The Way Home!
Most of the items that appear on the Desktop page are time sensitive, meaning that, a few days or weeks after they have been posted, they are no longer of any interest, and need to be deleted. There are some, however, that are worth keeping; but, after having served their immediate purpose, they no longer belong on the desktop itself. So, I have created this page. We’ll see.
Yesterday morning, as I was putting together the “Here’s A Thought” item for
the week, I was suddenly, unexpectedly, and irresistibly moved from within
to retire the candle that had been at TZF’s front
door since September 11, and restore the site’s original first
page. So, I did. Thus, I made the change for no logical, topical, or
rational reason, but just because somehow it was clear to me that it was
time to do it. In the weeks since the candle has been in place, a number
of TZFers have commented on it, and I thought you’d like to know why it has
I posted to TZF’s Integral Health a
piece written by Katherine Keefe,
a good friend of The Zoo Fence, whose son, and therefore whose family, has
been dealing with leukemia in all its ramifications since 1986. Theirs is
a moving story, but it is also a powerful reminder to us all that we err
grievously when, in illness, we look to our doctors, nurses, and other technicians
to do it all for us. That is, just as we need their help, so too do they
need ours, and in Katherine’s experience, the best way we can help is to
become fully involved. We extend our thanks to Katherine and her family for
sharing this part of their life
with The Zoo Fence, and we wish them joy and peace and health.
Today I posted to TZF’s EcoConsciousness page
a poem called “The Power of Toads”. The poet is Pattiann Rogers,
whom I first heard of a few weeks ago while listening to a radio program
on which she was featured. Other than her publisher’s website (Milkweed Editions
at http://www.milkweed.org), the only
site I could find dedicated to her work is http://www.mindspring.com/~pattiann_rogers/.
I don’t know whether that’s her own page or a tribute posted by a fan. In
any case, I really like the work. It is clean and clear and refreshing. I
am delighted to have “The Power of Toads” on The Zoo Fence.
TZF’s in the Big Apple … virtually. Some days ago, we received an email
message from Beth Vishnevsky, a columnist for the Greenwich Village Gazette. She asked about
reproducing Bo Lozoff’s “Simple Living, Simple Joy” which we
have at TZF’s Ampers&nd. Well,
we’re pleased to report that (1) Beth quotes Bo’s article in her column this
week and (2) she mentions The Zoo Fence as the site where she first came
across it. Back in prehistoric times, one of our favorite television programs,
set in New York City, used to open (or was it close?) with the line, “there
are ten million stories in the naked city”. Well, if so, TZF’s now a
small part of one of them!
A few days ago, we watched an excellent PBS television program produced by
Bill Moyers about the environment, called Earth
on Edge. I heartily recommend it. The planet’s health, and what we are
doing about it, is frequently in the news, but too often more argumentatively
than informatively. For obvious reasons, the subject generates a lot of noise
on both sides – accusations, denials, defenses, and so on. This treatment
by Moyers seems to me to avoid posturing. It is, simply, about what it’s
about, and it is more than just a little scary. Afterward, talking about
it amongst ourselves, we decided to add to TZF a new page called Eco-Consciousness. We’re
not sure what form it will take, but for now it’s there, and we’ll see what’s
Yesterday, on public radio (PRI), there was a program about the relationship
between sacred music and sacred spaces. A fellow being interviewed mentioned
visiting somewhere in South America where he heard pygmies performing their
sacred music outside, in the rain forest. To that, the interviewer opined, “I
guess pygmies don’t have sacred spaces”. I presume she was referring
to cathedrals, temples, and the like. Nonetheless, the fellow responded,
“Oh, yes, they do. The rain forest is their sacred space. They consider
it sacred because God created it”. Very nice.
Today, I moved the
“flags over TZF” feature to its own page. Regular visitors
will remember that initially I had been posting those here; but this page
began to get a little crowded. I love posting new flags to that feature,
so I am very grateful to visitors who sign in at TZF’s Guest Register, and
let us know what country they’re coming from.
As discussed on this page, this morning I removed TZF’s Frequent Visitor’s
page. As I explained, the combination of faster computer processors, video
cards, and internet connections seems to have pretty much rendered the graphics-free
access page obsolete.
