After jogging to the Golden Gate bridge each morning, I regularly walked to my office in the financial district. On the way to my office I often passed a store front Christian Science reading room on Polk Street where I read the selected bible passages displayed in the window. On Tuesday, February 8, 1977, the day after the Arica meeting, I had walked a short distance past the Christian Science reading room without stopping, when suddenly I felt impelled to go back and read the bracketed bible passage then on display in the window.
It was from Genesis, Chapter 29, about Jacob and his uncle Laban and Laban’s two daughters, Lea and Rachel who were both betrothed to Jacob. Jacob loved Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter, but couldn’t marry her until after he had first worked for Laban seven years, married Lea, the eldest, and then spent seven more years laboring for Laban as a condition to his marriage to Rachel.
The commentary noted that because of Jacob’s love and devotion for Rachel, the two seven year periods passed quickly – as if ‘time stood still’. That night I noted this in my diary.
In New York I was to participate in a week of class-action depositions. Since I was unfamiliar with New York city I asked my uncle Richard, a New York resident, to reserve a room for me at a hotel near the Rockefeller Center deposition site. He picked the Wellington. But thereafter I learned from other lawyers attending the depositions that the New York Hilton was closest to the deposition site. So I called the Hilton from San Francisco, but was told they were then booked. So, I planned to stay at the Wellington.
A miraculous trip to New York City
Here is what happened during my 1977 trip to New York which forever changed my views about the ‘reality’ of serial time:
On Monday, February 21, 1977, I boarded an airplane flight from San Francisco to New York City. En route I began reading a book by J. W. Dunne, entitled “An Experiment With Time” about precognition and human experience of time. I had just purchased the Dunne book, after reading “The Roots of Coincidence” by Arthur Koestler which discussed time seriality and synchronicity in light of observations by physicists. I was trying to understand the numerous precognitive and synchronistic experiences that then had been regularly occurring in my life for almost a year since my rebirth experience.
Dunne’s book proposed that past, present and future all happen concurrently, though ‘normal’ human consciousness experiences them linearly, except in dreams. Dunne’s theory was based on his own precognitive dreams and induced precognitive states. Though Dunne’s essay was originally published in 1927, this was my first exposure to these fascinating ideas about linear time. Soon, however, my amazing experiences during the week in New York convinced me of the probable validity of Dunne’s theory.
I arrived at JFK airport Monday evening, checked into the Wellington Hotel, and was assigned an uncomfortably warm room, in which I didn’t want to stay another night. On awakening Tuesday morning, I called the Hilton where I was able to reserve a room. So, I checked out of the Wellington and into the Hilton, where I was given room 2541.
On entering my new Hilton room I gazed out the window and was astonished to see below me an extraordinary mosaic art display of colored tiles arrayed in geometric forms. I immediately recognized it as the apparent “raised platform” with the same geometric design which I had mistakenly perceived as a swimming pool in my January 22 astral time travel experience. But instead of a swimming pool on a raised platform, I was viewing the roof of the Ziegfeld Theater, as covered with this artistic mosaic tile display.
Thereupon, I realized with amazement that my astral travel vision had been precognitive and, moreover, that my perception then that I was traveling faster than the speed of light – and thus traveling into the ‘future’ – was probably correct.
Soon after checking into the Hilton, I attended the first deposition at 1345 Avenue of Americas, in the offices of Arthur Anderson Co. Synchronistically, the extraordinary Ziegfeld Theater rooftop display was also visible from from the deposition conference room.
On Tuesday evening after the first deposition and before dinner, I decided to visit the New York Arica Institute headquarters, as suggested by San Francisco Arica people. Located at 24 West 57th Street, it proved unusual and beautiful as they told me – with even an interesting art gallery. There was only one other visitor when I arrived at Arica that evening – Pat, a dark haired woman with short bangs, wearing jeans and a denim jacket, who was viewing displayed art works.
We soon began chatting and learned that we were both quite interested in similar psychic phenomena. Pat, like me, had attended and valued Werner Ehrhard’s est training and had been having numerous psychic experiences following a recent divorce. She told me that she was self-employed as a free-lance model. (I later learned that she was then one of New York’s top fashion models.)
After talking for some time at Arica, we went to a nearby small restaurant where at dinner we were engrossed in conversation about logic versus experience of psychic phenomena and precognitive dreams – a conversation that seemed only to have begun when we needed to part. So we agreed to and did meet again for dinner the next night, Wednesday, February 23. And again we continued conversing about seemingly illogical but very real psychic phenomena which we had experienced.
On parting, I invited Pat to join me for dinner on Friday night, since I had a dinner engagement with my uncle and aunt on Thursday night. Until then, I had planned to return to San Francisco on Friday evening after the depositions, but decided that I’d like to stay in New York to see Pat again. She told me that she’d like to meet me again, but wouldn’t know if that was possible until Friday. So, we agreed that she would let me know by calling me at the deposition. I gave her a phone number which I’d been told would directly connect to the Arthur Anderson conference room where the depositions were happening.
That Wednesday night, I awakened suddenly from a sound sleep with the “ahaa!” realization that Pat was the dark haired woman with bangs who I’d earlier seen in San Francisco dreams. In a phone conversation the next day, I asked her if she’d always styled her hair with bangs. She replied that she hadn’t worn it that way for a long time, but that she had just had her hair cut with bangs, the week before we met. (So, when I saw her with bangs in my dreams, she wasn’t yet wearing them.)
On Thursday night I had dinner with my uncle Richard and aunt Roseanne. This was our first meeting since my spiritual awakening. So, tactfully, I tried to explain my recent experiences and new intense interest in psychic phenomena and precognition. But it seemed that these subjects were a bit too ‘far out’ for them.
