The Zoo FenceThe Zoo Fence
a spiritual seeker website

A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

The Zoo Fence

Why The Zoo Fence? One night in 1974, in a fishing camp on the windward side of Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands, we had a dream about publishing a journal called The Zoo Fence. The name probably originated from the practice of the Honolulu Zoo to allow artists to display their artwork on the zoo fence along Monsarrat Avenue in Waikiki. But beyond that, who knows what the subconscious meant by the phrase! In any case, it made sense in the dream, and when, more than two decades later, The Laughing Cat decided to issue a newsletter which evolved into this website, the choice of a name seemed already to have been made.

stefan nadzo

One day in Eden, Adam sees Eve for the first time.
“I am Adam,” he says to her.
“Yes, I know,” Eve replies, “so am I.”

In The Beginning Chapter 4

stefan nadzo The Zoo Fence A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

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A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not whine.

a spiritual website

To me, to us, the universe consists of an infinite assortment of diverse stuff — me and you and my house and your car and that street and this tree and kitty litter and those planets and yesterday and yonder and my dreams and your hopes. But to a Teacher, the universe (actually, the Universe), consists of nothing more (or less) than I Here Now.

Thus, if we were to ask a Teacher, any Teacher, “Where were you before you appeared in this room?” she would reply Here. “And where will you be after you have left this room?” she would say, Here. And if we were to ask “When?” she would answer Now. To a Self-Realized Teacher, there is only one personal pronoun — I — and there is only one place in the universe, here — or Here, and only one adverb of time, Now.

The Gazebo

A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

The year was 1974, Peter K. Wensleydale and Ambassador Quenton Adkins were meeting alone in the Ambassador’s office on the third floor of the American Embassy in Gazinga. “What’s this supposed to be?” the Ambassador asked, as he read from the sheet of paper Peter had just handed him. “It’s a letter of resignation, sir,” Peter said, adding, as gingerly as if he were handling a stick of dynamite, “mine.”

A Continuing Fiction

So, Peter and Anna Wensleydale swapped their life as diplomats for a homestead in Cranberry County Maine, where their friends include, among other species, a dog, cats, a rooster, and a neighbor’s sheep, all of whom speak to them and one another, and where their continuing experiences include the death of Peter’s new life teacher who happens to be a horse named Montauk, the marriage of two chickens, Cantachiaro and Joy Pristine, and a happy surprise contrived by their dog Tancredi and Beatrice Marlowe the school teacher.

The Cranberry Tales

Can I, can you, prove the existence of God? A Teacher might reply:

Suppose you are asleep in your bed, and I were to enter the room. Would you be aware of my presence? Obviously not. But would there be any doubt of my presence there? Again, obviously not. Even so, what proof could convince you? Obviously none, for no matter how brilliant my argument, however crystal clear its formulation, as long as you remained asleep, it would fall on deaf ears.

Now suppose you awaken, and perceive me standing there. Would you become aware of my presence? Obviously so. What proof would you need then? Obviously none, for your experience itself, the experience of your own awareness, would be proof enough.

Just so, the spiritual awakening process.


A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

The Zoo Fence A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

Maharajji was in a car. They came to a bridge.
Coming the other way were sugar carts pulled by oxen,
blocking the way. The driver slowed the car.
Maharajji asked, “Why are you slowing?”
The driver replied, “We can’t get through.”
Maharajji told him, “Go!”
The driver protested.
Maharajji said, “Close your eyes, and go!”
The driver closed his eyes, and pressed on the gas pedal.
When he opened his eyes,
they were on the other side of the bridge
Miracle of Love
Stories about Neem Karoli Baba

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A fellow comes upon another enmeshed
in a life-and-death struggle with God.

“Why in the world,” the first asks,
“would you take on such a formidable opponent?
How can you possibly expect to win?”
You don’t understand,”
gasps the other, between strangleholds,
“I hope to lose!