Today, we visited a Unitarian-Universalist
Church in Ellsworth, Maine. At the front of the meeting
room, next to the podium, on a low bookshelf, there is a set of books that
sets the tone of the space very nicely. Among the titles are: The Origin
of The Species (Charles Darwin); Science and Religion; The Philosophy of
Humanism; A Chosen Faith; World Bible; Holy Bible; The Qur’an; The Tanakh;
Apocrypha & New Testament; Black Elk Speaks; Native American Wisdom;
Lost Goodness of Early Greece; The African Religions; Dhammapada; Rig Veda;
Lao Tzu; Confucianism.
TZF has just learned that last month Jack Schwarz of Aletheia died
at his home in California. Along our spiritual path, there have been a half
dozen or so things (people, books, encounters) about which Anna and I rightly
say: “This changed everything”. Jack Schwarz is among those sacred
few, and we are very grateful. We will miss him. We wish him love and peace
This morning, I posted in The Quiet Room a prayer
attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola (sixteenth century founder of the Jesuits).
I took the prayer from the book, Martyrs
& Miracles. Now, here’s the thing. In the book, the seventh line
reads “that you dispose of me”. That doesn’t seem to me to make
sense; and I wonder if the publisher didn’t leave out a word, so that it
would read something like “that you may dispose of me”. That is,
in effect, “I surrender myself to You, that You may do with me as You
see fit”. Anyway, I searched the web for the prayer, to determine if
there is a word missing here, and could not find it. So, with apologies to
St. Ignatius and Carolyn Trickey-Bapty (the book’s author), I took the initiative,
and added the word “may”. So far, no lightning or thunder. If any
TZFer can help here, I would be extremely grateful (send email to editor(at)zoofence.com).
A longtime friend of TZF called yesterday to
say that one of her computers had been infected by a Trojan horse, a particularly
destructive form of computer virus. Fortunately, she subscribes to a virus
protection program, and so was spared what could have developed into a very
unhappy experience. All of which should remind us all that some very nasty
viruses are out there, and they can infect even the nicest sorts of people.
So, please, (1) protect yourself with an anti-virus program like Norton’s or McAfee’s,
(2) update it at least weekly, and (3) do not open or click on or in any
other way activate attachments to e-mail messages unless you are ABSOLUTELY
certain they are clean.
There is a web service which, from time to time, graciously alerts us to
links on The Zoo Fence that do not work, usually because the site to which
they point either no longer exists or has moved. Dead links are a real source
of frustration for surfers, and, with as many onward links as there are on
The Zoo Fence, it is difficult for us to ensure they are all always current.
So, I very much appreciate the notices this service sends us. Evidently,
they have developed a robot that wanders around the web looking for, and
alerting webmasters to, what they call “link rot”. They call themselves “Seven
Twentyfour”, and their motto is “always watching the web”.
If you own a large website with a lot of onward links, particularly a commercial
site where your visitors are your customers whom you would like to keep happy,
I urge you to visit this site, and consider their service. The URL is http://www.seventwentyfour.com/
Here’s another site passed along by our ISP Administrator – The URL is http://www.shibumi.org/eoti.htm.
When you’re done there, back into the site’s other pages (delete the “eoti.htm” in
your browser’s address space, and press your keyboard’s Enter key). Whoever
Dan Hughes is, he has a sense of humor.
A couple of evenings ago, we rented the movie “The
Devil’s Advocate” with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. While this is
most certainly not for the entire family (which is why I am not putting it
on TZF’s “Books & Videos”
page), and it is not a film I would want to watch just before retiring for
the night, there are nonetheless a lot of very powerful ideas here, particularly
for a seeker reaching to understand the nature of temptation, and how we
so often get ourselves into trouble with the very best of intentions. A warning:
There are a few demons, some disturbing scenes, and even a little blood & gore,
so you may want to stand ready at the Mute and Fast Forward buttons. But
if you are an Al Pacino fan, as I am, you’ll love him here.
We saw Franco Zeffirelli’s movie “Brother
Sun, Sister Moon” about the young adult years of Francis of Assisi. It is
nice, even sometimes very nice, but also a disappointment. Francis was undoubtedly
a powerful and inspiring seeker, and while some of that comes across, here
he seems a little too wimpy. And I believe there are some historical inaccuracies,
as well. Properly told, the story of Francis, his conversion, his journeys,
his relationship with Clare, the founding and development of the Franciscans
and the Poor Clares, would make a wonderful movie. But this isn’t it. Still,
it’s worth seeing.
We saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie “Little Buddha”
about a Tibetan Buddhist monk looking for the reincarnation of his teacher
in an American boy. That story is accompanied by a beautiful and inspiring
retelling of the life and teaching of the historical Buddha.
