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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.


Editor's DesktopYesterday 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 been replaced.
October 29, 2001

Editor's DesktopToday, 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.
August 22, 2001
Update February 9, 2007: Katherine has asked me to remove her article from Integral Health, and I have done so.

Editor's DesktopToday 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, the only site I could find dedicated to her work is 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.
July 24, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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!
June 28, 2001

Editor's DesktopA 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 next.
June 24, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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.
March 27, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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.
March 27, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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.
March 27, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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.
March 25, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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 and joy.
December 16, 2000

Editor's Desktop 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)
September 30, 2000

Editor's DesktopA 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.
     As one of our favorite characters on one of our favorite TV shows used to say, Let’s be careful out there.
May 18, 2000

Editor's Desktop 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
April 24, 2001

Editor's Desktop Here’s another site passed along by our ISP Administrator – The URL is 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.
April 10, 2001

Editor's Desktop 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.
July 7, 2000

Editor's Desktop 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.
March 8, 2000

Editor's Desktop 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.]
February 28, 2000

Editor's Desktop 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!
September 21, 1999

Editor's Desktop Wandering the web this morning, I came across a site called “The Watchful Shepherd” at It breaks my heart to consider that such a site is necessary! … but I am grateful to those who manage it.
September 4, 1999

Editor's Desktop 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!

Editor's Desktop From “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.

Editor's Desktop 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!

He's a dancing fool!

Editor's Desktop From “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.’
         Plant wrath, harvest wrath.
         The One speaks to itself in its own voice.

Editor's DesktopOn the advice of a good friend of TZF, I purchased from, 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!

Editor's DesktopA 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:

To conceive of Atum is difficult.
To define him is impossible.
The imperfect and impermanent
cannot easily apprehend
the eternally perfected.
Atum is whole and constant.
In himself he is motionless,
yet he is self-moving.
He is immaculate,
incorruptible and ever-lasting.
He is the Supreme Absolute Reality.
He is filled with ideas
which are imperceptible to the senses,
and with all-embracing Knowledge.
Atum is Primal Mind.
He is too great
to be called by the name ‘Atum’.
He is hidden,
yet obvious everywhere.
His Being is known through thought alone,
yet we see his form before our eyes.
He is bodiless,
yet embodied in everything.
There is nothing which he is not.
He has no name,
because all names are his name.
He is the unity in all things,
so we must know him by all names
and call everything ‘Atum’ …

Atum is everywhere …
All things are thoughts
which the Creator thinks.


Editor's Desktop From Yogananda’s commentary accompanying his translation of the Gita, at Chapter 18, verse 49:

          That devotee attains the “uttermost perfection” of his individualized incarnate status when he realizes his true Self, the soul, as being of the essence of God’s transcendent consciousness, untouched by bodily experiences, even as the Lord is immutable beyond the activities He sends forth through Cosmic Nature. The way to liberation lies through this realization of the Self, by God-communion and by remaining in this God-aware state of the soul while performing dutiful actions. Any individual can reach this supreme actionless state by the renunciation of all fruits of actions: performing all dutiful acts without harboring in his heart any likes and dislikes, possessing no material desires, and feeling God, not the ego, as the Doer of all actions.
          That yogi who is not attached to his own body or his family or the world, even though he joyously works for them with the sole desire of pleasing God; who is in full control of his mind, intelligence, ego, and heart; who is free from all desires for sense pleasures; and who works, yet renounces the fruits of actions, becomes free from the reincarnation-causing triple qualities of mortal and natural actions. The consciousness of such a yogi rests in the immutability of the eternal Spirit.

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.

Editor's Desktop 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]:
          Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of Ribena, they lay down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.
          “Watson, look up, and tell me what you see,” he said.
          Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.”
          “What does that tell you?” Holmes asked.
          Watson pondered for a minute, and then answered. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. And what does it tell you, Holmes?”
        Sherlock Holmes was silent for a minute; then, he said, “Someone has stolen our tent.”


