To The Zoo Fence: [Editor’s Note: This is part of a letter received from a good friend of The Zoo Fence in response to a recent consideration at the The Gazebo concerning grief, sadness, memories, and other stuff.] The hard part is how not to feed one’s memories the energy they need to survive. Krishnamurti recommends being with the actual feeling of the pain itself as deeply as you possibly can, feeling the breadth and depth of it, until it simply burns itself out, having been completely understood by the mind. Then, when it is thoroughly experienced, one can move on to the next experience, hopefully getting ever quicker at being in the moment all the time, and not having constantly to go through this purging process.
I think of my meditation as a boiling process, distilling out the impurities. Once the pot is clear, there is no more need for boiling; but until then, keep boiling, baby!
As I came to discover by my meditation, Krishnamurti is of course right. Not because he said so, but – as he repeatedly insists – by finding out for myself. Talking about it will not work. This is not an intellectual pursuit or, for that matter, a pursuit at all. You simply have to be with whatever comes along without holding on. To be sure, it is easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is another thing all together. That’s where my Zen and Buddhist compassion and patience come in.
Here, I am reminded of Jesus’ instruction, “unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 18:3]. Observing children when they are angry or sad, I notice that usually it is all over in ten or fifteen minutes; then, they are back to play, and often, they do not even remember why they were discomfited in the first place. In other words, the pain has been felt deeply, understood, and now it’s time to move on, because, guess what, kids know this stuff without knowing, that hey, this is no fun!
I sign off with favorite words from an old Japanese fellow whom I met while living there, “Don’t think, do”.
Editor’s Comment: Amen!
To The Zoo Fence: [Editor’s Note: A visitor has sent us a copy of a letter she wrote to God, in which she explores the foundations of her faith and expresses her gratitude for His Constant Presence in her life. Writing such letters – to God or to one’s Teacher – in which are expressed not only our joy and gratitude, but also our fears, frustrations, confusions, and anger, is a practice we highly recommend to seekers. Opening those lines of communication, and keeping them open, seems to us an essential part of opening ourselves to ourselves and to our True Nature. Here’s a portion of her letter to God:] “I am infinitely thankful for all I have been learning through Your Words, especially about forgiveness, which I now realize must start with forgiving myself and freeing my soul to grow and learn. I see that guilt is like a prison, and that resentment corrodes the soul, while forgiveness opens the doors to growth, understanding, and positive change. Your Words have shown me that awakening to my own spirituality is much simpler than I ever thought, that it is all about love, unconditional love, which is the only Truth in life.”
To The Zoo Fence: [In response to this week’s “Here’s A Thought”, TZF’s friend Doug White wrote us:] Many folks interpret Mary Baker Eddy’s expression “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” to mean that God (Love) supplies human need. As I see it, Love that is Divine does not supply the human. To the contrary, it does quite the opposite; it ’dis-supplies’ or strips the human of its mortality, and consequently of any need for supply. Thus is revealed no human in need.
Editor’s Comment: Nice point, nicely put.
To The Zoo Fence: [Editor’s Note: As we explain on our “About TZF” page, the name “The Zoo Fence” originated in a dream some thirty years ago. None of us knows for sure just what the expression is supposed to mean, if anything, although over the decades we and others have come up with a variety of explanations. Most recently, a TZF visitor in Dallas, Texas suggested the following interpretation that seems to us to make pretty good sense, and in the bargain pays us a nice compliment, for which we are very grateful! Please note that the two titles mentioned by our correspondent seem to be out of print. However, you may be able to find them at one of the “used books” sites, like half.com. For a website devoted specifically to the author Colin Wilson and his writings, please click here. However, be prepared — the page is heavy on graphics, and may take a while to load into your browser.]
The first two chapters of Colin Wilson’s book “The Occult: A History” and the first few chapters of “The Supernatural” describe perfectly what meaning resides in the name “The Zoo Fence”. The “zoo” label characterizes the subconscious arena or, perhaps even more accurately, the right brain arena: spiritual, conceptual, meaning-oriented, metaphysical. The “fence” is analogous to the corpus callosum, the “great divide” between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The Zoo Fence, then, is the nexus point, the great integrator between rational and spiritual. And I think that is precisely what TZF does for people who take its advice to heart.
To The Zoo Fence: A friend of mine says that “The Simple Way” is just another word for pantheism. Is she right?