It’s a beautiful story, well told. We loved it. [PS Tomorrow, the 29th, is “Leap
Year”, another Y2K hurdle for our computers. We’ll see.]
My in-laws visited this weekend, and in discussion offered this bit of ancient
wisdom: “A person persuaded against his or her will is a person of the
same opinion still.” As seekers, we do well to learn
that lesson, and to remember, just as we do not like being pushed, we should
not push others, however much we may be convinced that it’s “for their
own good”. Remember, too, that whatever we have learned along the path,
whatever we have Remembered, isn’t actually ours anyway!
Wandering the web this morning, I came across a site called “The Watchful
Shepherd” at http://www.watchful.org/. It breaks my
heart to consider that such a site is necessary! … but I am grateful to
those who manage it.
We just rented and watched the movie “Meet Joe Black” starring
Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, and others. It is wonderful! The script, direction,
acting, editing … all of it is flawless. I urge you to find it at a video
store, and then set aside an evening to be enchanted, entertained, and taught!
“Markings” by Dag Hammarskjold: Do not look
back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you
back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward --
your destiny – are here and now.
I was in South Africa yesterday (Is the internet great, or what!) visiting
a TZF visitor’s website, and there I found this magnificent
dancing fool! I gratefully reproduce it here with its creator’s permission.
As graphics software programs grow in size, complexity, and price (and, yes,
capability), it’s nice to be reminded how much can be accomplished with just
a few keyboard strokes (and a great imagination). Thanks, Peter!
“Discourses of Rumi”
by A. J. Arberry, Jesus, upon whom be peace, was asked,
‘Spirit of God, what is the greatest and most difficult thing in this world
and the next?’ He replied, ‘The wrath of God.’ They asked, ‘And what shall
save a man from that?’ He answered, ‘That you master your own wrath, and
suppress your rage.’
On the advice of a good friend of TZF, I purchased
from Amazon.com, and have just received, a translation
of the Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. It
includes excellent commentary and notes. Already I like it a lot. On first
handling, I was surprised to find the book opens from left to right. Of
course, I assumed an error at the bindery! I even queried Amazon about it.
They reminded me the volume includes the original Arabic, which, like Hebrew
and unlike English and some other languages, is written from right to left.
That explained the layout. But now, I find I am discomforted by having to
turn the pages “the wrong way.” How many such habits and predilections
do we have that we are not even aware of, and how much do they interfere
with our accepting “what is” the way it is!
A good friend of TZF recently sent us several excellent books by Timothy Freke, a British (I think) writer and seeker. Among them is “The Hermetica - The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs.” A set of religious and philosophical teachings, the Hermetica is attributed to the Egyptian god Thoth, which name was translated into Greek as Hermes or Hermes Trismegistus. Hermeticism has been an important influence in the development of Western thought. Consider these few lines describing Atum, an ancient Egyptian name for the One:
It’s all right there, in two short paragraphs.
Notice he writes that “any individual can reach this supreme actionless
state.” Any individual. All that’s
wanted is our sincere aspiration. With that, the rest will follow.
A recent TZF visitor left an invitation in our Guest Book to visit their website,
which is dedicated to Vivekananda, and am
I glad they did! Among its very nice features is a
“Childrens” page, where I found this wonderful anecdote contributed
by “Daksha Patel, London” [I have edited it slightly]:
I have been reading from “Women Saints, East and West” (Vedanta
Press), and it is a very nice book indeed, not only for its content but
also for its reminder that not all Teachers are
From “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (Ballantine), page 340 -
Speaking of his experience during a pilgrimage (Hajj) to the Ka’ba in Mecca
with Muslims of all races and colors, “We were truly all the same (brothers)
- because their belief in one God had removed the ‘white’ from their minds,
the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude.
… I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept
the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the
Oneness of Man.”
From the book “Vivekananda, The Yogas and Other Works” -
This morning, looking through an old journal, I came across this lesson
by Farid-ud-Din Attar, a Persian Sufi poet, copied from the book “The
Message in Our Time” by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan —
There is a family of red foxes that lives
in the woods nearby. Last evening, our neighbor saw one of the kits calmly
trotting into her barn. This morning, she found the fox in an empty horse
stall, curled up against one wall, as if asleep. But the fox was not asleep;
the fox was dead. There is a wound on one leg that may have been the cause
of death. The warden reports it is not unusual for foxes to select a barn
as a place to die.