Editor's Desktop 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 male.
     As most human societies are male-biased (Although that is changing … isn’t it?), most of us naturally think of Teachers as being male (like Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Gautama, Ramakrishna, Lao Tsu, and so on), but Truth is genderless, and as seekers we must welcome that Fact, embrace it, and live it. It is not enough simply to say it, much less mutter it. The male bias has been in us all, men and women, so long that it has become, one might say, part of our DNA. So here, as elsewhere, the inner work must literally go all the way to the cellular level, until we automatically, even instinctively, think genderlessly.
     Anyway, the chapter on the Sufi saint Rabi’a lists the stages toward Union, as she sees them. Beginning at the “lowest” (earliest along the way) they are,
     1) Repentance, described as both the consciousness and the admission of one’s own sins and shortcomings, both of commission and omission, including (and this is nice) our misunderstanding about our own nature and the Nature of God;
     2) Patience, being the complete and unconditional acceptance of whatever unfolds in our lives;
     3) Gratitude is like patience but a little “higher,” in that it is actively (in today’s jargon, we might say proactively) positive. Thus, if patience means accepting our lives, however they unfold, with quiet resignation, gratitude is doing so joyfully!
     4) Hope and Fear, being the hope for Union with God and the fear of separation from God. At first, these might function as a selfish motivation to stay on the path (”Seek Paradise, avoid hell”); later, they are simply the recognition of and affinity for the Natural State;
     5) Voluntary Poverty, “a complete cleansing of the heart of all selfish desires, and turning it towards God alone.”
     6) Asceticism, meaning “the perfect control of the lower, physical self by the higher, spiritual one.” That is, freely, easily, and happily releasing all the distractions in our lives, one by one, until nothing remains but the One, which is Truth (God);
     7) Dependence on God, which is the complete dedication of one’s being to the Sole Being; in effect, (borrowing Witter Bynner’s wonderful phrase from his translation of the Tao Te Ching) “an obedience not commanded but of course.”
     8) Love, meaning love that is constant, effortless, self-sustaining, all-absorbing, and disinterested (for no reason). In a word, What Is.
     The book “Women Saints, East and West” can be purchased from Vedanta Press at their website (enter the title in the search box).

Editor's Desktop 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.”
     His point is so obvious, it is almost a cliche. But then, why is it so difficult for us to remember it, not to mention practice it!
     Clearly, if everyone of us would keep God’s Nature or Buddha Nature or Truth or whatever we chose to call It in the forefront of our mind all of the time, then it would be impossible for us to strike a blow against another, whether in thought, word, deed, or attitude.
     So simple. So difficult.

Editor's Desktop From the book “Vivekananda, The Yogas and Other Works” -

After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does the one follow the other. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains - one iron, one gold. Behind both is Atman [the immortal Self], who knows neither happiness nor misery. These are states, and states must ever change; but the nature of the Soul is bliss, peace - unchanging. We have not to get it; we have it. Only wash away the dross and see it.

Editor's Desktop 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 —
                 Renounce the good of the world,
                 Renounce the good of heaven,
                 Renounce your highest ideal,
                 And then renounce renunciation.

And again, from the same book, “In order to arrive at spiritual attainment, two gulfs must be crossed: the sea of attachment and the ocean of detachment.”
     I suppose, as seekers, we all know we must release our reliance upon and attachment to the world’s stuff (our thoughts and things), but who among us expects to become attached to detachment? The egoic mind is devious. If it can’t have what it wants, it wants whatever it can have (and then takes pride in it!) – including, it seems, not wanting.
     Rereading this reminded me of a phenomenon called the “veil of darkness” and the “veil of light.” (I cannot remember where I first heard or read those terms.)
     The former is our normal and natural ignorance of what is. Thus, the veil of darkness is what most of us live behind most of the time. It is lifted by the light of knowledge. So, in effect, each of us starts out on the path, lost somewhere behind the veil of darkness (unaware of our true nature), but with time and aspiration and grace, the veil is lifted to reveal the Truth.
     That is when we are most vulnerable to the other one, the veil of light, for this is what blinds us when we think we know! With just a glimpse of the Truth, we convince ourselves we know it all, and woe betide those who perceive it differently. Here, we have discovered a little, but still too little to realize how little.
     The veil of light. It doesn’t sound like a trap, but it is.
     Thank God for God, or we’d never make it through this maze.