Editor’s Comment: According to the dictionary, pantheism defines God as the transcendent reality of which the material or astronomical universe, which includes mankind, is a manifestation. For us, that description of the Divine is too limited.
What we call The Simple Way starts from the assumption that if God is Infinite, then God is all there is. For us, that leads to two inescapable conclusions: There is no thing but God, and whatever there is, is God.
So, God is wholly the Universe (by which we mean not just the astronomical universe, but whatever there is anywhere anytime anyhow) in its entirety, and God is wholly every apparent aspect of the Universe. Further, because God is Infinite, every apparent aspect of the Universe, like, say, you and me, and whatever else may be anytime anywhere anyhow, is itself the entirety of the Universe. That is, Infinity, being indivisible, takes itself in its entirety wherever or whenever it is, so every thing (however defined) is entirely It.
Now, to our egoic separative mind (”I am me, and you aren’t”), all the foregoing is just words. We can talk about them, we can define them, we can argue them, and we all do much of the time. But we cannot grasp their meaning, precisely because if a thing (however defined) can be grasped, it is not infinite. In a word, Infinite is too big for the mind.
The mind likes to define and label things. And that is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the mind’s function. Defining and labeling is an essential practice for survival in the world, but it does not always serve a seeker. Sometimes, defining and labeling a thing trivializes the thing. Indeed, sometimes that is our very purpose in doing so. Thus, when the mind cannot get itself around a thing, it gives the thing a name. Having done so, the mind convinces itself that the thing is not really as big as it seems, and therefore not really any different from any other named thing.
As we explain at TZF’s Consider This!, we defined The Simple Way there in response to a question about it. We hope the definition answers that question. But the definition is not itself The Simple Way. That definition is, in effect, a label whose purpose is to bring The Simple Way down to the mind’s size. That’s okay for the purposes of discussion. But, again, it does not really serve a seeker.
As we see it, the Infinite, and consideration of the Infinite, being beyond the capacity of the mind, is a proper object for contemplation. Contemplation differs from thinking in this way: Thinking is active, and contemplation is passive. In thought, the mind grasps an idea, and manipulates it. In contemplation, a concept is placed before the mind, and left there. No effort is made to establish any kind of relationship with the concept. Eventually, the mind loses interest, and quiets. Then, all that is left is the concept, and the concept is all that is left.
Specifically in response to your question, we would say that pantheism, however expansive it may seem, puts limits on God, and at The Zoo Fence, we seek to avoid doing that. Certainly we do not intend for our description of The Simple Way to do that. If it does, we erred.
Editor’s Comment: That sentence appears at Consider This!.
As regards your faith, part of the solution you seek may be to find holy company, by which we mean, bring a true Teacher into your life. For more about that, please see here. Speaking for ourselves, we would recommend getting a book like The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and reading a few pages from it every day, even several times a day. Here, the idea is not to learn anything, much less to memorize anything; but rather to get into the Teacher’s presence by focusing your mind’s attention on him. One way to do that is to spend time with him and his energy on a regular, recurring basis. So, don’t read the book like a textbook, or even like a scripture. Instead, think of the exercise as simply sitting in the man’s company, and listening. Don’t worry about what you hear; just be there.
And, of course, any true Teacher will do. We particularly like this book for this purpose because it has proven in our own experience (as well as others’) to work so well.
Seeking and finding holy company will uplift your life. And we should not be surprised if the inner silence and peace it generates helps to suggest specific solutions to your life’s specific needs as well. We hope so.
To The Zoo Fence: [Editor’s Note: At TZF’s Consider This!, there is an article about a line in The Great Invocation concerning evil and how to deal with it. The following three letters from TZF visitors are in response to that article.] The line in question in The Great Invocation can be seen in an entirely different context, and then it is not any longer something being held and protected in the sense that you spoke of, and neither has it anything to do with fear.
”The Spiritual Path”, or “Path of Return”, is like a wheel, with infinite spokes. Each individual point upon the circumference is headed to the Center. The phrase “Soul Age” could then apply to the point upon the Path of Return to the Center that is being traveled by the soul’s expression, while gaining experience upon the physical-etheric/emotional/mental planes. Upon the periphery, the expression tends to be buffeted by the winds, drifting willy-nilly, living for survival and self/species-perpetuation. The soul, here, is not in “control” of its expression!
