The Zoo Fence The Zoo Fence The Zoo Fence
Letters Continued

To The Zoo Fence: I was really fascinated to read the article “Follow Your Heart!” on Anna’s Page.

I found the word surrender used so often in her discourse. I wanted to write, and point out that that is EXACTLY what Islam is – surrender. The Qur’an teaches the basic principle of surrender to the One God.

Also, the Qur’an states that all prophets bring the same message, and that it is we humans who create divisiveness among belief systems.

Every seeker should follow his or her own path to the One Source. It is not for us to judge the paths humans take – that is only for the One God to do. Our only goal should be to find the direction to the One and True Source.

Your website brings all religions together. It is very inspiring. It is wonderful to find closeness rather than conflict in diversity! Thank you.

The Netherlands

Editor’s Comment: Thank you for your generous applause.

We thoroughly agree with your emphasis upon surrender to the One. As you are undoubtedly aware, the word Islam itself comes from the Arabic for submission or surrender to the Will of God.

As we see it, surrender is the very essence, the heart and the soul, the means and the end, of every True Path.

Nothing more is necessary, nothing less is sufficient.

[See also the item “The Great Jihad” in the Quiet Room]

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To The Zoo Fence: I like your site, but I find a lot of it very difficult to believe, particularly that all things are “the same.” I’m not saying it’s baloney, just that I can’t live that way.

Guest Book

Editor’s Comment: Consider this. In the card game poker, the odds of being dealt the best possible hand (a royal flush, or ace, king, queen, jack, and ten, all spades), are precisely the same as the odds of being dealt any other five specific cards, like, let’s say, the ace of clubs, the four of spades, the seven of diamonds, the ten of clubs, and the king of hearts. That is, every bit of the difference between those two hands is in our perception of them. Yet, we would consider ourselves extremely lucky, even blessed, to be dealt the former, while we would be disappointed, perhaps even devastated, to receive the latter.

Life presents all of us the same choice. Either we perceive our reality separatively (”I am me, and you aren’t”), which means drawing boundaries, making distinctions, welcoming some stuff and dreading others, or we seek to recognize that if Truth is Infinite, then it is all True (God), and therefore all equally Good, or the Same (”I Am That”).

The former sets us up to be disappointed, even angry, much of the time, and, goodness knows, we have all been there. The latter frees us to accept and to embrace and to love whatever unfolds, with equanimity and joy and in peace.

Let’s suppose it is baloney. The fact is, treading the spiritual path has made our lives far more rewarding, healthful, nourishing, secure, and fulfilling than they were and likely would have become. We sleep better, awake happier, smile more. We worry less. It has simplified our needs in almost every respect. It has reduced to nil our expenses on headache remedies, antacids, and other buffers against reality, leaving that much more for happier and more productive investments. Even if that were all there is to it, and it isn’t (far from it!), it’d still be a pretty good slice of luncheon meat!

Once again, this is a choice each of us must make for ourselves, for there is no right way or wrong way, only my way, your way, his way, her way. Ultimately, as we see it at TZF, they are all God’s Way. And, our experience has been, when you distill out all the historical, cultural, social, linguistic, and other differences, and examine the Living Core at the Center of every way, they are all the Same. Still, the question is, does it work for you? If so, follow it. If not, walk on.

So, we suggest you continue living as you are as long as your life is working for you. Clearly, there is no need to fix what is not broken. But if you should find, now or later, that your life is not delivering the kinds of results you expect and need and deserve, then consider a different choice.

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To The Zoo Fence: Long have I wanted to be guided in my inner journey. Finally, I have found the beacon. I shall always return here. Thanks a lot!

Philippines

Editor’s Comment: We are glad you found us, and we look forward to our paths crossing here many times.
      We particularly like your image of this site as a beacon. But, that said, we urge you to  remember that the True Guide and the True Beacon are within. Wherever else you may be looking, always keep your eyes – and your heart – focused on That!

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To The Zoo Fence: Your website is wonderful. I’ve finally found what is so remarkable about the internet! Thanks for the inspiration.