The Zoo Fence A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

A Commentary on The Spiritual Life


A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

Imagine a production of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. On the stage, a great drama unfolds, shaped by prejudice, youthful beauty, romance, joy, delight, love, fear, anger, despair, faith, death — the stuff of all our lives. But none of it is real. None of the characters is real, none of the emotions is real, none of the action actually occurs. There is no such person as “Romeo”, there is no such person as “Juliet”. They were never born, they never loved, they never died. It is all an illusion. The only reality in that context consists of Shakespeare as author, the actors as players, and ourselves as audience. All of those know the play is an illusion, and that all that is real is themselves. But still, the play is performed again and again, and again and again we laugh and we cry. As if it were real. Likewise, what you and we each call “my life” is thoroughly an illusion. Here, we do not truly know what is Real because each of us has taken on the identity of “me”, the principal character in “my life”. And just as neither “Romeo” nor “Juliet” can know Shakespeare, neither can the separate, separative (“I am me, and you aren't”) self of our lives know our Reality. For that, we must transcend the character, and recognize and resume our True Identity in and as and with (choose a preposition) the Author, the Source, the Supreme, the One (choose a label). That is the spiritual process, transforming our current sense of identity bit by bit until finally it is transcended altogether, and we “Remember I Am”. Then, we Realize we never were the character, that we have never been born and cannot die, and that What Is always was and always will be. In a word, Reality destroys illusion.

A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

Finally, please consider this:
There is a river of anger flowing across the United States, and those of us on both shores are drinking its water. It is defining who we are and shaping our relationships. No one is making us drink from this river, but we do it anyway. We are poisoning ourselves. Creating battle lines. As someone who has served America in uniform, I fear for our future.

We are a nation of human beings, so of course we disagree about stuff. But this is not that; this isn’t disagreement. We’re not talking to one another, we’re not listening to one another. We’re not even arguing. We’re just shouting. Or worse, we’re not relating at all. I cannot remember ever using the term Antichrist (except perhaps in a crossword puzzle), but I wonder if this horrible river is somehow not that. An unnatural phenomenon manifesting itself among us, turning our shared values to provocation, our reason to anger, our common sense to hatred, our peace to chaos. A virus from hell.

I miss our healthy America, arm wrestling over politics, and then sharing a beer. Am I overreacting? I hope so. I am an old man, and so maybe wrong. But if it’s a virus — medical or mystical or metaphysical or whatever — we need a vaccine. Maybe what we need is for God to grab each of us by the ears, and shake us. Surely he is watching us and wondering, “What the hell has gotten into them?”

Brother Theophyle in jeans

A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

Inevitably and rightly, there is a lot on The Zoo Fence about scriptures considered sacred by various traditions. As you read those comments and observations, please understand that nothing written here is, or is intended to be, an academic consideration. I am not a theologian, biblical scholar, or historian. I am not an expert. In the context of this website, my interest in sacred writings is solely as a spiritual seeker who has undertaken a personal, inner journey for the Truth of who and what and where I am. I know that many of my statements, and perhaps even all of my conclusions, will not reflect, and perhaps may even contradict, current orthodoxy, theology, and history. I mean no disrespect by that, but it does not concern me, for again I am not an academic, and this is not an academic undertaking. For me, the scriptures of the world’s spiritual traditions are a guide and a tool and a vehicle which can facilitate and accelerate my own personal passage along the spiritual path only if I understand their message to me. Therefore, I take it to be my duty, even my sacred responsibility, to discover and understand their meaning to me personally, to decipher what the Universal Teacher intends for me to see in them and to do by them. Here, on The Zoo Fence, I share that with you, and I ask that you read it in that spirit.

A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

The Zoo Fence A Commentary on The Spiritual Life
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This is an abreviated version of The Zoo Fence.
It was most recently updated on June 12, 2024.
It was installed on July 9, 2020.
The Zoo Fence was first published in hard copy in January 1996.
It has been on the internet since February, 1997,
first at America Online, then from 1/1998 at GeoCities, then from 7/2000 at OLM,
and now from 3/2011 at InMotion.
The original website was larger than this,
but not necessarily better.
The Zoo Fence at birth
The Zoo Fence hard copy
What’s changed over the decades is us —
we have aged, our focus has changed,
and the website reflects that.
We hope you will enjoy, and find useful, what is here now.
Our thanks to Alan Simpson
for the color bar used on this site,
and for his book on Netscape Navigator
providing our first introduction to HTML
umpteen years ago.
Stefan Nadzo aka Francis Sinclaire

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A Commentary on The Spiritual Life

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The Zoo Fence is Made in Maine
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