Fresh Fish Sold Here Today
I remember a magician in the 1980’s unfurling and holding up a paper banner with the words “Fresh fish sold here today” printed on it.
The magician would say, “I find this phrase a touch redundant. Fresh? Of course it’s fresh fish. The sign doesn’t need the word fresh at all. I could remove the fresh and the sign will be just as effective if it just said: fish sold here today.”
The magician rips off the initial word.
The patter continues: “And now here’s the sign with the words ‘Fish sold here today.’ Well, today, of course. It’s obvious. I don’t need the word today. When else would I be selling fish? Yesterday? Next Thursday? I don’t need the word today.”
And the magician rips that word off as well.
Now it says “Fish sold here.”
“Well, obviously the fish are being sold here.”
“Of course they’re sold. What am I doing, renting fish or loaning them out?”
Another tear and now the piece of paper has one word: “Fish.”
“But, this is not a good sign.”
The magician wads the papers back together.
“I’m going to use a little bit of magic.”
The magician unfurls that paper and it reads again, “Fresh fish sold here today.”
Not the most amazing magic trick — shortening and then re-lengthening a phrase.
On the other hand, if I could summarize all of religious consciousness into three words, would you think of that as magic?
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Timothy Leary and Richard Alper (later known, Ram Dass) worked together at Harvard, doing innovative work on the topic of religion.
The two had done scholarly research cataloging the seven qualities that make up a mystical experience. I’ve written about this.
I like to show people that they already have been enlightened, that they’ve already had a mystical experience. They might not have had record breaking numbers in the seven different categories, but they’ve most assuredly experienced moments of each.
Leary said, “Like every great religion, we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of God. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present—turn on, tune in, drop out.”
Their research led them to do the first controlled, double-blind study of the effects of LSD. (They used niacin as an active placebo as it produces physiological effects.)
All of the psilocybin subjects reported that, from that day forward, their lives were changed for the better, irrevocably so.
As this was done on a Good Friday and became known as The Good Friday experiment.
The other Good Friday experiment
There was another, more famous Good Friday experiment.
That experiment answered the question: After you have experienced God on earth and then that love is taken away (Jesus dying), then what happens?
On that Good Friday in the year 33, the apostles did not know what would happen. We know that Easter will come. They did not.
What they learned, and many of us need reminders of, is that love is without end.
Even when it seems otherwise.
Be Here Now
Ram Dass summed all of religiously-conscious life in three words.
Not five words like Fresh Fish Sold Here Today, but in three.
Be Here Now.
Be — wake up!
Here — nowhere but where you are, exactly as you are.
Now — no time but the present.
Be here now.
Awareness. Surrender. Here. Now. In the eternal now.
When we are able to see this just right, we understand what Spinoza wrote: reality and perfection are synonymous.
Here and now might not be as we envisioned here and now would be or even should be, but that fault lays with us, in our expectations, in our not creating heaven on earth.
Reality is how it is.
As Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose— but only 100% of the time.”
Be Here Now means we should not be so angry when things don’t go our way.
Be Here Now means we need to stop trying to control the universe.
Be Here Now, means letting go of what hasn’t been and getting comfortable with the future being as it will be.
This is not acquiescence to evil or wrongdoing. The task of every religious person is to make this a better world.
Be Here Now means being presence, being present, love, surrender, and letting go.
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer resides in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and head of Religion-Outside-The-Box rotb.org, an internet-based, global group of 3.3K+ digital-age seekers. ROTB produces excellent spiritual content.