Louisiana

Editor’s Comment: We thank you for visiting, and for leaving behind such happy energy.

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To The Zoo Fence: I continue to wonder about whether I need a Teacher, and if so, how do I find one. I particularly have trouble believing that a Teacher or Guru does not have to be “in the flesh” to be effective. Also, what exactly is the role of a Teacher? I have read your article on Teachers [”Guru Who” at Consider This!], and it is helpful. But these nagging questions remain.

E-Mail

Editor’s Comment: There has almost certainly never lived a seeker who has not wondered about and worried over the same questions you raise.

First, remember this. You do not find your Teacher. Your Teacher finds you. Even in those instances where it seems otherwise, it isn’t. And that you are asking these kinds of questions strongly suggests that you have already been found.

Second, whether or not the Teacher is “in the flesh” is virtually irrelevant. All of the work is done on the inner, where you are already always in your Teacher’s Presence. Accept that as literally true (that’s the hard part), and you will see, hear, and feel signs of it.

Third, regarding the role of the Teacher, consider this. When a duckling hatches out of the egg, it immediately bonds with the first adult duck it sees, presumably the mother duck, and proceeds to copy her behavior, learning by mimicry everything it needs to know to survive. We humans are a lot like ducks.

Remember, the spiritual process is about rebirth. What that means is that as seekers we are reborn. Literally. This is not a metaphor. In fact, the physical or bodily birth that each of us celebrates on our “birthday”, and what has unfolded from that event (the phenomenon each of us calls “my life”), are the metaphor. The Real World is not what we perceive around us, but on the inner. What we perceive around us is a reflection of, or a metaphor for, That.

Now, in our apparent physical or bodily lives, we pattern ourselves on (bond with and mimic) the adults around Quack, quack!us, just as ducks do. Similarly, along the spiritual path, in the process of our rebirth into our True Identity, we need some Adult to bond with, some One of Whom we are consciously, constantly, and willingly aware (or seeking to become aware) Who offers a True Pattern. That is the Teacher’s function, to be an exemplar.

The Teacher serves as a model, and the more enthusiastically and unconditionally we focus on him or her (again, whether or not he or she is “in the flesh”), the more easily and quickly will we become One with (Precisely Like) him or her. Then, where we now perceive chaos, we will see peace. Where we now perceive anger, envy, and hatred, we will see love. Where we now live in fear of death and disease, we will be free.

Now, all of this sounds complicated and esoteric, even perhaps foolish, maybe even stupid or impossible. In fact, it is simple, obvious, inevitable, and beautiful. All of which your Teacher is in the process of showing you right now.

In sum, fear not. Already, you are in Good Hands, whether or not you perceive them. Relax into that certainty, and continue to surround yourself with, and immerse yourself into, reminders of what you are trying to Remember. Do this joyfully, with confidence, enthusiasm, humor, and humility. The rest will surely follow.

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To The Zoo Fence: In the part about The Great Inquiry [item #6 of “The Simple Way” at Consider This!], regarding who we were before we were born, are you talking about our soul? And if so, isn’t that what we always are?

Washington, DC

Editor’s Comment: Precisely so. Except at TZF we would not say “our” soul. As we see it, the body does not have a soul; rather, it is the soul that has (or perceives itself as) a body. So, it is not so much that we have a soul as it is that we are the soul. And the function of what we call The Great Inquiry is to shift our sense of identity from the body to the soul (or the Soul, or the Self, or ultimately the One).

Look at it this way. Suppose that last night you dreamed of yourself living in some foreign country a hundred years ago. Now, while that dream was in progress, who and where were you? Were you the dreamer, in your present home in the present time, dreaming about a character, whom you perceived as yourself, living somewhere else some time ago? Or were you the character?

Certainly, while the dream was in progress, it seemed that the latter was the case; that is, that you were the character. But on awakening, you realize the former is the case, you were or are the dreamer, and, further, you realize that your identity as the dreamer was not and is not affected in any way by the dream.

