This really starts back when I was a child . . . and dreamed like a child and thought the world was my canvas with unlimited possibilities.... I dreamed I could fly and it seemed so real that sometimes I thought that perhaps I really could fly -- and was amazed when I couldn't seem to get my body to float up from the ground. And I thought I'd like to be President of the United States and saw no reason why that couldn't be so -- but I wasn't popular with some of the kids in my school and didn't even run for president of my class. Reality seemed to dash my dreams and I began to dream less and imagine less. And, eventually, I became an adult.
But I still believed that there was magic in the world, and I believed that some
human beings had magical qualities. When I fell in love for the first time at the
age of 15 with a young lady named Diana Downard, I knew this was true for here was
real magic. On yes, there were the hormones of course but there were other things
too -- such as one evening at a county fair, when she told me that the surroundings
seemed to physically get brighter when I was with her, and I knew what she meant
because it was the same for me with her.
And I seemed capable of some magic, some small feats of wizardry that defied the description of how things worked which I was taught in school. For example, I seemed to be able to know things that I couldn't know. Like when some friend was about to drop in or when I was able to so clearly visualize some scene being described by a friend that I could take over and describe the rest of it for him to his amazement -- even though I had never been there.
II. Enter Religion
I grew up attending a Missionary Baptist Church with my father as one of the layman leaders of the church. My dad was a kind man with a great sense of humor, but he did get us to church every Sunday morning and evening and on most Wednesday evenings as well. When I was twelve years old, I announced my religious conversion one night in an outpouring of emotion and tears to my father and our pastor. I told them that I was ready to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. I suppose I expected cherubs to blow horns and for me to ascend spiritually at least part way to heaven, which of course did not happen. I was very happy but eventually I noticed that very little changed on a practical level as a result of my epiphany. I had always been very ethical . My principal fault in my view was that I was given to occasional fits of anger that I attributed to my Irish background, and this did not change. I did not grow more popular or less popular with my peers, nor wiser.
I loved animals and grew up with pet dogs, fish, parakeets, turtles, lizards, a rabbit, and so forth. And, to me, it was clear that at least the dogs were more that simple stimulus-response mechanisms. I saw intelligence and love in some of my pets. My religion said that when a man died, his soul went to heaven, but did this apply to my pets? One day, I asked my pastor if my dog had a soul and what would happen to him when he died. He told me that only man has a soul because only man is self-aware and capable of reasoning and thought; that animals only responded to their instincts and had no soul. He could tell that I did not agree. I could not accept that animals were any less a part of the spiritual make-up of things that ourselves. It was obvious to me that animals could think, maybe not as intelligently as most humans, but at least some of them had self-awareness and thoughts and emotion nevertheless. Although I was not aware of it at the time, and perhaps it was wrong-headed, but on that sunny Sunday afternoon as I walked away, many of my Christian religious beliefs began to pour out of me like so much wash water onto the gravel parking lot of our small Missionary Baptist Church.
III. The Nature of the Universe
So I decided to major in physics in college. What better way to learn how the world works than to study that most basic of the sciences. But, after five years of study, what I found out was that we could only observe and measure the phenomena in our environment and then develop mathematical explanations to fit what we had observed. The mathematical equations were our understanding of the universe! That was the complete essence of science. In my study of Quantum Mechanics, even this comforting idea was somewhat turned on its head because, the more precisely we could pinpoint the exact time of a subatomic event, the less precisely we could know the location of the event. In the equations of probability in Quantum Mechanics, what to most would be complete magic such as the ability to pass through a solid wall, became a distinct although small probability. But there was no deeper understanding of the reality of things beyond these equations and what they implied. Physics left further explanation of the nature of man and the universe to the field of philosophy.
Now, philosophy was something I could embrace. As a child, I had mused that our reality (the everyday things we all see around us) is really based only on our collective thoughts. It was something we all agreed upon and therefore it existed. If we stopped agreeing upon it, it would disappear. I had my father take me to the local library and there I found that some philosophers had already speculated about this and it was even given a name as some school of philosophical thought. In college, I became interested in British philosopher David Hume. Hume reasoned that we could never find the basic "why" for anything because one could infinitely continue to ask the question "Why?" when given any more basic explanation for anything. For this reason, we would ultimately arrive at the most basic observation that something simply is a certain way because we have observed it to be so. The interesting thing here was that this, in a way, neatly knit together my childhood philosophical explanation of reality and science's explanation of reality. Namely, we can ultimately only observe that something is a certain way and the actual underlying most basic reason is quite simply that we have collectively asserted it into existence! Still, the latter was just my theory.
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Physics and a minor in Mathematics in 1968 and suffered the ultimate reality -- I had to go to work!
My first job was with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where I performed research in optical physics and pursued a Master's Degree. On the first Earth Day in 1969, I attended a lecture by a Dr. Daniel Hale and was astounded by his facts and figures on environmental degradation. That same day, I became a founding member of the Huntsville Chapter of the Alabama Conservancy, and began to devote a good deal of my free time to promoting environmental awareness at the local, state and federal levels. In January 1972, went to work for the newly formed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C.