Those who knew TZF in hard copy may remember the
“The Seven Giant Steps” we lifted from J. Vaughn Boone’s book, “De
Riva - The Magic Formula”. Today, I posted it on the site, on the first letters page. We shared a podium
with Vaughn many years ago, and loved him instantly. He is a wonderful fellow,
who sheds healing and light everywhere he goes, on whomever he encounters.
Wherever he might be now, we wish him well.
The world will miss King Hussein of Jordan. Inextricably
caught between all sides in the endless ‘Arab-Israeli Conflict,’ King Hussein
was a bright light, preaching sanity, practicing good sense, and reaching
for resolution. He was a direct descendant of the Prophet, and it showed.
In the words of Muhammad, ”Do you love your Creator?
Love your fellow beings first.”
We just saw the movie “City of Angels.” If you want to understand why you are in the flesh, why each of us has chosen a separate and separative, incarnated identity, with all their ups and downs, please see this movie.
I have come across a site that offers several excellent essays
on “Centering Prayer” – what it is, how to do it, suggested book
titles, some references. On the use of a “Sacred Word” to help
in centering and focusing, consider this observation: Sometimes
you will need the sacred word only a few times, and other sessions you will
need to use it a thousand times. Remember that whenever you use it, you
are saying to God “I want to be with you, and I consent to You being
with me and changing me in any way that You want to.” So don’t be discouraged
during the times you need to use it frequently - that is just so many more
times you say YES to God!
I have just been to a website called
“Mysticism in World Religions” at http://www.digiserve.com/mystic/.
If you have not been there, I urge a visit. You will find a wealth of quotations
from the world’s great mystics. There is a very nice page called “Comparison
of Mysticism in World Religions” where the treatment of various
subjects (like ego, desire, humility, grace) by different religions is compared.
We recently saw the movie
“Kundun.” Directed by Martin Scorsese, this is the story of the
current Dalai Lama, from early childhood to his escape out of Tibet into
India. It is wonderful!
A good friend of TZF suggested we read The Cosmic Serpent - DNA & The Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby, and we’re glad she did. Narby is an anthropologist who, while doing research in Peru’s Amazon jungle, discovered what he interprets to be a link between what western scientists know about the nature of DNA and what Amazonian shamans know about everything. Specifically, he suggests that the serpent mythologies present in virtually all cultures, are really about the double helix we know as DNA. Narby’s findings and his conclusions, not to mention his experiences under the influence of a local hallucinogenic plant, make for interesting reading.
In one of the episodes of the PBS television program “A Science Odyssey
with Charles Osgood,” there is a wonderful comment by Robert Kirshner,
astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics, that, although he is talking
about his own work as a scientist, is almost a perfect description of a
seeker’s path, making once again the point that those at the farthest limits
of science and religion are reaching for the very same thing.
Rented the movie “Michael”, about a mission on earth by the Archangel
Michael. We liked it so much we watched it twice! John Travolta plays the
title role, and he performs it flawlessly. I have heard that some folks
dislike the film because of the way it depicts the lead character. I can
understand their discomfort, for it puts into question many of the assumptions
all of us have about angels. For example, in this movie, Michael has a sweet
tooth gone berserk (”You can’t eat too much sugar,”
he tells us), he smokes cigarettes, he eats sloppily, he sleeps standing
up and he snores, he evidently enjoys sex, his wings are soiled, he can
be a little crude, and he loves to do battle (he even picks a fight with
a bull in a pasture!). But, through it all, Michael is thoroughly, delightfully,
consistently, and unquestionably angelic.There is never any doubt that he
is a Divine Creature.
From Adonais by Percy Blysshe Shelley,
”Love is presupposing love; to have love is to presuppose love in others; to be loving is to presuppose that others are loving.” W.H. Auden in “The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard.” Thus, one might say that he or she is wise, and believe, rightly or wrongly, that others are unwise. But one cannot believe that he or she is loving and that others are not, for to be truly loving is to recognize love in all.
”What is demanded of man is not,
as some existential philosophies teach, to endure the meaninglessness of
life; but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness
in rational terms. Logos is deeper than logic.” Viktor
E. Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning.” The mind cannot understand
the meaning of life, of one’s life, because the mind is part of or an aspect
of that life. Just as a flashlight can cast light on anything in the universe
except itself! For that, one has to go beyond the instrument, to what precedes
If you came here from TZF’s
”A vessel that grows as it is filled will never be full. The soul is like that: The more it wants, the more is it given; the more it receives, the more it grows.” From “Meister Eckhart” by Raymond Blakely (page 233, Harper).