Closer to the Center, the soul and the expression are “reaching toward” each other, the expression seeking, then becoming dedicated to, the “Soul’s Design”. This expression, or person, is becoming ready to be a consecrated, then soul-infused personality. For this person, the “door where evil dwells” IS closing in the sense that this person is no longer tempted by personal profit motive, personal power over, or any of those things that LET/Invite evil to take part of/part in, the life.
Closer to the periphery there is the greatest concentration of souls, in early expression. Closest to the Center, there are yet but very few Souls. For those few, what was once evil has lost its power to attract. For the many, evil yet holds MANY attractions. Until a critical mass of humanity has ’crossed the Bridge’ toward the Center, the few NEAR the Center must invoke the sealing of the door, so to speak. It isn’t you who are speaking the Invocation, necessarily, who are holding closed a door upon your own tendencies and fears, but rather it is in protection of the greater portion of humanity, who KNOW NOT what they do that the door where evil dwells must be held in check.
Having Invoked Light, Love, then Power to fill and guide the minds, hearts and little wills, --that Light DESCEND on Earth, (penetrate even the thickest skulls :-) the Great Invocation is then Invoking that evil be held in check while humanity finds its way Home, to the Center, where participation in the Plan has increasing attraction, where once upon a time, the material attractions held sway. THIS is the closing of the door. Evil then simply no longer HAS an opening! :-)
Editor’s Comment: Thank you for this illustrative explanation. As we mention in the article that prompted your message, the association of evil and fear seems to us nearly inescapable, and what’s more, it seems to us that both are a product of the separative way in which we perceive the Universe and God and ourselves (”I am me, and you aren’t”). Thus, if God is Infinite, then God is All There Is, and if God is all there is, then what we perceive to be evil must somehow be God too (there being no thing else but God), in fact just as God-ly as what we perceive to be good. For more about these sometimes discomfiting ideas, please see The Simple Way and The Sacred Riddle. [To read additional consideration of this point, please read the next two letters and the thread at TZF’s Open Forum Where Evil Dwells .]
To The Zoo Fence:[Editor’s Note: In an article at Consider This! about The Great Invocation, we express concern about a line in that prayer which calls for sealing “the door where evil dwells”. This letter and the letters preceding and following it address that point.]
The Great Invocation implies that the door behind which evil dwells will be sealed. I agree with TZF that any seal can break down, and therefore must be maintained.
But, as you write, “In sum, what this aspect of The Great Invocation means is that, for the rest of time, we must commit ourselves to devote some of our resources to watching, maintaining, and protecting the place where evil dwells. I wonder if that is a good idea, or even necessary.”
There is one word, a synonym for Evil, that explains the need for eternal vigilance. That word is Ego. Ego is also the synonym for Satan.
The Infinite Creative Power that resides within, and that flows through all, is accessed by choosing to accept and align oneself with it. That act of free will, in essence, puts the Ego aside, but never eliminates it completely (”Get thee behind me, Satan” Matthew 16:23 & Matthew 4:10).
The Ego is a part of the dual nature of mankind: Left Brain, Right Brain; Conscious, Sub-Conscious; Analytical, Wholistic; Man, Woman; Ying, Yang. The Ego is a powerful force, and will always try to seize control. The Ego tempts us with all the wonders of the world, and if we are not vigilant and continually reaffirm our Allegiance to the All Good Infinite Creative Power Within, we can be seduced into believing that we are the doers; that our individualism, our thoughts, ideas, plans, schemes, and accomplishments are important, and right; that what we do, see, and believe is the true path. The Ego is multiplicity, it distracts us from searching for the true path.
But that’s just my opinion.
Editor’s Comment: An excellent opinion, nicely stated. Thanks. [The following letter and the thread Where Evil Dwells at TZF’s Open Forum address the same point.]
To The Zoo Fence: The following is in response to your article on “Where Evil Dwells”. [Editor’s Note: In an article at Consider This! about The Great Invocation, we express concern about a line in that prayer which calls for sealing “the door where evil dwells”. This letter and the letters preceding address that point.]