Editor's Desktop 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.
     But here’s the thing that’s getting to me. All the evidence at the scene suggests this fox died calmly and easily, as if it considered death as natural a process of life as hunting field mice, feasting on wild blueberries, or prancing down a country road. There are no signs of frantic digging, scratching, wall climbing, or other desperate behavior. This fox was not trying to escape its fate, and it did not struggle against it. Instead, it seems that some time yesterday, this fox realized somewhere within that it was going to die last night, and so it found an appropriate site, and, without any fanfare, it simply did so.
     Compare that performance with how any of us would have reacted to similar news. We would have fought tooth and nail! What is the difference between us and the fox? Is it perhaps that we perceive death as the opposite of life, and so we fear it terribly; and the fox recognizes death is the opposite of birth, and so takes it in stride.
     For anyone in search of a meditation practice, permit me to suggest: Consider the foxes, and how they die.

Editor's Desktop 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.

Editor's Desktop 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.”

Editor's Desktop 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.

Editor's Desktop 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!
     Nice. The URL is Halfway down that page, follow the link to “Centering Prayer.”

Editor's Desktop I have just been to a website called “Mysticism in World Religions” at 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.

Editor's Desktop 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!

Editor's Desktop 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.

Editor's Desktop 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.
     “The actual measuring and so on, it’s very laborious, and it’s slow. And you sit there, and it takes all night for these photons to dribble in. But the thing that makes it exciting, even thrilling in a kind of quiet way, is that we’re after a big question. We’re really after a question that people have been interested in for a long time, ever since they could kind of frame the question. What is the fate of the Universe? Is it going to last forever? How will things end? These are big questions, and we’re really on a path that could give us a concrete answer in the context of how we understand the universe today of which of those possibilities is really the right one. So, that’s a lot of fun, and it keeps you awake at night.”

Editor's Desktop 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.
     So, for a seeker, here’s the question the movie raises: If an angel can live and behave in effect as we do, and still remain “angelic” — that is, clearly, spontaneously, and uninterruptedly aware of and expressing the Divinity of the Universe and of his own Nature, then why cannot we?

Editor's Desktop From Adonais by Percy Blysshe Shelley,
                    “The One remains, the many change and pass;
                    Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
                    Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
                    Stains the white radiance of Eternity.”

Editor's Desktop ”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.

Editor's Desktop ”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 it.
     An eminent psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl was imprisoned for three years in Nazi concentration camps, where he observed that some of his fellow inmates “behaved like swine, while others behaved like saints.” The difference seemed to be that the latter retained a sense of meaning to their lives. Remarkably, they were able not only to survive the horrific environment of the camps, but to grow in it. Quoting Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” From this, Frankl developed his own theory of psychology, logotherapy, whose basic tenet is “that man’s concern is not to gain pleasure or avoid pain, but rather to see a meaning in his life.”
     This is an extraordinarily moving, uplifting, interesting, challenging, and sometimes disturbing book. (To purchase it from, click here.)

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Editor's Desktop ”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).

Editor's Desktop 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.

Editor's Desktop ”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.

Editor's Desktop From “The Sufis” by Idries Shah (page 396, Doubleday/Anchor, available on our Bookstore page):
              A seeker approaches a Teacher, and says, “I wish to learn, will you teach me?”
              The Teacher replies, “I do not feel that you know how to learn.”
              The seeker says, “Can you teach me how to learn?”
              The Teacher responds, “Can you learn how to let me teach?”       

Editor's Desktop 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.

Editor's Desktop 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?

Editor's Desktop 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!

Editor's Desktop 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?

The Zoo Fence


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