Discover magazine (5/97) article about Richard Zare at Stanford, talks of Alfred North Whitehead (English philosopher & mathematician, 1861-1947) as having defined Unitarianism as “the belief that there is at most one God.” What an extraordinary way to put it! It is almost impossible to read it without considering it.
”God speaks in metaphors to men.” Qur’an, 24:37 (trans. N. J. Dawood, Penquin) Notice there are no qualifiers, no “usually,” “sometimes,” “mostly.” Just, God speaks in metaphors. Thus, this is offered as the answer to the question everyone of us asks from time to time: How does God speak to mankind? And the answer is, In metaphors. Of course, it must be true. After all, clearly God cannot speak other than the Truth, and the Truth cannot be spoken (cf. Lao Tzu among numberless others). (Who said, “I never spoke the Truth in all my life”?) So, if what you and I each call “my life” (the world, reality) is ultimately the One being that (What else can it be, the One being Infinite, and there being no thing else but the One?), then our lives too must be metaphors. Consider that.
From “The Sufis” by Idries Shah (page 396, Doubleday/Anchor,
available on our Bookstore page):
On EWTN (Global Catholic Television Network), a program covering the 1997 World Youth Day in Paris, an American cleric (I think he said he was from New York) reports that on the day (presumably many years ago) he became a bishop, he encountered Mother Teresa outside St. Peter’s church in Rome. Although he recognized her, Mother Teresa would not have known him, he said. Anyway, she approached him, and said, simply, gently, “Give God permission.” Nothing more, just “Give God permission.” What an idea. An infinite, omnipotent divinity, the creator of everything, the creator that is everything everywhere always, the creator that is us … needs our permission! Think about that.
On a Public Broadcasting System television program “Michelangelo, Restored” about the restoration of the frescoes in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, the artist is quoted as having said or written, “If life was found to be agreeable, then so should death, for it comes from the hand of the same Creator.” As I recall, they said this was a response by Michelangelo to someone who was worried about death. I tried to find the item on PBS’s web site, to be sure I have the quotation right, and for the citation, but was unsuccessful. Any TZF visitors know? Anyway, Michelangelo’s absolutely right. If God created death, then what’s to fear? Why don’t we know that?
From Malcolm Muggeridge’s book “Jesus Rediscovered” (page 70, Doubleday), quoting Hugh Kingsmill: “What is divine in Man is elusive and impalpable, and he is easily tempted to embody it in a collective form – a church, a country, a social system, a leader – so that he may realize it with less effort and serve it with more profit. Yet the attempt to externalise the kingdom of heaven in a temporal shape must end in disaster. It cannot be created by charters or constitutions, nor established by arms. Those who set out for it alone will reach it together, and those who seek it in company will perish by themselves.” Wow!
PBS’s NewsHour (7/9/98), a “Dialogue on Race” chaired by Jim Lehrer, with President Clinton and others, discussing racism in the US. Recalls to mind Rodney King’s haunting question, “Can’t we all get along?” What’s a seeker’s perspective on this issue? Can we all “get along” in any meaningful (that is, fundamentally peace-full) way as long as we consider ourselves to be different, separate, apart? If each of us starts from the presumption that “I am me, and you aren’t,” then our relationships, however well intentioned we may be, will always start from confrontation, and will always be informed by it. Each of us will constantly be defending our limits and observing the other’s! (What a waste, not to mention misuse, of energy! No wonder we’re all so tired all the time!) Even a “group hug” cannot erase that fundamental sense of separation. So, as long as you and I each think of ourselves as being white-not-black or black-not-white, Catholic-not-Protestant, straight-not-gay, Arab-not-Israeli, even male-not-female, or whatever-not-whatever else, we will never be able truly to erase the arbitrary, artificial boundary we place between us because as fast as we erase it with one side of our brain, we will be redrawing it with the other – like Emmett Kelly’s clown act, trying to sweep away the light beam! So, the answer to racism, or any other form of ’ism, is not some form of “being nice” but the discovery of our True Nature, remembering who we are in Truth. That alone can erase all of the boundaries, definitions, and fortifications each of us has erected around ourselves, and they will disappear not because erasing them is “the right thing to do” but because there simply won’t be any. Thus, ultimately, True Peace requires no effort! Find out “Who Am I?” – even just seek to find out “Who Am I?” – and racism will dissolve and disappear on its own. How can a true seeker discriminate against another when she or he knows the other to be himself or herself?
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