I too wondered about this statement. It sounded strange. Then I began to study the books by A.A.Bailey (who received and released the Great Invocation for humanity in 1945) and realized that the “evil” referred to in The Great Invocation is entirely different than our human self-absorbtion and selfish tendencies. The evil that the Plan of love and light will seal is that power beyond the human. Here is a brief explanation about that statement from Externalization of the Hierarchy, page 490:
”May it seal the door where evil dwells ... The evil referred to has nothing to do with the evil inclinations, the selfish instincts and the separativeness found in the hearts and minds of human beings. These they must overcome and eliminate for themselves. But the reduction to impotency of the loosed forces of evil … requires the imposition of a power beyond the human. This (Plan) must be invoked, and the invocation will meet with speedy response. These evil potencies will be occultly ’sealed’ within their own place; what this exactly means has naught to do with humanity Men today must learn the lessons of the past, profit from the discipline of the war, and deal – each in his own life and community – with the weaknesses and errors to which he may find himself prone …”
Editor’s Comment: Thank you for sending us that quotation. For further consideration of this subject, please visit the thread “Where Evil Dwells” at TZF’s Open Forum. LaUna Huffines is associated with two other websites besides the one above that address aspects of the Great Invocation. For those URLs please see the thread Where Evil Dwells at TZF’s Open Forum. To jump there now, please click here.
To The Zoo Fence: Dearest Friends, I have found God, as I know him, in the faces of patients at a substandard nursing home that I take communion to. The people there have become my guides and my inspiration.
One of the patients was in his forties, and quadriplegic from MS. Although he could not move, the disease spared him his sight, his voice, and a great mind, and with the aid of a voice-activated setup on a computer, he had a view to the outside.
Every morning for him began at The Zoo Fence, where he would take what he read, and pray and meditate for several hours on the “nuggets” (as he called them) which he found there. And he shared all of this with whoever would listen. Gratefully I was one of those people.
My friend died last month, and I am now taking this opportunity to thank you for being such a gift both to him and to all those his life touched.
Editor’s Comment: We thank you for writing us, and we thank you for the work you do. Your letter very nearly brought us to tears. As it happens, your friend wrote us about his visits to The Zoo Fence, and it was clear from his words that he was – is – an enthusiastic and devoted seeker. We send you and him our very best wishes for continued joy and growth along the inner path.
Editor’s Comment: Nice question. Brief, too.
The egoic body/mind perspective that defines (limits) us by its perception that “I am me, and you aren’t” is the product (or the symptom) of our thoughts, memories, and expectations. To paraphrase Descartes (”I think, therefore I am”), we think, and therefore we seem to be.
That is what generates our sense of being separate and apart from one another, from everything else, from God, even from life itself. Our thinking convinces us we are some body in a Universe in which there is no such thing as “a body”, in a Universe in which there is only one, the One. (For more about this general idea, please see “The Simple Way”.)
The practice of meditation can help to extricate us from that position. As a spiritual practice, meditation is intended to focus and then to quiet the mind, and eventually to silence it altogether. There, what we perceive as many (me-you-them, these-those, now-then, here-there) is known to be One, the One. Truly being there, spontaneously and effortlessly, is Self-Realization, the goal of virtually every spiritual tradition.
That said, consider this. To the extent that we assign a purpose and a goal to our meditation practice, it will almost certainly fail, because our desire and ambition to achieve our objective will keep the mind active and thinking (measuring, comparing, anticipating). So, perhaps the best bet is not to think of meditation as having a point. Instead, think of it as being the one truly, wholly pointless thing you do.
Sitting still, doing nothing, for no particular reason, as long as it takes.
To The Zoo Fence: I don’t understand the weekly thought (at Here’s A Thought): “I don’t know, and I can’t find out”. The first part is okay, but if we cannot “find out”, then what is the point of being a seeker?
Editor’s Comment: In the end, that’s the real question, isn’t it!
Here’s the thing. Who is it that wants to know? Who is it that can’t find out? Who is it that seeks? Surely, it is the separative “I” that each of us perceives ourselves to be (”I am me, and you aren’t”), and which lives in its own separative environment (”my life, not your life”).
That’s the “I” we perceive ourselves to be when we set out on the path, and that’s the “I” we perceive ourselves to be as long as we perceive ourselves to be some body. It is that “I” that is the seeker, the “I” that seeks to know and to achieve Self-Realization.
But it will never succeed.
The separative “I” cannot know Self-Realization, and cannot be Self-Realized. It can imagine self-realization, it can theorize self-realization, and it can believe it will someday achieve self-realization. Indeed, if it were unable to do so, none of us would ever become seekers, for surely it is the hope of accomplishment that drives us on. But, in the end, the separative “I” cannot go where there is no room for “me, not you”, but space only for One.