On returning to my Hilton Hotel room before bed-time, I decided to read passages from the Gideon bible which I found in a drawer under the telephone. Randomly, I first opened that bible to the Book of Numbers where synchronistically I read this passage about significance of dreams and visions:
And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! (Numbers 12:6-8)
Next, I decided to review again Genesis 29:16 et. seq., the passage about Jacob and Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel, which had so intrigued me two weeks earlier in the Christian Science Reading Room window.
And finally I ruminated deeply about the meaning of this passage, suggesting infinite possibility of ‘miracles’:
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believes” ~ Mark 9:23.
An amazing day
I arose Friday morning intending to stay in New York that night only if I could spend another evening with Pat, the lovely dark haired ‘woman of my dreams’. Otherwise, I would return to San Francisco on an evening non-stop flight. I received no phone message from Pat during the morning deposition session. Assuming she couldn’t meet me, I checked out of the Hilton at 1 p.m., and left my bags in the hotel lobby baggage room.
Only after checking out, was I informed by the Hilton desk clerk of Pat’s unsuccessful attempt to reach me there, and of her answering service call-back number. But I wasn’t able to contact her until after 5 p.m.
When I finally reached her, she told me she’d been trying to call me at Arthur Anderson all afternoon to arrange our meeting, but that no-one answered the Anderson private line number, so she had given up on seeing me, and had returned home outside Manhattan. By this time, it was too late for me to catch the hotel limousine bus service to JFK for the evening non-stop to San Francisco.
So I stepped up to the Hilton front desk and registered for a room for one night. Synchronistically, I was given room 2506 on the very same floor and very same side of the hotel as room 2541 (where I had been staying until then), except at the opposite end of the corridor. I entered the new room looked out the window, again beheld the extraordinary colored tile mosaic art display on the roof of the Ziegfeld Theater, and began crying. At long last I realized why in my January 22nd astral travels into the future I had moved through many walls from one hotel room to another. I had moved from Hilton room 2541 to room 2506. How AMAZING!!
Unexpectedly alone in New York on a Friday night when I had planned to return to San Francisco, and wondering how I would spend the evening, I went down to the hotel lobby bar for a drink. There I met an English woman named Pam, who told me she was visiting from London to spend time with her friend, actor Rex Harrison, who was then starring on Broadway in “Caesar and Cleopatra”, which had just opened at the Palace Theater.
Pam urged me to join her at the play that night and promised to introduce me to Rex Harrison after the performance. That sounded interesting, so I agreed to see “Caesar and Cleopatra” with her.
Then, I asked Pam what she did in London when not vacationing. She told me she was an actress on leave from the London production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. We talked a bit about Fiddler. I had seen the movie adaptation of the play, but not the play, and as we talked I was reminded of how much I had enjoyed the film.
Set in Tsarist Russia in 1905, the Fiddler story centers on Tevye, a village milk man and father of five daughters, and his thwarted attempts to follow religious traditions and maintain family unity in turbulent times; how he coped with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters and with the edicts of the Tsar banishing the Jews from their villages and dwellings.
The story was set at the very time when my beloved Jewish father, Harry, was born in a similar Ukrainian village. Especially because my father and his extended family were obliged to flee for their lives from Tsarist Russia, in the same way as the fictional characters in Fiddler were obliged to flee, I was exceptionally interested in the story and loved the music.
While Pam and I chatted about Fiddler, she mentioned that a Fiddler revival was then running on Broadway with Zero Mostel in the lead role, as Tevye the milkman. I had always wanted to see a Fiddler production but didn’t know until that moment that it was being performed on Broadway. On learning this, I diplomatically explained to Pam that though it would be fun to meet Rex Harrision with her, I would prefer seeing Fiddler on the Roof.
I’d heard that with Zero Mostel, the original star, the play was wonderfully entertaining, and perhaps better than the movie in which Mostel wasn’t cast. So, after explaining this to Pam, I quickly went to the Winter Garden Theater box office where I was able to get a good center balcony single seat.
Thus on Friday, February 25, 1977, I was unexpectedly about to see a Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof”, with Zero Mostel, because I had unexpectedly failed to return that night to San Francisco as planned, and had unexpectedly remained in New York City, where I was unexpectedly staying at the Hilton Hotel, in a 25th floor room at the opposite end of the corridor from the 25th floor room where I had unexpectedly stayed earlier in the week, after unexpectedly checking out of the Wellington Hotel.
As I sat that night in the Winter Garden balcony awaiting the opening curtain, I read the brief playbill story summary. But nothing therein prepared me for my emotional experience during scene six of the first act. Prior to that scene, a young man named Perchik – an itinerant bible scholar passing through Tevye’s village – had met kind hearted Tevye, who gave Perchik room and board in exchange for Perchik’s commitment to teach bible lessons to Tevye’s daughters.
Amazingly, act one, scene six, opened with Perchik giving Tevye’s daughters a lesson about Jacob and Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel, from Genesis 29:16 – the same passage that had engrossed me in San Francisco when I read it in the Christian Science Reading Room window and again when I read it in my hotel room Gideon Bible.
For me this was such a miraculous, mysterious, and meaningful synchronicity, culminating so many similar amazing events during my extraordinary week in New York, that I spontaneously burst into tears. And I kept crying for the remainder of the play.
On returning to San Francisco from that miraculous week in New York, I began wondering:
“What is time?”
“Are there really any coincidences or accidents, or is everything that happens to us predestined by laws of causation or karma?”
“Do we really have free will as most people believe?
And if so, what free will?”
What do you think?