IV. Enter Scientology
In the fall of 1973, I was sitting in a glass-walled fast-food Greek restaurant in the mall between EPA's twin towers in Washington D.C. watching a pretty young blond woman in the middle of the mall standing next to a card table. On the card table were several stacks of books and some sort of electronic device. As I ate my gyro sandwich, I speculated that the books were on philosophy and that the electronic device was a "Wheatstone bridge", a device in physics for measuring resistance. Watching her from my seat in the restaurant, I decided to talk with her when I finished eating. I had three reasons: 1) I liked philosophy, 2) I was curious to know if I was right about the electronic device on the table, and 3) she was very pretty and I was very single!
And so I approached. I had been right about the electronic device although she called it an E-Meter, and she began telling me about the philosophy book she was selling entitled Dianetics. I listened but thought that she was too young to have mastered so much philosophical theory. So, I decided to challenge her with a very advanced idea that I was certain she would find incomprehensible. I told her that I had this idea that it was possible to get outside of time, and explained it with an example. She acknowledged me, smiled , and said that actually L. Ron Hubbard talked about that in his books. I nearly fell over!! NO ONE talked about getting outside of time except ME! Well, this L. Ron Hubbard fellow was someone I was definitely going to look into! With that, I decided to go for my next goal which was to ask her out. So, I asked for her telephone number and when she got off work. She told me that she worked pretty late and said that it was hard to get hold of her, that I should give her my telephone number.
A couple of days later, I got a call from a Judy Cranford at the Church of Scientology. She said that she had been given my phone number and told that I was interested in learning more about L. Ron Hubbard. She began a pitch to try to get me to come in to see her which amused me because I had every intention of coming in to see her. Agreeing quickly to do so, I could hear the surprise in her voice on the other end of the phone. Then she asked what day I could come in and, to just to surprise her a bit more, I said "How about NOW?" She practically gasped. I was really into the game of it now and carefully explained where exactly in the city I was located so that she would know that it was at least a 25 minute drive to get there. Hanging up the phone, I ran to my car, raced across the city just making most of the traffic lights, found a parking place directly in front of the building, ran 2/3rds the way up the sidewalk to the front door, and then slowed to a casual walk controlling my breath. About twelve minutes had transpired. I wanted it to seem to Judy that I had magically materialized at the front door! Announcing myself, this time, I could actually see the surprise on her face.
IV. Welcome Home
Inside the Church, I gave Judy the same pitch I had given the cute blond in the EPA mall, and she confirmed that L. Ron Hubbard had indeed said that it was possible to get outside of time. -- ‘So, it wasn’t a fluke!’ I thought. I was fascinated. She said that he had described the universe as consisting of matter, energy, space and time and had coined the word MEST to describe it (i.e. Matter + Energy + Space + Time). He said that this physical universe existed within (so to speak) a greater spiritual universe. That the spiritual universe was senior in importance to the MEST universe and thus, one could as a spiritual being, essentially get outside of time, in fact outside the entire MEST universe theoretically.
Honestly, the concept of myself as a spiritual being was something new to me. Having been raised in the Baptist Church, I of course thought of myself as having an immortal soul and believed that soul to be spiritual rather than physical. And I knew that I had abilities since childhood, such as ESP, that defied the physical barriers of matter, space and time. But, the idea of BEING at my innermost core, a spiritual being, was an amazing thought.
Judy proceeded to show me a chart of increasing abilities. She likened it to a 'bridge', because if you did these courses and so forth, you would move up this chart of increasing awareness and abilities -- like crossing a bridge to a higher state of being. So, I started reading the abilities gained at each step on the chart. Some of the earlier abilities gained were things like ‘able to communicate freely with anyone on any subject’ and higher on the chart, ‘relief from the hostilities and suffering of life’, and later, ‘moving out of fixed conditions into the ability to do new things’. These sounded really great but what really caught my eye were abilities towards the top of the chart which were abilities such as having an exterior viewpoint outside the body, and other abilities that defied the bounds of matter, energy and space. I gasped. "You know about these abilities and have a way to stably attain them?!" Judy and the man next to her smiled and nodded. The attainment, control and understanding of these very abilities had been my lifetime goal and dream; my quest. I was flabbergasted!
Some months previous, I had made a list of what I knew to be true, based on my own experience -- not based on what our society considered to be possible or realistic, but my own actual experience. Such abilities were on that list. But I had little control over them, and no understanding of why they existed or how they were related to each other. Suddenly, Scientology’s concept of each of us as a spiritual being with infinite potential made enormous sense! With a crash and thunder (figuratively), suddenly all these things I knew to be true became integrated as a basic understanding of the nature of life. They all made sense when aligned against this simple concept of myself as a purely spiritual being!
I felt, for the first time in my life, like I had found home - a place where people understood what I already knew to be true and where I could actually pursue my quest!
V. Everything becomes Bright
For now, find out more at "http://www.oursites.org/rodjenkins/".
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