Here, consider the image common to many traditions of water contained by a sieve. As long as the sieve remains in place, the water can never “know” its identity with the surrounding ocean, for the sieve creates the illusion of a separate identity (”I am the water inside the sieve, not the water outside the sieve”). The instant the sieve is removed, the “contained” water seems “re-united” with the ocean, but simultaneously, it ceases to exist as “contained” water, so there is no “contained” water left to realize the transformation. There is no “contained” water to observe “I am re-united” (realized). And in the end we observe there really never was any “contained” water, just the appearance (illusion) of contained water.
So, do we seek in vain? Clearly, the “I” we perceive ourselves to be, does. But if whatever there is, and whatever we perceive ourselves to be, and wherever we perceive ourselves to be, are all part of a Single Whole (”There is no God but God, and God is All There Is”), then the separative “I”, the illusion, the seeking, the Realization, and all the rest, are perfectly flowing, perfectly being, perfectly perfect, so the question again becomes, who cares!
Editor’s Comment: It is true, the world seems a particularly sorry place these days. On the other hand, we wonder if it has not seemed so to all generations throughout history.
All the same, each of us perceiving it today can barely escape the sense that there must be “something” we can do, something we should do, and so, depending upon our skills and our means and our circumstances, we do what we can.
On the other hand, in words found throughout The Zoo Fence, as seekers we know somehow that to change the outer (the world) we must change the inner (our self-perception).
After two-plus decades on the spiritual path, it is clear to us that the world you and we perceive is not “out there” but our selves seen outwardly. And that includes the body each of us seems to be inhabiting, as well as the personality each of us considers to be “me, not you”. And the only way to change any of that meaningfully and lastingly is from the inside out.
So, our suggestion to you is, first, follow your instincts, and do for the world on the outer what you are moved and able to do. Any other course will only make you more uncomfortable, which accomplishes nothing. But all the while, remain true and committed to your chosen path, seeking self-awareness and awakening, ever enthusiastically confident that somehow somewhere sometime, in a way you and we cannot predict, generate, or even understand, you will know your self and the world as they are in Truth, which will free you and the world simply to be, beyond fear and anger and disappointment and conflict and frustration and regret and desire.
Editor’s Comment: In our view, the most important thing for a seeker to remember about tithing is that it is not about money and it is not about percentages. By definition, a seeker’s commitment to the Divine is 100%, and everything a seeker is and has or will ever have belongs 100% to the Divine.
Now, it is far easier to say and write those words than to live them. Even though we believe them to be true, none of us fully practices them. Perhaps that explains why we are still “seekers”. Tithing becomes a way for us to teach ourselves to surrender to God what is already God’s but what we somehow somewhere still want to keep for ourselves.
Think of it this way. What God wants from us is not our money or our stuff but our willingness to give to Him our money and our stuff, and, as seekers, ultimately to give to Him everything we have and everything we claim as our own, up to and including our sense of self. Not because it is good for Him, but because it is good and necessary for us to do so. In the end, surrendering (rendering over) to God (whose it all is anyway) is what the spiritual path is all about. Properly performed, tithing is an expression of that. Recall Abraham, whom God called upon to sacrifice his son, Isaac (see Genesis 22). Clearly, God did not want the boy’s life. What would She do with it? What God wanted was Abraham’s willingness to give Her the boy’s life. Why? Because Abraham was a seeker, and Abraham valued the boy’s life, and being a seeker meant being willing to give up to God what he valued. Just so, the instant Abraham demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, God called it off.
So, for a seeker, tithing is about discovering what we value, and then finding out whether or not we are willing to give that up to God. Usually, again, the answer will be, “Yes, but not just yet, please”. That’s fine, so long as we remain committed to continuing to work on ourselves joyfully and enthusiastically toward reaching that place where we are able and willing, even eager, to give everything to God.
Now, often, tithing is about giving to God so that God will give to us. In other words, tithing as a form of investment. That is a different, and presumably perfectly legitimate, function; and there may be something to it, as long as it is done openly and honestly. We remember Terry Cole-Whittaker saying “I give away what I want to have”. In that manner, she affirms that she has what she needs (only those who have enough can give away), and the Universe responds by making it so. Energy, like water, flows when the tap is open. Or, be what you want to be.