Now the question arises: Did you appear in the dream, or did the dream appear in you (in your mind)? Again, while the dream is in progress, it seemed that you were appearing in the dream, but on awakening it is apparent the dream occurs within you.

Just so, the operative question for a seeker is, “Am I in the world, or is the world in me?” And the answer to that depends upon the answer to the question, “Who Am I?” or “Who do I say I am?” (cf. Matthew 16:15).

Likewise, imagine the depths of despair a professional Shakespearean actor would experience if he or she actually believed he or she is the characters played, like Hamlet, Macbeth, Desdemona, or even Romeo or Juliet. Such an actor might suffer terrible anguish if he or she was not constantly aware somewhere within that the roles are not real, and most certainly not really who or what he or she is.

As seekers, we do well to remember the same.

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To The Zoo Fence: Can you be more specific about what you mean when you distinguish between what you call sitting meditation and walking meditation?

Guest Book

Editor’s Comment: By sitting meditation we mean meditation in the formal or traditional sense.

That is, the seeker assumes a posture, usually seated or kneeling but sometimes standing, and sometimes even walking, and concentrates on a thing (like a flower or a candle), or on a word or a set of words (like a name or an aspect of the Eternal), or on a prayer or a chant, or on a photograph of a Teacher or of an icon or of a holy site, or on a question (like a koan), and so on, possibly including gestures (like folded hands), or instruments (like a rosary), music, or incense, all designed eventually to silence and transcend the mind.

Sitting meditation serves many purposes, and it is good for our bodies, our minds, and our souls.

Sitting meditation is an excellent device for learning and practicing discipline. Most of us come to the spiritual process distracted, scattered, and stressed, unable to sit still physically or mentally for more than a few seconds. Sitting meditation calms us, by teaching us to release and let go (relax our grip).

Most importantly, perhaps, sitting meditation teaches us how to focus and stay focused.

Performing sitting meditation faithfully, on a regular, daily schedule, is a very effective way of informing ourselves and the Universe that we take the spiritual process seriously (”I am a seeker, and I mean it”), and that we expect to be taken seriously.

Virtually every spiritual tradition embraces sitting meditation in one form or another, and we have never encountered a Teacher who does not recommend it.

By walking meditation, we mean consciously being a seeker, not only when in sitting meditation, but all day long, always. That is, whatever we may do in our lives – our work, our play, and so on – we do as a seeker.

To achieve that position, one makes a conscious decision (even contractual, with one’s self or one’s Teacher or with God) that the spiritual process includes and incorporates and transcends everything else in our lives. Here, seeking is not something we do once or twice or even a dozen times a week. In fact, here seeking is not an activity like other activities, that we do when we are not doing anything else. In fact, from this perspective, seeking is not something we do at all; it is what we are.

In an extraordinarily motivating, inspiring, and powerful manner, the Reverend Jesse Jackson used to say, and urge others to say (perhaps he still does), “I am somebody!” The way he said it, it was more than a statement of fact; it called forth a way of life. Not just words to be repeated, but a promise to be lived; not just when saying it, but always.

Similarly, we urge those on the spiritual path to say, just as boldly, confidently, and joyously, “I am a seeker!” To say it, and to live it, not just now, but all the time. That’s what we mean by walking meditation.

Both forms of meditation (and ultimately they are one and the same) bring seekers to a place where we recognize ourselves and our lives, including everyone and everything in them, without distinction, as the One, and therefore sacred. The Teachers tell us this is a beautiful place to be, and obviously so, for here every activity is a Communion with God.

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Sitting Meditation
“Frog” by N. Nadzo

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He who knows his own self, knows God.

The Prophet Muhammad Q

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Ah, that restlessness is the whole thing. Whatever path you follow – whether you are a Hindu, a Mussalman, a Christian, a Sakta, a Vaishnava, or a Brahmo – the vital point is restlessness. God is our Inner Guide. It doesn’t matter if you take a wrong path – only you must be restless for Him. He Himself will put you on the right path.

Sri Ramakrishna Q

”Sprite”
“Sprite” by N. Nadzo

Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6.16

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